A Normal Perfect Day
Today was Naomi Whitaker’s first day at the Rosedale High School, and never before had she felt her heart race with so much intensity.
For various reasons that we will never discuss, Naomi had never been in the same school for more than a year, and while she managed to fly from group to group, the constant changes had never allowed her to make one consistent friend. But this semester announced the start of her senior year, and the young girl was determined to change the course of her teenage memories.
Jumping from her bed after stretching her legs, Naomi walked up to her bathroom to get ready and stood in front of the mirror with an anxious yawn. As far as she could remember, she had always hated looking at her reflection and she was always considered forgettable by her peers, to the point where she never even held a boy’s hand. Naomi had to accept that she would remain stuck with her shiny cocoa curls, her caramel skin, her perfect curves, her teeth shining like thousands of diamonds and her top model legs forever, and the thought sometimes stung her heart. Also she had rose quartz eyes.
After taking a shower, brushing her teeth, putting lotion on, filling her taxes and attempting to tame her lioness’ mane, Naomi entered the living room and added some notebooks inside her bag. The teenager had been living alone for a long time and she had grown accustomed to the ghastly silence, along with the occasional screams from her landlord who kept shooting at her door to reclaim his money. A distant relative had been paying for most of her expenses by sending checks to her schools or the local supermarket, but Naomi had lived most of her life in poverty. It was sometimes hard to find a place to study in her three-bedrooms, two bathrooms apartment, but she managed to find positivity in the eyes of Josh Cullton, her next door neighbor. She didn’t know much about him, aside from the fact that he trained everyday at the park, that he regularly helped his mother at the local orphanage, helped rescue two thousands kittens and that his blood type was O+, but her heart had been his since the day she met him.
When they were in 3rd grade, Josh apologized for sneezing a little too close to her ear and it changed her life forever. It was the first time that anyone had shown her such kindness and since then, she kept admiring him from afar while promising herself that she would talk to him the next day. Today she was 17 and still nowhere close to becoming his girlfriend, but Naomi had a good feeling about this new year. She had always been too shy to address the godly Adonis, but now that they would be in the same high school, it could be the chance of her life.
But as she was about to sit at the kitchen table to enjoy her breakfast, Naomi heard the bus leave her street and the young girl realized that she had spent too much time daydreaming about her first love. Throwing her bag on her back with frustrated whispers, Naomi hurtled down the stairs to try and catch up with the vehicle, but the bus was already far gone when she reached the ground floor. Shaking her head with despair and putting her headphones on, Naomi took out her bike from the garage and started pedaling downtown.
While she changed schools numerous times, Naomi had always remained in the same region, and she could feel her stomach tingling every time she thought of the big city. She had never left the comfort of the Oregon mountains, the beauty of its dark forests and the serenity of its lakes. Rosedale was a small town cornered by several lines of trees and Naomi knew its streets like the back of her hand, but she was starting to long for new faces. There was something warm in seeing the everyday routine of residents, the familiar stones of their shops and watching the birds take off each morning, high up in the rosy sky.
How lucky they all were, in typical small U.S. villages, to live in giant houses with clean streets, great education, accessible healthcare and progressive institutions! But as Naomi was about to pledge allegiance to the American flag out of gratitude, a violent shock hurled her out of her bike and the girl came rolling in front of her high school doors. She flew so high that she had time to fist bump a bird and take a selfie as a memento of her imminent demise, but now she was on the ground, and the whole school was laughing at her. Getting up on her elbows with difficulty, Naomi caught sight of the reckless driver and his godlike features almost made her forget that most of her organs had been rearranged.
The newcomer was dressed with a black leather jacket, black military shoes and black beanie over his wavy hair. They were black too, like his dark, tormented soul. She could tell because he had a scar across his eyebrow and a cigarette in his mouth, which was a clear sign of a two-chapters worth backstory. As his friends got off their motorcycles, the boy looked down on her with such an annoyed pout that Naomi felt as if she was the one who ran over him, and her heart skipped a beat.
