Who? Chapter 1: The Dare

March 9, 2010
By , south pasadena, CA
Zoë slid the blue plastic comb through her black hair, sitting on her red velvet stool in front of a mirror. She placed the comb on her dresser and stood, deftly pulling her hair back into a ponytail and slipping on her red converse. She tiptoed out of her attic room and down the stairs to the front door. She snatched her red backpack from its hook and slipped out into the cool summer night, running across the brick pathway and out the front gate, clicking it shut behind her.
Walking along the sidewalk, Zoë studied the perfectly matching white houses on her street, all with their bright green lawns and white picket fences. She loathed it all. Checking her watch, she broke into a jog, crossing the street into a park. She looked around and walked up to a tree, nimbly climbing up the broad trunk into the knobby branches and rustling leaves. She clambered into a nook between two limbs, several strings of beads hanging around her. She took off her backpack, unzipping the front pocket and carefully selecting a bead, tying it onto the nearest strand she could find. Hanging her bag on a branch, she leaned back and waited.
About a minute later, she heard the familiar crunch of leaves and looked down below her. At the trunk of the tree stood a blond haired, blue-eyed boy who, if you ignored the ripped jeans and loose black tee shirt, looked like he would be the kind of boy who would play football and date the head cheerleader. In fact, he was.
“Hey Zo, did you put up the bead?” he asked, casually throwing up his own black backpack and starting to climb the tree.
“Yeah, I did. I chose the blue one with gold specks. What took you so long, Jake? You’re usually waiting for me when I come.” Zoë replied, grabbing his hand and hoisting him up into the nook. He hung his backpack beside hers and settled into a comfortable position.
“Ma’s stupid chihuahua started yapping at me, so I had to go get her a treat. Can’t believe she paid money for that thing.” Jake lifted up his pant leg, exposing his heel and a small, slightly bleeding bite mark. “The darn thing bit me!”
Zoë pulled out a band-aid from her bag and handed it to him. He mumbled thanks and looked back up at her. “You all right?” he asked.
“Eh, yeah. Dad’s still in New York with Joan again- it’s her 4th convention! Mom’s been the same, always at some sort of tea or knitting party.” she stated, running her hands over the rough tree bark. She pulled out a sketchpad and pencil from her bag, flipped to a new page, and searched for a subject to draw. Her eyes landed on Jake, and she began to make light lines on the paper.
“Oh,” said Jake, leaning back onto the branch. “Well I have to be back by 5, so Ma doesn’t suspect anything. My parents don’t even get up ‘till 8, but I don’t want to get caught. Almost did last time.” He twirled a bead on a strand near his head.
Zoë reached his mouth, drawing out his slightly crooked smile and thin lips. She thought back to when they met, at the beginning of sixth grade. He was immensely popular and she had run into him, literally, walking out of the classroom. She was not popular at all, but very stubborn, refusing to take his hand to help her up after he laughed at and made fun of her fall with his friends. She had then called him a self-absorbed stupid cow and stormed off after collecting her things. That night her older sister had a party at the house, and because their younger sister and parents were in New York for some child prodigy convention, she had all her friends over and stayed up the whole night blasting music, dancing, and drinking. Jayden had sickened of it and gone out to the park for the first time, seeing Jake sitting in the tree. She had brought her backpack with beads and her sketchpad, plus a blanket and a pillow; she’d figured the party wouldn’t be over for a while. Upon seeing Jake, Zoë had abruptly turned and begun to stalk off, when he called her to join him. She saw that he had none of his minions with him and decided to go up, with nothing better to do. They barely talked, yet shared a mutual understanding of each other, growing into a deep friendship. They had met ever since, and when her beaded bracelet broke one night, she just decided to hang it up, adding a bead every time they met. Ever since that night, 4 years ago, they met almost 5 times a week.
“Zo, I brought my math homework. It’s Mr. Robinson’s first period tomorrow, and I need help. Please?” Jake asked, retrieving a worksheet from his bag. He never seemed to grasp the concept of deadlines. He was a major procrastinator. As he pulled it out, a small sheet of paper fell out into his lap. Before he could grab it back, Zoë had it in her hands and was reading it.

hey babe
meet me @ marcella’s party
this Saturday
8 to 12
be there okay?
<3 jenn

She read it over carefully.

“You aren’t really going to Marcella’s party… are you?” she asked.

“Well, I was going to… with Jennifer. Hello?! See the note? It’s the best party of the year.. couldn’t miss it!” Jake stated.

“Don’t go. It’s a waste of time and those things are lame. All you people do is try to act cool or whatever. Anyway, Jenn is a total airhead” Zoë said, giving Jake back the paper.

“It isn’t a waste of time! I bet you haven’t even been to one! Then again, only people with friends go. You have to get invited. You have to be popular.” Jake retorted, frustrated at the way Zoë had said, “you people.” Right away he knew it was a bad thing to say. Zoë’s brown eyes flashed.

“Oh wow. How mature. FYI, I have gone to parties like that before. And I do have friends! You think you’re all that, but your just some insecure… ugh!” she hissed. There was no way he could have known how much she hated that word, but she was still furious. Both her sisters were popular and always went to parties, but because of her baggy clothes and rebellious ways, Zoë was always overlooked. Despite her mother’s best efforts, Zo remained stubborn and hated her sisters’ materialistic ways. It didn’t help that they were the richest family in their prestigious gated community.

“I bet you couldn’t even get close to becoming anywhere near popular, don’t even mention getting a date!” Jake replied, angry.

“Bets on!” Zoë said, a new fire burning in her eyes. A determined fire. The bet was on- she had to become popular and get a date for the spring fling in one month.





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