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A Girl Named Michelle
My dad pulled our car by the front entrance of my school. I sighed as I slid my heavy backpack onto my soldiers and grabbed my lunch box. It was a daily practice.
As I got out of the car, I yawned and stretched. I suppose that didn't really paint a graceful picture for the parents in the car behind me.
I immediately went to my locker. It's weird how on the first day of school you're so scared and think you won't be able to ever get used to the layout of the school; But by the third week it's like you never knew life before going to school. This week would be my third week. And it's true, however much I hated homework I wasn't able to deny that having a schedule was pretty nice.
My locker was a few lockers down from my best friend Juliette. With light red hair, freckles, and bluish-green eyes, she had been the envy of practically every girl in school during the first week. She had a very striking demeanor. I wouldn't describe my appearance as striking. More like a normal kind of unique.
I started to put away the textbook I had brought home from the previous day. Okay. This is so not working. I thought to myself as an opened package of notebook paper spilled out across the floor. My locker is way too messy.
I bent over the gather the leaves. Someone tapped on my shoulder. I turned around to see my friend Dana. "Dublin," she grinned. "There's a new girl here today."
Personally I didn't find this all that weird. I mean, all of us were new. It really was only the third week of school. Plus, I've moved around so much in my life I considered myself to be a nomad. It was the norm.
Juliette came over, a twinkle in her eye and a dainty pink composition book in her arms. "What did you say, Dana?"
"I said there's a new girl here today. I think her name is Michelle. Michelle Parkings. She's in our grade, too. She looks nice enough," Dana pointed her index finger at a girl standing beside the water fountain.
This Michelle Parkings looked like she could be a good friend. She had frizzy strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, braces, and pale cheeks. She was medium-sized, but very tall. About my height, I should say. It was barely five seconds before she noticed we were looking at her, and turned her metallic eyes at us. Those icy aqua eyes of hers seemed to spear into my soul. I gulped. I absolutely hate it when people have eyes like that. Mind, I don't hate those people. I just hate that they can do that and I can't. And that I get shy when they do that.
"She looks nice enough, but...." Juliette began, then decided to keep quiet. "What is it? Go on." Dana urged. Juliette shook her head.
I can always sense when Juliette is too embarassed or too scared to say something, so I let it fall. "Dana, do you have any classes with her?"
"Not that I know of."
"I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But we probably shouldn't draw too much attention to her. We're in eighth grade, for goodness sakes. It's not like this is the first time I've seen a new student before. I was in her place two years ago."
"Well, you can thank us that you're not in that place anymore!" Juliette teased. Whenever Juliette smiles a flame of jealousy grows in my heart. She has such a pretty smile, and her eyes light up when she shows those pearly whites.
"Yeah, guess so. I should probably get going now, otherwise I'll be late," I added nervously as I rushed to my first class.
The first half of the day past by slowly. I still had one class left before lunch. I walked into Mrs. Cordoble's 8th Grade Math/Algebra Pre-Course. There, in what was generally my seat, sat Michelle Parkings.
I went over by her cautiously. "Um, ah, excuse me. But you're-uh-sitting in my seat." my voice quavered. I had never been able to speak to strangers all that well. But it got worse when that stranger had such eyes.
She gave me this look, like I was weird or something. I stood up straighter and cleared my throat. A bunch of students sitting close to her seat -or rather, mine- started to snicker. The rest of the class quieted down and looked my way. Mrs. Cordoble looked up from the graded papers on her oak desk.
"Oh, honey. I'm sorry. I forgot to tell you. This is our new student, Michelle Parkings. She needed a seat. None of the other students wanted to give up their seat, and I knew you wouldn't mind, so please, for today at least, do go and sit at the back."
I was reluctant, but agreed nevertheless. I went back to the back of the classroom, the whole time imagining what had tempted Michelle to look at me like that. ME! Dublin Starr.
Come on Dublin. Stop being a crybaby. If Michelle thinks of you badly, then you can't do anything about it. That's her problem and her's only. But you don't want to be pathetic and try getting revenge on her. Right?
I felt better until I reached the back of the room. I had forgotten about Cole! He was the brattiest kid in my math class, and as far as I was concerned life would be much happier without having to worry about talking to him...
