The Explorers–Chapter 3

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CHAPTER TWO—The ClassmatesSally had noticed this guy in her drawing class. He sat several rows up from her. He had blonde hair, wavy at the ends, which he wore long enough to tuck a bit behind his ears. He had bright blue eyes and a fair face with a few freckles. He walked with the energy of an athlete and a swing in his gait. He didn’t look particularly strong but more light and agile. Some days he wore a smile on his face. Other days, he looked a bit preoccupied, as if he was dreaming of things far away. Although she knew he must be a sophomore or junior, he had a particular boyishness. especially when he smiled or laughed, he looked like he might still be sixteen or seventeen.Since she had first noticed him several weeks before, Sally had been watching him. After a while, she discerned that his name was Peter.One day, a couple of weeks after that “beginning of Spring” Monday, they were finishing up a series of abstract drawings and preparing to hand them in. People were walking around, gathering up supplies for finishing touches, and looking at each other’s drawings. Sally looked at Peter’s drawing as she walked past his desk to get more charcoal at the front of the room. He had made a unique collage of cubes and circles, intertwined with various natural shapes, such as leaves, fish, and such. She knew art instinctively and this was interesting. She couldn’t help herself from blurting out, in her usual cheerful and direct way,“Wow! That is cool!”Peter looked up at her, startled out of his thoughts. He was surprised to see her cheerful and friendly eyes looking into his with total abandon. He smiled, self- consciously.“Think so?” he replied haltingly.“Absolutely!” she declared, shaking her head a little and smiling. With this, Peter grinned. Others came by to have a look, and murmured their assent. The professor now came for a glance and also offered his appreciation. But then asked everyone to be seated so that they could get on with the rest of the session.Peter left quickly after class and Sally didn’t have a chance to catch his glance again. But he had made an impression on her.******************The next day, Sally was out on her bike. It was in the sixties and another nice day. No way she was going to stay inside studying just now. She headed out the greenway trail, through the trees, and down towards the river some six-seven miles away. She rode hard and enjoyed the stretch of her leg muscles.Sally’s mind wandered through all kinds of thoughts. She thought of how she had always enjoyed such rides, ever since she was little—the smell of the forest, the wind against her face, and the pull in her legs. She thought of how glad she was that she had come to this school in St. Louis. She liked her classes and the various friends she had. Yes indeed, she was lucky to have such a nice life right now.She turned onto the path following the river. She could see the river ambling along through the trees and she smelled the mud from which it had receded just some days past. She steadied her pace a bit.Sally thought about that Peter guy in her drawing class. When she remembered his grin and the brightness in his eyes, she smiled to herself. But he had left so fast. Surely, he didn’t think anything at all about her. He probably Mersin Escort didn’t notice her. If he had, maybe he thought she was weird. After all, the way that she had just blurted out that “Wow!” was weird.She turned around and started back; she should at least get some homework done today. She took a different trail back up from the river, which would pass by the library where she could pick up her assigned reading. As she got close to campus, she passed other students, some of whom she recognized. She waved cheerfully.Then she saw Peter up ahead, on a red bike, riding in the same direction as her. Without any further thought, she quickened her pace to catch up with him. As she came close behind him, she rang her bike bell and yelled out, enthusiastically, but half out-of-breath, “Hello, hello!”He looked behind quizzically. Suddenly she felt like a complete idiot and turned even more red-faced than she already was from her hard ride. “Hello, hello, indeed!” she thought to herself. She felt uncharacteristically flustered and foolish. But he smiled immediately and said,“Hey! It’s that girl from drawing class!” He slowed up to a stop and dismounted from his bike. He stood watching her for a moment as she pulled over to the side of the road next to him. He wore a gray university hoodie with the sleeves rolled up, a pair of old jeans, and running shoes. He looked somehow fresh like the day—maybe it was his bare arms and open neck in the midday sun or maybe it was his clean-shaven boyish face. He smiled and his friendly look told her that he was happy to see her. She relaxed, looking at him as she let her feet down to the ground, with her bike between her legs.“Yeah, an out-of-breath, and tired-out girl from drawing class!” she replied with a smile. She was flushed, hot, and sweaty. But he looked back at her invitingly. “So what brings you out on such a fine day?” she asked him.“Same thing as you, I imagine—no way I could bring myself to stay inside and hit the books.” They both laughed.“Hey, follow me!” he cried and was off. She peddled hard to keep up with him. Up the hill he went, effortlessly. She kept pace but could feel her legs burn. They rounded the bend at the top of the hill and then she saw him slow down next to some picnic tables by the side of the road.“Care for a cold lemonade?” he asked her. She tumbled off her bike, nodded an enthusiastic yes, and plumped down on a table bench, fanning her face gently. Peter came back with two lemonades and a happy-go-lucky look.