Latoya Jones, Grade 10, Iona Presentation College
She was a habit. Her emerald eyes sparkled in the light, reflecting the sun’s rays and crinkling at the sides in laughter. Her eyelashes, casting a shadow over her high cheekbones, were placed carefully on her olive skin. Her light, high-pitched laughter echoes as she tries to prevent the snort that follows. But to no avail, it emerges. Her cheeks turn a dark rosy red as her friends laugh harder at her embarrassment and she self-consciously covers her face with her tiny delicate hands.
Mrs Mable, an old lady with fragile purple glasses hanging around her neck, her long shapeless dress – wrinkled by the wreck of her nervous hands, quietly tells everyone to find a seat. I observe from the back corner of the classroom. Closest to the lines of windows overlooking the worn grass, tainted by the wrath of students, an occasional distraction. I sink lower into my seat, my legs bending submissively at the action. My over-grown hair covers my forehead and my hand hides my frown, my elbow placed on the breaking wooden desk. The class is a chorus of groans as Mrs Mable announces in her quiet squeak that she will be selecting partners.
I turn back to the desk in front of me. She’s biting her nails again. I always said that it was a bad habit, I even showed her pictures of what could happen. But she always shrugged and dived onto the couch, another horror movie playing as I laughed behind her. She never quit that habit no matter how much I insisted, but in a way, we both didn’t abandon our habits.
Suddenly, she sinks lower into her seat, head-butting the desk, shoulders drooping and body tense. I look over at Mrs Mable, my eyebrows creased in confusion.
She repeats herself, “Brendon, you are paired with Trinity.”
Trinity hadn’t moved. Remaining in a position of pure misery, face stone cold with no emotion. Everyone shot up out of their seats like fireworks and scampered towards their partners. She sat there motionless, unforgivably glaring at the desk and scratching the wood slowly with her right index finger. Digging deeper and deeper with each line. I rose and moved towards the desk beside her, like a prey trying to sneak past its predator. Descending slowly into the chair, I examined her balled fists tightening on the desk, her hair covering her face away from me in the awkward silence. I scrutinise the name Claire with a love heart dotting the ‘i’ on the dull wood of the desk. My body slumped and I exhaled. My eyes quickly shoot upwards as she pushes herself up, gathering all of her things and storms out of class, slamming the door on her way out. The glass window quivering, before I could say a word. And from then on, I knew, that years of love can be forgotten in the hatred of a minute.