The Date

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The Date

Taryn McGraw, Staff Reporter

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I stared at the blank screen of my phone and sighed for the millionth time. I kept thinking about that night; the night of the haunted house so many months ago. That awkward encounter with the ghost was one of the craziest things in my entire life. 

I mean… who punches a guy in the face because you get scared in a haunted house? Me, of course. It even turned out great with me getting the handsome ghost’s number and a promise for dinner. 

I sighed once again and closed my eyes, slamming my head on the dining table. Mateo practically jumped out of his seat across from me in alarm as his head whipped up to face me. 

“You still haven’t called that Jasper kid?” My brother asked, already knowing the answer.

“It’s too weird to do it now. It’s already the start of another semester. Even Christmas had passed.” I shook my head in grief.

“That’s why you should have contacted him right away after you got his number. You probably broke his heart when you never reached out since he only gave you his number and you didn’t give him yours.”

“I’m not sure about that. He most likely said that on a whim. He wasn’t serious.”

Mateo raised one eyebrow. “How are you so sure about that?”

I glared at him. “I just know. Now, can you please drop the subject?”

My brother sighed and nodded reluctantly. “Okay, now hurry and finish your breakfast so you can get to school. It’s the first day of a new semester and you don’t want to be late.”

I looked at my watch and stood up in alarm. 

“I’m going to be late!” I exclaimed, shoving the rest of the food into my mouth like a garbage disposal, then sprinted out the door, snatching my backpack from the couch on the way. 

“Wait! School doesn’t start for another hour and a half!” Mateo tried, but I was already out the door.

 

“Ugh!” I yelled out loud in an empty classroom. “I must be the unluckiest person in the world!” I should have checked my phone instead of my now-broken watch, which must have happened the previous night. Not even the teacher was there. 

I took a desk next to the window and sat down, resting my head in the cold, hard surface of the thin slab of wood. I closed my eyes, already exhausted. My brother’s interrogation wore me out and I didn’t want to stress out about some boy. I just wanted to relax.

My eyes jerked open as a set of large textbooks were slammed on the desk next to mine. I surveyed the classroom to find it filling up with people; even the teacher was at his desk typing away at his keyboard. 

I observed the different cliques. Everybody smiling and laughing, sometimes gossiping or telling each other about the most amazing trips they took over Christmas break. Everyone always found some way to talk about themselves. 

My eyes, as well as the rest of my classmates’, were drawn to the door as a loud group of boys entered the classroom, joking and laughing hysterically at what one of them said in the hall. Most people turned back to what they were doing, but I didn’t move a muscle. One of the boys with messy dirty blonde hair had his back turned to me, but he looked very familiar and I couldn’t explain why. 

The said boy turned around to scan the classroom only to stop when his striking blue eyes made contact with my hazel ones. Our eyes widened in shock; the same shock we had when we first met. 

“Jasper,” I whispered. He read my lips and smiled in amusement.

“Teagan,” He mouthed, but I knew exactly what he said. Jasper turned to his friends to say one thing before turning back around and began walking in my direction, his gaze never leaving mine.

“ Well, well, well…” Jasper said slowly, placing his bag on the desk in front of me and straddling the chair to face backwards, “If it isn’t Miss Ghost-Puncher herself.” 

The teasing and cocky tone in his voice annoyed me. I huffed and crossed my arms. “It was one time!”

“It was a first for me.”

“I can do it again if you want.” I raised my fist half-jokingly, clearly showing the irritation on my face. 

Jasper laughed hysterically, drawing a couple pairs of eyes his way, but he didn’t care.  He clutched his stomach as tears revealed themselves in the corner of his eyes.

“It wasn’t that funny,” I muttered as he quieted down. Jasper sat up straight and wiped the tears from his eyes before speaking.

“You’re just too cute,” he said with no hesitation. 

Obviously, it took me by surprise. I didn’t know how long I was just staring at him with a shocked expression and I didn’t even know how to process that bit of information. 

“Teagan? You still in there?” Jasper asked, waving his hand in front of my face. When there was no reaction, he lightly knocked on the side of my head. “Earth to Teagan. Do you copy?” 

His joke and tapping brought me back. I swatted his hand away and looked away, unsure of how to face him. After a moment of gathering courage, I turned back and rolled my eyes. 

“You’re such a flirt.” I stated. Jasper smirked and leaned forwards. I leaned away in response, but that only made his smile bigger.

“Only to you, sweetheart.” He winked and leaned back, resting his elbow on my desk and placing his head in his hand. “Besides, it was you who wanted a dinner date.”

I mentally cursed. Why couldn’t he forget about that?

“I don’t remember that conversation. You’re just making things up.” I lied, but Jasper saw right through it. 

“Sure sure,” He said sarcastically, “And who was it that never ended up texting?”

“You.”

“Is that so?” Jasper’s smirk grew wide as his eyes reflected mischief. Before I could react, Jasper snatched my phone and held it out of reach.

