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I looked across the classroom. First day of school, and I was the first one there. Empty desks stared back at me, giving me the choice of where to sit. I knew it didn’t matter—most likely the teacher had a seating chart already arranged—but I walked to the farthest seat in the left-hand corner of the classroom, farthest away from the door. All throughout junior high, I had made it through without having to talk to anyone, without any friends or connections. I figured it was easiest that way, considering what had happened with my parents’ marriage when they’d fallen in love. I didn’t want that. I wanted solace. The farthest seat in the back of the classroom gave that to me.
I plunked my books down and dropped into the desk, crossing my legs and bending my head so that my thick black hair shrouded my face. It was the universal sign of “Leave Me Alone”. I heard the shuffling sounds of moving feet as my freshmen classmates slowly filed in. Girlish gossip and teasing laughter filled the air, making me wish for my earphones, locked away in my locker. No one sat in front of me. They got the message. Good. I heard telltale whispers of “that girl” and “so weird” from the preppy-wanna-bees across the room, but I didn’t care. They weren’t bold enough to say it to my face, sharing it amongst themselves, so they weren’t the kind of friends I needed. The bell rang and we settled in for the first lecture of high school.
Unfortunately, one poor student was late. Hastily scuffling in with murmured apologies, the unlucky boy headed for a desk. The only one left. The one in front of me. I peeked through my bangs as he said down and pulled out his notebook and pencil, ready for action. I could not see his face, only his shoulder-length black hair. He wore and faded gray T-shirt and washed out designer jeans with frayed edges. His Sketchers were stained and had a hole in one of the toes. The outline of a wallet stood out against his back pocket, and the tag of his shirt stuck up. Normal kid. Didn’t interest me.
Typical first day, as the teacher only introduced us to what she called “freshmen life” and gave us a simple assignment of writing down our names, email addresses, and phone numbers so that she was able to send our grades to our parents. She then sat down on her computer and promptly began to play Solitaire. Nice. I could catch the three hours of sleep I’d been detained of the night before.
I cracked my eye open. The kid was talking to me. Well, I wouldn’t talk back. I closed my eyes again.
Great. Annoying AND stupid. Sarcastically I answered, “No.”
Silence. Would he leave me alone?
“Um…are you scared of spiders?”
I groaned inwardly. He wanted to chat? Well, he had another thing coming. I remained in stony silence.
“I guess it wouldn’t matter.”
“Well…I suppose you wouldn’t be a problem. After all, you aren’t awake.”
What was he talking about?
“Unless…you wake up to go to the next class. That would be problematic.”
I was gonna show him “problematic” here in a minute.
“I can see why he likes you.”
“You have beautiful hair. So black its almost blue. And it shimmers. Like silk. I wonder how long it took you to brush it to perfection. Almost like a spider’s web.”
I resisted the urge to open my eyes again. He was a persistent one. Different.
“Yes, if I were a spider, I would love to live in your hair.”
Again with the spiders. Did he have some hidden point?
“I wonder why he chose you. Obviously you are an outsider. Spiders are outsiders, too. And beautiful, though a lot of people don’t think so. They only live to spin webs and guard their young. One purpose.”
My heart twisted. He could have been describing me exactly. How did he know?
“Do you have a purpose? One that you know? You probably think you do. Or maybe you don’t.”
I squeezed my eyes shut.
“Everyone has a purpose, even little spiders. One in a million. Everyone is special.”
I wished I could disappear. He was silent for another minute longer.
“Your hair is really stunning. I wonder…are your eyes as intriguing?”
“I guess I’ll never know. You’ve not responded all this time. Still as ice. Still, I would like to see your eyes. Someone as extraordinary as you couldn’t possibly have normal eyes.”
How did he know what I was? I’d never met him before! And his small talk was ticking me off. Never mind his intuitiveness.
I opened my eyes and glared at him. Or at least, I tried to. I couldn’t see beyond my hair. I tilted my head slightly, only letting one eye show through.
I caught my breath.
