I hear the sound I have come to detest, the one that wakes me up each morning, and my heart races as I sit up in bed and automatically throw my hand out to the side, scrambling around on the floor in search of my phone. I stop the alarms and lie back down in bed for a second. My heat rate is returning to normal. I hold my breath for a second and listen. I can’t hear anything for a minute but then I hear the sound of a spoon scraping the inside of a cereal bowl. I frown. The boys always eat just as they are about to leave, which means its time for them to fly back to school. I swing my legs around to the side of my bed and hop out. On my way out of the room I grab my dressing gown off the hook and wrap it around me, tying the belt loosely as I hurry down the stairs.
“There she is,” Jakob announces as I walk into the kitchen.
“Here I am,” I say, trying to force a smile.
I give them both a hug and toss Jakob a notebook. He smiles. Ever since we were four and he went off to London for a weekend with dad, we’ve created silly puzzles in a notebook for the other to do on the plane journey. I made one for Logan once but he didn’t even bring the notebook back home with him, and so now he just gives me a guilty smile. The extra hug was worth it, I think to myself as I head back upstairs. I chuck the dressing gown back on the hook and pull on some clothes. Now I can enjoy getting ready slowly. I play some music and ‘sing’ into my hairbrush as I straighten my hair and dab some concealer onto my face. I hardly wear makeup, I’ve never been a big fan of it, and now I run a wand of clear mascara over my eyelashes and lip balm over my lips. The longer I look at myself in the mirror, the more I begin to hate the clothes I’ve chosen to wear. It’s the first day back from Thanksgiving break and I haven’t seen my friends in just over a week. Why did I even pick this outfit in the first place? After debating on a new outfit for quite a while, I go downstairs to have breakfast and pack my school bag. Cam isn’t even awake yet and dad takes it upon himself to run up the stairs, taking them two at a time, to go and get him up.
The power went down last night for only a minute, but it meant that only one garage door could be opened in time, and so Cam and I have to take the same car to school. We’re in the back planning what to say if anyone sees us in the same car. “I’ve got it!,” I say, “we’re carpooling!”
I watch him think it over for a second and imagine the mechanisms whirring inside of his mind, I imagine a current running around wire and reach a light bulb, when his eyes light up and he tells me what he’s actually thinking, “You’re a genius. People here do that all of the time!”
I laugh, shaking my head at him, “then we’re all sorted.”
He digs around in his school bag and a look of panic washes over his face. I try and stifle another laugh as he frantically searches in his bag for something he thinks he has lost or left behind. He pulls out his phone and I see his face return to its normal colour. I look at him in disbelief, “your phone?”
Cam gives me that look. “It’s important!”
“Uh huh, now put your headphones in and leave me alone for a minute. I need to de-Cameronize before we get to school.
I get out first and turn right to go in through the door nearest to our lockers. I’m so pleased with myself I could laugh evilly right there and then. He’ll have to go in through the other door and take the long way around the school. He doesn’t. He follows me right away and hurries up so I have to hold the door open for him unless I want to look bad.
He flicks his hair. “We’re carpooling remember,” he says, his accent clearly American.
I glare at him, speeding up at the same time, hoping to lose him once we reach our lockers.
The hallway is extremely busy, people shoving their way through, backpacks and sports bags in tow. I stop at my locker and have to think for a moment, not exactly sure what my combination is. The break has been long but not long enough, as it comes back to mind and I turn the dial this way and that way, and yank it open. I’m unpacking my bag and loading up my locker when someone taps my shoulder and I turn to face my best friend. “Olivia!” I exclaim. She hands me a hot chocolate with whipped cream, just the way I like it, and takes a sip of her pumpkin spice latte, so American.
“Babe, I’ve missed you,” she says, and we give each other an air kiss. You don’t watch the number of movies we do and not pick up some lame and or cheesy habits.
I take the lid off my drink and watch the steam escape, cooling it down, “How’s the fam.?” I ask her.
She groans, “je déteste.” Since she went to France over the summer, everything has been French this and French that. You’d think she’d take her French class seriously now as well, but she still refuses to do the homework and study for the tests. “It’s all about the improv.,” she’s constantly saying. She’s ridiculous but I don’t tell her that.
“Do you know that time it is?” I ask, realizing I’ve locked my phone in my locker and cannot be bothered to open it again.
