The last problem lay unfinished on the college-rule notebook paper: . Given the ratio concepts and complexity of the integers, she estimated she had approximately 12 minutes left with him. Add in one minute to pack up and two additional minutes to walk and depart ways in the parking lot, and she was down to 15 minutes. That wasn’t enough; she needed more time.
The minutes ticked away and he methodically found his way through the problem, quicker than she had anticipated. Why do I have to be such a good tutor! He beamed as he correctly answered the problem, thanking her over and over again, while she sat smiling for all the wrong reasons.
They walked outside and the moment of truth arrived. He awkwardly thanked her once more and reached for her door handle, but suddenly hesitated and pulled back his hand. His eyes glistened as he searched hers, begging for the right words, yet only drawing forth somber silence between them. His warm breathe succeeded and his low, soothing voice finally spoke softly. The moment had been dreamt, the feeling had been anticipated, but the question had never sounded so sweet: “Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?”
Sarah had been Johnny’s calculus tutor for the past three months. Both college students heading into their spring semesters of their sophomore year, Sarah and Johnny had come from two completely different backgrounds. Sarah, the salutatorian of her high school graduating class, had made it to college on a full academic scholarship. Johnny had signed to play baseball as a Division-One student-athlete, though the title was often reversed. She had grown up in a middle class family and had worked a summer job since she was 13. He had been the born the son of a well-known defense lawyer, playing baseball all summer long and fearing no one above or below the law. The two were more different than a sack of wild apples, yet each drove the other crazy.
With studies as her main priority, Sarah had never slowed down, which had more than likely contributed to her absence from ‘the crowd’ and produced a dating life that was virtually nonexistent. It wasn’t till three months ago that Sarah had ever considered this a problem, but since the day she had met Johnny, Sarah had wanted nothing more than to remedy her social stigma and finally slow down.
Exams were rapidly approaching and Sarah had never had so little focus or motivation to study-up. As much as she tried to memorize the lines of her final Shakespearian drama play, she found her mind drifting and settling with the image of Johnny. This was not like her; studying was like breathing. It was simply something that had become second nature to her and was an area she was beyond comfortable in. But this mindset was foreign and unchartered, scary yet completely invigorating and as Sarah prescribed, it was not her head case that was the condition to blame, but her vulnerable heart that was immune to all others, but sickly for him.
The next morning, Sarah woke to the sound of her singing alarm, signaling her body into motion as she pulled on her sweats and tennis shoes. As she headed out the door, she was met with a cold kiss of early winter air, awakening any further slumber left in her body and forcing her into rapid motion.
Sarah hurriedly descended down the stairs of her campus apartment and began to jog up the one-lane road. The sun had risen over the mountains and had left streaks of orange and pink as it moved across the sky, painting a scene of tropical enchantment as the winter air crashed like waves in her lungs. The brilliance of the morning had never appeared so magnificent and as Sarah continued to jog, her thoughts began to submerge in their newfound harbor, floating to the onset of the night that lay ahead.
Thirty minutes later, Sarah climbed the stairs to her apartment, breathing heavily and red-cheeked from her run. Fidgeting through her pockets, Sarah realized that she had left her key in her room. Great. Debating whether or not to knock, she tapped lightly on the door, hoping one of her roommates was in the living room and not asleep. As she waited, her thoughts returned to her anticipated evening. What am I going to wear? Does he even know where I live? Should I…the door flew open, sending Sarah stumbling to the ground. Snapping back to reality when she saw her roommate suppressing her bountiful laughter, Sarah peered up at Katie, “Good morning?”
“Whoa there, champ! Are you just now getting in!?” squealed Katie, as she helped Sarah from the ground. “I thought only Nancy could do that!” Nancy was the wild one of the three college roommates.
“Very funny, and no! I just finished my jog and forgot my key in my room. See, my cheeks are red,” she said pointing to her face, “I knocked but…”
“…but you didn’t want to wake the mice of the house. You know we are sleeping giants, Sarah. And since when does having red cheeks justify a night out? Rough jog? Or rough night?” winked Katie. The comedian of the group, Katie was always poking fun at Sarah’s easy targets: studying and school, lack of a social life, lack of any life, and though she claimed to always be kidding, Sarah recognized the truth behind her jokes and had accepted them as a reality long before Katie had used them as ammunition.
Once more, Katie was also viciously stubborn and was not one to give up or give in to any situation she felt part of. Sarah had already concluded that by Katie opening the door, Katie had automatically inserted herself as part of the situation and it was better off to tell her now rather than in twenty minutes after she had guilted Sarah into it anyway.
