"Ugh! Come on! Don't fail me now, Lukey, please!" I pleaded as I tried several times to start the ignition. Finally, I just gave up and heaved out a sigh. I snatched by bag from the passenger seat and flung myself out of the blue beat up truck. I ran back up the front steps and double checked the door was locked before running down the street to catch Hailey before she left for school.
Hailey is my best friend. We met when she moved here in second grade and have been inseparable ever since, even now, during our senior year of high school. I turned right down the street trying to make sure the hat that sat backwards on my long brown hair didn't fly off. I approached Hailey's house just as she hopped in her car.
"Hailey!" I puffed. She paused in the middle of climbing in the car.
"Uh, Ash? What are you doing?"
I slowed to a stop in front of her, readjusting my bag on my shoulder.
"Luke broke down again, I need a ride," I explained, my southern drawl oh-so prevalent. She rolled her eyes at me.
"Well, come on, then. I won't let you be late on my account," she said, climbing in the car.
I let out a whoop before running to the passenger side of her green 2003 Honda civic. I glanced at Hailey, taking in her appearance. She was wearing a cute black sundress with yellow sunflowers scattered on it. Her blonde, medium length hair was left in it's natural curly state and complimented by her "no make up" make up. Lastly, her black flats tied together the whole outfit. She was the picture perfect definition of a southern belle. She came from a rich family, acted exactly like a lady and always exceeded everyone's expectations.
"Thank you. You look good by the way, Hails," I added.
She smiled and glanced at me as she drove out of the neighborhood.
"Thanks. You don't look so bad yourself."
I scoffed. Compared to her, I looked like a hot mess. I wore a white muscle tee that read "Love is Love" in blue cursive, paired with a blue sports bra that was visible from the sides, and black joggers. I donned my favorite pair of white tennis shoes and threw on my dad's plain black snapback from when he was a kid. I was much more of a tomboy. I was rebellious and unruly but my ma and dad loved me for it, anyway. Besides, with working on the farm as our family business, they couldn't expect me to be all proper.
"Whatever, Jonesy, you know ya look much better than me."
Hailey glared at me at the mention of her least favorite nickname and pulled into the school parking lot. She hated her last name, found it boring and plain. I thought it suited her but once Hails has her mind set on something, she won't change her opinion.
"Okay, get out, Lincoln," she teased, calling me by my last name, "and meet me here as soon as the bell rings, got it? I got work after school and can't be late!"
I hopped out of the car and shut the door, Hailey following suit.
"Don't worry," I slung my bag over a shoulder, "I'll be on time. Promise! Have a good day, love ya, Hails!"
I hurried into the school, but bothering to see if Hailey was coming. I sped my way to my locker, which was thankfully just outside of homeroom, and gathered my books. I shoved my bag in my locker sloppily, slammed the locker shut and snuck into my seat just as the late bell rung at 7:30. Score! Today was so gonna be a great day.
After homeroom, I meandered over to honors chemistry, my least favorite class, and prepared myself to hate life for the next hour and a half. I spent most of class doodling on my papers because I was able to speed through all the work. It wasn't that I hated the subject, it's just that it was the highest class our hick town high school offered and I already knew most of what we were learning. So, I usually finished the work in the first twenty minutes of class then sat bored out of my mind. Mr. Hunter tried his best to make it engaging for me but it was difficult to do that and keep the class on track.
After chemistry came honors English IV, my favorite class taught by my favorite teacher, Mrs. Gentra. She's a sweet elderly woman who'd dreamed of teaching ever since she was a kid. She was passionate about her job and everyone could tell. She was the most respected teacher here. I always savored this class but it seemed to go by much too quickly for my taste. We were reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and I was enraptured by the story. Honestly, I loved every bit of the book and the assignments we had to do. I was flying through the book and classwork with such fervor that the class was only finishing the first third of the book while I was nearing the last chapters.
I was easily the smartest kid in the school, Hailey following in second, but I tried to keep a low profile. My ma was adopted by a rich white family who disowned her when she came home engaged to my daddy, a poor farm worker. Ma's folks reckoned that if her husband wasn't rich or at least on track to be something "suitable", like a doctor or lawyer, then he wasn't good enough. My daddy loved his work, though, and my ma knew he wouldn't change and never dreamt of asking him to. They threatened to cut her off but my mama knew what she wanted and stuck to her guns. They did cut her off financially and cut ties with her but my ma wouldn't change it for the world. My paternal grandparents were the best, though, and supported my daddy through every decision in his life.
On top of that, I'm lesbian. The only one in the county, in fact. A girl who likes girls, destroyed the hets intellectually and wasn't nearly as rich as most people in town made for a big target in this place full of homophobic and classist bigots. But Hailey made all the insults and degradation bearable. She was pretty much the only one who didn't care about social class, sexuality and whatnot and her folks were the same way. Thankfully, my family accepted me as I am. With them and Hailey on my team, nothing else mattered.
I shook myself from my thoughts as the bell rang for third period. Time for history, I guess. At least lunch was at the end of this period. Fortunately for us, our teacher, Ms. Hampton, seemed pretty roughed up and didn't feel like teaching a proper lesson, so she put on a documentary for us to watch. Rumor was she went down to Darry Walls' party last night and got shitfaced. Fairly stupid idea if you ask me, considering it was a school night. Half the students and staff were hungover today. We trudged through the Holocaust documentary, stopped only by the lunch bell.
I got through the lunch line and sat at my normal table in the corner of the large cafeteria. A couple moments later, Hailey joined me, words practically leaping out of her mouth.
