Chapter 4:

The girl from the mysterious song

The Day I Forgot About You

The old man with white hair as snow bent slightly under the weight of the years. His faded gray suit seemed to have been worn for decades. His voice was calm and gentle, only a little weak.

"You can come in, Neo."

The voices of several students whispering softly prevented Neo from taking another step. He looked curiously at the small table that was leaning against the wall. There was a small cushion with non-uniform colors. It seemed to be moving.

"This is Lenny, my companion. He is really friendly," the professor said, pointing to the one on the mostly white cushion with black ear details.

To get a closer look at the cat, Neo approached the small table, getting close to the professor who raised his hand to hand him a marker.

The boy took the object from the professor's hand, who pointed to the large whiteboard full of numbers and letters. His finger indicated an empty space that had just been erased.

"Write your name and age on the board."

Neo stood in front of the whiteboard, thinking about the idea of introducing himself. He didn't want to do that; he preferred to remain anonymous. People were synonymous with problems, and the less he knew about them, the better. He looked at the professor, who gestured for him to proceed.

He had no choice but to start writing on the board. The professor smiled and began to explain to the class, "Neo wasn't feeling well and had to go to the infirmary, missing the first few classes. That's why I asked him to introduce himself now."

After finishing writing, Neo needed to turn around to look at the classroom. Was a little scared. He quickly turned, determined to overcome his fear with brute force before could feel anything.

In front of him were thirty chairs organized in five rows of six, with twenty-nine of them occupied by students who were fully focused on him.

Neo's eyes searched for the blonde-haired girl who had saved him from hitting his head earlier. Some girls in the room seemed like potential candidates, but he couldn't point to any of them with certainty.

In general, it was a normal classroom. There were some stronger, muscular boys, while others were thinner. Some girls seemed more outgoing, while others were shyer. There were people who seemed snobbish and others who seemed friendlier and nicer.

That was the analysis he could make based on their appearance. Clearly, it would be superficial. Their faces didn't show surprise but rather other negative emotions: pain, disdain, sadness, strangeness, disapproval, mistrust…

"My name is Neo Lancaster, I'm seventeen years old. Nice to meet you all."

The professor waited for him to continue speaking, but there was nothing else to say.

"That's it?" he asked curiously. "You can talk about what you like or don't like. I think that's how it's usually done. It's been a long time since I introduced myself to the class, as you can imagine."

"Yes, that's it," Neo replied shortly and quickly.

The students continued with the same expressions as the situation became awkward.

Neo was getting annoyed. He wondered why they were reacting strangely. The normal reaction would be indifference or surprise, he imagined. It couldn't be a coincidence.

Deep down, he started to feel unwelcome in that place. It seemed like all those reactions were of rejection. Neo looked down, feeling sad. The classroom walls seemed to close in, intensifying the unease he felt. The weight of rejection pressed upon his heart, urging him to seek refuge elsewhere. He wanted to leave. He wanted to go away.

"Pleasure to meet you, Neo," said a familiar voice, words that brought comfort to the suffocating boy.

He was startled because he didn't expect anyone to say anything. He lifted his head, his eyes meet those of the girl standing in the middle of the class.

"It's her!" Neo thought. "She's the girl who caught me." He was so sure it was her that it was astounding. In his mind, it couldn't be anyone else.

She was smiling, her blond hair shining in the sunlight, just as Neo had noticed before fainting. They were straight, long, and silky, adding a touch of softness to her appearance. The girl seemed delicate, but her posture exuded confidence.

Although their previous encounter had been brief, it had already sparked a strong emotional connection in Neo. Now, seeing her again, he felt certain that she was special and important to him in some way. He was mesmerized by her ocean-blue eyes.

The other students were confused by the girl's behavior but were captivated by her presence and decided to follow her. One by one, they started standing up.

"Welcome, Neo," they said almost simultaneously. Deep and high-pitched voices all together.

Neo, who had previously felt rejected, now felt embarrassed. His face was redder than a tomato.

"Thank you, I guess," he said looking away.

The professor became even more perplexed. "I've never seen anything like this," he said, expressing his confusion. Then he remembered that he needed to continue his work. "Let's continue with the class, please everyone, take your seats, including you, Neo."

The boy walked slowly among the desks as the students sat back in their places. Went to the back of the room, at the end of the last row on the right where there was an empty seat. It was close to the windows. He felt that at least could observe the outside world when got bored.

The professor asked everyone to open their textbook to page 8 to continue with the lesson he had been teaching before. Neo searched his bag for the correct notebook among all the ones Karine had put in his backpack. Once he found it and opened it to the requested page and tried to follow along with the explanations.

The class passed by quickly. The boy's head was spinning. There was so much content and so many things he had never seen before. And his mind is thinking about talking to Saya. He needed to thank her in some way.

"Neo, can you come here for a minute?" the professor said, stopping him from leaving the classroom.

He walked up to the desk, where the professor was writing down notes about his class. The boy stood in front of him until a question arose in his mind.

"What's your name, professor?"

As soon as he finished writing, he thought about the question he had received.

"I didn't introduce myself to you before?"

Neo thought and thought.

"No," he finally replied.

The professor looked a bit embarrassed and chuckled lightly.

"Wow. It must be the age. My name is Antonio."

Neo nodded slightly.

"Why did you call me, Antonio?"

His smiling face turned slightly serious.

"I feel like you might have difficulties with my class. If it's too challenging, you can talk to me, and I'll set aside some of my time to help you."

Neo felt that what Antonio was saying was important, so stored it in his mind. That help could be useful going forward.

He said goodbye to the professor and headed towards where thought Saya had gone. Searched the entire school until reached the library. There, he saw a girl with short, straight, light brown hair and circular-framed glasses at the reception desk. Saya was talking to her.

As he approached, he focused on what was going to say. Rehearsed it in his head several times. It was easy, he thought. He just wanted to thank her.

But as getting closer, his body stopped functioning correctly. The heart started beating faster, his head grew warmer, and the rest of the body felt cold, specially the hands as he felt shivers running through his body. Head was spinning slowly and his thoughts became jumbled.

He tried to call out to the girl, but his voice wouldn't come out.

Saya, who was focused on her conversation, turned to look at the boy, scaring him, Neo almost jumped in surprise.

The awkward silence increased Saya's curiosity as she waited.

"Thank you for earlier," Neo said, embarrassed.

She was a little confused. Thankful for what exactly?

"Are you feeling better? I got scared when you fell into me, but I managed to catch you."

"Yeah, sorry about that," he laughed. "I still don't understand why it happened to me, but I don't think it will happen again."

"If I'm around, I can catch you," she said, laughing while flexing her arm muscles.

"Katherine said I might not have the same luck next time."

The boy took a closer look at the girl's face, and she was very beautiful, even more beautiful than he had realized. He started feeling more nervous, his legs trembled, and it was difficult to stand. He needed to breathe, so he decided to change the subject. He looked at the clock and said:

"Well, I have to go now. Really thank you. See you tomorrow, Saya."

"See you tomorrow, Neo."

He smiled and started walking backward, accidentally bumping into someone who was going to talk to the girl at the counter.

It was getting late, and the last rays of sunlight illuminated the city. The previous warmth had given way to the cold of the night. Neo thought about his day at school, especially about Saya. He was looking forward to the next day.

He decided to return to the tree square and sleep, but his plans were thwarted when he realized it was about to rain.

Slashed Ink.
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