“Well, I kind of, maybe, sort of, slightly, have a date tonight…” eased Sarah, anticipating the reaction. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH….WHAT?!” Screamed Katie. Called it, she thought.
“Who, where, when, why, and how! Tell me everything, Sarah!” bellowed Katie. The words came out in such hast, Sarah wasn’t sure if Katie had completed each word.
“Well, I have been tutoring this guy for a while now and well…he asked me out to dinner last night after our session. He is sweet I suppose…” The truth of the matter was Sarah was screaming for glee like Katie on the inside, but her psychology book had taught her to never show too much emotion about any one person too soon, “women take emotion out of context subconsciously while men hardily abuse their influence, consciously.” Plus, Sarah didn’t want Katie to know she had been crushing on Johnny for months now and not made a single move on him. Well, other than moving quantifiers to their correct arrangement on his paper.
“What is his name? Does he go here? Sarah coooome on…details!”
“Don’t you have class or something?” laughed Sarah, “I can tell you all this later tonight when I am searching through your closet for something to wear to…La Balme…” she held her ears.
“AHHHHHHHHHH…” shrieked Katie.
I am too good, snickered Sarah.
“Fine, tonight it is, but you better not leave out an ounce of details missy, else I’ll dress you up like a rag doll and make you feel like a plush princess. Beware of my persuasive powers!” Katie picked up her backpack and ran from the room producing an eerie laugh as she slammed the door shut. Sarah shook her head and headed for the shower. She wondered how Katie would keep up with her head some days if it wasn’t attached to her. As she stepped into the shower, she debated on going to class. They were going to be a drag, but they would serve to speed up the time in the day, she concluded. Only 12 hours to go…
The day floated by in a haze. British Literature had resulted in an outdated Beowulf movie and her usual Religion and Culture professor had let his overactive TA teach for the day, resulting in ‘on-the-spot discussion’ and a readily produced a pop quiz when no one responded. Sarah had briefly skimmed the chapter the night before (which normally she would have wigged out about, but academically excused it because it had happened after her conversation with Johnny), but knew she had not done her best.
The sub-par day had ended when her Microbiology lab had forcibly ended an hour early after a compound element fire on the chemistry floor sent fire trucks flooding to campus. With her afternoon approaching just two o’clock, Sarah grabbed lunch and walked back to her apartment, wondering if an attempt at homework and a nap were even applicable to her current state of zeal.
Six failed attempts at a paper and 25 minutes of wide-eyed ceiling view time later, Sarah had exhausted just one hour. Only four more to go… As Sarah made herself a cup of apple cider, she thought about her last date preparation. She had done the bare minimum: a shower, blue jeans, solid blouse, and pearl earrings. The boy she had gone on the date with had been a Chemistry/Biology double major, and had been quite handsome, but he had decided to transfer after one semester of their freshmen year. Sarah had always wondered if she had had anything to do with that decision…
Well this time, there would be no thought of transferring because Sarah was determined to not only look her best, but also look someone else’s best. She had resolved about ten minutes after Katie had left that morning that Katie was going to be the key to her look. Going out almost weekly, Katie was no stranger to the ways of looking good. She had been in a long-term relationship for almost two years now, and every other Friday evening, her boyfriend would take her out on a date as if it were their first— showering her with gorgeous flowers, frequent compliments, and extravagant dinners; the routine was usual but the novelty had never worn off as far as Sarah could tell. Katie still blushed and giggled when she saw him and Joe still starred and stuttered in awe as Katie appeared in his doorway.
Sarah had never met a more ‘in-love’ couple her age and knew that if anyone could spot a keeper—it would be Katie. Sarah could not wait for her to meet Johnny; not an ounce of hesitation or doubt came with the thought. I know she just will love him…
Two hours remained and Sarah had just wrapped a towel around her showered and shaven body when she heard the lock turning on their front door. She ran to the living room and waited for the figure to emerge, but two came in: Katie and Joe.
“Oh, shoot! Sorry!” Sarah yelled as she ran back to her bedroom. “I thought it was just you, Katie, I swear!”
Katie laughed and peered over at Joe who seemed to have not taken notice to the scene. “I think he may be scarred for life, but I’ll take care of him later…” Katie winked and lightly brushed Joe. She walked towards Sarah’s bedroom, leaving Joe mesmerized by the flickering TV showing a game on ESPN.
“Are you ready for your spa treatment my innocent fawn?” teased Katie.