“I’m Sally, by the way,” she told him. He told her that he gathered that already and she looked back at him a little searchingly. She liked his open face—freckles and all —and especially the bright, laughing look in his eyes when he smiled. “You like our drawing class?” she asked.Peter looked up at her from his lemonade and replied, “Sure. I’m a chemistry major, and most of my courses are math and science. I like the drawing because it takes a different kind of focus. You know…” He paused but felt reassured when he looked into her eyes. “I really wonder sometimes if I know what I’m doing at all. Maybe chemistry is the right thing for me, maybe it’s not. Maybe I should try other stuff more. I do like the drawing. But how Mersin Escort Bayan does something like that figure into the future?” He drummed his fingers abstractedly on the table.Sally chuckled lightly. “Well, I don’t know if I’m doing ‘the right thing’ or not either. But I do know that I enjoy just about everything about art. That’s my major. I’m happy working on different projects and learning new things. I think I’m decent at it. So…whatever. I don’t know what the future holds for me either, but right now, this just seems fine.” She stopped to sip her lemonade through her straw.They talked on, enjoying themselves. They talked more about their class, some of the other students, and their projects. She liked something about the way he gestured with his hands when he talked enthusiastically. She liked the way his hair blew in the breeze while he sat at the picnic table.After a while, they agreed they better get going. They rode back to the campus together. Peter had swim practice to go to. As they rode along slowly he told her about the team, Coach Tunney, and how he liked the sound of the water as he swam. She listened and watched him closely as he talked. When they reached the walkway to the pool, he said goodbye with a smile.“See you around!” she called after him, waving when he looked back over his shoulder. She watched him bike away. As she rode on to the library, she found herself thinking happily back through the last few moments. That is an attractive young man, she thought to herself.*****************************Peter swam hard at practice, back and forth, lap after lap. He felt good and he felt strong. His thoughts were still; he just swam along with a happy buzz. As he showered and dressed, he thought back to Sally. As he walked to his dorm, he went through mental pictures of her standing at his classroom desk, riding her bike, and sitting at the picnic table.She was flatly one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She had a welcoming, friendly face but with fine features—sharp, light-brown eyebrows, a small nose, and full, womanly lips. She had light brown, almost blonde hair, which hung down to her shoulders and looked especially light. Her hair blew around as she rode her bike but it seemed to straighten and sort itself out easily. She had a girlish, athletic figure. He liked to watch her ride her bike. But the most captivating part of her was her big, round, brown eyes. When he had first looked into them as she gazed down at him closely in the classroom, he had been startled by their beauty. But he also found her eyes totally disarming. Her eyes revealed an openness and fearlessness that he’d never come across.She seemed so sure of herself, open and honest, and radiantly happy.Peter spent the evening absorbed in mathematics. Later his thoughts again returned to Sally. They soon darkened. She was such an attractive girl—a real fox, actually. In the end, why would she want to have anything to do with a guy like him? If he allowed himself to get excited about her he was just setting himself up for a fall. Forget about her, buddy boy—she was unattainable. Maybe she would be friendly for a while but he better not get too interested. She would have lots of guys following Escort Mersin her and he didn’t have much of a chance. He knew from experience.He went to bed feeling gloomy. But better to be realistic, he told himself.***********************Sally had come early to the next drawing class session. She had been thinking at home as she prepared her books that it would be nice to see Peter again. In fact, she had run across some drawings in a New York art magazine that she was sure would interest him. She had carefully packed them in her book bag. She had felt a little excited as she walked over to the art building. She now sat in her chair and watched the doorway.Peter came to class at the last minute. He hurried over to his desk and sat down without looking back at her. Oh well, she thought as class started, she could catch him later. She watched him from behind, occasionally paying more attention to watching him than to the professor. She observed how his blonde hair curled slightly as it touched the back of his neck. She noticed that he was wearing a beach tee shirt. She noticed that he had small, cute ears. But he never turned around.As class was dismissed, she was shocked to see Peter rise quickly from his chair and head to the doorway. He looked back at her from the front of the class, meeting her gaze with a little nervous fluster. In reply to her warm smile, he smiled quickly but suddenly left. She got up to follow, to see if he was nearby outside, but he was gone.She was so disappointed! It was as if a shadow had come over her previous sunny mood. She suddenly felt unsure of herself and upset. Had she read their previous nice time together all wrong? She had been looking forward to talking to him and showing him her pictures. She now walked slowly back to her apartment, with the bounce in her step replaced with something closer to a shuffle.Maybe he just had something urgent on his mind, she thought. She resolved to cheer up. She went through her day, putting the best face on things. But disappointment still nagged her underneath.Late in the afternoon, Sally stopped by Brawley’s—her favorite little café on a side street off campus. The café was set back off the street in a clump of trees. The grass in front had turned green. Some pansies that had obviously been planted just recently added some cheerful color. Inside, there were various nooks and crannies, with wood tables and chairs on the hardwood floor, and big windows to look out of. The coffee was usually excellent and the staff casual.Sally bought a large cup of black coffee, put milk in it, and set up at a table next to the window. She got out the magazines and two small picture books she had checked out of the library to browse through for ideas for her next big sculpture project. She sipped her coffee and became lost among the pages.She heard what she was sure was Peter’s voice, ordering a cappuccino to go. She looked up and saw him buying a paper and waiting for his coffee. The coffee came and he paid for it. He turned around to leave and saw her by the window. He gave a little wave with his free hand and then turned towards the door, leaving.Sally’s initial excitement at seeing him turned to an awful, upset feeling. How could he just walk away like that? Her face flushed and her stomach hardened. In her usual impulsive way, she just got up and went out the door after him, walking briskly. She saw him bent down to unfasten his bike lock to free his red bike from a tree in the front yard. She walked up to him, matter-of-factly.

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