820 34 22

It's Cool - New Beat Fund


I was glad that the new guy sat by me. I mean, it was the only open desk in the classroom, but he was cool. The guys were even being cool. They could be real dicks sometimes, but for the whole class they kept asking Jorge to say different things and laughing good-naturedly at the way his accent twisted English words. Then, they all took turns saying his name. He finally decided none of us were saying it right and said, "you can just call me Jey. It's easier with your funny accents." This sent the guys into an uproar, causing Mr. Howell to look up with the dirtiest look on his face.

As the bell rang, I shouldered my backpack and turned to ask Jey where his next class was, hoping I could keep him from getting lost. I was too late, though. He was surrounded by a group of the self-proclaimed "VSCO girls" and I lost sight of him in a sea of scrunchies and crop tops. I heard one girl cry, "perfect, that's where I'm headed!" And shrugged it off. I figured he'd be okay if a couple of pretty girls walked him to where he needed to be.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. People everywhere were talking about Trevor's back to school party. His parents were some rich architects and were always getting called away to be consulted for this or that important project. Trevor, like any kid with not enough parental discipline and a constant influx of guilt cash, threw the best parties every single time they left. Which was nearly every weekend.

I had fallen into the routine of school already and had forgotten the excitement of a new student until I threw open the door of the locker room for my last-period gym class and saw him standing next to my locker, holding his shirt in his hands. "Oh, hi Jey!" I said, Simon's voice echoing in my head: Rules of the locker room are as follows; don't make eye contact, and don't be gay. He smiled at me, peeking out from under his bangs. "I am not used to these lockers," he mumbled sheepishly, "I locked my clothes inside."
"Oh, dude, I got you," I stepped over to his locker and helped him open it as he read the numbers off a scrap of paper to me. "Yes!" He cried as it popped open, grabbing excitedly onto my bicep. Surprised, I looked up and we locked eyes for a second. His were deep and dark.

He ducked his head, "thank you," he whispered and turned his back to me. I noticed a tiny formation of freckles on one shoulder blade that made a perfect triangle before I looked away.

It was clear throughout all of gym class that Jey wasn't much into sports or exercise. While I jogged around the track with Hannah, playfully pulling at her braided hair, he walked quietly with his hands shoved in his pockets. Hannah was chatty. She updated me on what all her friends did over the summer and what her plans were after school. She talked about how heavy her textbooks were and her class schedule. But the whole time she talked, I couldn't shake a weird feeling. I couldn't understand why I had noticed so many details about Jey in the locker room. Why did I know what color is eyes were or what shape his freckles made? I checked to make sure I knew what color Hannah's eyes were. Blue, I think.

"Benji?" Hannah's song-like voice broke into my thoughts, "babe, we're going inside. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," I assured her, "Just tired."
She smiled at me and reached over to smooth my hair. Her fingers were cool and comforting. Familiar. I decided that my intrusive thoughts about Jey were just my interest in there being a new student in a school where everyone went to kindergarten together and shook it off. Taking Hannah's hand in mine, I smiled back at her. "It's going to be a good year this year." As I said it, I looked back at Jey again. He was trailing behind everyone, looking at the ground as he moved his hands by his side very gently in a little rhythm. I knew he must've been singing to himself and the thought made my heart feel warm. I was on my way to making a new friend.

Softboi Season // benjeyWhere stories live. Discover now