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“I overheard Kat talking about who she hooked up with this weekend in biology,” my best friend Ashton claimed, desperately hoping to elicit a response from me.
“Is that so,” I sighed, not taking my eyes off of my book. “Introduction to AP Psychology”, or as Ashton referred to it “Introduction to Why Nutcases Are Nutcases and How to Get an AP Credit off of their Misfortune”, somehow became the world’s most interesting book when the topic of who slept with who was brought up.
“I heard it was multiple boys! Zack Grey, Zac Ryan, Zach Lindsey, and Zachary Wilson. I can’t believe her! She knows I like Zac!”
“Which one? With a “k” or an “h” or a “c” or the snobby, future senator who only allows people to call him by his full name? I mean come on, we’ve all gone to the same school since kindergarten, I think we know your name dude,” I sneered, annoying her even more.
“Oh come on, Scarlett, Zachary Wilson is just a bit more ‘self-assured’ than others and besides, it was his mother’s idea to stick with the full name. Anyways, I was talking about Zac with a “c”. It’s so short, so to the point, so original, so--”
“Douchey?” I interrupted.
Ashton rolled her eyes as I giggled. I mean who wouldn’t joke about their boy crazed best friend? Last week it was Matthew Sharp, now it’s Zac Ryan, next week it’ll be some other football-lacrosse-swimming hybrid. The girl was nuts. Maybe she should be the one taking AP psychology to try and understand herself. To think she calls serial killers nutcases. Ash was a boy killer.
“You don’t always have to be so harsh, you know. Some of us normal people actually have feelings. Scarlett, you wouldn’t know feelings if Michael Bublé got on one knee and serenaded you with ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You’ while throwing a thousand rose petals at your feet and having a car full of chocolates delivered to you!” she whined.
I sighed and closed my book. Leave it to Ash to make me question myself. God, she is so dramatic sometimes, but maybe just maybe she was right. Maybe I was a bit too blunt at times. I was only being honest, though. I just have never understood the rage in obsessing over some dumb high school relationship. You’ll either breakup or get married and, sorry, but I have no intentions of limiting myself to the 100 or so boys in my grade. There are just so many other options in the world who aren’t drenched in Axe or who’s idea of a fun weekend is beer pong in someone’s mom’s basement.
As if on cue, the leader of my school’s cult of preppy a-holes, River Grant, walked into the lunchroom, causing every girl with a pulse to bug her eyes and drop her jaw. I must be dead then, because I honestly couldn’t see the appeal. Yes, he had jet-black hair and the clearest emerald eyes and the strongest jaw I’d ever seen on a high school boy, but did the fact that he looked like he just stepped out of a Calvin Klein ad change that the guy was a total tool? No. At least not for me. He made my skin crawl the way he used his pouty pink lips and golden-boy smile to get even the most scholarly upperclassmen girls to fall under his influence. Once he’d even convinced our soon-to-be valedictorian, Valerie Reynolds, to give him her homework and then lost her paper after copying it. That’s all he did, go from girl to girl getting what he wanted and leaving them in the dust.
I was snapped out of my head when I felt a long hand on my shoulder and heard Ashton gasp. It was none other than Satan’s favorite superstar. He knew I hated him which meant that it had to be something important for him to risk his life and possibly castration by touching me. I took a slow inhale and exhale, mentally preparing myself for the idiocy that was sure to come, and turned around.
“To what do I owe this displeasure?”
“I think you meant pleasure, sweetheart. I thought you had an A in English. You should know common sayings by now,” he grinned his award-winning smile and winked at Ash, earning a heartfelt sigh from her.
“Get over yourself, River.”
“You wouldn’t if you were me,” he smirked.
“What do you want?”
“You,” as he saw disgust wash over my face he clarified, “to help me that is. See, I was talking to some sweet freshman girl- Shelly? Sally? Shelby? Whatever it doesn’t matter. The point is that when I was talking I looked up and saw you with your handy-dandy psych book and a genius idea popped into my head. Are you ready for this?”
“I assume you’re going to tell me anyways so get on with it,” I sighed.
“You should be my psych partner for the project over mental illnesses! It’d be great, seeing as how antisocial you are and all! And, you wouldn’t even have to see me often because it’s swim season and I’ll be at meets during school half the time. It’s genius, right? You won’t have to see me and I’ll get a great grade and be allowed to go to meets since I’ll be passing. It’s a win-win.”
I sat for a moment, almost amazed by his sense of entitlement. I can’t believe he just asked me this.
“So basically you want me to do your homework while you’re off in a speedo somewhere?”
“Our homework, but yeah more or less.”
The next thing I knew, Ashton was yelling my name, River had a stream of curse words flowing from his mouth, my hot tomato soup was splashed on his face, and an administrator was marching towards us. And that’s how we wound up in Saturday detention for the rest of the semester.
"This is your fault you know," a deep voice whispered in my ear making me shudder. River had somehow managed to creep up behind me while I was day dreaming about leaving this hell hole.
