A/N: I thought of this story idea when I was about fourteen, and since then I've re-written it countless times. This is the beginning I'm most happy with & I hope you enjoy it. :) Any feedback would be greatly appreciated and gladly returned if you leave me a reading request. :) Thanks for reading!
'Girls, come on! Hurry up or you'll be late!'
It's the same every morning, and today is no exception. My sister Ella and I always send our mum into a fit of panic when we fail to get ready by 8.25, which is when she drives us to school.
As usual, I've overslept, completely ignoring my 7.00 alarm and getting up at 7.57. What teenage girl doesn't? I ran to the bathroom, hurriedly threw on my uniform, and grabbed a slice of toast from my dad's plate, throwing him a grateful smile.
It amazes me how I always manage to get ready in just a little over ten minutes, while Ella's been up since seven o' clock and still isn't ready yet.
Ella is only thirteen, and yet already she's acquired the curse of vanity. Every morning, she spends hours brushing her long, beautiful blonde hair and carefully applying generous amounts of make-up.
I'm fifteen, and yet I don't think I spend half as much time on my appearance as she does on hers. Ella and I look very much alike. We've both got long, blonde hair, although mine is thicker and wavy, while Ella's is thin and straight. We both have a long, oval face and pale, creamy skin. My eyes are a pale brown, while Ella's are an icy blue.
Even though Ella and I look alike, we both look different from our parents. I look more like Mum, who is petite, and has blonde hair and chocolate brown eyes like myself. Ella takes after Dad with her cold, blue eyes.
We're a close family, even though we have our differences. Mum is a fusspot, but clearly cares about us all dearly. Dad tells us every day how much 'his girls' mean to him. Ella and I have never been particularly unshakably close, but we do share a sisterly bond.
'What does she do up there, anyway?' Mum mumbles to herself now. 'Ella, come on! You'll miss morning registration at this rate!'
While Mum fusses around us, Dad and I share a secret grin. It's the same every morning. Ella never learns to hurry up, and Mum never learns to calm down. Dad and I are left waiting, watching, stifling laughs at their almost comedic act.
Dad holds out the plate of toast, which contains one last slice, glittering with melting butter.
'Want it, hon? I'm not hungry,' he says.
I lick my lips and then grab the slice from his plate. Through a mouthful of food, I mumble, 'Thank you!'
Mum turns and tuts at me. 'Honestly, Oona, swallow before you speak. Don't talk with your mouth full.'
Dad straightens his tie, then creeps up behind Mum, wrapping his arms around her stomach. He tucks her hair over one shoulder and kisses the bare part of her neck he's unveiled.
'Calm down, Jo,' he says. 'If you want, I can help you relax.'
A smile plays on Mum's lips, but she brushes him away impatiently. 'Honestly, Richard! The last thing I need is a distraction from you, which will only make us later!'
She yells the word 'later', producing a loud, melodramatic sigh and several stomps from upstairs.
'I'm coming,' Ella moans, making her way downstairs.
Mum sighs with relief and grabs the car keys. She plants a kiss on Dad's lips, before hurrying to the front door.
But when Ella walks into the room, Mum quickly lets out a frustrated groan. 'There's no way you're off to school with that much make-up on, young lady! You look like a clown, for heaven's sake! Wipe it off, now!'
Ella glances at me mischievously. I sigh to myself, reading Ella's mind.
'But Mum,' she protests, 'we're already running late. There's no time!'
Mum looks pained. It's clear she's toying between Ella being fresh-faced but late, or Ella sitting in school with an orange face and white neck but being on time.
'Fine,' she says eventually. 'But you'd better wipe all that orange stuff off as soon as you get into school, Ella. I mean it!'
'Sure, whatevs,' Ella says casually, heading over to the door.
Dad frowns. '"Whatevs"?' he quotes, questioningly.
Ella rolls her eyes. 'Short for whatever, Dad,' she explains.
I smile, saying goodbye to Dad before joining Ella and Mum in the car.
'Remember, I'm not picking you up tonight,' Mum reminds me. 'I'm at a friend's dinner party with your father.'
'That's fine by me,' Ella says. 'I'm off to Heather's house anyway.'
Ryan is waiting for me at the gates when we arrive, as usual. He waves to my mum politely, who smiles back before driving off.
He says, 'Hi,' to Ella, who mumbles a quick hello before stalking off to meet her own friends.
He turns his attention to me, locking his arms around my back and pulling me closer towards him.
'Hey, beautiful,' he whispers.
I wrap my own arms around him, smiling up at him.
'Hello, yourself,' I reply.
Ryan is, in a word, gorgeous. He has a long, slim face. His skin is tanned; the colour of caramel. He has short, toffee-coloured hair framing his face. His eyes are a beautiful jade green colour, enclosed between long, light eyelashes and sitting underneath thick, blonde eyebrows. His lips are full, pink and luscious. His nose is long and pointed.
'You know what tomorrow is, right?' he whispers.
How could I forget? It's our one-year anniversary. Sometimes I'm still in awe that I ever managed to become the girlfriend of someone like Ryan in the first place. There's no way I could ever forget our anniversary.
'Of course I do,' I reply in a hushed voice.
He smiles, as if thrilled that I've remembered, then rewards my memory with a passionate kiss on the lips.
'Come on, I'll walk you to your classroom,' he says, before cupping his palm against my own, locking his fingers through mine.
The day passes slowly, boringly, uneventfully. Lessons drag, while dinner and break fly by.
'At least it's Friday,' Gina says. 'Thank chuff for that.'
