High school has always been the low point of my life. I mean, seriously, who would enjoy the God-forsaken place where having purple hair is "so totally not fab!" and where personal expression is looked down upon? Oh, that's right, nobody. Welcome to the world of bastards and bitches; a dog-eat-dog world where if you don't hurt somebody, they'll hurt you. Have a nice stay.
My name is Ruby Derrickson. I'm a junior at Red Isle High, and, if you can't already tell, I hate high school.
It all started with my first day, freshman year. I had just gotten the tips of my hair dyed; nothing major. And it wasn't even like I had dyed them neon green or anything; they were a soft blue color that my mother said complemented my eyes. I walked into school, excited to meet new people and have new classes. That's when it happened.
A group of boys and girls walked past me, and a boy stopped. He turned around, gave me a once over and said, "Hey, guys, look at this!" The group of people stopped their walking and looked at me, forming a semicircle.
"Wow, talk about tacky," a red-head girl to my left laughed.
"Freak," a brunette boy to my right chided.
"What, is she supposed to be stupid or something? Blue is so fifth grade, right Aaron?" The blonde girl in front of me pouted, crossing her arms over her chest and popping her hip out.
The boy, apparently Aaron, hesitated. He looked from me to the girl. "Yeah, totally, Jackie," he said, now refusing to look at me.
Right then, right there, I hated them all. The boy for stopping, the group of people for going out of their way to hurt me, the Aaron kid. But the one who I hated the most, who I still hate to this day, was Jackie.
Today, Jackie's the Queen Bee- or should I say bitch? She torments everybody that isn't "Jackie-Approved." Wearing a black headband two days in a row? Ouch. Wearing the same color that Jackie is wearing? Oh, you'll be humiliated in front of the entirety of the school. Wearing shoes Jackie was merely thinking about buying? You'll pay. For example, today, I'm wearing something out of my norm: I've got on this absolutely adorable peach tie-front chiffon shirt with a pair of ripped white-wash jean shorts. Both from Forever 21. What? Just because I have purple hair doesn't mean I can't like fashion. In fact, that's all I want to do when I'm older. Be a fashion designer. But that's beside the point.
I walk into first hour, which is world history. The teacher is Mr. Thillman, an honest, history-loving man, and he knows that I enjoy world history almost as thoroughly as he does. And I'll let you have one guess as to who is in my class.
Yeah, that's right, Jackie Alba. She's got on the same color of peach as my shirt in her hair as the oddest looking headband. Little elephants run along the side, each chasing after the other and looking as strange as the last. She takes one look at me an raises her upper lip in disgust. Then when her eyes land on my shirt, a horrible shriek pierces the air.
"Ohmigod, Ruby! How dare you!"
The whole class looks from the horrified Jackie to me, and I shrink back from the attention.
"Miss Alba, is there an issue?" Mr. Thillman asks, raising an eyebrow.
Jackie's eyes start to water. "Yes, Mr. Thillman! Ruby just said something awful!"
My jaw clenches. If I wasn't in the presence of a teacher, I'd punch her in her pretty little plastic-surgery nose. Then the red blood from her nose can stain her perfect white shirt. It would make me feel much better.
Mr. Thillman's eyebrow raises even higher. "Miss Alba, even if Miss Derrikson did say something, as you put it, 'awful,' it gives you no right to screech like a monkey. Is that clear?"
Jackie turns red. I hold my hand to my mouth, trying to hold my laugh in. Apparently, the rest of the class is doing the same. We are all in fits of pure silent giggles at the fact that Mr. Thillman called Jackie a monkey, until one boy can't hold it in anymore. The boy next to Jackie, in his black leather jacket and biker boots, lets loose a loud laugh, causing Jackie to smack his arm. The boy ignores her, and keeps on laughing.
Soon, the whole class is in fits of laughter. Really loud laughter. Except for me.
I'm staring at the boy that had laughed first. It's Aaron; the boy that had totally trashed my whole idea of what high school was supposed to be like. The boy that allowed his friends to make these past three years of school a living hell. And he's looking right back at me. He gives me a wink, then goes back to his rolling laughter. Something goes off in my mind. I have no idea why, but I feel like going over to him and... wait, what am I thinking? Normally, it would be to slap him, but now... it's so different.
I turn briskly on my heel and walk out of the room, ignoring the fact that Mr. Thillman is calling my name. What the hell was that? I nearly run down the hall in my pumps, my face reddening the whole way. How could I even think like that? Aaron has done nothing but be a bastard, and I had just wanted to kiss- I shudder at the thought. Gross. Me and Aaron Baker? I'd rather watch Jackie and him make out than go out with him. And trust me, I do not enjoy watching them make out. It's disgusting.