“We should probably get our stuff now.” She glances at the phone screen again, and adds, “rapide. We have five minutes.”
Less than ten minutes later I’m sitting down in math class and one of the ‘popular’ girls comes over. I try and stop my eyes from rolling, “Hi Maya,” I say.
“I saw you on the 202 this morning,” she says, looking as though she’s expecting something from me. I’m just wishing she would go back and rejoin her posse, which Cameron has now walked over to with some of his buddies. She sees me looking at him, and says, “I didn’t know you knew Sirianii.”
The nerve of this girl, I think to myself, “I don’t.” I say, not even trying to be nice. “His dad offered me a ride and since my dad had to go to work early...,” I trail off.
She looks disappointed, “I was just wondering,” she says, walking off. Watching her walk away I wonder how I could ever have been friends with her.
I’m relieved when the bell goes off and everyone around me starts shoving papers into their binders and sprints out of class. I’ve made it through the first day back. For a moment I almost forget about swimming. “Ugh,” I sigh, to no one in particular.
“You all right?” asks someone behind me. As I turn to see who spoke, I suddenly realize and I hesitate at the wall, mid-turn, as I crinkle my face into a horrified one. I force my embarrassed self to smile and look decent. “Harry,” I start, “Hi. I just forgot for a moment that I had swimming.”
He smirks, and my heart melts. “I didn’t know you were a swimmer,” he says, in that voice that makes me feel like I’m floating. He makes the word ‘swimmer’ sound like something so amazing that I would just die to be one. We start walking toward the door and, of course, one of my books slides off the top of the stack I’m holding. He bends down to pick it up for me and I’m halfway between feeling like the luckiest girl in the world and being worried that he’ll think I dropped it on purpose. I shake my head slightly, focusing, “Thanks,” I smile.
He smirks again, this time giving me the ‘eyes’, “anytime.”
I’m hoping my cheeks aren’t turning pink when he says he had better go to practice too. Basketball, he says, when I ask, even though I already knew the answer.
I’m running late now which means I’ll have to change at the pool. I don’t mind though. As I walk fast to my locker to grab my swim bag, I wonder if Olivia will still be at hers. She is. I spin around as she starts walking in the other direction, away from the lockers, and I end up walking backwards to mine as I tell her I’ll text her later. “Deff. I need the gossip,” she says, “au revoir.”
When I finally get back home after swimming I’m exhausted. I lie back on my bed and fall asleep, without having eaten anything more than a granola bar after practice and without having done any of my homework. I wake up when my alarm goes off. “No. No, no, no, no, no.” Why didn’t anyone wake me up? I demand to know as much when I run down the stairs and swing around the door into the kitchen. My dad is pouring out some orange juices. “Morning princess, “ he says.
I give him a sour look, “You know I hate when you call me that. It isn’t funny you know.” He says I looked tired yesterday and as that I looked as though I needed the rest. I am furious. I take the first car to school and am so thankful that the car has Wi-Fi so I am able to do as much work as I can. I even wonder why I don’t do this more often.
I don’t find the time to check my phone until I’m walking into school. Fifteen messages from Olivia and three missed calls. I’ll have some explaining to do. I spot her coming down the hallway in front of me and wave her over. We walk together to my locker where I load it up for the day and take out the stack I need for first period. She laughs when I tell her about Harry and tells me I should get out there and talk to him more. I laugh at her now. Having grown up with three brothers, I’ve always been able to talk to boys and get along with them just fine, even more so than with other girls sometimes, but when It’s Harry, talking to him is just so different, so much harder. As we walk to the language hallway, where I’ll go to Spanish and she’ll go to French, we pass Harry. “Hey,” he says, and Olivia has to poke me quickly in the arm to remind me to speak. “Hi, Harry,” I manage to say without making a complete fool out of myself. He gives me a smile and a nod, and carries on. Such a simple gesture makes me all fluttery inside. Olivia smiles at me and shakes her head. “Today, at lunch, when the guys all sit along the wall and go on their laptops, we’re going to be there and you are going to keep talking to him,” she tells me.
I love this girl. “Yes, okay,” I say, winking at her and blowing her a kiss as I turn left into my class and she turns right into hers, winking back at me as she starts talking to another person in the room.