"Get, your grimy hands off of me, you d-bag. The reason we're stuck in this room every Saturday for the grading period is because you and your god sized ego don't know boundaries," I muttered under my breath.
"Aw, you think I'm god-like? Thanks, Scar. I honestly couldn't have said it better myself," he laughed.
"It's Scarlett," I warned in a clipped tone.
"Scar, we've known each other long enough, I think I'll call you what I want. Besides, it fits. What with all of the acne marks and what not. You can't seriously expect me to believe that no one has called you that before. Damn, I must be cleverer than I thought."
And with that tears welled up in my eyes. I knew the guy was a prick, but I didn't think he'd stoop that low. I peeled his long, pale fingers off of my arm, gathered my work, and moved to the other side of the room.
"Screw you, River."
"Scar-I mean Scarlett- wait. I didn't mean that. It was a joke. See, it was like 'ha-ha funny all for laughs, you know?" He rushed after me desperately trying to explain.
I pushed him away, sat down, put in my earbuds and ignored him. From the corner of my eye, he looked like he was still coming up with some lame excuse as always. He was even more predictable than I thought. To think, he was my first and last crush.
After about 10 minutes of begging and pleading so he wouldn’t have me on his conscience, River decided to lay his head down and “rest his eyes”. That’s what he said he was doing, but we had 4 more hours in here and I knew he really meant “nap until it’s time to get in my Mustang and get the hell out of dodge”. He was better when he was asleep. I guess it was his huge mouth that made him so unlikeable, but with him laying down softly snoring it made me remember what I had liked about him. He looked so innocent in this state, so young. His dark eyelashes fluttered ever so slightly and his hair fell just so I could see every detail of his face. The only thing that had really changed about his structure since 7th grade was how much more mature it was. The stubble around his jaw being the main factor. However mature his body was, he was still the 13-year-old boy that hurt me.
It might seem a little extreme to blame someone for what they did when they were in 7th grade, but he did something I can never forgive anyone for. It was Valentine’s Day and we’d just finished studying “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in English. My teacher assigned us to write our own piece in iambic pentameter and like any 7th grader “in love” I wrote mine about my crush, River Grant. Even back then he was a school celebrity and for some reason I thought his nice exterior matched what was inside. So, being the giant geek I was, I wrote my piece and compared him to a stream. Lame, I know. Anyways, Ashton somehow talked me into reading it to him in the courtyard during lunch. The night before, she stayed over so she could help me get extra girly for him in the morning. So 1:00 rolled around on that terrible February day and I marched right up to River, pulled him away from his friends, and recited my poem. As soon as I was done I looked up with a bright smile, expecting him to be grinning right back at me. Except, he wasn’t. In fact, he was laughing. After his fit of laughter, he looked me dead in the eye, said, and I quote, “I would never stoop for a black girl like you. You’d have to be stupid to think that. If I’m gonna like a girl like yourself, she has to be extra hot” and he ran back to his friends telling everyone what I had just done. Until then, it never occurred to me that I wasn’t pretty. I never thought that having curly black hair, darker skin, and a button nose made me ugly. He made me hate myself for years and sometime between then and now, it turned into hatred for him.
I reached a hand up to my hair, remembering how I had covered it up with braids for so long after that because I was ashamed of my curls. For years I looked at myself as a nappy-headed ugly little girl who no boy in my school could ever like. I was one of the few black kids in my town so I really had no one to turn to. No friends who looked like me who could tell me that different didn’t mean bad. I never told Ashton the story. It was embarrassing and I figured that a pretty blonde girl like herself would never understand. After that incident, I decided to never like another boy and to stick to my small circle of girlfriends.
Maybe River had changed and realized the gravity of what he did, but I wasn’t going to risk getting hurt to find out. Suddenly, he stirred in his sleep. I stole one last glance at him before slamming my book on the ground, waking him up.
“We’ve got about 30 minutes left. I figured I’d wake you up before the monitor came back in.”
“Thanks, Scar,” he said with a yawn and a stretch.
“Unbelievable,” I sighed.
For the next few minutes we sat in silence while River picked at his nails, and I actually did my homework. As soon as I pulled out my psychology book, he sat up.
“So, have you given anymore thought to my proposal?”
“I never had given it any thought in the first place. The answer is no. I don’t like you, you don’t like me so let’s just save ourselves the trouble and find other partners.”
“Why is it that you don’t like me?” he questioned as he leaned towards me.
“It doesn’t matter,” I gulped, “just know that I don’t.”
“It has to matter if you’re so set on avoiding me at all costs.”
“Just drop it.”
“Scarlett,” he mocked.
Like clockwork, the monitor burst into the room.
“You’re free to go kids,” he exclaimed, “see you next weekend and the weekend after that and the weekend after that…”
As I dashed out of the room I heard River call after me and, stupidly, I looked back.
“I’ll get it out of you one day, sweetness.”
God, this was going to be a long semester.