Author's note: what inspired me to write this was Stephenie Meyers. You'll notice the similarities of One Shot... Show full author's note »
MeetingI had been staring out the front window since I had returned home at three o’clock, nearly two hours ago. This was the way most days went, if I had a choice. I would get se-cure, with my books set out in front of me, my pencil in one hand, and then look sideways and become transfixed with whatever the across the street neighbors were doing.
It wasn’t that I was gawking, but I would simply become insanely fascinated, captivated with their individual routines.
It hadn’t been silent in the room; I’d just been in a different mental state for the last two hours. “Claire?” Herman, my father, broke my gaze by saying my name.
I cleared my throat suddenly, “Yes?”
“How has she gotten to high school?” He laughed, talking about Anna Belle, My half sis-ter’s, sense of humor. She’d just gotten through telling him that she always wanted an epiphany. She was under the impression it was a drink. I had been doing my Spanish homework, but as she walked into her room all I wanted to do was laugh.
Shrugging I said, “Because she’s fabulous.” I closed my binder and went to my room. I turned down the long hallway, my two sisters shared the biggest room in the house, my room was across the hall from theirs and my father’s room was at the end of the hall.
I opened my door quietly and shut it as soon as my entire body was in. I dropped my book bag on the oversized computer desk chair that my mother had found in the streets when I was 8.
I put all of my binders and notebooks on the side of the desk dedicated for them. O.C.D ran hard in both sides of the family. I took a deep breath readying myself for the homework I had. I walked to the other side of the room to look out the window before homework.
I could see my green jeep, Anna Belle’s blue Toyota, Mady’s red Honda, and my father’s shiny black truck all lined up in a row in the drive way and I smiled. I took a step away and went over to the TV and hit the on button. I hardly ever watched it, I just couldn’t stand to be in a silent room, and its only purpose was for sound. Another effect of the O.C.D. that I just hadn’t seemed to outgrow.
I grabbed my binders and started doing the homework I had set aside. I took the papers to my bed and leaned on my fuzzy purple pillow before starting my chapter 8 section 11’s review. They hardly ever took more than half an hour and if you literally sat down and read the section you’d have no problem.
I paid no attention to the TV talking to me against the other wall, just trying to finish the assignment before 5:30, when I was supposed to report to the restaurant and help out my father.
He is a chef, well, more like a short order cook with a sense of humor. My mother, who had died 3 years ago, was the baker. When she died my father took over, I helped as a wai-tress, my across the street neighbor and best friend, Ben was the butcher. His mother Doris was the baker and on occasion Anna Belle and Mady would come in, but only to eat, they never had helped out.
I looked up at the TV just as it switched from show to commercial. Which was one thing that angered me about TV’s, just when you wanted to watch it they showed you commer-cials for skin miracles, food preservers and waterproof, oversized, Ziploc bags.
I heard a tiny knock on the door and said, “Come in.” My door slide open above my flush carpet that seemed to grow like grass as my father’s face appeared in my door way.
“Hi dad.” I smiled, watching him with a weary expression.
“Are you ready to get going? I’ll drive today.” He said as if it was a bonus. As if that would get me in the car faster than a book report due tomorrow with Anna Belle as my partner.
“Yup.” I nodded and closed my binder with my finished section review. I grabbed my jacket and purse before leaving the room. I closed the door and followed him out to the dri-veway where he was the last one parked, I got in the passenger side and relaxed as I didn’t need to drive.
When we got to the restaurant I got out before him. I saw a couple of familiar cars, and some unfamiliar. I saw Ben’s dodge and his mother, Doris’s van. Ben’s dodge wasn’t really his; it was his deceased father’s dodge. I walked faster than my father any day so I ended up at the door before him.
I walked in and most of the seniors who remembered my name yelled, “Claire’s here!”. “Hi!” My favorite oldies were a 40 some year old couple who always bickered and argued. Ron and Karen were not only funny to watch but funny to listen to. Ron was cheap and usually kept to himself when he wasn’t with his daughter Erika, or his wife. Karen was the complete opposite, she often came in the afternoons alone just to hang out with the old men and women, and she was outgoing and talked when she ate.
“Hi, guys.” I greeted them, slipping behind the counter to grab my apron and rag. I walked in the back, “Hey, Ben, Doris.” I said to them as I washed my hands gently in the employee only sink; we had a choice of both lavender scented and pomegranate scented.
“Hi Claire.” Ben said without looking up from his butchering block, he was cutting down the rib side of a cow.
“Hello Claire.” Doris said on the other side of the room as she was taking a batch of dough from a giant mixer. The restaurant had its own bakery, which Doris ran; she was al-ways bringing new things and asking my father if she could add it to the menu, the latest choice of hers was homemade glazed donuts, which were a big hit with the elders who still had real teeth.
I finished washing my hands and returned to the front of the house. The old men were talking to my father. “What’s up, fill me in.” I told them with a smile.
“Ya know, Herman, your Claire is one heck of a girl.” One of the men named Carl told him, while waving at me.
“Awe thanks Carl.” I said going to the sink in the front, wet my towel and wiped down the counter.
