Chapter Twenty Six
This chapter has been overdue but with the riots and the protests going on right now it felt inappropriate to just resume uploading like everything was fine. I know some of you come here for escape, which is why I’ll keep this brief, but I wanted to show my support any way I could.
I couldn’t stop wringing my hands together nervously.
What am I doing? This is so… not me!
I hate attention more than anything, and today that’s exactly what I’d be calling to myself, attention.
I’ve been working at the groomers for some time now and have acquired two weeks' worth of pay. I’m just glad I finally have my own money, I can finally treat myself.
The first thing I bought was accurate shampoo for my hair tight, nothing with sulfate or silicone. In the school library computer, I found an entire subreddit called r/curlyhair dedicated to hair like mine. They even had terms like “scrunch the crunch” and “ pineapple”, where you pull up all your hair to look like a pineapple so your curls don’t tangle while you sleep. All techniques I wish I knew before.
I’ve been following this method for about a week and a half and the changes have been drastic, almost immediate. My hair which used to be frizzy, dry, and wild was now soft, tamed, and it lay on my shoulders in loose curls. They even had a new bounce to them.
Today, instead of my usual french braid or pointy tail, I was letting my hair down in all its glory.
I also bought an entirely new wardrobe, nothing fancy or expensive, mostly clothes from Ross or Marshalls. Instead of wearing an oversized sweatshirt, I wore a light pink ruffled blouse that was honestly a little too tight around my bust area, but at least it still hid my chest enough so nothing was too exposed.
Finally, I was able to buy bras my accurate size with the help of a store associate. Lastly, I paired the blouse with white sneakers and some blue jeans that actually showed some of my curvature for once.
For my makeup, I just curled my lashes and put a bit of mascara and a light pink gloss on my lips.
Who do you think you’re kidding? Keenan’s voice said, Vivian’s voice pitching in after him. You’ll always be Vermin Trailer Trash.
No! No more.
That’s not me anymore.
And from this day forward, I will never be that again.
I am just me, Angeline. Even though I still have to wear my glasses, at least now I actually look like, well, a girl.
I know it may seem stupid, I know it may seem cliché, I know that just because I changed my clothes and did my hair, that I believe I’m suddenly a new person.
I’m not that naive.
I did this because I truly do want to change the way I see myself, and that includes my appearance. I can’t expect anyone to like, care, or accept me, if I can’t even do that myself. This is me finally doing something about it, and I will apologize to no one for that.
I finally felt… pretty.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so drastic in my change of appearance. Maybe I should’ve done it gradually, because now? Now people were staring at me as if I grew a second head.
Some even asked me if I was new.
That surprised me, I don’t think I look that different.
Daniel was waiting for me by my locker, looking down at his phone. Once he looked up at me, he did a double-take and seemed almost struck.
I hope it wasn’t obvious how red my face was probably getting, realizing that he’s staring, he immediately reverts his eyes downward again. We both didn’t say anything for several seconds. It was like we were meeting for the first time all over again.
Oh my gosh, what if he didn’t like this change?
I scold myself for thinking such a ridiculous notion, this change wasn’t for anyone but me, I reminded myself.
Neither of us is used to it is all.
“So…” I began, at the same time Daniel said, “hey.”
We both chuckled, and just like that the awkwardness was broken.
“So are you coming tonight?” He asked me.
“To Lacey’s birthday party.”
“Daniel, you can’t just invite me to other people’s parties. She didn’t even invite me.”
“So? I invited you, people invite other people all the time. Is that right Trey?“ He says turning to Trey, who’s just walked up to us. As always, he’s stuffing his face with some food.
“Yeah,” he said, munching on a churro.
“And did Lacey invite you?”
“No Kevin did.”
“All right then.”
I rolled my eyes but smiled, “I doubt Lacey would even want me there.”
“Nonsense, why wouldn’t she?”
Because she likes you and considers me a threat, and honestly? Maybe she should, because I think I like you too.
But all I say is, “she hardly knows me?”
He stared blankly at me, “OK, I’m done with excuses, you’re going. I’ll pick you up after work.”
“I haven’t even asked my dad yet. I doubt he’ll even say yes.”
“Nonsense, I can be very persuasive.”
I shook my head, “you’re impossible.”
“But you love it.”
I did, I’ll admit it.
At this point, Trey left to hassle someone else.
“So I told them.” Daniel began.
“Told who what?”
“I told them that you know, I told everyone that sits at our table.”
“Won’t you get in trouble?”
“No I trust them, they won’t ever say anything, they’re just happy for me. Happy that I finally found a-” he cut himself off, “… a good friend”
“So they took it well?”