By the time I've reached the doors to leave this God-forsaken school, I can hear somebody behind me. I turn around and find myself face-to-face with Aaron. His hands are in his pockets, his jacket opened all the way to reveal a plain white shirt, that hugged his- oh God, he has abs!? Not that I'm looking at them, or anything. My eyes dart back up to his face, and there's a hint of a smile in his blue eyes.
"Thillman sent me to see if you were all right," he says lazily, his eyes boring into mine.
"Fabulous," I snap, glaring at him. Who the hell does he think he is? I'm not a dog.
Aaron lets out a chuckle. "Somebody's touchy."
"Eff off, Aaron."
He looks from my head to my feet and back up again, lingering a bit too long below my head. I catch him biting his lip for an instant, and it's like I'm a firecracker: explode on impact.
"Enjoying the view? I don't know if you realized this, but no girl wants her boobs to be looked at more than her face. But hey, if you're distracted, why don't I just wake you up a bit?"
Aaron looks at me, confused, and I do what I've always wanted to do. I take hold of his shoulders and lean in close, my face only inches away from his. He lets out a low breath, waiting for me to close the gap. A small smile finds its way to my face. "Bye," I whisper. I take my knee and jam it up, making impact. Aaron goes down with a thud, moaning in pain.
"You ever do that again, and I'll kill you," I crouch down so he can look me in the face, "kay cupcake?"
And with a hurting Aaron on the floor, I walk out, a grin spread across my face. I've finally done it. I've shown Aaron how much hurt he's forced upon me; we're equal now. But something inside of me isn't happy. In fact, it's angry with me.
For the next month, Aaron doesn't look at me. And I'm fine with it. Well, most of me is, at least. But I've nearly killed the other part of me that feels bad for doing what I did to him. He deserved it, that pig.
Today is Saturday, and it's an extremely eventful one. The house next to mine has been for sale for the past five months. Nobody has even so much as stopped by to look at it. But today, somebody is moving into it.
I peer excitedly out my window, trying to see the faces of the people moving in, but its raining. Each little drop of rain leaves its tearstained trail behind, blurring my window and therefore making me upset. I leave my spying window and head downstairs only to find my mother coming in the front door.
"Ruby! Ruby, get your butt down here!"
I roll my eyes. "Mom, I'm right here."
My mother turns her head, her blonde hair still bouncing despite the rain and humidity. "Oh, wonderful!" She takes off her brown rain jacket and drapes it over the chair at the granite island. "The people next door need help painting a room. They were originally going to plant a garden, but since it's raining, they thought painting their son's room would be the next best thing!"
I look at my mother, an eyebrow raised. "And...?"
Mom's smile widens. "And I said you'd help! I mean, I would help, but I just got over my migraine yesterday, and you know how paint fumes can set off a headache."
I sigh, rolling my eyes. "Okay, whatever. When do I need to be over there?"
"Now would be nice."
Great, so not only has my mother volunteered me, but she's put me to work right-now-as-in-this-second. All I wanted to do was spy on them, but no, why not make me actually go over there and have to interact?
I didn't even grab a jacket as I left the house, assuming that this son of our new neighbors would be younger than I, if it truly was me helping, so I wouldn't have to look all that presentable. I darted out into the rain and down my driveway, nearly tripping on the slippery pavement. By the time I had gotten to the house, I was freezing cold and soaking wet. I knocked on the door and waited, my arms folded across my chest to keep the heat in. After waiting a minute, a lady answers the door. She has flaming red hair and gorgeous emerald eyes.
"Well, hello!" she says, a bright smile coming to her face. "You must be Ruby. Come on in." She opens the door for me and lets me step in, leaving the chilly rain outside. "I'll grab you a paintbrush. We went to the paint store, but we couldn't find any paint rollers," she walks into a closet, then came back out with a paintbrush and a bucket of paint. "Go upstairs with this, will you? It's the first door on the left."
I grab the brush and bucket, thanking her with a smile, and head up the steps. First door on the left. I enter it, noticing that I was the only one in here. There was a paint tarp on the floor, and tape around the windows, but past that, I was alone. I set down the bucket and brush and look at the room. It's a nice size, but a not so pretty yellow. I can't stop myself from wondering what color they were painting their son's room.
