Perception of Idiots

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“God!” I cried, looking down at my phone.

“What is it?” Bri asked, as if she was actually worried. I doubted it.

“Did someone forward something to you?” Jilly asked, in a jokingly mean way. Like, she was joking though she knew that was exactly what happened.

“How’d you know?” I snapped. I sighed as Jilly sat back, surprised. Was it really my fault that my period affected me like this? “Sorry, Jilly. I just really hate it when people forward crap to me. Like, I don’t care, right?”

“Totally,” Bri agreed, because she’s like that. Brett Mattson, who had had an eye on her for years now, walked back and Bri waved, smiling one of her I’m-the-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world-and-my-smile-can-melt-boys’-hearts smiles. He blushed before scurrying (honestly, Bri reduces guys to dirt) away.

“Uncalled for,” Jilly cried. “Now that creepy kid thinks you dig him.”

“First off, no, he doesn’t,” Bri said sweetly. “And second off, he’s not creepy.”

“If we lived in Creepyville,” Jilly replied, giving her a look.

“Back to my forwarded message,” I said. “Haven’t people got the hint yet?”

“I did,” Jilly said. “You always send those totally bitchy messages after I forward something to you, like I was taking away your parents or something. Hell-o, I may want your parents, but a forwarded message isn’t going to do anything about that.”

“God, why do you open your mouth?” Bri asked, being unusually mean. “You know the stupid is just going to spill out, so why do you do it?”

“Thanks so much, Bri,” Jilly said. A bell chimed overhead. “And there’s the bell. Time to go, Is.”

“Yeah,” I said slowly. “So?”

Jilly shook her head, like she didn’t want to explain it to me. We all got up from the floor, where we had been sitting, leaning against our lockers, and wiped off our butts. Bri and Jilly decided it would be a good idea to walk me to class.

“Why?”

“Well,” Bri said, glancing at Jilly, “it’s the first day of school.”

“Yeah, but we’re juniors. We’ve done this for two years now,” I said. Both girls shrugged and told me how much they loved me before I just gave in. They walked me to class, me in the middle with each of them grasping an arm.
“Well, here we are,” Jilly said, glancing around. I nodded, still unsure of what she wanted from me. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”

“Jilly!” hissed Bri, stabbing her in the gut with her elbow. Bri flashed me one of her I’m-the-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world-and-my-smile-can-melt-boys’-hearts smiles, shaking her head. “Jilly’s a head case.”

“I’ll be fine,” I snapped, growing impatient of their constant fear that I was socially retarded.

“Are you sure?” Jilly called, but Bri elbowed her again before grabbing her arm and pulling her away. They both waved at me before disappearing. I stood outside the door of my homeroom for a second more, not really wanting to go in.

Okay, so they were right. I was socially retarded. People who had met me once or twice and were asked about me usually used the words “awkward,” “shy,” and “uncomfortable.” But I wasn’t. Not really.

I was shy, though. I was shy more than anything. To tell you the truth, my shyness was a curse. Jilly was constantly telling me I’d be more popular than Bri if I wasn’t shy. She said I had the brains, the money, just not the personality. Bri had shoved her over before she could continue.

I went into the classroom before the people who were standing at their lockers outside the door asked me to hit the road. (They would. They’ve told me before.) Ducking into the classroom, I noticed that I wasn’t friends with anyone in the room.

A bell rang overhead once more, signaling if you aren’t in class, you’re late. Great, I thought. That means these people were my homeroom. These people I didn’t know.

I also discovered, looking around the room, that there was one open seat. Next to Owen Rizza. I sighed, reminding myself I didn’t have to talk to him. I walked over and plopped down next to him without looking at him.

The announcements came on and I thought of all the reasons I had to hate Owen. Besides the fact that he was a total jock (which makes him a jerk in my book. I know, I’m totally judgmental, but I have found from my years of being the awkward, shy girl that jocks are not the nicest guys and are the quickest to mock others. Others meaning me), Bri was also totally in love with him. And he hardly noticed her. Sure, he was a senior with his own grade of girls who were totally in love with him, but it was Bri. Bri who all the guys loved. Plus, he was always blowing her off. That’s just makes him a jerk, right?

“Hey, Isabel,” Owen said and I wanted to bite him. Honestly, I’ve never been a big biter, but at that moment that’s all I wanted to do. Lean over and sink my teeth into his hand until he screamed. I know, I’m psycho.

“Hi,” was all I said back. I had figured out, a long time ago, that hi was the coldest version of a greeting you can give without the other party thinking you meant to be so rude. I mean, hi was a pretty short, cold word.

Just like I had planned, Owen was pretty thrown off by this and turned away. He began to talk with two girls (both seniors. I didn’t know them) in front of us. One of them, a blonde bimbo, was totally hitting on him. To my astonishment, however, he didn’t seem to notice.

