“Good morning Riley.” Mr. Collins says as I walk into the kitchen “Are you excited for the first day of school?”
“Good morning Mr. Collins. Not really, I’ve just thinking about what kind of car to get later, as long as that is still okay with you?” I ask.
“Of course it is Riley. As long as you stop calling me Mr. Collins and call me William. Good morning to you too Jennifer. I hope you had a good sleep. Well girls, I’m off to check on the north car lot, someone is dropping off a car today. Riley I will pick you up from school today and we can go and pick out your car. Jennifer, if you wouldn’t mind, please give Riley a ride to school this morning”.
“Sure dad, I’ll do that. See you later” Jennifer says while rolling her eyes. I guess being seen with me at school is too much to ask, maybe we aren’t even friends. He winks at me then walks out of the room.
Jennifer glares at me then says, “Well I’ll be ready in like 10 minutes, I hope you’ll be ready in time. Meet you in the car.” Then she is off down the hall. I’m left all alone in the massive kitchen. I’ll take these 10 minutes and get my bag ready. This year all I’m taking is Science in 1st period, Social Studies in 2nd, and English in 3rd. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I’ll be helping clean in the cafeteria for extra credit. Tuesdays and Fridays I have a free period. I’ve already checked with Oliver and we have the same classes except the cleaning, he has to take math in 4th period. I took an extra math class this summer since I had a ton of free time.
Oliver Mabrey is my best friend. We met at grade 9 orientation; he just came up and started talking to me. At first I thought he was weird, for being so outgoing and talking to someone he has never met before, but then I thought who is the weird one, the outgoing guy, or the freak with changing eyes. We have been inseparable ever since. We’ve even managed to have all the same classes and we always sit together. He is really attractive, 5′6, dark brown hair, brown almost black eyes depending on what color of shirt he is wearing, really defined cheekbones, and a strong jaw. He is very good looking, but not at all interested in girls. Good thing too or else I don’t think he and I would have bonded as much as we have over the years, we tell each other everything. I’m glad to have him as my best friend.
20 minutes later Jennifer is finally coming out of the house and looking like she needs to wear a few more articles of clothing. “You know you’d get more attention if you would get rid of those hideous bangs, and wear something other than jeans and t shirts. I mean you’ve never even had a boyfriend come around the house, what’s your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem. I just have other things to worry about other than finding a boyfriend. Most people in the world need to get a good education and find a good job to make it through life, not just rely on their looks”
”Whatever, come on let’s get going. You are going to make us late.”
It doesn’t take long to get to school; thankfully I might just make it to first period before the late bell rings. The Collins live just outside of the city limit, so even if I were to walk it wouldn’t take long to get to school. After today I won’t have to walk there again! I just need to make it through the day.
West River High is full of Jennifer types, people who just want to get by on their looks, and not use their brains. All the students here are beautiful, and seem to have money to spend on nice clothes. At least Oliver will be here to keep me company again this year. Of course I find him at his locker staring at some guy he thinks is gorgeous. He has completely different tastes in guys than I do, obviously since his guys like guys and not girls. Sometimes it can be hard having a best friend who is over the moon gay, but then again I’m sure it is hard to have a freak with changing eyes for a friend. At least he doesn’t come off as gay; I think he is still trying to hide it from his dad. If it came out at school, it would eventually come back to his dad. I’m glad that he is finally going to start working with me at Java Chip. I worked all last year, and he has yet to have a job. I think it will be good for him.
“Hey Riley, how was your summer?” he says as he gives me a big embrace like it has been years since we’d last seen each other. He smells just like always vanilla and sweet milk. He is a little weird I think, because he loves to drink steamed milk with vanilla syrup. It sounds too plain for me, but then again he doesn’t like my jasmine green tea. He says it smells and tastes like he is drinking a cup of steeped flowers. He had gone out to Victoria to see his grandparents over the summer. They don’t spend a ton of time together, so when they do they make it worth it. I even think they went whale watching. His grandparents have to mail him the pictures, because they are hopeless or just nostalgic and love to take pictures using film rather than digital. Oliver says it is because once his grandma dropped a brand new camera into the pool, so his dad has never gotten them another one.
