"Do you know why you are beautiful?" The voice asked gently. Rayne felt a small smile blossom on her face,"Why is that?"
"Because God loves you." Her mother replied combing a stubborn tangle out of the waves of chocolate hair her daughter had been struggling to tame. Rayne glanced in the mirror as her mother's impossibly sweet face leaned down to kiss the top of her head.
"I don't think I'm very pretty with this thing on my head. Not really how I like people to see me after a long summer away." Rayne grumbled motioning to the angry zit on her forehead. A patient smile swept across her mother's facewhile she reached to grasp a bottle of cover-up from the cabinet, "What's on the outside isn't important, honey. You are beautiful because you are kind and loving, but a little spot of make-up never hurt anybody." Rayne smiled, gratefully accepting the life-saving liquid and dabbed some on the treacherous mark. The porcelian tone melted perfectly with her skin causing arelieved sigh to escape the teenager before she rose to grab her books and head out the door, "I'm off, have a nice day at work, mom."
Maria smiled at her daughter as she watched her climb in the green Honda and drive off to school. She marveled at the fact that this would be the last time she would see her daughter off for the first day of school. Could she really be seventeen already? Grabbing a mug of luke-warm coffee, the middle-aged woman sat down to pick up on the book of John she had been distracted from.
Rayne turned up the volume on her car's stereo and sang along as she twisted around the dangerous corners of the country roads which led up to her house. The sun was barely peeking over the east mountain range, filling the sky with a soft pink. It was going to be warm again today which was just fine with her. It was rare for them to see much sun on the Oregon coast, hence the pale complexion she always wore. But this summer had been uncommonly warm, making her consider the scary thoughts of global warming which had been beaten into her in last year's science class. Rayne didn't understand how they expected her generation to save what had been so destroyed over years, but that didn't stop her from turning off a few lights and recycling when she could.
A loud announcement broke her thoughts of going green as she reached to turn the volume down, but smiled at the voice of her father waking up the town of Gull Beach with his morning playlist, "Gooooood morning Gull Beach! This is your friendly neighborhood announcer Richard Robinson bringing you the news of the coast! Today is the day when our kids are going back to school!" There was an insert of the song, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," which made Rayne scoff as she listened to the voice which had been the strength of her home for seventeen years.
"Yes, yes, I am among the parents who will be biting my nails, counting the hours and saving up the money for my daughter's final days at Gull Beach high school.They grow up so fast. Right now she is probably rolling her eyes and cursing my name. Daddy loves you too baby! Now that I've fully embarassed her, on with the morning tunes! I'm Richard Robinson."
Rayne sighed and indeed rolled her eyes at her father'sability to not have to be physically present to humiliate her. There must be some kind of Olympics for fathers to join to celebrate the mocking of their children. If such an event existed, her dad would recieve a gold medal. But that is one of the reasons she loved him so much. Rayne slowed to the speed limit and laid eyes on the sleepy town of Gull Beach which was slowly awakening with the morning sunlight.
Nothing ever happened in this place. The same people smiled and waved to one another, the same shops opened, the same annoying seagulls cried in the fluffy clouds above. Small town life was desired by the extremely young and the elderly, who took up most of the residents of the town which barely passed one thousand on the population scale. This wasn't the place for a young, spirited girl anymore and Rayne longed to enter college just to see something new.
As she pulled into the senior parking lot, Rayne smiled at the space which was all hers. As a senior she had earned specific rights, i.e. cutting in the lunch line, being able to leave campus and of course gaining her own parking spot. Such things may have seemed trivial to the naked eye, but to her they were a crucial mark in her status as an adult. Just a few more months and she would leave this town of gossping old ladies and county fairs to the grand world of knowledge and sights unknown to her.
"About time Robinson!" The voice startled her when a small hand whapped her driver side window. When her heart slowed, Rayne smiled at the curl of brown hair and velvet eyes of her best friend and confidant, "You scared the crap out of me, Bri!" She said picking up her backpack and standing up to tower over the smaller girl who wore an outfit most would have found appalling in a town of conformity. Bri twirled around to show off her ensemble of choppy black skirts, fish nets and matching shirt with the words, "We are not schizophrenic...." written in red.
"Nice, I see you did your school shopping." Rayne smiled as they walked to their lockers and Bri chatted away about the looks she had recieved that day. One of the reasons Rayne loved Bri was for her uncommon ability to break the routine other's clung to so desperately. One day she would be wearing all black from head to toe, sporting messages about death and pills and the next she would arrive in all pink with pig tails and heels. You never knew what to expect from the girl whom barely passed the five foot mark.
"So, did you hear about the new guy?" Bri pressed as Rayne struggled with her locker, "No, I wasn't aware we had any new students." With a fierce tug, she pulled the metal door opened and examined the stuck lock as Bri twisted the combo beneath her, "No! It's not a new student! It's a new teacher and apparently he is all kinds of smexy."
