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June 2008 Volume 10 , Issue 6 submit to us!

by Alexander Hinkley -- Contributing Author [Email This Story]

Greg De Luca held his hand out in front of him. His fingers were shaking slightly. Why am I so nervous ? He thought. He grabbed one shaky hand with the other in hopes of quelling its rebellious movement. Sitting in the back of his philosophy class, he hoped the professor did not see him conducting these little experiments. He might think he was having a nervous breakdown or something. Luckily, he was too busy going over the format of their test next week.

In truth, Greg knew why he was so nervous but he thought that if he pretended he didn’t, he could trick himself into calming down. This rarely happened to Greg, someone known to be cocky, charismatic, and accomplished. Although he was merely a college student, a senior at Niagara Falls University, he owned his own business which earned him a pretty penny. His business was online which meant he did not work long hours or put in much time at all to achieve an income most people only dreamed of. Greg also considered himself a relatively handsome Italian man.

When Michelle walked into the class the first day, Greg suddenly felt small and feeble. She had long brown hair which draped over her shoulders and halfway down her back. Greg had never seen a skin tone like hers before --- a creamy white. Because it was January, a month known for its snow-filled winters in New York, a heavy white coat concealed her seemingly perfect body. Her beauty awe-struck him and he caught himself staring and quickly turned away. She sat in the row next to him, two seats up. He wished that she had chosen the empty seat next to him but it seemed this would be the first in a line of disappointments.

For the first month of class, he couldn’t seem to muster enough courage to even talk to her. He came to class early everyday in hopes of being presented a chance to engage her in conversation. Maybe he had already missed many chances, he must have. He was ashamed to admit he was simply too scared to take advantage of these opportunities.

Two months after he first saw her, the semester was half over and Michelle didn’t even know Greg existed. That’s when it happened. He caught her glancing back at him. He might have thought it was just a fluke if she hadn’t done it again and another time after that and another after that time. Had she been doing this all along and he just didn’t notice? Impossible. But yet here she was, glancing back at him. What could this mean? He heard if a girl looks at you and then quickly turns away, it’s a form of flirting. That seemed unlikely. Maybe she had seen him staring, marveling at her perfect features and slender figure and was trying to catch him in the act or something.

Greg decided to play along next class. He stole glances at her in hopes that she would glance back at the same time. During one of these glances, he made a startling discovery. He saw she was wearing a ring on her left hand. It was on her ring finger. It was silver and had a stone in the middle. Could it be an engagement ring? He thought and began to panic. How could he be so foolish? Thinking she was looking back at him...ridiculous! It was over. She must be engaged. Defeated, he looked at his notebook the rest of the class. It contained no consolation, only doodles.

When he went to lunch later that day, Greg explained his predicament to his best friend, Ashley. Before, he kept his crush on Michelle completely secret. There was no reason for that now.

"She’s probably engaged," he had said. "A girl with such good looks doesn’t just walk around single."

"I’m single," Ashley said taking a huge bite out of her sandwich. Some might have taken this statement out of context had they not known how good of friends Greg and Ashley were. Greg knew it was just a joke.

"You know that isn’t what I meant, Ash," he said. "What should I do, though?"

She smiled. "A lot of girls just wear rings on that finger for decoration. I used to but then I got in a serious relationship so I took it off. Obviously that didn’t work out," she told him. "A lot of girls I know wear them there, too. Did it look like an engagement ring?"

"I don’t know . . . "

"Well did it have a diamond?"

"It had a stone. I don’t know what it was." Just then, Greg remembered something. "She has another ring just like it on her right hand."

"See! It’s probably just for decoration, then. Nobody wears two engagement rings. You should try talking to her."

And so Greg had. Having determined (or at least thought he had determined) that she was not engaged, his confidence sky-rocketed. When she walked in next class, he finally talked to her.

"Hello," he said.

"Hi," Michelle replied with a smile. The smile melted him and he couldn’t think of anything else to say. That was their entire conversation that day.

The next class, he had planned to start a better conversation with her. He was so nervous when she came in that morning. Her hair was still wet from a shower she must have taken earlier and she looked prettier than ever. He was about to open his mouth to call her name when she turned toward him.

"Did you read?" she asked.

It caught him completely off guard. Her baby blue eyes pierced through him and he stammered a reply, "Y-Yeah. Did you?"

"Well I tried to," she said turning all the way around in her desk. "It was really hard. Philosophy reading is tough so I always have trouble doing the A.A."

An "A.A." was an analysis assignment. The professor assigned one of those for every reading. You were supposed to write one page summarizing the argument that you read the night before. Greg hated them with a passion.

"Yeah," Greg said not being able to think of a better response. He still couldn’t believe that she was talking to him. And those eyes . . . 