"Hey, Dublin," he smirked. I glared at him. "Hey, Dublin. Remember what happened last week in Gym? That was a nice flip."
I sighed. "What are you talking about? I don't remember anything about that!" I growled softly. How dare he remind me? It wasn't my fault I've never been that good at roller skating.
"Sure 'bout that? Because I overheard some girls in the hallway talking about it and how retarded you looked. I felt so sorry for you, but what could I do? I have a dignity to protect," he chuckled. My eyes glazed over in anger. "Ha ha. Very funny. You're just soooo smart, aren't you, Charcoal?"
Cole shut up. He hates it when people call him that. To me, Charcoal seems like a pretty awesome nickname. I guess it's to my advantage that he hates that word.
Math class passed by pretty quickly. But it wasn't without its problems. Three times I saw Aubrie Smith, a cheerleader, lean over and whisper something into Michelle's ear. Michelle laughed silently and turned her head to look at me. Well, look here. Someone doesn't have any trouble making friends. I rolled my eyes.
The bell rang for lunch. My classmates started filing out of the classroom, headed for the cafeteria. Mrs. Cordoble came over to where I was sitting.
"Now that wasn't so bad, was it?" she smiled unknowingly. "Not at all, Ma'am," I flashed a fake grin. But it is bad, Mrs. Cordoble. You wouldn't understand, but it is.
"By Wednesday we should have you a new seat. There's been a recent influx of new students since last week, so that's why we can't get you a chair by tomorrow. Sorry about that, but you should be fine." She walked back to her desk.
For Pete's sake! I can't wait that long! And Michelle's going to lord it over me that I don't have a seat. She thinks I'm so weird, but she seems a bit wrong in the head, if you ask me.
Come on, Dublin. Be reasonable. Don't be bothered by what she says. That's her issue, and she obviously has a lot.
I felt like a loner. And like a loner I went to lunch.
I sat down at my regular lunch table. Juliette and Dana were already there. There was an empty chair right next to me. I was about to put my backpack there when Michelle grabbed it and sat down. I looked up, surprised.
"I'm sorry about what happened earlier today," she said. "I think we started off on the wrong foot. Let me introduce myself, I'm Michelle Parkings. I just moved here from Mississippi."
Still shocked, I held out my hand for her to shake. I stuttered, "Hi-Hi. I'm Dublin Starr. I moved here just two years ago, but I've lived in a lot of states."
Michelle looked interested," Oh, yeah? Which ones?"
"U-um, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Arizona. Oh, and I've also lived in Thailand, Japan, England, Canada, and Brazil."
Michelle's eyes sparkled. "WOW! And I thought I've lived in a lot of places. Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, and now, Arkansas. How did you get to live in so many places?"
I was still recovering from the amazement of having Michelle come over and apologize. "Well, my parents' jobs, mostly. But my family loves to travel. My dad is actually half Thai and half German, and my mom is Irish, Jewish, and Czech with a little bit of Filipino-Chinese mixed in...."
"No wonder! That's why you look so special..."
Special? Is that supposed to be a compliment or an insult?
I didn't have a chance to ask her, because Dana and Juliette broke into our little conversation bubble. After a few minutes Dana and Michelle looked like best friends. Juliette looked happy too, but there was something in her eyes that made her look like she didn't approve of Michelle.
I sat there awkwardly for a few minutes, Dana and Michelle still conversing happily like two baby birds. Weird analogy, but that's what they were like. Juliette whispered into my ear, "that Michelle I don't trust. The way she talks makes her sound like a spoiled brat, and she's kind of ugly."
Ugly? Never had I thought of Michelle that way. But now she really did look ugly. And the trust part I definitely understood.
"Hey, watch this," Juliette smirked. I gasped in horror as she grabbed her milk cartoon and pushed it in Michelle's direction. The milk cartoon slid against the surface of the lunch table, then tilted over right in front of Michelle, who had placed her to-be-graded homework in front of her. The cream ran over the table onto Michelle's t-shirt. But worse still, the entire pile of homework was soaked through.
Michelle's eyes widened and Dana's hand flew to her mouth. "No!" Michelle whined. Well, more like exclaimed, but it sounded like she whined. "I worked for 4 hours straight on these worksheets!"
