After the assembly, my small group of friends and I, find ourselves by our regular summer table. Behind the school there are some outdoor dining places, and right up until it gets too cold, we all meet up here in the lunch breaks - all four of us.
“Of course Pamela Wilson became president for The Comet,” Kathleen says. Kathleen is a tall blonde girl, that I have known for even longer than Jennifer. She lives down the road from me.
The girls and I have been discussing the newly chosen presidents for about five minutes. Every year the old presidents are replaced by new ones (always seniors). This time Pamela Wilson got the lead of the school magazine (The Comet). No one was fairly surprised by it - she had been writing for the magazine since freshmen year, and no one had done that before. I think she might be the first person who managed to write for The Comet without committing social suicide.
“Yeah, well, everyone knew that,” Jennifer is looking at her nails. They are perfectly done, like they always are before school starts. Before anything starts. Jennifer believes that feeling fresh and clean gives her good luck and good start. I am not sure if I believe that, but I have never commented on it.
“I think it is pretty cool that Joseph Gonzales became council president though,” Jennifer adds and throws me a glance.
“Yes. He fully deserved it,” I agree. Joseph Gonzales is a very ambitious guy that I have known since sophomore year. His father is a smart tall white man and his mother is an even smarter black woman. Somehow all the good genes have been passed onto Joseph. He plays basketball every winter for the school’s basketball team, and then plays in his spare-time at the local gym. He and the rest of the basketball team can often be found down by the beach, playing on the old faded basketball court. The baskets are worn out and the chain nets are trashed, but there are two rings and two plates - enough to create a basketball court.
“I think I like Joseph the most,” Anna suddenly speaks. She has not been saying much since we got back from the assembly. Anna is a small (smaller than myself) girl with dirty-blonde hair and wide hazel eyes. She never talks much, but she is one of the kindest and most understanding people I have ever met. It might have something to do with that fact that she is gay, and therefore has a very open mind when it comes to people. She is by far the least judgemental of the four of us. I wish I was, but Anna is just so incredibly selfless and caring - I can not compete with that.
“Me too.” I agree with her. There is no doubt that out of all the presidents that were chosen, Joseph Gonzales is my favourite. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we dated briefly in sophomore year. We have always had good chemistry, but fast found out that we were not meant to be in a relationship.
“Girls,” Kathleen suddenly raises her voice with excitement. “Have you heard that there is a new guy?”
I nod and say: “I heard he is from Holy Cross.”
“Dibs!” Jennifer squeaks in excitement. Jennifer has always had a weakness for upperclass boys without any freaky twists. The thing is just that not all of the Holy Cross students are like that - actually most of them are quite the opposite. Rich most of them are, but kind? I have heard otherwise.
“Not a chance.” Kathleen fights her.
“Kat,” I warn her, “Thomas.”
“Oh, right!” She breathes.
Kathleen has a boyfriend named Thomas. He is nice enough, but never really hangs out with any of us. I think he finds us girls slightly intimidating. Thomas plays for the basketball team. Kathleen met him (officially) through Joseph back when he and I were seeing each other. They have been together since the beginning of junior year, but she has always had a wandering eye.
“I also heard he got kicked out,” Anna then joins in.
Like I knew she would, Jennifer sighs heavily. “Why are there no decent boys in Connecticut?” She complains.
“I am sure there are some in entire Connecticut,” Anna tries, but Jennifer just shakes her head and Anna knows that there is not use in trying. She glances at me and I shrug my shoulders slightly - so little that Jennifer won’t see.
“He might be nice enough,” Kathleen shrugs.
“If he got kicked out?” Jennifer asks in disbelief.
“You can be nice and not always behave properly,” Anna reminds her.
Jennifer sighs. “Yeah, whatever.”
“Does that mean you don’t have dibs anymore?” I tease her, but she does not seem to find it funny. She glares at me, “I always have dibs.”
“Jen, come on,” Anna is careful now. “No, I will not come on! I have wanted a boyfriend for so long, and you-“ She looks at me, “You don’t even want one.”
I clench my jaw and bite my tongue. Sometimes Jennifer is so unfair, but I have learned how to dodge her bullets. I smile a little, “You’re right.”
It is the second time this day I have agreed with her to avoid any unnecessary drama. Maybe I should write a new friendship rule in my diary:
Rule #7: if it can avoid trouble, then always agree with your friends on smaller things.
I have six rules written down so far - and most of them are just the basic ones to being a good friend.
Fifteen minutes pass where we girls discuss anything but the new guy. Anna and I can always tell when we are too close to stepping on embers, and therefore usually back down before Jennifer gets truly upset or angry. Kathleen on the other hand has a way of testing Jennifer. Almost as if she enjoys seeing how many buttons she can push before Jennifer explodes. Luckily for the rest of us, Kathleen does not try today. I think she understands that trouble would not be a nice feature on the first day of our last year together. The last year where we will be together almost everyday.