“Hello Pat.” I said to my neighbor.
“Hi Tony.” I greeted my mailman.
“Hello Owen.” I said to my mother’s friend’s husband.
“Hey Claire, can I get a refill?” He asked pointing to his cup of coffee that was already filled to the top. “You’re good.” He smiled.
“Hi Alicia.” I greeted my mother’s friend.
“Hi Yvette.” I smiled at one of the town’s hair dressers.
“Hello Claire.” She said as I reached the end. I draped it on my side and went to the end where the orders were fulfilled and where my father worked his magic with the help of a Sous chef named Zach. I picked up the first plate above it was a sticky note put in place by Doris who was a waitress when I wasn’t in. I took it to table seven, where a family of three sat; Zoë the daughter went to my school. I walked down the row to a family of 4, a father, mother, son and daughter. I recognized the son and daughter, Missy and Luke.
I took their order, of drinks, and went back and got them. As easy as it sounds it could be easier, I’d been working in the restaurant since I was 14, but helping since I was 13. The year my mother had died and my father had decided the restaurant was his best bet of earning a profit.
I peeked into the back a minute after handing out their soda’s and getting their orders, I taped them so my father and Zach could see the order and looked back, Doris was cutting out Donuts and donut holes and Ben was grounding beef in the grinder, Zach was quickly chopping onions and my father was pouring gravy on mashed potatoes. He handed me the plate of meatloaf and I took it to table eleven and handed it to a senior citizen named Su-san. She thanked me and I smiled. I walked back to the front of the restaurant, I looked around, no one had come in, no new dishes were made yet and I had gotten to everyone. I stopped and went in the back, to catch up with Ben, he had missed school today.
“Hey Dude. What up with the absence?” I asked.
“Oh, umm your dad took me fishing.” He looked at my father. “We caught some big ones, man.” He added at the end. His blue eyes sparkled and his mop of hair bounced as he talked to me.
“Awesome.” I nodded, “Well you can copy my notes for science and English if ya want.” I offered, seeing as the restaurant closes at 7 on week days, I figured he could copy them and give them back tomorrow.
“Thanks Claire bear, what did you do in history?”
“Oh, we watched a movie and he assigned chapter 8 section 11 for Friday.” I told him.
“Sweet, four whole days to finish it.” He said, “What did you do in business manage-ment?”
“Went over our current events.” I nodded.
“’Kay.” He smiled and set the ground beef aside and picked up chicken breasts, he sliced them long ways then sideways and put them in another bowl. I walked down to Doris.
“Hi Doris.” I greeted her again.
“Hello Claire Would you like a donut hole?” she asked. I smiled, nodded and took a glazed donut hole.
“Thanks Doris.” I said swallowing it whole and moving down the hall toward my father and Zach.
“Hi Claire, how goes waitressing?”
“It is great; I get tips of 3 dollars sometimes.” I laughed.
“Awesome.” He told me.
“I know right.” I laughed, “So you caught some big fish today Dad?”
“An eleven pounder, Claire’s it was magnificent, you should have seen the sucker when Ben caught him, oh wait he’s in the freezer if ya want to see him.”
“I’m good.” I laughed as he handed me the plate.
After a night of waitressing I was tired, but not tired enough to take a shower. I had Ben wait in the dining room at 10:15 when I got him my notes then he went home. And when I got in the shower I promised myself to spend a little more time on my brown waves, when I was done I dropped some eye drops into my emerald green eyes. And I curled up in my bed with my purple comforter and fuzzy purple blanket.
I snored as loud as I could, purposely, well most of the time. If I didn’t snore I’d wake up to Anna Belle and Mady snoring a room away.
Anna Belle was a text book example of a blonde; she’s a cheer leader and an idiot. She normally got up at least 2 hours before me just to shower again and straighten her locks, only once a week did she curl it (Or leave it alone, it was already curly.) , and she only wore it up once too, and her eyes were blue. Her wardrobe consisted of one word: Pink. Every-thing she ever wore was a shade of pink, okay that was an exaggeration.
Unlike Anna Belle, Mady was a redhead, with curls. She was Anna Belle’s best friend, and between the two of them they could manage a D average. She was always texting someone. And her wardrobe wasn’t pink; it was blue, very pale blue and very dark blue, which in turn went with her blue eyes.
Like always I woke up at 6, giving myself exactly an hour to eat, make my bed and stop in at the restaurant before going to school.
Today wasn’t an exception.
“Claire?” I heard my father say through the door.
“What is it dad?” I asked.
“I’m going to the restaurant and then to work, I just wanted to let you know that the money for your field trip is on the table.”
“Thanks dad.” The field trip was in 3 months and we were going to the beach for an overnight stay.
“Love you: see ya at 3:30.” He said through the door, I heard him knock on Anna Belle and Mady’s door next and say the same thing.
I stood and cracked my back muscles. I got dressed with the TV playing the news.
“So John it looks like the snow is coming tonight and into tomorrow morning, there is a chance of snow tonight but it isn’t as bad. The total accumulation estimation is 1 foot.” Just as he said it my head jumped up to listen, my tight jeans stopped at my knees. I sat at the edge of the bed just staring at the man on the TV.