Gina and I have been best friends since Year 7. I was sat next to her on the first day. She was cocky and confident, while I was shy and timid. I was completely in awe of her, and she, likewise, took an interest in me. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Gina is very pretty, though she'd hate for you to tell her so. She's got tanned skin, a nearly-black, choppy bob and brown eyes, framed by dark eyelashes. She's funny and light-hearted and is a great friend.
We're sat in Chemistry now. It's the last lesson of the day and every student in the class lacks motivation, but Mr Jackson, the teacher, scribbles away furiously on the board, expecting our full attention.
'Hmm,' I mumble absently, trying to catch up with Mr Jackson's scruffy writing.
'So, what're you and Ryan doing tomorrow?' Gina asks me, her eyes flashing with curiosity.
A smile creeps around the edge of my lips. 'We're re-enacting our first date,' I inform her. 'We're going to Burger King, and then we're going to watch a movie.'
It seemed like such a brilliant idea, and it was a joint effort too. It seemed so sweet and poignant, and would be the perfect way to mark a whole year together.
But Gina snorts now, stifling a laugh so that she won't get scolded by Mr Jackson.
'You're serious?' she asks, her eyes creasing with humour. 'Oona, that's so cheesy.'
I'm suddenly furious with her for popping my bubble of happiness. 'It's not,' I protest. 'It's romantic.'
Gina raises an eyebrow. 'You'll only stress out because you won't be able to squeeze into the exact same jeans, and you won't be wearing the exact same brand of mascara, and the exact same movie won't be playing at the cinema…'
I smirk, then playfully hit Gina. 'Shut up!' I say. 'Anyway, at least we've made it to a year. What's your peak with a boyfriend? A week? A week and a half?'
'Touché,' Gina replies, knowing I'm not being serious. She half-heartedly begins to write down the notes from the board, when suddenly Mr Jackson grabs the board rubber and erases the notes, sending Gina into a state of laziness again.
'So, do you think he's…you know…The One?' she asks, eyeing me carefully.
I think very carefully before answering. To me, it just seems natural for me and Ryan to last forever, but I've never actually given it much thought before. I've daydreamed about my future, of course, but I've always been too scared to think about marriage and careers and babies, the sorts of things you share with The One. But now, thinking about it, I can't think of anyone I'd rather create and share these memories with.
'I think he could be,' I confess.
Gina looks both surprised and impressed.
Our conversation is interrupted by Mr Jackson dismissing the class after reminding us of our homework over the weekend.
Gina and I walk to the gate together, where Ryan waits for me.
As we walk, we pass Patsy Connors, Danielle Morrison and Kasey Slater. They're the popular girls of our school. I think every school has at least one of each.
Kasey is the 'slag' of the three. She has dark auburn hair, porcelain skin and cornflower blue eyes. There are so many rumours flying around about her - and her alleged sex life - but amazingly she never seems to let them get to her, instead denying such rumours with a flirtatious wink and fake astonishment that someone as popular and pretty as her could be the subject of such slander.
Danielle is the gossiper of the trio. She is very beautiful, with a long tangle of black curls falling down her back, and deep, brown eyes. She has an almost exotic look about her. Apparently she knows everything about everyone - or if she doesn't, then she has a wild imagination.
Patsy Connors is just generally the mean girl of the three. She has platinum blonde hair, snowy-white skin and icy blue eyes, which contrasts greatly with the excessive amounts of eyeliner she wears. She constantly wears a cold expression and looks almost scary and completely unapproachable.
As we pass them, they all turn their heads to Annie Stone, the girl in front of me and Gina. Despite Annie being in my registration group, I don't know her too well. She just seems shy and silent; not unlike myself.
Immediately the three begin whispering among themselves. I notice Annie's shoulders tense and feel a wave of sympathy wash over me. Annie doesn't deserve to be the subject of their malicious gossiping.
Their whispering pauses as Gina and I pass them. They eye us both, each wearing an equally disgusted look on her face. Patsy seems to have an unjustified grudge against Gina, for reasons I don't know.
'Hey, Gina,' Patsy calls out.
I freeze and swallow. Normally Patsy gets Danielle or Kasey to do the nasty talking for her. It must be bad if she's doing it herself.
'The school dress code doesn't require you to look like a pikey,' she bites out.
Gina pauses in her tracks and turns to face Patsy. A smile tugs at her lips as she retorts, 'And it doesn't require you to look like a crack whore.'
And then we're walking again, until we reach Ryan, who smiles at Gina and then pulls me towards him instantly.
'I can't wait for tomorrow, babe,' he says.
'Me neither,' I whisper back.
'Oona, I'm going now. Will you be okay walking home by yourself?' Gina asks, interrupting our hug.
Ryan pushes me away to look at me. 'You're walking home by yourself?' he asks me.
Gina sighs and rolls her eyes, though she's got nothing against Ryan really. 'That's what I said, genius,' she says.
'I'll be fine,' I assure Gina. 'Thanks, anyway, Gee.'
'No problem,' Gina says. 'See you later.' She walks off.
'You want me to walk you home, babe?' Ryan asks.
'I'll be fine, Ry,' I assure him. 'It's a ten-minute walk. What could possibly go wrong?'
Ryan smiles down at me fondly.
'Just so long as my girl's good to go for our anniversary tomorrow,' he says. 'Now, you're sure you don't want me to walk you home?'
I raise an eyebrow at him. 'Ry, you live in the complete opposite direction from me. I'll be fine by myself. I promise.'