Today is the first day for freshmen attending East Coast High School. The sun was shining and the skies were clear, typical weather for Palm Springs, California. It was the perfect day to start freshman year. Well, Tori didn’t think today was a perfect day. Because today, as she calls it, is where hell starts.
Some of you can relate to this feeling. The early mornings, math in the morning, half-asleep in class, and just dealing with people for seven straight hours. Others are happy to be returning to school. For some odd reason. In the end, all you end up with are friends, enemies, relief, and a diploma. Which is good enough for everyone.
Tori was sound asleep in her room, ignoring her alarm on her phone. She turned over in her bed just as her best friend, Lindsey walked in. Seeing her still in the bed, she walked over to Tori’s bedside and turned the alarm off on her phone. Tori shifted in her sleep and Lindsey began to poke her, trying to wake her.
Lindsey and Tori have known each other since the fourth grade and have been friends since. Lindsey’s always been the one more interested in celebrities and gossip. In middle school, she developed a liking for punk rock music and emo culture. For the past two years, Lindsey’s been living with the Hale’s because her parents moved out to New York for work. Instead of moving her away from her friends and life, Tori’s dad took her in.
“Tori. Tori! Get up.” Tori groaned and lazily waved Lindsey off.
“Come on. We can’t be late for our first day.”
“Yes, we can,” Tori muttered.
“No, we can’t. Get up and get dressed so we can eat before we have to go.”
“I’m going in my pajamas. I’ll eat on the way. And you will let me sleep for another twenty minutes.” Lindsey rolled her eyes. Lindsey grabbed one of her arms and began to pull.
“Get up right now.”
“No!” Tori groaned. Lindsey dropped her arm and Tori pulled it back under the covers. Lindsey sighed as she looked at her. It was time to go nuclear.
“Wake up!” Lindsey shouted in her ear. Tori shot up out of her bed in shock.
“Geez, woman! What the hell was that for?!”
“You wouldn’t get up. I asked you nicely twice. Be lucky I didn’t slap you awake.”
“I honestly hate you sometimes, you know?” Tori groaned.
“I know.” Lindsey smiled as she skipped out of her room. “Get dressed and hurry up!” she shouted from down the hall.
“Get dressed and hurry up,” Tori mocked. “Why are you so peppy in the morning? Huh, Lindsey? Geez.” Tori walked into the hallway to go to her bathroom. Yes, her bathroom is next to her room in the hallway. She began to put her hair up as she waited for the shower to warm up. “Siri! Play my shower playlist.”
“A shower is a place in which a person bathes under a spray of typically…”
“No! You idiot! Play… my… shower playlist… from music.”
“Starting, ‘Shower Playlist’, from the music app.”
“Thank you! Gracious.”-------------------------
Tori had just finished tying her hair up into a messy ponytail as she got off the last step. She had put on some dark, faded jeans, a gray crop top, and some black Converse. She dragged her hands down her face and saw Lindsey smiling at her.
“You look nice. Like you put effort into impressing on your first day.”
“I’m glad you caught what I was going for. I see you’re trying to impress today.” Lindsey had her hair curled at the ends and pushed behind her ears. She had on some blue jeans that were torn at the knee, a lace, black, top, and some black flats with rhinestones.
“Thank you!” she smiled. Tori raised an eyebrow at her before turning and walking into the kitchen.
“Oh, look! Un-burnt pancakes! You’re getting better!” Tori smirked.
“That was negative and positive feedback in the same sentence, so now I have mixed feelings.”
“Oh, the horror.” Tori grabbed the syrup off the counter and walked back into the living room. She sat down next to Lindsey and started pouring syrup on her pancakes. “What tragic thing did you pick to watch?”
“Ignoring that. We’re watching Real Hollywood.” Tori froze and slowly turned towards her.
“The show that gossips and reports on celebrities and has a weird obsession with that one dude?”
“It’s not an obsession. He’s just active. Always doing something.”
“Yeah, more like someone. And then ends up leaving her to get on with the next best thing.” Lindsey stared at Tori for a moment, before gasping.
