FOREVER AND ALWAYS
That’s the one word I’d use to describe my first day at my new school, Gregory H. Peters Preparatory High School. Everyone stared at me like I was an alien. I’m betting that they don’t get new kids very often. I stuck out like a sore thumb. And the fact that I had no choice but to trail behind Vivica and her friends didn’t help whatsoever. I made no friends.
I miss my old school. I didn’t think I’d miss my old school, to be honest. I had a few friends there, most of which I still talk to via text message and social media. I received a few “I miss you already” tweets this past weekend but I didn’t bother to respond because that’s who I am, I guess. Distant is what my friends called me. Wild is what my parents called me, which is the entire reason why I’m here, in Harrington.
Parties, parties, parties. That’s all I did according to my parents. In actuality, I went to school, ate, slept, occasionally partied, watched television, and read. I also hung out with my younger brother, Charlie, pretty often. Speaking of Charlie, I miss him a lot, probably more than I miss my parents. I was out of ‘control and needed a change of scenery’. I think my father was just embarrassed of having to break up parties that I threw, or was attending. He said that he made the decision to send me to Aunt Genevieve’s as a father, not as a cop. But for some reason, I don’t think that’s the case.
By the time lunch came around, I was unsure of where I was going to sit.
My eyes had scanned the cafeteria once, twice, and three times before I noticed Chelsea waving at me in the left, back corner of the large room. Should I just ignore her and pretend I didn’t see her? But then where could I go? Hesitantly, I made my way over there, drawing eyes as I did. I let out a sigh. I wish I had spoken to someone, anyone, just so I wouldn’t have to sit at my cousin’s table. Today, I learned that she’s popular, very popular. I just assumed that she was just a snob, but no, she’s a very popular snob. So popular that she manages to split crowds just by entering a room. If that didn’t make me uncomfortable, the way she was whispering at the table did.
I stopped in my tracks, uncertain on whether or not I should actually go to the table. I could lie and say that I have to change my schedule, which was actually fine. I only have one class with Vivica, and it’s my first period class- which I can deal with. On Friday, when I was forced to hang out with Chelsea and Tracy, they demanded I give them my schedule. I have one class with Tracy and two with Chelsea, but I realized that she usually skips those classes. She said so in the car ride this morning, which I was also forced into taking.
As I stood there, I decided that I would just leave. I turned around and slammed into someone. The loud cafeteria went silent as the sound of two people colliding and falling to the ground wafted through the air. I heard a deep voice swearing and I felt my face immediately warm up as I began to apologize. I’m such an idiot. I was just standing there, in the middle of the cafeteria, staring at a table.
I stood up, looking down at the guy who I bumped into. The ketchup that I had retrieved for my fries stained his black uniform shirt. I continued to apologize as I looked around for napkins. No one offered any. Instead, they all stared at us. By the tense aura of the room, I can tell that whoever I just bumped into isn’t someone to be messed with. I’m guessing the people around us were expecting him to lash out at me by the way they stared at him, looking for a reaction.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized again when I couldn’t offer him any napkins. My lunch lay abandoned on the floor, as did his unopened soda bottle. I immediately picked it up, handing it to him. He stared at my outstretched hand before he grabbed the soda. His green eyes were staring at me as I tried to explain the situation.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to bump into you. I was just going to go change my schedule. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. If it’s any comfort, I’m pretty embarrassed, too,” I continued to rant as my cheeks became more and more red. When you’re the only one talking, it gets pretty awkward. Especially when you have over two hundred listening ears. My words were practically echoing off the walls.
I may not know this guy, but I know enough to say that he’s intimidating. His broad shoulders basically overshadowed my entire existence. His tapering eyes and messy hair were the only things I could focus on. My stomach was clenched and knotted as I stared up at his tall figure.
He watched me with furrowed eyebrows. He glanced down at his shirt, his jaw clenching slightly. “Watch where you’re going,” he hissed. It was barely audible but the words rattled around my head, bouncing from wall to wall. He was capable of making the four words sound like a threat.
Without another word, he turned on his heel and exited the cafeteria. The breath I was holding was immediately released. I slowly made my way towards the lunch table I was avoiding as the janitors shooed me away from the dropped lunch.