I was sitting there, head cocked to the side, pretending to the listen to the never-ending announcements (they were always like this on the first day), but I was really listening in on their conversation. I mean, a change in pace was exciting, and I had never seen a girl go this hard for a guy. I mean, Bri doesn’t go for guys (they flock to her) and Jilly…well, Jilly is into just one guy and he’s totally into her. And she knew him before she knew me, so I never saw her go for him.

“That’s so funny, Owen! Isn’t that funny, Paige?” the bimbo said. Her friend, who was disinterested in the entire thing, nodded, picking at her nails. For some reason, this made me like this Paige girl.

“Yeah,” Owen said, getting this look on his face (obvious confusion) that was understandable. He had been talking about how his uncle had died of cancer last year. (Don’t ask me why. This bimbo was good at making conversation, even if she was stupid.) The girl was either deaf or stupid. Or maybe both.

“Ohmygosh, Owen,” the bimbo said, getting really quiet. Her friend, suddenly getting interested, looked up at her. The bimbo ran a hand through her thin, blonde hair. “Who’s that girl?”

“What girl?” Owen said loudly. The bimbo told him to be quiet.

“Quieter, Owen!” cried the bimbo in a whisper. “She’s right there!”

“Where, Brittany?” Owen asked. Of course her name was Brittany.

“Next to you, Owen,” Brittany said. I started to pick up on the fact she said Owen’s name every time she said something to him. Weird? Totally. “Like, I’ve never seen her before.”

“Shut up, Brittany,” Paige said, turning back to her nails as the announcements ended with a cheery, “Have a good day!” The teacher was sitting at her desk, obviously waiting for the bell to ring for first period. “You’re so stupid.”

“What?” asked Brittany. “You know who she is?”

“Duh. It’s Isabel Forester. Steve’s little sister? She’s, like, really good friends with Simon Cartwright, that hot guy that went to boarding school?” Paige said. I was pretty shocked. People usually had no idea who I was. And if they did, it was because I was Steve’s little sister. But Paige had recognized me as Simon Cartwright’s friend. Amazing.

“Simon?” asked Brittany, gasping. “He’s so cute!”

Owen was sitting in silence and I glanced at him at my peripheral vision. He had to know I was listening by now. I mean, the three of them were right there. Paige was right in front of me.

“Are you dating Simon?” Brittany asked. At first, I didn’t get she was talking to me. But, then, she knocked on my forehead. “Hello?”

“Huh?”

“Are you dating Simon?”

“Simon who?” Playing stupid always works.

“Simon Cartwright!” squealed Brittany.

“Uh, no. No.”

“In-ter-est-ing!” Brittany said, raising her eyebrows at Owen. I looked between them both, but neither said anything. O-kay, then. Bell, go ahead and ring anytime now. Whenever you’re ready, though.

“How are you-” Brittany said, but I never found out what she wanted to know because the bell rang and I shot out of my seat like a bullet. I rushed out the door without looking back.
Because, I couldn’t help but think of the real reason I hated Owen Rizza so much.

I liked him so much, but I never had a chance with him.


***


Plop.

I glanced at the person who had just sat down in the formerly empty seat next to me and was surprised to find it was Isabel Forester. It wasn’t exactly a secret she hated me. I don’t know why; as far as I can tell she always has and always will, no matter what I do.

Unsure of what to say, all I can think to say is, “Hey, Isabel.” Which, you know, isn’t too shabby considering how my mind is racing.

I always get like this around Isabel. I don’t know what it is; every other girl on the planet doesn’t have this affect on me. I feel so different, like she can hear my every thought and see my heart pounding in my chest.

As long as she has hated me, I’ve liked her. I know it’s ridiculous, but maybe because she has hated me I’ve liked her. It’s like forbidden love or something. Plus, she’s always so quiet, like she never has anything to say, but I know that’s not true. I’ve seen her with her two best friends, Jilly and Brianna before. She’s really different around them.

“Hi.”

Ouch. Every ounce of hatred she has ever felt for me was packed into that word and thrown right into my face. I could never understand why she hated me so much. I had never done anything to her (that I could remember. And I think I’d remember) and it’s not like I exactly talk to her. Sure, I hang with her best friend Brianna sometimes, but why would she hate me for that?

“Owen!” a voice cried. I looked away from Isabel, who was staring straight at the chalkboard in the front of the room, as if it was a Picasso or something, and looked ahead of me. Brittany Ellison. Wonderful.

“Hi.” Same hatred as the punch Isabel threw at me.

“So, Owen,” Brittany said, leaning on my desk and getting right in my face. Has she never heard of personal space? “What’s up with you? I heard you and Stace broke up.”

Ugh. Stacey. What a mistake that was. Stacey Palmer, junior, dimwit. I have to admit, I have no idea what I was thinking. She was stupid and pretty boring. She was always late because she could tell time off an analogue clocks. Third graders could do that.