"Hey, girl, you heard the news?"
I quirked a brow and took a bite of my salad. Hailey knew I hated gossip more than anything but she tended to have the latest scoop since she was so well known. Hailey sighed.
"A new family just moved in. You know, where the Robert's used to live? Yeah, apparently they have a daughter our age. And," she dropped her voice to a whisper, "apparently she's gay."
Aha. There it was, the reason Hailey was dying to tell me the news. She had been begging me to find someone to date since sophomore year when I came out but the pickings are slim here, so nothing ever worked out. I rolled my eyes at her.
"Okay? Just because rumor says she might be into girls doesn't mean she actually is. Besides, we may not like each other. Just because we both like girls doesn't mean we'll like each other."
This seemed to put out whatever Hailey had planned to say next because she changed the topic defeatedly. I scarfed down the rest of my food as Hailey talked about her school work. I nodded along and pretended to pay attention while I checked my phone for texts from my parents. My mom needed me to get more feed for the chickens on the way home from school. I sent a confirmation and reminded her that I needed Beau, my brother, to look at Luke when he came home from college this weekend. He was studying mechanics, following his childhood dream. It's lucky he wanted to be a mechanic because he has saved lots of money for us.
The bell rang and Hailey bid me good-bye. I waved to her and carried my things back to my locker, throwing my trash away as I passed the trash cans near the entrance of the cafeteria. My fourth period, statistics, was my homeroom teacher and he didn't mind if we brought our backpacks to class so we could leave as soon as the bell rung. I slid my books into my bag and zipped it up then darted to class to avoid the vice principal who roamed the halls. She claimed she was making sure everyone followed the rules but in reality we knew she just needed a break from her mundane office work.
Stats passed by in a breeze and soon I found myself lingering next to Hailey's car, waiting for her to exit the large brick building. She looked startled to see me there.
"What? You know Mr. Dawn doesn't care if we take our backpacks to class," I said.
"Oh, yeah, I forgot you had him last today," she replied as we clambered into the car.
"Oh, hey!" I exclaimed as she drove out of the school parking lot. "I just remembered my ma needs more chicken feed. Can we stop by Billy's for a minute? I promise it'll take five minutes."
Hailey nodded her head and swung into Billy's Farming Essentials just across the street from the school. Many people owned farms here in Rangersville but some had worse business than others. My family was in the middle, not too bad but could be better. We get by, anyways.
"Hurry," she warned and glanced at the clock. I nodded my head in turn and jogged into the store.
"Billy!" I called. "I'm grabbing a 50 pounder of chicken feed! I'm leaving a twenty under the register!"
"No problem, kid. Take what you need. Want change?" he yelled from the back room.
"Nah, keep it!" I replied as I pulled a twenty dollar bill from my wallet and slid it neatly underneath the register.
"Fine, but remind me to treat your folks to something nice, alright?"
I chuckled and heaved the bag of chicken feed in my arms. Billy was an old family friend so he never minded when we did things like that. To others he came off as rude and cold-hearted, but to the Lincoln's he was as sweet as could be. I said my goodbye and hurried back to Hailey who was waiting impatiently in the car.
"See," I panted as I buckled up after putting the feed in the back. "Five minutes. I kept my word. I'm on a roll today."
Hailey humphed but couldn't argue. Normally I was never on time and it typically caused an argument between us. I have a tendency to oversleep because I'm usually up fairly late doing homework and helping on the farm. Hailey arrived at my house in record time and I barely had the feed out of the back seat before she left to go change for work.
"Thanks for the ride," I said grumpily as I watched her drive off. I threw my bookbag on the front porch and carried the feed around back. I stood on my tiptoes to look over the wooden fence and carefully allowed the heavy bag to slide to the ground.
"Ma! Daddy!" I yelled out. "I brought the feed! It's sitting by the fence gate! I'm gonna go take care of the horses."
I turned around, hearing a faint "thanks sweetie" in return. I went to the front of the house again, grabbed my bag and stepped inside. The interior was plain white, simple and boring. The hard wood floors were always cold. Even the bedrooms were minimalistic, containing only a bed and desk. The only evidence that we lived here was the few pictures of us on the thing on the walls and the clothes in our closets. Yet it was comforting to call it home.
I took the steps two at a time and rounded the corner into my bedroom. I sat my bag on my bed and quickly changed into a red flannel and worn out jeans, exchanging my sneakers for my work boots. I threw my hair up into a messy bun and headed back downstairs to the kitchen. I picked up an apple and ate it on my way out the back door which connected the backyard to the kitchen.
I spent my evening tending to the horses and pigs, making sure they were fed, watered and properly groomed. I wolfed down dinner, which was my ma's infamous biscuits and gravy, and then went back upstairs to my room to do homework at my small oak wood desk. By the time I finished it was 10:30. Straight after packing up my school books, I jumped in the shower, desperate to wash off the day's dirt. By the time I was out, dried off and ready for bed, my phone told me it was nearly midnight. I checked my notifications before turning in for the night and saw Hailey had texted me.
'At least try to make friends with the new girl. If she is gay, she's gonna need it.'
I let out a sigh. Hailey wasn't wrong, she would need a friend, especially if she wasn't used to such blatant homophobia. I just wish Hailey understood that we may not be compatible, platonically or romantically, even if we are both attracted to women.
I crossed the room and turned off the lights. I snuggled under the covers. I guess we'll just have to see about the new girl tomorrow.