I let out a slow shaky breath as I sat down. The stress of that situation had wrecked my nerves. “You know who that was?” Chelsea asked with a smirk.
“Maddox Finnegan- the guy you’re going to be asking to homecoming,” Tracy grinned.
Can this day get any worse?
Because I know his name and his face, Maddox Finnegan had popped up in two of my last few classes. During roll call, his name was called and he answered with a raise of his hand. I felt my stomach twist into yet another knot when the last period bell rang and I had to leave the safety of the classroom to wait at Vivica’s car.
“You have to ask him now,” Vivica informed me once I reached her vehicle. His car was parked beside Vivica’s and he was leaning against it, as if waiting for someone. Chelsea and Tracy looked at me expectantly.
“Can’t I wait until he forgets about how I bumped into him today?” I asked in a quiet voice.
“You either ask him now or you don’t get a ride home,” Vivica explained, louder than I would’ve liked.
Had I made a friend with a car, this wouldn’t have been a problem. The drive here was about twenty five minutes, so walking would be double the time. And since I don’t know the way, it’d probably take me hours to find my way back to Aunt Genevieve’s. I stared at them, annoyed. I would say something, but they’d think I was refusing to do it. And I wouldn’t get a ride either way.
I sighed. “He’s going to say no and embarrass me…again.”
“You won’t know until you try,” Chelsea grinned. I could tell that that is what they wanted- my embarrassment. I scoffed and looked at the car beside ours. He was leaning on the driver’s side door, talking to a group of people excitedly.
A guy said something and he laughed. I glanced at my cousin. “Can’t I wait until the crowd disperses?”
“You have five minutes,” she spoke as she glanced at her phone. Luckily for me, the group slowly thinned out and instead of it being five people there, it was only two. Maddox and a guy with blonde hair.
I slowly walked around his car, approaching him slowly and nervously. My palms began to sweat. His friend saw me first and nudged Maddox in the side. He glanced up when his friend elbowed him and he looked at me, taking on a threatening stance as if I was going to throw all the condiments in the world at him. His shirt was changed into a white button up, another uniform option. I wonder what he did with the black one that I wrecked.
His friend muttered something to him before walking away and I let out a sigh of relief. The less people who see my embarrassment, the better.
“Hey, I just wanted to apologize about earlier,” I nodded awkwardly as I stared at the floor. I felt his eyes on me and I nervously brushed the hair from my face. He was silent so I looked up, noticed he was staring at me, and immediately looked down again. “I also have a question.”
I glanced up at him to see him scrutinizing me and I looked the other way, trying to count the amount of seconds until my rejection. “You know what homecoming is, right?”
He didn’t respond and I sighed. “This is like talking to a brick wall,” I muttered. “Anyway, I was wondering if you’d like to go to homecoming with me,” I inquired, glancing over his shoulder to see my cousin and her two friends holding their hands over their mouths as they snickered and laughed.
He glanced behind himself before looking at me. My face was bright red and I could feel my palms growing sweatier and sweatier with each shaky breath I took. “Okay,” he said.
“Well, I tried,” I muttered before I suddenly went rigid. “Wait, what did you say?”
“I said okay,” his deep voice responded.
“Okay as in…?” I asked, quirking my eyebrows.
“Okay as in I’ll go with you,” he responded. I glanced over his shoulder to see Vivica’s eyes widen as Chelsea and Tracy immediately turned to look at her.
I simply nodded a few times before walking around the car, back to Vivica, who looked angry. “Did he say yes?” she inquired. I slowly nodded, still shocked that he agreed. Her eyes narrowed at the ground.
“Uh, we can’t give you a ride home. We have cheerleading practice at a nearby school,” Chelsea stated and I stared at her, stunned. They all piled into the car and drove off.
I swore under my breath as I took out my phone and dialed my aunt’s number. There was no response and I groaned. I have no money for a cab, and even if I did, I don’t even know the address. It was difficult to remember. My old one was simple- 12 Taverness Drive. This one had a list of numbers and I’m not sure if it was a lane or a drive or what.
