Chapter 1 Pt. 1
It was the first day of grade 12. As a loner, Xene wasn’t particularly excited to see anyone. Year after year, she’d congregate at the school with hundreds of teens whom she felt indifferent toward. It was nothing new, and the glamor of it had long since disappeared. It was about 7:50 a.m., and since she had nothing to do, she headed to her first class a bit early.
After walking up two flights of stairs, she reached the first class of the day: Economics. She was familiar with the teacher of the class, as she’d had them the year prior. She approached the door to his classroom and peered at him as he sat at his desk.
“Can I come in now?” she asked.
He looked up at her and smiled.
“Yeah, of course.”
She entered the room, immediately noticing another student sitting in the corner of the classroom. She recognized her. Xene had saw her in the hallway a few times in junior year, but she’d never exchanged words with the girl. She didn’t even know her name. But what she did know, was that she entered the room she didn’t acknowledge her in any way.
“How was your summer?” her teacher asked, eagerly.
The pair had some stale small talk for a few minutes before allowing the conversation to drop off. Xene seated herself in the back of the classroom, behind the familiar schoolmate. Unconsciously, she stared at the back of her head, allowing her eyes to trail down a bit. She was steadily typing away on his phone.
I wonder if she’s enjoying the conversation with whoever she’s talking to.
She didn’t have a conversational partner of her own, so she put her head down and thought about her plans for after school.
At Xene’s high school, there wasn’t a typical schedule with eight classes per semester. She only had four per semester for majority of her high school career, but since she was now a senior, she had two classes per day with an A and B day schedule. So, after Economics class, she had her last class of the day: Art. The class went by quickly since all the instructor did was go over the syllabus. When they were taking roll, she noticed that the girl was also in her Art class. By this point, she’d picked up that the girl’s name was Hilea Satō. Though, she went by her middle name, Takara.
Once her classes were over, Xene made her way home to change, before making her way to her job at the convenience store.
The first few weeks of school went by peacefully, and eventually, the kids began to get more into their lessons. Xene was especially focused on her schoolwork, while simultaneously devoting a lot of her focus to observing Takara. The girl’s continuous solitude intrigued her. She was a fan of it herself, but she’d never witnessed a teenager that had been so openly content with their isolation. Especially in a small school where everyone seemed to be a part of a friend group.
Everyone treated the girl like a weirdo, but Xene couldn’t help but wonder what kind of person Takara was and why she decided to keep to herself. Considering that the girl was quite good-looking, it was slightly confusing. Takara was a Japanese girl with bright, orange eyes, and contrasting smokey eyeshadow. Her inky black hair was tied in a high, chunky, layered ponytail at the crown of her head, with long, jagged bangs. She had tattoos completely covering her forearms, which Xene was even more intrigued by, since they were 17. Nonetheless, they coincided with her appearance, and she pulled the look off well.
About a month into school, they were in Art class one Thursday morning. The class had been tasked with drawing an object in thirteen different art styles. Xene was seated near the front of the class and Takara was across the room. Initially, she was working, but at a certain point, she lost focus and allowed her eyes to scan the room absentmindedly. Her gaze wandered over to Takara, seeing that her sketchbook page was nearly full. Impulsively, she got up and walked in that direction, under the guise of grabbing an eraser.
She looked up Xene, subtly raising her thin eyebrows.
“Your sketch is really good.”
The girl scoffed.
Her voice came out deeper than expected, but Xene didn’t mind it. However, she did find the girl to be slightly arrogant. It was off-putting. Slightly annoyed, she promptly returned to her seat, assuming that Takara didn’t enjoy socializing.
Ironically, she didn’t end up refocusing because the interaction kept replaying in her head.
Near the end of class, Takara said, “Mr. Graymont, can I take my sketchbook home?”
“Sure. That looks really good so far.”
Mr. Graymont got closer to the desk, doing further evaluation of the drawing.
“Thank you,” she said, smiling confidently.
Xene folded her full lips, regretting her choice to speak to the girl.
Once class was over, she went home, and began to get ready for work. While standing in front of the mirror, she brushed her kinky, coily, light brown hair into a slick puff. Those big, pastel pink eyes of hers locked in on her lips as she swiped lip gloss across them. She slid her button up over her tan skin, straightened it out, then headed out the door.
Upon arrival at her job, Xene went in the back room and put her bookbag down. She adjusted her name tag, then walked behind the counter, relieving her coworker of their shift. The job paid minimum wage, but it was fine because she had no bills to pay. She was content with any pay. Plus, the fun, weird interactions with people made it interesting.
One Friday night, Xene was behind the counter as usual. She’d had a test that day, and was relieved that it was over, but things at work were rather mellow. It was… boring to say the least. She was zoned out, staring at the drinks in the back, when the door chimed. Her gaze shifted, seeing a tall, lanky girl walking toward the back. The bobbing ponytail at the crown of the girl’s head caught her attention instantly. She was wearing a oversized checkered hoodie with a black tennis skirt and black calf-high, platform boots.
She opened one of the fridges and grabbed a can of Arizona before beginning to walk through the aisles, searching for something. Xene rested her elbow on the counter and placed the palm of her hand on her forehead. A few minutes later, she heard the girl clear her throat. When she looked up, Takara was standing right in front of her.
The racoon eyed girl’s eyebrows raised in surprise upon seeing her classmate, before letting an expression of smugness settle on her face.
Since when does she know my name?
“Hi,” she replied as she started scanning the items.
Xene avoided her eyes. Her stare was intense.
“How is it… working here?”
She put the items in a bag.
“Well, at least you look cute.”
Xene’s eyes widened at the sudden compliment before narrowing again at the randomness of it.
“What does that have to do with it being boring?” she laughed.
The girl’s pink lips curved into a smirk.
“I guess nothing. I just wanted to compliment you.”
The pink-eyed girl simply smiled, then wrapped up the rest of the transaction. The interaction ended up being the highlight of her shift. It was simple, but for some reason, she enjoyed it.
One day after school the following week, Xene approached her car and noticed that Takara was sitting in the car beside hers. Their eyes met, and Takara raised her slender hand, waving with a blank expression. Surprised, she looked behind her to make sure. No one was behind her, so she looked back at the girl in the car.
She pointed at her, mouthing ‘I’m waving at you, dumbass’.
Xene’s face twisted in annoyance, causing Takara to burst out laughing. The pink-eyed girl flipped her off, making her laugh harder. With a huff, the teen got in her car, throwing her book bag in the passenger seat. After starting the car, she took one last glance at the car beside her. Takara was flipping her off with both hands. With an eye roll, she pulled out of the parking lot.