“What?! How are you already a player at sixteen? Sixteen?”
“He’s not a player. He only had three relationships.”
“In one year. Three in one. That’s not good.” Lindsey waved her off just as the show was coming back on.
“Welcome back to Real Hollywood! If you are just joining us, my name is Sharika and I am your host on this beautiful day.” The audience on the TV applauded as she waved.
“Kill me,” Tori groaned. Lindsey smacked her hand and put her finger on her lips. Tori rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to the show.
“This morning, the Evansdale family is making waves in the world again. Could Amber have a new flame this year? What exciting thing is Aiden working on? You get the chance to find out right here, right now.” The audience cheered as Sharika made her way to the sofa.
“The Evansdale family? Shocking,” Tori sarcastically said.
“Ooo! I wonder what Aiden’s been up to lately. Maybe he’s going to be in a new show.”
“He’ll fit right in with trash cans on the show.” Lindsey ignored Tori’s comment as Aiden’s picture appeared on the screen.
“I mean, I just find it incredible that a mother and her son can work in the same industry and both achieve so much. Aiden started only being known as Amber’s son who would occasionally star in a few commercials. But his hard work to separate himself from under his mother is paying off. He has a whole name for himself and is on his way to making it as big as his mother’s. What do you guys think?” The audience cheered in response to her question.
“Such idiotic girls. So blinded by his looks.”
“Who wouldn’t go blind? He’s cute.”
“Puppies are cute. Aiden is not.” Lindsey scoffed.
“We can all agree that Amber is not showing any signs of slowing down either. She may not act as much, but with her whipping herself back into shape so quickly after Aiden was born was truly incredible. I mean, look at the beautiful transformation.” Sharika turned around to the screens behind her that showed two side-by-side photos of Amber during and after her pregnancy. “A complete three-sixty. And because of her amazing transformation, she is helping women all over on how to stay healthy and fit during your pregnancy and how to get back to a body you will love with her new fitness and healthy eating book, Feeding Your Body. She partners with fitness expert and chef, Juliana Barnes, to give you the most results. We will talk more about it when Amber comes down to the studio later today.”
“Do you know what that means, T?”
“That Amber’s going to be a guest on Sharika’s show to talk about her new fitness book? It was pretty obvious.”
“No, silly. We’re watching the afternoon show when we get back from school!” Lindsey clapped.
“Yay. How fun,” Tori sighed.
“Also, Aiden will be dropping in later today to discuss his rise to fame and his new show that he’s set to star in. More details on that will be released later on today, so make sure you tune in to get all the details that you can’t get anywhere else. Don’t go anywhere because when we come back, we will learn how to fix a delicious, but healthy lunch from our special guest. We’ll be right back.” The audience applauded as the screen went dark before a commercial took its place.
“Okay. We are definitely watching the afternoon show!” Tori groaned as she let her head fall backward.
“This show is so stupid!”
“Oh, come on. You don’t give this show a chance.”
“You know this celebrity gossip crap is not my thing.”
“It’s not celebrity gossip. Sharika brings celebrities onto the show to get the truth and show that she likes things to be kept real. No pressure or anything.”
“Sounds like someone who needs approval from people.” Lindsey scoffed and turned off the TV.
“Say you’ll watch it with me tonight and give it a chance.”
“Well, don’t you look all cute? No.”
“Tori,” Lindsey whined. Tori put her hands over her face and groaned in frustration.
“Fine! Fine. I will watch it without being judgy or whatever.”
“Yay! Anyway, we should go. Don’t want to be late.”
“I could care less.” Lindsey grabbed her bag from the steps and opened the front door.
“Let’s go,” Tori mocked. She pushed herself off the couch, grabbed her bag, and closed the door behind her.
“Can I have your attention, please? Attention.” The students quieted down as they turned their attention to the woman standing in the middle of the gym. As soon as they arrived, they were directed to head to the gym. “Thank you. I am your principal, Dr. Bell, and this is your assistant principal, Mrs. Morgan. We want to officially welcome you to East Coast High School. Home of the Cougars.” Scattered applause filled the gym with the football team adding to the noise by shouting.
