CHARISSE STARED INTO her closet in wonder, her eyes drooping with boredom. Should she go with the red shirt and black skirt or the pink crop top and black jeans? Practical and smart or edgy and trendy? In the end, she went for the latter. Maria - her mother - would approve of the look.
She slipped the clothes on and stared at herself in the mirror. She’d blend in with the other girls at school, she knew that. The girls always wore tight clothing, and her clothes were definitely tight on her, showing how small and curvy she was.
She heard a knock on her door when turning. Taliah, her older sister, walked in with her makeup bags. Charisse sat down on her bed and waited.
“Wear a jacket with that. Your mother will approve of that.” Taliah said bitterly.
“I will, Taliah,” replied Charisse.
It wasn’t long before Taliah was doing her sister’s makeup. Not that she needed any. She simply applied pink lip gloss to her sister’s lips and shaped her eyebrows. She brushed some blush across her cheeks after thinking. Having finished, she pulled Charisse’s brownish hair into a ponytail. In a moment, she pulled two strands of hair down on either side of her face.
Charisse smiled at her older sister as she watched her walk away. She grabbed a jacket - knowing that Taliah was right - and rose. In preparation to leave the room, she slung her book bag over her shoulder.
Walker’s family lived in a 2-story house in a ‘white neighborhood’. That house was very debonair if you asked anyone else. Maria was the head of the household now that he was in jail. And after Taliah became dropped out of high school, it was Charisse’s job to be the perfect one, which is why Taliah was so bitter. It halfway explained the hostility between the two.
Charisse lightly walked down the stairs. She rounded the corner into the living room. Taliah sat on the couch, lacing up her boots. She hoped her sister had a pair waiting for her, like she always had, since she strongly disliked Maria’s choice of shoes. And when Taliah pulled a pair from behind her back, Charisse couldn’t help but smile. She quickly laced her shoes up, standing up just as their mother walked down the stairs. She sent a disapproving glare to her daughters – one glaring back at her and the other feigning guilty.
“You should’ve worn the nice white pumps with that outfit,” She scolded.
Maria sighed. “Come get your phone and get on to school, Charisse. We’ll discuss this later.”
She sent a glare to her sister who didn’t come to her aid. She did as her mother said – took her phone and left. She pulled her headphone on before walking down the street. Her school, Turner High, was a 10-minute walk from her house. She dreaded going to that place because she knew no one wanted to be friends with the goodie-two-shoes. She kept her head down, her headphones on, and quickly made her way up the steps.
She felt eyes on her and paused. Her eyes met contact with someone - Joshua. He was good-looking. He was Mexican, or something close to it; you could tell by his complexion. His eyes were grey, so light they could have been white. He was older – 26, 27. His hair was pillow styled, carelessly sat atop his head. It looked good on him though. The look fit him.
They were staring at each other for a second, but it felt like forever.
Charisse turned away abruptly and went inside. No one notices her blush as she walked down the crowded hallway. She stopped at her locker with a sigh. Those grey eyes were already burning holes in her memory as she opened her locker. She pulled her headphones over her head and stashed them in her locker. She quickly grabbed her books, turning to leave.
A large body bumped into her, pushing her to the ground. Her books flew across the floor in a message. The person pushed her out of the way, snaring a threat over his shoulder. She suppressed the urge to sneer something back as she gathered her books.
Charisse saw Joshua again. When school let out, she was quick to leave. Literally, as soon as the bell rang, she jumped up from her seat and ran out of the room. The goal was to leave before Alia and her followers – Charisse’s biggest bully – got in the hallways.
It wasn’t like she feared Alia. She already knew how her bully thought and acted. Everything depended on her emotions, on what she was feeling in the moment. Alia was reprimanded by the principal earlier in the day, and Alia needed to take her frustrations out on someone.
She pushed the main doors open with a relieved sigh. Her sister was waiting in her car, joking with her girlfriend. Taliah waved at her halfheartedly. She jogged down the steps but stopped after she heard her name.
“I heard your daddy is getting the death penalty, Cherry. No more little girls for him, huh?” Alia taunted.
Her fingers immediately went to her wristband. She started flicking it repeatedly. She ignored her bully’s cackling and continue down the steps. Kendra told her to flick the band when she was fighting an impulse and to count her steps. So that’s what she did.
…15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20...
When Charisse finally reached Taliah’s car, she looked up. Her hand slid off the door handle and she stared into his grey-blue eyes. This time he waved with a smile. She felt her face getting warm and slid into the car. Her sister sent her an annoyed glare.
“Who the hell was that?” She asked, driving off.
Their car slowly passed Joshua and the girl blushed. “I don’t know him.” She murmured.
Taliah looked at her sister in the rearview mirror. “Looks like he knows you,”
She rolled her eyes. “I said I didn’t know him, Taliah.”
But you knew what I—. Taliah too rolled her eyes as she bit back a response. She felt Kendra’s fingers wrap around her wrist, pulling her hand to her. Charisse watched as their fingers intertwined and cringed.
Charisse avoided them and her mother when she got home. She didn’t want to talk about her day or Alia. Seeing those eyes, his eyes, put her in a trance. She didn’t know how to get them out of her mind. She felt drawn to him, in a way. He seemed drawn to her. Just thinking about him put her in a better mood. That was intention, after all.