Here's a little something you helped me write a long time ago. I dedicate it to you.
September 30, 1963 was a hot day at Stokes University. Although Jesse's English professor opened the windows, the lack of soft breezes in the humid southern air proved the attempt to be utterly fruitless. Jesse tugged at his collar and winced as a fat droplet of sweat fell from his forehead and onto his homework, smearing the ink on question number three. He reached into his left back pocket, pulled out one of his mother's handkerchiefs and carefully dabbed the flaw away.
Jesse gazed around the classroom at his peers. Many constructed paper fans and cocked their wrists back and forth, trying to cool their miserable faces and necks. Others slept. His eyes landed on Sarah Richards, a girl he courted the month before. He watched as she crossed and uncrossed her long, perfect legs, trying to find comfort in her desk. She caught him looking, shot him a nasty glare and stuck out her tongue. Jesse laughed.
"Mr. Musings, would you care to join us today?" Professor Albright asked.
"Sorry, sir," Jesse apologized sheepishly. "Will you please repeat the question?"
"What do you think would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had never met?"
"They would have been fine," answered Jesse, without hesitation.
"Fine? Please elaborate."
"I mean, of course they would've been fine. They were, what, fourteen? They had their whole lives ahead of them. In fact, I'd even say that it would've been better if they hadn't met. Juliet would have married Prince what's-his-name-"
"Yes, Prince Paris. And Romeo would've eventually gotten over Rosaline and met someone else. They'd both live a long life and probably be perfectly content. It's inevitable."
"Hmph," Professor Albright said. "Makes sense."
"Yes, it does," Jesse said, rather pleased with his answer.
"I disagree," boomed a passionate voice from the back of the classroom.
Jesse turned around and vaguely recognized a student who rarely attended class. She had a mop of curls and dirty bare feet. He had never really paid any attention to her, but now he was intrigued and a bit annoyed. He glanced at Professor Albright, who raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.
"Why be merely content for a lifetime when you could be insanely blissful for a little while? In fact, if they'd never met, they'd have been better off dead anyway," said the girl.
"WHAT?!" Jesse scowled, throwing up his hands. "You can't be serious! I mean, COME ON."
"Oh, I'm serious. Dead serious." the girl giggled.
"Do you always laugh at your own jokes?" Jesse asked.
"Okay, class, we're out of time. Turn in your homework and have Act III read by Thursday. There will be a quiz," Professor Albright warned.
The students groaned as they gathered their books and strolled out the door.
"Hey!" Jesse called out to the opinionated stranger. "Do you really think they'd be better off dead?"
She ignored him and kept walking.
"Hey! I know you can hear me."
Her stride did not break.
The girl obediently stopped in the middle of the hall and pivoted on her heel to face Jesse eye-to-eye, hands on her hips.
"Aren't you hot?" she asked, tilting her head to the side and allowing her eyes to scan the upper half of his body.
"Excuse me?" he asked, shifting his weight uncomfortably from the right to the left.
"You're kind of sweaty."
Jesse looked down at the perspiration that seeped through his crisp white shirt. His face burned with embarrassment.
"Why do you wear white button-up shirts every day?"
"You don't even see me every day. You never come to class either."
"I see you around, and every time I do, you're wearing the same white button-up shirt."
So, she notices me, he thought.
"It's not the same one. I have a few," he retorted.
"You didn't answer my question," she said as she turned to walk away.
"You didn't answer mine," Jesse shot back.
She sighed, shook her head and turned around, a huge grin plastered on her face.
"Come here," she said as she flipped through Shakespeare's tragedy. She took Jesse's hand. "Close your eyes."
"Just do it. And listen."
"Okay… And by the way, I think you're weird."
"Hush. Listen. Ahem. 'Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.'"
The girl leaned forward and whispered softly in his ear, "See? Romeo may have liked other girls, but it didn't compare to his love for Juliet. A love like theirs only happens once in a lifetime." She drew back and asked in a normal voice, "Do you want more examples? I have them marked."
"Um, no, that's okay," Jesse shook his head, opened his eyes and nervously took his hand out of hers. He felt strange.
"So, what about you?" the girl asked.
"What about me?"
"Why do you wear white button-up shirts every day?"
"Because they look nice."
She giggled. "You do look nice. Every time I see you, your hair is perfectly in place, just like now."
Jesse smiled. She wants me, he thought.
"But, sometimes I wonder," she said as she raised her hands, "what it would look like," she leaned in close, "if I did this," and vigorously ran her fingers through his sandy blond hair, ruining any perfection that might have been.
"Hey!" Jesse angrily shouted. "Whaddaya do that for?"
She laughed hysterically. "Because you needed it."
"Do you always go around putting your hands on people you don't know?" Jesse asked.
"Well, who are you?"
"Who are you? What's your name? Please identify yourself."
"I'm Jesse. Jesse Musings."
"Jesse Musings… Hmmm… I'm Dylan," she said, offering him a solid handshake. "Now, we know each other and I reserve the right to put my hands on you any time I please, especially if it's for your own good."
"Oh, really?" he asked slyly.
"Really. So, Mr. Musings, may I call you Muse?"
"No. No, you may not."
"Okay, Muse. I have to go. I have a lunch date," Dylan said as she headed towards the exit.
"What now?" Dylan whined, flinging her body around to face him while rolling her big blue eyes.
"It's Jesse, okay? Jesse."
"Okay, Muse. Got it. See you around."
"Are you coming to class on Thursday?" he asked curiously, hoping to hear a yes.
"Maybe," she said, although she already knew she most definitely would.