by Michelle Lega
It is hot is all I can think as I’m walking to class with my backpack straps leaving strips of sweat on my shoulders underneath my thin blue dress, and I’m trying not to walk too quickly because the last thing I want is to show up to class damp and out of breath but I don’t want to be late, so I set my pace a speed between speed walking and strolling. I am trying not to look directly into the eyes of the people walking past and around me because what if it’s awkward or what if they think I’m judging them because apparently my face naturally falls into a grimace when I’m not focused on it, but at the same time I’m trying to catch glances of passersby in case I know someone and they say ‘hi’ and I don’t want to be caught off guard or accidentally ignore them and then they’ll think I hate them. I’m doing this delicate eye avoidance dance when I see a neon yellow shirt, a tank top with a smiley face graphic, and I know without looking at her face who it is but I look anyway and my gaze floats to her round brown eyes and luckily, thank god, her eyes aim left instead of straight ahead so she doesn’t see me admiring her small nose and brown hair that brushes her shoulders. Her bangs are sticking to her forehead and it makes me oddly satisfied that even she gets sweaty, and then my mind says you have to move your eyes it’s been probably two seconds already so I go back to doing the awkward eye dance only this time it’s a two step: ground-her-ground-her and we are walking closer and closer and soon she will pass me so now I must decide if I will say ‘hi’ or take out my phone and pretend to text or simply look at the ground or maybe even ignore her because I don’t know if she’ll even notice me, and all the while my heart is speeding up and I’m forcing my legs to continue at a steady tempo but sweat is collecting on the nape of my neck and breathing is getting faster and harder and it doesn’t matter now when I show up to class because I will be sweaty and out of breath regardless. There are ten feet between us now and every step we’re getting closer and I still haven’t decided what to do but maybe I’ll just look at the ground except I have to steal one last glance at her face before my eye dance ends so I drag my eyes up her yellow tank top, her straight brown hair, her adorable nose and I look at her face and then her brown eyes are looking at me, are making eye contact with me and I’m so nervous but my mind shocks my mouth into a smile and then I see her lips and they are smiling and she says
and I say
and we give each other one more second of smiling until she passes me and I pass her and now I don’t care what time I get to class or how damp and out of breath I am and I hardly notice my backpack straps because in my head is just her smile and her neon yellow tank top with the smiley face on it.
Michelle Lega is a typical millennial interested in everything and good at nothing. She spends most of her free time playing female-protagonist video games and dreaming up plans for her eventual animal sanctuary. She currently resides in Chicago with her two chinchillas. You can find her self-deprecating tweets @Mishewwie.