♥ ♥ ♥
The weekend had gone too quickly and Amanda had that gutting feeling of being back at college in her stomach, but her excited best friend talking quickly beside her made her smile. "Yeah, and then my dad told him to get lost..." Nancy carried on as Amanda watched Freddy from her Geography class retrieve books from his locker.
"And then the rat began to speak and-"
"What?" Amanda stared at her.
Nancy grinned. "You weren't listening to me and I'm your best friend and, yes, Freddy is as handsome as pie on a Friday evening, but I repeat: I'm your best friend."
Amanda tried to ignore her comment about Freddy and hoped her cheeks weren't giving her away and said back, "No. I'm your best friend. I just hang out with you because your mum asked my mum if I could spend time with you every now and then."
Nancy poked her tongue out and then said, "He's wearing black skinny jeans. Oh, you know I love a guy in black skinny jeans."
Amanda rolled her eyes as they past Freddy but noted that, yes, those jeans were really something.
* * *
At lunch, Amanda pulled her books out of her bag, knowing she needed to get work done. Her shift that night would finish at ten and by the time she got home, she'd be shattered and in need of sleep. Working in a restaurant as the sun reminded England it was summer was tough. All she wanted was to be sat in the garden at home or be out with Nancy or reading a book. Instead, she would become unbearably hot, serving cold drinks that she wanted to slurp herself. As she scribbled notes about French verbs, she noted that it would all be worth it: university soon.
As her mind wandered later on and she found herself glancing around, she spotted Freddy, quietly reading a textbook. He had some friends around him and Amanda watched him share a joke with one of them, a lopsided grin emerging in a slow but meaningful fashion that matched his sparkling eyes.
Freddy was a quiet eighteen year old, with caramel-coloured hair, sun-kissed skin and perfect grades. Realising she had overstayed her staring, Amanda looked back at her work.
Months ago Amanda had worked on a project with Freddy and two others from their Geography class. It was only as she stared blankly at her French essay that she realised that not once had Freddy initiated conversation. It was she who asked him questions, attempted to make jokes and organised the times their group would meet.
Amanda felt a smile creep on the tip of her lips.
Questioning the motives to her lips' movement, she realised that she found him endearing. They had never had a conversation about anything of meaning and yet she felt his shy smile and tendency to stay out of people's way cause a swarm of butterflies in her stomach.
She convinced herself that she did need to get a French dictionary just as - coincidently - Freddy was putting a book back. Amanda went to make a joke about tectonic plates as she stood patiently beside him, waiting to get to the French section when Freddy turned and the two of them collided. He apologised and barely looked in Amanda's direction. She smiled back and promised that it was no problem, although he was already almost back at his seat when she said so.
Amanda frowned and left the library.
That evening when Amanda was on her way to work, she noticed Freddy running. He slowed down and began to stretch before he began to walk. He paused and soaked in the evening. Amanda was sure she saw something that resembled lack of peace in his expression; why though, she could not discern. All at the same time, he seemed somewhat at peace.
Realising she had stopped walking and was almost late for work, Amanda began to walk.
* * *
The library was busy as it always was around exam time and one of the only spaces that was free to sit was right by Freddy. As Amanda watched him, Freddy stopped and appeared self-conscious. "Too many words, too little time," he said and captured Amanda's eyes.
She flushed a little, now knowing he knew she was watching but she felt somewhat chilly at his comment. It felt a little more meaningful than his sparkling eyes were letting on. Freddy smiled and she felt herself smile back.
In the next twenty minutes neither of them spoke and Amanda finished some reading at a slow pace, conscious of Freddy being close to her. She felt those butterflies again and found it hard to read, mostly just staring at the page.
* * *
Freddy couldn't concentrate, and he was happy for the distraction. Earlier that day everything went wrong again, just as his mother had promised it wouldn't and he couldn't escape relentless panic and fear until he realised Amanda was beside him.
He swallowed his fear, and said something weirdly cliché, cringed a little, and then ignored the thought. She smiled a smile full of loveliness.
