This story is by Vince Alvarez Jr. and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
James opened the doors to the auditorium to hear a piano singing. It’s sound was alive as it jumped around the room. Giving James almost a comforting feeling despite not recognizing the piece. Focusing more on what the piece might have been, he looked at the pianist. Brown hair flowed down to her waist, jumping up and down in tune with the music. It was in no way neat hair, but thats all James was able to see until he got around to seeing her face. Of all the people who would want to play piano during lunch, Molly Angallia hadn’t crossed his mind. The music suddenly stopped and James realized Molly was looking right at him, with eyes of shock and horror.
“What in the hell are you doing here?!” She cried.
James was taken aback at the sudden snap from melodic piano playing, that he was about to compliment, to the demonic annoyance of Molly.
“What does it matter? I just wanted some peace and quiet; the cafeteria has always been noisy.” His voice echoed.
“Well I don’t care, you can’t just walk in on me playing the piano. Leave already!” She demanded.
James always bickered with her, and she always blamed him for things that were out of his control. He just rolled his eyes and opened the doors. The last sound coming out of the auditorium was the slamming of piano keys.
Sitting on the steps, he finished his sandwich in a perplexed mood. Should he have been mad at her, or annoyed? He looked at his empty lunchbox. Lunch was just his time to relax by himself and think, avoiding all the worries high school brings. Of course, it wasn’t entirely relaxing today after Molly barked at him so abruptly. His train of thought came to a conclusion quickly when Molly went to walk up the stairs.
“Good piano playing,” He blurted out.
She almost took a step back as she responded “I don’t need a compliment from you, James.” she walked passed him clutching her books closer to her chest.
When she was almost out of hearing range, James could have sworn he heard a thank you.
After lunch, James came back to class to think of a plan to talk to his crush. This plan was foiled as soon as she began the conversation.
“Hey James, do you have the homework?” Alexa’s eyes glimmered.
He almost fell of his chair as he clutched his notebook under the desk, “yea here.”
She giggled and opened it up. He had known Alexa for two years but never managed to do anything about it. The only person that knew about who he liked was Molly.
Trying not to fall asleep for the rest of the day, James heard the final bell and rushed out of the classroom.
James would always want to rush home to finish his chores as fast as he could in order to relax. He had the idea that if he came back from school and continued working, he wouldn’t pull the excuse of being lazy and would be able to finish his chores. The fault in this plan was Molly. Her house was two houses down from his, so they would walk the same way home. This problem would persist since she would always be in the same hurry that he was in. He could never pinpoint her rush to get home.
“Why do you always have a sense of urgency to get home?” James asked. There couldn’t be any harm in asking.
She looked at him with eyes of resentment “my piano lessons start ten minutes after school ends, what do you care.”
James started to remember what she was like without such an attitude. She was the bubbly girl that would be nice to everyone, and would always obsess over the fallen crimson leaves in Fall. Middle school was when she changed. It was the same time she started her piano lessons.
James finished his chores and decided to look at the yearbooks he had. Flipping past old faces and funny memories, he came to Molly’s picture in their last year of middle school. Maybe he was being too harsh on her. They used to be friends in the past anyway, the least he can do is give her a second chance.
He decided to set the alarm early in hopes that he could get in the auditorium before students started to show up.
Thanks to his luck, the doors were locked. James stood there for a good 10 minutes with two bags of lunch in hand hoping some crazy idea came to mind. He decided it would just be best to give it up and wait until lunch. The walk to class was a series of lonely steps.
Setting himself in his seat for another boring day, he heard a gasp and turned around to see Alexa bright-eyed.
Noticing the wrong seat that he was in, he got up and dashed over to his.
He wouldn’t dare look at the beautiful girl behind him as she said “Is that lunch for me?”
He looked at his hand, and found his opportunity. “Yea, I mean maybe we could eat lunch together,” He mumbled. Hoping no one else would have heard.
She took the bag and looked at him “Well I always eat with my friends, but this is really nice thank you so much! I’ll make sure to give you the containers tomorrow.”
James simply nodded his head and looked at Molly at the other end of the classroom, who looked away with no expression.
The next day he brought the same lunch bag, and was successful in getting into the auditorium before Molly got there to practice. When the doors opened, the two of them locked eyes, searching for words to say in the passing moment.
“I brought you lunch. I realized that you didn’t have any and maybe I was being a jerk before by letting myself in during your practice, so…” James just trailed off hoping that she would keep her end of the conversation.
“That was a stupid idea,” she mumbled.
James almost had to ask her to say that again before he realized that she wasn’t being rude. Her hands behind her back squirmed in discomfort as her cheeks turned rose.
He started laughing out loud, and her face turned into a brighter red. The type of color that she used to tell him about during Fall.
“You can’t just come in here, and expect me to eat lunch with you! And what, you want me to play the piano too, is that why you’re really here?” ignoring rude retort, he stood up and held up her lunch.
“I’m sorry. I was just trying to offer you some food and maybe we could talk a bit. What’s wrong with listening to you play piano if it’s good?” His eyes were fixed on her.
She explained her low self esteem that came with piano playing as she took the sandwich his mom made for her.
James felt this sudden rekindled connection when she began to show him some of the keys on the piano. Feeling her emotions that had flown into the black and white notes.
“So you really like Alexa huh?” Her voice no lower than a whisper.
James looked at the keys of the piano and simply nodded. He then felt a faint hint of jealousy off of her. He looked at her eyes. That’s when everything changed.
Her eyes, weren’t those of satan, but those of the girl that he had known for so long. The hair wasn’t the ragged witch style he had always thought it was, but rather the stressed history that the two of them had between each other. Her lips quivering as she tried to keep her hands steady. Her body keeping a close distance from his as if screaming that it wanted to be closer.
The thing that made him hold his breath however, was when she leaned in. James couldn’t tell of his surroundings. He couldn’t tell if he was looking at her eyes, or her puffy cheeks that turned more and more red the closer she got. He couldn’t tell if he was at school or in a completely different universe with just the two of them. He was able to determine one thing however. Molly Angallia was the most beautiful human being he had ever known. And he leaned in.