Juliette raised her eyebrows. "I'm sorry, my mistake. It wasn't on purpose. Maybe you should be more careful with where you put your stuff."
Dana shot a threatening glare towards Juliette, but that didn't wipe the avengeful smile from off her freckled face. Michelle looked like she was about to cry. "I guess you're right. But you need to be more careful!" She said gruffly.
Her face was twisted. She looked truly miserable. But I couldn't do a thing. I was stupid. I just sat there like a stone statue.
"Why did you do that?!" I scolded Juliette when we were out of Dana's and Michelle's earshots. "I can't believe it! You might not like her, but that was so mean! She's just a newcomer!"
"Who cares? I can't stand people like that. She looks hyper and stupid for one thing, then she's popular for the next. You should watch your back. You just told me her behavior was kind of strange."
"Okay, so I will then! But you don't know her well enough!"
"I'm not kidding, Dublin. She's an idiot and deserves to be treated like one."
Michelle walked over to where we were standing. "I'm sorry I got mad at you, Juliette, I make mistakes like that too."
Juliette replied, "well, I'm glad that you've learned your lesson." She poked me in my ribs.
"Y-yeah," I gulped. "But do you really need to talk like that, Michelle? You whine all the time. It's not good for you. You kind of sound like a sick cow."
Instantly I felt sorry for what I said. Michelle stared at me in disbelief, then her face went back to normal. "Oh, is that right?" She said. I could tell she felt pain, but she probably wanted to be my friend for real. Oh well, Juliette got me that one time. It wouldn't happen again.
The next morning I waited outside in the courtyard for the bell to ring. I was standing next to Juliette and Dana, talking as if nothing had happened. All of a sudden, Juliette looked over her shoulder. "Ugh, SHE'S here again." And she stood behind me. "She's really weird."
"Not as weird as some people I know," I answered.
Michelle came over and tweaked my ear. "Stop!" I said coldly. Michelle looked surprised yet again. "What's up with you, Dublin? You don't seem like you would normally react like that!"
"You don't know me then! I had a really bad morning, so just shut up and wait for the bell to ring."
Girl, what are you doing? Michelle is just a normal person. Maybe she's popular and doesn't seem like one to hang out with your kind, but at least she's truly sorry for what she did. Albeit her apology had sort of bad timing, but she still said sorry. And Juliette isn't the boss of you. Or Michelle, for that matter.
"Okay," Michelle said, a confused but slightly angry shadow coming over her face.
Juliette snapped. "How dare you look at us like that! Why don't you just disappear! You're abnormal and just not worthy of being our friend! So go away, will ya? I hate seeing your ugly face!" Juliette cussed her out.
Michelle's eyes twitched.
"Dude, Juliette what is your problem?" I shouted at her. Dana hissed, "what the heck are you doing? You need to give me a break, seriously. First, you bore me to death. Second, you're insulting one of my only true friends!"
I turned around to apologize to Michelle, but she was already gone. I didn't see her in school after that. Not in the hallways or in any of my classes. I consulted my teacher once to see if she knew where Michelle had gone.
"Why, dearest, I truthfully don't know. A few weeks ago, a day after she first came, she asked her counselor to transfer her to another class. Another week passed, and then she was gone. I think her parents took her out of this particular school. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but I hear she may have been given some trouble by several kids at school. She looked pretty depressed on her second day. And I noticed that after transferring classes she had trouble socializing with her other classmates."
I groaned inwardly. How could I have been such a fool? I needed to go and talk to Juliette about it.
I asked her during lunch. "I never told you this," she admitted. "But she's my distant cousin. I already knew she would be coming here, that's why I was reluctant when she first arrived. But honestly she deserved it. She's treated me like garbage for as long as I can remember. And when my sister got married last year, she didn't even call to pay her respects. She sent me an e-mail saying she could care less about what happened in my life."
"But why?" I asked, chilled to the bone. What was Michelle thinking to treat Juliette like that?
"Have no idea. But you can tell she deserved it." I wasn't so sure. Maybe Michelle really did care for Juliette, so she had been nice enough to apologize for it through trying to be her friend again. I couldn't tell Juliette. But there was one more person in my prayers. I admit I was rude to her, but I'm glad I could meet her. Sometimes I find there is more to humans than meets the eye.