Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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5. Five

The next day I have Chemistry, Biology and then English again before lunch. This time I'm at my locker before I head outside when the entire football team is suddenly stood beside me. I'm so shy I can barely look at them but when I do I don't even know which one to look at seeing as there's eleven of them. 

"Hi. Alice right?" one of them says enthusiastically. "I'm Dan. This is Luke, Liam, Ben, Harry, Tom, Eliot, Harry, Alex, Jesse and Nate." he says, pointing to each one.

I laugh a little. "Hey, nice to meet you all."

"So you wanna come sit with us at lunch today?" one says. I'm not sure if he's Tom or Eliot. 

"Oh that's okay." I say immediately, not wanting to face the awkwardness of sitting with them all and feeling uncomfortable. Maybe if it was a nice quiet group of girls I'd go but this is a huge group of boys just stood in front of me. To be fair though, you'd expect them to seem like they had some other motive but they really do just look like kind, friendly guys which is kind of funny because they're all so tall and muscly from the football. 

"Do you have someone else to sit with?" the one I'm pretty sure is called Luke raises an eyebrow.

I hesitate. "Well no-"

"Then come on." Dan says and they all start walking and I have no other choice but to just walk along with them all. 

I know it's a bit pathetic but the only resource I had into finding out what going to school here was going to be like was to watch every high school movie ever and I realise how sad that is when I'm genuinely shocked that they don't sit with any cheerleaders. 

I sit in between Dan and Harry and I have to admit, I think I have a little bit of a crush on Harry. I use the word crush because I don't like him because I've barely ever spoken to him before but it's just kind of a subtle thing. He's just a quieter one in the group but also really nice and he's pretty much the best looking boy I've ever met in my life with his curly blonde hair and blue eyes and literally the best jawline I've ever seen. 

So yeah, I'm pretty happy to be sitting next to him. 

"So you're from England." Dan says in an English accent and I giggle, nodding. 

"Yes."

"London?" he says, still grinning at his accent. 

"Yeah."

"Ooooh, fancy." he says and I laugh.

"Ever been to Bristol?" Harry asks me. "My parents lived in Bristol for a while."

"Harry, literally nobody cares." Ben says and then looks at me. "He brings this up all the time."

"I haven't been to Bristol." I admit but Harry's still glaring at Ben. 

"Like anybody cares about you and your girlfriend who you never shut up about." he says and everybody pauses before bursting out laughing, including Ben and Harry. Boy's humour is weird. If I said that to one of my friends they'd be so upset but Ben probably finds it funnier than anybody.

"Anyway, Alice." Dan turns back to me. "There's a party coming up this Saturday. Wanna come along?" 

"He's not going to let you say no." Harry says to me.

"Okay, I'll come then." I agree and Dan whoops. 

"Bringing the new kid into our squad, mission accomplished boys!" he shouts and they all cheer and now I'm wondering what 'squad' I'm part of, if they can just be all loud like that and nobody look annoyed. It occurs to me that I've suddenly been thrown into the popular group and that makes me a little anxious but I also don't really know how to get out of it now. Maybe it's not going to be all bad and I am kind of flattered that they're being so nice to me because nobody new has ever really found any interest in me before. 

I'm beyond nervous getting ready that Saturday. It hits me how weird it is that this is happening because this is not me at all. I'm not the kind of person who goes to any parties, let alone with a group of boys in the year above. Dan's picking me up along with Eliot, Luke and Tom. I feel so self conscious when I'm looking in the mirror. I'm wearing heels and a pretty tight black dress and I feel like I should look nice but I keep looking at myself through their eyes and I feel like I look like a kid playing dress up. I also feel like such a kid when I find it this new, exciting experience that I'm going out when it's already dark. My parents were surprisingly cool about the whole thing but I think they're just excited that I've spoken to anybody at all. 

I see what I'm guessing is Dan's car pull up outside and my stomach squeezes. I suddenly feel like this isn't such a good idea. "Jesus Christ."

