"Ms Day, it's Amanda from the Greenfield Adult's school of Arts, just calling to let you know a job has opened up for one of our creative writing classes. Unfortunately, the previous teacher, Mr Nert has uh – is sadly no longer with us. That means we kind of need someone to fill the spot asap. Give me a call back when you get this."
Jess lost her job teaching middle schoolers about three months ago. She'd spent a couple of weeks interviewing for new roles; primary school, high school, even adult education, until she simply gave up.
Instead of lounging around and crying about all of the unfortunate events that had occurred, she decided to use that time to get herself together.
She had finally moved out into her own apartment. It only had one bedroom, one bathroom and a tiny little living area. But it felt much more adult than leeching off her best friend Cece, which she had been doing ever since her break up with 'soulmate' Spencer six months ago.
She went to weekly cooking classes, did yoga three days a week and even started reading again. Something she hadn't had a chance to do since she was a teenager.
She was finally getting it together. Feeling better about herself than she had in years. And just as if it was meant to be, she landed a job.
"As most of you have probably heard, Pete sadly past over the weekend." The class began mumbling in surprise between themselves as Amanda explained the situation.
"However, we've managed to find the best possible replacement to take over for the rest of the semester. Everyone please welcome your new teacher, Jessica Day!"
As Jess walked into the classroom, having waited patiently outside for Amanda to discuss what was going on, the room went silent. That really freaked her out.
She was used to teaching kids. Children. Boys and girls who weren't her age, or even close.
Now she was standing in front of fifteen 20-30ish year olds. And her stomach sunk instantly.
"Umm hi guys. I'm Jessica." She smiled awkwardly. Suddenly feeling very small in her knee length, yellow sundress.
"Tell us a bit about yourself." One of the younger guys yelled out in a flirty tone. "What's your boyfriend like?" Everyone found that extremely entertaining. Except Jess. Who giggled in discomfort.
Amanda left the room and Jess was left to fend for herself. Clearing her throat, she attempted to shift into teacher mode.
"I've never really taught adults before, so please, bear with my middle school techniques. But I'd love to get to know you all before we start." The class began to chat yet again as Jess suggested they go around the room and introduce themselves a little.
Everyone seemed nice. Some overly and rather uncomfortably nice. Particularly the gentleman in the room who made their confidence very clear.
"I'm Jake. 28. Love long walks on the beach. Yellow sundresses. Beautiful women." Jess chuckled uncomfortably as the men continued to describe themselves like something you'd see on a tinder bio. It was going to be a long month.
Finally, she got to the last guy in the back corner of the room. The only one who hadn't had some form of comment to make or opinion to share.
He was wearing a dark navy flannel, enough buttons left undone that Jess could just see the hairs on his chest. His face was a kind of scruffy that she didn't really know she liked, until she saw it on him. It was a weird feeling for her. She had never really been attracted to a guy before even hearing him talk, but she was kind of drawn to his mysterious aura as soon as she walked into the room.
"Oi, zombie boy, your turn." One of the obnoxious guys, whom Jess had already labelled 'loser number 1' yelled out across the room.
It was pretty easy to tell that flannel guy wasn't super popular amongst his classmates. Especially when he looked up at 'loser number 1' with the most unamused expression. Jess couldn't help but laugh. He looked like a turtle.
"I'm Nick Miller." He pursed his lips together as he gave Jess a nod and a half-assed wave. "Nice to meet you, Jessica."
His voice was low and gravelly. And he said her name with such a… Jess had a little shiver run down her spine as she replayed the way he said it. He raised an eyebrow and let off a low chuckle as she continued to look at him with her eyes kind of squinted. Like she was trying to figure him out.
"Nice to meet you, uh… Nick Miller" He gave her a smile and went back to his notebook, as one of the other losers called something else objectifying towards her.
Nick hated the class. But he went every week. Both sessions. Without fail.
It was as if he needed to prove something to himself. To show himself, his roommates, the entire world, that he COULD commit to something.
He was a law school drop-out, three failed long term relationships (with the same girl) and he was still living with his college roommates. He needed this. For his own sanity.
It was nothing against old Nert, he was a cool guy and he always made sure to help Nick out. And it wasn't against the school. It was a nice place. A cool idea.
It was all the douchebags in his class that treated every session like they were the jocks in high school. Too attached to the concept of popularity and getting lunch time success than actually going out in the world and doing something with their lives.
He despised them. Almost all of them. So every Tuesday and Thursday, he would sit silently in the back corner, minding his own business and working on that week's project. Just doing what he could to get that little bit closer to where he wanted to be, with his name on the front of a novel.
As the class began to pack up and leave the room, Jess was inundated with overly friendly handshakes and more private introductions by those same losers she had picked out earlier.
Being as polite as the job description required, she smiled and told them all she would see them on Thursday. Being a little obvious as she shut down their suggestive hints.
Packing up her things, she noticed him still seated in the back corner. Heavily focussed on his notepad and completely oblivious to the fact he was now the only one still in his seat.
She took a deep breath and cleared her throat softly, but still obvious enough to get his attention.
"What are you working on there, Nick?" She wandered closer, leaning on the desk in front of his as he began to put his books in his back pack.
"Just letting my 'creative juices flow'" he chuckled a little as he gently mocked what she had said earlier, bringing a smile to her lips.
"Good to see at least someone listened to my little speech. I mean, I spent all night rehearsing it." She looked down at her feet nervously as she realised she probably seemed like such an idiot.
"Honestly, Jessica, don't worry about them losers." He stood up, slipping his bag over his shoulder.
She was cute. He couldn't deny that. No matter how much he was sure he had 'sworn off women since Caroline.' And she was all nervous and sweet. He could tell she was having a hard time. It wouldn't be easy in front of a group of morons like his classmates.
"They don't even want to be here. Don't let them get to you. Don't let them waste your time."
He brushed past her as he headed for the door. She snapped back into reality just before he left.
"Thanks Nick. I needed that." He stopped and turned around. Flashing her a genuine smile.
Maybe this job wouldn't be so bad.