It is 12:15 and time for chemistry. (It really is, but this is also a pun on the rest of the story.)
The strange little troglodyte we call our teacher swings wide the doors to the lab. This makes it seem like our lab might have a gate, or possibly double-doors. In real life it has one of those un-slammable soundproofed doors, that closes with a little sigh. *wuuuuf*
She returns to setting up an experiment that apparently includes pieces of silverware, her meticulous little hands pouring chemicals, never spilling.
I am buzzing with caffeine and sleep-deprivation, walking through a world of grinding sounds, but not the kind of grinding sounds that keep me awake, and prevent me from falling asleep and drooling on tables, oh no.
The other kind.
Front row, extreme left. A laptop sits calmly on the table in front of my usual seat, looking ordered and square and sensible. Everything I am not.
I get the feeling this laptop looks down on me and all my crumbled notes. This is all odd.
A girl is unpacking books and writing-tools on this table. Odder still.
This is where I get caught up in the mental image of an Otter Still. The idea strikes me as cruel, but hilarious.
"You are stealing my seat, Mal?" I try to imply, by tone of voice, that I am okay with this.
"Yah, I brought my laptop, but the power cable is so short. You can take my usual spot?"
"Won't work, I sit by political ideology. Extreme left."
Don't know what possessed me to think this would be funny. Still, she giggles, and I am grateful.
Really it's a simplification. After discovering that people in my classroom were seated almost after the political compass
( Provided you place (0, 0) as center of the room, and that I am guessing right about peoples political orientations), I decided upon the "Extreme left, Libertarian" corner, as a joke only understood by me. I don't tell her this.
A girl named JoAnn is taking an inordinate amount of time getting out of her overcoat and choosing a seat, preventing me from doing the same. I decide to get the seat between her and Mal, compromising my need to leave school-related objects in a messy semicircle in front of me.
Mal is a very nice girl, and a very physical person. You know these people.
Touching your shoulder, padding you on the back, grabbing your arm to get your attention...
Sitting... Way too close.
I am not this kind of person. I like my space, but I am also the kind of person who hasn't had sex for two months, and these tiny intimacies are, well, appreciated.
She giggles a lot, and I think nothing of it. I consider myself amusing company. She needs help with some report about Heptane. I help, trying hard to not be inadvertently arrogant. I think I succeed, for once.
She leans in and whispers in my ear. Just questions about chemistry, to not disturb the speaking teacher, but it is nice. She yawns and leans back, letting her elbow rest on my shoulder for a while.
Her feet have no calm, one leg dangling from the others knee, she brushes my calves every now and then, and I resist my instinctive urge to move my leg.
My attention seems to be caught in a gravity well, and no matter how hard I attempt to fire it at the blackboard, it's trajectory is inexorably curved right back to all those burning, pressing points of touch.
I realize I may be more starved for intimacy than I realize, but as I am realizing it simultaneosly, the statement becomes false.
I explain something to her about Bromide-ions, getting absorbed into a water-phase, but my mind is free-wheeling.
I pine for this shit.
"Alright, grab a coat and a lab-partner and get cracking." I look up. I know we are titrating something with something now, but my concentration must've slipped.
Like, from the top of Mt. Grease.
I jot down the info on the blackboard. Mal seems to do the same, and by the time we both finish scribbling, everyone else has teamed up. I am not sorry.
We work fine together. Titrating vinegar, as it turns out. The highlight of my day becomes her leaning into me, holding up a measuring glass.
"Wouldn't you say this has a rosy hue, by now?"
I take my sweet time before nodding, savouring soft breasts pressed against my shoulder.
Then I almost give it away while determining a pH-value.
"I'd say this is a six"
She is right, but when I claim it's a five, she has to lean in for a closer look.
"That is so a six."
For some reason the sentence: "I know, I just really wanted to smell your hair." starts rolling up from my lungs, but I catch most of it in the esophagus, cutting it to: "I know, I", which is strange, but a less incriminating.
Eventually everything is done. I leave the building a few steps ahead of her, holding open the door. She's on the phone, walking towards the shed where we both usually store our bicycles. Today of all days I am parked in the opposite direction.
"See ya tomorrow." I say.
She turns, with the face of a person who has to mind a phonecall and a conversation at once. Which she is.
"Oh.." is all she says.
Looking bewildered, a little disappointed?
It's all I need.