After having to sit through the rest of lunch, listening to Helen continuously bash on me, I gratefully headed to 8th period English, where I listened to Mrs. Ruben give a 45 minute lecture on how to properly write an essay. When the 9th period bell rang, I hastily gathered up my books and scurried into the bustling hallway, relieved that the school day was almost over.
As I entered the girls’ locker room, I was bombarded with twenty different aroma’s, consisting mostly of lilac and blackberry, and couldn’t help but to notice how many girls were wearing skirts too short, and shirts that hung lower than necessary. It made me feel better about what I was wearing, but still I had the instinct to tug on my skirt, hoping it wasn’t as short as the others’.
“Hey, there she is,” Renee, a friendly girl who I often partnered up with for warm-ups said, flashing me a playful smile. I smiled back and set my books down on the bench between us, turning to unlock my combination.
“And I’m still alive,” I teased back, opening my locker to take out my gym shorts and oversized T-shirt. I heard her laugh beside me, and the ‘clank’ of her belt buckle hit the ground.
“Good, that means I won’t have to worry about finding a new partner,” she said, lightly punching my arm. I laughed and nodded, turning away to remove my blouse.
“That’d be a shame, wouldn’t it?” I replied, my T-shirt muffling my voice as I pulled it over my head.
“No, I mean I could always be with Tricky Vikki,” she said, setting her hands on her hips as she stepped beside me.
“Awe!” I said, looking up at her through my hair, which had fallen in front of my face as I leaned down to pick up my shorts, “I wouldn’t do that to you.”
Vikki was a girl in my grade who had a wardrobe consisting only of short skirts and V-neck crops tops, or at least it seemed that way. She was tall and thin, but she had boobs that every girl wanted, and she wasn’t afraid to show them off. In fact, she wore bras two sizes down from what she should wear, just to make her boobs look perkier. That’s where we came up with the name Tricky Vikki; she was always teasing the guys, and tricking them into thinking her boobs were perkier than they actually were. All the guys went gaga over her, but every girl hated her guts, mostly because they were jealous. I, for one, didn’t have a cell of jealousy in me.
After getting changed, and standing in front of the sink mirror fixing my ponytail, we headed out of the locker room into the gym, which smelt of sweat and old socks.
“Get ready,” Renee leaned in to whisper, before walking past me, headed to a small group of giggling girls. I groaned silently and crossed my arms, knowing I was going to be the center of gossip for probably another week.
Get ready, I repeated to myself, even though I knew I wasn’t. I never liked attention, but somehow I’d managed to make myself the center of it.
Honk. “Kennedy!” Arianna shouted, leaning half her body out the car window, waving frantically. I pulled my purse onto my shoulder, hobbling towards her car. I wanted to spit in her face when I saw her laughing, covering a hand over her mouth. As if that’s going to hide it.
“Shut up,” I growled as I approached the car, pulling the back door open carelessly. I didn't care how pretty I looked in them, Icouldn't walk inheels to save my life.
I threw my purse onto the seat, along with my books, which instead scattered all over the floor, and slumped down onto the slippery leather seating, yanking the door closed behind me.
“Careful!” Arianna shrieked, glaring at me through the interior mirror. I rolled my eyes and pulled the buckle around me, clicking it into place.
“I mean it, Kenn!” she scolded, giving me a final glare before returning her gaze to the wheel. My sister had always been weird about her car. She called it her ‘baby’, and she made a point of treating it like one. I swear, she cared more about her precious car than she did me. If I were to get my finger jammed in the door, she’d freak out more about the door getting fractured than my finger. It was pathetic.
“So you’re going to have about an hour to get ready,” she said to me after pulling out of the school parking lot, only to get caught in traffic.
“I know,” I murmured, turning to look out the window. I hadn’t expected to see Declan, but there he was, walking down the sidewalk, holding a cigarette in one hand and an iPod in the other. I never appreciated people who smoked; I personally thought it was revolting. Don’t do it, I said silently, watching as Declan took his time walking, looking down at his iPod.
“What are you gawking at?” Arianna asked, looking at me again through the interior mirror, squinting against the sun. I turned to look at her, furrowing my eyebrows.
“I’m not gawking at anything,” I retorted, feeling my face flush. She smiled and raised one of her thin eyebrows, obviously trying to get something out of me.
“Who is it?” she insisted, biting her bottom lip. She always bit her lip when she was anxious, or when she was really curious about something.
“No one, it’s no one,” I said, quickly averting my eyes from hers. Great, I thought, she’s never going to let this go.
“Hmmm,” she hummed impatiently, drumming her fingers against the wheel, “who is it.”
“No one,” I muttered, rolling my eyes, clearly annoyed.
