I am exhausted.
After tutoring Benji, I go straight home to finish all my assignments, which take a while to finish because I was busy on Facebook.
I slam my locker and trudge to my English class that is all the way on the other side of the school. While walking to class, I notice Benji walking towards me through the hallway.
He looks so different from yesterday. He walks with a certain confidence that I didn't notice. He looks like he's brooding over some thought, and I notice some girls take quick glances over at him.
I roll my eyes at those girls. Have they never seen a guy before?
When Benji spots me in the hallway, his whole face lights up. He runs over to hug me like an excited puppy, which causes us to fall down with a loud oomph.
"Casey!" he says my name.
"Benji? Get off me," I push him off me as other students give us strange looks as they pass by.
I quickly get up from the floor.
"I'm just so happy to see you," he says.
"That's great and all Benji, but I really need to get to class," I quickly try to run away from him but notice that he's following me.
"Don't you have to go to class?" I turn around and ask him.
"Yeah, but I have time," he smiles without a care in the world.
"No you don't! You need to get to class right now," I go behind him to push him around to the other direction, but he turns the other way so that we turn around in circles.
"This is fun!" he exclaims.
Frustrated, I stop pushing him and say, "Forget this."
I scurry over to my next class before he could trail me again.
I enter the classroom to see everyone staring at me strangely. They probably saw me on the floor with Benji in the hallways. That sounds so wrong.
I walk over with my head held high to my usual seat and pretend not to care at all the stares.
When I take a seat, Jason who sits next to me says, "I saw something really interesting in the hallway today."
Jason and I have become really close over the years because we had a lot of the same classes. I have also had the biggest crush on him, but it seems that I am stuck in the absolutely sucky friend zone.
"Really, what did you see?" I give him a fake smile.
I pray to universe that he is talking about a different incident that happened in the hallway.
"You on the floor with some guy," my mouth twitches, "I didn't know the valedictorian would partake in such actions especially on school grounds," he says dramatically.
"Shut up," I slap his arm.
"But, seriously. You and von Adalwulf? Never expected that."
"There's nothing going on," I deny.
"Sure there isn't," he raises his eyebrows suggestively.
I groan and lower my head on the desk.
"What are you doing?" he asks.
"Taking a nap," I mumble.
"A nap? Are you serious? It's only first period," he says.
"You would think that after you get into college, everything would be done and over with, but AP exams are coming up. I had so much work to do last night for my classes," I yawn.
"Aren't you taking six?" he asks with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah," I yawn and could feel my eyelids growing heavier.
"I don't know how you do it," he says, "Well, you are Casey Forest."
I spent all morning trying to lose Benji who kept following me from class to class. After English, I thought he gave up, but there he was waiting patiently for me.
I had half a mind to quit and never see him again, but I already canceled all of my other tutoring jobs, and I need the money.
After all, it's all for France. Throughout the whole morning I kept chanting France in my mind as a calming mantra to keep me from leaving this madness.
Lunch is the one part of my school day when I can just relax.
"Casey, let's go to the library," my friend, Diane, whines.
I take that back. There is never a time that I can just sit and relax.
"But, I'm not even finished eating," I tell her while pointing at my half eaten sandwich.
Diane rolls her eyes, "Fine, we'll wait."
My friends have this annoying habit of wanting to leave for the library right after we finish our lunch. Their reason is that the cafeteria is too loud, but sometimes I just want to enjoy my lunch period in peace.
"The weirdest thing happened to me," I remember the strange first tutoring session from yesterday.
"What?" they ask.
"I almost kissed one of the kids who I'm tutoring."
"You cougar," Diane teases while the others are asking for more details.
"I just got this huge offer to tutor the guy that Ms. Willow is taking care of."
"You mean Benjamin von Adalwolf?"
"Yeah. You know him?"
"Who hasn't heard of him?" my other close friend Val asks.
"All I know is that his guardian is the Board of Ed's president," I say while taking another bite from my sandwich.
"You need to be more in tune with the gossip of the school," Diane says, "Benjamin von Adalwulf may only be an underclassmen, but let's just say tall, dark, and handsome. Girls are all over him, but he barely comes to school. He's quiet and keeps to himself," Diane explains.
"Don't forget mysterious," Val adds.
"How do you know all this?" I ask curiously.
"Gym," Diane and Val answer at the same time.