I’m starving by lunchtime and as soon as class ends, I’m hurrying down the hallway, joined at my side by Olivia, and I shove my books into my locker as soon as I reach it. When the school lunch doesn’t look good, I bring my own, and as soon as the hallways clear, I sit down with my back against Olivia’s locker and start shoving my sandwich into my mouth. I glance up to see if she’s watching me as I eat fast, holding my sandwich in my left hand and scrolling through my notifications on my phone with my right. She catches my eye and then comes over and snatches my sandwich from me, asking how I would like it if someone was to see me. I look sheepish and give a weak attempt at getting it back from her, and just at that very moment, when I grab it back and yell, “Aha!” Harry comes around the corner and laughs when he sees us, but not in a mean way, and my jaw drops as he plays with the lock on his locker. Embarrassed, I turn to face my own and finish off my lunch quietly, then take out my laptop and sit down further along the wall, where almost all of the guys in our grade will soon be sat. Harry is the first to join me, and I look to the left at Olivia, still at her locker, and she seems to get the hint. Waving her water bottle she announces, “Zie, I’m going to go and refill this,” and all at once she slams the door shut and struts off, away from us. “Zie,” Harry says, softly, as if trying the word out in his own mouth, as opposed to hers. Surprised, as only a few people call me that, I turn my head quickly to face him. He must have noticed my surprise, “Sorry, I’ve just never heard you called that before,” but he doesn’t realize that I was startled by the fact that it was him saying it. I smile, but don’t say anything. He breaks the silence I no longer have to analyze to see if it is awkward or not. He flips his long, brown, curly hair to the side again, “was it a good sandwich?” he asks. I laugh and can feel my cheeks beginning to turn pink. He wiggles his eyebrows and looks at me with his deep green eyes, “I’m just messing with you,” he gives a small laugh, “I stuffed my face before I turned the corner.” I’m wishing I could make some witty remark but can’t think of one before I hear the stampede of boys coming, and I open up my laptop, Harry doing the same. There are so many voices that I can’t pick out individual conversations, but the main topic of discussion seems to be the English reading quiz we might have next period. As their lockers slam closed and they join us along the wall, opening their laptops, putting on their headphones, and turning the pages of the book frantically, doing as much last minute reading as they can get in, I turn to Harry again. “What do you think of the book?” I ask, spotting his on the floor next to him. His response shocks me. He turns his whole body so that he’s facing me and doesn’t take his eyes off mine as he gives me his opinion. “I think that the main character is naïve. I think that-“ he flips the book over to see the name on the front, “I think that James Dine is making trust out to not be as important and as difficult to gain as it really is.”
“What makes you think that?”
He tears out the last page of the book, the acknowledgements, and when I raise my eyebrows in surprise, he says, “She’s probably very thankful.” He crumples up the page into a ball and then opens it out flat. “Dine lets the main character mess up so bad and then his ‘best friend’ forgives him completely.” I can tell he isn’t finished yet and I’m right. “Trust is like a piece of paper; once you crumple it up to a certain point, it can never be the same again.” I start to see what he’s saying as he crumples it back into a ball and tosses it clean into the rubbish bin. “I can see why you made the basketball team,” I tell him. “And I agree with you, but I think that a piece of paper, for example, can be flattened out and return to its original appearance.” He crinkles his brow. “Haven’t you ever heard of ironing?” I laugh. “Okay, smarty, so maybe you can change something back to normal, like, you can freeze water and then let it melt, but if you ate the ice, well that’s a completely different story.”
“I don’t know about you, but I tend not to eat my ice anyway.”
“Abnormal much?” he laughs, “If we do have a reading quiz, Ms. Laconti is not going to hear the end of my rant about trust.”
I smile, “Now you’ve made me want to rant to her too,” I tell him.
“Go for it,” he says, standing up, and then he offers me his hand to help me up. I stand next to him and he says, “Once we’ve read the next chapter, we’ll have to meet up again and discuss.”
My heart is melting slightly, “already read it,” I say.
He cocks his head, ”then we have more in common than you might have thought,” and he starts to walk back towards his locker.
The hallways are getting busy now, crowded with people who are cutting it close to get to class on time, and today I’m one of them. It suddenly confuses me why he wanted to meet if he’d already read it. “Then why-“ I start, turning around to ask him, but he’s gone.