Nathaniel Lee Hansen
Although he has observed her in the hallway before (usually sporting white earphones, cord trailing to the iPhone in her back jeans’ pocket), today is different because she also clutches a notebook, the expensive kind (what is it called? mole something?) he saw on a Barnes & Noble display a few weeks earlier while shopping with his parents, and observing this girl again (the observing an attraction to her red hair styled in a pixie cut, the three rings in one ear, the navy Converse All-Stars, snug jeans, and a V-neck), he considers asking her what she writes in the notebook, or, since it appears new, what she plans to write (maybe poetry?), and initiating conversation via her notebook is a less threatening way to test the waters than, say, asking if she is going to the home basketball double-header on Friday night and would she like to go, and so he approaches her, says hey because he doesn’t even know her name (although he is confident it is Kayla or Kayleigh or Kelsey) and says hey twice more as they progress along a wall of cherry-red lockers, and at the third hey, which he accompanies with a wave (almost grazing the shoulder of a lineman on the football team), she yanks out one earphone, still clutching the orange notebook, says what? in a tone he can’t decipher, and now asking her about the notebook feels silly and childlike, not smooth or even clever, but he has gone this far, stepped knee-deep into a Northern-Minnesota lake right after the ice has gone out, so he does ask her what she writes in the notebook, and without hesitating, she stops and faces him, and he realizes she is taller than he thought, and she declares, “I’m writing out the moments we’ll spend together, from the double-header basketball games Friday night, to prom—which reminds me that you still haven’t asked me—from our first kiss at the top of the water tower that we’ll climb on the summer solstice, to watching Fourth of July fireworks at the lakeshore, swatting mosquitoes off each other’s itchy arms, and after that who knows because we’ll have our senior year ahead of us, but we can plot it as we go,” and the combination of her proximity, her smirk, her forecast of their future, and her smell (coconut shampoo?) causes his legs to wobble. He almost vomits, and for future reference, she records that in her notebook.
Nathaniel Lee Hansen’s chapbook, Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian, was published by Spoon River Poetry Press (2014). His work has appeared in The Curator; Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide; Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland; Driftwood Press; Whitefish Review; Christianity and Literature; The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic; and South Dakota Review, among others. Find him online here or on Twitter @plainswriter.