Sarah opened her door and revealed her athletic body covered by her latest purchase from Victoria’s Secret, “Just called me a pampered doe…” swanked Sarah.
“OMG, OMG, OMG! Who are you and what have you done with my shy and studious Sarah!”
The girls broke out in a fit of laughter and squeals. A year and a half of being roommates had brought them closer to one another than anyone in their lives, adding and subtracting qualities to form the perfect, balanced friendship. As the night wore on, Sarah realized that Katie was the type of best friend that she could see as her maid of honor and pronounced godmother of her children. Never growing up with a sister, Sarah knew now that she no longer needed one; Katie was better than a sister and she would always love her no matter what.
It would not be till less than one hour later that Katie and Sarah would be forced to test the strength of their sisterly relationship.
“Which color should I paint?” Sarah was holding up two bottles of light pink nail polish that looked nearly the same.
“Well, that one screams, ‘I raided my grandmothers bathroom’ and the other screams, ‘The other bottle was goopy, so I went back for more.’” snorted Katie, “Hun, if you want to impress, you cannot go subtle; make a statement and go bold!” She tossed Katie a bottle of bright pink polish. The color looked like a tube of crushed highlighter ink.
“I don’t know, Katie. Will it match all this other stuff I am wearing?” Sarah pointed to the pile of clothes heaved on her bed. Katie’s closet was still practically full, though Sarah swore she had tried on over 20 outfits. Thank god we are in her room for this…
“So you never told me this lucky guy’s name, Sarah. Is he a total nerd-o like that last boy of yours?”
Sarah blushed, “No, he is not thank you. I’ll have you know he is actually really bad at calculus.”
“Oh, God forbid…” taunted Katie, “What did he do to earn your approval? Cure AIDS? Find the arc of the covenant?”
“Excuse me; he is actually a very nice guy! Since when do I set standards that are so unrealistically high? I don’t pay guys an attention because they pay me none, so sue me.” Spat Sarah as she squeezed into Katie’s extra small shirt.
“Oh come on Sarah, they all look at you, but because you don’t acknowledge them—they give up. Frankly, I applaud you. You have a full-proof system to ward-off all the insignificant assholes of the world.”
Sarah contemplated this statement for a moment. Was it true? Had she really been blind to the looks? Shaking her head, she dismissed the idea. If they had wanted to talk to me, they would have. Johnny did and look what happened…
Katie pulled the last strand of Sarah’s thick, curly brown hair through her stemming straightener. Sarah’s hair had taken thirty minutes to de-curl and the task that had left them short on time. As she stretched her fingers through her hair, Sarah couldn’t believe how different she looked.
“Why don’t you ever do this to your hair more often? It looks so sexy!”
Sarah blushed again and starred at her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes wore mascara, her lips were plushed pink; Sarah had never been one for make-up, but if Johnny liked her new look, maybe she would keep it. She put on her favorite earrings that her Father had given her for the 18th birthday and walked into the living room. Katie had started heating up leftovers and Joe was still glued to the TV, but as Sarah surfaced, both of their gazes gawked at her.
“This is why you are my best friend. You look so hot, Sarah!” exclaimed Katie.
Joe stood and walked over to Sarah, keeping her eyes as he walked. He reached her and held up one of her hands, giving it a light kiss.
“He is not going to know what hit him, Sarah. You look great.” Joe gushed.
Sarah flushed and immediately turned to Katie, red-faced and embarrassed. “Are you sure it isn’t too much, Katie? This is only our first date.”
“Yes my darling, so it is the most important. Do you think Joe would have fallen for me had I not looked gorgeous the first night? Look how he reacted to you!” sniggered Katie, “you look perfect. He is going to be awe-struck when he sees you, I promise.”
A light knock on the door followed Katie’s speech. Katie loudly whispered, “Sarah! Go back to your room for three minutes and pretend you are still getting ready! He deserves a grand and awaited entrance.”
Sarah hurried back to her room and quickly shut the door. Holding her ear to the wood, she listened for Johnny to enter, hearing Katie open the door and Joe’s deep voice invite him in. The minutes seemed like hours as Sarah waited and as the third minute struck, she knew the time was now. As she gripped the handle of her door, her hand lay shaking and surely rattled the entire door. Sarah emerged from the room and was immediately swept by a wave of scattered doubts and uttered fears. Her heart raced like kerosene to a fire and her eyes shown wildly.
She rounded the corner of the long hallway and appeared in the living room.
Locking eyes with Johnny, she felt all worries and fears fade…