As she walked on in the cold, dreary night, she rubbed her hands together, blowing hot air into her palms. Though she could care less, she wanted to see her sister Brenda’s face when she opens the kitchen door. She did not clean after herself when she finished her snack. Miss Matthews never did.
Miss Matthews mumbled incoherently as she recalled what Brenda said to her before she sent Rebecca to grocery shop.
“Mom was right, you know? You didn’t amount to anything. Why didn’t you accept his offer when you had the chance?” she said.
What gave her the right to say that? she thought.
Rebecca Matthews scowled as she continued walking in the cold night. She glanced around for a quick moment. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and the street she’s on were covered in snow. She shivered and trudged on. Rebecca turned on a different street. Winds blew hard, sending more shivers down her spine.
She hurried down the road as she realized the winds became worse than before. She didn’t want to be outside when the snow would start to fall. Rebecca spotted a door with a red wreath wrapped by green ribbons and entered the house. After looking around, she sighed.
“Ugh, I’m back,” she said irritably.
Why did I bother? she thought as she took her winter coverings off. Oh, right; I own the house.
“Aunt Becky, really. You don’t have to sound so disappointed,” her nephew Dylan spoke to her. He had walked from the family room when he saw her coming in.
“Don’t, Dylan. I’m not in the mood,” she mumbled.
“You never are. When will you ever be in a festive mood?” he asked. She rolled her eyes and headed off to her room after putting the groceries in the kitchen.
“Make sure no one bugs me until lunch’s ready,” Rebecca said.Dylan sighed. He walked to the kitchen to speak to his father. He wasn’t there. Gregory happened to be in the living room.
“Father, what are you doing?” he asked.
“Trying to figure out what is wrong with this,” he mumbled.
Dylan found out his father was fixing the DVD player. It had broken the other day when Gregory’s niece Nicole accidentally spilled glitter all over it. Her brother Josh was arguing with a cousin and one of his hands knocked into her arm.
That caused a bowl of glitter to slip in the cracks and ruin the inside of their DVD player. What an inopportune moment it had to be! Rebecca was watching her favorite show, a collection she owned that avoided Christmas episodes.
“I still can’t believe Christina did that,” he said.
“Now give your cousin a break. She didn’t mean to, you know.”
“She didn’t have to, dad!” he whispered hotly. “She knew Nicole had been working hard on that project. If Josh hadn’t brought up the subject of her semester grades, none of it would have happened.”
“Dylan, stop it!” he hissed. He stopped working and looked at his son. “Josh does not need your pessimism. What happened to that pleasant manner of yours? You’re always offering advice.”
Meanwhile, as they discussed further on, Rebecca was having an awful dream. She dreamed of her first week of high school. Despite the good childhood she had, she didn’t expect high school to be so scary and miserable. It was frightening for her.
Becky glanced around as she built a house with the big Lego blocks. She could see kids her own age learning how to paint, spelling their names, or screaming for attention. She didn’t understand why they would do those things. Becky already knew how to write, paint accurately, and ask for items before taking them. Was she the only student who wanted to learn everything?
She tried making friends with some of her classmates. They would just ignore her. If not, they made temper tantrums. She didn’t understand why they didn’t want to be friends with her. Becky figured something must be wrong with them, instead of the opposite. She knew she learned from the best - either her parents or the excellent and kind teachers she had in preschool. Her classmates must not have gone to the same preschool.
They would be just like me, she thought. She didn’t understand, though; not everyone can be “just like her.” Her parents raised her well, teaching her everything about manners, respect, and etiquette. It was high school that changed everything. On her first day of high school, she knew right away something was different.
Throughout the day, she saw all sorts of students scattered around in different groups. It had to be the following week when she realized what it was all about. She tried to become friends with one of the cheerleaders. She walked up to a cheerleader and greeted her.
“Excuse me. Hi, I’m Rebecca,” she said. The cheerleader raised a brow at her and then continued talking to a teenage boy whom Becky thought as a “hunky-dory” of a football player. “What’s your name?” She raised a brow again.
“I’m sorry. Did I ever say I was interested?” she asked rhetorically. Becky stuttered.
