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5. ONE ON ONE

October 12, 2007

Despite a lot of awestruck males St Brigid’s acclimatized to Layla very quickly. Layla was attractive in many ways including socially. A bunch of girls happily surrounded her through school time though none of the year 9 boys had yet mustered up enough courage to say more than a passing ‘hello’.

 

I managed to get close to her about a week into term. Unsurprisingly, St Brigid’s is a Catholic school and most of the students are Catholic. There were two in year 9 that weren’t – me and Layla. My family was Assembly of God. By the look of Layla I thought she might be Muslim or something. Anyhow, there was a weekly Catholic religious education class that was really only relevant to Catholics; so me and Layla had a free period and a room all to ourselves.

 

Most of the period went by in silence until Layla turned around and said

“Oh, I apologize; I didn’t realize anyone else was in here.”

She got out of her chair and walked to the back of the room. That’s where I was. I wasn’t really hiding, just keeping a dignified distance. She wrapped herself round the chair in front of my table. She faced me, her elbows supporting her on the back rest.

“Hi, I’m Layla. I’m new here. I think I saw you on my first day. Near the entrance.”

She extended her right hand to me and formed a great big happy smile.

“Yes, I’m Joel. How are you traveling at Brigid’s?”

Ah, I was pretty shaky; it probably came out as a high-pitched whine. Anyway, I moved forward a bit and extended my right hand back to her. She leaned towards me and shook my hand firmly. Then her left hand joined in and also clasped itself around my hand. Firmly. She looked me straight in the eye and brimming with enthusiasm said:

“I’m traveling very well Joel. I’m having a wonderful time here.”

We settled back.

“So, Joel it’s just you and me and all those Catholics eh? Or are you wagging class?”

“No, no, I’m Assembly of God. You?”

“Oh, I’m Baha’i.”

“Oh right. That’s a new one on me. Is it Christian or not? If you don’t mind…”

“No, that’s fine. Probably not… If you really must know [teasingly Layla makes elaborate eye and arm movements] then come along to the Rel Ed class next week. Mrs King has cornered me into giving an overview.”

“Yeah, she did that to me last year. I found it very stressful. Oh, I’ll definitely come along to see you Layla. You know, listen to you Layla. I’m sure it will be very interesting.”

“Good lad. You can be my support. Bye for now Joel I’m off to the girls’ room and then it’s Home Ec. See you around.”

Then she blew me a kiss and strode out. Yes, blew me a kiss. Bonus. All very strange. I felt accepted. Woohoo!

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