Mixed Signals

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He smiled at her and she smiled back, but then the tide of students between classes carried her away. He would spend the whole of the next couple periods before close daydreaming about her.

They were in different grades and shared no classes, so she may as well have been on Mars. He tried to catch her after school, but he could not find her.

In the end, he wandered home on his own.

***

Ping.

He was lying on his bed staring at the ceiling. His thoughts were a swirling mess of carnal desire and cheesy romance from too many Hollywood movies.

He rolled over and looked at his phone. It was a friend request on Facebook.

It was her!

His heart skipped a beat. He did not even know that she knew his name, let alone would find him on Facebook. He quickly accepted the friend request and saw that they did not share any mutual friends.

That means that she had actually searched for him on Facebook. That means that she had really wanted to be friends.

She was online, too.

And they started chatting.

***

The next day at school, he passed her in the corridors between classes. He asked how she was doing and she did not respond before the tide of students pushed them away from each other.

He could not find her at break, nor after school.

It was a long day and he spent it worrying about what he had said. Had he phrase ‘Hi, how you doing?‘ wrong? Should he have opened with a joke? Should he have grabbed her hand? What did he do wrong?

***

Ping.

He rolled over on his bed and glanced at the notification. She was messaging him on Facebook again. He smiled. Maybe she had just been shy or something today when they passed in the corridors.

He messaged back.

Ping.

And so the conversation went until late into the evening. He really felt a connection with her. She was so much smarter and funnier than he had realized. And, sometime during the evening, he decided that the next time he saw her he would ask her out.

***

The next day at school was busy, and he did not run into her. Their school was not large, but it was large enough that you could miss someone for a while.

Likewise, the next day. But, he was not concerned, as they kept chatting with each other on Facebook. Ping. She was really funny and he thought she seemed to like him too.

By the end of the week, he was starting to get worried. He was not sure if he should bring it up on Facebook messenger, but he had not seen her once.

Ping.

Like clockwork, the evening chat with her began. He would spend the whole weekend chatting with her too, until late into the Sunday evening. He barely moved and was oblivious to anything outside of his phone’s screen.

He decided that next week he would find her or find some of her friends to help him find her. He was going to ask her out.

Ping.

And the messages kept coming in. He could not stop smiling that weekend.

***

Monday mornings always started with Assembly in the big Hall. The Headmaster would stand up and drone on about rules, morals and whatever was the latest news.

This morning, when Assembly started, it instantly felt different. He was sitting in his grade’s row and straining to see her in her grade’s row, but a deathly quiet fell on the Hall.

Someone next to him muttered disbelief and there was a collective gasp from the Hall.

This made him actually look at the stage, and there was a picture of her. It was a big picture and placed with candles around it. The Headmaster was talking and, suddenly, he realized what was being said.

“…our deepest condolences go out to the family. Their loss is all of our losses, as Carol’s memory and love of life will live on through all of us. But, let us also learn from this tragedy, as the moral decay that is so prevalent in our society takes another victim. The drunk driver that hit her on Friday evening need not have been there. She was always–”

He sat upright, his heart pounding in his chest. He felt faint, dizzy perhaps. His hands were clammy and he could hear the blood pumping in his ears. He whispered to the guy sitting next to him and asked the one question he needed to know.

“Friday night,” the whispered reply exploded quietly in his ears, “No, she died instantly, they say. The funeral was Sunday. Yeah, it was yesterday as my mom went for our family.”

***

The rest of the day passed like a blur. From classes to conversations to the bell.

And then he was home.

In the quiet of his room, he finally got up the guts to look. He pulled out his phone and opened up Facebook.

There were her messages, leading up to last night. It was impossible! He had shared so much intimacy with her! He dropped the phone and jumped back his heart pound. What was he going to do now? What did this mean? He felt violated and he wanted to cry and scream at the same time!

Ping.

His heart leapt into his mouth!

Ping.

He knew. He just knew who this was from. It was like clockwork. He stood frozen staring at the phone where it lay.

Ping…

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