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 »
RoutineI woke up the next morning to the sound of a hair dryer, across the hall where Anna Belle had to straighten her waves by blow drying them manually. She was too full of herself to go in to school with waves like mine. I rolled around a couple of times, trying to escape the sound, but losing horribly because I was too crazy to ignore anything that loud.
“Why?” I said aloud, trying harder to ignore it and get an hour more of sleep, but I ended up getting up, I switched the TV on, the News channel greeted me with a blinding light. “Seriously? Is this pay back for beating my best friend up?” I asked an inanimate object that was invisible. I got up and walked through the dimly lit room for a second before reaching the light.
I got dressed in jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt for the winter days that caught you off guard, and especially since the weather man told us that the snow was supposed to come last night.
I tied my shoes the same way daily, as tight as I could, and double if not triple knotted. I sat at the edge of the bed starring into the TV, mesmerized by the screen.
“Wow, John were you right about the snow.” The news man said. “We had an accumu-lated 5 inches.”
I stood and grabbed my phone and MP3, before walking down the hall to the kitchen, grabbing a water bottle and my keys.
“Hey Dad.” I greeted him, he was tying his shoes the same way that I did.
“Ready to go, Claire?” he asked, his baseball hat already on and his mustache already combed.
“Sure.” I nodded. “Thanks for not killing me about the whole Suspended thing.”
“No Problem.” He smiled standing up and grabbing his coat from the back of the chair and leading the way to the door, “Do you want a ride or do you want to drive?” He asked.
“No, dad, you can drive.” I smiled. Driving had become a third nature for me, since I had learned how to drive when I was thirteen, Doris taught me and Ben how one hot day after swim club when they had to drive the big truck around the diner to the back.
“Great.” He smiled, opening his door and unlocking mine. I got in quickly, hoping to get there just as Ben got there, to see what happened, had he called Bridget yet? He drove down the hill slowly for once, “So, who is this Bridget girl?” He asked, “She seems differ-ent.”
“You’re telling me.” I laughed. “I just met her yesterday.”
“What is wrong with her?” He ignored me.
“There’s nothing wrong with her, I think.” I wasn’t actually sure, but whether or not there was it wasn’t Herman’s business in any manner.
“Well, do me a favor and ask, I don’t want a freak working for me.” He said peaking to the side at me, I thought he was joking. He wasn’t and I was furious.
“Do you realize my mother died when I was 14, and her two daughters from a previous marriage, who we didn’t even know existed came to live with me? My life leaks freaky.” I said to him, trying not to raise my voice, Bridget couldn’t be hardly as bad as I could’ve turned out.
“Yes, Claire you’re different too. But you fit in perfectly, she is just different.” He explained, turning on to Wreck Street, we were approaching the restaurant quickly.
“I don’t know if that is a compliment or an insult.” I said simply, turning around to face out the window of the car, and ignoring him as hard as I could. “I’m sorry dad, you know how I get.” I said in an apology setting.
“No Problem, Claire, I get the same way, as you already know.” He said pulling into the diner’s parking lot, parking next to a green Toyota and Ben’s dodge. I got out as soon as the engine cut, as it always did just as it was turned off. I walked quickly into the diner, forgetting to yell hello to the men and women who were regulars. They didn’t seem to notice.
“Ben?!” I burst through the door shouting with an eagerness that was close to tangibili-ty.
“What?” He asked, looking weirdly at me, as if I was crazy.
“Did you call her?” I asked, hopefully.
“Yes, actually.” He smiled as he spoke, and then as his cleaver came down his lips came up, into a bright smile that would have made anyone else smile, “I did.”
“And?” I said loudly, waiting for more details, “What happened? Anything?”
“We just spent about 4 hours talking on the phone about mindless details about our lives.” He looked over at his mother for a second; she was in the walk-in fridge rummaging around for the bowl of dough she had made last night, it was balanced on top of a carton of eggs, near a box of strawberries. “It was almost intoxicating. She’s like a ball of sunshine. Her spin on everything is just amazingly fascinating.
“And your mother?”
“Doesn’t know about her or anything about us.”
“So I can’t say anything about your girlfriend.” I gawked.
“A: She’s not my girlfriend, and B: Please don’t.” He smiled.
“No, dude I was joking,” I hit him playfully, “I’m counting on you, man. Benny Boy. You’ll still be my best friend after this.”
