Chapter One: Late
I thought as I quickly walked up the aisle of Good Mart, the local mini-mart right across the street from my house. Good Mart had been on the corner of Hopper and 40th for as long as I could remember. As a kid this place felt like a palace, with the fluorescent light as a heavenly glow and the aisles like a maze I could get lost in for hours. Too bad Good Mart wasn’t that big or else I might be able to run away from whoever is following me.
Who is following me?
I glanced behind me, looking back to see if my navy blue eyes could catch my stalker.
Is that what they were? A stalker? Me? Get stalked? Get real.
I tried to laugh, make light of what was happening. Maybe if pretend that I was having a normal day shopping they would go away. But the truth was I haven’t had a normal day, it all started this morning when Amy woke me up.
“You’re gonna be late.”
Amy pushed and pulled at my arm as she whined at me. My eyelids lifted for only a second to give my little sister a tired, disapproving look. Amy was thirteen, in the middle of eighth grade although you could hardly guess it by the way she acted and groomed herself. She was a confident- or rather cocky teenager she had her fiery red curly hair was done up in a ponytail, and she wore a boy band t-shirt with blue jeans that had stars scribbled all over them. The only thing that wasn’t polished about her was her sneakers, being the head of her school’s soccer team it seemed like she thought it only fitting to have muddy shoes to remind of her accomplishments. But wait, something was different, her face, her lips...
“Is that my lip gloss?!” I questioned, sitting up to grab her face and bring it closer to mine.
“Jeeze! Back off psycho! This is abuse!” Amy protested wiggling and hitting my arm in an attempted to get loose.
“Oh no way sister, wipe that off right now. You know mom and dad’s rule!” As I lectured I wiped my sleeve across her face.
“I’m almost 14, who cares if I wear pink lip gloss anyway?” Amy snapped back at me. I love her to death but damn was she stubborn.
“I don’t, but mom and dad do. If they catch you that means you’re grounded for a week! And you have state championship coming up. Imagine if you couldn’t play just because of some stupid pink lip gloss.” I saw a tinge of sadness in her eyes. She knew I was right, but she didn’t want to admit it.
“Hey, it’s okay!” I said, trying to cheer her up. “Faster than you think you’ll be able to steal my make-up and dress up like a clown all you want!” I jokingly remarked as I ruffled her hair. She smiled.
“I won’t look like any more of a clown than you already do!” Amy teased as she stuck out her tongue
“Anyways...” She continued from where she left off. “Mom’s making waffles, but you’d better hurry, they’re getting cold.”
Amy sang as she trotted back out of my room. I rubbed my eyes and looked at my alarm clock. It blinked twelve over and over again to show that it had been rest sometime last night.
“Great! Perfect start to my day.“I sarcastically rejoiced aloud. My feet swept along my bed as I tried to talk myself into standing up.
“Come on, you can do this” After a few minutes, I stumbled out of the warm sheets onto my cold floor.
Good-bye my lovely bed, how I will miss ye throughout the day.
Walking across the room I shuffled through my drawers. I grabbed some hand me down overalls and a green t-shirt. I don’t care what I wear, or what I look like for that matter. As I passed a mirror on the way to changing I caught sight of my face. My dirty blonde hair curled to my shoulders, and the only thing else interesting about my pale face was some freckles that dotted my cheeks. I wasn’t ugly, but I wasn’t pretty either. A sort of between that made me fade into the background. I shuffled over to my full-length mirror. As I undressed I cocked my head at myself. I wasn’t skinny, that was for sure. I sucked in my tummy as I surveyed the side of my naked body. I drew my arms in to cover what I didn’t like. My therapist told me to stand in front of my mirror every morning naked, posing like Super Man, and to say out loud three things I liked about myself. I giggled.
No way was I going to do that, I didn’t need a reminder of what I looked like thank you very much!
I have other things to be worried about, like exams. Oh shit, speaking of I probably didn’t have much time before my first class started. I threw on my clothes and bolted out of my room, down the stairs, and to the right was the kitchen. There stood my mom sipping a cup of coffee.
“Nice of you to join us” Mom said, not looking my way.
“Sorry mom! My alarm didn’t go off, was there a power outage last night?” I asked while picking up a cold waffle and taking a bite. She turned to look at me. My mom was stunning, she had sun-kissed skin, thin lips that rested in a smile, a thin frail body, long chocolate hair that streamed down her back, and Hazle eyes that could look straight through you. The complete opposite of me.
“Maybe, but everyone has their alarm set on their phone so I didn’t notice. You’re probably the person I know that doesn’t have a phone yet.” She found that fact so amusing she laughed, putting a hand on her forehead.
“I don’t need a phone mom, phones are just distracting and a waste of time-” My words jumbled as I tried to defend myself, but mom just stared at me like I was an alien. Before I could ramble anymore I checked the clock in the kitchen.
“We can debate more later mom, I’ve gotta go! I’m going to be late!” I ran to kiss her on the cheek before running out the door to my bike.
“Love you!” I could hear her yell at the door as I peddled away,
“Love you too!” I shouted back.
‘I need to get a car’ I thought, nearly out of breath as I tried to move as fast as I could. It’s not like I couldn’t get a car. I had even gotten my learners permit in my sophomore year of high school, but for some reason, I couldn’t get into the car. I froze up as soon as I swung the car door open. At one point dad even tried to shove me in but to no avail. I cried and swung my arms around so much that dad thought it’d best for me to go to therapy. My therapist, Mrs. Lincon, said I have an irrational fear of technology, but she had no idea where it stemmed from. I tried to be as helpful as possible but that just made Mrs. Lincon more confused. We have been trying to fix me for years. A couple of weeks ago in the middle of one of our sessions Mrs. Lincon stopped and said that maybe my fear of technology came from a different place. A general fear of people, connection, and love. I think she’s crazy. I’m perfectly fine the way I am, but now she’s been taking our sessions down a different path of self-love and acceptance. I nearly gagged thinking about it. I don’t understand her. I’m perfectly fine the way I am. So what If I didn’t like the way I looked? If I really cared I could go on a diet or something. Plus I’ve got my school work to care about, not making friends.