“Is this a pep rally?” Tori said, with a bored expression.
“Probably. It’s so nice, right?”
“It’s something. Its straight hell is what it is.” Tori heard a girl laugh behind her. She turned around to see a girl with shoulder-length, purple hair chewing gum as she smiled at her. The girl did a small wave causing Tori to turn back around.
“Please be aware, for all you returning students, that the rules have not changed. The dress code is still intact. Disciplinary actions are still being taken for inappropriate behavior. As long as you are on school property, what you do in or outside of this building, we will handle it in the same manner. Weapons, drugs, and alcohol are not permitted on school property. If you have a problem with remembering these said rules, you can refer to them in your student handbook. Inside is a form that you need to sign. I need all of those forms by the end of the week. Now, a few words from Mrs. Morgan.” Scattered applause went around as Mrs. Morgan switched places with Dr. Bell.
“Dr. Bell seems so uptight. And strict. Like she has something stuck up her ass.”
“What? She looks like she needs a vacation anyway. Those wrinkles on her forehead are not helping her age.”
“Just shut up,” Lindsey sighed.
“Good morning, students. I just wanted to briefly say that our faculty and staff just want to see you succeed and achieve great things while you’re here. We want you to work hard and have fun. I mean, these are your most precious times and you all are still teenagers, or becoming teenagers, or heading towards adulthood for my seniors.” A cheer went up as the seniors got up to celebrate. “I don’t want to hold you guys up so just remember to be strong, be fierce, and conquer your future.” Students began to clap loudly as Mrs. Morgan stepped down. Dr. Bell stood in front of the podium again and glared at the student body. Silence filled the gym immediately.
“Bitch,” Tori muttered.
“I need you all to file out of this gym in a calm and fashionable order. Outside are tables with different grade levels. Find your grade level, your last name, and get your schedule to find the hall your homeroom teacher is on. I do not want chaos in my hallways. Clear? Good. Now, get to class.” And with that, she walked off as everyone stood up. As Tori waited for Lindsey to grab her stuff, she turned to see the girl smirking at her. Two other girls walked up next to her and whispered something. The girl laughed, turned towards Tori one last time, and walked off with a smirk.
“Hey! You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Let’s go so we can try to beat the crowd.” The girls walked to the freshman table and searched for their names. When they finally got their schedules, they moved over to an area with fewer people.
“Who’s your homeroom?”
“Mrs. Smith. Literature.”
“Who the hell reads in the freaking morning? My brain is not functioning enough to be translating letters into words into sentences to make enough complete sense to be called English.”
“Huh?” Lindsey said, confused.
“Just let me see your schedule.” Lindsey handed her schedule over and Tori scanned through it. “It looks like we have first period, lunch, and fifth through seventh period together,” Tori said. “We basically see each other the majority of the school day.”
“Yay! That means I don’t have to find you so that we can walk home together.”
“Fantastic. Anyway, we should go so we can find our class in this maze. Two hundred halls here we come.”
“How do people navigate this hell hole?”
“I’m guessing by reading the numbers above the entryway.” Lindsey pointed up at the top of the entryway where it had the number hallway they were entering. “We have to go down three more to get to the two hundred hallway.”
“Who designed this building and thought it was a good idea to confuse people?”
“At least the hallways are labeled here. In middle school, you had to guess where to go.”
“This place is bigger though.”
“You’ll get used to it.” They continued walking until they turned down the two hundred hall. They passed classroom after classroom, searching for Mrs. Smith’s room. They had almost reached the end of the hall when they stopped in front of a classroom.
“Please tell me this isn’t it. I have to walk down here every freaking morning to get to a class?”
“207. Literature. Ms. Smith’s room. I wonder if she’s nice.”
“Don’t worry. She’s one of the nicest adults in this school. So I’ve heard from my friend’s older brother.” The two girls turned around to see a boy, about 5’7, standing behind them with a smile on his face. He had black hair and sharp green eyes. He had some hair above his lip and chin, but you could barely see it without the light hitting it. As if he wasn’t mysterious enough.