Nothing flustered her more than the disapproving gaze of a muscular, Caucasian man.
“Watch where you are going, tiny girl!” he barked with a sexy, deep voice. “If there is a single scratch on my ride, I swear that I will make you pay !”
“Back off, Logan. No one wants you here.”
Suddenly, the little square resonated to the sound of romantic harps and some doves emerged from the opening door. Behold, for a slightly darker Caucasian man had just graced the school ground with his divine presence! His beauty was so overwhelming that each girl started sobbing hysterically as Josh gracefully emerged from his pedestal, and Naomi stared at him with what was supposed to be a loving eye. Even though it was difficult to admire with the halo of light that constantly surrounded it, Josh’s perfect face was surrounded by golden waves cascading down his neck, like peacock feathers caressing a pillow, and his manly forehead was rumored to have been sculpted by Ryan Gosling himself. His emerald eyes fixated on Logan, who was readjusting his mittens in an act of defiance, Josh stood in front of Naomi with anger.
As she observed those who will become her love interests because they were the first members of the opposite sex she met that day, Naomi’s chest felt warm. Josh was defending her! It was elementary school all over again, and it was a dream that she didn’t want to wake up from.
“My dear Joshua, our beloved teacher’s pet,” laughed Logan. “Are you going to give me a sad smiley sticker, for hurting your feelings?”
“You can look down on sad smileys as much as you want, but none of that will ever bring your sister back. Now apologize to Naomi, and stop making a fool of yourself on the first day of class.”
“Don’t ever bring up Hailey again,” threatened Logan while squinting his ocean eyes “Stop putting your nose where it doesn’t belong, and leave- Hey! Where is she going? Are you really going to leave when we started fighting for you ?! I was going to say I’ll never forgive him!”
Okay. Well. Huh. I guess she leaves.
Walking up the hall that led to the school square, Naomi closed her eyes and tried to stop her shoulders from trembling in vain. She could not believe that she humiliated herself in front of Josh and this gorgeous, intriguing man, and her legs had brought her inside before she could come to her senses. She had been preparing a perfect way to introduce herself to Josh and make a good impression, but all her plans had been ruined by this charming stranger.
Ugh! She hated him so much! And she was certainly not going to end up with him after an agonizing series of love triangle chapters, while readers pretend not to know she will choose toxicity over the boring nice guy! What was she going to do?
But as she was tapping her cheeks to keep her tears inside her eyes, Naomi turned around the corner and ran into a girl with her full strength. Again, she fell so hard that she flew over the roof of Rosedale but this time, she managed to get back on her feets with a few blackflips. Impressed by Naomi’s stunts, the girl clapped her hands with a cheerful laugh and slid a dollar bill into her pocket. She was blonde and stuff, and I am not going to describe her more because we won’t see a lot of her for the rest of the story.
The point is that she is the best friend, and that she is going to serve as Captain Background.
" I have never seen your face here before! My name is Ashley, what’s yours?”
Interestingly, Naomi chose to stare at her and remain silent. She was probably so touched by her kindness after that awful encounter that she couldn’t find the words to thank her.
“Aww, you are so shy! I like you! ” laughed Ashley while sliding her arm under hers. “So even though I just met you, I am going to tell you everything you need to know about that school and defend you with undying loyalty! Let’s go, best friend! Did I tell you that we also happen to be in the same class? So many wonderful coincidences, right?”
Following her new friend with glee, Naomi entered her school with newfound energy and it felt like a terrible weight had been lifted off her shoulders. As Ashley showed her around and introduced her to various Rosedale cliques, Naomi felt as if she was entering the most important chapter of her life. There were no broken windows because of budget shortage, no teens smoking joints in a back alley, no people eating Chittos on some bench covered with century-old chewing-gums, no creationist posters or police officers searching her at the entrance. Only students who were too rich or good-looking to be teenagers, enough ethnic diversity to fill the FCC quota, and tons of quirky posters that would turn out to be important for the rest of the intrigue.