It went to a commercial and I pulled up my jeans, then I chose a black long sleeved thermal t-shirt and a skin tight black jacket, and I pulled my shoe laces so tight I could feel the feeling in my toes slowly leaking away as I tied them twice. I turned the TV off then, grabbed my bag and left the room. In the hall way I literally bumped into Mady. I noticed her gold necklace that read, Madeline.
She just kept walking.
I dropped my bag on the ground next to the counter and picked up the remote near the fridge and turned on the TV, back to the news channel so that I could listen to the report as I ate my Lucky Charms.
“Umm, Claire, I was wondering…” Mady said slowly.
“I’m not doing your chemistry homework.” I told her without turning.
“Fine, you’re so loosing points on your popularity.” She said.
“Oooo, scary.” I laughed.
“What’s scary?” Anna Belle asked coming in the room.
“I won’t do Mady’s homework so she said I’m losing popularity points.” I explained as gently as I could.
“Oh, Mad’s, that isn’t nice, and Ceria already did our chemistry homework.” She said patting my back, “Claire, you don’t lose any points.”
“They aren’t real!!” I shouted.
“But they are important in popularity.”
“I don’t need to be popular.”
“But you are.” She sighed.
“Do you realize how many rumors have circulated about Ben and you?” Mady asked
“No clue and I don’t care.”
“Of course not.” Anna Belle said leaving the house.
Mady followed after in high heeled boots. I finished my cereal, looked at my watch and it said 6:15. I turned the TV off and left the house. I got in my jeep quietly, trying not to sub-consciously start singing the Halestorm replaying in my head. I put my bags on the ground in the passenger seat. I turned on the radio, crossing my fingers hoping it was playing. I backed out of the driveway, quickly and heard the song I was waiting for.
I sang along for the rest of the song as I pulled up beside Ben on the high way near the restaurant. I waved as he waved and I turned as he turned. I parked in my spot, I had a post too. He parked in his spot, next to mine. I left my bag in the jeep as I went in. I got out and waved.
“Hey Bestie!” I greeted him.
“Hey Claire Bear.” He waved again as we got closer his arms wound around me, and hugged me. “What’s up?” he asked letting go and stepping away, but keeping his long arm draped over my shoulder.
“Not much, oh did you hear about the weather?” I asked, “It’s supposed to snow a foot tomorrow and tomorrow morning.” I said getting the door for the both of us.
“Hey Dad, need help?” I asked loudly calling in the back. Zach only worked after school and Doris was working on her bakery items.
“Nope, I’ll be okay.” He called back, “Just get the guys their coffees.” I knew every se-nior’s personal favorite flavoring and seasoning.
“Hey Walt.” I greeted him as I poured the coffee into the cup.
“Hello Catherine.” He called me by my middle name, Ben and I exchanged a shrug as he sat down in front of me.
“Do you want some coffee?” I asked.
“Sure.” He shrugged again as I poured the vanilla cream into the cup and the two pack-ets of sugar, I handed it to him and watched his grin widen.
I handed Jack his cup and started Stephan’s. “Aren’t you going to be late?” Russell asked. I looked at my watch and it said 6:49.
“Oh, crap.” I said aloud. “Gotta go, can you finish your cups?” I asked but didn’t stick around long enough to see if they had nodded or verbally said yes.
I drove quickly to the school, behind Ben and ahead of a silver truck. I parked in spot 132, mainly because it was one of the only spots left.
I grabbed my bag and sped walk to the main building. I got there at the same time as Ben, both of us speed walking to homeroom, which we had together. I made it in the room before him, but I was one of the last people in. I put my bags on the table in front of me and slid my chair sideways to talk to my best friends.
Emily was the geek; everything she did was either an A or a B. She wore glasses and her hair was frizzy and in tight black curls that fell against the tan skin of hers.
Kate was the athlete, everything revolved around her sports teams, Soft ball, basketball and Volley ball, and her hair was the perfect length for her, it fell just above her shoulders in red waves, and her green eyes were never expressionless.
Elizabeth was the girly girl, like my sisters, she had blonde waves and brown eyes.
“Hey.” I smiled, “Sorry I’m late.”
“No biggie.” Elizabeth smiled, “How’s the restaurant?” She asked, still smiling.
“Great.” I nodded, and said at the same time.
“Really? And how’s it going with Ben?” She asked, “Anna Belle said—.“
“Don’t listen to Anna Belle.” I stopped her mid sentence.
“I don’t normally,” She said defensively, “It’s just the whole Ben and Claire bit is a bit believable.” She laughed gently.
“No its not.” I said scrunching my face and shaking my head.
“Umm, yeah it is, Claire.” She laughed
“Is it really?” I asked Kate and Emily.
“Kind of.” Kate shrugged.
“You guys are so cute together.” She told me, “Don’t worry about his height, you’ll grow by the end of senior year.” She promised.
“I don’t like him, I swear.” I said holding up my hands.
“We believe you.” Emily told me, “But Anna Belle had a very convincing story.”
“Let me guess, she saw us groping in a graveyard?” I asked, “A movie theatre? His Car?”