“It was good but boring. The good news is I get to pick out a car later today. Now, let’s get to class before the bell rings.”
“Always ready to go to class, why can’t you just ever hang out and relax?” he asks with a big grin on his face like he already knows my answer.
“Because the sooner we start, the sooner we are out of this place for good.” I reply.
“Good point, let’s get going then.” Arm in arm we are off to first. This has become so routine for us: walking to class together, sitting together, eating together, and soon going to work together.
“At least we made it before the bell,” Oliver whispers in my ear as we sit down by the back of the class, “we even made it before the teacher.” That’s strange, I think to myself, normally the teachers at this school are always in class even before the first kids start to come in.
“Hey Riley look who just walked in, looking untouchable as always” he giggles. I look up to see who Oliver is drooling about this time, Evan Grant and Alex Fuller.
“Which one are you ogling Evan or Alex?” I laugh.
“Well obviously Alex, you can have Evan.” he says while elbowing me in the ribs.
“Ouch! Yeah, like that is ever going to happen. Oh look, here comes his lap dog Mila.” Mila Chadwik is his girlfriend, I think, because she always seems to be following him around. It has been that way since last year. He doesn’t look too impressed with her though, but then again he goes through girls fast, if you know what I mean. Jennifer is always talking about him on the phone and that he doesn’t stay with one girl for long, in her words “he gets sick of them”. He seems to have been with Mila longer than his other ex’s. I can’t help but hate him. There is something about the way he acts with girls, uses them like they are worth nothing.
He is handsome, part of his charm I guess, being 6’1, muscular, strong features, but has a slight chub to his face like a baby face. I have to admit it is adorable. He has messy black hair makes him look like the bad boy type. Girls fall for that all the time; you’d think they would turn him down instantly after hearing how many girls he has under his belt. Still, I can’t help but wonder what color his eyes are. I’ve never gotten close enough to see, I have however noticed he has long eyelashes. Alex is maybe a little bit shorter than Evan, I’d say 6’ even. He has light brown hair, it’s cut short but you can still see the slight curl to the tips of his hair. I’ve never noticed his eyes either; from here it is too hard to tell with either of them. He seems to be muscular too, but his clothes are nice and crisp so it makes him look thin. I can only imagine that right now Oliver is picturing him without those clothes. Evan looks directly at me. I hear someone say “Hello.” I look away quickly before he notices me staring at him, and look out the window. It’s raining out, but the air is warm. There are a few birds in a puddle in the glass. The gardener at the school has done a great job this year. I think I heard Mr. Collins talking about how they hired a new one.
Distantly I hear Alex ask “Did she notice?” Notice what? I can only wonder, and just pray he isn’t talking about me. What would I notice? The fact that he is good...
“Hello... Hello? Earth to Riley!” Oliver laughs trying to get my attention back to him. “As I was saying, he came out of the closet at the end of last year…” he continues on with whatever he was saying before.
“Who are you talking about?” I question, maybe girls around the world are finally safe from Evan’s charm.
He laughs hard and says, “I knew you weren’t paying attention to what I was saying. I was talking about Alex. He came out at the end of last year. I wonder if his parents were mad, or disappointed, or ashamed of him.”
“Olive,r if you would stop worrying and just talk to your dad, honestly I don’t think he would be any of those things with you. He always seems to be so loving and supportive of whatever you decide to do. Just trust in him and be yourself. It’s not like he will just leave you with some family like my mom did.”
He gives me this sad look as if he knows how I feel. “I guess you could be right Riley, but without mom around, dad just doesn’t seem to notice important things. I think if she was still here, he would be more... I don’t know, more accepting of me.” I can tell he is torn as he is telling me this. I can’t help but feel bad for him. He doesn’t open up that often, not to this degree especially not in front of our peers.
“Just think about it, maybe you should just do it. What do you have to lose? Maybe he already knows? It’s not like you are bringing girls home all the time, unless you count me but he doesn’t seem that stupid.”
