~I've been watching you for some time. Can't stop staring at those oceans eyes. Burning cities and napalm skies, fifteen flares inside those ocean eyes. Your ocean eyes~ Billie Eilish.
Chapter Theme Song: Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish.
“I can guarantee that you will enjoy being here at Crosshill High Rainey, consider this a fresh start.” Principal Cameron asserts while she beams at me from across the mahogany table.
I offer a weak smile before averting my eyes to the stripes on my plaid skirt.
“This will be the perfect opportunity for her to forget what happened at Freetown High. She will like it here.” She smiles reassuringly at my mother, and while they engage in their chatter, the door to the office opens. I turn my head in its direction and a boy walks in, his strides are lazy as he grins at his phone screen, the light illuminating his perfect rows of teeth.
“Oh, Good Morning Jace, this is Rainey, could you show her around? She’s new here.” Mrs. Cameron smiles at the guy who finally looks up. His eyes shift between the principal’s and mine, then he offers a half-smile, but his hazel orbs tell his reluctance to be in this position.
“Go ahead ,Rainey. I will be back to pick you up after five this evening.” My mother says, as I conjure up from my chair and nip over to the guy whose head has resumed its position in his cell. He lets out a deep cackle as he leads the way through the door, and I tug the hem of my skirt further down my thighs.
The uniform is uncomfortable. A white dress shirt on a dusty premises screams suicide and the green and dark blue plaid skirt make the uniform seems more preparatory than not.
As we walk down the hall in silence, he hasn’t said much except his self-conversations while he continues his giggles at his phone. I pretend not to be annoyed, mentally taking notes of my surroundings and refusing to ask for his assistance since it appears, he doesn’t want to be of aid.
I pull my bag open while we walk, retrieving my timetable from the textbook it sits between before zipping my bag up and scanning the paper for my first class.
Room T81- Math.
I scrunch my face up in ignorance before shifting my amber eyes to my ‘tour-guide’ who is now tapping away on his cell.
“Um, where can I find T81?”
“Oh shit, she sends nudes?!” He chuckles at his screen, and I presume he didn’t hear a word I said.
I sigh and my patience withers away. “Look if you didn’t want to help me out, you could have said so.”
He finally looks up at me, and his smile fades while his brows bump together in a frown. “Sorry. What did you say?”
I repel the urge to roll my eyes skyward. I am already hating this school. At least at Freetown High I had a few friends but the kids here are way too stuck-up for my liking.
“Do you know where T81 is?”
“Second room, third floor.” He states, “Look, I got to run because I have something to take care of so you can find your way there, right?”
I just nod and he scurries away quickly as if he’s thrilled to get away from me.
I jotted my locker number on the back of my timetable while inside Mrs. Cameron’s office earlier so while reciting the combination, I scan the lockers for the one with the allotted engravement.
Finally locating it, a smile shapes my puffy lips as I reach down to sit my knapsack on the marble tiles before punching in the combination of digits.
“Okay.” I breathe in. The door creaks open as if it hadn’t been used in a million years. I wrinkle my nose and fan away dust bunnies while coughing excessively. God, this school could not get any worst.
“Okay, don’t freak out Rain. Let’s start on a good note.”
I reach down to open my bag before grabbing the accessories I took from home to decorate my locker. After using my rag to clean the area up, which I will certainly have to throw away later, I hang a photo of my Dad and me at the top before adorning the metal space with small flowers. For the finishing touch, I place a mirror at the back of the locker so I can always be aware of what’s behind me. I developed this habit last fall at Freetown when a kid stuck gum in my hair from behind while I stood at my locker.
I rake my slender fingers through my bronze hair in an attempt to get it tidy. My hair is always a mess, and this isn’t because I don’t comb it in the mornings, it’s just that my hair is not well-behaved like other people’s.
My eyes drift to a figure behind me from my mirror. A guy stands by his locker, jamming some books into his knapsack. His black mop of hair is tousled on his head and from behind, I can tell he’s wearing glasses. He doesn’t appear to be a ‘glasses’ guy though, stereotypically judging by his atlas shoulders and lean figure.
He closes his locker and whirls around to leave and immediately, our eyes connect. I notice right away his icy pair of sapphire eyes beneath the half-rim glasses and I avert my gaze awkwardly.
Okay, let’s not stare at strangers like a creep Rainey.
He walks off, his face expressionless despite catching a weird stranger gazing at him from her mirror.
I have no idea why I did that.
The bell jolts me back to reality. I have a class to get to and the long stairs that lead to the third floor will more than likely take me approximately ten minutes if not more. I close my locker and pull my bag off the floor before hurrying to my class.
The annoying laughing boy that Principal Cameron assigned to give me a tour this morning gave me the wrong direction to my Math class. Honestly, I am not surprised, he was more absorbed into looking at his nudes.
I locate the room a quarter past eight and the teacher stands at the board, jotting down her class objectives while I awkwardly stand at the entrance. I clear my throat and she shift her eyes in my direction.
“You’re late Ms....”
