I looked up from my new purple English notebook, filled with random doodles and quotes to find two pairs of brown eyes staring down at me in both friendliness and curiosity. Of course, as if everyone hadn't been giving me that look since the minute I appeared. The girls in front of me had been brave enough to talk to me while everyone else seemed to stare in wonder. One was taller by about a full head, and she was tanner than the other girl. She had light caramel eyes and dark brown wavy hair that looked like it was touched by the sun and tousled by the beach's breezes that reached a little lower than her back.
The other girl was a bit paler, but she still had a noticeable tan. Her eyes were also brown, but more of a chocolate color. She had blond hair, but it was rather dark, almost light brown. It was about the same length as the other girl, maybe even longer, but it could have been because it was naturally straight. She had a few strands that had light blond streaks, which I imagined to be from the sun. She looked shorter than I was, but I still didn't reach the other girl's height.
"Hi," I replied, offering a warm smile in their direction. I didn't want to seem like some arrogant, spoiled brat come right from a private school. Few people have tried talking to me, almost as if I was untouchable, but I've tried to be as nice and kind looking as possibe. It didn't work on everyone, some rolled their eyes at me and glared. It wasn't my fault I was receiving so much attention.
"Audrey, right?" asked Straight-Hair Girl with hope that she got my name correct. I scrunched my face in disagreement before smiling.
"Aubrey," I told her. Wavy-Hair Girl rolled her eyes playfully and lightly pushed Straight-Hair Girl. I kept my smile, but my eyebrows knit together in confusion.
"I told you it was Aubrey," Wavy-Hair Girl said, followed by a laugh. Her voice was smooth and I bet she was a good singer.
"Shut up," replied Straight-Hair Girl. They both turned back to me and I sat in my seat, waiting for them to speak. "Well, Aubrey, my name is Rachel."
"And my name is Calista," said the other girl. Calista. I really liked her name; it sounded exotic almost and it was very pretty.
"It's nice to meet you!" I said, trying to put as much enthusiasm into my voice as possible. I was still a bit perplexed as to why they randomly showed up to my desk. Rachel and Calista suddenly exchanged looks before looking at me again.
"We were wondering if you wanted to, um-" began Calista, but Rachel interrupted her and raised an eyebrow in question at me, a flicker of hope in her eyes.
"-sit with us at lunch?" she finished. Calista nodded, implying that she had the same request. They were inviting me to sit with them?
"I mean, you don't have to if you don't want to. It's up to you!" said Rachel quickly.
"Yeah," agreed Calista. "Or maybe someone already asked you...? That's also cool. Maybe some other time-"
"Actually, um, I'd love to sit with you guys," I cut in, smiling once more. Why did I smile so much? Force of habit now, I guess, after having to recreate myself at my boarding school. I watched the girls' faces light up and they eagerly looked at each other. "Wait, when do you have lunch?"
"Next period," replied Calista as she began tying her hair into a side ponytail. She took off her jacket to reveal a cute halter top. I looked over to Rachel and noticed that the two girls were wearing the same exact pieces of clothing. Their only difference was the color of their shirts; Calista's was a coral pink while Rachel's was a soft, baby blue. They had matching white shorts and white sandals, their jackets the same too, from Hollister. I looked down at my outfit. The clothing I thought would look great for my first day back seemed to dim against their fashionable clothes.
"When do you have lunch?" asked Rachel, snapping me out of my fashion trance. I looked back at Rachel.
"Um...next period...I think," I mumbled, more to myself than to them. This seemed to enlighten Rachel even more.
"Great! We can walk you there, if that's okay with you," she offered, kindness peaking out of her voice.
"Sure. And sorry this is so random, but I absolutely love your outfits," I complimented, praise clear in my tone. Calista shrugged while Rachel blushed from the nice comment. I instantly knew that the two girls were very modest, despite their beauty and clothes. I wonder how they were in the academic world, too.
"Thanks! But yours is even better," argued Calista.
"Yes! Where do you shop Bree?" asked Rachel. She seemed like the lighter, more childish one. Calista didn't seem strict, but she was more reserved than Rachel. She gave Rachel a questioning, amused look and mouthed "Bree?" Rachel shrugged before looking at me once more.
"I should be asking that," I chuckled. The two girls laughed lightly with me when the bell overtook all our voices, catching our attention, too.
"That's the late bell, we should go to our seats or else Mrs. Rainer could get mad at us," said Calista, beckoning Rachel towards her. The two girls motioned a goodbye for me before flipping their hair -that wasn't dramatic- and returning to their seats.