“Cool, Claire bear,” He smiled as his cleaver hit another piece of meat. “I’m staying here today, I told the school yesterday about it so I’m not in trouble, unlike you.” He said sticking his tongue out at me.
“You do realize Bridget works here now, she is coming to work today, not going to school, right?” I pieced it together for him.
“Yes, I would love to see her, so if she gets here and I don’t see her then you could very kindly let me know she is her, or point her in my direction?” He was fabricating.
“Of course,” I said, “Now can I have my morning hug?” I laughed, “Benny Boy.” I teased.
“Sure, Claire bear.” He said walking around the counter to hug me, as soon as he was in arm length I was winding my arm around him, his warm arms held me together.
“I love you Claire Bear.” He told me.
“I love you too Benny Boy.” I said letting go of him, and walking back down the hall way to go greet the regulars.
At 7, I was taking breakfast orders, from the elderly families who wanted to eat out all the time. Karen and Ron were one of them, Karen’s normal breakfast consisted of a cheesy omelet with bacon and sausage and Ron normally got a French toast pair with oatmeal.
“Okay guys, are you okay?” I said to them as I filled Ron’s cup to the rim.
“We’re great, Claire, Thank you.” Karen smiled.
“No worries.” I said patting Karen on the shoulder and going back behind the counter. I had gone through the process of filling and greeting the regulars who had taken over stools at the front counter.
“Claire?” I heard a quirky voice say behind me, I quickly turned to see the face who had said it, sitting in front of me, was Nathan.
“Hi,” I smiled, “How’d you know my name?” I asked looking into his face, his eyes we-ren’t pale blue at the moment, but his black hair was still falling down his face.
“Bridget told me.” He grinned slightly, like he knew a secret about me.
“Of course she did.” I nodded, sarcastically.
“My name is Nathan Ember, I didn’t introduce myself yesterday.” He said apologetically.
“No, you didn’t. I’m Claire Voorhees,”
“Nice to meet you.” He said still smiling.
“D-did you get contacts?” I asked politely.
“No, why?” I’d caught him off guard.
“Yesterday you had blue eyes, today,” His eyes were green, emerald. “They’re green.”
“That’s creepy.” He chuckled—quietly—looking away, distracted.
“There has got to be a reason, maybe your lying.” I smiled, realizing I was flirting with him.
“I lied, that’s it, and I wear contacts,” He smiled, “Sorry.”
“No worries.” I said wiping the table down.
“So, this Ben guy, he likes Bridget.”
“I know.” I said looking up and rolling my eyes.
“What do you suppose I do?”
“I don’t know, let them date.” I shrugged, “He’s harmless.”
“Should I?” He asked, “Should I?” He straightened his fork and knife.
“Why not?” I shrugged—again—while I looked away.
“He seems peculiar to me, something isn’t right with him, it’s like he knows something that nobody else knows.” He wasn’t describing the Ben that I knew.
“Maybe he does.” I said looking up at his angel face. His smile was spread out across his face and it was so engaging, I couldn’t help it when my lips curled at the ends turning into a grin. His wide green eyes that were definitely blue yesterday were open wide, taking in every detail of our menu, and when he realized I was staring at him they met my gaze.
Like a spark I could feel my legs step closer to the counter, to where he was sitting. I leaned into get closer to his face.
But within the few seconds of being so close his hands were in fists, and he was sitting so still it was as if he wasn’t even breathing. I stepped back, afraid he was going to attack me.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
He shook his head before catapulting himself out of his chair and out of the door. I stood still then, watching as he got into his car and started his way out to the high school.
“Huh?” I asked myself. Do I smell? I asked. Is something wrong? I asked. I walked back into the kitchen then, searching for answers.
“Ben?” I asked before grasping that he was with Bridget.
“What?” He asked, not looking at Bridget any longer.
“Do I smell?” I asked, “I know it is random, but I was having a conversation with Nathan and I leaned in to kiss him, and he almost ran out of the building.”
He stepped around Bridget and closer to me, His nose sweep down my hair, “You smell like apples, and your breath smells like mint. You smell fine.” He smiled at me before going back to Bridget.
“Hi,” I greeted her, her eyes were green too. Maybe they all wore the same prescription and color of contacts because I couldn’t tell the difference between Nathan’s eyes in my mind and the eyes I was looking into at the precise moment.
“Hi Claire. Nathan has always been fanatical about his life, don’t worry about him.” She nodded.