I stopped at the bike rack next to my campus building. I went to community college, which was great all except for the fact that we had no dorms and I lived a 30-minute bike ride away. I quickly scooped all of my things up and ran past a big school spirit sign that read Go Wolves! I had never really liked sports, especially football but I do like our mascot. Her name is Wendy Wolf and whenever I passed by a poster of cartoon Wendy I can’t help but laugh. They drew her with this ridiculous expression on her face, she looks like she just shit her pants but was trying hard to pretend like she hadn’t. Normally I would take more time to admire her face but I b-lined straight for the lecture hall. Today we were reviewing what would be on the test and I was missing it!
As I walked up to the door I took a moment to breathe. I didn’t want to run into the hall like I had just ran a marathon and decide to stop by. After regaining my composure, I slowly opened the door. I knew nobody would really care I was late, but still the thought of everyone’s eyes glaring at me gave me the chills. Sadly the back of the hall was full so I walked up to the front and took a seat right on the edge. As I sat down a rush of relief came over me, they hadn’t started the review yet!
I must be having a lucky day.
I shuffled through my backpack to pull out a pen and paper to take notes when I dropped my pen to the left of me. I watched as it rolled over and hit the shoe of the man stilling next to me. I hadn’t seen him here before, but that wasn’t surprising. I hardly look at the faces of my classmates. Out of my peripheral I noticed that he had long dark wavey hair, his form was strong, and his skin rather pale. He didn’t seem to notice the pen or me.
Great, now I have to tap his shoulder and awkwardly bend down and grab my pen and- ugh! I hate talking to people.
With my shoulders tensed up and my face no undoubtedly puckered like I just ate a lemon, I reluctantly tapped his shoulder.
“Um- excuse me, my pen fell just under-” And just like that it felt like time froze. Something I had never felt before surged in my chest, a tugging feeling urging me to get closer to whoever this guy was. His face looked at mine and I saw his eyes. They were this bright gold, I could almost swear they glowed. A scar was painted against his left cheek. I couldn’t get a good look at the rest of him because I couldn’t look away from his eyes, or more like I didn’t want to. In the room it felt like only us, and like we understood each other without even speaking. We looked away from each other after a book was slammed on the table in front of us. I jumped at the sound and looked up, it was my professor Grimly. He huffed and picked up the book he just dropped.
“Are you deaf? Class is over! Go mingle elsewhere!”
“What? Class is over? But I just-” I turned my head to the back of the room at the hanging clock.
“Oh my god!” I gasped aloud. It was 10:30, past the end of class. But that didn’t make any sense! I had just arrived and, oh no the notes! I flipped through my notebook to see if maybe I had just blacked out for some reason but had been writing the whole time. My notebook was empty.
“Wait! Professor!” I yelled, picking up my stuff and following him.
“What is it?” Profesor Grimly hissed at me
“I don’t know what just happened but I didn’t get any of the notes for the test next week! Is there any way you have them posted online or somewhere I can get them?” Grimly looked bewildered.
“What? Why should I have to spoon-feed you the notes when you just had all class to copy them? It’s not my fault you were making googly eyes the whole time!” I felt my cheeks get hot at this statement.
Did it look like that?
“Please professor! Is there anything I can do?” I begged.
“Just ask a classmate for the notes, otherwise I can’t help you. Now please leave me alone, I have my next class attend to.” Profesor Grimly barked firmly.
Welp I guess that is the end of the road for me! Yep! Every chance I had totally and completely gone. No way I could talk to any classmates before the test. Even if I did round up the courage to ask I wouldn’t know anyone’s face well enough to know they go to this class. I sighed as I sauntered over to the door. My stomach growled at me for only eating a bit of a waffle earlier.
Don’t worry tummy, we can hit the mini-mart before our next class.
I thought to myself, patting my torso like I was trying to soothe a child. Reaching for the door an arm pushed in front of me and blocked my way, Its suddenness made me yelp a little. My eyes traced up the muscley arm until my eyes reached the face of its owner, It’s Mr. stares-a-lot from earlier. I should be weirded out, or annoyed that he’s blocking my path but all I notice is his beauty. Close up I can see the fine details of his face the slight grey stubble on his angular chin and the long black eyelashes that surrounded his delightfully golden eyes.
Like pots of Hunny I could swim in.
I almost reached for his face when I shook myself out of this trance and noticed how close his face actually was, only inches away from mine. Instead the hand that was going to pull him in closer reached out and pushed his chest back.
“Uh excuse me,” I muttered unintentionally felling the muscles under his shirt. For a moment he looked shocked, like he was surprised I wanted to leave.
“Where are you going?” He said, less like a question and more like a demand. This was the first time I had heard him speak. His voice was gravely and deep, so enchanting.
“None of your business” I retorted, pushing his arm away. Who cares if this man is incredibly good looking and gives me shivers down my spine with just one look? He was acting rather rude to someone he had just met. As I shuffled through the doorway passed the man I heard him scoff.
Did he really just scoff at me? What an asshole.
I shook the conversation and the past two hours off me. They were strange and I would probably talk about them with Mrs. Lincon at therapy. I can hear her saying how this all represents something much bigger and how its a metaphor and-
My bike!? Where’s my bike?!