The irony wasn't lost on her as she stood there. Her reflection was one she didn't recognize. Wild eyes traced the smudged words she'd written on the mirror and her throat constricted. Her mind was a flurry of motion as she stood motionless, daring not move should the reverie be broken.
It had all started a week ago. No, her mind screamed, stop lying.
She went back further.
It had been early fall, just last year, the first time they saw each other. She remembered the brisk autumn air tickling her ears as crimson leaves whispered past. Her favorite season had come early that year, and she was regularly late to class just to stroll past the maple groves on campus. Her professor rarely gave her a second, irritated look.
That all changed when she wasn't the only one running late.
They'd rounded opposite corners simultaneously, an unnerving mirror that had surprised them both. She'd recovered much quicker than him and entered the tiny computer lab with his shadow at her heels.
"Ms. Swift, Mr. Tanner," their instructor sounded peeved, "I trust you're both late for good reasons?"
She'd attempted to avoid his gaze as she slid into her regular seat. He'd turned on his heals, "I had a flat, sorry 'bout that." He shrugged broad shoulders.
The instructor pinned him with narrow eyes, "And you, Ms. Swift? Tree gazing again?"
She didn't have a reply, at least not an intelligent one. "I, erm, yes, I'm sorry. I lost track of time."
He wasn't amused as he impatiently began rolling up his sleeves, "Until you both learn respect for other people's time and energy, I must ask you to leave."
She'd been blind-sided. In all honesty, there hadn't been a day in the semester where she hadn't been at least 5 seconds late. "But, Mr. Sta-"
"Go, Kalei." He cut her off, "And you too Devon."
Fury mixed with sheer embarrassment had made her cheeks redden as she stomped from the room; she had almost felt the eyes prying into the back of her head as she left. The guy named Devon followed close behind her.
The psyche building's halls had been quiet as they emerged together and she tried to split away from him. She'd been surprised when a hand had grasped her forearm, and she turned. Devon filled her field of vision, a crooked smile splayed across his lips.
"Hey, sorry about that." he ran a hand through dark, curly hair, "I didn't mean to get you tossed out."
She blinked once, "I had it coming, don't worry about it." She turned to leave and was surprised when he fell in step beside her.
"So, uh, I know your name but not much else..other than you like trees."
"It's not the trees," she rolled her eyes, "the colors are what make them."
"Make them what?"
"Special." the word came out before she could think.
"I don't know many people who would be late to class because of trees," he laughed shortly, "I guess it takes a special person."
She'd cast him a sideways glance before slinking away, "Guess so. See you later."
Though it was just a pleasantry, he'd taken it seriously, little did she know.