“Okay?” I asked unsure whether that was meant as a lecture or an instruction. “Will do.”
I walked back into the front of the building, trying to forget about it as much as I could, and take the orders as best I could without getting distracted. I was taking Rodger’s order when Bridget entered the front of the building. She saw that I was taking the peoples orders so she grabbed the coffee container and went down the row pouring coffee into the cups that needed it. Not before long did the entire building start to smell right, smelly construction workers and coffee mixed with home-style favorites. In other words: Home.
After the breakfast rush I had time to pour some water on top the window sill flowers as Bridget mopped the floors. I was still getting used to having help, and I was starting to enjoy having it. I wouldn’t have normally watered the flowers until lunch, after mopping the floors and sweeping the outside porch, like Bridget was doing now.
At lunch my father, Zach, Ben and Doris were still making food, while Bridget and I had our hands full with the lunch crowd. Although again most of them were elderly people or people who didn’t have lives. I was having fun sharing my job, and I was sure Bridget was doing the same, and Doris could focus on doing her job. I didn’t know why my father hadn’t hired a waitress in the first place.
I was just waiting for Seven o’clock so that I could see Nathan again. I couldn’t get his stunning face out of my head, with the perfect smirk, that was undecipherable, was he laughing at me or was he being serious. In my head his curls hung shorted than it really did, because I wanted to see his emerald green eyes that stuck out like turquoise in a pile of di-amonds, the way they would reflect off each other and brighten each other.
Bridget’s gaze was always either Ben or the job she was doing. She actually liked my Benny boy, and the guy I grew up with would have a girlfriend before I had a boyfriend.
“Do you like Ben?” I blurted out 20 minutes after one o’clock.
“Oh, uh, yes, Claire I do.” She tried to make it seem low key.
“Why don’t you go out then?” I asked, “It’s not like it is a secret. His mother can see it.
“I know, but I’ve been told by numerous people that asking the guy out is not the best situation to be in.” She shrugged shyly.
“Just ask him out. I’ll do it for you.” I said stomping into the back suddenly, my brain making up its choice abruptly.
She tried to block my way but I was quicker than she was, or I thought I was. She blocked me again. I was farther than I thought I would’ve gotten when she grabbed my wrists again, “Stop.” She said, and it was challenging to directly disobey. My hands flew down, against my will, I might add.
“Fine, but you need to, because you’re going to regret it.”
“I’ll do it soon.” She said cooperating.
“Okay.” I smiled, “I’ll buy you lunch.” I offered, compromising.
“No. . .I’m not hungry.”
“Oh, well I’ll be right back.” I said turning down the hall, “Dad, can I have my usual for lunch?” I asked.
“Sure.” He nodded toward Zach. I tip toed to Ben’s table.
“Guess what?” I giggled.
“What?” He said without looking up at me, “Claire Bear?” He was skinning some flound-er.
“She’s going to ask you out.” I told him and left, I grabbed a water bottle and went into the front again. I walked around the counter to sit at the stool and stare at her, she leaned on the counter behind her and sighed.
“Just do it.” I said, “You won’t feel good until you get an answer.” I told her.
She nodded and walked into the back, her shoulders hung high, and wide as if she was ready to talk—just not willing. I heard her punch the door open and walk up to him.
“Ben?” I heard her say. I was on the edge of my seat—literally—smiling.
“Oh—Bridget. Hi.” He was nervous it was clear.
“I know you like me, and I unquestionably—without any doubt like you—and I think—.”
“Bridget, of course I’ll be your boyfriend.” He said amiably, and pure heartedly.
“Oh, gosh.” She cheered as I saw her take the plate from Zach and walk to the front of the building. She handed me the plate and stared at me.
“Are you feeling better?” I asked.
“Spectacular.” She beamed.
I was serving a steak and potatoes meal when I heard the bell ring. I saw two figures standing close together, and before I realized who they were I was setting a place matt for them. The girls sat down at the counter as I walked behind it.
“Hi.” Emily greeted me.
“Hello.” I said simply.
“Hello, Claire.” Elizabeth said as if she had been holding that in for a while now.
“Hello.” I glared.
“Claire…We are so happy you punched Kate.” Elizabeth said.
“Yeah, Claire, thank you.”
“No problem,” I smiled, “I don’t intend to hit her again if that is what you are asking me to do.” I noted. It was a straight out lie, but if she started something again tomorrow I’d end up thumping her couple of times.