Suddenly Greg’s friend that he sat behind jumped into the dying conversation. "We should have to do them after we discuss the stuff in class, not before," Greg’s friend Jason told them. "It’s hard enough to understand as it is." Greg simply nodded.

The next few classes were gradual improvements. Sometimes, Michelle joined in on conversations between Greg and Jason. Sometimes, she would turn back and talk to Greg about the class. Greg was still too intimidated to start a conversation with her, though. He didn’t know how to begin one without seeming awkward. He had girlfriends during high school and a few throughout college but Michelle was different. She was special. Greg didn’t believe in all that ‘love at first sight’ nonsense so how could she be affecting him like this? The next week, he would find a conversation starter.

He read in his school’s paper that new students were inducted into the honor society over the weekend. He was already a member, having been inducted last year, but he skimmed through the list to see if any of his friends had made the cut. He saw her name there -- Michelle Maddalena. She was listed in the middle of dozens of other names but hers stood out as if it were jumping off the page.

"Congratulations on being inducted into the honor society," he told her next class.

"Oh, thanks," she replied smiling again. That smile was like a deadly weapon. He felt it threatening to overcome him once again but trudged on.

"Yeah I’m a member, too," he blurted out. "What’s your major?"

"I’m communications now. I used to be a criminal justice major but I really wanted to get into broadcasting so I switched after freshman year. What’s yours?"

"Ah, uh, I’m criminal justice. I don’t really know what I want to do with that yet. When do you graduate?"

"Next year. I’m a junior," she said.

The conversation went well, Greg thought later. He had talked to her the entire time before class began and a little bit after. His confidence was so bolstered that they began to talk more before every class as if they had known each other for a long time. They talked mostly about school. Did she like the professor, if she had any minors, what were good communications classes to take? That sort of stuff.

Things seemed like they were going so well, in fact, that he was planning on asking her out. There were only two weeks of school left so there wasn’t much time. While he still had one semester left of school, Greg doubted he would ever see her again after summer vacation. He knew he had to do something.

Today was his self-appointed deadline for that something. He let go of his hand and watched as it kept shaking. Oh yes, he knew why he was so nervous.

"Alright guys, I’ll see you on Tuesday. Don’t forget to bring a number two pencil," the professor said dismissing the class. Everybody got up to leave as if they were in a rush to make it to their next class. Greg had been dreading this moment all class. He was also so excited for it that he barely heard anything the professor had said. He hopped up, shoved his shaking hands into his pockets, and approached her.

"Michelle," he said catching up to her before she left. "What do you think about the test?" he asked.

"I don’t know," she said. "The highest I’ve gotten on any test so far is only an 87. The tests are pretty tricky. This is my worst class."

They were walking out of the building together now. Greg had another class in the same building so he was going in the wrong direction.

"So what are you doing this weekend?" he asked her swallowing hard.

"Why?" she asked.

The word made his heart skip a beat. Why? What did why mean? It was certainly not a good sign. "I was wondering if you wanted to uh, get together this weekend to study for the final."

A look of disappointment washed over Michelle’s face. "Well actually I was going to study tonight because I’m really busy working this weekend. So . . . "

"Ah, okay," Greg said trying not to seem too disappointed.

"Uhm . . . " Michelle said.

"Well I have a class in a few minutes so I guess I’ll see ya next week," Greg said walking toward a building that he did not have a class in.

"Yeah . . . see ya."

He decided to skip his next class and drove over to Ashley’s on-campus apartment to report on what had come from following her advice.

"You’re an idiot," Ashley told him after he told his tale.

"I know. A girl like that is way out of my league," Greg said. He cracked open a bottle of a local beer called Maverick and began to chug it. Though Maverick was an expensive brand known for its sweet taste, it tasted bitter and did not quench any of his thirst.

"No, you’re an idiot," Ashley repeated.

Greg lowered the half empty bottle and wiped his mouth on his forearm. "I just said I kn-"

"She wanted you to ask her to study tonight."


"That’s why she said ‘so’ and ‘uhm . . . ’ at the end. She wanted to give you a chance. She was making time for you. You’re such an idiot. Why couldn’t you see that?"

Greg drained the last drops of beer from his bottle. He smiled grimly. "I’ll never understand girls."

The next week at class, Michelle did not look back at him even once. They did not talk before class began. He had a feeling that Ashley was right about what Michelle had wanted. She must have felt like he had rejected her. Why couldn’t girls just come out and say things like guys could? Why do they have to play these games? He had a feeling that Ashley was right about another thing, too. He really was an idiot. After he finished his final exam, aced it was sure, he stepped out of the building into the hot summer sun. He was finished with school for the semester. He had blown a once in a lifetime chance with a girl he had fallen in love with by somehow managing to reject himself. She would never know how he truly felt. Most kids were ecstatic to announce that summer had finally come but Greg De Luca was not.

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Features -- June 2008 -- Mid Month Issue