It's fair to say that I didn't sleep well after Felicity called me, so walking into school that morning was the same thing as imitating a zombie from The Walking Dead. I had a free period and decided I would go to the library to study for a little while, just to enjoy a little quiet time.
The news had already spread through the school that Phillip was coming back, which had everyone in a stir. He was captain of the football team, and our school was in with a chance to go to finals this year. Everyone was more excited because of that fact rather than thinking that he was awake now and going to be able to live out the rest of his life when before that wasn't even certain.
I sighed and kept writing, taking a moment to rub my tired eyes. Somebody sat down in the seat across from me and I didn't have to look up to know it was Felicity. I'd recognise her perfume anywhere.
"So guess what?"
"You're getting your tongue pierced?" I said, looking up her. He face morphed into an expression that was a mix of horrified and impatient. She also looked quite pale.
I shrugged, "You said guess." I returned to my writing.
"Anyway, I was up all night writing an article for the paper. It's being printed right now. 'Sleeping Beauty Awakens.'" She said, grinning. "What do you think?"
"A fairytale reference? Really?"
"What?" she asked, defensive. "It fits! He was in a coma and had a dream about an angel kissing him. The next minute, POW! He's awake. Coincidence? I think not."
"I think you're full of shit." I stated.
"Yeah well. It's going to sell really well at least." Felicity smiled. I nodded, not really as enthused as her. Something was off about her. She seemed...tired. Which was unusual because she practically bounced when she walked.
"Flick?" I asked, her nickname since we were six.
"Mm?" She raised her eyebrows.
"Did you get any sleep last night?"
"I went to sleep after I called you. I wanted to finish my article. Why?"
"You just look really pale. Are you feeling alright?" I asked, reaching over to feel her forehead with the back of my hand.
She brushed it off, "I'm fine! Relax! The only thing wrong with me is that my boobs don't fit into my favourite bra anymore."
"Which one is that?"
"The one with the polka dots." She pouted. I grimaced for her. Felicity and I were pretty close when it came to private things such as these. There weren't a lot of things I didn't know about her. "I must have gained weight or something."
"I haven't noticed anything." I said, setting my pen down. I was trying not to look at her breasts now that she had said something about them.
She shrugged. "Oh well. Gives me an excuse to go to Victoria Secret."
I groaned. "I'm not going with you again. I hate that shop! Why can't you buy your bras from Target like everybody else?!"
"Because I like the way they make me feel." She replied with an impish smile. I shook my head at her, picking up my pen again to finish off the last of my biology questions.
A few minutes later, just as I was about to finish, a shadow fell over our table and I hear Felicity make a small gasp. I looked up and I had to control the urge not to let my jaw drop. It was Melanie Ofaleval and Dustin McLean. She was Phillip's girlfriend and he was one of Phillip's closest friends. It was fair to say that they sat a whole lot higher up on the totem pole than Felicity and I did. I don't think I've ever had a conversation with either of them that lasted more than a minute and I'm certain that they have never been into the library the entirety of high school. They looked a little nervous but were smiling all the same.
"Hi," Melanie said, brushing back a piece of perfect long black hair. "You're Rhea Keem right?"
"Yeeeees." I replied, drawing out my answer, a little suspicious. These were popular people. They didn't often talk to people like me and Felicity unless they wanted something. Not to mention that despite the fact that Melanie seemed nice most of the time, there were various rumours detailing just how nasty she could be when you crossed her.
"I'm Melanie, this is Dustin." She introduced the boy next to her, even though she didn't need to. I knew who they both were. Melanie was easily one of the prettiest girls in school with her ice blue eyes, long black hair and legs for days. She was our class president and was running the Prom committee this year.
Dustin on the other hand was a Pakistani boy who moved here when he was eleven. He was a brilliant photographer as I'd seen some of his work at school exhibitions. He was very shy and sweet, but when he did open his mouth he showed off his incredibly sharp wit and humour.
"We just wanted to come and ask you to pass on a message to your dad, if that's okay?" Dustin asked, hesitating until I nodded. "Can you just tell him thanks? For looking after Phillip so well? We really are grateful for his help."
I was very surprised and couldn't speak for a moment, simply staring at them until Felicity kicked me in the shin under the table.
"Ouch! Oh! Um, yeah, I can tell him. I'm sure he'd be happy to hear that."