“Slate,” I add, making my way inside. A few heads snap up from their notebooks. “I am sorry, I couldn’t find the class.”
“It’s halfway into the term and you can’t find your class?” A brunette giggle along with her friends.
“I am new here,” I explain to Mrs. Forbes, who is glancing at her watch with a deep scowl on her ageable features.
“Okay, introduce yourself.” She finally instructs, before returning to the board.
I sigh. This is that part of being new that I hate the most. Standing in front of a bunch of kids who don’t care to know who you are because after high school you will just be a girl they sat next to in class or took a year group picture with. High School doesn’t last forever, and these people won’t either.
“I am Rainey,” I mutter, staring at my leather boots while an awkward silence sweeps over the class. They are probably waiting to hear something else. I glance up at inquisitive eyes and Ms. Forbes gawks at me in disbelief. “Is that all?”
“Yeah tell us something more!” A boy at the backseat prods and his friend, a guy with black messy hair chuckles, interest sparking in his eyes, “Yeah, like do you have a boyfriend?!”
The brunette who injected the rude remark earlier rolls her eyes, “Shut up Tate! She isn’t even all that...”
Ms. Forbes gives a wave of dismissal to the class. “Okay, Enough Olivia!” She gestures to a seat at the back. “Have a seat Rainey.”
I pace down the narrow aisle, gripping the straps of my bag. I keep my eyes down in case one of these girls decide to place her foot in my path. That happened at Freetown last year and the end result wasn’t so good.
“Nice boots.” Olivia chuckles, and her friends laugh along with her.
I roll my honey eyes, just before they settle on a familiar blue pair by the window.
The locker guy.
He sits at the far corner. The sleeves of his white dress shirt are rolled up at his elbows while his face is buried in his copy of our literature text for the term; To Kill A Mockingbird. He appears to be in his own world despite all the commotion the class was in a second ago. I turn my eyes elsewhere to avoid our gazes connecting for the second time in less than an hour.
I sit down in the empty seat in front of his and grab my books from my bag. I hate Math, I am an English person and believe me when I say I have read the entire text he’s reading in less than a week.
“Ansel? Could you solve this one dear?” Mrs. Forbes calls from the front of the room. I notice a few girls glance in my direction with a smitten look on their faces. My brows furrow, but my curiosity solves when the chair behind me pulls back with a screeching sound against the tiles. Locker guy saunters to the front of the room, a mild scent of strawberries and candies fill my nostrils as he passes by me and all the girls are now gawking at him with heart in their eyes. Mrs. Forbes too, if I am seeing correctly.
He reaches up, and his shirt stretches against his broad back as his hand goes to work, solving the equation instantaneously before handing the marker back to Mrs. Forbes.
She scans his work-out then she beams brightly. “Thank you, Ansel.”
How did he even do that in less than a minute?
“Give him a round of applause.” She says, and the class claps, Olivia’s louder than the rest as her eyes follow him down the aisle.
His alluring eyes glance at mine and I look away, gripping my pen and copying his work-out from the board. He sits behind me and his knee bumps my back, so I shift further down my seat as I keep my eyes in my notebook.
My head snaps up at the sound of my name to see Mrs. Forbes jerking a thumb toward the board. “Number two?”
I groan quietly and rest my pen down while heads shift to watch me as I lazily stand from my seat.
“Come on Suney, we don’t have all day!” A girl says and the class laughs immaturely at the lame joke.
“Her name’s Riney, Lisa. Leave her alone.” Tate chimes in and his friend shoots him a look.
“It’s Rainey, dude. If you’re going to call dibs on the girl at least know her name.” For this, the class chuckles again.
There is definitely something wrong with kids at this school and laughing.
I approach the front of the room and she hands me the marker. She crosses her arms while she watches me, and I clear my throat and begin to work the problem out. I hate Math, but I am not bad at it either. In no time I solve the equation but not as fast as Ansel did.
I hand her the marker and immediately mince down to my seat. Mrs. Forbes narrows her eyes while she examines it, then shakes her head in disapproval. “It’s incorrect.”
I sink in my chair. It’s incorrect? What exactly did I do wrong? It seems fine to me.
“Why is it wrong?” I question, and everyone appears alarmed that I asked that question.
“Because you didn’t put the negative before the four Slate.” She says. Her glare is sclerotic.
“Ha. Too bad.” Olivia mutters, tapping her pen against her desk smugly.
“Actually, it isn’t incorrect.” A somehow calm yet dominant voice comes from behind me.
“Repeat, Ansel?” Mrs. Forbes’ tone is soft as her face unhardens.
“The positive is correct.” He states, “According to the rules you presented, a negative times a negative equals a positive and considering she has two negatives there, the answer has to be a positive four. Therefore, it is safe to say that she is correct.”
Mrs. Forbes looks over the solution and her expression morphs into one of pure embarrassment. “Oh dear, you’re right. Haha. I did not see that there were two negatives there. Thank you, Ansel, and well-done Rainey.”
Olivia scowls while she squints her eyes in my direction and I smile a little before grabbing my pen and taking down the solution.
