senior year of high school;
In order to understand why I live the way I do and why I am the specific way I am, you’d have to know a very important occasion that happened in my life. It wasn’t recent, but it also wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t remember exactly what happened.
It happened five years ago, my senior year of high school to be exact. For half of my entire life, I had been secretly crushing on Caleb Hughes, who coincidentally happened to be my best friend.
He was the typical All-American dream boy, he had big blue eyes, a charming smile and sandy blond hair that seemed to be woven out of gold by the goddess, Athena herself. Not to mention that his personality was perfect.
Caleb was patient and sweet. He taught me how to drive and how to whistle like a pro. He always made me laugh when I needed it the most and was my constant shoulder to cry on. We were made for each other; the universe had entwined our lives as soulmates.
Even our parents approved of our friendship, I knew that our mothers were secretly planning our wedding. Hell, sometimes I even thought about it and it was all perfect in my head.
In high school, I wasn’t someone that everyone knew. I wasn’t too popular, but I also wasn’t in the crowd that no one knew of. I was part of the luckier crowd; the rich ones. Our town was broken down into three parts.
The rich kids, the in-between and the hoodlums.
It was as cliché as it sounded. The hoodlums and the rich kids never socialised, mostly because it would result in very violent and bloody fights, but also because we weren’t stupid enough to blatantly look out for danger.
The hoodlums were the rapists of our town. They were the ones that you had to stay away from. No matter how sweet they treated you, you had to stay away because it was just a façade that they put on; hoodlums were dangerous.
Since we were little girls, we had it instilled in our minds that if you saw a hoodlum in the corner street, you crossed the road to be away from them. In the hallway, you lowered your eyes and avoided them.
For the boys, it was a little different. They tried to avoid each other as much as possible, but if they crossed paths and one of the felt offended by the other, it would result in a brutal brawl.
The in-between kids mostly kept to themselves, but the rich kids were okay with them, as well as the hoodlums.
I was, by no means, ugly in high school. I had braces and flat, straight hair, but a decent figure because I ran track. For senior year, I was extremely excited, my braces were going to come off before prom and my grades were spectacular. I had scholarships and offers to some of the greatest fashion schools in the world.
My life was so perfect, I sometimes thought that I should be jealous of myself. All I needed to complete it was Caleb.
At the beginning of senior year, I had expressed some sadness over not having a date to prom. I was hoping that Caleb would catch my hints and ask me, but he never got the hint. Instead, he promised that if I didn’t have a date a week before prom, he’d take me.
It wasn’t as sweet as I wanted it to be – because I wanted him to give me one of the best promposals that Northwood High School had ever had – but at least he was taking me.
A couple of guys – friends of Caleb – asked me to prom, but I always used the excuse of them not knowing me well enough. It was a crappy excuse, but it was all I could come up with when they texted me their invitations.
The principal that day had called me down. I wasn’t sure what for, but I wasn’t really nervous. I was a straight-A student, I was in class before the bell rang and always handed in my assignments on time. There was no way he could complain about me.
I sat down, glancing down at my AP Physics book and began to twist the edges of the book to keep myself entertained. The secretary was out for her break, so the office was empty and fairly quiet for the first five seconds I had sat down.
There was a loud thump as if someone had slammed their hands down on the desk and a couple of curses followed after. Principal Sims was usually a very relaxed individual, so whoever was in there with him was causing quite a ruckus.
“Whatever,” was the first thing she heard, it was a muffled reply because the door was closed, so she couldn’t really tell who the voice belonged to, but it was definitely a guy’s.
That seemed to make Principal Sims angrier. “You’re a fucking disappointment to your mother! How could you embarrass her like that?!”
The guy snorted, making an uninterested-like sound in the back of his throat. “She embarrasses herself without my help; she’s the town-whore, Sims.”
“Your mother is not a whore, Mr. Mathers.”
He chuckled in response, dry and humourless. “Is that what she tells you? Last night she was fücking some dude for free alcohol; you’re not the only man in her life.”
I widened my eyes, biting my bottom lip as I gulped. What the hell were they talking about?!
There was another thump and the screeching of a chair as if it had been pushed around quickly.
The student made another sound, amused. “What are you going to do? Hit me?”
Principal Sims grew angrier, it was clear in his voice and I had never heard him sound so pissed. “You’re just like your father! A fucking hoodlum that can’t-”
More sounds of struggle came from the room and the voice of the guy no longer sounded careless and amused. It was angry, oh so freaking angry that I got goosebumps on my arms.
“Don’t you ever fucking speak about my father like that, you hear me?” If his voice sounded so pissed, I could only imagine what he looked like. Whatever it was, I was glad I wasn’t the recipient of his anger. “If you’re stupid enough to insult him a next time, your nose won’t be the only thing that’s bleeding, you fucker.”