Dragging Naomi into the World History classroom with a kind smile, Ashley was about to tell her more about the curriculum when a group of girls pushed the door open. They were Rosedale cheerleaders who were coming back from their smoke break and showing their male peers some funny videos they found on TikTok. The professor arrived a few minutes later but when she saw that the girls had taken over her desk, the latter pretended to have forgotten something and moonwalked straight out of the classroom. Naomi had never seen an adult look so much like a terrified bunny before, and Ashley pointed at the popular crowd with the top of her chin.
“Those girls are the queens of the school, you might want to stay away from them,” she whispered. “Brittany Oberdorf is the captain of the cheer team and Madison Mardashian follows her everywhere. She used to date Josh Cullton, the star quarterback of our school. It was a huge scandal when they broke up, but I heard that she still has feelings for him!”
Naomi felt her heart get tighter and the teenager looked out the window with melancholy. Of course Josh would only be interested in girls like her, with bright confidence and a weirdly familiar last name. Madison had a warm, husky voice as she was gossiping with her crowd of friends, and she played with her long ponytail with a mischievous smile. She looked like those girls in magazines who never had a care in the world, and Naomi detailed her endless eyelashes and glowing skin with a sad sigh. Taking a quick look at her rival, Naomi detailed Madison’s perfect body in her red uniform, her delicate features, her plumped lips and wait a minute that doesn’t sound very heterosexual.
Anyway, Madison was hot, and that was the tragedy of the day.
Eventually, the cheerleaders seemed to notice the attention and turned toward the duo with amused smirks. After cleaning their boyfriends’ throat with their mouth, the leaders of the little group walked toward Naomi with slow steps and leaned toward her with false affability. It gave the teenager the sudden urge to stand on her chair and start singing Candy Store, but she felt like it was not the most appropriate moment to express her love for musicals.
“Hey, new girl. Interesting hair you have here. Did you take inspiration from a troll doll?” smiled Brittany as she petted Naomi’s afro. “That must be a lot of work to get that ‘ball of dust’ look.”
“Very cool clothing, too. Super vintage ! Be sure to give it back to the homeless crackhead that sleeps in front of our school when you’re done, you wouldn’t want to impose.”
The bully seemed like she was waiting for Naomi to answer, but the girl had become fascinated with the rust on the radiator.
“Leave her alone, Madison!” shouted Ashley. “Why do you always need to be so mean?”
“I am sorry, does somebody else hear some kind of tiny, pathetic voice ? It’s like an annoying mosquito that keeps buzzing at the back of my ear,” grinned the cheerleader as her minions started laughing. “It’s funny, Brandon told me that he heard the same thing last summer, when that dumb girl Ashley tried to invite him for the Homecoming ball.”
Ashley’s lip trembled for a quick second before the girl lowered her head with a quiet cry. Madison and Ashley’s mothers had been best friends since college, and Ashley had been forced to play along with her classmate’s antics for the past 10 years. She wasn’t even able to find refuge in her own home, as there was always a risk that she would find Madison going through her wardrobe as their moms drank themselves to death with homemade mimosas.
Taking out a lollipop out of Ashley’s pencil case, Brittany then turned toward Naomi and took a seat on her desk while smoothing up her skirt. The cheerleader left behind an exotic scent wherever she went, and it was difficult to focus on her threats when Naomi felt she was stuck in a cheap Sephora. It was like she was being addressed by a foxy James Bond girl, if the latter had too much foundation and followed a seminar on how to look evil with a pink crunchie.
“Listen, kid. In case you didn’t notice, WE run this school, and you need to do everything we- Hey! Come back here, I wasn’t done talking! Where are you going ?!”
Apparently, Naomi had a serious problem at staying in one place and decided to dip out before the end of a major event, again. It was totally fine, of course, it was not like someone took hours putting together a nice universe where her ungrateful butt could find perfect love, after all. Everything was still perfect. Running down the hall with frightened whimpers, Naomi took refuge at the top of the fire escape and buried her head into her knees. She couldn’t believe that she managed to add two more people to her disturbingly long list of enemies, but the teenager still looked over the city with determination. It was fine. It was like our lord and savior Bob Dylan one day said.
