Evalyn was always a little late to class.
The reminding herself that she was panicking over nothing while walking to class part, however, she had yet to master. She kept her head down, her messy golden pony-tail swinging opposite to her rushed steps as she hugged her books tight against her chest and whispered her worries quietly to herself. She was going to be late- she couldn’t be late, she couldn’t get another mark this week. Every once in a while, sky blue eyes darted up to check the dwindling number of people in the hall and try to tell how late she would be, as well as make sure she was going the right way.
Just the day before she had lost half of a class period because she had turned down the wrong corridor and thus ended up on the opposite end of the school. It didn’t occur to her to look at the number on the door until after she had walked in to the wrong room. But Evalyn had just stood there for a moment, frozen to her spot as she looked at the class and the class looked back- she suddenly realized her mistake and laughed, then walked right back out- much to the confusion of the students and instructor of the class. When she had gotten back to her right class, on the right side of the school, she had tried to explain her adventure- but the teacher had just rolled his eyes and waved her to her seat.
She got a letter to take to her parents that night, detailing her mistake in quite a bad light, and both the dinner conversation and her father’s nightly tale had instead been replaced with a lengthy lecture on where she expected to go in life, what sort of career she would be matched up with if she couldn’t even handle the responsibility of finding her way through a school she was at every day. It was time to stop being such a silly girl and start concentrating. Evalyn listened obediently, her guilt welling up in her chest so much that she squinted and flinched at every word her father said, and apologized sincerely once her father ran out of things to say. By the end, she decided to cut her losses and go to bed early.
But just as she was settling into her cocoon of self-pity, her mother came into her room and sat on the edge of the bed as Eva hid under the covers and tried to be as still as possible. Lucille just smiled, placed her hand on the lump in the blanket that was her daughters foot and said in her quiet, soft voice;
“Your father doesn’t quite understand that by being faced with a few wrong doors, Eva, you come to appreciate finding the right one.”
Evalyn wasn’t the most practical of girls, but she knew her mother was right; she had definitely been extremely appreciative to walk into the right class after being in the wrong one. If there was a lesson to be had from it all, it was that. She shifted to give her mother a hug through the blanket, but the whole exchange still did little to mend her spirits.
But today, Evalyn was still mindful of the worry that her father had driven into her brain- and didn’t want to learn about the merits of finding the right door, she just wanted to be on the other side of it on time. There were still people in the hall, and she was in the correct hallway, so she was able to take a breath and slow her steps. The fifteen year-old smiled, realizing she had severely underestimated how fast she walked.
But, as being in a rush tended to do, she became stuck behind a curly-haired older boy carrying a heavy instrument- and since she was just a few doors away from her destination, she decided to stop behind him and hummed to herself as she waited to pass. Her eyes slide in to look at the music classroom, and she catches sight of a face looking back.
A boy. She doesn’t know him, but he has neat brown hair and wears a small, meek smile as he fiddles with his violin and she blinks. She isn’t sure that he’s looking at her, but she stays still even though the boy with the large case has now made it far enough into the door that she could continue on her way. Evalyn wasn’t sure if she could even walk in the first place; she suddenly couldn’t feel her limbs, her heart had quickened by a few beats at what she could only assume to be acknowledgment from this friendly stranger. And then he lifted his hand in a tentative wave, Eva looked as the other boy didn’t even acknowledge it and she smiles. So it had to be meant for her, then! She felt her spirits pick up, all apprehension she might have had before was gone; everything looked a little brighter, replaced with a mixture of pleasant surprise and happiness.
Her eyes look back, and she sees him looking back at her- so Evalyn raises a hand of her own and wiggles her fingers back, gives another smile towards him, and rushed away. As she slips into Mrs. Applegate’s design technology class and is one of the last ones to settle into her seat, like always, she wishes she might have had a second to find out why he had waved at her. But it had been such a rush and she had felt the need to scurry away just from waving, she doubted she would have even been able to handle being in the same room as him. Or even find out what his name was. But he and his friendliness had struck something inside of her.
And then Mrs. Applegate starts the lesson, and she’s still thinking of the boy who waved.