“She said that you snuck out of school yesterday just to go see him at his house, and since his mom works at the restaurant with your dad during the day you two were at the house alone and you guys hooked up.”
“I thought you said it was believable.”
“It is.” She blinked.
“I was in school all day, I saw you in 5th period,” I said to Kate, “I saw you all during lunch, I saw you in 6th,” I said to Emily, “And I saw you 7th and 8th.”
“But she said you came in late, as in you were there at 7 or 8.”
“We all have homeroom together now, I have 1st and 2nd period without you guys but I was with Olivia.” I said.
“Likely story.” Emily sighed then laughed.
“It’s not funny, I’m serious, and I don’t like him.” I said.
“We believe you.” They all promised as the bell rang.
I grabbed my purse and books and made my way out the tiny door in the front of the room, and turned down the long hallway, Kate on my left and Elizabeth and Emily on my right.
“See ya in business.” I called walking into the English room.
Mrs. Bonneville was the best English teacher in the school, teaching English was bonus; it was my strong point other than science and History. I walked in and saw her sitting in front of her computer.
“Hi Mrs. B.”
“Hi Air.” All the teachers had gotten into a habit of just removing the ‘C’, ‘L’, and ‘E’ and keep the ‘A’, ‘I’, and ‘R’. Which I was fine with I just needed to get into a habit of remember-ing Air was my nick name, and I wasn’t at that point yet.
I sat in my spot, quietly taking out my pen and notebook, Mrs. B was strict about few things but if class was in session than we were taking notes. She kept ordered isle seats, but we were allowed to sit somewhere else. I sat in the back corner by myself in an empty isle and row. Elizabeth and Emily were in Gym and Kate was in business management.
“Okay, you know the drill, Amber?”
“Here” I said quietly doodling on my page.
She went through the list quickly, sometimes not even bothering to say the person’s name, just looking up and marking them, at the end of attendance she picked up her school phone, “Okay, I’m done with attendance, send her up.” She said into the receiver.
“Okay, we have a new student.” She said and almost everyone looked around the room.
“Is he invisible?” A kid named Matt asked, making the whole class giggle,
I rolled my eyes.
“Nope, and she is a girl.” She smiled in the front of the room.
“What’s her name?” A kid named Reggie asked.
“Her name is Bridget Ember.” She told us, just as the big door of the English room opened a medium sized girl walked through. She had the palest white skin, it looked crea-my, and she had the most perfect blush about her rosy cheeks that no make-up could’ve ever artificially made. Her hair was long, it was down and it reached lower than I’d ever seen hair reach, and it was pale brown, almost red, if it had a few more golden strands it could’ve been mistaken for strawberry blonde like Mady’s hair. It was parted to the side and had a wide sky blue head band. Her eyes were blue and bright, they caught your attention and kept it, easily, I could feel that I wasn’t the only one staring and she didn’t seem to care.
Under her eyes there was a purplish shade under both of them, and to my surprise they weren’t make-up covered, as if she either didn’t care or she was proud of the bruise like shades. Her outfit accentuated her height and made her longer, she wore a long pair of black-not skinny-jeans, they didn’t look tight, but they weren’t baggy either. Her shirt was long sleeved and a white thermal, it was covered by a gray checker patterned vest. And she wore boots; unlike Anna Belle’s that were high heeled, Bridget’s looked like a pair of hiking boots.
Note to self, introduce her to Ben. I thought.
“Come on in, Bridget, you’re welcome here, take a seat.” Mrs. B suggested. I felt eyes on me and I turned back to face the board as I hear the chair of the table next to me pull out.
“Hi, I’m Bridget.” She introduced herself.
“Claire Voorhees.” I held out my hand, trying to be friendly, she took it and her eyes went blank. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m fine.” Her smile was friendly, and accepting.
“Well, welcome to West Union.” I smiled and turned toward the board again.
“Thank you.” She said as Mrs. B started her lesson. 35 minutes later we were finished with the notes and waited for the bell to 2nd period to ring. I turned in my seat to face her completely.
“So, you new, where’re you from?” I asked.
“New Jersey.” She smiled, “I’m so glad to get away from there for a couple more years.”
Her eyes darted away from mine, as if trying to come up with a story, “New Jersey was my hometown, we came from Florida.”
“Oh.” I nodded, not believing her story for one moment. “So what are you doing here?” I asked.
“My mom is a doctor, she got reassigned.” She told me.
“Let me see your schedule.” I said. She opened her binder and slid the first piece of pa-per into my waiting hand.
“History, Science, Math, we have together, oh and well lunch.” I smiled. “We have histo-ry next; I’ll show you the other classes on the way, ‘Kay?” I asked.
“Sure.” She nodded, willingly as the bell rang. I got up and walked out the side door, she was behind me, and walking a pace slower, repeating something in her head aloud, quietly. She obviously wasn’t shy, but she was acting it more or less. I stepped to the side and pointed.
