A reputation to die for
I sat in the back seat of the ugly grey family van with my earphones in listening to the loudest music I had on my iPod. I wasn't really listening to the music but it was the perfect excuse not to talk to my mom as we cruised down the road of the friendly neighborhood we lived in.
It was another typical Monday morning and I was on my to the hell hole of all teenagers' nightmares, school. I, as many other typical teenagers hated school, which was quite ironic as I had the reputation of the 'goody-two-shoes geek'. Oh how I hate the wannabe smart asses that strut around the school as the so called Populars. They always seem to have a particular love for harassing me, hence the reason why I hate school. And what made all of it way worse is that my sister, my own flesh and blood, is part of that crude and messed up gang of well known misfits.
On top of all that crap is the fact that I'm her twin.
Now I don't like questioning the laws of karma and what not but that shouldn't be right, twins are supposed to be similar in more ways than just outside appearances. We both share the same green eyes, wavy amber coloured hair and tanned complexions. We're both kind of tall, but not freakishly tall or anything. We're also built like athletes, but only I really do any sport because my sister thinks she's to perfect to have to sweat or do anything physical (unless it's in bed with another jock).
So I have the nerd thing going on and my sister has the skank reputation in school where everyone idolises the fact that she's been through almost half the school already.
Gosh, how I wish I was her sometimes.
Well, not the skank part but the popular part. I've always wanted to have a taste of what it was to be in the popular crowd or even be one of the tails that are allowed to follow them around like a bunch of loyal puppies. But I am on oath to stay as far away from them as possible thanks to the Nerd Herd I belong to at school that states being popular is a sin (something about what you have to do to get to that level is unforgivable, I never pay attention to their complaining).
Before I could carry on doing recall on my life we arrived at school. We entered the heavy iron gates of South Side High, a school that in my opinion should have died out in the Medieval times where it looks like it came from. It had grey stone bricks that made up the walls of the buildings and a few glass stained windows broke the drab grey background, basically giving the place a very old look and feel to it.
The students were streaming in from the parking lot in hordes. The car had barely stopped moving when I had grabbed my back pack and was out the door in two ticks, but before I could completely escape the clutches of my mom she grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me back into the van. "Honey, wait. Before you storm off I need to ask you a favour." She says in a very motherly way. What an actor, she doesn't really care about me as much as she does for my sister Mattie, although she hasn't tried hiding it ever since dad died four years ago so I know the motherly act is just, well, an act. So I reacted in a way a typical rebel teenager would, rolling my eyes and giving her the loudest and most annoyed sigh I could give.
"What do you want?" I said in a gruff voice that oozed with disrespect all without taking my earphones out.
"Stop being a brat and take those things out your ears, I can hear that crap from here." She snapped back. Oh, a battle I thought to myself. Come at me bro!
"Oh now you care about my attention, doesn't seem to bother you any other day as you LOVE to ignore me." Emphasising the word love with a smirk on my face that probably was screaming "Hit me!" by then.
"Okay fine!" She said in a hushed hiss, "I've had about enough of your shit and I'm only trying to be nice to you. Now listen carefully you ungrateful brat, I'm not going to be here for the rest of the week and you're in charge of the house while I'm gone. And I swear to God if anything is broken in that house because of another lame attempt of yours at what ever shit plans you have I will have your ass booked on the next flight to your aunt's place in no time, do you understand me?"
Wow, I thought to myself, she means business.
"What ever mom, I can't believe you don't trust me. You know I'm the good twin, I don't do the party planning like Mattie. Gosh" Another perfect eye roll and I was out the van. Eugh! I had no time for that Botox filled ancient whore that thinks she can rule my life. What ever, I had school to concentrate on, and seeming that Mattie seemed to have decided in her own will to stay over at Abigail’s place (her bestie for the week) she may not show up at school today. I had a feeling I would have a good day today.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
I hadn't even taken a few steps towards the crowds swarming into school when the hottest guy in school graced everyone with his presence. Markus o'Conner seemed to glide on air as he walked between the parted crowd that kind of reminded me of the Red Sea. He had silky black hair and ice blue eyes that looked like they could freeze hell over with just a glance, a tall and lean swimmer's body and a movie star smile that made the whole world stand still. He walked with a kind of swag that no one else seems to have ever managed in the history of humanity and had the attitude and arrogance of everyone put together.