“I-uh, um - no. I just… thought we could become friends.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, plastering a big, cheesy grin on her face. “How cute! You think I would become friends with a fresh-woman.” She patted her head like a dog. Becky frowned as the cheerleader’s head turned; her blond ponytail swishing in the process. “Anyways, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted,” she said sarcastically to him. He looked at Becky and gave her an apologetic smile. She saw his smile and shrugged.
A few days later, she attempted the same thing with a band player. He had been shining the band’s boots. Becky actually admitted to herself earlier that day that he looked a bit cute. She walked up to him.
“Um, hi. I’m Rebecca,” she said. He looked up and saw her.
“The tryouts are over, if that’s what’s your askin’,” he told her. She frowned.
“No, it’s not. I was just wondering if we could be friends,” she said. He observed her. Becky raised a brow.
“Well… I suppose so. I’d have to talk to my friends,” he said. She cocked her head in confusion.
“Why do you have to talk to your friends? It’s just a simple answer,” she said.
He snorted. At that moment, the same cheerleader she tried to befriend, Jasmine walked into the band room. She needed to borrow a baton. When she saw Rebecca talking to him, Jasmine quickly hid and listened in.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Just wait a while longer. You’ll see we have a pecking order. It’s worse than middle school,” he said.
“What do you mean? Middle school was just fine.”
“Which middle school did you go to?” he wondered. She told him. His eyes widened. “Are you serious? That’s like the most elite middle school ever. Why’d your parents send you here?”
“They think I would make friends easier at a public school. It doesn’t seem to matter where I go, though,” she said with a small shrug. “Nobody seems to take any interest in me. I’ve had to get used to it.”
“Since when?” he asked rhetorically.
“Since elementary school, actually,” she said. His eyes widened again. “What?”
“That’s sad, man.” He shook his head. Becky shrugged.
“I don’t care. If nobody’s interested in being friends with me, it just means they don’t like who I am. I’m not afraid of who I am.”
“Well, that’s judging a book by its cover. I don’t like judgmental people,” he said. Again, she shrugged.
“I just shrug it off. Judgmental people know not to bug me,” she replied. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Nolan,” he said. He glanced around, even though no one seemed to be around. At least, that’s what he thought. “I’d like to be friends with you. But still, I better ask my friends. You may not care about the pecking order, but I do.”
“Why is that?” she asked.
“Because the way they carry their lives, it could help with my college application,” he replied. He was somewhat right.
“Wouldn’t it be better to become valedictorian?” she wondered. He raised a brow.
“How would you know about that?”
“I love to learn, and it helps to be prepared on what I’m learning,” she said. He raised his brows with concern. “What?”
“You better be careful with that then. There are some pretty mean classmates who can smack that back at ya.”
“What do you mean?” she wondered.
“You’ll see,” he said. He finished up with the last pair of boots. Nolan put them back in place. “Well, I better get going. I hope to see you again.”
“I hope so too,” she said with a smile.
The next day, during lunch, Becky spotted Nolan at a round table with other band players. She walked with her tray to their table. She smiled as she came up.
“Hey, Nolan,” she greeted. He eyed her. Nolan grunted and looked at his food.
“Hey,” he mumbled. She couldn’t hear him among all the chattering noises in the cafeteria.
“Did you ever get to talk to your friends?” she wondered. He avoided her look. “What’s wrong?”
“Hey, freshie,” a band player spoke up. “Beat it!” Her eyes widened in startle as she looked at him and then Nolan.
“You heard him, freshie,” another spoke. Her brows narrowed in confusion. As Becky stared at him and the band players, Jasmine came from behind her with scissors. She snipped Becky’s shirt from one short-sleeve end to the other, without the metal of her scissors touching her.
Nolan didn’t realize Jasmine was there until she was done. He stood, and in the process, accidentally knocked Becky’s tray out of her hands. The tray and its food splattered on the floor, clattering loudly. Everyone in the cafeteria grew silent. Becky looked down and realized her bosoms were showing. She gasped, pulling her snipped shirt up. Jasmine pointed and laughed.
“Go back to form school, preppie!” the cheerleader exclaimed. As she looked at Nolan, Becky gasped again. His eyes widened when he saw her face.
“I didn’t say anything,” he whispered.
“You lied! You’re like them!” she cried. He shook his head fervently. “You’re just like them! I hate you!” She ran off as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Rebecca, wait!” he called out.