“That is Mr. Long’s room, he teaches Math.” I continued down the hall, “That’s Mr. Keeve’s room, he teaches science.” I said pointing to the next room, “And that is the gym, and there are the locker rooms.” I said. “And here is the history room, Mr. Weise.” I said turning into the history room that wasn’t very large, and the chairs were connected to the table, which didn’t give anyone much room to get comfortable.
As she got her paper signed I got to my seat, I watched as she moved the last desk closer to mine. “Do you mind?” She asked.
I shook my head, “Nope, No worries.”
“My mother used to say that.” She smiled.
“My birth mother died and my uncle adopted me, with his wife.”
“Oh, I’m sorry; my mother died 3 years ago.” I nodded, “I’m right there with you.” I smiled, and she looked at the board and shook her head as if to say, As if.
“My father died too, in the…War.” She smiled.
“Oh, in Iraq?” I asked.
She hesitated and then nodded.
“My dad’s still alive.” I told her, “He owns the restaurant down the street; I work there at night, and my neighbor and his mom, Ben and his mom, Doris.” I told her.
“That’s great, maybe I’ll stop on the ride home,” She said gently trying not to hurt my feelings.
“You might have a couple of classes with my immature and slow on the uptake Sisters, Anna Belle and Madeline.” I said again.
“I have three brothers and a sister, well adopted siblings.” She told me, “Genesis and Aaron are married, but Nathan, Max and I are still single.”
“Is Max smart?” I asked.
“He is,” She said kindly.
“Maybe he should date Anna Belle.” I smiled, “And you and Ben.”
“Oh, umm, Claire, we don’t date.” She said unobtrusively again.
“I’m just not into dating at the moment,” She told me, shrugging.
“Whatever floats your boat?” I chuckled and turned back to the board where Mr. Weise had written notes. I quietly wrote the notes into my notebook in blue pen. He went over the notes aloud and mostly to the first couple of girls in the front row who were nodding and agreeing with his opinion. Megan and Morgan sometimes called ‘Goo Goo’ twins because they made too many of the guys in the school drool on their desks because of their looks, they both had wavy blonde hair and the biggest helmets in the world, and they weren’t even comparable to Anna Belle and Mady.
By the end of the period I was leaning on my hand, just hoping for the bell to ring seconds early. I looked over at Bridget and she was sitting up, paying attention, diligently.
I shook my head and told myself she was probably just gone to sleep early, or maybe she just enjoyed History.
The bell rang in another couple of seconds, dismissing us from second period. I had Business next, With Kate, Elizabeth and Emily. I showed Bridget to the Spanish room and kept walking down the hall toward the Business management room, Mr. Stanley was a great business teacher, and he was still only a couple of years older than us, Only 23 and teaching at the high school he’d graduated from.
I took my seat, next to a guy named Falcon, his parents were out there, and named their children after birds, he had two sisters named Cardinal and Raven.
Ivan sat on my other side and Kate sat in front of me, Elizabeth in front of her and Emily behind me. I sat down, the first in the room and got my binder full to the edges of notes.
“Hi Claire.” Mr. Stanley said.
“Hi Lu—I mean Mr. Stanley.” I said, I wasn’t allowed to call him Luke to his face.
“Hi, Kate.” I said as she walked into the room.
“Hey, Claire, so guess what happened?”
“Hold on, I’ll tell you when Elizabeth and Emily get here.”
“’Kay,” I agreed, when Elizabeth and Emily walked through the tight entrance, giggling and laughing.
“Guess what happened?” She said again, with the two of them.
“What?”We said together at the same time.
“I’m dating Evan!! He asked me out last period!!” She said, so excited, I was the first to hug her, but I felt Elizabeth and Emily latch on too.
“Dude, that’s great, Congratulations.” I smiled at her.
“Thanks guys, you know how much I like him.” She smiled, “He just looked up at me to-day, and started talking to me during gym, He asked me out, and I am officially not availa-ble.” She smiled.
Evan Wyatt was a guy who came to our school a year ago from his reservation, the state shut down the reservation’s school and made the students go to the regular schools, Evan didn’t really care. His older sister and brother came here too. Anita, who was graduating this year already, started taking her motive as her elective, which was only an option for seniors and her twin brother Chase did the same.
“Now we need to get you guy’s boyfriends.” She laughed then winked, “I have a few ideas.” She was always saying how good Elizabeth and Todd got along.
My smile dropped immediately, I really hopped she wouldn’t try and match me up with someone like Ben or William or Ian. If my plan would happen, Ben and Bridget would be dating by tomorrow afternoon.
I took my seat quietly, and went back to writing the notes Mr. Stanley had written on the whiteboard on front of us, trying to imagine my life with a guy Kate or Emily would set me up with, and by the end of the minute I was frowning, I wasn’t sure whether it was because in my mind the date went horrible or because it went fine and I was unhappy about that, I had totally blanked out. And when my mind came to I was still sitting in the business room, Mr. Stanley lecturing about functional businesses and Matrix businesses. I leaned on my hand, and I saw him notice.
As if to say Go ahead he nodded and went back to describing the matrix design, and for the rest of the period I watched him outline the branches unaware of the girls in the first row passing notes behind his back. And every time he looked back to see if we were behav-ing they acted like they were copying the notes.