"What are you all nervous for?" my mum asks, laughing at me. 

"This is a bad idea." I decide. "Can you go out and tell them I'm not well."

"Alice, don't be silly." she says, pushing me towards the front door. "Go on. Have fun. Come home whenever you want."

I look at her pleadingly. "At least give me a curfew." she shakes her head and I look at my dad. "Come on dad, you don't want me out partying all night."

"I kind of do." he shrugs. "I'd rather you do that than sit in your room on your laptop. It's not like you're even going to do anything bad, you're too scared."

I narrow my eyes at them both. "What kind of parents are you?" 

Dan sounds his horn then so I have no choice but to leave. When I get in the car they all do that whole cheering thing again which is such a boy thing to do and I have to admit I find it kind of funny. 

"Hello." I say, getting in next to Luke. 

"Alice!" Dan grins in the mirror at me as he pulls out of my drive and we set off. "How you feeling tonight?" 

"I'm good thanks, you?" 

"I'm good thanks." he chuckles. "You need to stop being so polite. We don't bite."

I laugh a little but I'm still feeling kind of shy. 

"So you excited?" Luke asks me. 

"Yeah, it should be fun." I nod. 

"Many parties like this in England?" Dan asks. 

"Yeah, I just don't go to them." I say and they all laugh. 

When we get there and walk into the person's house we head upstairs because apparently that's where everybody else in our group is. I can't quite believe it when I'm walking through and every girl that looks at me gives me this dirty look. It occurred to me that some people might be a bit annoyed, like the new girl is in with the popular people, but I thought I was just getting that from more high school movies but it's happening.

We find the other guys upstairs in a lounge sort of area with some other people as well. It's clear that this is the cool group at the party, the group where you don't care what you look like dancing until they're in the room. I feel even more like a little kid even though I'm only a year younger. I guess it's just because I'm so shy with them still and I'm just tagging along, following them around. 

They all get up and greet me and the others. When Harry gets to me I feel even more nervous. If there's one person who I'm scared is going to view me as awkward and like I'm not meant to be there it's him but he greets me as friendly as ever.

"Hey." he smiles that cool little smile he has. "How are you?" 

"I'm good." I smile back. 

"Good." he nods, lingering for a moment before moving on to greet someone else. I breathe out. I hate to be the girl who's like he's so cool oh my god but really. He's so cool. 

Being at the party isn't as awful as I thought it would be in the end but it is still kind of awkward. I'm more included than I thought I would be but still I'm not really a dancing person, I'm not really a drinking person and I'm not really a social person but I force myself through the night. A lot later on, Harry comes up to me when I'm sat down by myself and sits down next to me. 

"Hey, we were wondering where you were." he says. "Coming to dance?"

"Nah, I'm okay thanks." I smile at him. 

His brow furrows a little. "Are you not having a good time?" 

"No it's fine." I protest and then sigh, laughing at myself because I feel like I'm being silly. "I don't know. I feel like it's just not really my place. Like, I'm not the most fun person in the world."

"What are you talking about?" he says, one corner of his mouth quirked upwards. 

"Like I'm just kind of awkward aren't I?" I say and he sits back in the couch, laughing. I can't help smiling a little bit too. "What?" 

"Maybe you are a little awkward." he admits, still chuckling. "But it's just funny because I've barely ever heard you say two words and the first time I have a proper conversation with you, you're talking about being awkward."

I laugh, embarrassed. "I'm just saying."

"Have you had a proper look around the city yet by the way?" he asks me and I shake my head. "Well if parties aren't really your scene, why don't I show you around a little some time?" 

"Yeah, that'd be good." I nod all casual but on the inside I'm dying a little. He nods, smiling at me again. 

"Alright. Well I'll see you in class on Monday?" 

"Yep." I say and he goes back to find everybody else and I'm still sat by myself but I'm feeling alright about that now. 

 

 

 

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