“No, Claire,” Elizabeth said as if she had taken that into consideration, “We just came to thank you for doing what you did.”
“You’re happy I hit Kate, and came to thank me?” I asked peeking to my side; Bridget was serving a tuna sandwich and looking over at me. “That just sounds wrong. What hap-pened to us?”
We found out that our friend wasn’t really our friend,” Emily said, “I love you Claire, and gosh I really loved Kate. She never really loved me, she just used me.” Emily was a relative of the nearby reservation, the same reservation that Evan was from.
“She said she didn’t know that Evan was my cousin.” Emily said, “But after a sit down with Evan he told me that she and he only started dating after she told him that she’d get my mom to take him and Chase to the reservation this summer. Since he lives with my grandparents.” She explained as if I hadn’t understood-But I had. “I’m living in a box; to keep to girl I am concealed.” Emily said, her eyes looking glassy, “But I’ve finally found the strength so I can leave that all behind.” She smiled, “Because yes my cousins are obvious heartthrobs.”
I nodded, those boys with the tan skin and the muscles and all the dark eyes, and the whole mysterious thing going on. Yup they were heartthrobs. Taylor Lautner didn’t even compare, not even remotely. It was as if the guys were blessed with good looks, and the girls were too, most were like Emily, Long black waves with the long thick lashes and dark eyes.
They might not have the whole mysterious thing like the guys but they were definitely up there because most of the girls at the high school with boyfriends were from the reser-vation.
“I get it,” I said, “And I’m coming back to school tomorrow, I’m allowed to.” I smiled and rolled my eyes, and tried to think of something to distract them, it came to me, “Oh, and this is Bridget,” I said motioning to Bridget who was staring at us from a safe distance away, she was walking closer as if she had seen it coming. She walked over with her hand held out and a huge smile spread across her face, one that was inviting and heartfelt as if she really wanted to be their friends too.
“Hey, I’m the new girl, Bridget Embers.” She said, laughing.
“Hi, Elizabeth Verona.” She said handing her hand and shaking, “Call me Liz, please.”
“Emily Greene.” She said smiling and doing the same, “Em?”
“Bridget and Ben are dating.” I said, smiling, because I knew Bridget wouldn’t have told them, and Ben definitely wouldn’t have told them, or maybe he would’ve. I wasn’t exactly sure.
“Congratulations. We always thought that our Claire Bear would have been the first to date Benny,” Elizabeth said, and Bridget watched as I cringed when they called me Claire Bear.
“How long have you been here?” Emily smiled.
“Two days.” Bridget shrugged.
“And you already have a boyfriend?”
“And a job. She’s a waitress.” I noted again, aware that Bridget wouldn’t have told them that.
“Awesome.” Elizabeth said high fiving her.
“Anything else you want to tell them, Claire?” Bridget wasn’t mad, but awkwardly out of place.
“Nope, I think they know the necessary stuff.”
“Here’s my number.” Elizabeth said grabbing a napkin and writing down her number and before giving it to Bridget Emily grabbed it and wrote her number above Elizabeth’s.
“And here’s mine.” I smiled, “I didn’t give it to you yesterday.”
“No problem and thank you.” Bridget said kindly folding the napkin and putting it into her pocket.
At six o’clock the restaurant was picking up its pace. Silently Bridget and I were sharing the position, and I was actually starting to get used to it. I was happy when nobody I knew showed up for Steak House Tuesday, some families came and most had kids in grades below me.
I was serving the regular meal to a couple that looked about ninety-nine, when the women patted my hand and handed me a twenty dollar bill.
“Sweetie, you look glum. Here is twenty to get the haircut and get the guy.” I smiled modestly, and thanked her before smiling and walking away with the twenty dollar bill, I walked by Bridget who was filling up Lou’s cup and smiled before leaning on the counter.
“That old lady gave me a twenty.” I smiled.
“Cool, are we supposed to keep our tips?” She asked.
“I do.” I smiled, “I don’t think my father cares.”
“Okay.” She shrugged and moved onto Mel’s cup.
I picked up the plate that Zach put in the window and took it to table 3, where Lisa Thompson and her son Randy were sitting; Randy was mentally handicap and was rarely away from his mother’s side. His father was a hard worker as a therapist, and so he never came to Steak house Tuesday or Southern Friday or Mexican Monday. Rumor had it he was sleeping with both of his assistants. I couldn’t care less, but to think of a man so selfish to put his “needs” before his son’s who was already considered helpless made me upset
“Here Linda.” I said putting the plate down.
