Chapter 1 - First Day of School
The sun’s harsh rays forced Juno to put a hand up and cover her eyes. She was almost blinded by them. It was hot as balls outside for no reason at all. This humidity was terrible for her coily, 4b hair. If there was a mirror nearby Juno knew she would see a light sheen of sweat decorating her forehead. Maybe she should have watched the news this morning, then she wouldn’t have shown up to school overdressed.
Juno is currently wearing a yellow tank top under a light blue button up sweater. In addition, she has on yellow yoga pants with a flowery design on them and her light blue vans. She wished she had on a short sleeve shirt and a pair of shorts at the moment.
Juno quickened her pace as she spotted her best friend Claire. Juno and Claire have been best friends since they met freshman year and now as Juniors they are closer than ever. Through many trials and tribulations their friendship has remained strong.
Juno speed walks up to Claire and puts her hands around her shoulders and says, “Boo!”.
Claire lets out a little shriek. “Oh my god, you totally scared me,” Claire exclaims slapping Juno’s arm playfully. Claire’s bubbly laugh becomes one with the buzz of high schoolers making their way into the high school.
“That’s my job honey, I have to keep you on your toes,” Juno says letting her arms rest at her sides. She missed seeing Claire everyday. It’s not as if they didn’t see one another at all during the summer but it wasn’t the same. Claire’s family spent a month in New York during their vacation so Juno was stuck here in Chicago, alone.
“Come here,” Claire pulls Juno into a bone crushing hug.
“Wait, I can’t breathe,” Juno pleads, but Claire is relentless.
“I’ll breathe enough for the both of us,” Claire insists before releasing Juno a few moments later.
Finally free from Claire’s extremely taut grip Juno lets out a breath. “Jesus Claire Bear, you’re so freaking strong,” Juno adds.
Claire doesn't verbally respond but offers a wink as a reply.
Juno and Claire enter the school building for the first time since the last day of school. Juno breathes in the new school year smell. The overwhelming smells of bath and body works perfumes and pungent colognes clog her airways.
The floors are squeaky clean and the lockers are naked. Everything from last school year was wiped away.
Claire throws an arm around Juno’s shoulders in an effort to lean on her. “We have first and sixth together right?” Asks Claire.
Their schedules were given to them a few weeks prior to today. Claire and Juno have first period English and sixth period physics together.
“Yeah,” Juno replies with a small smile, “we also have lunch together again, thank god.”
The disadvantage of going to a larger school. There are 3 lunch periods. Juno doesn’t know what she would do if they didn’t have lunch together again this year.
“I couldn't imagine eating with anyone else,” Claire admits, “my hand is waiting,” She says moving it away from Juno’s shoulder. Juno guesses she got tired of walking in that position.
Juno grabs a hold of Claire’s hand and interlocks their fingers. Claire absolutely adores affection and Juno has no problem obliging her requests. That's what makes their friendship so great, they truly understand one another.
As they walk to their first period class, Juno’s eyes wander to the busiest section of the hallway. “You see him,” Claire asks, giving her hand a squeeze. They turn their gaze to the end of the hallway.
Juno already knows who Claire is speaking of. Dylan Caruthers, the school's most popular boy. A star on the football team and in the eyes of the entire student body. To even be seen talking to him automatically makes you popular. And he's never had to work for any of it. The fame just fell in his lap and he ran with it.
Dylan stands at what looks like 6 feet or maybe a bit shorter. His short dark brown hair matches perfectly with his bright blue eyes. She's heard on the grapevine that they look like the ocean if you get close enough. His lean physique is truly more sought after than some beefcake. People on the field usually mistake him as weak because of this but he always proves them wrong.
Juno sees the hype around him, she can't deny that. He is the epitome of attractiveness and she knows it. Even though she's never spoken to him, he has this aura that just draws you in. In another world, she thinks they could be friends. Not that she'd ever admit that.
“I see him, I definitely do,” Juno admits.
“It's like he just gets hotter as the months go by.” Claire exclaims looking away wistfully.
It definitely looks like he was working out this summer. His features appear more defined and sharper than last school year.
Claire and Juno make their way past the herd of the popular crowd and towards the staircase.
Suddenly, Juno feels a tap on her shoulder. She turns around immediately almost giving herself whiplash in the process.
The person who tapped her shoulder turns out to be a guy. He looks like he's in her year. He's not much taller than them but they still have to look up to meet his eyes. His blonde hair and brown eyes are captivating. Juno feels that if she got a bit closer that she'd be lost in his eyes.
“Excuse me, you dropped this,” The guy says holding Juno’s ventra in his hand.
Oh wow, Juno thinks. She would have hated to have to buy a new ventra from the school. They cost $5 and she needs that money for lunch.
He's not much taller than Juno and he doesn't look like much at first glance but Juno can feel that his presence is more than meets the eye.
“Thank you so much,” Juno retrieves the little card and puts it back in her wallet making sure all of the pockets of her backpack are zipped.
The guy walks in the opposite direction and leaves the two on their way to first period once more.
“That was a close one,” Claire remarks as they make their way up the stairs.
