"What's got you so peppy?" Madison asked me.
It was the Monday after the first day of school (it started on a Friday, God knows why) and we’d already made up. Her fashion faux pas was a thing of the past. We sat at our table with Frenchie and Maria, our lunches sitting untouched in front of us. I eyed Harry who sat at the jock table like he’d been a part of their group the whole time. A few days into school and he already had joined the hottest most popular group of guys. I still resented him, but I wasn’t mad at Maria anymore. I just accepted the fact that she could be really stupid sometimes.
I had a permanent smile plastered on my face from the prior night. I recalled the memory from the weekend:
"Sweetie, you just need to calm down." My mum rubbed my back.
"Stop touching me!" I swatted her hand away. "Don't you realize my first day back totally sucked?! Maria basically said I dressed like a whore! Do you know what that feels like?! My best friend, totally didn't even care! Ugh!"
I had felt like a volcano ready to explode all day. Ever since lunch I hadn't talked to Maria, Frenchie, Sharon or Tiffany. I had to sit with the jocks all by myself. And then went throughout the day strategically avoiding everyone.
"Honey, your outfit is fine. You dress how you want to dress."
I had to admit it; I had like the coolest mother ever. Mostly because she didn't give a shit about what I did. She can be kind of a ditz, but that's one of her best qualities. I could get away with completely anything. But then, on the other hand, was my dad, who was the complete antithesis of my mum. I guess he sort of balanced it out, because he was the most protective parent I knew. He was like an eagle protecting its young.
"I'll be in my room." I said without emotion and then climbed up the stairs.
I locked the door and collapsed onto my bed. I started connecting dots in the speckled ceiling.
Finally, some peace and quiet. Sometimes I just couldn't stand life. I was so excited about returning to all of my friends and good memories, but it just sucked. There's no other way to put it.
The prospect of my pre-calc homework didn't seem that enticing, so I decided to let it stay in my backpack like a good little assignment. What kind of psycho even assigned homework on the first day? I had a feeling this was going to be a long year.
I let out an exasperated sigh and kept staring at the ceiling.
After I'd cooled down a bit I took out my phone and scrolled through the messages. They were mostly a bunch of apologies from Maria about today and few from my modeling agency. I didn't even bother responding to any of them. As I set my phone in my dresser, my eyes were drawn to a curious envelope. It was particularly weird because I didn’t get much mail. I would get magazines and catalogs every so often, but nothing like this. My name was printed in the corner of the pink envelope and there was a postage stamp with the face of an elegant young woman outlined in black. I tore it open and revealed a fancy, thick, cream-colored piece of paper. I read the fine type.
Congratulations Alexandria Scultz!
We have reviewed your application and are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted for the new job opening for the Versace Spring Fragrance Collection...
I stopped after the first sentence. My jaw hit the floor.
No way. No way. No way. I couldn't believe it. I read the entire letter through. Then I read it through again. And after that I read it again. I read it until the words burned into my vision. This could not be real.
By now all of my distraught from my bad school had completely disappeared. I couldn't recall why I was even sad.
I didn't even apply for it, but I was too dumbfounded to even care. On a sheet of creamy paper in front of me sat my dream job. A single piece of paper that could determine the rest of my career. Hell, the rest of my life. I stared at the black ink. Was that really my name that looked back at me?
I ran down the staircase with the letter clutched tightly in my hand. I felt like if I let it go it would disappear.
"In the kitchen dear!" She called back.
I waved the paper in front of her face. "Is this real?"
She smiled so I could see the crinkles at the corners of her eyes. "Happy early birthday Alex!"
I stood in front of her with my mouth agape. This had to be some kind of joke. Versace? Versace?! I'd wanted to make it to a big modeling company forever. I'd thought it'd be years before I even landed a job at some of the smaller agencies.
I pictured myself strutting down the runway in the latest fashion. Camera flashes in my face and intense music pounding. So different from standing in a studio and ending up in the few ads of some cheesy clothing catalog.
I couldn't find words, So as an alternative I let out a loud squeal.
"Oh my God, I’m fucking amazing!"
The day had gone from the worst day of my life to the best.
I told the girls about the whole ordeal, unable to wipe the smile off my face. Who cares what Harry said? His opinion didn’t matter anyway. I was just glad everything was back to normal. It did irk me a bit to see him hanging with the boys though. At least he backed off of my girls though.
“So you going to have a birthday party this year?” Sharon asked.
Every year I’d have this huge bash for my birthday and invited like everyone. Just think Project X, but in real life. Daddy’s on a business trip and Mommy couldn’t care less. And voila, the perfect opportunity for the best night of your life. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate another year of me being alive?
“Hell yes. It’s going to be even better than last year since they finished the in-ground pool. Hopefully Dylan will be back in time...” I trailed off, thinking of the blond haired hunky football star that was my guy. God, I haven’t had sex in so long. One of the downfalls of having a boyfriend, all the freedoms of being single just vanished. But when it came down to it, Dylan was worth it. He was the sexist piece of man I’d ever laid eyes on. It was only inevitable that we got together. His light hazel eyes, bulging muscles, and his ruffled hair. Gosh, I got chills up my spine just thinking about him.
“Alex, don’t worry about it.” Frenchie supplied reassuringly.
“You can always hook up with someone else. It’s not like he’s going to know.” Tiffany added. Leave it to Tiffany to suggest something like that. She was with a different guy every day. Not like Maria, who was more flirtatious than anything. To put it bluntly, Tiffany was a slut. Hormones on heels. Not that it mattered much to any of my girls.