“Wait!” she shouted, reaching one of her hands back to pat my knee, “Him?!” I don’t know why I did, but I looked out my window again, back to Declan.
“Ewwww!” she said, bringing her hand back to the wheel, focusing again on the road. “That’s so disgusting.”
Sure enough, Declan had put the cigarette in his mouth, and was now releasing small puffs of smoke as he adjusted his earphones, nodding his head rhythmically. I never imagined Declan to be one to smoke, but then again, he was very questionable. I was actually more surprised at how calm he looked, how sure of himself he seemed, than the fact that he was smoking. Just earlier that day he looked so confused, so out of place. But as I watched him for a final three seconds before Arianna stepped on the gas, pulling us out of view, he looked the most confident I’d ever seen him.
He was like a movie trailer or a cliffhanger in a really good book. He made you want to know him more, want to look into him more. And though I never thought that I’d want anything to do with him, I was starting to wonder more and more about him. And maybe, just maybe, get to know him. Get to know the real, raw, Declan Shades.
? ? ?
“How can you like that?” Arianna said, cringing. I groaned and took a seat on the couch, picking up the remote.
“I don’t,” I said, turning on the TV, revealing an old guy talking about Jesus.
Arianna shook her head and slumped down beside me, tucking her legs underneath her. After getting home, she’d changed into an old T-shirt and a pair of sweats, throwing her hair up into a sloppy bun. I couldn’t help but to think, if I attempted to get comfortable, I wouldn’t look half as good as she did. Even in sweats, she looked amazing. I felt like a try-hard sitting beside her, still lounging in my outfit from school.
“You obviously do,” she said, giving me a knowing look.
“No. I obviously don’t,” I spat back, returning my attention to the TV screen, flipping carelessly through channels. I decided to stop on one about the Titanic.
“Kennedy,” she said, lowering her voice, something she’d picked up from my mom. “You know you can tell me anything.”
“Can I?” I said flatly, keeping my eyes on the screen. I heard her sigh beside me, and thought she was going to say something more, or at least try to get a satisfactory answer out of me, but instead she just got up and walked into the kitchen, clearly defeated.
I smiled to myself, proud of my win, and slouched further into the couch cushions, allowing myself to relax.
“Sweetie, it’s time to go!” my mom yelled as she ran up the stairs, still carrying her paperwork from work. I slipped on my other boot, prepared for rain, since it always seemed to rain on homecoming, and glanced once more in the mirror positioned above my dresser before heading into the hallway, passing my mom.
“Thanks, mom,” I said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek before I ran down the stairs, grabbed my keys off the kitchen counter, and opened the door, ready to jump into her car. I didn’t have my own car yet, for reasons unknown, since my mom was a nurse and my dad was a traveling business man, we had enough money for it. Arianna bought her car herself, and although I persuaded my parents that I’d save up for my own car, too, they insisted that they get it. I still hadn’t seen any proof, though, which made me wonder if they just said that out of grief. Anyway, Arianna didn’t allow anyone to drive her ‘baby’, so the only other car available was my mom’s black Chevy car. Not that I had much to complain about, though. It really was a nice car.
“Wait, honey?” my mom called down the stairs, leaning over the railing. She was still in her bright pink scrubs, and her blonde hair was pulled back into a tired bun.
“Yeah?” I asked, turning around to look up at her. She held up a finger and then reached into her back pants pocket, pulling out a leather wallet.
“Do you need any money?” she asked, pulling out a few bucks. I smiled and shook my head, pointing to my purse.
“I’ve got my own, but thanks anyway,” I said, smiling gratefully. She nodded, smiling back, and blew me a kiss before I closed the door behind me, hustling to her car. I was already five minutes late, and being late to the homecoming game is just as bad as missing it completely. So I hopped into the driver’s seat and adjusted the mirrors, before turning the key in the ignition and stomping on the gas, jolting the car toward.
“Shit,” I mumbled, easing my foot off the gas a little. It’d been a while since I’d driven.
I didn’t want to speed, but I didn’t want to get there later than I already was. So, instead I just took a back road, speeding at the necessary moments, and slowing down when I was afraid there was a cop. Thankfully, I got there just two minutes after the game started. I didn’t really go to the homecoming games for the actual game, anyway. It was just an excuse to hang out with cute guys and wear sweats and a jacket, without looking ridiculous.
I never got nervous much, but as I turned the keys out of the ignition, killing the motor, I got a sudden feeling of anxiety. For some reason, what Arianna said earlier that morning just wouldn’t leave my head. “, sometimes the best things happen at the most unexpected moments.” I wasn’t sure it that was a good thing or a bad thing, but I was going to find out sooner or later, because I’d already opened my door, revealing the cold night air.
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