Either be groovy or leave, man.
Instantly invigorated by these words of wisdom, Naomi stood up from her perch and did some stretching exercises to keep her blood going. From where she was standing, Rosedale looked as if it was disappearing in a blanket of rose petals and only the townhouse’s belfry was towering over the clouds, with its Bobby the Moth arrow. One could find it strange for the mascot of this charming city to be a moth, but it actually took roots in the foundation of Rosedale, back when its residents were resisting the British army in 1782.
It was believed that an army of moths took over the enemy’s camp, and that the soldiers’ gowns were so full of holes that the fighters had to keep putting off their attacks, until the moths’ voracious appetite led them out of Rosedale’s lands, two months later. Since then, the moth had been perceived as a proud symbol of the town’s glorious history, and it remained Rosedale’s patron animal ever since. Then one mayor named it Bobby some time in the 1970s to limit the number of local children’s night terrors, which were numerous after meeting the noble mascot.
But there will be other times to discuss these important issues and for now, Naomi has found the garden club’s spot at the back of the school. Hidden in a small square of concrete and blessed by the company of garbage cans, another senior was writing some notes with careful attention and Naomi leaned against the wall. The student’s face was so generic that everyone instantly forgot it as soon as they closed their eyes, but it also gave him the secret ability to infiltrate any conversation and awkwardly stand in a corner without looking too creepy. Looking down at the pile of dirt where he was standing, Naomi realized that it was a giant cemetery of dead flowers and dusty condoms, and the boy scratched his head with embarrassment when he noticed her presence.
“Oh-oh! I am sorry, I didn’t see you there,” he stammered.“I am just trying to take care of those flowers. Some juniors threw a secret molly party on the patio and walked all over the sunflowers. It’s not very nice of them, if you ask me, but huh, I guess no one ever asks for my opinion.”
Naomi looked at him a little more closely but no matter how hard she tried, he was simply not remarkable enough to get a physical description. He looked like one of those carrot sticks that hosts sometimes add to the dinner table to feel less guilty about the gallons of wine they were going to drink with their friends. Or that risqué t-shirt, that one bought one day that they felt adventurous to forever remain at the back of the closet. Or maybe that oil stain that already was on the kitchen wall when you moved into your house and subsequently became part of the decorum.
In any case, she still liked him instantly and chose to stand there quietly while he added some more seed in the clay. He seemed to do everything in an overly joyful manner, and Naomi discovered that you could somehow hum off-key if you put enough effort into it.
“You, huh, don’t talk a lot, do you? That’s okay. I don’t always find the words myself. My mom says it’s because she drank too much when she was pregnant with me. Do you want a Pokie? You look, huh, very angry.”
The boy was wrong, of course, because Naomi had no reason to be angry, but she appreciated his clumsy kindness and honest intentions. Looking down at the snack with a deep sigh, the teenager thought it might be a good idea to finally relax a little. There wasn’t a single thing in her house that she didn’t have to scavenge or work for, so it was nice to finally be offered something. In fact, she could not remember the last time she had a normal interaction with someone her age, and she had tried to bury this fact for way too long.
Naomi always tried not to think too much about her conditions, but she could sometimes feel something boil in the depth of her stomach. It was all so unfair. She never had the time to go on school trips, because she always needed to be at her part-time job. She could never invite anyone over, because they would either be freaked out by the emptiness of her mansion-like apartment or the lack of sodas in her fridge. Naomi’s entire circle was composed of her old manager with dementia, her vampire landlord and the elderly ladies who sold her a sofa a few years ago. Her humor had not evolved further than some 1960s memes, and she was so used to yelling to be understood that she was always afraid to start a conversation.