I gulped. Well, shit, this guy was not someone I wanted to mess with. He obviously was from the crowd that I wasn’t allowed to socialise with, so I lowered my face, trying to use my long black hair to cover me.
I did not want him to see me and get even more pissed. Prom was a week away and I didn’t need some guy with anger problems to beat me half to death.
The door flew open and I jumped, making my books slide off my lap and land on the floor with a loud thump. In my peripheral vision, I could see the guy standing next to me. He knelt down and grabbed my books, making my heart stop.
I didn’t want to die yet! I hadn’t even done anything wrong! Please God at least let me go to prom with Caleb, so I can tell him how I feel!
“Here you go,” His voice was gruff, the hint of anger still present as he growled a bit.
I quickly took it, telling myself not to make eye contact with him, but it was so hard to do when I could feel his eyes burning holes in my face. If I didn’t look at him, maybe he wouldn’t get even angrier and bash my head against the wall.
But of course, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to look up. I had to see who the tattooed arms belonged to and the first thing that I noticed was his breath-taking eyes. I seriously gasped at how intense they were.
It was the strangest colour of green and specks of blue. His iris had a golden band around it, making it seem much more dramatic and intense. That was the only word I could use to describe them. They were there, just staring at me with such concentration that I was sure I was going to suffocate.
A wolfish grin grew on his lips, almost like the devil himself had been standing in front of me and all I could do was gape open my mouth and stare at him like a star-struck idiot.
Maybe I had imagined the smile, I probably had because in less than a second he was suddenly very sombre and kind of annoyed that I hadn’t taken the book from his hand.
“Take the damn book, Princess,” He pushed the other book into my hand, “you might want to disinfect those now,” he nodded at the books, “wouldn’t want you to catch anything.”
With that, he turned around and shoved his hands in his ripped jean pockets. Then, he strode out of there as if he hadn’t just threatened to kill Principal Sims.
Okay, he hadn’t actually threatened to kill him, but the intimidation had been there!
I scrambled up to my feet and rushed into the principal’s office as soon as he called my name. I quickly sat down, eyeing him up as he held a napkin up to his bloody nose.
“Sorry, Ms. McGowen,” He sighed, “this allergy season makes my nose bleed easily.”
“Uh,” I didn’t know what to say. That had definitely not been from a “natural” nose bleed, that guy with the really pretty green eyes had done it! But I chose to keep my mouth shut and forced out a laugh. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“So,” He sat down, still pinching his nose, “I’ve been calling students down here all day, graduation is coming soon and I just wanted to know how you guys are doing. Do you have any plans for college?”
I nodded, trying my best not to look at the bloody napkin sticking out of his nose. “Uh, I have three top schools I want to go to. I’m still waiting for one of them to get back to me, but I’m feeling pretty confident.”
“That’s great,” he nodded, tapping his pen against the calendar on his desk. “it sounds like you know what you want. Your grades have always been spectacular and you’re a very remarkable student; I see a lot of greatness in your future.”
“Thank you,” I blushed, smiling.
He then dismissed me and I went on my merry way to the rest of my classes. His bloody nose was still in my mind, but it was pushed to the back, where I wouldn’t care about it until years later.
Later on in the day, I received a text message from Caleb to meet him at his car. I was about to die from excitement. This was it. He was going to ask me to prom, it was exactly a week away and he had promised that if I didn’t have a date, he’d take me.
By the end of the day, I was so jittery it looked like I had consumed all the coffee in Starbucks, including the machines. I wanted to run down the hall and scream my happiness.
I couldn’t even lock my locker when the bell rang, dismissing the students. I smiled so brightly and widely that my cheeks were starting to actually hurt and I rushed to the student parking lot, to find Caleb’s black convertible.
If it was possible, my smile widened even more and part of me worried that my cheeks would peel off, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I almost skipped towards his car but I didn’t want to seem too excited.
“Hey,” I tightened my grip on the straps of my backpack.
Caleb smiled, nodding his head at me once. “Hey, Ells.” He unlocked his car, so I could get in and said, “I have something to ask you.”
Here it comes, oh my god. Don’t scream and try not to pass out!
“Sure, what’s up?” There. That sounded cool and collected. Not too excited, but not too bored. Keep your cool, Elizabeth.
“So,” Caleb began, sounding a bit excited, “prom is this Friday.”
I nodded, knowing that my voice was going to crack from euphoria. God, just say it! Ask me! I don’t care that it’s not a cute promposal, just going with you will make it worth it!
“Do you have a date?”
Shake your head slowly, Elizabeth. Not too quick that it looks desperate, but not too slow that you look like an idiot. “No.”
“Okay,” he breathed out, “I know I said that if you didn’t have a date, I’d take you.”
“Yeah,” I smiled, “thanks for that, Caleb.”
He winced, looking a bit awkward. “I’m sorry, Ells. I can get one of the guys to take you, but,” he sighed, “god, I sound so stupid. There’s this girl.”