Soon we find ourselves listening to Kathleen’s many relationship rules and she even gives us some advice on the way. But after short three minutes, Anna suddenly interrupts. “Girls,” She breathes as we are in the middle of Kathleen’s speech about how a functional relationship works out. Kathleen ignores her and keeps talking. Explaining how trust is the most important thing. I am sure it is important, but can not help but smile a little to myself. Thomas trusts Kathleen and she trusts him, but sometimes I wonder if they have been true to each other during their entire relationship.
“Girls!” Anna’s voice increases slightly, and now we all shut up - even Kathleen, who sighs loudly to let Anna know how rude she is (not) being.
“Fresh meat coming through,” Anna then says. I wrinkle my forehead, “Mean Girls?”
“Why is Mean Girls so important?” Jennifer asks.
Kathleen decides to jump on our train as well, “Yes, I was just about to tell yo-“
“Not Mean Girls!” Anna then sighs, and I can see Kathleen’s lips press together a little. She does not like to be interrupted. Anna leans a bit over the wooden table, “New meat as in new guy.”
“What?” Jennifer breathes out and looks up fast. Her eyes run wildly around the school grounds, until they stop on a white t-shirt dressed guy, with longer hair than the average East Haven High guy. I can not help but look as well. He is standing with his back to us, but he does not stand alone like I imagined. He is standing with Jonathan Morgan and Eric Bailey. The two guys you would think were the most popular, but they do not like this place all too much. The rumours always run when it comes to them. They are supposedly hanging a lot with some of the private schooled kids and they are also known for throwing great parties. I have never attended one of theirs, since I have always felt slightly submissive to the rich private schooled children.
Jonathan and Eric are not the only ones in their little we-don’t-like-east-haven-high-group. There are other guys, and a few girls too, but none of them are outside now.
I have always felt slightly scared of them. Not because they are frightening, matter of fact Eric and Jonathan are both very kind, but because they have always been so nonchalantly raised above the rest of us. I am not sure they mean to, but the way they stand, the way they walk and the way they talk - it makes us all feel like we should kiss their feet.
“What is he doing with Bailey?” Kathleen hisses. Eric Bailey, also known as Bailey, because his last name suits him so beautifully well.
“I have no idea,” I reply.
“Holy Cross,” Jennifer then says. “Eric and Jonathan must have known him from there.”
Like I thought just a second earlier.
“Turn around please,” Kathleen pleads. Her eyes are glued to the new guy’s back.
As if he can read her mind, he takes a step back and slowly starts to turn. I let my eyes wander down his body. He is wearing a pair of skinny black jeans. In this heat? I am not sure if it is some sort of statement, or if he has insecurities - I decide not to think about it at all, because who am I to care anyway? Then he turns around, just to lean against the red stone walls. I try not to stare, but my lips part slightly. He places a foot against the wall, bending his leg. Then he says something to Jonathan, who shakes his head with a laugh.
“He is hot,” I whisper underneath my breath, but Jennifer hears it. I am positive they all do, but she is the only one who glances at me.
“He has tattoos,” she then mutters. She disagrees a lot with his kind- whatever his kind is. Tattooed guy? Is that even a type?
I had not noticed the ink on his skin before she mentioned it - but now that I look, I realise it should have been the first thing I saw. His left arm is inked - not completely at all, but he has some bigger tattoos there. As I let my eyes wander over his body, I can tell that he has two tattoos on his upper chest as well. They look identical and are barely visible because of his t-shirt. Only the tops of them are viewable. I keep studying him. His right arm is less covered than his left one, but he still has a few. Then I decide to finally take a good look at his face. I feel like I am trespassing private property by the way I am staring at him. It feels inappropriate, and when my eyes move to his face, I freeze in my position. He has turned his head and is now looking directly at me. I want to turn and hide in embarrassment, but somehow I feel unable to move. I should not have stared like that, but he makes it hard when he stands so much out from the ordinary East Haven students. A relaxed smile pulls at the corner of his lips, and I swear I can see a smirk grow.
“Oh my god, he is smiling at me,” Jennifer whispers with a great deal of enthusiasm.
I glance at her and then look back at the new guy, but he is not looking anymore. He has turned his attention back to Bailey and Jonathan. That went fast.
“Guys, the new guy just smiled at me!” Jennifer repeats herself.
I force a smile. Maybe it was her he was looking at. I can not see why he should be looking at me, but then again, I can not find a reason for him not to. I am kind of pretty - aren’t I?