“Hey! Give that back!” I yelled, standing up to reach, but he did the same, keeping the phone out of reach with him being at least a foot taller than me. 

“I won’t until you give me your number.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Hmm, do you think phones can fly out windows.” Jasper thought out loud to himself, glancing at my paling face. 

“Don’t you even think about it,” I warned, punching his arm. 

“Ouch! I’ve felt worse, though, when you made my nose bleed. You owe me this much for putting me in a state of horrendous pain.”

“Stop exaggerating. It wasn’t that bad.” I rolled my eyes.

“How would you know? You don’t even know the power you have in those tiny arms of yours.” Jasper smiled when he saw my resolve diminishing.

I sighed and sat back down in my chair. Jasper did the same, but kept the phone out of my reach just in case. I stared at my desk for a minute, contemplating whether to agree to his demand or not. When I glanced up, Jasper turned his head slightly to the side and batted his eyes with his lower lip stuck out.

“Ugh! Fine! Give me your phone.” I grumbled and Jasper complied. When I typed in my number, Jasper sent a text. 

“Just have to make sure you’re not pulling my leg.” Jasper said, answering my unasked question. When my phone vibrated, Jasper smiled, handing me back my expensive pocket device. 

“Ghost Boy?” Jasper asked, snickering. I punched his shoulder lightly.

“Shut up! It was either that or ‘Jasper the friendly ghost’, but I don’t think you’re that friendly, so I went with this one.” I explained, looking down at the name who sent the message just now. 

Jasper mock-gasped wildly, bringing his hands to his cheeks. “How dare you?!” He said in a high-pitched voice, mimicking a diva girl on television. “I am totally friendly. It’s to those of you who aren’t friendly.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed, despite my reluctance to do so. Jasper’s eyes lit up as he brightly smiled, his boisterous blue eyes shined in delight. When I calmed down, I noticed a light tint of pink coating his cheeks. 

“Your laugh is so beautiful.” Jasper said, almost in a daze, as his eyes stared back into mine. My cheeks reflected the same color as his and I turned away. 

“Shut up.” I whispered. Jasper’s smile widened.

 

Over the next couple of weeks, Jasper pestered me every single weekday. He sat at the desk in front of me enough times, the teacher assigned that as his permanent seat for the entire semester. 

“So… how about that date?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” I immediately shut down his advances without lifting my head, drowning him out and focusing on the task at hand. 

When break would roll around, he would ask again, but I ignore him, either pretending that the thing on my phone is the most interesting thing I’d ever seen. 

I sighed, a little relieved. It was finally the weekend with Jasper nowhere in sight. Honestly, the last time he asked me, I almost said yes, but the bell prevented me from doing so and didn’t end up responding to him. Although, I felt like Jasper knew what my answer was going to be and tried following me after class, but I managed to lose him in the hallways.

I shivered as a small cold breeze blew by, pulling the hood of my jacket up and keeping my head down. I drowned everything around me out as I listened to the music playing through my headphones. I wanted to be outside and not cooped up in my room, but I was regretting my decisions as another breeze equally as cold blew by. 

“Teagan!” A hand slammed on my shoulder and made me jump. I whipped my head around, ripping out my headphones, only to come face-to-face with the person I was hoping I wouldn’t see. 

“I thought that was you.” Jasper’s white teeth glistened in the light, almost as brightly as his expression. 

“Where did you come from?” I asked, looking around for any kind of place Jasper would want to visit.

“Oh, I was just in the area. Are you free right now?”

I said nothing, but Jasper knew my answer before he even asked as he gripped my wrist with no room to escape.

“Great! You still owe me, even though you clearly can’t remember.” He said sarcastically. “There’s a cafe nearby. I can settle for a lunch date instead since I’m so generous.”

He didn’t let me get any words of protest out as he began dragging me in some direction. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get through to him, I just gave up and let him take me to where he wanted to go.

“Come on, come on. We’re wasting daylight and I know exactly how I want to spend it.” Jasper said impatiently as he pulled my reluctant self harder until I was right next to him walking the same pace. He didn’t let go of my wrist though.

As we walked, a sweet smell of food reached my nose. It was getting stronger as we walked closer to the source. As if on cue, my stomach grumbled. 

Jasper laughed. “I guess it was a good idea.” He ignored my glare. “We’re almost there. It’s just around the corner.”

When we reached the end of the block, we turned to face an old-fashioned cafe with a sign hung up on two sets of chains swinging out front. Inside was dimly lit and quiet, almost like a library but warmer and filled with the scent of coffee and food rather than books. 

“Go ahead and sit at that table by the window. I’ll join you after I order. Oh, and don’t even think about running.” Jasper said, giving me a playful glare.

I held my hands up in surrender. “Fine fine. Just don’t get me anything bad.”

I walked over to the small table next to the window and took a seat, making sure the other chair was on the opposite side. I watched patiently as Jasper laughed and chatted to the older man at the ordering counter. They looked to be acquaintances, but there was no way to confirm it. 

