Chapter: Forging Friendships

Entry: Apr 18, 2007

Kyle hurled himself into the bench-seat just opposite of Adriana, jarring the entire table and sending a slightly uneven end clacking noisily to the floor. Adriana's pencil, skating a light arc to finish the tail of a 'y', derailed and traced a craggy seismograph as the table vibrated beneath her notepad. Though previously consumed by concentration on her project for Mr. Zibowitz, Kyle's skull-jarring arrival served its purpose, jolting her mind away from pointless assignments and into reality. Kyle wore his best smile when she finally looked up from her notebook at the new arrival.

"Hi," he said, offering his right hand, "I'm Kyle."

She looked at his hand as if, riddled with leprosy, he intruded into her seclusion bringing a heaping dose of fatal and excruciating disease and expected her to joyously gulp the potion. She looked back at her ruined sentence, then again at Kyle's hand, the accusation plain, and her intent simple. No, there'd be no handshaking, no kind words, no introductions until Kyle apologized for the damage and disruption. Had Adriana known Kyle's inability to decipher subtlety, the pregnant pause, with Kyle still holding his increasingly heavy hand aloft, wouldn't have dragged into eternity, like a five-year-old attempting to read Paradise Lost. Instead, Kyle's embarrassment grew while Adriana's anger simmered, until ready to boil. Luckily Kyle's strength failed and his hand hit the table with a significant clunk, again interrupting Adriana, about to unleash an entire lecture to send Kyle scurrying back to Sam and Jason, whimpering for somebody's mom.

"Uh... Hi. I'm Adriana," she said instead, confused.

Adriana was very pretty, not to the extent of Kyle's fevered imagination, spurred more by hormones than a critical eye. Nobody would call her a goddess, nor would bards weave ballads in her honor, but to Kyle, she was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale rankness of hay bales and whale blubber. Maybe Adriana was the most beautiful girl in town, but that was a mere coincidence; Kyle convinced himself by applying several farm cliches until their meeting became an epic legend: she, the diamond in the rough, he the savior from wiser, richer lands. This romantic vision was of course lost on Adriana, who still hadn't received an apology for the dark scratch marring her homework.

"Well?" she said.

"Huh?" he replied. His rosy storybook romance collapsed on him, the larger sections bruising his head as they tumbled roughly, dashed by reality. He blinked. Well, he botched the introduction, made her angry in the bargain, and now she expected something. A guy could never win, with dames. He figured being upfront and forward to a girl, a pariah by all accounts, would result in instant acceptance, hugs, and possibly dates and declarations of everlasting love. What was this? There really was only one answer that explained this and the earlier odd behavior from Jason and Sam: he was dreaming. This was a nonsensical world where he was the center of attention and the ultimate butt of every joke, and he didn't like it at all. No sir, this has got to stop. He closed his eyes, hard, willing himself awake, throwing every ounce of his concentration into the process until he wobbled slightly in disorientation.

"What... what are you doing?" she asked. If Kyle was unsure of the situation, Adriana was doubly so, first greeted brusquely without regard for her studying, then outright ignored by the same person. There he sat, crushing his eyes closed as if trying to remember the name of his first grade teacher's childhood dog, as if she didn't exist at all. "Hey!" she exclaimed, "What. Are. You. Doing?!"

Kyle's gambit failed, he opened his eyes and blew out a depressed sigh. "Sorry. I was just trying to wake up. Today's been really weird, so I'm obviously asleep. You're some kind of angel, I magically beat Jason Manny with a mom joke, and they tell me you're cursed. Doesn't that sound suspicious? I think so. I'm going to wake up now, because this is all nuts."

Adriana didn't really hear anything after Kyle called her an angel. She blushed hotly, never having received such a bold compliment. She figured boys were somehow intimidated by her, as boys were wont, leaving Kyle's unique approach without peer. Still, the pencil in her hand reminded her to remain angry, even if only a halfhearted obligation. The sternest glare she could muster conveyed mild annoyance at worst, and even that faded quickly as Adriana stared at Kyle, who continued his silly quest at ending his "dream."

"Um... Kyle? Your name's Kyle, right?" she asked.

Kyle opened his eyes, "Yeah. I... uh..." he trailed off, eyes skipping around the room as he swiveled his body, surveying his surroundings. A few seconds of this confirmed some pet theory he entertained, and crestfallen, he again faced Adriana, who struck Kyle as perturbed. Smooth.

Adriana had let the tip of her pencil lie, languid and forgotten, near the jagged scratch of her last aborted word. Kyle, distracted by her apparent disappointment, followed the yellow wooden line until his eyes stopped at the notebook. He couldn't read the girlish loops and curls, but the malformed 'y' formed a vicious gash among the otherwise artistic manuscript. She was no John Hancock, but the yawning crack formed by the pencil made him feel bad; no eraser could remove that monstrosity.

"Oh! I'm sorry!" he announced, embarrassed and horrified he ruined her homework, then frolicked forward in spite of that, seeking an introduction. Extra smooth. Like a barnacle-encrusted ship. Maybe less.

Adriana watched Kyle's confidence collapse like a souffle in a gunnery range, and couldn't contain a giggle. His frequent and exaggerated emotional reversals often had that effect, strangely, exclusively to his benefit. His shoulders shook once in a dry laugh; it was pretty funny, after all.

"Did I say my name was Kyle? I meant Dr. Oblivious. Hi, nice to meet you!" he said through punctuated laughs. Again he propelled his right hand forward. Let's make this official.

By then, Adriana's giggle shattered all remnants of her previously icy stare. "Well, Dr. How may I be of service?" she quipped.

Kyle relaxed then, deflating with a relieved sigh and settling fully on the uneven bench. A stunning reversal by Cemtes! There may even be a chance to score! Wishful thinking? Sure. Kyle had more important worries than idle daydreams: he had to devise an entirely new plan.

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