The digital alarm clock on my bedside table wouldn’t let up no matter how many times my hand came crashing down on the snooze button. It wasn’t long before I rolled over and yanked its cord from the wall. Finally a bit of quiet. However, my peace was short lived as a persistent banging started up.
“This has to be a sick joke.”
I reluctantly left my comfy bed, walking sluggishly over to the window to discover the menace behind the ruckus. Of course. My best friend Alex stood beyond the glass with her hands planted firmly on her hips, a scowl on her face, and the wind blowing her short and wavy fawn hair askew. She looked like the perfect villain.
The thick sleep cloud that muddled my mind had me fumbling with the lock on my window. Eventually, I got it to open.
“Since when do you lock your front door?” Alex asked.
I rolled my eyes. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe since I’ve had to prevent weirdos from barging in and ruining my friggin sleep!?”
“Huh. Well, are you gonna let me in or what? I’m hungry.”
She pointed to her toned midsection peeking out from underneath a white cropped tee she wore under a red denim jacket.
“Under the mat, might as well keep it.”
The odds of getting any more rest with Alex’s loud self around were close to none. After closing the window, I trudged to my bathroom and lazily felt for the light switch along the blue tiled wall.
Looking in the mirror, I gasped. The wavy mane of hair on my head was matted and tangled as if I’d gotten into a fight with an angry bear during my sleep. I needed to tame that somehow in the shower, but first to brush my teeth.
Grabbing the purple stick from the holder, I squeezed a generous amount of toothpaste onto the bristles. That’s when I heard footsteps drawing closer and closer.
With a mouthful of foam, I tried my best to respond. “I’m in *gurgle* raffroom!”
“I’m gonna go find Mom and Dad and see what’s smellin’ so good.”
“Go ahead, I’ll ree down in a minute!!” I spat into the sink and rinsed my mouth. Minty fresh.
Hitting the knob with maybe a little too much force, I turned on the shower and peeled off my pajamas. I stepped right in, groaning at the warmth flowing over my skin and aching body. That was the result of sitting at my desk studying for six hours the night before.
After about fifteen minutes in my steamy heaven, my tender muscles began to relax. The rest of the time was spent trying to comb the knots from my hair.
When I was able to run my fingers through and not get completely trapped in a web of black, I wrapped myself in my fluffy green towel and skipped to my closet to get dressed.
I stepped into my favorite pair of cuffed blue jeans and threw on a black camisole that I could easily pair with my black ankle boots. After giving myself a once-over in my tall body mirror, I spritzed myself with a little perfume and headed downstairs.
On the way, I could smell the waffles, bacon, sausage and every other breakfast food you could fathom wafting through the air. Setting my eyes upon the spread before me only made my mouth water.
“You hungry? I made a feast fit for a king — or at least Alex and your father,” my mom said, shrugging in my direction.
My mom, Josie. I’ve never had anything bad to say about her, really. She worked from home as an editor for a super successful interior design website, so she was always in her zone. Outside of that, she kept things at a steady pace at home and kept my belly full.
“Buenos días mi amor,” (Good morning my love.) my father said.
“Buenos días, Pa.” (Good morning, Dad.) I stood on the tips of my toes to kiss his cheek.
My dad, Lucas, is the best dad I could have asked for. When he wasn’t checking on me at home, he was checking on his patients. He’s a very well-known surgeon at the local hospital and those people couldn’t be luckier to have him guiding them, as well as their families, through difficult times.
However, the difference between my dad taking care of me and taking care of patients is that he saves his magical hugs just for me. They always put things into perspective and I might be 18, but I will continue stealing hugs for as long as I can.
“Quieres algo de comer?” (Do you want something to eat?) he asked.
“No ahorita,” (Not right now.) I said.
“Well, you have to make sure you keep your head straight and focused, and it all starts with a good breakfast,” my mom interjected.
My dad plucked his coffee mug from the counter and dashed to the living room with Alex in tow, a full plate in her hand. At times, even he got tired of hearing my mom’s redundant speeches about school and the benefits of a balanced breakfast.
“This is your senior year and you have got to be at your best.”
Here we go.
“Just because it’s your last year of high school, it doesn’t mean you can afford to slack off. You’ll be off to college in a matter of months. Every moment counts! You need to be proactive —”
Aaand time to tune her out.
My mom is a stickler for good grades. I was a straight-A student and not once did my mom ever let me slip from my 105% average. One hundred and five friggin percent, yet I still couldn’t get a break. It was as if the more I received good grades, the more obsessed she became with hearing about them.
At first her praise made me feel good because she was proud of me; I was doing something right. But later on I truly believed that all she cared about was our family having a good reputation and if I didn’t head off to college, then I was doing the family a disservice.
She pretty much wanted to bite my head off when my chemistry grade slipped to a B; as if high school wasn’t already stressful enough on its own. I had to keep the star student image intact, not that it was an impossible task. Among the highest-ranked seniors at my school, Riverside High, I was number 16 of 400 because of the work I put in.
Yes, school was important to me, but with school being a hundred times more important to my mom, it was just way too much pressure.
“You don’t need anything distracting you, capiche?”
The smile on my face was tight enough to split my skin.
“That’s my shining star. Now please go eat something.”
I still wasn’t that hungry, but the last thing I wanted was for a vein to pop, so I warmed a bagel in the toaster, spread a generous amount of cream cheese on both halves, and wrapped it in a napkin.
“Just three more months, Sienna. Three more months,” I muttered to myself as she headed out front to start the car.
Once the click-and-clack of her heels was no more, Alex and my father poked their heads out from the kitchen door.
“Aren’t we on the same team??” I asked, giving a disapproving shake of my head.
“I’m sorry, mi amor,” he said, kissing my forehead.
My best friend however, wasn’t as apologetic. She took my freshly prepared bagel and made her way out of the kitchen once again.
Arriving at school, I wandered around the quad. There were still 10 minutes before classes started. I couldn’t find where Alex had run off so quickly, so that was another reason for me walking around aimlessly. At least until I saw her chatting away with a guy near the front entrance of the school. They seemed to get on well, which was weird because I’d never seen him before.
It was a little late for him to have transferred because we were nearly three quarters done with the year. This guy was new for sure and I couldn’t help but study him. He was tall and lean. His skin was a soft honey gold. He had a head of perfectly messy black waves and a pair of full lips that I watched pull into a cheesy smile.
If I had to guess, he was probably laughing at one of Alex’s crude jokes. I looked on at them together for another minute before my mom’s words began echoing in my ear.
“You don’t need anything distracting you, capiche?”
Boy dressed in black was not about to become a distraction.