“Sweet baby Christ,” Lindsey muttered. Tori’s brain wouldn’t allow her to form any words as she just stared at him. Lindsey saw her and cleared her throat, elbowing her in the arm, making her jump a little. “Well, that’s comforting to hear for the first day.”
“I’m glad I could help. But, uh, is your friend alright?” he smirked, looking at Tori.
“She’s fine. Right, Tori?” Lindsey elbowed her again.
“Tori! Name is my.” The guy looked at her with an amused expression. “I mean, is me, Tori.”
“I don’t know. Is it?” Tori smacked her forehead.
“Why won’t you work? My name is Tori.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Tori.”
“Yeah,” she laughed nervously.
“And I’m Lindsey, her best friend. May we know your name?” The guy smirked and moved closer to the two of them.
“Now, where’s the fun in that,” he smirked. He winked at Tori before brushing past them into the classroom.
“Damn,” they whispered in unison as they watched him take a seat in the back of the room. The bell rang and they hurried to get into the classroom, sitting towards the back.
As Tori sat down, she heard someone mutter, “Ah. I get to have the honor of the pretty girl sitting behind me.”
“Excuse me?” The person turned his head to the side, with a smile on their face, and she immediately went numb. She ended up sitting behind the guy that was just talking to them. How she did not notice was beyond her. He turned around sideways to face her with a smirk.
“Tori, right?” She nodded as she slowly sat down.
“Are you feeling alright?”
“I’m fine. Just… recovering from the shock.” The guy nodded just as his pencil fell and rolled next to Tori.
“Well, you know, if you do stop breathing in the middle of class…” The guy kneeled beside Tori and stopped right by her ear on his way up. He leaned in closer and whispered, “... I have no problem giving you mouth-to-mouth.” Tori gasped, which amused him as he sat back in his seat.
“You… you are just… just sneaky and smooth. I bet you’re like this with every girl you meet in the hallway. Saying that you’ll resuscitate them and everything like it’s a pick-up line.” He turned to raise an amused eyebrow at her.
“Who said that I would be doing it to help you? What if it’s just because your lips look soft?”
“Then I would ask why are you staring at my lips?”
“Guys tend to stare at things they find beautiful. Or want to be theirs. Or want to play with,” he smirked, biting his lip before turning back around. Mrs. Smith began to teach before she could say anything. Tori just stared at the back of his head in wonder.
‘Who the fuck is this dude?’ she thought to herself. Mrs. Smith began to pass out the form’s the students needed to sign when Lindsey tapped Tori’s shoulder.
“I didn’t expect you to make a conversation with him so fast,” she smiled.
“I didn’t have time to realize that. I was too busy… feeling these weird feelings.”
“You like him,” Lindsey laughed.
“Shut up! He’s right there. He can probably hear your loud ass.”
“Then give him a code name.”
“Ooo! How about, Raven?”
“Yes! His hair is so black and silky. Like a raven. Plus, he’ll never know!” Lindsey whispered.
“Fine. I’ll go with it. I do not like Raven. I don’t even know his name.”
“Well, Carrie Underwood didn’t know her man’s last name and she married him not knowing what her last name changed to.”
“Wow. You referenced a song to prove your point?”
“Indeed. Point is, where’s the fun in knowing someone’s name? It could be better?”
“How could it possibly be better? Cause right now, if I see him, all I got to get his attention is, ‘Hey! Cute raven-haired guy!’ That’s it.”
“It adds to the mystery. Not only that but if you get to know him and find out you don’t like him, then it would be easier to forget because you don’t know his name.”
“Wow. Your logic is flawless, Linds,” Tori said sarcastically.
“Thank you!” Lindsey turned back towards the front and began reading over the form. Tori just signed it and sighed.
“Hey, Tori?” Tori looked up to see Raven looking at her. “Do you have a pen?”
“I thought you had a pencil?”
“I do. We have to sign it in pen though. It’s more real and makes it harder for anyone to erase and forge your name.” Tori shrugged and handed her pen to him. He grabbed the pen that seemed out of his way. He grabbed it so his hand was not only holding the pen, but Tori’s also. Tori’s eyes went wide as she looked between the pen and him.