I rolled my eyes simply, waiting for the bell to ring. When it finally did I walked down the hall to Mr. Keeve’s room alone. When I got there Bridget was standing at his desk, as he signed her paper. I smiled, waved and went to my seat. Once he signed it she walked over to me, and sat at the desk next to mine, he had given her a science book, and she had it clung to her chest. I smiled and just like every class before Mr. Keeve had notes written on the board, this time projected from his laptop, and we had to copy them into a notebook while he lectured about them, as typical as it sounded I could pay attention. Science was my best subject; I graduated from 6th grade earth science with a 100, for all four marking pe-riods.
He started his lecture then, “Valence Electrons are found in the outermost energy level, and they determine the atoms chemical properties,” He smiled in my direction and nodded as he saw I was the only one taking notes as he spoke, everyone else was yawning or doing the homework.
“Electrons are not found between levels, but jump from one level to the next.” He told us as I wrote his exact words into my notebook.
“An atom that has the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons rela-tive to other atoms of the same element is called an isotope.” He said again, changing the screens on the laptop. By the end of the period I was the only one still paying attention; even Bridget was staring out the window, at the different busses and cars passed by.
When the bell rang for 5th period I got out of the chair, Bridget was alerted and followed behind me, “Which way was the math room again?” she asked.
“Just follow me; I’ll introduce you to my best friend Kate.” I told her, as her smile turned into a frown. She was obviously jealous and I instantly felt bad. “I’m sorry Bridget; I’ve known her since 1st grade.”
“No, No worries, I’ll be fine.”
“You can sit with us, and at lunch.” I told her, as I walked to the math room. Kate and Evan were already there and holding hands.
“Hi Kate.” I greeted her.
“Oh, hi Claire.” She said with disgust.
“What the hell is your problem?” I asked her to her face.
“I don’t want to be friends anymore.”
“Why the hell not?” I asked.
“Because you are such a nerd I don’t want anything to do with you.” She said pushing my shoulders back.
“Oh…” I said taking deep breaths, as she pushed me back again, and I pounced. Sudden-ly Mr. Long was in the room, holding Kate’s arms back, while not only a guy named Kenny, a guy named Paul and a guy named Zach were holding me back, and not doing a good job of it, I kept sliding out of their arms and swinging at her. But in a few seconds Bridget had a hold of my wrists, and she was staring into my eyes.
“Stop.” She said simply. I involuntarily let my hands down and wiped the hair from my face and picked up my bag, I walked out of the room then, ignoring the shouts coming from Mr. Long’s mouth. I looked back and Bridget was walking behind me.
“I can’t believe her.” I said.
“I know, some best friend.”
“Not anymore, and Elizabeth and Emily will probably will side with her, like the morons they are.”
“That isn’t nice.” She said simply. I continued walking to the office.
“Hi Claire.” The secretary said.
“Hi, I’m leaving now.” I told her.
“Why?” She asked.
“I literally just got in a fist fight with my best friend,” I said, “I’m suspended, that’s it. I’m going to the restaurant to explain this to my father and get ready to have a very long phone conversation with my two other best friends.” I told her.
“And I’m going with her, just to make sure she’s alright.” Bridget said simply, turning to leave. I nodded and walked out the office door and went out the door and walked slowly to my jeep.
“You want to come to the restaurant?” I asked, “I’ll buy you lunch.” I promised.
“Sure, why not?” she laughed, “Can you give me a ride, Normally Nathan is driving, I don’t want to take the car and leave him without a ride home.” She giggled at the end, look-ing up.
“Sure.” I nodded opening my door than reaching over to unlock her door; she opened the door and put her bag on the ground. “I just needed to get out of there.”
“I understand, but will your father?” She asked.
“Probably not, but I’m not going to worry about it.” I told her. “I just want to wait my tables and go home.” I said again.
“I’ll stay home tomorrow too,” she smiled.
“But, it’s your second day, and you didn’t even finish your first day.”
“So, I’ll just have my mom call them, she has a way with people.” She winked at me.
“If you say so.” I nodded turning onto the road to the restaurant, I still had three inter-sections to go straight at but I wasn’t thinking about that.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” she asked, “You were hitting pretty hard back there.”
I didn’t say anything, ignoring her question.
“How’d it start?” She asked.
“She pushed me, so I pushed her back, and she pushed me back and I pounced.” I told her.
“Oh, because I wasn’t paying attention when you hit her. I walked back in after you guys were being held back.
“I don’t know what came over me.”
“I see it all the time, another side of you comes out, like you have Bi-polar or something, there’s a normal you and a you that comes out not too often.” She explained.
“You see it often?”
“My father, who died,” She said, as if I forgot, “Used to hunt…..a lot, and he, um, his hunter side came out and he’d go after way more innocent animals than necessary.” She told me as I pulled into the parking lot.
“We’re here.” I told her, getting out. I walked fast to the front door. “Did you guys finish making your drinks?” I asked as soon as the door was open wide enough so that someone could hear me. I heard about three yeahs and a few yes’s, and as I walked behind the coun-ter I slipped my jacket off and my apron on. “Sit down, Bridget they don’t bite.” I told her, and she burst out laughing, like my joke wasn’t 50 years old and she had just heard it now.