God, he was gorgeous.
But as much as he was drool worthy (and every single girl in the school proved it by their attempts to swoon him) he treated everyone like dirt to get what he wanted and had a tendency to be a total ass, especially towards me. Something about me not being worthy of being his girlfriend's sister because of my lack of popularity (yeah, Mattie has life good going for her) but this little bit of information completely escaped me as he glided past me, but not before looking at me and giving me a wink.
He did not just wink at me.
I was so caught off guard by this that I didn't see the tree coming towards my face. I smacked into it so hard that I practically doubled over backwards and landed flat on my butt. This had the entire crowd around me in a fit of laughter which was mixed with a few crude comments.
"Great way to start the day Lucy, can't you ever do anything right?" I mumbled to myself.
I quickly scrambled up and dusted myself off before grabbing my bag and scuttling off to find my friends and try clear my mind of the totally embarrassing scenes that seems to be recurring too often for my liking. I was just re-adjusting my glasses when I heard the high pitched squeal of the only person in the entire world that could even reach a note that high, my best friend Ariana Heath. She was short, perky and always had a sparkle in her big brown eyes. She was also one of those people that always had some freaky hairstyle and a new one almost everyday. Today she had a spiky bun with chopsticks through them and blue hair pieces, at least it complimented her dark hair nicely. As she sprinted towards me I let my instincts take control as I braced myself against a possible head butt from her as she charged into me and almost knocking me off my feet for the second time that day. Ariana was always in a happy mood, the ball of sunshine in the group.
"Lucy!" She squeaked, "Where have you been? The Nerd Herd is waiting!" She said with a little giggle while she practically dragged me to the others. Yes we actually call ourselves the Nerd Herd, keeps it from being an insult and more of a way of identifying our group. Brilliant.
I was trying to keep myself on my feet and not collide with anyone as Ariana pulled me to a dead halt in front of two rag tag kids that looked slightly out of place. Yep, these were my people.
"Look who I found! She was just late, nothing serious." Ariana practically bubbling with so much energy I thought she might start hopping up and down like a duracell bunny at any moment.
"Hey! Miss Doom and Gloom has decided to grace us with her presence, or should I say her deathly perspective" Joey Dawson said in a way he knew ticked me off.
"Don't start your smart ass comments so early on a damn Monday morning Joey. I might do something stupid like punch you in the face." I said with a little triumphant smirk on my face.
"Oh bite me Lucinda." He said matching my smirk.
That did it. No one ever calls me by my full name if they know any better, and Joey did know better.
"Oh now you've done it jackass!" I was just about to pull my fist back and smash it against his jaw when Gecko stepped between us. "Guys really, come on. Quit it, not so early please." Ah Gecko, he's the pacifist in the group and no his real name isn't Gecko, its actually James Halloway, but he's so small and light skinned he reminded us of a little gecko. Quite simple really.
"My knight in shining armour." I said in a bored voice and accompanied with one of my famous eye rolls.
Before anyone else could say anything Ricky Barlow stalked up to us but didn't say anything.
"Hello handsome." I said with a cocky grin while waggling my eyebrows at him, just something I liked to do to annoy him.
"Hey Lucy, what's up?" He said in a silky voice that was thick with emotion. I was the only one who noticed and was concerned but he just gave me a reassuring smile that he was fine for now followed by his usual head nod to let me know he'll tell me later. It's like friend's intuition and we're on the same wave length, he's like the brother I've always wanted but could never have.
"Couldn't complain, I had the house to myself last night. Well except for the old plastic troll I'm forced to slave around for all day and everyday." Everyone shared in with a little laugh and made agreement noises just as the bell went for first period. We all said our curt goodbyes and went our separate ways and I was on my way when Ricky grabbed my hand and spun me around to face him. I was just about to protest when I saw the look in his eye again so I just shut up and waited for him to speak, he hates being rushed when he's being serious.
"We need to talk." He said simply.
"Ricky we're going to be late for class! Do we really have to chat now?" I really didn't want to have another speech from Mr Furgenson for being late, again.
He went quiet and had a thoughtful look on his face before he answered again, "Right. Okay then, my place after school, no excuse." He had a stern look on his face and I could see from the glint in his eye that he meant business. Bad news, I knew it was coming.
"Okay buddy, I'll meet you there." Was all I could think of without saying something insensitive.