“Thanks Claire.” She smiled and turned back to a dirty Randy. I walked back to the coun-ter, faster than before because Bridget was done with her coffee manning and had gone to the back to chat it up with Ben. I grabbed the two dishes in the window that my father had put there and took them to the right tables.
When I was finished with the Waver’s issues I went back to the empty counter to wait for more dishes to take, as Bridget walked back into the front.
“What was that about?” I asked.
“I asked if Ben could drive me home.”
“Oh.” I sighed as I took my ponytail down, ran my left hand through it a few times and put it back up, my father didn’t make us wear hair nets.
“Claire?” She asked unexpectedly.
“What?” I said, my eyes widening.
“Why do you hate it when people refer to you as ‘Claire Bear’?” She asked.
“Because it makes me out to be a bear, as if I’m mean or something. How did you know I hated being called Claire Bear?” I asked, it was Ben who had started calling me Claire Bear, and I called him Benny Boy.
“I was just observing.” She said defensively.
“Oh, okay.” I smiled, “I’ve never had a friend who observed so much.” It was pure ho-nesty.
“I do it out of—I don’t know—habit.” She said, smiling.
“When did you ever have to observe?” I wondered, because I couldn’t come up with a time in my short life when I ever had to observe.
“I don’t remember; just remember having to do it.” She smiled and shrugged.
“Oh.” I nodded, suspiciously.
“Please don’t interrogate me.” She begged.
“I wasn’t.” I said shaking my head and smiling to let her know I was okay, and she was free from an interrogation—for now.
“Okay, well is it seven yet?” She asked.
“In nine minutes.” I nodded toward to clock on the wall. It had my parent’s names in the center with a heart around it—if only everyone who walked in knew how important that clock was, it was a symbol of the love my parents had, even though she was dead.
“Okay. Do you think he’ll kiss me?” She asked me, hoping.
“Do you wear contacts?” I asked then, trying again for an answer.
“I do. I don’t know about Nathan or Max.” She shrugged.
“Because I swear you guys both had blue eyes yesterday, and today you have green.”
She looked at the ground for a second and nodded, “Contacts.”
I breathed in deeply and watched as the bulk of the guests started to filter out of the building. I was watching the back, Ben was washing down his table, as quickly as he could, Doris was wrapping a plate of bagels and Zach was high fiving my father. I started to take my apron off as I felt the pressure to get out the door creep over me. I threw it into the bin and put my coat on and grabbed my bag.
My father was walking ahead of me as he got into our car, Doris got in her’s and Ben got in his with Bridget in the passenger seat. I smiled at my father as he drove down the hill toward our house. Once we reached the house I couldn’t wait to get in and go to bed. I went straight to my room, changed into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and brushed my teeth before jumping into bed and falling asleep to the sound of Tuesday night news.
The next morning I woke up to the light that was coming through the window. It made the room brighter, and I was blinded as I opened my eyes. I twisted a few times before sit-ting up in my bed and turning on the TV. I was so used to having the background noise that I kept my phone and TV by me while I slept.
After a few moments of listening to the news I got out of the bed to get dressed. I chose jeans and a thermal long sleeve.
Once getting dressed I grabbed my bag and book bag and my cell phone. I walked out my room and into the kitchen.
“Hey, Claire.” He was sitting at the nook.
“Hi Dad.” I smiled at my father after he tied his long boots up his leg. Laid on the table were three dollars for my lunch, and a water bottle above it. “Thanks Dad.” I smiled and grabbed my car keys. “Bye.”
“Bye, Claire.” He smiled and hugged me on my way out the door; I wrapped my arms around his waist. He let go before I did and then I had to go.
I got into my car slowly and tried to warm it up; I wasn’t winning when I could see the breath coming out of my mouth. I just rolled my eyes and started down the hill, I found it surprisingly easy. I smiled when I turned past the restaurant and Doris’ car was parked on the side of the building’s parking lot. I didn’t turn at the red light; I kept going, straight to the school. I wasn’t going to be early, or late, I was on time, and I could see Ben’s car a few cars in the line back.