“Hey don’t call him stupid!” He elbows me again with a satisfied grin on his face.
“Alright class let’s get started. First, I’m Mrs. Jordan. A few things are going to be different this year. It has been brought to the school’s attention that most of you pair off in your classes and never sit with anyone new,” Mrs. Jordan begins her lecture and I swear she was looking right at Oliver and me when she said that last part. “So this year we are going to have seating plans in all of your classes.” A roar of groans comes from pretty much everyone in class,
“But we are in grade 12, this should be illegal!” groans one of the girls but I can’t see who said it.
“You can’t do this to us!” This time I see it comes from Mila, she has this pout look on her face. Oliver elbows me and tries to make the same face, but looks more like a duck face. I try not to laugh at his lame attempt.
Mrs. Jordan clears her throat gracefully then continues, “Yes we know you are graduating this year, which is the perfect time to get you out of your comfort zones. It isn’t like you are going to work with the people you always sit with for the rest of your life. You are going to need to get out there and meet new people.” More groans, but she continues as if she hasn’t heard anything. “Class please be open to this change, because there is nothing you can do about it. We have already decided where everyone will be seated this year, so you cannot change where you sit. Tomorrow you will need to sit in your assigned seating that will be on the blackboard. This goes with all of your classes.”
“Can you believe this Riley? We won’t be able to sit together anymore.” He sighs.
“Not unless they never noticed we sit together every class” I try to say without sarcasm.
“I hope I get to sit beside Alex.” He didn’t pick up on that hint of sarcasm in my voice; blind as a bat this boy. I guess he isn’t too upset that we can no longer sit together. All he can think about is Alex and here I am worried I have to sit beside someone like Lindsay Stafford. She has called me freak for the longest time. In the middle of grade 9 she saw my eyes change. I swear she has been out to get me since then. She cannot prove it though. Plus I have gotten good at controlling my emotions, my eyes still change but it is less noticeable. Not like in grade 9, they would change so fast and you could notice instantly that the color in the gray was different. I wonder how Lillian explained it to people. Maybe that is why she left me here with the Collins. Take the easy way out; never have to explain your daughter is different. For all I know she told people I had a brain tumor which caused it. Way to win the mother of the year award. Then it just hits me, that instead of sitting with Lindsay even worse would be to get stuck Mila. Oh please, let it not be those two people. Anyone else but them. I ask, well more like beg, whoever is out there watching my misery. I look around and I see Mrs. Jordan smiling sympathetically at me and nods. I think to myself that it was really weird that she just did that.
The rest of the day is a breeze, just picking up books, being told the same thing in every class about the seating arrangements. None of the teachers are giving away who we have to sit by so some kids are on edge. I don’t really want to sit with anyone other than Oliver, he knows my eyes change. He thinks it’s pretty cool. I don’t have to hide it from him, but now I have to worry about sitting by someone and always needing to keep my emotions in control.
The teachers keep mentioning a boy who was supposed to start this year, but he hasn’t shown up for anything. They haven’t even heard any news of him yet. He picked up his books, but no news since then. I wonder what happened to him.
“See you tomorrow Riley, maybe you should pick me up in your new ride!” Oliver has to yell over the noise of the others in the hall.
“Sure, just make sure you are ready. I don’t want to be the last ones in class and be shocked when we find out who we have to sit beside.”
“Make sure you look hot tomorrow, maybe you have to sit by Evan.” he gleefully says with a wink. All I can do is roll my eyes, hope no one heard his comment and wave goodbye as I walk away. What if I do have to sit by him? Who cares, I don’t need to impress him. I don’t need to impress anyone. I just want to get through this year, happy and unnoticed. That is my goal. Standing outside I wonder where Mr. Collins is, he said he would be picking me up so we can go pick out the car. I’ll just find an empty bench and wait for him. Thankfully it stopped raining an hour ago. I love the smell of fresh rain, the world seems more alive after. Everything looks brighter after it rains too.