Locker Love


Sheyla O'Donnell , Staff Writer

         A hallway crush was just a stupid term that people used, so they were allowed to be creepy and in love with people they had never met. And yes, Ophelia Sinclair was guilty of that. However, she was one of the people who used the term, so she could not feel as bad whenever she crushed on her locker neighbor. His name was Ricky Spencer, technically Richard, but that name was for people from the eighteenth century. 

       Unfortunately for Ophelia, they were both too brilliant to even think about asking for help from each other in chemistry, so she never got the opportunity to ask him any questions and kickstart their eventual best friends-to-lovers romance. This clearly hadn’t happened yet, so it was either time for her to pretend to be stupid or wait for him to trip up and ask her a question. It would happen eventually; Ophelia was sure of it, for she would never play dumb just so a man could feel good about himself. 

      Ophelia met Ricky during her freshman year when she moved from New York City to Connecticut to attend one of the best schools in the country. As if fate had a plan for the two of them, it turned out Ricky’s name appeared right after hers, binding them together until they graduated. Yet, they have never managed to say a single word to each other. And it’s been three years. Ophelia was a junior now and was reigning supreme over her entire class in intelligence. She sat comfortably at the top of her class, right at number one, with Ricky barely below her at number two. 

       Ophelia fell in love with this Spencer boy nearly six months into her freshman year when she walked to AP U.S History, finding him in a desolate classroom with a few younger peers during his required free period. She then began to admire his ability to juggle all his extracurriculars, athletics, and everything in between. 

       And Ophelia won’t lie, Ricky was enchanting. Everything about him captivated her. His cerulean eyes nearly disappeared with every heart-wrenching grin she would never receive. His tawny waves brushed against his forehead quite often, and Ophelia admired the way it flopped quite often in their chemistry class. 

       Ophelia was so infatuated with him that she had trouble walking within the halls without tripping over her feet for a glance at him. Yet, whenever she returned home, once she finished her homework, she would stew over the glance that she held for a bit too long or the words that got stuck in her throat whenever she glanced at him when they stood at their lockers together. 

        Before you start thinking she is crazy,some background information is in order. Ophelia Sinclair was a certified genius and rarely partook in anything that involved talking or people. She had never gone to a single football game, never attended a homecoming, unless she was the one hosting it, and she most definitely had never thought of having a boyfriend. That was until Ophelia was in one of her creative writing classes in freshman year, she overheard people talking about “hallway crushes.” They went into detail about how they would glance at someone for a second too long, and they caught feelings. 

      Ophelia hid her scoff under a poorly executed cough and laughed the idea off until she was forced to sleep. She hated sleep. Her overactive mind was constantly making her ponder her existence and have a minor existential crisis about her future until Ricky’s grin was slowly brushed in soft paint strokes inside her mind. But that was in sophomore year and now? Finally, she was ready to put aside her extremely awkward nature and jumpstart a love she had utterly created in her mind. 

        It all started with Ophelia slamming the locker a bit too loudly, startling them both before giving him a paltry tilt of her rouge-painted lips. She had spoken far too loudly in the otherwise silent hallway when asking him how he was. Being the socially awkward nerds at the top of the academic pyramid in their class, they weren’t very sure how to respond to people. Even though they both scrounged up the effort to earn a passing grade in their communications, they still cringed whenever they answered the “how are you?” question with “you, too.” But this time, he took a moment to think, creating an odd sense of uneasiness to rest in her belly before he shrugged and gave her a non committal,good. That was the end of their conversation, and Ophelia didn’t talk to him until a month later when he asked her if she had finished the AP Chemistry lab given to them the night before. She barely caught the tail end of his mumbling, only to connect the scattered words and respond with a simple nod of her head and about twelve comments about how she hated chemistry. 

          No one would believe the way Ophelia beat herself up over her inability to speak to the love of her life. Although, if Ophelia was being honest, she overthought every little thing. She spent hours mulling over her grades and test scores and the amount of money her parents spent on tutoring that they promised to keep hidden because she would never let anyone know she needed help. 

        Perfection would always be Ophelia’s Achilles heel. Or at least the way she strived for it. It was a constant in her life. She was perfect at academics, her musical ability was unmatched, and no one else held a candle to her need to be the best. But, Ophelia had never dated anyone. She couldn’t even begin to think about dates and hand-holding, and those three words that held far too much meaning. But she needed to be perfect in relationships, which is why she couldn’t mess this up. 

         A few months after their fateful interaction,Ophelia returned to school with more determination to ignite a friendship with Ricky. Well, at least she hoped he wanted to be friends with her. She didn’t have time to worry about whether or not he even wanted her friendship. Luckily, he was pulling books right out of his locker, which made it perfect for her to make small talk with him. Her heart careened within her ribs as she walked closer and closer; every slam of a locker and all the chatter around her completely overstimulated Ophelia. 

        She stayed silent near him, her hands shaking as she pulled at her AP books and binders until Ricky’s crisp voice broke Ophelia out of her scattered thoughts. She nearly banged her head in the locker before glancing up at the Spencer boy.

       “Hey, Ophelia? Could you help me with chemistry before the test this week?” 

        She nearly dropped all her books when his rough timbre reiterated the words she had dreamed up in her head for months. But, instead, she picked at a sticker on her binder before shrugging nonchalantly, as if she hadn’t been secretly manifesting this conversation for nearly a year.

       “I mean, I’m sure I could fit you into my schedule. You know me, I’m a busy gal,” Ophelia’s voice reached an octave higher as a giggle bubbled out of her mouth before she had a chance to muffle it. Ricky gave her one of his grins that she never had a chance to gaze at thoroughly before bidding her farewell and walking off. Ophelia’s heart careened in her chest a few seconds after their interaction before she slammed her locker shut with a giant grin that she knew would stay for the rest of the day.