Melanie smiled widely and I instantly felt deflated at how pretty she truly was. "Awesome. Thanks so much!" she said before she wound her arm through Dustin's and led him away, smiling and chattering happily.
"Wow. I can't believe they talked to us." Felicity whistled.
"I can't believe they even knew our names." I shook my head disbelievingly.
"Do you know what this means? You're on your way. If people like Melanie and Dustin know who you are, then you're climbing your way up the social ladder! Because of your dad you're going to be so much more popular! This is great!"
"Yes! Oh I never thought this day would come!"
I threw my pen at her.
After a long day of dodging people trying to talk to me about my dad and asking if I knew anything about Phillip, I was finally driving home with nothing but a good night sleep on my mind.
When I finally got home, I parked at the curb in my usual spot. I got out and locked the doors to my car as I walked up the paved pathway to the front door, my backpack weighing me down.
The door was painted red, with a shiny gold doorknocker and a WELCOME mat that was worn down and ragged. I put my keys in the door and turned the knob, stepping inside to a blast of cold air that carried the smell of garlic. I kicked the door shut with my foot and slipped off my shoes, padding into the kitchen in my socks. My mother was standing next to the sink, chopping up a cucumber to add to the salad bowl resting on the bench.
She looked like an older version of me. My hair was long, where hers was cut to sit just above her shoulders. My hair was blonde with dark roots, whereas hers was platinum perfection. We shared the same blue eyes and pale skin though.
"Hey!" she chirped, turning around and smiling at me. "How was school?"
"It was alright. Everyone was talking about Phillip." I set my schoolbag down and sat in a chair, picking a banana from the fruit bowl and beginning to peel it. Mom's face lit up.
"Yes, I was talking to Joey and Henry this afternoon. They're both very happy." Henry and Josephine Kingston were the power couple of this town. Both studied at Harvard after graduating from Athens City High School, the same one I now attend. Mr Kingston runs an advanced technology business and Mrs Kingston is one of the best prosecuting lawyers in the state of Georgia. Mom and Mrs Kingston had been best friends since they were little, and while my mom was model student, Mrs Kingston was the popular girl. Despite them being so close, Phillip and I never saw much of each other outside of school.
"I also heard that you're stopping your volunteer work at the hospital. Why?" Mom sounded both sad and curious.
"So I can concentrate on school."
Mom rolled her eyes. "You don't need to concentrate on school any harder. You practically eat, breathe and sleep your studies. It's not natural. You should be going out and having fun, like Felicity."
My mom loved Felicity. "When you were my age did you go out and do things that Felicity did?"
Mom hesitated in chopping. "Well...no. But I still went out!"
I threw the banana peel in the bin and brushed my hands together. "I rest my case."
Mom frowned at me and cocked her hip out, chopping vegetables savagely. "Why did you have to be so stubborn? Just like your father."
"Because she's beautiful? Intelligent? Witty?" My father's voice chimed, as he walked into the kitchen and winked at me before going around and kissing my mother quickly. "Charming?"
She shoved him away with her hip, a smile on her face. "More like annoying."
I laughed and dad chuckled. "How was the hospital today dad?"
"Interesting. Some poor fella came in today with a fish hook jammed into his bum." I snorted with laughter and clapped a hand over my mouth to stifle anymore giggles. My mother looked horrified and my dad ploughed on after plucking a piece of cooked chicken from one of the plates. "He left with six stitches and bruised ego."
"Literally." I chortled.
"What about Phillip Kingston?" Mom asked and dad sighed.
"He's getting discharged tonight. I've never seen somebody recover so quickly from a coma. It's almost like magic." He mused. He was silent for a minute before shaking his head, snapping out of it. "Anyway, where's my hug, munchkin? Huh?"
Smiling I got up and gave him a hug but backed away a moment later, coughing. "Wow dad you reek! You need a shower."
"Oh really?" Without any warning, my dad lunged forwards and got me in a headlock, my nose pressed right up against his armpit. I screamed and tried to wriggle away from him whilst my mother berated him for acting like a child. Laughing, my father eventually let me go and I lifted my shirt to wipe my face.
"My face!" I cried, "It burns!"
"Honestly! It's like I'm raising two children!" Mom called after my dad as he ran up the stairs, laughing. I shook my head. Mom turned back to me. "Set the table for me, would you?"