Just then, a tall, middle-aged woman with hair the length of the Eiffel Tower entered the cold classroom from the hallway, a smile playing on her lips. She closed the wooden door behind her, sending a wave at someone, who I presumed to be a good friend of hers, a teacher perhaps. She waddled over to her large clutter of papers on her desk, which had food crumbs all over it. I would know- I had a pretty good view of it, being the student in the second row.
"Alright class," she started, "begin your drills, if you haven't done so already. You have seven minutes to finish it," she instructed while opening a pack of brownies. My stomach growled a little from the sight. As the students began working on the drill, I hesitantly stood up from my seat, picking up my slip, and rushed towards the front of the classroom. I felt a pair of eyes on me, but it was different from the rest this morning. I felt like they were boring holes into my back. Who was it? Then again, I could have been being paranoid; everyone had been staring at me today, anyways.
I neared the oblivious woman in front of me, who was busily typing away on her computer on some document. I suddenly blushed, realizing I had completely forgotten to check my schedule for her name. I took a breath before speaking to the lady. "Um, excuse me m'am?" I asked, sounding as professional as I could.
The woman shifted her gaze up to me and an expression of confusion was visible on her facial features. "Hello...may I help you?" I stood there for a second like an idiot before scrambling for my slip and presenting it to her. She took it in her small hands and examined it, pulling her glasses down to her face.
"Hi, I'm Aubrey Rae and I'm the new student..." I hinted, trying to remind her that there was a new kid in her class. "I moved here from my boarding school in California. I-" Recognition of my arrival dawned in on her features and she slapped her palm to her forehead, almost as if scolding herself.
"Oh, dear! I'm so sorry. I had forgotten you were coming today. I'm guessing it's my old age," she said with humor. I pretended to understand and smiled at her, joining in the comedy with an awkward laugh of my own.
"It's fine, don't worry about it. Um, it seems your name escapes me?"
The tall lady stuck her hand out and I took it uncomfortably. This woman was making a lot of commotion and I felt as if the entire classroom was staring. "My name is Mrs. Rainer, dear." After introducing herself to me, rather loudly, she shoved a bunch of papers at me, most piled together with a paper clip holding them. She told me to go back to my seat and work on the drill. She said if I finished early, I could review the papers regarding our studies this year.
Once I returned I sat down and felt the stares' pressure decrease, but there was still this other feeling that me uncomfortable, like someone was watching me too closely. I ignored the strange feeling and began to write the answer to my drill in my journal. It was quite simple, I had already learned it back at Pacific Coast Academy, better known as PCA. Their levels of study were a bit more in depth and detailed then regular high school courses, so this year would be a breeze.
Then again, even if I had not attended PCA, I still could have managed to ace everything. In the most humble way, I had to admit my knowledge was very vast for a seventeen year old girl. I used to spend countless hours studying my textbooks and practicing questions. I would look up higher-level subjects online for fun and to pass time. Getting good grades was second nature to me; it was incredibly easy and I enjoyed learning, anyways. Even though I have loosened up over the course of the past three years, I'm still a bit of the same nerd I always was. I just learned to be more social and appreciate taking care of myself and my image. It wasn't one of my top priorities, but I made sure no one would ever hurt me again.
Back in ninth grade, I was often bullied for being that quiet, shy girl who always kept her nose pressed against books and had trouble keeping her glasses on the bridge of her nose. I was an outcast, the loser of the century. No one wanted to be caught dead in the same room as me. Ninth grade was the worst year for me. It was the year I lost my body guard, my adviser, my best friend; Ethan Parks.
Ethan and I met in second grade, when he moved here to Maryland from Boston. Even in grade school, we were considered losers. In middle school, it got worse from there. I didn't like going to school; I felt lost and unwanted. Ethan was there for me when no one else was. He was the one that kept me from a blade and told me everything was worth it, when in reality, the only reason I wanted to live was because I knew he would help me through everything and I would always be there for him.
Then we entered high school. The first half of the year was okay, I did get teased and mocked, but it wasn't as bad as it was in middle school. Less people got into my personal business and left me alone, concentrating on their own problems. But then there were the popular people. I'm not saying every popular person alive is going to be a tormenting demon come alive from your worst social nightmares; but there were the exceptions. One of those monsters was called Shannon Arshadi. Otherwise known as the queen ninth grader of Cainwood High School.
