“Body Language” by Madison Pedley

Madison Pedley

They walked together every single day, James and Sarah. They were practically inseparable. Everyone at school knew they’d been dating since freshman year, and if anybody from this crappy high school would grow up and live happily ever after it would be the two of them. Sometimes, James is late to meeting Sarah at her locker, and just by her facial expressions she was upset.

Sarah hasn’t been herself lately. She was always smiling and giggly with James and they would always goof around with one another. But lately, things seemed hostile. I watched Sarah put her books into her locker one by one. Her body was slouched down and she sighed, she looked tired. Like she hadn’t slept in a few nights. I watched James slowly approach her from behind. He tapped on the locker, which startled her. She jumped and looked at him. Shaking her head, she continued putting things into her locker. After all of the books were out of her hand, she began taking things from her backpack and putting them in her locker.

James just stood there. He didn’t speak, and he didn’t move. He continued leaning up against the lockers next to her. Sarah’s phone buzzed, but she ignored it. She threw it into the back of her locker and slammed it shut. James was looking the other way and didn’t even seem to notice her outburst. Some of James’ friends walked by and high fived him. He cracked a quick smile at them, but as they walked away his emotionless face returned.

It was strange for James to be acting this way as well. He seemed out of focus, like something was off but he was trying to act like everything was fine.

Students raced past in the halls, trying to get to their classes on time. I sat there, on the bench outside of guidance, continuing to observe what was going on. Were they going through a rough patch? I didn’t really know Sarah that well, but she was always sweet to me in class. James was a good friend of my brothers, they played football together. He was so handsome, too. It killed me to see him not smiling like usual. His bright teeth weren’t glowing this time, and he just seemed out of it.

Sarah turned and looked at James. He didn’t even move and continued to look down the hall, acting like he hadn’t noticed her. She grabbed ahold of his hand and looked at his face. With that same drained look on her face, she cracked a small smile. Her cheeks moved up and her eyes glistened. James faced her and looked into her eyes, grabbing her other hand. She continued to stand there, staring at him, until the smile went away. She looked down and began to cry. Tears streamed down her face and she continued to hold onto James’ hand. He looked down at her and pulled her into his chest and she stood there, crying. He was hugging her and stroking her back and she sobbed into his hoodie.

She took a big, deep breath and recollected herself. She looked up at James as he wiped the remaining tears off her eyes. She let go of him and went back in her locker. He looked down the hallway again, as if nothing had happened. Sarah recollected her things and wiped her eyes again. She shook her head and looked up, letting out a big exhale and grabbed her backpack from inside her locker. Slinging the backpack over her shoulder, she cracked a fake smile and grabbed James’ hand. He took her hand and they walked down the hall, hand in hand, as if everything was normal.