"Mom, I've got the opener for the paint-" a voice starts and stops as the person enters the room.
I know that voice. I could pick it out from a crowd. I turn slowly, begging to be wrong. Nope.
"You," I mutter, staring at Aaron.
Aaron pales, taking a step back. "What the hell are you doing at my house?"
"I was here to help paint a room, but obviously, this is the wrong house." I think of all my escape routes. Aaron is blocking the door, but there is a window next to me. Granted, we are on the second story, but the worst that could happen is I get a broken arm. The only issue with that would be that I wouldn't be able to draw, which would halt my fashion designing career. Why did he always have to ruin everything?
"Go ahead and get started without me, Aaron! Your father and I are going to the store to get more tarps!" his mother calls from downstairs.
Aaron doesn't keep his eyes off of me. "Okay, mom."
The door downstairs opens and closes, then it's just me and him. We glare at each other for a couple minutes, not really sure what to do. Then Aaron steps forward, bending down. I put myself into a defensive position.
"I'm just opening the can of paint," he grumbles.
"Oh." I let myself relax, but keep a weary eye on Aaron.
He pops the lid off of the can of paint, and begins to get his paintbrush soaked. I silently wait until he's standing up and starting before I even dunk my paintbrush into the paint. Blue paint. The same shade as the tips of my hair freshman year. I look at Aaron's back, confused. He, of course, doesn't even notice.
I begin painting the wall in a silent anger. I try not to look at Aaron. Just his face could set me off. So I decide to imagine that I'm painting for a runway. My own runway. And everything has to be just right. I hear a chuckle from my left, and I'm ripped out of my thoughts.
"Can I help you?" I ask bitterly, painting the wall with more rushed strokes.
Aaron's laughter stops. "Why do you hate me so goddamn much?"
I stop my painting for a second. Did he honestly just ask me that? Were my ears deceiving me? How could Aaron be that stupid? It's one thing to mock me at school, where I can just pretend to not hear him, but it's a totally different thing to say something here, in his own house. "Excuse me?"
"I said, why do you hate me?"
I return to my painting, but my strokes are getting more aggravated. "Why do I hate you? Hmm, let's see. Remember freshman year? You and your friends made fun of everything I ever did! It started off with my hair, then it was the way I talked, the way I dressed, the way I said things. Not one day could go by without your group tormenting me. It's because of you that I hate high school! I hate the people, I hate the classes, I hate Jackie. But most of all, I hate you. I hate you for not caring. I hate that it tears me up that somebody that I like so much would just..." I stop myself. Oh my God! Did I just admit to liking him? No no no no no no no! This couldn't be happening!
"Nothing," I snap, continuing my painting. Please tell me he didn't hear me.
"That's funny, because it didn't sound like nothing, Ruby Derrickson. In fact, if I wasn't mistaken, I think you just said that you like me."
My face turns scarlet. "Liked. As in past tense. Then you became a jerk. So I don't like you anymore." Lies. All of that is a lie. I still like him. I know he could see right past the lies, but I say them anyways, as if he'll catch my hint.
I don't get a response back from him, so I continue painting, trying to get rid of the blush that has found its home on my cheeks. After a few seconds of silence, I turn my gaze towards Aaron, only to see a paintbrush coming for my face. The blue paint is cold, and I open my mouth to yell at Aaron when grabs my chin and kisses me. Just like that. Right there.
At first, I don't kiss him back. I mean, can you blame me? He was always so rude to me; even if it wasn't directly. But after a second, I let the angry side of me go and kiss him back. It's a long time before he pulls away.
"Ruby, I've loved you since that first day I saw you freshman year. I loved the blue in your hair, and your smile, and the way you always did your own thing. You're beautiful and I'm sorry for ever making you feel like you were anything other than amazing. I know I can't take past the last three years, but I want to make the rest of them better."
I look at Aaron, shock and confusion across my face. If he really had loved me, then why was he so awful to me? It was difficult for me to understand. "Aaron, I..." I what?
He looked at me with those gorgeous eyes, waiting for me to finish. But would I be able to?
"I forgive you, on one condition."
"Anything," he said seriously.
"Dye your hair blue."
A pause followed my condition. He stared at me, and I glared right back at him. That was my condition. After a moment, he picked up the paint can and tipped it over himself, managing to get himself soaked with paint.
"Aaron, what on earth are you-?"
He grabbed me around my waist and hugged me, getting blue all over. "Is this good enough?" he asks, laughing.
I let a small smile form at my lips.
"I guess you're blue enough."