Sitting in front of me was the most stunning, most gorgeous guy I’d ever seen. His features accented his chin and cheekbones perfectly, and his eyebrows and hair were the bleakest shade of black imaginable. His lips were full and strong, fitting in his face as if placed there by angels. But his eyes were the most striking. They were a burnished gold, as if an inner fire fueled them in an eternal flame. They stood out in his face, almost feline, almost glowing. They stared into my eyes like a spear to the soul, unearthing every secret, every pain I had kept hidden. They made me want to cry.
He smiled, becoming even more beautiful, if that were even possible.
“I knew it,” he said, “Extraordinary. Your eyes are like frozen diamonds, perfectly clear. The opposite of your hair. You are really quite beautiful.”
I frowned at him.
“Please be kind enough to tell me what you are talking about,” I demanded.
His smile faded to a lopsided grin, revealing a dimple in his left cheek. “You seemed lonely, so I kept you both company.”
I cocked my head, allowing my hair to sway away from my face. “Both?”
I froze. What…?
“I told you. There is a wolf spider in your hair, just at the top of your head. Has been there ever since I saw you.” He chuckled. “I thought it was a hair thing. But his warning stance proved me wrong. He’s like a tiara on you. He likes you. You’re someone else if you’re unafraid of an arachnid in your hair.”
I stared at him with widening eyes. Was he telling the truth? Was this some sort of joke?
“Could you…” my voice choked. “Could you…get him off?”
He reached upwards without replying, and his fingers brushed my hair. His hand came back down, holding a huge, black spider. It didn’t move until he set it on the windowsill beside his desk. There, it scurried into an unseen hole, out of sight.
I couldn’t help it. I started to cry. I hated spiders. Hated them. Handsome looked at me as if he understood, a look of sympathy on his face. I wasn’t angry with him. I couldn’t be.
“Th-thank you,” I whispered.
He smiled again, and my heart sped up. “No problem, Rachel. I’m Kyle.”
“Nice to meet you.” I smiled myself, remembering my resolve not to speak to him. Feeling glad I had.
He held out his hand. I stared at it. Then, hesitantly, I put mine in his. His fingers closed around me, strong and sure. When he shook my hand, I found myself wanting more. Wanting him to hug me, envelope me in his arms the same way his fingers enveloped my pale hand.
“The pleasure is mine.”
I looked up at him again. It had only been about five minutes, but I felt like I knew him already. Like he was my friend. This had not happened before. I didn’t make friends. I didn’t talk to boys. I didn’t want that. Remember my parents, how they’re divorced, split up. How they split me up.
But I did want it. I realized this when he lifted my hand and pressed his warm, sweet lips against it. They only did that in fairy tales. As his lips caressed my skin, I couldn’t keep myself from gasping in pleasure. His eyes flashed at the sound, and he smiled, kissed it again, this time on the inside of my wrist. I didn’t want him to let go. I grabbed his hand in both of mine and pulled them to my own lips, kissing his fingertips.
Flabbergasted, I let them drop. What was I doing? I sat back, away from this striking boy. He didn’t look puzzled. He didn’t pull away. He smiled knowingly, his eyes warm.
“Its alright, my spridress,” he whispered so that only I could hear. “I only wanted to keep you company. You don’t have to return it if you don’t want to.”
“But I do…”
Clamped my mouth shut. I shouldn’t have…
He grinned again, then reached forward and brushed my hair away from my face so that he could cup my cheek in his oh-so-soft hand. “That’s alright…that’s wonderful. You’re Extraordinary. One in a million of those I could have talked to, and I chose the small spider unlike the others. I’m glad I did.”
I sat there, not wanting the moment to end. Wanting him to say again what didn’t make any sense, but somehow did at the same time. Not knowing how to respond, I nodded. He swept my hair behind my ear and placed a kiss on my nose before pulling away.
The bell rang, and the class exploded for the door. Kyle turned away and picked up his books, flowing with the tide. I glanced at the windowsill, seeing the spider peek out from behind the hole. Encouraging me.
I ran into the hall and saw his retreated form. I ran to catch up with him, not caring who saw me. He turned as I called his name, a question on his face.
I opened my mouth, wanting to tell him….what?
“You’re one in a million, too,” I whispered, finally.
He nodded, grinned, then melted back into the sea of faces.