Once I got to the school I jumped out of the seat. I walked around the back of the car, on the back of the tires was a thin chain crisscrossed in diamond shapes around them. Snow chains. I smiled at the gesture that my father must have made.
I walked quickly past the groups of people staring at me, I was trying as hard as I could to just ignore them, and I was succeeding in the most part until I saw Bridget and Ben embrace, almost 20 yards ahead of me, I smiled as they hugged. I was more happy that I saw Bridget because that meant Nathan was here. I looked up at them twice more before reaching them.
“Hey Claire Bear.” Ben said, slinging an arm around Bridget’s shoulder, in his other arm were her books, his book bag was slung on his shoulder, like always.
“Hey, Bridget, Ben.” I nodded once while saying both of their names.
“Hi Claire.” Bridget said stepping forward, her arms wound around me, in my peripheral vision I saw Ben’s arm still in the air, waiting for her to step back into his arms.
“What’s up?” I asked, smiling.
“Not much, actually.” I heard Ben say, “I overheard a lot of people say that Kate and Evan and a whole bunch of their followers are skipping school for the next couple of days.”
I shrugged, “That is their business.” I told them.
“A couple of people thought that Evan was going to jump you when you got home from work.” He sighed, “But then Anna Belle and Mady didn’t want them to see their house, because living alone with their father is so embarrassing.” He laughed.
“Oh I bet.” I laughed with Bridget and Ben.
The bell to start school rang and I walked to homeroom with the both of them, Bridget’s homeroom was next door. I stepped in.
“See ya in twenty minutes.” I heard Bridget say, before a sound that sounded like a kiss-ing sound.
“Bye.” Ben told her after I sat down in my seat next to Elizabeth and Emily.
“Hi guys.” I smiled to my left, at Elizabeth.
“Hi, Claire.” She said turning her swivel chair towards me, and nodding towards Ben who sat behind me today.
“Hi Ben.” She smiled.
“Oh, Ben, did you hear that there is going to be a spring formal?” Emily said sitting down next to him, “You and Bridget are going right?”
“I’ll ask her the next time I see her.” He told her. I knew that look. He was exciting.
“I’m going to ask Jeremy.” Elizabeth said giggling to herself, Emily smiled.
“I’m going to ask Reggie.” Emily told us, “But if he says no I’ll ask Dylan.” She sighed, “So gorgeous.” She leaned back on the chair, closing her eyes.
“That leaves you Claire.” Elizabeth and Ben said in Unison.
“I don’t dance.” I said, “And besides I’ll be with my grandparents in April.” I told them, “I’m spending spring break in New Jersey.” I told them, coming up with the idea on the spot.
“Of course you are.” Ben rolled his eyes, “Do you want me to ask around?” he asked Elizabeth and Emily.
“Yup.” Elizabeth said as Emily nodded.
“Please?” I asked, “I’m really going to New Jersey.” I told them holding my hand up in honesty.
“Fine, Claire Bear.” Ben said shrugging.
“Thank you.” I replied, “Oh my gosh I hate waiting for the bell.” I said changing the sub-ject.
Once the bell rang Ben and I met up with Bridget, I was starting to feel like a third wheel, but I was sure Ben didn’t mind because at the end of the day nothing was awkward between us. He was my best friend; he ranked higher on the list than Elizabeth or Emily.
When I reached the English room I went in, Ben’s next class was science and it was a couple rooms down, so he and Bridget kissed again and she came in after me.
“Hello.” I said to Mrs. B.
“Hey, Claire, What happened to you yesterday?”
“Didn’t the office tell you? I was suspended.”
“For?” she said dumbfound, and obviously unaware of the reason.
“Hitting my best friend.” I said, I tucked the black lock blocking my eyes from hers be-hind my ear. I looked back at Bridget who had sat down and was getting her notebook out.
“Oh, Claire, hitting is never the answer.” She said shaking her head, but raising her hand. I high fived it and went back to my seat, directly next to Bridget’s.
“You’ve been dating for a day and you’re already kissing?” I asked.
“Yes, thank you, I never thought dating Ben would be like this.” She told me.
“No worries just don’t break his heart. Or I’ll break you.” I promised her.
“No problem, Claire. I don’t think I could ever cause him pain,” she said shuttering and cringing before turning to sit correctly in her chair. I noticed this and remembered it from somewhere. I turned around too.