Walking into their classroom, they glance around the room. Claire spots the perfect place for them to sit. Two desks not too far from the teacher and close to the windows.
“This is perfect Claire Bear,” Juno marvels.
“I know,” Claire nods.
Juno looks out the window. Down at the other students rushing to get in the school. Down at the trees and the freshly trimmed grass. Down at the school’s garden and the lawn.
Claire pokes her out of her stupor. “I know that face, it's your I want to fall in love face,”
It's true. Juno's eyes become clouded with a longing for something more. Her lips curl up into a small smile, and her mind is somewhere else entirely.
Juno happens to be a hopeful romantic rather than a hopeless romantic. She's not waiting for the one per se but she's ready to love and be loved. She's been waiting to fall in love all of her life, and she's ready to dive deep and not look back.
She’s read so many romance novels and seen so many movies about love. All she wants is for her life to reflect her dreams.
“It's just, there are 7 billion people on this planet,” Juno makes a loose fist and puts it underneath her chin. “Why can't one of them hurry and fall in love with me?” Juno asks.
“Well, someone is clearly a bit of a narcissist.” Claire laughs points out.
“That came out wrong, I mean why can't I just have a boyfriend already.” Juno ponders.
“You’ll find Mr. Right,” Claire nods and gently rubs Juno’s shoulders. “You just need to be a bit more patient. And make sure you're doing great things so you can receive great things,” She offers a little grin.
Claire is all about hard work paying off in the end. She truly believes that what you put in this world is reflected in what you receive.
Juno sits up a bit straighter, smiles a bit brighter, and focuses on the teacher’s introduction a bit harder. Claire's inspiring words gave her a surge of hope. This year will be great.
“Welcome class to AP Language and Composition, My name is Ms. Reed.” She says looking around the room.
“I am the only teacher in the English Department who didn't assign a summer homework assignment. I believe that summer is for you and shouldn't be burdened by homework.” The class starts to applaud.
“Don't mistake that for me being a chill teacher as you youngins would say. I will still push you to be the best you can be and will still assign lots of homework to make sure you're learning.” Ms. Reed pulls a stack of stapled papers from her desk and puts them on a stray desk near the wall.
“This is your syllabus, please come pick up a copy, once everyone has one and is settled down I'll take attendance.” She finishes taking a stand behind her podium.
Claire is already on her feet but I pull her back down. “Wait until the line gets shorter Claire Bear,” Juno asserts.
“You're so right,” Claire shakes her head. “ What would I do with you?” She asks, but not with the purpose of acquiring a response.
Once the line gets shorter Claire grabs two syllabuses and comes back to where we're seated. It's a blue 5 page packet. It also happens to be double sided. I've never seen one this detailed before. She must be really strict or something.
The teacher goes over the syllabus for the entirety of the class period. Juno tries her hardest to focus and pay attention but her teacher’s voice is so monotone it bores her to death.
Soon the bell rings signaling the end of the first period. Everyone gets up and rushes to leave the classroom. This is where Claire and Juno have to part ways. They won't meet again until lunch in the fifth period. That's too freaking far from now.
“See you later Juno,”
“See you later Claire,”
Juno grabs her phone out of her pocket to text Claire.
Claire Bear 🐻🦹🏻♀️
missing you already 😖😣
can we just fast forward to fifth
me too 😘
Claire Bear 🐻🦹🏻♀️ is typing ...
Juno is still waiting for Claire's reply when she's walking to her second period, Pre-Calculus. Juno goes into the classroom and spots an empty seat in the front near the window.
Two minutes past and the one and only Dylan Caruthers walks in the classroom. It gets eerily quiet. All conversations cease to exist in a matter of seconds. It's like no words matter unless they're coming out of his mouth.
He scans the room and doesn't seem to find what he's looking for. Juno guesses he doesn't have any friends in the class. It shouldn't matter though, he has people lining up to be his friend.
Dylan runs a hand through his hair and makes his way over to me. He sits at the desk right next to mine and doesn't say anything for a few minutes.
Then he turns around and holds out a hand. “Nice to meet you, I'm Dylan.” He says as Juno reaches out and shakes his hand.
His hand is rough and calloused. Probably from years of playing football. His fingers are much longer than hers but more slender. Juno didn't realize how small her hand was until now.
“I'm Juno, nice to meet you too,” Juno responded, offering a genuine smile.
“Juno huh, a cute name to match a cute face,” Dylan jests.
“Ha ha ha, you silly goose,” Juno responds with instant regret. Out of the many words of the English lexicon she knows she chose to string those specific ones together like a fool.
“What,” He raises his hands in defense. “I am a man of my word so believe me when I say you have a cute face,” He leans back in his desk and winks at me.
Juno knows that other girls in the classroom are looking over at the exchange and probably whispering about her. She can feel the jealousy festering in the air. It should bother her and it does. It's not like she had asked him to sit by her or talk to her. Dylan came over to her on his own.
Once the teacher started her lecture Dylan would lean over to whisper a joke every so often. Juno couldn't deny that he was funny. She couldn't deny that at all.