Despite the joy I felt during the Muay Thai class, the morning after was agonizing. My entire body hurt from muscle soreness I didn’t even know was possible to bruising all over the top half of my torso and arms.
The only thing that could get me out of bed was the blaring alarm on the opposite side of my room. Thankfully there was no MMA meeting today or else I felt my body would crumble to dust.
There were, however, a few of my core classes later this afternoon, including a lab; my schedule was packed. Despite my best efforts, by the time I left my humble abode to attend my classes, I still felt as though I had a foot in my own grave.
Keeping my map close for assurance, I made my way to my first of many classes starting at eleven in the morning.
Lucky for me, the course material was relatively straight forward given that today was the first official class. If not, I doubt I could have kept up due to the fact that every time I twitched, it felt as though I was hit with a hammer.
With two classes down and one more to go, I limped to my only lab of Freshmen year. Due to my tight schedule, I ended up arriving late as I didn’t account for my injuries when selecting my classes weeks ago.
I scanned the room for available seating when I spotted a familiar long, dark head of hair with an open seat next to her. Without many other options, I swallowed my embarrassment and sat down.
“Hey stranger.” I said jokingly, “Is this seat taken?”
“Oh, it’s you,” Hazel replied dryly, “Better than nothing I guess.”
“Rude!” I exclaimed, unsure if she was joking, “Also, I’m not ‘you.’ My name is Lucas.”
I turned my chin up at her in protest, prompting a slight smile. As we made eye contact, I noticed the seat on the other side of her was vacant as well despite how full the room was.
“Any reason you’re relatively isolated?” I asked innocently, “Did you already make that many enemies?”
“This is a lab, y’know?” She let in a deep sigh before rolling her eyes. “When people look at me, they automatically assume I’m only here to fill some quota.”
“Well, I’d rather be grouped up with you than some rich kid who bought their way into this school.” I said proudly, momentarily forgetting the fact that I was also a rich kid.
“Thanks, Lucas.” She smiled at me “Good job not being racist.”
I tried to retort but remained silent. There was nothing I could say to that without sounding bad.
In response to my awkward stammering, Hazel let out a small laugh as the lecturer began class.
I guess we’re not just strangers anymore.
The lab went by quickly after that. Once again there wasn’t much to retain given it was only the first class. We were assigned preliminary lab groups and, as expected, Hazel and I ended up together thanks to our proximity.
And with that, the second day of classes were over. Out of relief, I attempted to immediately stand up, forgetting that I was still in agonizing pain from the day before, before crumbling under my own weight.
“You good?” Hazel asked, a genuine look of concern in her eyes.
“Yeah, I’ve just been working out.” I attempted to flex my bicep but all that came out was a wince of pain.
“Oh yeah?” She glared at me before letting out a small sigh. “C’mon, I’ll help you up.”
Hazel proceeded to awkwardly help me back to my feet and walked me out of the building.
“Thanks for that, I’m really okay now though.” I said, stumbling off on my own.
“If you say so,” she put her hand on her hip, obviously unsure.
“By the way, do you mind giving me your WhatsUp?” I asked, looking back at her. “Oh, and I don’t mean it in a creepy way or anything! It’s just that if we’re going to be in a lab together and-“
“Sure,” she interrupted my ramblings, reaching into her handbag to grab her phone. “I didn’t think you were dumb enough to hit on me again so soon anyway.”
I let out a sigh before filling in her contact information.
I’m never going to live this down, either, huh?
After saying some small goodbyes, I once again limped back to my room.
The day was almost gone at this point so after eating a small meal and doing my nightly routine, I settled into bed.
I stared up at my phone screen blankly for a while, my body was exhausted but my mind was still awake. I ended up flipping through my contacts, looking at all the progress I had made so far.
Amongst the sea of names I’d recently added, from the club members to people in my major, one of the stood out to me.
I sent the message on a whim, not expecting a response. To my surprise, almost immediately I felt my phone vibrate lightly in my hands.
“What?” Cole responded. I could feel his angsty persona through my screen.
“Y werent u at mma yesterday” I replied quickly.
After a few minutes of waiting anxiously, hoping I didn’t strike a nerve, I felt my phone buzz once more.
That one-word reply was all I received one again.
I sighed as I rolled over, turning off my phone. As much as I wanted to dig deeper, I knew that over text wasn’t the time to do so. All I could hope for was that he would come to jiujitsu tomorrow.
With that final worry somewhat sorted, my eyelids slowly closed on their own and I drifted into a deep sleep.