Chapter 5: A New and Unusual Experience
Kenneth narrated the whole incident with Scarlett to his friends later in the day and Archimedes couldn’t hide his amusement. Demelza rolled her eyes and called her a lunatic.
“Lucky you’re off the hook,” she said in a bored fashion.
“This was absolutely unexpected though,” chimed in Archimedes.
“She was a nice girl and I’m really going to miss her,” owned up Kenneth.
“You’re such a loser for befriending that girl in the first place,” bickered Demelza, “I can’t believe we’re friends,”
Kenneth took in at her disapproving pout and couldn’t resist grinning. At that moment, he admitted to himself that no girl was going to be as special as Demelza. His best friend on the other hand, was on a completely different line of thought. He was thinking about his one-to-one with Scarlett earlier and having some unsuspected ideas.
In chemistry lab period, Kenneth strolled towards Archimedes and took the place to his left like always. It didn’t take him long to notice that he had competition. This girl named Sarah Evans came running and parked herself at Archimedes’ right. They both looked at him intently, waiting for him to take his pick. He was flattered and glad that things were back to normal; everyone wanted him and he held the power. Kenneth was positive that he was the one going to be chosen, given how frustrated his friend got by Sarah’s banter, which demonstrated her below average IQ.
To everyone’s surprise, Archimedes had something else in mind. He announced that he was going to team up with Scarlett, leaving both contenders utterly confused.
“You two should partner up,” he suggested smugly.
Scarlett was taken aback to find him at her side, but she didn’t react.
“Aren’t you going to greet your new lab partner?” teased Archimedes.
“No, I’m good,”
“Ouch! How rude”
“You’ll get used to it,”
Later that evening, Kenneth confronted Archimedes and demanded a good reason for the stunt he pulled in lab period.
“I thought you wanted me back as your partner,” he sulked.
“I did you a favor,” claimed Archimedes.
“I’m trying to hook you up with Sarah obviously,”
“So you’re telling me you paired up with the ‘uncool nerd’ to set me up with Sarah?”
“Why else would I volunteer to tolerate that freak show?”
Kenneth studied his face closely; he could never tell when his friend was being serious or sarcastic. Archimedes appeared sincere and he couldn’t think of another reason why he would sign up for anything involving Scarlett. But then again, this guy wasn’t the kind of person to grant such selfless favors either, and that thought troubled him.
“Perhaps I’m being paranoid,” Kenneth thought to himself.
Archimedes patted him on the back and whispered “you’re welcome buddy”
Scarlett had aced all her tests – she was on top of her game. She quickly become every teacher’s favorite student, posing a threat to the golden boy Archimedes. He despised her for her wits and humble attitude, yet he was also intrigued. He decided it was time to pay a visit to her in her dreams and take control. Although she was very clever, Archimedes was confident he would make her fall for him in a matter of time.
That night when Archimedes closed his eyes and focused his mind upon her, he found himself in a dark eerie place. He soon realized he was under water in the midst of corals and it was in fact pretty amazing. He swam upwards and a swarm of fish danced around him. Then he found Scarlett sitting on a rock whilst playing a harp. She was in the form of a mermaid and the sight of her was mesmerizing. Before he could get to her, another merman appeared in the vicinity.
The merman’s face was unfamiliar, but undeniably a warm and comforting one like. It reminded him of Henry and he felt guilty for not returning his calls. The old man was always so concerned for him while all he did was ignore him.
Scarlett stopped playing when she saw the merman. She swam up to him and threw her arms around him. He didn’t react and slowly turned to stone. She sobbed uncontrollably and kept whispering, “I’m sorry William”. As soon as she let go, the statue crumbled to dust. She crouched down and shed tears over the remains of the merman. Archimedes went behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. She was startled and the dream ended abruptly.
Archimedes was back in his room, sprawled across the bed. On the other side, Scarlett woke up breathless, beads of perspiration covering her forehead. Her throat felt as dry as a desert; she dragged herself to the kitchen to get a glass of cold water.
Archimedes found Scarlett sitting by herself under a tree in the college grounds. He went and sat beside her but she was too absorbed in her work, eyes glued to the laptop screen. He coughed to gain her attention. She straightened her hipster glasses and looked at him resignedly.
“Someone looks grumpy today!” he nagged.
“What do you want Archimedes?” she asked curtly.
He told her he just wanted to see how she was doing and maybe they could grab lunch together. She was amused and wondered why he was suddenly so interested in her. Then she remembered seeing him in her dream the past night and mentioned it. He acted surprised and demanded details. She provided that there wasn’t much to tell.
“You have a crush on me, don’t you?” he badgered.
“You’re delusional,” she replied.
“You’re probably in love with me,”
She snorted and let him know that he wasn’t her type. She believed that there was only one true love in a lifetime; hers was William. Archimedes insisted that she tell him more about that one true love of her life, but she refused.
“I think we should be friends,” he proposed.
“Why?” she raised.
“I don’t know,” he confessed, “I believe it will be a new and unusual experience,”
“I’ll think about it,”
He sat by her side waiting patiently, displaying a huge grin on his face. She was well aware that he was a Casanova – the kind of guy who could win over any girl and then get away with breaking her heart. She thought that maybe this was exactly what she needed right now. With him, she wouldn’t have to worry about living up to expectations, committing anything, or hurt feelings. It would also be an interesting social experiment to be friends with someone like him. He was an adventure that could distract her from all the gloominess engulfing her at that time and place.