As Amanda read her textbook, Freddy looked up a little, enough to see that her dark auburn hair covered her face. Her eyes were green marbles and she bit her lip seeming a little lost, her cheeks the colour of a discreet pink sunset. Freddy cleared his throat but couldn't find the words to say anything more.
As the sun brightened the panic that was easily felt in the library, Freddy accepted that he would be unable to muster the courage to say anything else to Amanda that afternoon.
* * *
"Will you be going to Anna's tonight, mate?" Andy asked, barely looking in Freddy's direction before he winked at Lacy Jones as she walked past.
"Mate, come on. Whenever you're with me, without even knowing it, you're the best wingman."
"Oh yeah?" Freddy raised his eyebrows.
"Get over yourself dude," Andy grinned. A few seconds passed. "So, you're coming, yeah?"
Freddy rolled his eyes with a smile, "Sure."
Later that evening, Freddy stopped before he knocked on Anna's door, composing himself a little. It's just one night; it'll be an all right night; everything will be okay.
Before he was about to knock, Lacy Jones opened the door with an Andy attached to her arm, "FREDDY!" Freddy was late enough to be surrounded by slightly intoxicated classmates.
He picked up a cider and pretended to listen to Andy talking about Lacy.
In the corner sat Amanda, in a simple black dress, her hair almost sparkling beneath the light of the room. She was laughing with Nancy before her eyes met Freddy's and he felt the atmosphere was enough to give him the confidence to hold her eyes. Nancy said something, got up and Amanda looked down, seemingly embarrassed.
He hadn't meant to embarrass her. Now feeling a little uncomfortable himself, he went to turn around when she looked up and said, "Freddy", her eyes smiling.
* * *
Amanda and Freddy spoke for almost three hours that night; in the corner of the room. Just the two of them. Freddy made his cider last the whole time, and as people were leaving and they regretfully were making chatter to ignore the fact they would have to leave soon, Freddy said, "Did you want a drink?"
"I'm good with my squash, thank you," Amanda grinned at him.
"Got an early start?"
"Just not a drinker," Amanda tried to not seem embarrassed, but Freddy's smile back at her made her know that she shouldn't feel silly, and her embarrassment diminished within moments. "I leave that to my best friend." Freddy followed Amanda's eyes and he laughed at Nancy talking excitedly at Harrison James, who seemed not to understand anything she was saying.
The quiet then fell made Amanda nervous. In a nice way. But she still found herself standing up.
"Can I walk you home?" Freddy asked, his eyes twinkling like stars as she found herself momentarily lost in their charm.
"I will let you have the pleasure."
Freddy chuckled, threw his cider in a bin bag, hesitated and then cleared away some other people's drinks as if it gave him peace of mind. As if mirroring a Hollywood movie, Freddy offered Amanda his right arm with a grin and Amanda felt herself giggle while her heart smiled.
"If you had one more day to live, what would you do?" Amanda felt herself blush at her cliché question, but she wanted to hear the honest or jokey answer that he would be sure to give.
"I know that if you asked me a few years ago, I would have said that I would buy all of the scratch cards in the nearest shops and wait until I found the one where I'd win big."
"But you'd only have one day left... You wouldn't have a chance to spend it."
"And there's no guarantee I'd have won all that much," Freddy chuckled. "Thank goodness I've gained a brain cell or two since then."
"I wouldn't be so sure," Amanda felt herself tease him as he feigned offence and grinned the grin that made her glad she came out after two and a half hours of Nancy nagging her. Amanda stopped, not even trying to hide her disappointment. "This is me."
Freddy nodded, wavering on his feet a little, partially seeming lightly amused, but partially reflecting her disappointment in his small, content, and disappointed smile. After a few seconds, Amanda turned, about to say her goodbye into the warm summer night's air.
"You asked me what I would do if I had one day to live, and if that were true, then there would be only one thing I could do."
Amanda didn't turn but she felt his warmth behind her. "And what's that?" She found some of her best friend's confidence in her.
"I'd attempt to charm you with a line I heard Ryan Gosling say and tell you I'll pick you up at eight tomorrow."
"I'll see you at eight tomorrow."
♥ ♥ ♥
HERE is another part of Freddy's story!
Car Journeys & Sunsets,
The Girl in the Moonlight.