“Okay.” She said, calming down and sitting down.
“Can I get you a drink?” I asked.
“I’m okay.” She nodded.
“Are ya sure? Are you hungry?”
“Yeah and no, I’m okay. Seriously.” She told me.
“Okay, just making sure,” I said, looking down the row, there weren’t too many people that were normally here during the days that school was out and I worked, but today it was the same.
I walked into the back of the restaurant then, my father was stirring a pan of lasagna noodles as they boiled. Doris was in her side rolling out a square of dough, and cutting out perfect circles and putting them on a cookie sheet. Zach was stirring a bowl of lettuce leafs and putting perfect portion sizes on the plates lined out in front of him, then poured our signature dressing.
“Dad?” I asked.
“Claire, your school already called here, and I just want you to know, I’m very proud that you can defend yourself, and they wanted me to say that I was angry and punish you some-how, but I can’t Claire, baby girl, your finally coming out of your shell and I like the person who you are, you don’t let anyone hurt you, mentally or physically.”
“Gee, thanks Dad.”
“I agree, Claire, you used to let so many people cut in front of you at the play ground,” Doris said to me, “It’s great for you to stick up for yourself once in a while, it helps people know that you mean business and you won’t take their crap.” She nodded and put the cookie sheet into the double oven above the microwave.
“Thanks guys, how long am I suspended for?” I asked.
“For the rest of the day and tomorrow.” He nodded.
“Want to help out?” He asked.
“Duh.” I laughed and went back out to the front of the diner. “Well what do you want to talk about?” I asked, “All of you guys are okay right?” I asked loudly to everyone in the di-ner. Once again I heard a bunch of yeahs and a lot of yes’s. “Okay.”
“Well, are there any open jobs available?” She asked.
“You can work here.” I suggested, “As a waitress like me.” I laughed, “It couldn’t hurt.”
“Sure, just give me a schedule and introduce me to my boss.” She said seeming interest-ed.
“Come on,” I said getting up and walking with her to the back of the restaurant. “Dad?”
“What Claire?” He asked without looking up from his lasagna pan.
“This is my friend Bridget and she said she wants a job, I said we could use another wai-tress.” I told him.
“Sure honey, waitressing is your department, I’ll just pay her.” He laughed then smiled, “I’d shake your hand, but umm,” his hands were covered with spaghetti sauce, “I’d rather not.”
“That’s okay sir, do I get the job?” She asked.
“Sure, pudding.” He nodded, and Bridget and I shared an expression.
“Okay, well do you want me to start today?” She offered.
“Sure, Claire get her an apron, and a pad.”
“Already ahead of you,” I said reaching for an apron and the pads by the swinging door. I handed them to her before nodding at my father and going back to the front of the restau-rant.
“Good, Claire.” He shouted down the hall.
“Thanks Claire, I’m glad I have something to do other than sit at home with my family.”
“Oh, wow, you’re so kind.”
“Well, Nathan and Max, normally hang out in front of the TV, and goof around.” She laughed.
“Sounds fun.” I smiled, “School will be over in an hour.”
“Yeah,” She said taking out her phone, she looked like she was texting, but I could never be sure with her. “Texting Nathan to let him know where I am, and where he can pick me up at 10.”
“We close as 8 on week days; we aren’t a fine dining restaurant.” I laughed.
“Okay, well that makes me seem dumb,” She said opening her phone again.
“Not even remotely.” I laughed, and watched as some of the regulars filed into the di-ner, Bridget looked back at me, and then we started taking orders.
It was 3 when the bulk of the regulars were in place, sitting in booths or at the counter, either eating their dinners or drinking their drinks. Bridget was doing a great job waiting tables, and getting drinks for the thirsty customers, I thought she was going to give me a break from the personal hell that my father had volunteered me for years before, but here I was, working just the same amount of work.
My father was doing his normal walk around while Zach was in the back doing his job. Doris was doing what she could to help, but as normal she was over doing her job of baking her cookies and breads and what not.
“Hey guys.” Ben shouted as he walked through the door, high fiving all of the old men and women near him. I giggled as Bridget started to fix her hair.
“Hey dude,” I said leaning over the counter waiting for my high five, “This is Bridget.” I said.
“H-H-Hi, I-I’m Ben.” He said stuttering as he met her eyes.
“Hi, I’m Bridget.” She said extending her hand, he took it and smiled, lovingly.
“Bridget is going to be another waitress here.” I told him.
“I’m a waitress.” She told him, not letting go of his hand, his fingers wound through hers, then pulled away suddenly.
“’S okay.” She nodded, still smiling gently.
“Hey, where is Domenic?” I wondered absentmindedly; during the week when he wasn’t at football practice Domenic, Ben’s little brother helped out with dishes for his mother and my father.
“He’s studying at your house, he wants to date Mady.” Ben said taking his coat off and sitting down at the counter, next to Bridget I might add, I watched as silently his hand and her hand met under the table. I tried not to notice by grabbing a cup and getting Ben his favorite combination drink, he liked for his cup to be filled to the center with raspberry iced tea, then another quarter of it be filled with lemonade then fill it to the tip with water.
