I awake to my alarm twittering at me, it's six in the morning. I heave a sigh and shut it off, climbing out of bed. Ouch. The pain is up to my knees now. This sucks. I cross to the closet and flick on the light, momentarily blinding myself. I rub my eyes and focus in on the row of shirts. I pull them over one by one until I get to the last one. There's the shirt. I heave a sigh as I play with the material of the sleeve. The dried blood has turned a majority of the shirt brown.
I grab a pair of very short high waisted black shorts, and my favorite crop top: white with a sunflower in the middle. I cross to the bathroom. I get ready slowly, taking as much time as I need. I have to look good today! Maybe I'll see Austin. In this dream, I can finally give myself a chance to live out the fantasy of being the girlfriend of the most popular guy in school. The thought makes me a little giddy. I wrestle my hair into a messy side fishtail braid, and apply my makeup. Pulling away from the mirror, I take a deep breath and flash a smile. Perfect. Today, I will make Austin fall in love with me. I lace up my black converse, grab my phone, and walk upstairs. The first day we aren't really even doing anything, so I don't need my backpack. Mom is already dressed and making breakfast.
"Good morning!" she says cheerfully, flashing me a smile.
I take up my usual place at the counter and she sets in front of me a delicious plate of my favorite breakfast foods: maple sausages, bacon, hash browns, and a pancake covered in syrup. I dig in, suddenly hungry from not eating last night.
"What's the occasion?" I ask, mouth full of food.
"It's your first day," she smiles at me, "you've got to start the day off right!"
She takes a sip of her coffee and I nod in agreement. I finish my food and set my plate in the sink, jumping back down the stairs to brush my teeth. I come back up to see Mom washing my plate. I give her a hug and she kisses my cheek.
"Have a good day."
"You too." I respond.
I grab my keys from the table and walk to the door. The pain in my legs has become so constant I almost don't notice it. Almost. I unlock my truck and hop in, and pull out of the driveway. I cruise to school feeling pumped, I blast a pop station as I wait in the traffic line that always builds up. Finally, I get through and pull into the student parking lot, taking a spot close to the front. I cut the engine and hop out, getting a few stares from a group of junior guys hanging out by their cars. I begin the walk to the bench, being careful not to get hit by any bad drivers. From my experience, there are tons.
I look up to see Savanna running towards me, a huge grin on her face. She looks really cute today, white shorts and a coral colored shirt, with her hair in a bun.
She reaches me and wraps me in a huge hug, I hug her back.
"I missed you!" she says.
"I missed you too." I reply, a smile on my face.
"You look super cute!" she grins.
"You do too!"
She links arms with me, "Let's go inside."
We walk in, swallowed by high school. Here we go. Another year. I keep my eyes peeled for Austin, but there are no signs of him other than the occasional conversations I hear about his party tonight as we pass by other seniors.
Savanna elbows me in the ribs, "So how are things with you and Austin?"
Everyone at school assumed that we were going to hook up over summer, but I never even texted him.
I roll my eyes and flash a nonchalant smile, "Nothing's really happening in that department."
She looks shocked, "Really? But everyone said you two were gonna... you know..."
I laugh and she does too.
"Nothing happened. But maybe something might tonight."
"Oooh! I knew it! You like him!" she shouts gleefully.
Now it's my turn to elbow her, "Shut up! Not everyone needs to know!"
We take our seats in the senior section of the gym, as does everyone else.
"It's okay. I guess we'll see what happens."
She winks at me and we turn our eyes to the floor. No sign of Luke yet. I know he wouldn't miss the first day of school, so where is he? Soon, our principal, Dr. Collins, walks out, a huge smile on his face.
"Welcome back!" he shouts into his microphone.
We all cheer in response.
"I'm super excited to be starting another amazing year with you guys, and I have a feeling this is going to be the best year this school has ever had!"
We all cheer again. He proceeds to talk about all of the different dances and events planned for the kick-off of this year, blah blah blah, homecoming is on my birthday again. Our school's homecoming is only a few weeks into the school year. I begin to absentmindedly rub my aching legs, staring off into the distance. But thunderous applause shakes me out of my reverie, and Austin Roberts steps out onto the gym floor. He's even more attractive than he was last year, he's gotten more muscular. That golden blonde hair is styled well, and his light brown eyes sparkle. His deep, masculine voice fills the gym, "Hey there my fellow students!" he flashes a charming grin at the sophomore section, I swear I see a few girls faint.
"I'm so happy to be back this year as your student body president and quarterback of the varsity football team, and I'm very excited about all of the amazing events we've planned for you. I'll see you all at every one, right? Especially the homecoming dance and game!"
He's met with cheers and hollers from everyone in the gym. He grins and turns to the seniors, eyes scanning the crowd. I hide behind a taller guy, because I have a feeling it's me he's looking for. Wait, why am I hiding?
"The cheer squad and my team have been working on a new cheer for us to do at football games, and we would all like to teach it to you. Are we ready?"
We all cheer, and the football team comes running on to the floor in their jerseys and jeans. The cheerleaders follow in skirts so short they seem nonexistent. That's the appeal, I suppose. Austin and his groupies show us the cheer, and we follow along. He concludes with his hope to see us at the first football game next week and at homecoming, and hands the microphone back to Dr. Collins. Everyone cheers as he walks back to the front row, his teammates slap him on the back as Dr. Collins wraps up the assembly. He wants us to go to our first period, and so we all flood from the bleachers to the doors. Savanna runs off to join her friend, giving me a kiss on the cheek and promising to meet me at lunch. I slowly climb down the bleachers, the pain in my legs is pretty bad. Pretty much everyone is running past me, I try to go a little faster so it's not obvious that I'm hurt. Then, as I get to the last step, my knee buckles beneath me, and I trip. Shit. As the ground rushes up to meet me and I prepare for impact, an incredibly strong pair of arms wrap around me, pulling me back onto my feet. This is like something straight out of a movie. I turn to thank my savior, and am interrupted by a voice like honey, "Falling for me already, Relia? I thought I would have to work for it."
His pearly whites flash at me, he doesn't let me go. I could actually get used to this. I put on my most seductive face and look up through my lashes to meet his brown eyes, "Hey, Austin."