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Us and Them

By @ZoeAmber


Monday / September 23rd / 10:48 AM

“No, I don’t believe we have.” He shakes my hand in his and smiles down at me.

The same hands that steered me clear of trouble Friday night, according to Mila. She must have mistaken him for someone else. But for three weird things to happen to me concerning a Cassidy of all people. It’s as if the universe is trying to drive us together. Well thanks anyway, universe, but I’m pretty sure from Hayden’s perspective, homie don’t play that.

We don’t bother saying our names, not even for witty banters’ sake. He withdraws his hand from mine and I nervously tuck some hair behind my ear when I feel it leave too soon.

I move the test tubes closer to us and grab one of the sets of gloves and safety goggles hung from a knob on the side of the lab table. I see Hayden go for his gloves, but not the goggles, of which his side is missing. I look across to examine the missing item when he gives me a hand gesture.

“It’s fine.” He smiles. I look around a see a free pair hanging on the lab desk across the aisle and pass them with a polite grin.

If you ever let anything happen to the gemstones you’ve got in those eye sockets, I will kill you. I think to myself.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t just like Hayden for his looks. He likes to play the strong, big brother role a lot from what I remember, but he’s still just as kind, gentle and clumsy as he was back in grade school. I think deep down, he finds this feud just as foolish as I do. But the two of us aren’t going to change 20 years of resentment just by being lab partners.

“Let’s try hydrochloric acid,” I say, trying to stay all business, even though I can feel my grasp weaken when he looks at me.

He dumps a test tube of powder into the tube of clear liquid labeled HCI and sticks in a thermometer. The solution reacts and the temperature on the thermometer rises. Success!

I mark off the acid in my notebook and we continue this process until all the solutions have been tested and the results are recorded.

“Okay everyone, can one person from each group bring the solutions back up to the front.” Mrs. Kennedy says.

Hayden grabs them before I can I do so, myself and drops them on the lab up front. Before walks back, the teacher stops him and has a word with him that I can’t quite hear.

She smiles and pats him on the back before he returns and we pack up our things to head to the next class.

• • • • •

I seat myself next to Mila in English and take out my textbook as our teacher enters the classroom. I finally let myself relax after an hour and a half sitting next Hayden.

As the lesson begins when I feel my phone buzz in my back pocket. I take it out and see that I have a Facebook notification. Quietly, I tap through the menus until I find the subheading with a red circle with the number ‘1’ in it.

I knit my eyebrows together in disbelief when I read the name under my Friend Requests tab;

Hayden Cassidy.

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  1. Kathleen Fazio

    Feb 2, 2022

    omg I love it so much! you are an amazing writer.

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    0 Replies Feb 2, 2022
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