He handed a card to the cashier, who swiped it and gave it back to him. I could make out the words, “thank you” come out of Jasper’s mouth as he placed the card back into his brown leather wallet before pocketing it. He scanned the cafe and our eyes met. Jasper smiled and headed in my direction.

“They will bring out our food and drinks, so we can just relax and talk until it gets here. Don’t you think this is a nice spot?” He asked.

“Yeah. Do you come here often?” I asked curiously. 

Jasper nodded. “My mom is friends with the owner, so we come here often. I know most of the workers here by name.” He had a soft smile as I glanced out the window. “I love watching the people walk by here. The expressions they make and the people they talk to… it’s all just interesting.”

He dropped the topic as his eyes never left the window. I did the same as we fell into silence. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, but there was a little bit of tension that wasn’t broken until the same man that took our order placed a tray of food and drinks on our table.

“Enjoy.” The man said with a smile before leaving. I looked at the two steaming cups of coffee and grilled chicken and cheese sandwiches. 

“If you said I owe you, why did you pay?” I asked, just realizing what happened.

“Eh, it wasn’t in the deal, so I didn’t mind it. Besides, I kinda dragged you here, so it’s only fair.”

“Your kindness is a little too much.” I rolled my eyes.

“But you like that, don’t you?” Jasper leaned in, his eyes never leaving mine as a small smirk came on his lips.

“Shut up.” I said stupidly, knowing that I just gave him his answer. Jasper laughed, making my cheeks darker in embarrassment.

“You’re just too cute, you know that?” He asked rhetorically, making me have to turn away from his eyes.

“Just eat your food.” I said, taking a bite out of the sandwich. Jasper laughed once more before doing as I said. It was silent like before, but there was a calming feeling to it this time. I relaxed in my seat as I sipped the cup of coffee, my stomach full.

“Did you enjoy it?” Jasper asked as he finished his cup of coffee and food as well. 

“Yes, very. You?” He nodded.

After another minute, Jasper stood up and took my hand, pulling me up as well. He began walking out the door without saying a word, but I didn’t protest. We walked peacefully as a small gust of wind blew through my shirt. I shivered. 

“Come closer. The wind is pretty bitter.” Jasper said, putting an arm around my shoulder and pulling me closer. I wanted to speak up, but the comfort I felt stopped me.

“To be honest, it wasn’t a coincidence that I met you here.” Jasper started, leaving me curious. “I noticed you a couple weeks ago while I was in that coffee shop. I wanted to talk to you right then and there, but I didn’t have the courage to do so. I thought it was a one-time thing until I saw you at around the same time the following weekend. It wasn’t until this one where I finally gathered enough courage to come up to you.”

I noticed the guilty look on his face and placed a hand on his shoulder. I have it a squeeze.

“It’s okay.” I said to him with a smile. We walked over to a bench and sat down, Jasper’s arm not leaving my shoulders.

“Since we’re being honest, I did remember the deal we made a couple of months ago.” I admitted.

“That was pretty obvious.” Jasper commented. I hit his arm lightly.

“Hush!” I said and he nodded, his eyes telling me to continue. “I would look at my phone on many occasions, not having the courage to contact you. Soon, months had already passed and I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry about that.” Jasper pulled me closer.

“It’s a really good thing we ended up in the class, then.” He commented, resting his head on mine.

“Yeah. It really is. And, I’m really sorry for hurting you all those months ago.”

“It’s all in the past; don’t worry about it. Besides, if it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have met.” Jasper looked into my eyes and gave me a bright smile. I smiled back. 

We stayed there in peace for a long time, just watching people pass by, all busy with their own lives. No one said a word, but the warmth and comfort was all that was needed. 

Suddenly, a buzz came from my pocket, startling the both of us out of our peaceful trance. I pulled out my phone to reveal my brother’s name on the screen. 

“Hey, Mateo. What’s up?” I asked.

“Where are you? Your walks never take this long.” My brother’s voice rang loud and clear, worry laced through every word. 

“I’m sorry for not contacting you earlier. I met up with Jasper and we went to a cafe for lunch.” There was silence on the other end.

“The one you punched in October? The one you never called back?” Mateo asked smugly, fully aware of the answer. I said nothing, making him laugh. 

“Ooooooo. My little sister’s finally got herself a boyfriend!” Mateo teased. Jasper clearly heard it because he put a hand on his mouth to keep him from laughing out loud.

“Sh-shut up.” I stuttered, but it only made my brother and the boy next to me laugh harder.

“I’ll see you when you get here. Don’t stay out too late, lovebirds.” With that last statement and leaving no time for a reply, Mateo hung up.

Both of us didn’t move for a minute. When I finally turned in his direction, pink clearly in my cheeks, all I saw was Jasper’s smug smiling face.

“Lovebirds, huh?” He asked, raising his eyebrows. I turned away quickly, my face ablazed.

“Whatever.” I muttered, not fully against the idea anymore.