paper airplanes - part three
She stopped him the next day, in the hallway. Phil bit his lip as she stepped out in front of him, tugging at the straps of his bag.
“Phil,” she said lightly, tilting her head to the side slightly as if in question. Phil nodded.
“Yes, Mrs. Ashby?” Before she could continue, he spoke again. “Is this about yesterday? Because if it is, I’m sorry, and I won’t let it happen again.”
The professor searched his face carefully, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. She brushed her hands over the front of her soft yellow sweater, still watching Phil.
“I must admit,” she said finally. “It is about yesterday. But you’re not in trouble,” she added before Phil could say anything.
“I’m… not…?” Phil asked, tilting his head and frowning. If he wasn’t in trouble, he didn’t know what it could be about. He froze. Had any of the photos fallen out of his backpack, or locker? He was always petrified someone would find them, and expose his fascination in the younger boy. So far no one had caught him taking the pictures, and he wanted to keep it that way.
The teacher chuckled.
“Excuse me if this is a bit rude and nosy, but I know you have a bit of a crush on that sophomore? I believe his name is Daniel…?"
Phil flinched. Right, she had read the notes.
"Yes…” he sighed. Mrs. Ashby was the school’s therapist as well as the french teacher, so this really wasn’t unusual. “Yeah, I do. What about it?” he added, still confused.
“Well…” Mrs. Ashby glanced at her feet, shrugging and wringing her hands, her eyes twinkling. “I really shouldn’t be getting involved,” But that won’t stop you. “But Daniel has been having some trouble in my class. And you have straight A’s.” she looked up, raising an eyebrow. “I was wondering if you’d like to tutor him.”
Thoughts and feelings rushed to Phil’s head the second those words left her lips. Memories of daydreams he almost constantly had; sitting with Dan in his room, just talking, laying in the yard looking at the clouds, showing him his photography… studying french would be an amazing excuse to talk to him.
But no. He couldn’t. Fear flowed through his veins right next to the excitement, and he couldn’t. He didn’t think he would even be able to be near Dan without freaking out; he hadn’t managed to talk to him thus far. Who says he would be able to then, even in french?
Phil shook his head.
“N-No, I… I couldn’t,” he muttered. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Mrs. Ashby’s brow furrowed, but she nodded.
“That’s alright, Phil,” she said kindly, flashing him a smile. “But the offer’s always here. Come talk to me if you change your mind.”
Phil sighed as she turned and walked away, sinking against the lockers and burying his face in his hands. He unzipped his bag, pulling out one of the pictures he had of Dan; an old one of him sitting in the library. He wasn’t reading, just sitting, with his hood pulled up as if it was the only thing keeping people from reading his thoughts, his chin rested on his hand and curls of brown hair falling in his eyes.
Phil needed to meet him, officially.
That day after school, Phil lay on his bed, waiting for Dan. He ran his fingers through his hair.
Why couldn’t he just talk to him? What was wrong with him?
What was keeping him from just going over there, knocking on the door, and saying hi?
He felt like that would break some sort of contract. It would break the seal between them, and then Phil didn’t know if he’d be able to control himself. He was screwed.
Phil stood up, pushing himself up from the springy mattress and pacing his room, when he saw Dan coming out to sit in his chair. He peered from behind the curtains as the boy sat down, looking around at the trees surrounding his house. He wiped at his eyes, and Phil could tell he was close to tears, like every day.
Phil wondered who hurt him that badly.
Without thinking, Phil moved to his desk, tearing a piece of paper out from his notebook and picking up a pen.
Quickly, so he couldn’t think about it and convince himself out of it, he scribbled; ‘Are you alright?'
He didn’t know why he thought that was a good first think to say to him, but he didn’t think too hard about it. He folded it into a paper airplane, grinning at his delicate creation, and moving back to the window.
Phil’s aim was good, and his arm was strong, and he silently calculated how hard he would have to throw and at what angle to get the plane to land right on Dan’s deck. He had the slight breeze to think of, as well as the height difference between Dan’s house and his. Finally he just opened the window, and chucked it.
Phil flinched, closing it quickly and spinning to duck behind his curtains. He hadn’t looked at where it landed, but he could feel that Dan had seen it. It was probably wishful thinking.
Phil moved to lay down on his bed, burying his face in a pillow, not wanting to look and see Dan sitting there like before, oblivious to Phil’s existence.
He sat up too quickly when the very same paper airplane glided through his window, landing on his desk.
Maybe the wind brought it back? Maybe Dan was creeped out, so he returned it?
Phil moved towards it slowly, nervous to open it. This was it. This was really it, his first sentence to Dan.
He was definitely overthinking this.
He slid the paper open with shaky hands, unfolding the small slip.
'you can see me??’