But that guy was nice, right? Maybe it was time to say something? Anything at all? To take the damn Pokie and open her main character mouth? But as Naomi was considering her options and approaching the holy snack with impatience, someone bumped against her shoulder. The Pokie then fell on the ground, and as the ants feasted on its remains while the stick cursed them in unholy prayers, Ashley rubbed her friend’s back with a comforting look.
“Naomi, my best friend ! Are you okay? I am so sorry that your first day has been so difficult. Maybe we could make it a little better by oversharing personal matters in an unrealistically clean and colorful cafeteria?”
That’s right. It’s that time in the novel where you use the cafeteria to get a better understanding of secondary characters, so it’s suddenly 12 pm. Following the wave of students making their way inside the cafeteria, Naomi looked around her and suddenly remembered a distant memory from her homeschooled days. It was a lonely yet precious time, because she got to spend an extended amount of time with her beloved parents and write all the profanities she wanted on her notebooks. However, seeing other kids walking back from school and playing in the park made her feel like an anomaly, an astronaut stuck in space who would watch over people live.
But one day, a soccer ball fell into her garden and Naomi ran to catch it with excitement. It was her neighbor’s daughters who threw it by accident, and when the eldest looked above the wooden wall to ask for it, Naomi seized her chance. Her heart almost coming out of her chest and her hands soaked with sweat, Naomi gave the ball back and asked if she could play too. Then followed a scene that would forever engrave in her memory, a stepping stone that would make her the person she is today and influence all her future interactions. The girl had pigtails with cute purple ribbons, like Naomi had seen so much on TV, and her pretty nose was covered with freckles. She was everything Naomi ever wanted to be, and she waited for the child’s answer with anxious anticipation. For a short moment, the neighbor looked taken aback before offering her the brightest, warmest smile she had ever seen.
And then she said “lol, no” and walked away.
Sitting at their table with enthusiasm, Ashley opened her lunchbox and started sharing more things about her life. She had been in love with Brandon, the captain of the swimming team, since she was in middle school and everything pretty much went downhill after a fateful party of 2014. The popular girls learned about her feelings and decided to destroy her journey for love whenever she went, but Ashley was still determined. The nominations for prom would start in December, and she would do whatever she could to get her shot at popularity. Naomi admired her friend’s resilience and bravery, as the teenager herself would never dare to put herself in the spotlight like this.
She wasn’t like other girls. She was wearing t-shirts and sneakers, and her amazing genes allowed her to never wear makeup in her life. She liked chokers, pizza, video games and BOOKS. Books, right? Who still reads in 2022 ? What a weirdo. The weight of loneliness was sometimes unbearable, but Disney Channel had taught her early on that staying true to herself would bring her true happiness someday. Naomi might be the only quirky, clumsy and shy girl in the whole world, but at least she would be able to help her friend follow her dreams. Getting a golden boy’s attention was a long-lasting tradition in Ashley’s family, and she would honor her duties no matter the cost.
But suddenly, a hand slapped the back of her head and as Ashley turned around to apologize, her face lost its happy composure. Madison looked rather disappointed by Ashley’s forgiving nature and after pushing the girl out of the chair, the cheerleader sat in front of Naomi with a playful wink.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t my homeless pal and Mrs. Boring McDull,” smiled Madison. “How about you give me your lunch? You girls could definitely use a little less food, if you want to live past 30.”
“Madison, can you not do this today? This is Naomi’s first day, give her a break already,” protested Ashley. “You are already popular, rich and beautiful, why do you still need more attention?”
“W-Well it’s not like I need attention like oxygen to survive or that I have unresolved abandonment issues or anything, you b-bakka !”
“What’s going on here?” said a majestic voice. “Are you guys alright?”
That’s him! Here comes the man, with his manly words! Emerging from a spiral of light and walking under a wave of flying babies, Josh appeared in front of the small group and the entire cafeteria held their breath. While Ashley squeaked excitedly by her side, Naomi noticed that Josh had hired a small group of technicians to constantly blow a small breeze through his surfer hair, and the girl realized that was what made his interventions so emotional. Turning toward her ex-boyfriend, Madison raised her eyebrows as if she was looking at a lost child and stared at him up and down.
