Head in the Clouds
[Sequel to Smooth Operator]
I went back to uni on Wednesday. I genuinely wasn’t feeling well yesterday considering my clumsiness the day before, so at least I won’t have to entirely lie about the reason for my absence. My skull still hurts a bit.
After the first lecture there is a free period before the next one. Where Linda will also be.
Speaking of: I ended up wandering over to the library automatically, and there she is. Maybe I was searching for her subconsciously. Damn it, maybe it’s best if I just turn around and… she’s spotted me. She’s waving. Too late now.
“Oh hey, Cecilie!” she says as I walk over. At least she doesn’t seem like she hates me now, nor does she seem upset. “I didn’t see you around yesterday.”
“Ah, yeah… I-I wasn’t feeling well,” I answer as I hesitantly take a seat by her. Not too close, but this is one of the times we usually study together. If I run away again… “I thought it was b-best if I took a d-day off.” Damn it, stop stammering.
“Hm… well, you did seem a bit red on Monday.” So she had noticed! Ugh… it’s so hard to not squirm when she’s looking at me like that. “Maybe you caught one of those 24-hour flus.”
“Y-yeah, maybe…” I try to focus on taking out my text-books and notepad. These things are too heavy and expensive, honestly. It’s not like we have a choice though…
“Are you sure you’re okay now?” she asks. “You’re looking a bit pale.” I curse inwardly, and swallow my nervousness as I look towards her.
“I think I’m fine,” I manage to say, my voice feeling steadier now. I put on the best smile I can manage. “A few remaining aches, but not enough to stay home another day.” She looks a little concerned, but then smiles one of those smiles of hers that make me go weak in the knees. I’m really glad I’m already sitting.
“If you say so.” Is there something knowing in the way she says that? I can’t tell. Why did no one warn me that being in love was so hard? “I’ll try to catch you up on what they covered yesterday,” she offers.
I thank her, and do my best to pay attention. Afterwards we gradually settle into something that feels like normal again, where we mostly read and write by ourselves. My heart rate steadily calms down. I can handle this. I can recover.
After about half an hour where we quietly study and only exchange a couple of comments, I feel like I’m in a familiar place again. This is fine.
I hit upon a passage that seems strange to me, and without really thinking about it I say: “Hey Linda, I’m not sure I get this part…”
“Which part?” she asks as she leans over to look into my book. So close! Oh no, I can smell her shampoo. I have to maintain my composure. Hang in there, me.
I try to swallow as discreetly as I can while I point at the passage that troubled me.
“Oh yeah! I was just there earlier. You see-” She starts explaining it to me, thankfully sitting back up in the process. I think I do quite well in paying attention and taking notes. Go me! I can’t stop myself from letting out a small sigh of relief as we both turn back to our respective textbooks. I can only hope she didn’t hear that, or that if she did she didn’t read anything into it.
A while later, maybe 15 minutes, I hear her make that noise she makes when she’s pondering something.
“Hey Cecilie, can I get your opinion here?” I look over. It’s not one of the subjects I take, but sometimes having a fresh pair of eyes might help anyway. I lean over to get a look at it, very aware of how close I’m getting. Maybe I hesitated a moment too long though, because she gives me a strange look I’m unable to interpret.
I give my best take on what she asked about, then turn back to my own book again. I am failing to concentrate on it though, as I’m too occupied with speculating on what that look meant. I’m not so stupid as to think she isn’t aware something is up. I have probably been acting a little weird for a while, not just this Monday. But how much has she been able to figure out? What does she know? She has not pried so far, but considering my spectacular failure that might change.
A few minutes later she starts stretching. Even getting up from the chair and stretching to her full height, while making that noise people do. Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look. Why does she have to be so cute? It’s not making this any easier. She pauses for a moment, then sits back down.
“So what was it you wanted?” she asks suddenly. I look up to find her looking at me with an expression of curiosity.
“Huh?” I don’t understand what she means at first, as I was so deep in my own thoughts.
“What was it you wanted? You know, on Monday?” Oh no, my fear is coming true. “You really looked like you were going to say something, before you…” She’s clearly thinking about how she wants to phrase it. “… changed your mind,” she settles on. With a kindness I’m not sure I can resist.
“I c-can’t remember,” I lie. Damn it, the stammer is back, and I’m probably turning red again. I don’t think she’s buying it, so I quickly add: “I-if it comes to m-mind again, I’ll l-let you know.” I try to smile reassuringly, but I doubt I succeed.
“Mm…” she still looks sceptical, but gives a small nod as if she’s willing to accept it. “Okay. I hope you are able to remember,” she adds with a wry smile. Argh, I can’t let this sit for too long!
The rest of the time until the lecture passes in relative silence, only broken by me going to get us drinks from the vending machine. It’s no use. My ability to study has been broken. All I can do is pretend, and hope she doesn’t ask me anything else. Which she doesn’t. I wonder whether that was partly due to being nice.
We get up and head to the lecture, where the first half passes with neither of us saying anything. I struggle so hard to pay attention, but I barely catch half of it, if that. Can I even ask to look over her notes when I was right there next to her? Maybe if I admit why I’m not able to concentrate… no. No way.
Blargh. As we reach the break, I put my head down on the bench-top in front of me, which I notice makes her look over at me. This is ridiculous! I’m a grown woman!
I sit up straight, maybe a little too quickly, as she looks a bit startled when I turn to face her. Here we go.
“U-um, Linda? Would y-you… I mean… d-do you want to go for pizza on Friday?” Yes. Good. We’ve gone to eat together before. This is normal. This is good. Oh gods, how must I look right now?
She gives me a puzzled look, which then turns bemused.
“Sure. The usual place?” I nod quickly, and try to not worry about how she may or may not be suppressing laughter. Forget about butterflies in the stomach, I think all my blood has turned to butterflies.
“Right then. When were you thinking?” she asks. Shit… when was I thinking? I go over it as quickly as I can. Last lecture ends at three, then I need to get home, get ready, and get back down there.
“Um… around six?” I settle on. I don’t want it to be too late.
“Alright. Around six it is.” She is definitely sounding amused now, but it’s too late to worry about that. I did it! She said yes! It takes all my remaining restraint to not outright cheer.
The second half of the lecture passes as silently as the first, though afterwards I realise I still wasn’t able to pay attention due to being so happy and relieved.
[Sequel: When the Moon Hits Your Eye]