Rubbing my eyes, I sighed, about to go into the office to ask where my aunt even lived. “They left you?” the familiar deep voice from behind me asked.
I turned around and nodded. “Yeah, they did.”
He looked hesitant as he bit his lip. “Do you need a ride?” he asked.
I was surprised at the fact that he asked me and I slowly nodded. “Yeah.”
“Come on,” he muttered as he kicked off his car and opened the door for himself. I shuffled over to the side and opened the door, in fear that he’d leave me if I told him that I had to run inside for a minute to get my new homes’ address.
As he started the car, I grew curious. “Aren’t you waiting for someone?”
“Nope,” he muttered as he backed out of the parking space and drove out of the lot. “We have to stop and get gas.”
“Okay,” I nodded.
As we reached the gas station, he opened the car door and got out. Before he closed the door, he leaned forward and looked at me. “Don’t touch anything.”
“No promises,” I muttered. He stared at me and I rolled my eyes. “I’m joking!”
When he got into the car after filling up the tank, he exited the lot, halting as he turned to look at me. “What’s your address?”
“I don’t know,” I answered after a moment.
He stared at me, blinking a few times. I looked at him, meeting his eyes. He has very pretty eyes. The thought caused my face to burn as I averted my gaze. Hopefully he thinks that I was just embarrassed at his staring. He probably thinks that I like him. I mean, I’d understand if he did. I asked him to homecoming and I barely know him. And whenever I look at him, I blush like an idiot.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” he asked, dragging me back to reality.
“I just came to live with my aunt on Friday,” I told him. “I didn’t have time to memorize the address.”
“Do you even know the street name?” he asked in bewilderment.
“No. I just know that it is twenty five minutes from school, and the house is blue, and the number of the house has a five in it,” I informed him. He stared at me before sighing. “Do you know where Vivica lives?”
“No, why would I?” he asked with a scowl. I have a feeling that he doesn’t like Vivica very much.
“Don’t get an attitude with me! This is a particularly small town; I just assumed that people know people!” I responded as he parked the car outside of the gas station. “I think I might be able to retrace the drive from the school.”
He sighed and made his way back to the school. I could tell that he was thinking that I was more trouble than I was worth. I couldn’t help but think that too.
Thirty minutes later and we were still driving around. “Left?”
“Yeah,” I responded as he took a left. “Wait, no! I meant right!”
He groaned aloud as he glared at me. “I’m wasting gas on you.”
“I’ll pay for it,” I told him for the third time.
I stared at my cell phone and saw a response from my aunt. It was the address. I quickly read it out to him and he slowly turned to look at me. “We’re a half hour away from there. You took us in the opposite direction of your house,” he snapped.
“I’ve been here for, like, three days, okay? I don’t have the entire town memorized,” I retorted. He glared at me and I sighed. “How much do you need for the gas?”
He didn’t respond and we sat in silence for some time. As we drove to the house, I turned to look at him. “You know, we don’t have to go to homecoming together. I-I, uh, I was dared to go. I didn’t expect you to say yes, and the girls didn’t either. You probably have other stuff to do.” He remained silent.
If every moment spent with him will be this tense, then I don’t want to spend four straight hours with him. I looked at him for a response but he didn’t say anything. Instead, he had his eyes narrowed as he read street signs. A few moments later, he pulled onto a street and continued driving.
“Which house?” he asked. I nodded to the blue one at the corner, covered in wind chimes that were twinkling here and there, and he stopped in front of it. The white porch swing was empty, as was the driveway. Hopefully, my aunt’s car is parked in the back. I don’t like being home alone, especially in a house that isn’t mine.
“I’ll give you the gas money tomorrow. I’m not completely unpacked and my piggy bank is still in a box somewhere. Will ten dollars cover it?” I asked. He didn’t respond again. “Well, thanks,” I muttered awkwardly as I closed the car door.
“Tell Vivian to lose my number,” Maddox spoke as I reached the sidewalk. I looked at him and nodded. Vivica, I wanted to correct him but decided against it.
As I was approaching the house, he called something out. “What?” I responded, turning around with a confused look on my face.
“Wear red,” he called. I furrowed my eyebrows as he drove off.
Homecoming, I remembered.
So he actually wants to go.