“Yeah. She was just a summer fling.”

“Like my mom’s boyfriend, Owen!”

“God, not this again,” Paige Matthews, her best friend said. I don’t get Paige and Brittany. It’s so obvious they are so different (and that Paige hates Brittany), but yet they still hang out. All the time. You can’t find one without the other.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“My mom’s boyfriend died of cancer this summer, Owen,” Brittany said, her eyes getting wide. She was study me intently, as if my reaction would soon become hers.

“My uncle died of cancer about a year ago,” I said. “I’m sorry. I know how it feels. It totally sucks, right?”

“That’s so funny, Owen! Isn’t that funny, Paige?”

“Yeah,” I said, really having no idea what was going on anymore. That is why Brittany and I were not friends. She was as stupid as Stacey.

“Ohmygosh, Owen,” Brittany said suddenly, her eyes getting wider than before. Now what? “Who’s that girl?”

Paige made a face and I looked around. “What girl?”

“Shh!” hissed Brittany. “Quieter, Owen! She’s right there!”

“Where, Brittany?” I asked. I wouldn’t be surprised, I thought, if it was Paige she was talking about. Brittany so would do that.

“Next to you, Owen,” Brittany said. I glanced over and Isabel was still staring at the chalkboard, so obviously gone. For some reason, I wished she was listening. “Like, I’ve never seen her before.”

“Shut up, Brittany,” Paige said, rolling her eyes. “You’re so stupid.” I really wanted to second that, but decided it wouldn’t be such a good idea. You never knew how girls would respond, especially to stuff like that.

“What?” asked Brittany. “You know who she is?”

“Duh. It’s Isabel Forester. Steve’s little sister? She’s, like, really good friends with Simon Cartwright, that hot guy that went to boarding school?” Paige said. I had forgotten Isabel was Steve’s sister. I always did. They were so different. Steve was outgoing; a partier. Isabel wasn’t. And Simon? I had totally forgot Isabel and him were next store neighbors and they were really good friends.

“Simon?” asked Brittany, gasping. “He’s so cute!”

I looked at Isabel, to see how she would respond to this. She looked pretty blank, beside the fact her eyes were darting around. I decided she still wasn’t listening (why would she? Brittany Ellison could make you stupider) and rolled my eyes.

“Are you dating Simon?” Brittany asked. I wanted to smack her. Brittany really was the stupidest person on earth. She tapped Isabel on the forehead, gaining her attention. “Hello?”

“Huh?”

“Are you dating Simon?”

“Simon who?” She was as blank as ever.

“Simon Cartwright!” Brittany cried overly loud. The teacher looked up from her desk, but shook her head. She obviously knew Brittany.

“Uh, no. No.”

“In-ter-est-ing!” Brittany said. She looked at me, like she expected me to say something about that, but I wasn’t sure what she wanted so I just looked back at her blankly.

“How are you-” Brittany started, but the bell rang and Isabel jumped up so fast, I hardly even saw how she got from her chair to the door. She was gone before Brittany could even continue.

“Wow,” Brittany said. “That girl was weird.”

“You probably scared her away, stupid,” Paige said. She picked up her purse and strutted away, not even bothering to wait for Brittany. Great, that left me with her.

Deciding that there was no worse fate than have to chat it up with Brittany Ellison in the hall, I dashed away. Brittany called something after me, but I disappeared around a corner before she could finish.

***


“What are you thinking about, Brett?”

“Owen Rizza and Isabel Forrester,” I responded, looking at Stacey Palmer. “They were in our homeroom this morning. Did you see how much they hate each other? I could’ve sworn they were about to start fist-fighting.”

“Oh, I think they’ll date someday,” Stacey said thoughtfully. She blew a huge bubble with her gum, and showed me excitedly. I leaned away, in fear of the explosion I knew was soon following.

“Stacey, that’s just dumb. They hate each other. H-A-T-E.”

BAM! The bubble exploded, covering Stacey’s face in a pink film. Stacey didn’t seem to notice at first, though, because she was staring at me in shock. “You can’t be serious. Owen hated me, Brett. We dated.”

I looked down at my shoes, not finding that statement worthy of a response. Out loud, I mean. In my head I was saying "He didn’t date you because he hated you. That's why he dumped you."

“Ohmygosh!” Stacey cried, suddenly noticing the gum on her face. “I got it in my hair! Now I’ll have to shave my head!”

“Idiot,” I muttered, and watched as she picked gum off her face. Gawd, Stacey was dumb. So dumb, in fact, she had to get her lock cut off her locker every year because she forgot her combo. Who does that?

“They’re the idiots,” Stacey snapped at me, pausing in her face plus gum equals picking.

“They hate each other. Why does that make them dumb?”

“They’ll get married. Just wait.” She flicked a piece of gum at me, and ran off down the hall screaming at the top of her lungs, “Owen and Isabel, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

What. An. Idiot.





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