That senior year, my schedule got changed at the last minute.  I’d planned on taking advanced computer programming, as I’d aced that in my junior year.  The problem was, no one else signed up for it.  So, as a compromise, I was to serve as a teacher’s aide to the programming teacher in beginning programing, and continue my studies that way.  The problem was that it flipped my planned schedule, changing my planned classes.  So third period, after the brunch break, I got moved into the alternate class that I had even any remote interest in.  Art History.

Yes, really.

But it wasn’t all bad.  My friend Cody and I had both chosen that class as our alternate.  That way, at least there was a chance we wouldn’t be alone in that class if it came to it.  Sure enough, we both ended up in it.

So there we were, first day of the school year, sitting as close to the door as we could.  Perhaps for a quick getaway that neither of us ever said out loud, but that we both wanted.  That morning, we were talking about the one art that we both cared about.  Sports.

“It won’t last,” he was complaining.  “They’ll never let a strike ruin the game.  It’ll go on for a couple of weeks.  Then they’ll sign, and get on with the season.  We’ll just play the World Series late.  Right?  Yeah, the season will be back.”

Cody was the type who would go on for days if you let him.  I was just letting him run with it, while I went through my binder, making sure I was as prepared as I could be for a class I had no interest in.  That’s when she walked in.

I saw her immediately, but only out of the corner of my eye, so I wasn’t sure of what I had seen.  She walked behind us, and as I turned around to try to get a look at her, that long, black hair blocked my view.

Cody hadn’t noticed, and was still droning on about how baseball was ruining itself with the strike.

This mystery girl walked up to the teacher, standing at the far side of the classroom.  She handed him an add-slip, similar to the one I’d given to him minutes before.  He signed it, and made a motion towards the rest of the class as if to say, go ahead, find a seat.

This class, being Art History, had no shortage of empty seats.

She turned around and surveyed the class.  In an instant, I caught a snapshot of her face.  It was all there.  The button nose.  Those deep dark eyes.  And just a hint of that sweet smile.  I saw it all in that instant, and I was lost in it.  It seemed like slow motion, just like a really bad teen movie, until I realized something.  She was about to look over towards me.

I looked down and busied myself with my binder before she saw me, at least, I was sure I’d done it before she saw.  Cody was still talking, but I wasn’t hearing a word of it.  The appearance of this girl was too much for me to take in, and now I was thinking of that ridiculous request I’d made to a higher power a few nights before.

When I did dare to look up, there she was.  Literally.  Right at the empty seat next to me.

“Hi, is this taken?”

I was speechless.  Thankfully, Cody wasn’t.  “Go ahead,” he offered as I tried not to sputter.

The girl dropped her books on the desk, carefully put her jacket and bag on the back of her chair and sat down.  She looked right at me, stuck out her hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Sera.”