PART I: Isabel Kaine
“Mom!” Isabel Kaine screamed, rushing down the stairs with her bag slung sloppily over her shoulder, “Mom! We’re going to be late!” Heath, Isabel’s older brother, appeared as she hit the bottom
step. He held up a set of keys and jerked his head in the direction of the door. Isabel grinned and pumped her fist. Sometimes, Mrs. Kaine would change her shift at the hospital. Normally, she
worked from 9 to 7. When she changed it, she worked throughout the night. And when she did, there was no chance that she’d be taking her kids to school.
Isabel climbed into the passenger seat of Heath’s convertible. Heath revved the car and sped down the road. “Turn the volume up. I can’t hear anything,” Heath called over the rush of the wind.
Isabel reached over and turned the volume knob as far as it could go. Heath pounded his palms against the steering wheel to the beat. All Time Low, Jack’s Mannequin and We the Kings were among
their favorite bands. But their fun ended when they pulled into Tracey High’s parking lot.
“New school. New start,” Heath said with a shrug. He patted his sister’s shoulder before heading for the front doors. Isabel looked up at the school banner that was proudly strung above the
“Oh, great,” she thought as she passed through the glass doors. Tracey was just like her previous high school. Smaller hallways branched off of one main hall. Classrooms were made to fit about 25
kids. Garishly painted lockers lined the walls of the main hall. Kids bustled noisily to and from class. And, of course, there was the unfortunate thing called ‘cliques’.
Isabel always hated cliques. They were superfluous and prejudiced. She never knew exactly where her objection to cliques came from. Maybe it was that she was an advocate for equality. Cliques just
diminished that idea. Tracey’s clique hierarchy was like India’s classic caste system: once labeled, that’s where you belonged. There was no progressing through classes. And ‘self-proclamation’ was
She could easily define who was who as she made her way to the Administration office. It was like the kids were wearing signs on their chests, stating where the fit in. Isabel passed a large group
of jocks on her way down the hall. It was easy to pick them out: they were always chanting Tracey’s slogan or sporting their jersey emblem. There would be no school spirit if it weren’t for the
jocks. They were the star athletes that had a confidence level miles high, borderline cockiness. As an athlete, they had a high sense of self-esteem, giving them the false idea that they have the
right to be popular. They enjoyed what they did but constantly strived to be better than the rest.
Clinging to the Quarterback’s large forearm was a petite, blonde girl who was constantly batting her eyelashes and flipping her hair. Isabel cringed. It was Miss Perfect. She was daddy’s little
girl: spoiled rotten and utterly self-absorbed. She was the most popular girl in school but was also feared by everyone else. The teacher’s loved Miss Perfect. Her best friend, on the other hand,
secretly envied her. Like her boyfriend, the quarterback, and the rest of the jocks, she was outgoing and always appeared to enjoy what she was doing. It was all part of the image, after all.
Miss Perfect’s invisible suitors were the nerds. They were shy, wore unflattering clothing and had congestion problems. Yep, they had the brains. And yep, they were taken advantage of. But, no
matter. They knew that they would be more successful in the future. They lived life to the fullest, arguing about what the definition of Abscissa was. They were constantly discussing Star Trek or
Star Wars or Star whatever. Life was never dull as a nerd.
The Preps weren’t difficult to spot either. Isabel saw a group walking in her direction. A nerd, who had veered in front of their linear formation, was shoved and sent flying into the lockers. A
group of jocks nearby erupted in a loud fit of laughter. Typically, the Preps were the kids everyone loved to hate. They were always concerned with the way they looked. They were the kids who were
envisioned as future Ralph Lauren models. Though shallow at times, the preps were outgoing and very involved in activities that called for their organization (the Student Council, mind you).
Popularity was a by-product of their ‘preppiness’. And money was never an issue – their folks were loaded.
Next in line were the Bandos or Choir geeks. Music was a passion. Actually, it was more like an obsession. They spent their days reminiscing about past band camps. All their friends were in either
the band or the choir since no one else could be bothered to listen to them rant about their tubas.
Isabel swore that during the evolution of cliques, the punk rockers and the Hipsters broke away from the Bandos. All three ‘labels’ were driven by music. There weren’t many punk rockers at Isabel’s
old high school. She recalled passing a few of them as she walked through the front door. They wore band tees and skinny jeans. Very rarely did you see both their eyes at one time. Their wrists
were covered with studded bracelets.
Hipsters were a little bit different. They were laid back and followed the anti-trend trend. She knew that Hipsters were environmentally conscious. The only music they listened to was underground
and as soon it went mainstream, they burnt the CDs. There were few Hipsters at Tracey. But, the friends they had were incredibly close.
Isabel finally reached the Administration office. Pushing the door open, she realized that she had experienced all of the classifications while walking down the hall. Then, she met a second realization. She didn’t fit into any of them. There was a term for kids who didn’t fit in. It was “drifter”. Drifters typically knew no boundaries when it came to friends and making friends. They could be drop dead gorgeous, smarter than the common nerd and dress the skater. They just didn’t fit in anywhere but had no trouble making friends. Isabel hated labels, but if there were one that she would name herself, it would be that one.
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