Nothing To Hide From

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Cleo tried not to think about it.

She tried​ not to think about the fact he was there.

Sitting next to her, tapping away on his phone, tapping his feet on the floor of the subway, barely noticing her.

Her long, brown hair was her curtain to hide behind. It covered most part of her face, and she made sure it did. She hugged her bag close to her chest, like it had something she couldn't live without.

Her fingers pulled at her cardigan sleeves as she struggled not to bite her nails. It was an old, nervous, disgusting habit of hers that she had tried to stop. It was chilly inside the subway; she wished she hadn't worn the ripped jeans that showed off her knees. Now cold air pricked at it.

Cleo gave the man quick glances, but he didn't even lift his head, let alone look at her. A pair of headphones were clamped firmly over his ears. There was a slight stubble over his chin and square jaws. He rubbed at it once, and scratched his cheek.

She knew him.

But they hadn't​ seen each other for a few years.

Would he recognize her?

Oh, he wouldn't.

It's not like they had talked then.

He had been the person with friends who gave him fist bumps; she had been the girl who saw herself lucky, if someone picked up the pencil she'd dropped accidentally on the floor, for her.

And that happened so, so rarely.

She had been the kind of person who noticed.

She would notice an empty seat in class. Or people who never turned in assignments on time. Or a book left forgotten.

He was the kind of boy who would snap gum during sessions. Or have a huge wristwatch. Or have friends who dragged him away to hang out with them.

It's like they were two poles of the same magnet. He would be the North Pole, the top in everything he did. She would be the South Pole, the exact opposite of an all-rounder.

But she was a good observer. And she had perfect grades. And the teachers loved the fact that she was meek and quiet and never created any trouble for them.

But grades weren't enough. She knew it.

She couldn't sing, or dance, or act, or give a speech without nervously stuttering halfway.

Cleo lowered her head, burrowing in her shame. Her introverted personality had been solidified with her perpetual shyness and timid demeanor. The mere thought of going on a stage was enough for her knees to shake. She had always looked at pop stars in awe, wondering how they could sway to the beat and sing without the slightest trace of nervousness.

Cleo straightened up, and pushed her hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Cold air freshened her, and she placed her bag near her feet, and pulled out her phone, staring at the time. She had about five minutes before her stop, so she stood up, pulling down the tank top she was wearing underneath her cardigan, before swiping up her bag.

She held the pole in front of her firmly. There weren't much people on board at this particular point of time, something she honestly loved. She hated being in a crowd, it was like being suffocated.

Someone stood up and she slightly turned her head to glance at them, before doing a double take.

It was him.

Cleo's heart began to beat so hard, she could almost hear its echo in the subway car.

Please sit back down, she prayed in her head.

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