How They Met…
The Ugly Duckling….
Cole sat at the back of the classroom with his head in his book. He didn’t want to look up; he knew his eyes would automatically go to her.
Stacy Stendhal, most popular girl in school, also the most beautiful girl in school. His attraction to her was something he would never verbalize. He wasn’t in a position to and though he wanted nothing more, he knew girls like her would never go for a guy like him.
Against his better judgment, he pulled his eyes away from his book and looked up. His eyes rounded in surprise when he saw Stacy looking back up at him, smiling.
Cole was at the back of the class, so he knew there was nothing behind him but a wall, but he looked back, returning her smile with a crooked one of his own.
Her smile wavered slightly as she tucked her bottom lip into her mouth, licking her lips at Cole. His confusion settled on his face as his eyes bounced around the classroom, he wanted to be sure that he wasn’t imagining the entire encounter. Things seemed normal but Stacy Stendhal licking her lips and smiling at him was everything but normal.
Cole wasn’t used to getting the attention of girls in school; most times he was looked over for his lack of attraction. His acne riddled skin, bulky frame and more times than any baggy clothes, didn’t really add to his appeal. He lacked confidence due to the corrective braces, covering his teeth. He never had a girlfriend and was completely content with that, that was until Stacy transferred to his school two semesters ago.
The bell rang, indicating the dismissal of class and it wasn’t until this moment that Cole tore his eyes away from Stacy and stood to gather his belongings. His jacket, faded black, a size too big with holes in the pockets was his shield. It was a defense mechanism, something that he used to protect himself from the demons he subconsciously endured throughout the day.
Cole’s head snapped up, a crooked smile wobbling its way across his face. He struggled to find his voice. “Hi- um, hey Stacy!”
Stacy tilted her head to the side with a faux smile covering her face. “Cole, why are you always so quiet?”
Cole shrugged. “I don’t ever have anyone to talk to. No one ever talks to me.”
“Well”, Stacy spoke, brushing her long wavy hair over her shoulder, “You never make yourself available to talk. Why don’t you sit with me at lunch today?”
Cole slowed in his movements, shocked by Stacy’s statement. “Sit with you?”
“Sure, I don’t see an issue with that. That is unless you don’t want to.”
“No”, Cole interjected. “I would like that. Let’s um…we can go.”
Cole had nerves shooting through him at the rate of a piston, he never imagined being welcomed into Stacy’s personal space, hence him always keeping his distance.
They walked out of the classroom, gaining the eyes of others around them but Cole kept his head down as he moved silently beside Stacy.
Once they made it to the cafeteria, they got in line to get their lunch before taking a seat at the popular table. No one but the elite sat at this table and that fact, made Cole even more uneasy. He wasn’t supposed to be sitting here, yet against his better judgment, he sat his tray down, sitting beside Stacy.
“Ummmm”, Stacy’s friend and co- captain, Heidi stated with her face twisted, “Why is he sitting here? Why are you with him? What the hell is going on?”
“Chill”, Stacy pressed out, “He will be eating with us today.”
“Yeah, but why?”
That question gained Heidi a few chuckles from the others sitting at the table. Cole felt something tugging at his gut, promoting him to move, get himself out of this situation before it became more embarrassing, but it was Stacy. The Stacy. He couldn’t let this opportunity pass him by, he didn’t know when something like this would happen for him again.
He leaned over to get in Stacy’s ear. “I could sit at the other table. You can just come and talk to me after you finish talking to your friends.”
Stacy shook her head. “No, Cole. Stay here.”
Cole smiled and nodded. “So, what are you…”
“What the fuck?”
Cole along with everyone else at the table turned in time to see Phillip Grand, captain of the football team and Stacy’s rumored boyfriend, standing behind them with a mean mug on his face. His two flunkies, who seemed to be attached to his hip, stood beside him.
“Why are you at our table, Ugly Cole?”
“Don’t call him that”, Stacy defended.
Cole swallowed before he grabbed his tray. “It’s ok, I’ll just move.”
“Nah”, Phillip snapped as he pushed Cole’s tray off the table. “You wanna eat? Eat off the fucking floor!”
Stacy and Cole jumped up as the others laughed, Cole felt as if the walls around him were closing in. He moved to pick up his food from the floor when he felt himself get kicked in the back, causing his body to press the already ruined food between the ground and his t- shirt. By this point, the entire cafeteria was laughing.
Cole scrambled to get off the floor, feeling tears gather in his eyes as he slipped on a banana which caused him to lose the small amount of balance he had.
More laughter. More Pointing. More embarrassment.
“You a fucking coward!”
The laughter seemed to die down a little when Anthony Drake, somewhat of an outsider but far more popular than Cole, stepped into the face of Phillip. “He wasn’t doing shit to you.”
“What’s it to you”, Phillip snapped.
“Not shit”, Anthony supplied. “Stop fucking with him or we gone have a problem. Keep your girl out of his face if you gone get made when he around her. Cole don’t mess with no one. Hell, he half way talks. So, I know she approached him.” Anthony smiled and rubbed his chin. “You mean to tell me, you’re the big bad Quarterback and you can’t keep yo hoes in check?”
“Who you calling a hoe”, Stacy interjected, feeling her plot to make Phillip jealous, backfire.
“That owl!” Anthony answered. “Leave him alone”, Anthony stated as he pointed at Cole who was now standing and dusting food off his clothes. “Mess with him and that’s yo ass. I’ll fuck your hand off so bad that you will never know what it’s like to throw a college ball.”
Phillip swallowed his nerves as Anthony turned around.
“Once they were out of ear shot of everyone, Anthony turned to Cole. “If any of them fuck with you, let me know.”
Cole eyed Anthony suspiciously. “Why? You don’t even know me.”
“I know that you don’t mess with nobody, all yo nerdy ass do is take a million notes in them composition books.
Cole smirked, he was right.
“Come on, man. I got a clean shirt in my locker”, Anthony supplied with a nod of his head.
Cole returned that nod and followed behind Anthony, after a moment of silence, he spoke. “I’m Cole Remington.”
Anthony stopped walking. “Yeah, I know. I’m Anthony Drake.”