No matter how many times I’d explain loyalty to her I just don’t think she’d understand. Oh, Tiff.
The bell rang, cutting our conversation off and we all hurried to our classes.
After the first week, the school received Harry like he was some sort of god. All the girls looked on him with hungry eyes and the guys followed him around like servants. Apparently there was just something amazing about this conceited jerk that I just didn’t see. I told myself it’d just die down, but he was practically worshipped. I would be surprised if all the girls who followed him around like lovesick puppies had a shrine or something. When he walked the halls he always had a posse of people trailing along behind. I had to keep a close eye on Maria because half the time she was drooling over him. I told her that just because someone’s attractive doesn’t mean they’re a worthwhile person.
Then there was chemistry class. I completely ignored him at first, but he could always find some way to bother me. I wished he’d just didn’t talk to me like on the first day. It was better for him to keep his snide remarks to himself. I couldn’t stand his clever smile, the way he let everyone idolize him, and how he strutted around like he owned the place.
One day he was being particularly annoying.
“Hey, Alex,” he sat down, pushing his curls to the side. “Ready for an exciting class with your incredibly sexy lab partner?”
I sneered. “I assume you’re referring to me.” Ha. Match that comeback.
I whipped my head towards him. Did I just hear correctly? For the past few weeks we had been rubbing together and creating sparks. No you idiot, not in that way. Our relationship sparked more in the way your hands would catch on fire from extreme ropeburn. We had developed a mutual hatred for each other.
I narrowed my eyes at Harry suspiciously. He liked to toy with me.
“That doesn’t even make sense. You’re so stupid.” There he went again with that dumb smile. We usually went back and forth like this, him annoying the hell out of me while I tried not to lose my sanity. “Just shut up for once and pay attention to the class.”
Professor Hennen, (yes, the father of the infamous Andrew from the Tongue Incident) advised everyone to start their labs right away. Apparently we were supposed to be mixing magnesium with some other chemicals to change its properties. I don’t really know.
Harry resumed our conversation. “Look who’s talking sweetheart. You painted every single one of your damn nails during this class yesterday.” I admired the tips of my fingers, colored a sweet pink.
“They look good, don’t they? You going to get all the shit we need?”
Harry reluctantly complied and went off to get our supplies. I studied him from the back. I can’t believe I ever thought he was even slightly cute. Maybe he would be if he brushed his hair and got a new face. I was way out of his league from the beginning anyway.
Once we had everything we needed, I watched him work on the lab. As if I would risk chipping my newly painted nails. He returned with an assortment of little vials filled with various lab chemicals. Professor Hennen leaves, telling us to behave for a few minutes until he gets back.
“Are you just gonna sit on your lazy ass all day? Or actually do something?”
I looked up from my phone. “Excuse me?” He loomed above me, curls falling crazily about his face.
“You heard me. If I didn’t do all the damn work in this class you’d be failing right now.”
“Well, that’s your problem.” I returned to my messages, thinking he would just drop it. But being the stubborn jackass he is, he didn’t stop there. A pair of hands snatched my phone from me.
“It’s your problem too. All you do is worship your stupid phone. What would you be getting if I didn’t do all the work? Like a 40?” He dangled the device from his hand between two fingers. If he drops my phone…
I made an attempt to grab it from him, but he held it farther above my head. I stood up and took a step towards him, but I faltered a bit when I realized he was still at least three inches taller than me. So much for intimidation. But I’ve been told for what I lack in height, I make up in ferocity.
“Putting up with you in this class is enough stress to last me the entire year.” I spat in a harsh whisper. “Don’t get me fuckin’ started on schoolwork.”
A crazed look filled his green eyes. “Are you kidding me?” He let out a sharp hysteric laugh. I swear he looked like a sociopath in that moment. “Trying to put up with you is like trying to walk on tacks and ignoring the pain. You’re a royal pain in the ass!” I looked at him aghast, but he went on in a girly voice, “Can’t pick up a pencil or I’ll break a nail! Whoops! Gotta text someone I’m going to see in two minutes! Going to the bathroom! See you in half an hour!”
I dug my fingernails into my palms clenching my fists until it felt like I was drawing blood.
“Oh. My. God!” I couldn’t believe he was laying all this on me. Chemistry was hell because of him. All he did was make sarcastic comments and get beneath my skin. “You are being such a girl! If you were that manly, maybe you’d just suck it up!” I shoved him in the chest. “Now give me my fucking phone back!”
“No.” It dangled precariously from his fingertips, my entire social life in risk of being extinguished by the cold tiled floor. Sure I could just buy a new one, but I loved that phone, and I didn’t want Harry to win.
Then I watched in horror as he released the shiny metal device and it clattered to the floor. It produced a distinct crack as it contacted the surface. And at this moment there was dead silence. Twenty pairs of wide eyes looked on, some in shock, some in amusement. We’d had an audience this whole time.
What surprised me the most was that I couldn’t care less.
I snapped. And when I say that I mean I blew up; as in I sprung upon Harry like a leopardess, unable to contain the pure rage and hatred that had built up in me and coursed through my veins. I felt a surge of adrenaline as we tumbled to the floor and I clawed at him like a mad woman. I hoped I could beat the living shit out of him. He grabbed my wrists in an iron grip and rolled us over in an attempt to overpower me, but I reacted quickly and whipped him back over. We tumbled across the floor over and over, me trying to strangle him while he tried to restrain me. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so impulsive, maybe I shouldn’t have let him get to me, but that didn’t exactly matter, because at the moment, it was fucking worth it.