Chapter 1

Written by: Tulika Saha

They jumped apart and stood awkwardly looking at each other. Their eyes met, connected, then darted away. Jacques throat was dry. Emily stood with her legs twined around each other, and her hands clenched behind her back.

Jacques did not see that her fingers were also crossed.

“H-h-hi,” Emily said, her voice nervously shaking.

“How have you been?” Jacques asked, his eyes fixed on the floor where he noted her fashionable black shoes with leather bows on the toes.

Emily nodded. “Okay,….” She looked out the window and saw other students walking to and from class, some holding hands. She swallowed as tears stung her dark brown eyes and shivered on her eye lashes. Her gaze returned to Jacques. “I guess….” She trailed away.

Emily stiffened her shoulders and took a deep breath.

“You going to Luke’s tonight?” 

He hesitated, looking at her closely and wondering if she was.

Emily untangled her legs.

“I'll meet you there?”

Jacques’ face lit up. “That’d be totally awesome!” 

A girl at the top of the wooden stairs called. “You coming Em?”

Emily’s long plait flew as she spun around. “Gotta go,” she muttered, taking the steps two at a time. “I’ll see you at Luke's, ” she called back.

Jacques’ stood at the bottom of the stairs and stared after her as she disappeared. What had just happened filled him with slow rising amazement. Emily had agreed to go to a party with him.

“Wow!” he yelled, punching the air with his fists. As he turned to go to his own class, he was intercepted by the janitor.

The elderly janitor often ran errands for the Principal. It was not part of the job but he willingly did this to break the boredom of his job….and Mr. Brambles appreciated the help.

Nervously, Jacques made his way to the office. As he did, he ran through all his recent interactions with his lecturers. He really did not want to irritate them but sometimes words just dropped out of his mouth before he had time to catch them.

He pushed his hair back from his face, took a breath and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Mr. Brambles gruff voice called.

He rubbed his hand across his neatly trimmed greying black beard and fixed piercing dark eyes on Jacques.

Mr. Brambles laughed heartily at Jacques’ worried expression.

"No lad, nothing to worry about. Government want a candidate for a project linking games and physics. You’d be perfect."

Jacques vigorously shook his head. "I don't dig physics."

Mr Brambles looked surprised. "Nevertheless, you’re very good at it." He nodded emphatically. “You could win.”

Jacques glanced at his watch. Emily was waiting.

"Okay Mr. Bramble. I’ll think about it." He rushed from the office.

He jumped into his run down car, jammed it into gear, pushed the accelerator down as far as it would go and  sped out onto the road. Suddenly, a figure appeared from nowhere and with squealing tyres, he careened off the road.

Comments

Love the suspenseful ending, Tulika. Your chapter has opened up so many different opportunities for the next writer.
'“Wow!” he yelled, punching the air with his fists' - I can sense Jacques' exuberance in those words. Lovely work!