"So you two just couldn't help attacking each other," my other close friend Sarah says suggestively.
"No," I deny, "I don't know what happened but we were close together, and it just happened," I blush when I remember how we almost kissed yesterday. But, I change the subject, "Tall, dark, and handsome? I mean I get the tall and handsome part, but he's like a cute little puppy."
My friends give me a strange look.
"You sure you met the right guy?" Jane asks.
"Yeah. I'm pretty sure. He was all pouty and asked me really personal questions. It was really weir-"
"Casey!" someone calls my name and jumps me from behind.
"What the hell?" I turn around to see Benji hugging me.
"Hi Casey!" he says perkily and takes the seat right next to me.
My friends are silently shocked as they see Benji acting completely differently from what they knew about him. For once, they have nothing to say.
"What's up?" he asks me casually.
"I'm eating lunch with my friends," I tell him coldly.
"I thought I'd come see my favorite tutor, but she doesn't seem to want to see me," he says sadly.
Why does he always make me feel like I'm kicking puppies whenever he's sad?
"No, it's not like I don't want to see you," I mumble embarrassedly, which makes him smile.
My friends just curiously watch the exchange, which makes me blush a bright pink.
"Anyways, Benjamin, what are you doing here?" I ask him.
"Call me Benji, mein schatzi" he insists.
"Mein schatzi?" I ask him, "What does that mean?"
"I'll tell you when you come over next time," he winks and leaves, "Tschüs," he says in German.
"I told you he's not dark or mysterious," I say to my friends.
"Yeah, but he's all over you," Jane teases.
"Casey and Benji, sitting in a tree-" my friends immaturely sing together to tease me.
"Shut up," I snap at them and take a huge bite from my sandwich.
After trying hard to escape Benji, I immediately go home. I don't even wait in the lobby with my friends to avoid the usual afterschool rush.
I drop my key in the bowl next to the front entrance and yell, "I'm home!" to anyone who is home.
I walk into the kitchen to get a snack to see my mom talking to someone over the phone.
"Yes, I know we're so proud of her," I hear my mom probably talking about me.
She waves at me and says something to the other person on the line before hanging up.
"That was Tony's mom," my mom says.
"Remember that boy who was in your SAT class over the summer?" she asks while looking through some mail.
"Right, Tony." I remember the scraggly boy who was in my class. He was so annoying claiming that he was such a genius at everything, but he could never beat me.
"His mother just told me that Tony got into Yale," my mother informs me of the latest college gossip of the town, "she couldn't wait to rub it in that you didn't get in there, but he did."
I roll my eyes. My mother just loved bragging to the other mothers in town.
"But, I couldn't help list all the other Ivys that you got into," she smiles smugly to herself.
"Oh mom," I sigh after finishing my snack and then go upstairs to my room.
"Are you going anywhere today?" she asks me.
"I think I'm going to the park today."
"You sure you want to go? I heard that there is a wolf warning lately."
"Wolves? I doubt I didn't even think that wolves roam in the mean suburbs of New York," I say sarcastically.
"You never know," she says.
"I'll be careful, mom," I reassure her and run up the stairs before she could say anything else.
I quickly change into some exercise clothing before running out the door for a run. Running is the best stress reliever from school, and with all the stress from Benji today, I just wanted to let it out.
After running endlessly for an hour, I rest on a bench at the park close to the water fountain.
I lean over on my knees as I try to catch my breath, and I see a muzzle. I look up to see the biggest dog I have ever seen. Wait, maybe it's a wolf.
I could hear my mom's warning echoing in my head.
"Oh, no. Oh, god," I freak out and jump off the bench and try to get as far away from the wolf as possible.
Is this karma for sleeping all through out English… math… and history?
Suddenly the wolf's light brown eyes zero in on me, and then the brown wolf jumps on me. I scream in fright anticipating my ultimate demise, but I feel the dog's wet muzzle nudging my face as if to open my eyes.
I slowly open my eyes one by one to see the wolf panting friendly, and then he licks my cheek. I may not be good with animals, but I don't think that this wolf is going to eat me alive. I slowly get up from the floor, which seems like the second time today.
When I get up to my feet, the wolf happily wags his tail side to side. I awkwardly pet the wolf on the head and say, "Good boy."
I then slowly walk away from the wolf and then speed up into a sprint away from the park.
Thank the universe that it didn't follow me.