"Smexy?" Rayne inquired as she placed her collection of novels neatly in her stubborn locker. Bri smiled wide, "Yeah, smoking sexy=Smexy. I haven't seen him yet, but that's the word buzzing around." With a final slam of the disagreeable door, both girls made their way to the gym for orientation exchanging stories of their summers as Rayne felt a push behind her, "Watch it Jesus freak."
Recovering from the jab in her shoulder, Rayne glared at the nasty boys which snickered at the cross which hadn't left her neck since she was small. Where as she rolled her eyes and was content in ignoring them, Bri publicly displayed her opinion of Jeff Bonato, Rick Lang and Hugo Hoffman by extending her painted black middle finger and yelling obscenities about the size of their anatomies. Rayne placed a hand over her friend's mouth, "Let's not start your senior year in detention, ok?"
The disgruntled pixie stared up at her and smiled wickedly, "Aw come on, Miller probably has my seat polished and ready for my perfectly formed butt to be reunited with it. I missed the old guy over the summer." Rayne shook her head at her friend's willing attiude about trouble. They were a very odd match together, Rayne beingthe light to Bri's darkness. Where as her friend enjoyed the allure of mischief, Rayne had never gotten so much as a tardy slip in her life. She was the perfect example of the Christian girl her parents had raised and "Jesus freak" was just one of the many names she had acquired over her seventeen years in this nosey town.
Quick to distract her friend from starting out her year in trouble, Rayne shuffled them up to the bleachers which proudly displayed their colors of black and gold. Her green eyes scanned the crowd of faces she had grown up with, minus the new freshman which a senior such as herself could never be associated with. There were all of her classmates from Amanda Ferlis who was distracted with her tongue down her boyfriend's throat, to Joel Martin who had stolen Jake Grim's inhaler and played keep away with the bullies she had seen in the hallway. It was weird to think that she would never see these people again next year.
While Bri laughed at the display of teasing going on between Joel and Jake, Rayne pulled the book she always had hidden in her purse out and opened the faded pages expectantly. The story of Steven King's, "The Green Mile" weighed heavily on her lap, filling her with comfort from it's familiar heft. John Coughe had just restored Mr. Jingles back to his mousely perfection when a voice silenced the murmer of two hundred teenagers.
"Good morning, students! Welcome to another year of high school. A very special welcome to our freshmen who are joining us. I hope you enjoy your time in the home of the panthers!" The principal, Mrs. Duknee paused for applause only to be disappointed by the student body's lack of enthusiasm in their mascot. Shaking her head, the plump woman motioned to the staff who were waiting in the folded chairs behind her, "As some of you may have noticed we have a new teacher on staff this year. Let's give a warm welcome to Mr. Chris Theo!"
There was a quiet applause as Bri whistled and bumped Rayne with her elbow,"Get a look at him. For once the rumors are true." Rayne glanced up from her book and laid eyes on a man who would have made her freeze mid-stride if she had the ability to walk by him. He appeared much too young to be an actual teacher as he smiled a perfect grin of white teeth and waved softly to the group of curious students. Rayne felt her eyes widen to take in the full scope of the man before her with his full head of black hair and eyes where even from her seat were the most beautiful shade of blue she had ever seen.
He stepped up to the microphone and pushed up his glasses, clearing his throat, "Good morning, as Mrs. Duknee so kindly introduced, I'm Mr. Theo and I'll be your new music teacher. I understand my predecessor was quite beloved, but I'll try my best to meet your expectations. Thank you."
"Oh, I bet he will meet my expectations just fine." Bri said nudging Rayne once more as the Christian girl found her cheeks flushing, "I have to go to the bathroom." As the principal droned on with the same speech Rayne had heard for the past four years, she made her way through the isles of students and rushed out to the sanctuary of the girl's bathroom. Dropping her bag and splashing some water on her face, Rayne panted and glanced up to her reflection, "Wow...."
Taking a few moments to regain her composure, Rayne shook her head at how foolish she felt for bolting after just seeing a handsome man. Even if that man had the most perfect cheek bones and sweetest voice she had ever heard. The light made her diamond cross shine slightly as she dabbed off the excess water from her face and grabbed her bag to the sound of the bell. Taking a breath, Rayne pushed the swinging door open and felt it thud against someone.
"Oh excuse me, I'm so sorr......." The words caught in her throat as an amused smile greeted her, "That's ok, my fault for walking so close to the doorway." Rayne stared blankly at the man in front of her as he adjusted his glasses and bent down to pick up the bag she had dropped. The sunlight from the court yard window blossomed in the room lighting up the hallway as he smiled, "Is this your's?" The words took a moment before they finally clicked that he was asking her a question.
"Ye...yes it is." He smiled patiently and handed it to her, "Well there you go. Better get to class, I wouldn't want to be late for my first day of teaching. Doesn't look very professional now does it?" Rayne smiled as he saluted with two fingers and left down the hallway. There was a moment before she felt someone tugging on her arm, "Helloooooooo? Space monkey....you in there?" Bri brought her back to reality as nodded, "Yeah, I just.....was distracted. We should go, don't want to be late."