“Of course, they’ve been seeing you as one of us for a while now. They like you… and they trust you too.”
“Really?” I said surprised, this whole time I was worried they just viewed me as the unwanted outsider. Wondering why Daniel was even talking to me and when he was going to stop.
I know I definitely used to wonder that.
“Of course, I don’t invite just anyone into my circle, they knew you’d be special to me.”
“But why? I know you say it was just to make me feel welcomed but I honestly expected you to drop me as your friend the third day. Why did you keep me around? Why did you want to be my friend? I wasn’t exactly nice to you when we first met.”
“And that was honestly probably why. I never had someone blatantly run away from me like I was the devil himself, it caught me off guard but intrigued me at the same time. Someone not falling in love with my boyish charms at first glance? Unheard of!” He exclaimed dramatically.
“I wanted to know what your deal was,” he continued, “but I also wanted to prove to you that you had nothing to be scared of. In the end I’m glad I did, you make my life a little more fulfilling.”
“As you make mine,” I said honestly, we looked into each other’s eyes and I wanted so badly to-
I nearly jump out of my skin as the warning bell rings, disrupting me from my thoughts.
“I’ll see you later!” I shout behind me, zooming to my class before I can be marked tardy.
At lunch Lacey spoke excitedly about her birthday party tonight, it’s supposed to be the most iconic one of the whole year.
“Lacey could you please tell Angeline that she can come, she doesn’t believe me.”
“What?!“ Lacey said turning to me, “of course you can come, that’s a given!”
I gave a nervous laugh, I shot Daniel a glare for putting me on the spot. “Thanks, I just didn’t want to show up uninvited.”
“Look, Angeline,“ Lacey said, “you’re one of us now. You know our secret, you know what we are and because of that, we don’t have to exclude you from anything. So yes, of course, you can come.”
“Thank you, Lacey.”
“So how come you didn’t freak out?” She said, “I’m surprised you’re still here.”
“Honestly me too, but I guess it wasn’t too hard to believe. It finally gave me an explanation as to why all of you are so out-of-this-world good looking.”
“She asked me if we ate people,“ Daniel said chuckling, I blushed.
“I hope you told her we do,“ Trey said bearing his teeth at me. “We especially have a taste for unassuming naive human girls.”
I rolled my eyes, “oh please! You’re the least scary thing here Trey.”
Daniel bellowed a laugh, followed by a bunch of “roasted“ comments.
Trey scoffed in the offense, “I am plenty scary! You take that back!”
Before I could respond, the entire table went quiet and then stared at me, or rather, behind me.
Turning around, I see a boy I vaguely remember. I think he’s in one of my classes?
“Hey, your Angeline right?”
“I know you don’t really know me, but I was wondering if you already had a date to prom?”
What’s going on here? I don’t know if I’m even going to prom. That’s like, three months away and I have nothing ordered or picked out, nor can I even afford it anyway.
“I’m not going to prom,” I answered.
“We could also hang out someti-” he began but then shrunk back within himself as he looked at Daniel next to me.
“I’ll see you around,” he said and scurried away.
What the heck was that about?
I turned around to face the others but they were all looking at Daniel, who, for some reason, looks irritated? Annoyed? Disturbed? He’s shooting daggers in the direction the boy left. The boy whose name I don’t know but tried to ask me out?
“Ohhhhhhh Man!” Trey boomed loudly, “they coming for your gi-”
Trey yelped and started choking on the food in his mouth. I’m assuming someone kicked him?
The rest of lunch was awkward after that, Daniel seemed peeved and I didn’t know why.
My guess is that he and that… guy must have some sort of bad blood or history between each other? I don’t know.
That’s the only explanation I can come up with at least.
Daniel let me borrow his phone to call my dad and ask him if I could go to Lacey’s party.
But since I missed curfew an entire hour last time, and it was such short notice, the chances that he’d say yes were slim to none. So I had to tell a teensy-weensy lie.
I told him I had a project to work on, and if I could go to Lacey’s house to finish it after work.
“What time you be home?”
“Eleven probably.” I’m so lame, who leaves a party at eleven?
“Who drop you home?”
“Lacey will give me a ride.”
“OK, fine, be home at eleven!” He told me sternly.
“I will, I will! I promise!”
“I know dad.” I sighed.
“Love you, Dad, bye,” I say hanging up. I give Daniel back his phone.
“It’s all I can afford right now, my dad would otherwise tell me absolutely not, and you’re the one who insisted I go.”
“True true, what time do you get off work?”
“I’ll come to get you at eight then.”
“Okay, I’ll call you using the office phone.”