No. No. No!
This is not how I pictured things to go down! There shouldn’t be any other girl. I’m the one that likes you, Caleb! I’m the one that’s gone through shit and back for you! Not whoever this girl is!
“Oh,” I managed to say, my voice on the verge of breaking.
“Yeah,” He smiled, full and breath-taking – a smile that he’d never directed towards me. “She’s amazing, Ells. She’s the new girl, Caroline. She’s funny and beautiful,” he closed his eyes, leaning his head against the headrest, “and so smart. Damn,” he laughed, “I’ve been talking to her for the past month and I think she’s the one.”
“The one?” I squeaked out, my face losing all blood. I could even hear it rushing down my body, to my heart because I needed it to keep on beating after it had shattered.
Caleb grinned, nodding. “I know it sounds silly, 'cause we’re only 18, but she makes me feel things, Ells. She is perfect.”
I nodded, not knowing what to say. I was so close to falling apart in his car. God, my crush from middle school was telling me that he liked the new girl. A new girl! I had been here since we were in diapers, what the hell!
“I want to ask her to prom,” he continued, “you know, maybe even take her out afterwards to ask her to be my girlfriend.”
I wanted to scream and remind him that he was going away for college and their relationship wouldn’t work because she wasn’t me, but I couldn’t say shit. It was like my brain had frozen and it only kept replaying his crush on her.
“Ells?” He frowned, snapping his fingers in front of me.
“Are you okay?”
I nodded, quickly, almost giving myself whiplash. “Yeah, sorry. I just…I think I’m coming down with something.”
“Oh,” he frowned, “do you want me to take you to the pharmacy to get something?”
“No,” I quickly shook my head again, wincing at the pain that began to grow at the base of my neck, “that’s fine.” I rubbed my neck, willing myself not to cry in front of him. “So, uh, what’s the favour you want me to do for you?”
The concern quickly washed away from his face and the breath-taking smile grew on his lips again. “I want to ask Caroline to prom, but I don’t know how to do it. I don’t even know if she has a date. I can’t ask the guys for help because they’ll just make fun of me, so you’re the only person I can go to.”
I gulped, swallowing back the bile of disappointment that wanted to leave my body. I was so close to throwing up and crying. God, I was a pathetic mess. I wanted to scream no! That he had promised to take me if I didn’t have a date. I was the one that liked him!
Instead, I heard my stupid, shaky voice agreeing. “Yeah, of course, I can help you.”
“Great!” He breathed out, hugging me quickly. “You’re the best!”
“That’s what friends are for,” I managed to get out weakly, smiling or maybe it was just a twitch of my lips. I wasn’t sure, I was trying my best to keep composed and not show him how broken I truly felt inside.
By agreeing to that, I found myself a couple of days later, snapping pictures of Caroline throwing herself in Caleb’s arms as she accepted his promposal. Since it had been a last-minute thing, we kept it “simple.”
Caleb and I filled the hallway with balloons and cutesy, frilly decorations and he stood by her locker with a huge brown bear and chocolates. All the students stopped to clap for them and congratulate them. They looked so happy that I felt even more miserable for being jealous.
After taking the pictures, I gave him a thumbs up and ran out of there as if the devil himself was after me. In the process of my escape, I managed to start crying like an idiot as I ran out to the courtyard.
That was supposed to be me! It was supposed to be me in his arms, laughing like a happy idiot and confessing my stupid crush of six years!
Out in the courtyard, I let out a couple of curses and deranged cries, kicking a couple of pebbles out of the way. “She’s not even that pretty!”
The worse part of it all was that Caroline really was that pretty. She was sweet and genuinely nice and I was letting the ugly, immature monster in me do all the talking.
As I kept cursing out the skies for ruining my prom night, I didn’t realise that there was someone outside, smoking. It was the same guy from Principal Sims’ incident, the one with the really gorgeous green eyes.
He eyed me up and own, taking a long, slow puff from his cigarette and then turned away.
“You shouldn’t be smoking cigarettes here,” I heard myself saying. What the hell, Elizabeth?! Shut up! You shouldn’t even be talking to him! He’ll probably get pissed and burn you.
“It’s a joint,” he replied, with an eyebrow raised at me.
“Still,” I whispered, wiping away a tear that was rolling down my cheek.
His hypnotising green eyes stared at my face for a really long time. Or maybe it wasn’t even that long and I was just freaking out and imagining things. Jesus, his eyelashes were longer than mine with mascara!
He finished his joint, throwing the last bit on the floor and stepped on it, twisting his dirty boot on it.
He shoved his hands in his jean pockets and then reached out to run his fingers through his dark hair. He eyed me for a moment, silently and then darted his pink tongue over, brushing it over his bottom lip. “No guy is worth your tears.”
And then he left.
And I was stunned.
If only he knew that he would eventually become the reason for most of my tears.