A necessary change

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Earth Day is a wonderful event that celebrates our planet... Leah absolutely hates it. At least, she hates the way her school does it: boring lectures and useless group activities. To make things worse, she ends up in the same group as Jessica, the popular girl in school, who coincidentally also happens to be a bully. Hooray. But when Jessica and Leah are forced to spend time in close vicinity, she starts to realise that Jessica isn't that bad, as well as something much more personal. A short story.

Romance / Humor
Julie Mar
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

I was not in the mood to go to school. At all. Especially today.

Not that I didn’t like Earth Day – in fact, I’m a huge supporter of Earth Day. Yay, healthy planet. Big fan.

The problem was my school, specifically the ginormous deal that was Earth Day at Buxbaum High. It would be understandable to have a few short lectures on the importance of recycling, maybe even invite an environmentalist to give a big speech on how our planet is dying. But Buxbaum always went a step further, making Earth Day a completely useless time to be alive in our little city.

“Hello, Leah!” Robert exclaimed as I reached him near the school entrance. “Isn’t it a wonderful day?”

I glared at him. I had ranted at him multiple times about my problems with Earth Day, so he knew very well that I wasn’t in a good mood. And it certainly wasn’t a wonderful day.

“Okay, okay. Take a chill pill,” he told me after seeing my expression. “I’m messing with you.”

“Doesn’t make it any less infuriating,” I replied, making my way through the doors and toward our lockers.

“Don’t blame me,” Robert said. “I’m just trying to cheer you up a little. I know you hate this, and I really don’t want to spend all day with a grumpy person.” I glanced at him, slightly offended, but he only shrugged. “You know you get like that.”

I did get like that. “Sorry,” I said simply. “I’ll try to be less insufferable. But today has already taken a turn for the worst. I woke up late because my stupid alarm clock didn’t go off so I had to rush to the bathroom but of course my sister was in the bathroom so I had to go to my parents’ bathroom and I almost saw my father naked and I panicked and then I couldn’t have breakfast because I was late and I had to run out to be able to get the bus and I swear the driver was about to take off but then I yelled in front of everybody to fucking stopand so he did and then –”

“Deep breath, Leah,” Robert interrupted. “You’re rambling.”

I followed his instruction, but it still didn’t help with my mood. My will to live was nearing zero. And it was eight o’clock in the morning.

I grumbled. “Let’s get this over with. What are our activities today?”

Robert pulled out his phone. “I’m not sure. The only thing I know is that all students have to be in the homeroom in ten minutes. I guess they’ll tell us everything there.”

I struggled to hold in my groan as I took out some books from my bag and placed them neatly in my locker. The least I could do today was avoid going around with a heavy load.

Suddenly, a familiar female voice: “You’re ugly today.”

“Nice one,” I answered, not even looking up at her. “Did you practice saying that in the mirror this morning?”

Then I froze, realizing what I had just said. Out loud. To fucking Jessica O’Neil.

I turned to look at her in fear, already expecting the worst. Her face was as shocked as mine, but when my eyes met hers, she smirked. “Nice comeback.” And walked away, her group of friends following suit.

I stood in the middle of the hallway, still feeling the other students’ stares on my shoulders. The whole school would be talking about it: I was sure of it. Nothing interesting ever happened here. A nobody talking back to the most popular girl in school? You better believe some people will gossip.

I faced Robert, who was staring at me with his mouth open. “Did you just –?”

“I don’t know what just happened.”

“Did she –?”

“I have no idea.”

“What the –?”

“You need to actually finish a sentence for us to have a meaningful conversation.”

“Sorry,” he said, shaking his head. “But that was insane. What the hell were you thinking, answering her like that?”

“I don’t know!” I exclaimed. “It just came out! I didn’t mean it, I wasn’t thinking.”

“Well, you better start. I refuse to be made fun of because of you,” Robert said, making me roll my eyes.

“She didn’t seem to care much though,” I pointed out. “She smirked at me.”

Robert frowned. “Are you sure she wasn’t sneering?”

I didn’t tell my best friend that – for some reason – Jessica’s face was imprinted in my mind like a tattoo: her brown eyes twinkling with delight, her eyebrows slightly raised in surprise, her long blonde hair whipping in the air as she turned her head, and her full lips rising on one side – a smirk. I was sure it was a smirk.

“Yeah, I think so.”

Robert chuckled. “Weird. Anyway, we should probably go.” He looked around at the rest of the students, who were all making their way to the homeroom.

I was still picturing Jessica’s face, but Robert’s comment made me stir into action. I closed my locker and followed him.

Once seats were taken and everyone had entered, our headmistress stood up to make an announcement. “Good morning, everyone. As you may know, today is Earth Day!” she said cheerfully, earning several cheers from my fellow students. Ugh. “Like past years, today will be filled with various activities related to the importance of environmental care. These activities are designed to both give you an insight on our planet as well as teach you what we as individuals can do to reduce our impact on the Earth.” She paused, then gave the crowd a suspicious smile. Something was going to happen. I could feel it. “Unlike other years, however, we have decided to prolong these activities.”

My eyes widened at her statement, and I barely heard the next words out of the headmistress’ mouth. “This year, Earth Day will be a whole week long!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen and gentlepeople, is how you can ruin my life in less than three seconds.

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