study break

“Fuck,” Nate breathes. He’s poring over his math homework, head spinning, eye blurring as he rips the foolscap out, again, and starts the question again. Sara’s lying on the bed, chewing gum and tossing a stress ball against the wall. The impact grates on Nate’s nerves and he grits his teeth. Some people just have it so easy.


He’s been at it for an hour and a half, while Sara finished hers in forty-five minutes. Flipping the pages shut almost condescendingly, she’d ruffled his hair as she crawled past, climbing onto her bed. She’s been hurling that goddamned ball ever since.


“Hey, aren’t you going to at least make me feel a little better?” He snarls at her halfheartedly as his eyes slide shut. She snaps back into focus and she peers over the edge of the bed. Taking in the crumpled balls of paper around the body of her best friend, she studies the dark circles under his eyes and the slow heave of his chest. Is he… asleep?


A beat passes.


“Are you asleep?”


“I wish.”






They lie on the floor together. Sara’s never been a good teacher.


“But… how? Don’t tell me the answer, you’re not supposed to tell me the answer!”


“I don’t know! It just works that way!”


“You’re not helping! Tell me how it works!”


“I’m trying!”


Esther shushes them from the kitchen. They sigh and look at each other, then the paper.


“Maybe the question is wrong.”


“Yeah. Bros over pro…blems, am I right?” She laughs when he shoots a withering look at her. “Next question!”







Three hours later, they’re sprawled over the floor – Sara by the foot of the bed, Nate along the length of it – so they’re lying perpendicular. Sara said it’d help them focus. Something about how brainwaves travel in a straight line… Yeah. Didn’t really work.


Esther cracks open the door and peers inside. She smiles sadly as she sees them sound asleep. Tiptoeing across the room, she draws the curtains and picks up some of the paper and stationery. There’s no school tomorrow, anyway.




It’s 5:43AM when Nate jolts awake, disoriented by the cold floor and the fact that he wasn’t wearing his sleeping clothes. His breathing hitches as he panics, gaze sweeping his surroundings. He catches sight of Sara and relaxes. Sara sleeps over at his house way more often than he does hers, but it’s not a totally foreign experience. Still, he trembles as he straightens, knees shaky as he steps towards her. Scooping her into his arms, he deposits her on the bed. The stress ball rolls off the comforter, startling him. His eyes dart back to Sara’s face, afraid that he had woken her. But all she did was mumble incoherently and burrow into the covers. Nate stares for a moment too long.







The phone rings, an obnoxious blare of Gangnam Style. It’s a custom ringtone Sara had set for her own contact on his phone, and he has to admit, it fits.


“NATE. Did we… uh… fall asleep last night?” Nate chuckles. He can almost see her rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “How else do you wake up, my dear?”


“Don’t be an asshole. Should we compare answers or can I sleep in?” She yawns through the entire sentence. It’s a miracle Nate can understand her. Maybe that’s what sixteen years of friendship does to people.


“It’s 1PM, Sara. Get out of bed. Come over if that’s what it takes for you not to be a slob.”


The call clicks off without a word. One… two… three… The phone buzzes. Nate glances at it with a knowing smile.


I’ll be over in an hour.



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