We hurried off to class to start off another week of hell. I was able to stumble into English just as the warning bell went off and hurried to my seat at the back of the room. We were busy with Henry V which I had read three times over already with the rest of the class still trying to understand what was happening at the Battle of Agincourt, so I took the opportunity to relax and just enjoy the free period. I was really concerned about Ricky the whole day so I didn't really concentrate in any of my classes anyway (not that I needed to, I was the geek of the school who supposedly knew everything so luckily teachers never hassled me to see if I had a clue on what was happening in class) The day seemed to fly by, and before I knew it the final bell rang and I followed the mass of people streaming out of classrooms and towards the parking lot. I was so distracted that I didn't even bother waiting for the Nerd Herd and went straight to where my mom was supposed to be waiting for me in her usual parking space on the other side of the school. I swear she does it deliberately to screw me around for her own entertainment. And just as I got to the parking space I remembered that my mom had probably already left for what ever the hell she always has to leave for lately.
"Great." I mumbled, "I'm going to have to walk home."
I was just about to start storming off home when the deafening sound of a Honda CBR 250 came blaring behind me which almost had me screaming in terror, which is not very attractive. I was about to turn and yell at the idiot who thought they were being funny when I spun around to face Markus sitting on his bike with that sexy half smile he always does.
Oh Lord help me.
"H-hey." I managed to stutter out. Nice start Lucy.
"Hey back at ya." He said with a flirty glint in his eyes.
"Uhm. Ha ha, yeah. Can I help you? I mean, it's not like you can mistake me for Mattie or anything because I'm the one who wears glasses and she doesn't." I added emphasis by adjusting my glasses. "See?"
"Yeah of course, but I actually did want to ask you a favour if it wasn't too much to ask?"
"Sure!" I said a little too eagerly, "I-I mean yeah, what ever." Smooth Lucy.
"Would you mind like hosting a party at your place Friday night?" Great, he must've heard the Troll was away the week and was taking advantage of the opportunity. So much for optimism.
"Yeah, I'll see what I can do." I said in a flat and disappointed voice.
"Awesome! See you tomorrow." Another wink later, helmet back on and he was speeding off. What a jerk.
So I started skulking home and mentally arguing with myself about how stupid I was to even think I had a slight chance with the hottest guy in school. I was practically on the bottom of the food chain and the only time anyone ever spoke to me was because they shared the same IQ as me or wanted to get something from my sister through me. I was just the person to get warmed up to and ask favours from. I loved making people happy but I got tired of being used in the fifth grade, so I put on a facade of being an emo type and bullied people to keep them away from me. Well, all except the people that really cared about me, but I still had a tendency to be moody around them because it was kind of my thing.
I was giving myself a serious talking to by the time I got home, with all the facial expressions that made people seem insane (I would know because Mrs Clarkson next door gave me a concerned look as I walked up the driveway) I got the key from under the big and really unnecessary pot plant outside on our front porch and let myself in. I walked into the living room and flopped down on the black leather couch and flipped through the channels but not really paying attention to what I was watching. I started staring at the roof pondering on random things that came to mind as I focused on stuff in the room. Black leather couch set, a fairly decent flat screen TV sitting on an antique looking stand next to which an awesome stereo system was settled and which I used to annoy the neighbors with obnoxiously loud music. The curtains were a deep shade of red that always reminded me of blood that had intricate golden spirals etched into it. The oaky floors made the place feel very cosy with a small coffee table in the middle of the floor that had a Buddha statue sitting peacefully on it, one of the Troll's weird obsessions with spirituality. She always got a new gag every week or so, always 'recreating' herself to be a 'better' person. Yeah right.
I seemed to have dosed off for what seemed like five minutes but was actually five hours and I was rudely awoken when my phone went off with the sound of 'pump it on'. I grabbed my phone and answered in a groggy voice, "Hello?" I was shocked wide awake when a really angry voice greeted me on the other end, "Where the hell are you? You were supposed to be here at least three hours ago!" Shoot! I'd completely forgotten about Ricky! "I'm on my way!" I killed the call before I could hear any more protesting and whining from him. I grabbed a sweater before I rushed out the door, almost forgetting to lock the door, before running into the garage to get my bicycle that was so rusted and beat up I was actually worried it wasn't going to last this one last trip. I got on anyway and peddled as fast as I could to Ricky's place, I always thought my Black Lightning would fall apart on every trip I took her on but she was a tough piece of scrap metal so I never really hesitated to take her where I needed to go.