She was one of the only people present to throw herself on the ground with adoration, and Naomi couldn’t help but shudder before her stone cold heart.
“Josh? What are you doing here? You can’t keep following me to beg me to come back together,” said Madison while rolling her eyes. “It is starting to get embarrassing. What did we say about getting new hobbies, aside from collecting concussions on the playing field?”
“But…But we are going to the same school, where am I supposed to-”
“Look, I know I’m probably the best thing that happened to you, but you need to move on. I also know that I said that we could stay friends but that was a lie, okay? I need you to stay away so I can hook up with your hot friend Marcus, and that would not be good for your broken heart to see that.”
“But I was the one to break up with-”
“Hush, you silly, silly boy,” sighed Madison as she put her finger on Josh’s mouth. “It’s okay to be hurting, I understand. I mean I don’t understand because I am way too attractive to die alone like you, but I hope my kind words finally got through to you. Off you go now, spread your wings. Chirp, chirp, my little bird, I am trying to have a conversation with the new girl.”
“Hey! Stop trying to push me away! I was the one who wanted to talk to-”
But as Madison and Josh were fighting over his plate of food, the jock gave it too strong of a push and the plate came flying in the middle of Naomi’s table. As a result, all the girl’s food crashed into the tiled floor with a big splash and Naomi’s eye started twitching as she stared at her lunch’s corpse. Trembling from head to toes, she was so pale that Ashley felt like she would fuse with the ghastly kitchen wall, and honestly her reaction is so freaky that I am going to skip that part. As Madison disappeared with a mocking laugh, Josh shook his head with anger and knelt on the ground to try and save the destroyed food. He was so dreamy doing so that he looked like a knight swearing allegiance to his fair lady, and Naomi felt her cheeks blush at this extravagant thought.
She could not understand why Josh kept showing her so much kindness when they barely knew each other, but he knew her name! He recognized her after all those years, and she would finally get to see him everyday, once this unfortunate day was finally over. Looking at his strong shoulders as he put her plate back on the table, Naomi wondered what soft heart he was hiding under these giant Wattpad muscles and ignored all the jealous looks that came raining down her head. It was her moment, and she wouldn’t let anyone take it away from her.
“I am so sorry, Naomi. I only meant to help you but it seems like I made things worse. Are you okay?” smiled Josh while handing out his soft, perfect hand. “Let me make it up to you by walking you home tonight, what do you say?”
Wiping off the water that had splashed across her face, Naomi held Josh’s gaze with confused joy annnd what the hell is she doing. Oh god. What the- You can’t do that! It’s not meant to go- Jesus. Well, I guess I might as well describe what is happening.
First of all Josh is no longer here, as he would need to not have been thrown out of the window to be his handsome self. Then, Naomi decided to trash the entire place and is currently kicking every table she can find while staying ominously silent. Everyone is too traumatized to take out their phone and film the felony that is taking place in front of their eyes, and the whole school watches as a crazy chick tries to drown a cheerleader in a bowl of oatmeal. There is not a single corner of the cafeteria that escapes her hysterical rage and she is now beating herself with a broom, as she proceeds to throw Ashley out of the window too. And every food container she can find. And some chairs. And the four police officers who tried to tase her. Yep. You read right.
Eventually, there was not much left to throw out of the window and choosing to express her anger somewhere else, Naomi finally abandoned the warzone under the cries of her helpless victims. But as she walked toward the garage to get her bicycle, Naomi started feeling guilty. What just happened, out there? Throwing a tantrum like this, in front of Josh? She has had such a terrible first day that this last incident had been the last straw, and never before had she felt so ashamed. Holding back her tears, Naomi raised her angelic face toward the exit and held the handlebar a little tighter. No! She would not just accept this defeat so easily!
She would wait until the cafeteria emptied out, and she would find Josh to explain everything. She was sure that someone as nice as him would understand that-
...No? What do you mean, no?!
And Naomi just gets home, like the little bitch she is.