He looks glum. Radiating sadness, almost, as he strolls across the school foyer to reach the rest of us. It's such a nonchalant melancholiness that it's impossible for me to tell if he's simply had a bad lesson, or if he's still touchy over his cat getting mowed by a Volvo.
"Alright?" I speak quietly.
"Yeah. Shit lesson. Can't fucking cope with PE anymore." Charlie sighs a long breath, exhaling stress and flashing the rest of the group a brief smile.
Colette groans, longing for food. We follow her to the canteen and I walk beside Charlie.
"Do you ever low-key ship Colette and Tash?" He asks. We glance ahead at Tash, who has her hand interlinked with Colette's.
"Maybe a tiny bit." I giggle. He laughs too- a smile. A genuine one, relief from a shitty lesson. I glow a little bit.
As we take up seats in the canteen, I open up my lunch and start chewing on a waffle. Charlie is looking around, his mind floating away into space. I wonder what he's thinking of. Stars? Space? His favourite shirt? Charlie's mind always seems like an enigma. My lessons are often spent thinking, "I wonder if Charlie was thinking of this when I last saw him..."
"Does anyone know where Carter is?" Lauren pipes. We look around- our short stop friend is no where to be seen. Lauren then looks concerned.
"I'll go check the English block." She leaves. One less friend at lunch. Shitty conversations pop up around the table and Charlie is left asking me how health and social class went. The opportunity to vent the hatred I feel towards my classmates is appealing; I scream quietly and begin yelling. We laugh together and smile. Nothing seems better right now that laughing along with him. His honest smile is like a full moon. Infrequent. But when seen- glimmering. Shining out amongst the gentle, subtle contour of his face. Pearl white rows of teeth and a quiet laugh escapes with it. And my stomach twists like putty when it rises up to that usually cold surface like a rush of warm air. The corners of his eyes crinkle and rise, the deep brown irises glittering with happiness and the sharp cheekbones I dream to hold with my hands lift and shine. It's a moment in time that slows and stirs this emotion in me.
And I hate to call it love.