She was the worst of the worst. Everything she did was filled with awful intentions. Never had I seen her do anyone a good deed in which it didn't benefit her. Her little minions, Hannah and Britney followed her around like lost puppies and did exactly what she told them to do. Whenever they saw their Queen Bee, their eyes would sparkle with adoration and respect. Um, if you look up to some girl who runs around in tight mini skirts, low-cut shirts, and high heels all the time with a face caked with enough makeup to paint all of Paris, then you should probably go see a doctor. Not to mention she was incredibly rude and obnoxious.
Yet the lenient teachers here let her slide any mistakes she makes and ignore her skimpy outfits. Despite her partying every single night, she still managed to get rather decent grades, never lower than a B-. She must have stolen it from those kids she bullies. I was one of them.
We were sworn enemies. I've hated Shannon ever since she began picking on other kids. One day I stood up for them because I knew what it was like to be laughed at, but then I become her favorite target. Every time we were within thirty feet from each other, she found a way to embarrass me and make me feel worthless. She was also the reason Ethan become but a mere memory for me.
Ethan was a good kid. Always got straight A's. Never talked back to the teachers. Didn't have a care for anything social or going out for what most people considered fun. You could say he was the male version of me, the goody-two-shoes kid. Ethan wasn't at all a looker; in fact he wasn't pleasant to look at if I'm being honest. His face was full of acne and it was oily. He was short and awkward, totally scrawny. He was very clumsy and he always wore some type of plaid shirt and too-high pants with those black shoes of his and white socks.
But he was my best friend. I would do anything for him because he was sweet and caring. He was the guy who wasn't afraid to defend me and loved being by my side when I was bored. Whenever I needed someone, he was there and he helped me through everything. Ethan was definitely intelligent and clever, almost as much as me.
Then one day, he just...changed. Ethan became taller, he started getting buffer. He was only fifteen, but you could see that he was getting built. I noticed that his attitude in sports changed and that he looked forward to being in gym class everyday, while I struggled to even drag my feet over to the place I considered my death bed. He dropped his ugly apparel for a more boyish look and got a side-swept haircut. Somewhere in the middle of the year, he become hot. Really, really hot. He looked the same, but at the same time, he was completely transformed. He had the same eyes, the same lips, the same rough hands, and the same smile.
But he changed. Not just physically, but socially and mentally, too. Girls began swooning over him and he would give me excuses that he couldn't hang out with me because he got invited to this party and he really want to go, so we should just forget we had ever planned our study session at the nearby, local library. He would start telling me that I was missing out on life. He told me that glasses were out of style. Um, I loved my glasses at the time!
Then Shannon came into the picture. Remember how I described her looking kind of like a skank? Yeah, well, she acted like one too, even though she was only about fifteen years old at the time. Once Ethan became attractive in the least, began playing sports, and started being more social and funny, she began talking to him in a flirty manner. She wanted him, but so did I. I wanted him as my best friend, not my lover. She wanted to date him and would do anything to call him hers.
Ethan fell for her and they dated. But I don't think it was just her that lured him into changing for the supposed "better." He had more and more friends from the popular group who tried bringing him into their social group. The weird thing was, he wanted to be friends with both the popular people and me, the girl who was bullied and harassed daily by them. Ethan was the sweet, kind guy out of the popular clique. He tried asking them if they would stop bothering me, but they didn't listen to him. They shrugged it with laughter, and since he didn't want to lose them either, he didn't press any further on the subject.
"Alright class," started Mrs. Rainer, sucking me out of my memories. "...who can tell me the answer to the drill?"
No one raised their hands. Her smile faltered.
"Anyone?" I looked around the room and noticed students laying lazily on their desks, other's squinting at the screen, and a few sending notes. This was not a productive class, I guessed. So much for AP English students.
I had the answer, it was so easy. No one else was going to volunteer, so I slowly raised my hand and looked around one more time before realizing that another hand was also in the air. I tried craning my neck to see who the other person was, who was obviously a male because his muscular arm screamed it. They were hidden behind a girl's head, but then Mrs. Rainer called on me suddenly.
"Aubrey, dear, would you please read the question as well?" I nodded in response.
"Find the word that differs from the rest in the position of the main stress. Um, I got the answer B, uniform," I said in a clear, loud voice so she could hear me. She circled the letter "b" on her electronic screen.
"Correct, Aubrey!" she praised, before explaining why the words differed from uniform the most. Calista looked my way and smiled at me. The explanation took about ten minutes because kids kept asking pointless and obvious questions that were completely unnecessary. Eventually, she moved on to a different matter and began instructions for the day. We were studying something about English Phonetics -Stress- or something like that. I did pay attention to her, but I was still curious as to who that boy was. Maybe he was like me- loved learning and having good relationships with teachers. Perhaps we could become friends. He did get into AP English, which obviously meant he was clever and smart.