She is so bubbly. I noted. And she stood out in a crowd; it was like she had a bullet painted on her back. I smiled and shook my head before taking the notes Mrs. Bonneville had finished writing on the board, each bullet pointed noted both made me smile and slanted down the board.
The rest of the day—until lunch—was an experience that equally bored me and made me wish for a split second that my life was more exciting. I remembered that preppy girls who had busy lives could never enjoy the simplicity of being able to sit in their from lawn, listening to the wind flying their hair around in circles and smell the roses.
Lunch was a quiet part of the day that surprised me. I had thought that people would’ve been talking all period about the information and stuff that I knew had to have been said about my absence yesterday.
But I sat next to Bridget and Ben, and our table slowly became a hot spot to people the poplars’ had dubbed weird. That included Kate and Evan. Elizabeth and Emily sat at the ta-ble with me, bringing in a new batch of freshman’s that had personalities unlike their popu-lar older siblings. Rachel Scott, Tiffany Scott’s younger sister recognized and talked to Eliza-beth the entire lunch period, offering to get lunch together as well. Olivia Michaels, Paul Michaels’s younger sister sat next to another freshman named Stephan Long; they nodded in acceptance, and awareness of each other’s presence. A junior named Tyler Cross sat next to Emily, and she tried to ignore him. He really liked her. It was evident.
The young boy, determined and hell bound in getting a date, invited the entire table to the lake for fishing and hiking on Saturday, two weeks from tomorrow. Ben nodded before looking at Bridget, “Where is the lake?” She asked Tyler, her eyes searching for an answer.
“Across the river in High Land Heights.” He said.
Bridget whipped out a pocket sized map from her bag and handed it to Ben, who in-stinctively opened it to the area where the lake should’ve been.
“Right here is where the lake should be, but your map is about 60 years old, so it doesn’t show where they put it. In the 80’s they dug into the ground and made an artificial lake or pond or whatever you want to call it.” Ben said rambling on.
“Um, I’ll ask my folks.” She said shrugging. “Maybe they’ll go for the idea of getting me, Nathan and Max out of the house. Maybe Genesis and Aaron might go.” She said smiling up at Ben. Evidently he had gotten the same speech about her parents being her adoptive par-ents.
“Sounds great.” Tyler nodded and turned to face Emily again. “So, will you come?” He asked.
“Can I invite some friends?” She asked.
“Then I’ll go.” She said rolling her eyes at the young boy, he stood, as Emily took the cap off her water bottle, he shook his head and then grabbed the bottle from her hands and bolted for the doors.
Bridget, Ben, Elizabeth and I laughed, and with a quiet giggle the Rachel girl laughed, trying to fit in with the juniors ahead of her. I sighed at the discrimination between ages and leaned back in the hard metal chair, in my peripheral vision I noticed another freshman male take a seat next to where Tyler would’ve been sitting. He carried a tray of food, a slice of pizza, a can of coke and a smaller plate with healthy portion of Salad twice over.
He looked around the table, timid and frail looking, naturally the maternal instincts kicked in, he hadn’t of ever sat here before, was he new? I asked myself. “What’s your name, kid?” Bridget asked loudly taking the words right out of my head.
“Umm, Devin Acres.” He said as if the question was as personal as what status you were, which was both understandable and creepy.
“Are you new?” I said getting a word in before Bridget for once, she looked at me then.
“Yes, I’m a freshman.” He nodded telling me as he opened the coke in his hand and ripped the plastic wrapping off his fork, and straw.
“No. I mean, have you been here all year?” I reworded the legendary question that had first formed in my head.
“Yeah. I’m from, New Jersey.” He told me, his face led me to think something tragic had happened, but I knew better than to categorize people in this school.
“Which part?” Bridget asked again, taking the words out of my head, which would’ve been my next question.
“Phillipsburg, but umm, I’ve lived in Florida for the last year…” He said leaving me with too much to think about, because the bell to 5B rang, 5A signified that seniors had their classes first and ate during lunch’s 5B-5D. 5C for sophomores and 5A for freshman. Eliza-beth, Bridget, Ben and I stood and made our ways to our classes.
I had Math next, both Emily and Bridget were in this class with me. It was full to the edges with freshman, both popular and not. I took my time walking into Algebra 11, too many memories over the years had accumulated from the sadness and misleading signs, Oh, all you do is multiply it by 4, then subtract 3, and cross multiply them and get the value of x. All the years that I had spent in the West Union education system I still didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.
