The girl threw Cheerios at him, one at a time, little round Os, tiny thuds on the back of his neck, in his collar, on his desk, in his left ear once. He never saw her do it, even when he turned around. She didn’t look at him, no wink or coy smile, no shy wave.
Flirting or even acknowledgement wasn’t her style. She wore dresses when every other girl he knew was in skinny jeans—the thin girls, the medium girls, the fat girls, all in jeans that were painted on by their mothers every morning. Not Sydney. She wore dresses with patterns, belts, once a skirt that grazed the bend of her knee, all with pockets.
Which is where she kept the Cheerios, he surmised. In those pockets.
On Friday, he asked her to stop. “Hey, Sydney,” he said.
“Yes,” she said. Those startled blue eyes, blue the color of her dress, blue the color of the tiny sweater held across her breasts by a single button, blue as the sky is blue, like a—what do you call that rock—sapphire—as blue as a sapphire is blue, so very, very blue and perfectly round, round as a Cheerio, but bigger and oh so blue that he was blushing, this boy who feared nothing and felt little or so he proclaimed, now felt the slow, hot rise move up his neck and flood his face.
“So, Sydney,” he was saying, “what’s the deal with the Cheerios?”
“What Cheerios?” she said. Her voice was soft and clear at the same time, smiling although her face showed nothing . . . but those eyes. “What Cheerios?” she said again.
“The ones you throw at me,” he said and opened his hand to show the pile he’d collected that morning.
“You looked hungry,” she said.
“This would hardly feed a hungry man,” he said.
“Oh,” she said. The sapphire eyes—yes sapphire was definitely the rock he was thinking of—the sapphire eyes filled with light and reflected the heat of his blush. “Oh,” she said, “then follow me. I have more.”
So he did.