The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden

By: Jessica Sorensen

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden


 

by Jessica Sorensen
 

 

Chapter 1
 
 
 
#4 Wear a shirt with color.
 
 
 
4 months later…
 
 
 
Callie
 
I often wonder what drives people to do things. Whether it’s put into their minds at birth, or if it is learned as they grow. Maybe it’s even forced upon them by circumstances that are out of their hands. Does anyone have control over their lives or are we all helpless?
 
“God, it’s like spazzville around here today,” Seth comments, scrunching his nose at the arriving freshmen swarming the campus yard. Then he waves his hand in front of my face. “Are you spacing off on me again?”
 
I blink away from my thoughts. “Now don’t be arrogant.” I nudge his shoulder with mine playfully. “Just because we both decided to do the summer semester and we know where everything is, doesn’t make us better than them.”
 
“Uh, yeah, it kind of does.” He rolls his honey brown eyes at me. “We’re like the upper-class freshmen.”
 
I press back a smile and sip my latte. “You know there’s no such thing as an upper-class freshman.”
 
He sighs, ruffling his golden blond locks, which look like he gets them highlighted in a salon, but they’re actually natural. “Yeah, I know. Especially for people like you and me. We’re like two black sheep.”
 
“There are many more black sheep than you and me.” I shield my eyes from the sun with my hand. “And I’ve toned it down. I’m even wearing a red t-shirt today, like the list said to do.”
 
The corners of his lips tug upward. “Which would look even better if you’d let those pretty locks of yours down, instead of hiding them in that ponytail all the time.”
 
“One step at a time,” I say. “It was hard enough just letting my hair grow out. It makes me feel weird. And it doesn’t matter because that has yet to be added to the list.”
 
“Well it needs to be,” he replies. “In fact, I’m doing it when I get back to my room.”
 
Seth and I have a list of things we have to do, even if we’re scared, repulsed, or incapable. If it’s on the list, we have to do it and we have to cross off one thing at least once a week. It was something we did after we confessed our darkest secrets to each other, locked away in my room, during my first real bonding moment with a human being.
 
“And you still wear that God awful hoodie,” he continues, jerking on the bottom of my grey faded jacket. “I thought we talked about that hideous thing. You’re beautiful and you don’t need to cover up. Besides, it’s like eighty degrees outside.”
 
I wrap my jacket around myself self-consciously, gripping at the edge of the fabric. “Subject change please.”
 
He loops arms with mine as he leans his weight on me, forcing me to scoot over to the edge of the sidewalk as people pass by us. “Fine, but one day we’re going to talk about a complete makeover, in which I will supervise.”
 
I sigh. “We’ll see.”
 
I met Seth my first day at UW during Pre-Calculus. Our inability to understand numbers was a great conversation starter and our friendship kind of grew from there. Seth is the only friend I’ve really had since sixth grade, besides a brief friendship with the new girl in school who didn’t know the “Anorexic, Devil Worshipping Callie” everyone else saw me as.
 
Seth abruptly stops walking and swings in front of me. He’s wearing a grey t-shirt and a pair of black skinny jeans. His hair is stylishly tousled and his long eyelashes are the envy of every girl.
 
“I just have to say one more thing.” He touches the tip of his finger to the corner of my eye. “I like the maroon eyeliner much better than the excessive black.”
 
“I have your approval on that.” I press my hand dramatically to my heart. “I’m so relieved. It’s been weighing on my mind since this morning.”
 
He makes a face and his eyes scroll down my red t-shirt that brushes the top of my form-fitting jeans. “You’re doing great in every department, I just wish you’d wear a dress or shorts or something for once and show off those legs of yours.”
 
My face plummets along with my mood. “Seth, you know why… I mean, you know… I can’t…”
 
“I know. I’m just trying to be encouraging.”
 
“I know you are and that’s why I love you.” I love him for more than that actually. I love him because he's the first person I felt comfortable enough with to tell my secrets to, but maybe that’s because he understands what it’s like to be hurt inside and out.
 
“You’re so much happier than when I first met you.” He tucks my bangs behind my ear. “I wish you could be this way around everyone, Callie. That you would stop hiding from everyone. It’s sad no one gets to see how great you are.”
 
“And vice-versa,” I say, because Seth hides as much as I do.
 
He takes my empty Styrofoam cup from my hand and tosses it into a garbage can beside one of the benches. “What do you think? Should we hit up one of the tours and make fun of the tour guide?”
 
“You know the way to my heart.” I beam and his laughter lights up his entire face.
 
We stroll up the sidewalk in the shade of the trees toward the front doors of the main office, which is a few stories high with a peaked roof. It has a historical look to it, tan brick with a lot of wear and tear, like it belongs in an older era. The yard that centers all the buildings looks like a triangular maze with randomly placed concrete paths that cross the lawn. It’s a pretty place to go to school, lots of trees, and open space, but it took some getting used to.
 
There is confusion in the air as students and parents attempt to find their way around. I’m completely distracted when I hear a faint, “Heads up.”
 
My head snaps up just in time to see a guy running straight for me with his hands in the air and a football flying at him. His solid body collides with mine and I fall flat onto my back, cracking my head and elbow against the pavement. Pain erupts through my arm and I can’t breathe.
 
“Get off me,” I say, writhing my body in a panic. The weight and heat off him makes me feel like I’m drowning. “Get off now!”
 
“I’m so sorry.” He rolls to the side and quickly climbs off me. “I didn’t see you there.”
 
I blink the spots away from my eyes until his face comes into focus; brown hair that flips up at the ears, piercing emerald eyes, and a smile that will melt a girl’s heart. “Kayden?”
 
His eyebrows furrow and his hand falls to his side. “Do I know you?” There’s a small scar below his right eye and I wonder if it’s from where his dad hit him that night.
 
A tiny prickle forms in my heart that he can’t remember who I am. Getting to my feet, I brush the dirt and grass off my sleeves. “Um, no, sorry. I thought you were someone else.”
 
“But you got the name right.” His tone carries doubt as he scoops the football off the grass.  “Wait, I do know you, don’t I?”
 
“I’m really sorry for getting in your way.” I snag Seth’s hand and haul him toward the entrance doors where there’s a big “Welcome Students” banner.
 
When we’re in the corridor by the glass display cases, I let go of him and lean against the brick wall, catching my breath. “That was Kayden Owens.”
 
“Oh.” He glances back at the entrance as students swarm inside. “The Kayden Owens? The one you saved?”
 
“I didn’t save him,” I clarify. “I just interrupted something.”
 
“Something that was about to get ugly.”
 
“Anyone would have done the same thing.”
 
His fingers seize my elbow as I attempt to walk down the hall and he pulls me back to him. “No, a lot of people would have walked by. It’s a common fact that a lot of people will turn their heads in the other direction when something bad is happening. I know this from experience.”

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