Once I was sure the bell was going to ring I walked through the door, and was stunned by all of the people staring at me. I walked slowly to the back table, where Emily and Bridget were sitting; they were giggling before I sat down between them and continued for the rest of the period.
The rest of the day went the same way. Every class I had where Emily or Elizabeth and Bridget were in they’d find something to giggle about, in the beginning of the year I would of gotten upset and annoyed by it but now it was a back ground noise that I couldn’t of cared less about.
Gym was the only other obstacle I had to face that day, and believe me it was an ob-stacle. Like its twin brother—math—gym had given me the biggest problems over the last 17 years. I’d gotten used to going directly to the back of the line and waiting my turn both patiently and hopping for a miracle where we’d either have a fire drill or late start resulting in a day of gym where I didn’t participate. Although most girls didn’t worry about the partic-ipating part and worried about getting near naked in front of a bunch of other girls. It was the opposite effect for me.
I made my way through the crowds of girls blocking my way to my locker, once I had squirmed past the few seniors in my class I got dressed in the Capri shorts in my locker, I took my sweater off and left the room, all we needed to have on to be considered dressed out was shorts, shirt and sneakers. I stood, leaning against the wall, waiting for Mrs. Pauley to take roll. And having a last name that came at the end of the alphabet wasn’t the most entertaining thing in the world.
“Hi, Tom.” She said to Tom Deader before stopping in front of an empty part of the wall.
“Did anyone see Mr. Embers?” She asked, “Nathan Embers?” she asked again, so Na-than was apparently in my gym class—not today—but he’d be soon.
“No.” Someone shouted from the other side of the wall where Mr. Quest was taking roll at the same time. By the look of the wall I could tell that we were going to play wiffle ball, because Base ball and softball evidently weren’t allowed. I sighed as she came to the end of the line, after taking roll, and pointed at Regina Zorn and said, “Field,” then pointed at Quinn Williams, “Hitting,” Then at Tanya Walker, “Field,” then at me, “Hitting,” She said smiling, I walked past the entire class to join Quinn in the hitting team.
Torture doesn’t even describe the feeling I got when I had to hit the tiny orange ball with holes in it not once, not twice, not even three times, but 5 times. The stupid, immature, idiot girls who stood in the front of the line, but made the people behind them go. And the absolute idiotic rule of ‘Boy, girl’ stung after hearing it the nine hundredth time.
I was happy when she blew her whistle, and I got dressed. I was never in a hurry, be-cause then final period of the day was science. Chemistry was both my best subject, and favorite. Beakers and test tubes—loved them all—but maybe I loved it had something to do with the fact that I had both regular physical science with Mr. Keeves and Chemistry with Mrs. Entopic, who enjoyed my company and graded me well.
And then when the bell to go home rang I was even more excited, it was Friday and the restaurant was a big distracter when it came to doing school work. I usually was thinking about how much Doris must wish Bridget and I were seniors, or already graduated, because she’d been helping out since the restaurant opened, since I had started waitressing at 13.
I got into my jeep, my mind already racing. I could see Ben pull out of the parking lot a few seconds later, Bridget in the passenger seat. Her arm hanging comfortably out the win-dow. I drove fast, turning down the right streets hurrying to let Doris get back to her job. Once I was at the turning point I was at a red light, so Ben pulled up beside me.
Bridget smiled, and waved; as I waved I turned into the restaurant. My father’s car was next to Doris’. As soon as I was parked I got out, I left my book bag on the passenger seat, even before I was in the building Doris was getting her apron off and walking to the kitchen.
“Hey guys.” I said calling out to all of the elderly men and their wives or daughters.
“Hey, Claire.” A couple of them called back at me.
“Fill me in.” I told them, and suddenly regretted the choice to ask, they filled me and Bridget in for the last two hours before our shifts were over. Ben drove her home again to-night, Nathan didn’t show up, and I couldn’t wait to get to bed, and tomorrow being Satur-day was just a plus. I drove how listening to the same Mixed CD that was in my cassette.
As soon as I was home I opened my door and dropped the book bag on the floor next to the desk, and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and hair. Once I was finished I went back to my room to get dressed to go to bed. I slipped on a pair of shorts and kept the same t-shirt on, I flicked my shoes off and turned the TV on for some more back ground noise, Anna Belle and Mady usually listened to music from 8-12, or later.
I slipped into a sleep, deep and not too easy to escape.