1: New and Improved
8 Months Later
School seems to carry on like a blur and you never realise that the best things can happen to you there. It’s called peaking in high school and I haven’t. The person who has probably done this however, would be Brooke Harmer. Tall, blonde, skinny and piercing green eyes. Well that’s all you can see from the outside but on the inside I know that she’s indecisive, tempered and very clever. She can make the world perceive you how she perceives everyone, like less than her.
I look to the floor but I can feel her glaring at me as she marches the halls alone, she doesn’t need anyone by her side because with a wave of her hand her ‘daddy’ will swoop in and save the day. Blair nudges me on the shoulder, snapping me out of my reverie and I look up to meet someone’s eyes. Caribbean green eyes that can pierce your soul and make you tell all your dirty little secrets. He smiles at me charmingly and I give him a half smile back, “Hi I’m Tyler, I seem to be lost.” Tyler’s eyes wander the hallways and then back to me. A lump forms in my throat and I have to fight myself to push it back down.
“Um hi,” I force my anxiety to go away and try to put on my mask, it fails. “What class do you have, maybe I can direct you?” I try to sound casual, confident even, but internally I am chucking a hissy fit. My mask has never failed me before so why now in front of this person I could make a fool of myself in front of?
Tyler looks to his planner and I can notice Blair slowly inching away from us. I beg her to come back with my eyes but quickly look at him when he turns to me, “Biology with Mr Semons in room 24? Is that what this code stands for?” He shows me his planner and I smile at him innocently.
“Yeah, the three letters stands for your teacher name, then the room, then there’s a few more letters in caps that represent your subject.” I look at him after pointing my finger to each section and he smiles at me, seeing all of me. I haven’t been so emotionally bare in a long time, so why is it this person that sees how far I’ve come? “I have that class now if... I could show you the way?” He nods his head while still smiling and I laugh at myself, incredulous.
“After you.” He moves aside, allowing me to take the lead and I start walking, half laughing at him. He doesn’t walk beside me, a little behind me, mainly due to my attempts at long strides. Though I’m too short for that to work.
When we arrive at a light green door with the numbers 24 written in thick paint I stop. An awkward silence falls between us and my chest feels like it could rip out of me while my stomach explodes. “This is our class.” I say slowly, pointing to the door half-heartedly. Tyler keeps smiling at me and strangely it doesn’t feel creepy, though I do wish he would stop making me feel like this. I think you can get aneurisms if your heart hurts too much right?
Just as I take a deep breath the door bursts open, revealing a beaming Mr Semons. “Tess, get in here the lesson is starting!” She yells enthusiastically. I bite my lip, never taking my eyes off Tyler.
“Sorry miss I was just showing Tyler to your class.” I say still looking at Tyler, he only looks away when Mr Semons registers he’s there but I keep looking, with a big goofy grin plastered on my face. After a distant conversation Tyler walks into the class room, following Mr Semons.
I shake my head, trying to come to terms with what just happened. That felt almost... normal. Taking a big step into class it’s like I walk into a different world, the energy is so different from the tense emotions inside me. All the students are paying attention but having fun with Mr Semons in her discussion. I make my way to the back, only to be rejected by Brooke who happens to have the whole row but only she has a spot. I glare at her before moving to the middle; Tyler follows me and sits in the chair next to me. I look at him, looking at me.
“What?” I ask curious,
“You.” I don’t like where this is going.
“What about me?” Tyler looks at me intently,
“Do you know why people are shy?” I shake my head; “Because they are hiding this wonderful person that was never given a chance.” I look away from his flattering words.
“You’ve only just met me.” I mumble, while Mr Semons hands dart all over the board.
“You can tell a lot about a person within the first minutes of meeting them.” It sounded like poetry coming from his mouth. I try to focus for the rest of the lesson, but his words keep coming back to me. I can’t help but grin throughout the rest of the lesson.
After class I try to get out as quickly as I can to meet Blair at the lockers. She’s leaning against them, laughing as I come up to her. “Well?” She asks, eyebrows raised.
“He’s nice.” I mumble while trying to get to my books, but I can’t help but smile.
Blair scoffs just as Tyler comes down the hallway. “Nice? He’s like... a freaking walking statue! You can’t tell me you don’t think he’s hot.” She looks at me incredulous, I close my locker and we start walking out of the hall.
She laughs at me when I don’t answer straight away. “We talked, and he’s really nice.” I finalise with a shrug.
“But he’s hot and nice right?” Blair suggests. I nod my head vigorously as we act like girls.
