Stephanie, wearing a blonde wig and a scarf to hold it on, was standingacross the hallway from us. Her face was red and furious. Before Ryan or Icould stop her, she lunged at me, throwing me against the wall.
I was not a fighter. Not then. She must have either been really, really mad, or had taken some martialarts or something, because she got in a few good hits before Ryan and anotherbig guy were able to pull her off me. I crumpled onto the floor. I heard Ryan’svoice saying that he’d never speak to Stephanie again for that; that I hadn’tdone anything to her. I felt arms wrap around me and pick me up in a cradle. Ikept my face covered with my hands, knowing I was bloodied up badly.
Soon the voices were gone, and I smelled iodine… you know, the smell youget when you walk into the nurse’s office.
Ryan set me down on a bench as the nurse fussed over me. I couldn’t openmy eyes, they were swelling so fast.
“Maelie, I am so sorry. I had no idea she was capable of that!”
“Move your hands dear, so I can see your face,” the nurse said.
I smiled a little. “You sure you still want to ask me to the dancelooking like this?”
He laughed softly. The nurse was gentle, checking my ears, nose, andmouth.
“Well, nothing’s broken hon,” she said. “Let me get a look at your eyesnow.”
I tried to pry open my lids, and managed a small sliver for her to shineher scope into.
“Oh my,” she said. “What color are your eyes, dear?”
Oh no. I closed them quickly.
“They’re brown,” Ryan said confidently. “Why?”
“Well these eyes aren’t brown,” the nurse said. “They’re – ”
“You know what, I’m feeling much better. Maybe I’ll just go home and getsome rest.” I jumped off the table and forced my eyes open. I ran out of theoffice, but I could tell that Ryan was right behind me.
Stephanie must have hit me so hard my contacts got moved, or knocked out.How humiliating! The nurse saw my purple eyes… what if she’d told Ryan? Whatwould he think?
“Maelie!” Ryan said. He’d finally caught up with me, and grabbed my armto stop me. The halls were empty now, so there was no threat of beingoverheard. When I stopped, I covered my face with my hands so he wouldn’t beable to see.
“Maelie…” he whispered, holding both of my upper arms.
“I have to go home,” I said. It was true; I hadn’t brought an extra pairof contacts to school.
“Well you can’t drive like this. Come with me, I’ll drive you home.”
I kept my face covered, peeking out through my fingers to see where I wasgoing. Ryan carried my backpack, and said nothing as we walked out to his jeep.He was also silent as we drove, except to ask me for directions.
He pulled up to the curb of my house, and picked up my bag again. Ididn’t object.
I opened the front door and said, “Have a seat, I’ll be right back.”
He sat on the sofa and I ran up the stairs to my bathroom. Leaning on theclosed door, I took a few deep breaths. Why I’d expected the day to go smoothlyafter choir that morning, I couldn’t remember.
I pushed myself away from the door and went to the mirror with my eyesopen. Sure enough, my contacts were gone. I moved my eyes around to make surethey weren’t hidden in my eyelid or something, but they weren’t there. I didn’tthink they would be… usually I could feel them if that was the case. My facelooked bruised in a couple of places, and I had a streak of blood running downfrom my nose, but other than that I couldn’t see what everyone had made a bigdeal of. Now that I had calmed down, I felt fine; a little sore, but fine.
I washed my face, and put my hair back into a ponytail before replacingmy contacts. Then I saw the blood stains on my shirt.
Mom would flip.
Oh wait, I did my own laundry. She would never know.
It wasn’t a shirt I particularly cared for, so I went to my room,changed, and threw the bloody shirt (expletive and adjective in one) in thetrash. I quickly texted my mom to have her pick up the car from the school parking lot, then I took a deep breath, and went downstairs.
Ryan looked as perfect as ever, except for my blood on his shirt. “Do youwant to soak that, before it sets?” I asked, pointing to his shirt.
He looked down and seemed to notice it for the first time. “Oh yeah,thanks. My mom would freak out if I ruined this shirt; she gave it to me for mybirthday.”
I realized my mistake in suggesting this right away.
Ryan removed his shirt.
I cleared my throat, trying not to stare as he handed me his shirt. Iquickly went into the kitchen sink, running the bloody spots under the streamof cold water as it filled.
I heard Ryan come into the kitchen, but I didn’t want to turn around. Hestill didn’t have a shirt. I could get him one of my dad’s…
I turned off the water and stood facing the sink; looking out the windowto the backyard, I wondered what I should tell him about my eyes.
“I know why you freaked out,” he said.
I rolled my eyes, but he couldn’t see. I turned around and saw that he’dput on a zip-up hoodie. I could still see a sliver of his chest at the top, butit was much less distracting than the full view. He stood with his hands in thepockets, watching me with concern on his face.
“You have no idea why I freaked out,” I said.
“Yes I do.”
“How… what makes you think that?” I asked, nearing frustration.
He was silent for a while. He moved to the counter and sat at a stool,leaning forward on his elbows the way he had when he’d been talking to meduring English. My heart flitted at the memory.
“Because I’m the same,” he said, looking up at me.
The same? The same as what?
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Your eyes,” he said. “Mine are the same.”
Okay, this was getting serious. “How do you know anything about my eyes?What did the nurse tell you?”
“The nurse didn’t tell me anything, Maelie,” he said, standing andwalking around the counter to me. “I am the same.” He reached his hands to hiscrystal clear blue eyes, and moved a contact lens aside. His eyes were everybit as violently violet as mine.
“Wait a sec…” I said as he replaced the contact. “How… this is tooweird.”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged as he went back to his barstool. “I’ve nevermet anyone else who looks like us. I don’t know what it means.”
“Could we be like, siblings or something?” I asked dejectedly.
He smiled softly, “I sure hope not.”
I smiled back; bigger than I had all day.
Ryan stayed for a few hours while his shirt soaked, and then I put it inthe washer and dryer. In the meantime, we did homework together, and madedinner – stir fry chicken from scratch. He didn’t think it could be done, but Ishowed him.
By the time his shirt was done drying it was nearing six pm. My parentswould be home soon, and I did not want Ryan meeting them yet. I handed him hisshirt and surreptitiously enjoyed the view while he switched from his hoodie.
I walked him to his jeep, where he threw his bag in before turning aroundto lean against the door. “So, I asked you a question earlier that you weren’treally able to answer.”
“Which question was that?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“Are you planning on going to the dance on Saturday?”
“I was. Though it will depend on my parents,” I answered.
“How so?” Ryan asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Well, they want me to go camping with them on Friday night. So hopefullyI’ll be back in enough time to make it to the dance,” I explained.
He nodded. “Well, apparently I’m free so, would you like to go together?”
I tried to act indifferent, as he was, while saying, “Sure. Sounds goodto me.”
He gave me that little bent grin and said, “Perfect. I’ll be here to pickyou up at seven on Saturday.”
“Perfect,” I said with a nod.
He hopped into his jeep, and gave me a smile that looked grateful, beforedriving away.