The Cafeteria’s curry looks disgusting so instead, I grab an apple and a coke. I purse my lips as I look around the crowded space for an empty seat. I spot two vacant tables at the far back and I plod my way over. I slump down, resting my tray on the table and reaching for my apple.
“Ansel! Over here!”
I look up to see a table of girls and guys two rows away from mine, one of the occupants being Olivia and she waves at Ansel, who has a skeptical expression etched on his features.
“Maybe another time,” he responds, and I watch how their faces fall in disappointment as he moves in the opposite direction from the crew. He approaches my corner and I keep my eyes on the sour green fruit as he plops his bag down on the table away from mine and sits down. I glance over from the curtain of my hair and realize that a banana and a bottle of water sits on his tray, I am guessing he is equally not into the curry as I am.
He eats in silence while his eyes are glued to his novel once again. He appears so unbothered, the cafeteria will be on fire and he’d probably just sit there and read a book while not caring that the person next to him is being burnt alive.
To Kill A Mockingbird topped my list of the best novel when I realized how much ‘Scout’ mirrors my character. She’s rebellious and seldom follows rules. She also loves her Dad a lot and at a young age, she was forced to come to the harsh truth that the world isn’t fair. I am unaware of another character that relates to me deeply which is why I have read the book ten times.
Okay, and I have no idea why I just said the name of the character aloud.
I have a very problematic issue. When I am deep inside my thoughts, I tend to think out loud. This habit caused a lot of ruckus between me and girls at Freetown High because, as my mother tells me, I need to distinguish between thoughts that should be said aloud and the ones that should be kept in my headspace.
Ansel’s head snaps in my direction and I shrink in my seat, heat rising to my rosy cheeks. Our gazes connect for the third time today and we are just exchanging glares for a few seconds.
“I meant the book...” I quickly defend, “That you’re reading...”
His lips pull back in a smile, showcasing deep dimples on either cheek while his nomad-blue eyes twinkle. Now that he’s in closer proximity, I notice his flawless appearance. His half-dome cheekbones sit above a lantern jaw. He appears toned, from the way his biceps bulge against his white dress shirt, which is still rolled up at the elbows, displaying strong arms. His half-rim glasses do not subtract from his god-like qualities. If anything, it makes him look far better.
“I can see that.” he finally speaks, and I smile a little, averting my eyes back to my tray.
“Have you finished it yet?” he shifts his body in my direction.
“Yeah, I have. Like ten times.”
He laughs deeply and the sound is melodic. Is he a Roman god or something?
“Well, I am just in Chapter Twenty.”
“Oh, you’re almost there.” I jerk him a thumbs up and he smiles and shakes his head.
I look away and reach for my apple.
“So, do you like it?” He asks again.
I nod. “I do actually, a lot. It reminds me so much of myself.”
He tilts his head to the side, “Why’s that?”
“Well...I guess I can relate to the protagonist.” I half-shrug.
A glint of curiosity flashes across his eyes and he surpasses it and just smiles. “Oh, that’s deep.”
I smile and he continues to read. My eyes dip to what appears to be a tattoo peeking out from the bunched sleeve of his shirt and my brows furrow slightly.
Not being stereotypical but it’s partially rare to see a smart guy, wearing glasses but has a tattoo on his arm. Hold on, is he wearing earrings?
His eyes meet mine again and I look away awkwardly. Yeah, he is wearing studs in both ears.
“Do you like it here?” he questions.
My shoulders raise in a shrug. “I don’t know...I guess not.”
“Is it the kids or the nasty curry they serve?”
I laugh. “Both I guess.”
His cell rings from his pocket and he raises a finger in my direction before pulling it from his plaid pants. He answers it and the person on the opposite end speaks indistinctly. His brows furrow and his jaw clenches. His warm expression is replaced by a hard countenance and my curiosity piques as I watch him. Is he alright?
He hangs up and I pretend I am minding my own business as he slides his phone into his pocket with haste.
“Uh, I got to run...” he mutters, more to himself than to me, as he jams his novel in his bag and gets up from his chair. “I’ll see you around.”
“Uhm yeah, okay.” I watch him as he briskly leaves the cafeteria. What was that all about?
“Keep your eyes off.”
I look to see Olivia sitting across from me while crossing her arms against her chest. Her uniform top is unreasonably tight, that the buttons stretch, displaying all her chest underneath the garment. Her skirt is way too short and she’s chewing a gum awfully in her mouth while she eyes me distastefully.
“Keep your eyes off Ansel. I won’t ask twice.”
I repel the itch to snort. This feels like one of those teen movies where the head cheerleader warns you to stay away from the popular jock. This is fun, I should play along.
I mirror her actions, crossing my arms as I glare daringly at her. “What if I don’t want to?”
She gasps, blinking at me speechlessly as if I just cut her tongue out. Her mouth opens and closes like a choking fish and I chuckle softly, before shaking my head.
This will be fun. I grab my bag and plod out of the Cafeteria, leaving her in fury.