Wil walked slowly, her soft brown hair framing a small, pensive face. Her dark eyes, so full of the depth of life, scanned the crowd. Her slim yet graceful body moved ever forward as her peers stared in awe.
Boys watched and wanted from the corners of their eyes, as girls shot looks of envy. That purple cloak was stunning. Those boots were the height of fashion. The scarf was an expensive weave of black on black. The young woman who wore them was so naturally beautiful.
Although she tried to ignore them, Wil was conscious of the attention. Anyone would have to be. She pretended she wasn’t, however. She needed to reach her ride, and couldn’t afford distractions.
“I purchased these flowers for you,” spoke a timid young man with black, wavy hair. He offered them in a shaking hand. Wil brushed them aside, dusting petals to the floor.
A confident boy with blond hair and smoldering eyes tried to block her path. “Let’s catch a movie tonight, Wil.” He was sure to be accepted, but she dodged around his Letterman-jacketed arm.
“You’re coming to my birthday, right?” The Class President begged Wil. She approached with an anxious, artificially white smile; and left with a spoiled frown.
They sought her like hypnotized moths to a tempting flame. But, Wil’s heart-shaped face turned only one way. Her deep glance rested on only one person. Her body was drawn to only one other body.
He would be waiting, she knew, with more than flowers. He would take her somewhere better than a theater. He didn’t have birthday parties filled with fake people.
Wil whispered his name. “Derek.”
She reached the doors to outside, and pushed through them. A disappointed trail of admirers was behind her and the afternoon was before her. The shy sun illuminated her path to the idling minivan at the curb.
Even her neighbors stared as she approached, every other distraction forgotten in Wil’s presence. They shifted to give her the best seat as Wil ducked and entered the vehicle.
“How are you today, Wil?” Mrs. Crandall attempted. Wil didn’t respond, but no one expected she would.
Mrs. Crandall faced forward, appeared to watch surrounding traffic, and pulled into the familiar queue of cars heading home.
Reagan, pulling an earbud from her right ear, turned to Wil and whispered, “So, you’re part of our group now, right?”
Wil didn’t hear at first, as she slid in her seat at the sudden movement of Mrs. Crandall braking and honking.
She realized Reagan had spoken to her, and brilliantly responded, “Huh?”
“Our group,” Reagan persisted. “You got the notes. Derek said you’d find out about it after school today.” She looked at Wil’s face and raised her eyebrows expectantly.
“Oh,” Wil replied. “Um. Yeah.”
“So,” Reagan said, “Welcome.” She sat back, pushing her ear bud back in place and looking at her phone again. She had been reading it since first climbing in the van.
Wil blinked in the reality of the small cabin around her, and realized she ought to actually read what Derek had given her.
Continued from Thirty-Four.