“Seriously?” I asked dumbfound that the football captain didn’t already have a girlfriend.
“Yup.” He nodded.
“Wow.” I shook my head. “So did ya hear? I got suspended.”
“Yup, I heard, and wow was I shocked, Claire Bear, I’ve seen you lash before, but never anything as major as what happened. You gained points ya know, especially with me.” He laughed and looked down to look at Bridget’s face, unsure if he’d lost points for liking my fighting.
“Well…” I couldn’t think of anything to say to make this situation any awkward.
“Hey, did you meet my mom?” Ben asked Bridget.
“No.” she shook her head and got off the stool, to follow Ben to the back of the restau-rant so she could meet his mother.
“Ma’am can I have a bottle of barbeque sauce?” a women asked to my side.
“Sure.” I nodded, and in the same instance I heard the door open, and the irritating bell ring. I reached up onto the top of the shelf to get the bottle, but I ended up standing on my tippy toes and still not being able to reach it, when an extremely pale arm reached farther than mine to grab it from the tips of my fingers and when I turned around to thank the per-son I was blinded by his beauty.
Standing in front of me was an angel or at least a look alike. He had black hair that fell in curled, shiny locks down the sides of his face. It was parted down the center and I could perfectly see his pale blue eyes, and they were staring into mine. His face was like a piece of art work, perfectly proportioned and like a model. His lips were open, in the shape of an ‘o’ as if he was about to say Wow.
I smiled, “Thank you.”
“No problem.” He said handing the bottle to the lady behind him, and looking back at me.
“Thank you.” The lady said to him, he nodded, and kept his eyes locked on mine.
I giggled quietly, mostly to myself. I walked back to the other end of the counter, leaving him at the end, still staring. I brushed a piece of my hair away from my face, hoping that the unknown man would stop staring at me soon.
“It was nice to meet her.” Bridget said to Ben, coming back into the front of the restau-rant and looking at the man, who was still on the other side of the restaurant. I could feel his eyes on mine, and I was getting more and more self conscious by the second.
“Nathan?” She asked.
I peeked and he wasn’t looking at me anymore, he was looking at the ground, “Are you ready to go?” He asked not looking at her.
“Yeah.” She nodded, stepping away from Ben, I heard her say quietly, “Call me.”
“Okay.” Ben said before nodding and letting her hand go.
They left out the front door; she walked quicker than him, to get to the car Nathan had driven here in.
“Wow, Claire Bear, Great job picking friends.” He nodded, “She is gorgeous,” I swear I could hear his heart pounding, he was in love, and love at first sight came to mind.
“Who was he?” I asked still staring out of the clear door in front of me.
“Her brother Nathan, He and I have Business together.”
“Cool?” I said mainly because I wasn’t myself I heard him talking but my mind wasn’t comprehending.
“Whoa, Claire Bear, I think I’m in love.” He smiled, and sat at the counter, and grabbed his book bag, and started doing his history homework, a little less quiet than hoped, he was mumbling sappy love lyrics to himself while writing his essay on his lap top.
“Yeah.” I said pulling my eyes away from the window, “Why did he seem so angry?” I asked him.
“How am I supposed to know? I’m not a mind reader.”
“Ha-ha, ya know, I’m suspended from school tomorrow,” I told him leaning on the coun-ter, letting it hold me up.”
“Well, Claire Bear, you gave your best friend a nose bleed and a black eye.”
“Really?” I thought, “Everyone will probably hate me on Friday.”
“Actually, almost everyone all day thought that she deserved it for how she used to treat all of you, she was the one who told Anna Belle about us, she was the one who told everyone about Elizabeth getting her period during the DC trip. She was the one doing eve-rything.”
“How did you know?” I asked, “Did she tell you?”
“Evan is on the track team.” He said as if that explained everything.
“They only started going out today….right?”
“Yeah, publically. They’ve been hooking up since freshman year in silence.”
“Of course, all those nights that she couldn’t study she was sleeping with him?”
“Yup, some best friend.” He laughed.
“Do Elizabeth and Emily know?”
“I think so, Rachel and Penelope took them under their wings, and they even sat togeth-er during lunch.” He said matter of factly.
“Yup, Evan and Kate sat with there now even smaller group.” He told me, still typing his essay.
At 7:15 I was driving myself home, my father was still at the restaurant, finishing up something that needed to sit over night, Doris was with him and Ben was in my car driving along side of me.
Once I reached my house, I turned the car off and sat in the car quietly for a few seconds. I was trying to come up with a reason for Nathan to be angry, had I offended him, had I been mean and imagined looking up to him like he was an angel, had I really been of-fensive?
At the end of a minute I went to get out of my car. I got out and walked into the house, Anna Belle wasn’t in the living room, like Mady and Domenic were. I tried not to look as they groped each other on the couch. I grabbed a water bottle from the fridge before going into my room.
Once the door was unlocked I went in, and changed into my pajamas, and lounged on the bed for a few seconds before laying back and turning the TV off, and going to sleep.