Growing Pains This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Tempe, AZ
Normally, Riley Whittman wouldn’t be standing at the edge of a skatepark waiting to be picked by a boy they hardly knew. Normally, she would regard the see through burnout shirt she was wearing, with only abra under it, a cheep vagas stripper’s clothing, and she wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

Of course, today Riley Whittman wasn’t feeling particularily normal.

Maybe it was the 115 degree heat getting to her head, making her loose sight of her normal sanity. Possibly, it was the torture-chamber esque pushup bra her best friend Stacey had convinced her to wear, even though it made it hard to breathe. But more likely, it was simply that last week of summer desperation that had convinced her to stand in the heat with her two best friends waiting for the mysterious skater to pick them up.

Sadie popped her gum loudly.

“I can’t belive this is it guys,” Sadie Price, the short burnette to Riley’s left said through the 115 degree haze. “We’ll be freshman next week.”

“I know,” Stacey said. “This is crazy.”

“I’m excited,” said Riley, expressing, once again, her eagerness to free herself of the shakles of her middle school years.

The girls stood with the heat of summer wrapped around them like and over-bearing mother, making it difficult for them to breathe. Sadie Price wipped the sweat out of her eyes, Stacey shifted back and forth in her worn out white vans. Riley stood, stock still, gazing out at the road in front of them.

It was crazy, really. Crazy that even though she was finnally out of the seemingly perpetual prison that had been middle school, she didn’t feel any different. She was taller, she was smarter, she looked more expirenced and worldy. But under her recently tanned skin there stood a little girl, one who refused to be driven out by the impending end of summer. The little girl who had dragged Riley down to the bottom of the social food chain for years until she had been effectivly hidden in the back of her mind somewhere in 8th grade.

Of course, Riley would never admit that little girl exsisted. For all the world, Riley looked like an attractive freshman going on sophomore- she looked old her her age- and she wanted to keep it that way. But some forshadowing figure in her subconcious murmmered to her in moments of self doubt that she needed to get rid of the little girl for good.

And that’s what Riley intended to do- once and for all.

Riley checked her cell phone, and but her lip. He was almost here. She looked back out at the road with her heavily rimmed eyes, and focused on not chewing on her fingernails- a nervous habit of hers. The last thing she wanted to do in front of these girls was appear nervous.

Escecially in front of Stacey.

It wasn’t obvious when you first looked at Stacey Fisher that she was considered popular. She had an acne problem and a dull complexion, she was shorter than average, and had limp, dirty blonde hair that she fried to a crisp every day trying to straighten.

But after a single conversation with her it became apparent. The way she held herself was that of someone who knew what they were doing. She was the type of person who would be the C.E.O of a major corperation, she had a magnetic personality. Aside, of course, from the fact that Stacey hardly did any work her entire teenage life.

She would much rather be anywhere with people than inside doing homework, an affliction that caused her to be grounded much more often than not. And aside from her appearance and lack of time to socialize, Stacey Fisher was never alone and never, ever, bored.

While she was sitting alone in class, Riley would daydream about being someone like Stacey Fisher. She would imagine herself talking to boys and actually having something to say, or laughing with some friends she had just met about an inside joke they all shared. But Riley lacked a personality, magnetic or otherwise, and had made it thus far in her life on her smarts and good looks alone.

“This is taking forever,” Sadie whined, looking around at the skaters wooshing by. “I’m getting tan lines.”

“No you’re not,” Stacey laughed. “You’re already too tan.”

Sadie rolled her eyes and continued looking around, the she gasped. “Stacey, look at that guy over there, he’s checking you out!”

Riley glanced over instinctivley to see a skate boarder with brown hair looking their way. He was cute, but short, so Riley knew she would never have a chance and gave up on him immediatley.

“He’s looking at you stupid!” Stacey said giggling. Then she grabbed Sadie by the hand. “Let’s go say hi!”

“Wait, Stacey, I bet he’ll come over here,” Said Sadie, smiling in said hot skater’s direction. And sure enough, moments later, he had come riding over. Riley laughed.
Inwardly, however, she rolled her eyes in frustration.

Sadie Price was not particularily fun. Nor was she extremely funny, origional, or anything at all above the norm. That is, when she is around girls.

When she got around guys, however, that story all changed.

Sadie had a stunning smile and bright blue eyes. She knew exactly how to laugh and flirt, any guy who talked to her never lost interest. It blew Riley’s mind. Whenever Riley talked to a guy, he was usually asking for help on the homework, and even then she hardly knew what to say. She simply froze up.

To combat all this, Riley had started wearing low cut shirts, short shorts, anything that showed off her skin. She had accomplished what she used to think was impossible, she had gotten a boyfriend. And she had also broken up with him, because they couldn’t have a conversation.

Sadie and Stacey said hi as the skater boy walked over. Riley, unsure of herself, gave a half smile and looked the other direction.

She had Sadie once how she did it, how she could flirt with guys with the ease Riley did things like Algebra. Sadie Price just laughed and said act natural. And when pressed, she added these words of wisdom: Talk like you’re talking to a girl, but be nicer, and smile more. Riley had just chuckled and walked away, it seemed to her that Sadie Price wanted to keep her boy secrets to herself.

Riley half listened to the other girls’ usual chatter about what school they each went to and how old they were, until out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of silver, as a silver jeep pulled up to the curb.

“That’s him guys,” Riley said, nudging Stacey and starting to walk toward the car. Through the reflection on the silver metal Riley saw the girls get the guys number and give him a hug, then follow her lead. She pulled open the door and climbed in the passenger seat.

“Hey, I’m Jesse,” Said the guy sitting behind the wheel with a grin. “It’s good to see you outside of myspace.”

“Hi, I’m Riley,” She said, shutting the door firmly and flashing a smile. Over the vaugly familiar hip hop music playiing on Jesse’s stereo she heard Sadie and Stacey get in the car and slam the door.
They drove off together, and Reiley decided it was finally time to get rid of that little girl.





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