I unlock my car and we climb in, “I guess you could say that. But there’s more to him than that, he’s very... sure of himself but he doesn’t bring attention. He’s also very confident and...” I stay silent for a minute, “Gosh I had so much to say about him and now it’s like, like I’m lost for words.” She nearly punches me on the shoulder but I swerve out of the way.
“Woah look out, Doctor Marcel has taken control of Tess’ body.” She giggles before adding simply, “You totally like him!” She almost squeals when I smile. “BUT!” she interjects. “I, Blair Carter, hold dibs.” She starts giggling and I shake my head. “I may let you share him if you’re nice.” She offers.
I keep shaking my head, starting my car and driving out of the car park. “You can have him.” I mumble when she turns on the stereo and Sacrifice by Zella Day comes on and we sing it, me screaming and Blair with her hands in the air in big gestures.
Blair pretends to kiss me on the cheek with a big ‘muah’ and runs to her front door. I can’t help but smile at the thought of her, she acts like she’s 12 and that’s her best quality. To me anyway. I’ll always forgive Blair because I know that everything she does is for the benefit of something good.
I make my way back home and think about today, usually Blair and I do things all alone but we don’t mind. Today though, Tyler asked me to help find his class. Even though it was at the end of the day, something changed. Tyler came to me, whether I was the first person he saw or he wanted to talk to me, the dynamics are changing and I’m one step closer to my journey; Because I need someone like Tyler to help.
I quickly drive home in order to finish homework before it gets dark. When I walk through the door my mother is sitting on the couch, I walk over to her and kiss her on the cheek from behind. She jumps frightened, “Oh sweetie, you’re happy today!” I smile at her before making my way upstairs,
“Am I not allowed to be happy mum?” I yell at her from down stairs, there’s a pause and I know she’s making her way upstairs.
“Of course you are dear.” She beams at me. “It’s beef stroganoff for dinner tonight.” I nod, not looking at her and trying to get my books out.
“Is it the creamy kind?” I flash her a quick look and see her nod, “Thanks.” I stop and look at her, letting her know how grateful I am. She makes her way downstairs again and I sit at my desk getting my biology homework out. A tiny slip of paper floats to the floor and I bend to pick it up, some numbers are scrawled under the name Tyler. “That little bastard.” I smirk evilly, he gave me his number. I throw the paper in my little bin and continue on with my homework.
After a while my phone rings and I look at it to see a blocked caller. “Hello?” I ask nervously.
“Tessa?” Brooke sneers and I almost hang up the phone. “Before you go, I hope you should realise that if you don’t stay away from Tyler I’ll make your life miserable.” She says it in a way that sounds like she enjoys ruining people’s lives.
I scoff at her, courage filling my heart. “Listen here, I don’t care who your father is. You’ll mess with my life? I’ll mess with yours, it goes both ways. So go ahead, make your first move because I’ll be waiting.” I hang up and sigh before returning to my homework. Small tears start falling on my books and I quickly scoop them up and throw them to the floor. Courage is so overrated.
Of course she would want Tyler you idiot! I tell myself before fishing out his number and dialling. I almost give up but on the last ring he picks up, “Hello?” His croaky voice sounds he’s been sleeping.
“You really think I’m wonderful?” I sniffle and I can hear some ruffling on the other side of the line.
“Tessa?” His concerned voice racks my body, “What’s wrong?” I almost burst into more tears at his concern.
I try to laugh it off. It fails. “I got a call from Brooke. She really likes you.” I sniffle again, wishing I would stop crying. I hate crying.
There’s more ruffling on Tyler’s end. “Did you know that secretly she’s evil?” Tyler ponders inquisitively.
I scoff, “She’s not secretly evil, and she’s like Satan’s daughter I swear.” We both laugh.
“Oh Tess, I’m so glad you called.” He calms himself down and my chest hurts when I hear his words.
I can’t help but smile, he’s glad I called. “Me too.” I whisper and Tyler stays silent. “Thank you Tyler.” I continue.
There’s a long pause. “You’re welcome Tess.” Now I stay quiet and the silence isn’t awkward, it’s a comfortable silence. “Do you want to get a drink tonight? Like coffee or something?” His question catches me by surprise.
“Ah don’t you think it’s a bit late for coffee?” I think about it for a while.
Tyler laughs. “Look who’s a goody too shoes. Fine, we’ll have dinner then?” I nod though he can’t see me.
“Okay.” I mumble. “Do you want me to pick you up or do you we meet there?”