But not once did I see that hand raise again for the rest of the period, even though the teacher had asked us numerous questions for us to answer. The class droned on. I didn't dislike English, but today, I had forgotten to eat breakfast on my first day back at a regular high school and food was calling me.
Thanks to my high metabolism, I didn't have to worry about over eating something. I had never been overweight, but back in ninth grade, I used to believe it since everyone called me fat and obese. I felt horrible about my body and my face. I had started to develop eating disorders. I would eat a lot at the dinner table with my family, then go to my room and force myself to throw it all up. I became underweight very quickly. The habit began on the last week of my attendance in Cainwood High School. There were still about three months left, but I couldn't take it anymore. I had begged my mother to let me go to a boarding school.
She knew I was being bullied, I had told her, and that was the only reason she let me go to PCA. As a mother, she didn't want her only daughter to suffer from such social pain so she decided it would be the best thing.
When I got there, I noticed myself stand out. It wasn't because of my clothes or because I was "fat." Everyone commented on the fact that I was too skinny for a fourteen year old girl. I just thought they were being sarcastic at the time. One day I stepped out from my shower to look at my body. I really looked at myself. Then it hit me that everyone was right, I was too underweight. I looked at my skin, which clearly showed my bones underneath, defined and prominent. I looked disgusting.
After that, I ate normally again and my previous body had been restored. I became friends with this one girl, her name was Felicity. She was the most girly person I had ever met, but she was also incredibly gifted with academics, which is why we met each other. I liked her a lot. She was very sweet and bubbly, always optimistic. She kept asking if she could give me a makeover because it would be "so much fun".
Finally, after months of her asking me, I let her enter my dorm with a bag full of cosmetics, hair products and irons, face cleansing stuff, and a whole lot of other stuff. I remember cringing and telling her I changed my mind. It was already too late. She forced me to a chair and began applying powders and liquids on my face and hair. She curled my hair into large ringlets and even added temporary blond highlights in there, too.
After two hours of pinching, removing, holding, pulling, and applying, she was done. We would have spent more time on my face, but luckily, I was blessed with baby soft skin, free from oils and acne. My skin was probably the only thing I was proud of. Still, Felicity insisted on going out and getting a tan because I was too pale. I decided the worst of it was over with so I accepted and we went down to the beach that day, since we had no classes. Right before I left my dorm, I looked at Felicity's canvas, which I called my face. Honestly, I was shocked. For once, I actually felt very pretty and beautiful, which was shallow of me to think. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. But at the time, I just didn't feel ugly anymore. And I loved the feeling.
Later on, I forced myself to believe that I was somewhat pretty. I had a nice pair of clear, aqua eyes with flecks of green in them. My hair color was a dark brown, black almost, but not quite. I got the hair from my father and the eyes from my mother, who was of lighter complexion than my father. My nose wasn't big, but it wasn't too thin either and my lips were almost a heart shape at the upper lip. Perfect for pouting.
I guess I had also changed. But it was different for me. I did begin using make up and bought better clothing. I was really into fashion and my appearance. Not to please other people, but it was for myself. I didn't care what others thought of me anymore. But I never gave up on my studies and my love for learning new things. I was still the same nerd as usual. I just looked different on the outside. The only personal characteristic I did change was that I become more social. Pacific Coast was like a haven to me.
Clearing my head, I decided that during class, it wasn't a good idea to space out. I sat up right in my chair when I noticed I was slouching and let my eyes follow the teacher who was going about the room, handing out two sheets of paper; one yellow, the other white. Only when it reached my desk did I realize it was homework and that is was the end of class.
The bell rang right after that, as if to support my conclusion and then I stood up automatically, collecting my things from my desk. By the time I was finished grabbing everything, Calista and Rachel were already at my seat, waiting patiently for me to get my supplies and my binder.
"We'll show you the way to the cafeteria, Aubrey," said Rachel. "It's confusing when you're new here." I frowned.
"Oh, I'm not new here. I was here in ninth grade, but then I went to a boarding school in California. And now I'm here again, for senior year," I corrected her. She apologized and then asked Calista something. My gaze averted around the room in curiosity and then I saw this one boy with dark brown hair leaving the classroom. His face had been looking at me but as soon as I turned that way, they looked the other way, hiding their identity. But not before I saw a pair of familiar blue eyes with hints of silver and gold in them.