“I have one condition though,” she said after further contemplation.
“Promise that you won’t fall in love with me ever,”
“Did you just go ‘a walk to remember’ on me?” he asked amused.
She admitted that she did. It was a dream of hers to say that to someone one day. He laughed heartily and promised that she had nothing to worry about.
Demelza watched Archimedes rattling on about something with Scarlett several feet away; she was giggling and elbowing him continuously. Her boyfriend, David, sitting across her was talking, but she didn’t catch a single word. She was struggling through emotions that were an amalgam of hate, anger and jealousy.
She couldn’t care less when Kenneth was following Scarlett around like a puppy, but she couldn’t tolerate this in the case of Archimedes. She was okay with him picking random floozy girls and having one stand stands. She knew Scarlett wasn’t the kind and that did not sit well with her.
“So what do you say?” said David.
Demelza snapped out of her disturbing thoughts and flashed him a huge phony smile.
“That’s great babe,” she said sweetly, even though she had no idea what was going on.
She quickly excused herself by saying that she had to go borrow some important notes from a class fellow. David was astonished to gain such a positive reaction from Demelza. He had been discussing about going to visit his parents in Texas for the weekend. He had told them everything about her and they wanted the girlfriend he was crazy about.
David was hoping to take his relationship with Demelza to the next level, and thus deemed that a meeting with his folks was crucial. He was half expecting her to make excuses or tell him that it was too soon, but she didn’t.
“I guess I’ll book two tickets then,” he thought cheerfully.
“Guess what?” chanted Kenneth.
Archimedes put his tablet away and looked at his friend expectantly. He was beaming ear to ear and wore a brand new shirt.
“You’re going out with Sarah?” he guessed.
Kenneth made a face; he was annoyed that it was so obvious. Archimedes knew him too well and it was all happening because of him after all. Kenneth told him that he was truly a best friend and thanked him for the set up. Archimedes assured him that it was no big deal and wished him luck for his first date with his sexy new lab partner.
Shortly after he left, Archimedes received a call from Scarlett. Her voice trembled as she asked him if he could pick her up from somewhere downtown. She sounded scared and on the verge of tears. He instructed her to stay right where she was and that he would get to her as soon as possible.
Through coordination with Scarlett on the phone, Archimedes found her around the corner of a dark alley. She whimpered and threw her arms around him as soon as he got to her. He caressed her back to calm her down and asked what happened. Between sobs, she uttered that she had been mugged by two burly who wore masks and looked dangerous. They took her wallet and bicycle, and then one of them snatched and crushed her glasses under his shoe. She could hardly see beyond a three feet parameter.
Archimedes asked what she was doing alone at a place like this in the night. She meekly disclosed that she was there to get cheese nachos from a cheap snack bar nearby called “Milano’s”. He couldn’t suppress a chuckle and stumbled upon her big blue eyes that reminded him of his mother’s; they made his heart race for a second.
His eyes then wandered to her pale pink lips; they were small and perfectly shaped for her face. He shook his head, took her hand, and led her to his bike in order to drive her home. She was rattled by the incident and requested him to stay with her for a bit when they got to her flat.
She didn’t have to ask twice. He helped her fetch a spare pair of turquoise framed hipster glasses. Then he decided to make some coffee while she took a shower and changed into something more comfortable. She returned in a pair of faded denim shorts and a baggy black T-shirt with red chili peppers on it. Her curly hair was wet and her skin glowed, which made Archimedes gulp.
“Thanks for rescuing me,” she said gratefully.
He told her they were friends and it was nothing. He handed her a large mug of steaming coffee and joined her on the couch. She sipped it quietly and keenly observed him from head to toe.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” he demanded with a puckered brow.
“Your nose is almost perfect,” she conveyed.
“Almost?” he laughed.
She testified that nothing in the world was perfect and “almost perfect” was the best one could do.
“So it’s a compliment?” he questioned.
“Absolutely,” she answered.
Archimedes shrugged and they both sat in silence for a few minutes. After finishing his cup of coffee, he asked if she needed anything before he left.
“Can we have sex right now?” she posed in a very casual fashion.
He was dumbfounded and not sure how to respond to that. She grinned slyly and told him to calm down. It would be a one-time thing and she really needed it to help her relax.
“So you’ll casually sleep with me once and it won’t be awkward after that?” he insinuated.
She affirmed that there was no reason for it to be awkward as none of them had any romantic feelings for each other. She also offered that they could do it again if the physical chemistry was good and thereby become friends with benefits. Archimedes was amazed by this proposition, but not offended by the idea in the least. It was the perfect opportunity for harmless fun and he could never decline a deal like that.
“So you’re in or not?” she demanded.
“I’d never say no to unconditional sex,” he replied.
“Good,” she approved, “because I haven’t had any action in months and I’m starved,”
She then proceeded by pulling off her shirt and jumping into his lap; she just kept surprising him, and it turned him on tremendously. However, he wasn’t prepared for all this and asked if she had a condom lying around.
“We don’t need it,” she told him.
“You’re on the pill?” he reconfirmed.
“Yeah we’re safe,” she assured him, “now enough with questions or you’ll kill the mood,”
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