“Thanks,” he winked and turned around, leaving Tori in a daze.
‘Did he just do that on purpose? No. It was just an accident. Yeah, an accident. But, then, why did he hold his hand there for so long?’ Tori wondered.
“Alright, class! That’s the bell! You can turn in your forms to me and your worksheets in the basket. Have a nice rest of your morning,” Mrs. Smith smiled.
“It’s still only second period? Why is time moving so slow?” Tori muttered.
“It was only a forty-five-minute class.”
“That’s a good nap. What do you have next period?”
“Have fun.” Lindsey and Tori went their separate ways to get to their hallways. Tori ended up on the three hundred hallway. Luckily, she didn’t have to go too far to get to her class. She was a little bit early, which she didn’t mind. First dibs on the back row. The desks were grouped in fours and turned crooked. As soon as she sat down, the girl from early walked in with two other girls trailing behind her. The girl sat beside Tori and faced her, while one of them sat in front of Tori and the other in front of the girl.
“What’s your name?”
“Tori. I can work with that.”
“My name’s Viv. Short for Vivian.”
“Don’t ever call her by her full name,” the girl in front of Tori said.
“Unless you want a death sentence,” the girl in front of Viv snapped.
“Hey! Calm down. We don’t want to scare her. Not now, at least,” Viv smirked.
“Thanks?” Tori said, shifting in her seat.
“Cute. The one in front of you is Jasmyne. And her name is Skull.”
“Yeah. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Of course not. It’s so unique. I was just curious as to why Skull?”
“When you come for me, I take your skull with me. I hit you so hard, your skull just cracks!” Viv and Jasmyne made cracking noises as Skull pretended to crack a skull open.
“How nice.” Skull had short, dirty blonde hair that almost covered her right eye. She also had a nose ring hanging out her nose and black lipstick. Tori could tell that Jasmyne stuck to a calmer side. She had long, brunette hair and a long black earring in one ear. She had dark eye-shadow, but light pink lipstick. She had a tattoo on her wrist but Tori couldn’t make it out completely.
“So, are you a freshman?” Viv asked.
“Yeah. First day.”
“Cute. We are too.”
“If you’re a freshman too, then why did you say cute?”
“You just sounded so innocent and vulnerable. It’s okay though. We’re going to help you change that.”
“Didn’t she just say she was?! Can you not understand?” Skull said, getting up from her seat.
“Hey, calm down. It’s cool.”
“Since you’re so sure.”
“Chill out, Skull. She doesn’t know us like that yet.”
“Anyway, I just see so much potential in you. I heard your little comments earlier this morning. You’ve impressed me.”
“Which is hard to do,” Jasmyne said.
“But you manage to do it.”
“Okay. What do you want?”
“Feisty. I like it. We want you to join our little group. We can protect you, get you special treatment, and some cute guys.”
“Not interested in meeting cute guys.”
“Such a liar,” Viv laughed.
“I saw the way you were eyeing Roberts in Literature,” Jasmyne smirked.
“Doesn’t he have a girlfriend?” Skull asked.
“No. That’s David.”
“When did David get a girlfriend?” Viv cleared her throat, grabbing their attention.
“Not the fucking point! The point is, you were looking at Roberts.”
“So? He’s got this air around him. It interests me. Probably because I would like to know his name. He doesn’t seem like a Robert though.”
“That’s because it’s his last name,” Jasmyne sighed.
“Then what is his first name?”
“Can’t tell you that.”
“Why the hell not?”
“He likes to let people’s minds wander. Just know, if he likes you enough, he’ll tell you real soon,” Skull smirked. The bell rang just as the last person entered the classroom. The teacher began to write his name on the board when Viv leaned over to whisper to Tori.
“Just know, we will be watching you. Just until we decide if you’re up to the tasks.”
“What kind of tasks?” Viv just laughed as she faced the front of the room.
‘Kids get weirder and weirder every second at East Coast High.’