It took me about fifteen minutes to reach Ricky's place. I jumped off my bicycle and walked the short pathway up to the front door, slightly out of breath, and pushed the doorbell while trying to brace myself for a lot of complaining. As I waited I pushed Black Lightning around the corner and stood her on her stand and ran back to the door as I heard it opening with Ricky's mom standing in the door way, with a big smile lighting up on her face as she saw who it was disturbing her so late in the afternoon. "Hey Mrs Barlow!" I said in a perky voice. I was always happy to see her, she was the mom I always wished I had and she'd been there for me ever since me and Ricky met in preschool and became inseperable. She always said we've never grown older than three years old because how we act like kids when we were around each other, always laughing at random things and getting into trouble like little kids.
"Oh Lucy! It's always a pleasure to see you! Come in, come in!" Mrs Barlow. Always in a good mood, I couldn't help but beam a huge smile at her as I entered the house. "He's in his room Sweety." I sneaked up to his room and saw he was playing Skyrim on his computer and obviously so engrossed by it that he hadn't heard me coming in, so I continued sneaking up behind him and started screaming like a mad woman. I don't think I've ever seen him jump that high, or scream that high either.I was practically rolling on the floor the way I was laughing.
"What the hell Lucy? Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" He was trying to be all serious and grumpy but was unsuccessful in his attempt to make me feel guilty for what I had just done. "I can't take you seriously with a scream like that." I managed to get out between giggles and trying catching my breath. He just sighed and joined me in a good laugh. That's one thing I love about Ricky, we can never be angry with each other for too long and we always brighten each other's day up no matter what.
After what seemed like a life time of laughter we managed to get ourselves under control and back to the business at hand. I went and dived for his bed and lay there as he sat down next to me with a concerned look on his face. I sat there and waited for him to start talking about what was bothering him, I saw his face deeply burrowed in a frown before he started talking after a long time. "Lucy, I have something to tell you." He said in a slow and sincere voice. "Really? I had no idea!" I said in a sarcastic voice and a huge grin on my face. "I'm being serious Lucy. It's really a big deal and I need you to listen and not freak out, okay?" I sat there and looked at him until he continued. "It's just that, lately it's been rough and, I just don't know how to say this!" He dropped his face into his hands. "Hey! It's just me! You know you can tell me anything, so just tell me straight." I gently put a hand on his shoulder for reassurance. "I don't know, maybe I shouldn't." He said with a little sob. "Ricky! Come on! You wouldn't have told me you needed to talk to me if you didn't want to tell me whatever's bothering you. Just tell me!" We sat there in absolute silence for a while before he perked up again. "I-I'm in love with Joey." He said as his face went red hot. "Oh my soul! Really? That's so cute!" I squealed before the words he had just said registered. When I did realise what he had said I froze, "Wait, what? You're gay?" I said in an astonished voice. "No no no, not gay! Well by default I am, but no! What I mean is, I'm bi actually." He rambled quickly.
I just stared at him with a blank expression on my face. I would have never guessed it. "Please don't judge me Lucy, I would've told you earlier but I didn't know how you would take it or how you would treat me afterwards." He said in a very sad, small voice. "After all these years Riccardo." I said in a very disappointed voice, "You make me go boy watching without you!" I added with a smile on my face. "Ha ha, I'm really sorry Lucy. I should've never doubted you like that, it's just I was worried and all you know? Life hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows lately." He twiddled his thumbs as he spoke, yeah he felt bad about it. "Don't fret about it, I understand." I said as I grabbed his hand, "Just from now on let's try not to keep anything from each other please."
We sat there and started talking a bunch of rubbish and laughing about who knows what like we usually do when I suddenly got a text. I flipped open my phone and saw the message was from Mattie. What the hell could she want? And at this time of the day, but I opened the message anyway and began reading it. I felt all the blood drain from my face and my hands began shaking as I took in what the message said.
"Lucy? Lucy, what's wrong? Talk to me!" Ricky grabbed my shoulders and forced me to look at him. I felt so numb and empty and I suddenly forgot how to speak, the world seemed to be spinning around me.
"Mattie's dead." Was all I could say before I burst into tears.