Too Young

Ireland's parents had always told her and her brother that love doesn't exist, which led to the rule of them not being allowed to date. Choosing to disregard her parents decision, she finds the first person who makes her feel special, Declan Johnson. But, while looking for the love she's never received, she becomes a victim.

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1. Chapter One;

As with the start of any new school year, I'm anxious. Today we get back our summer assignments, probably jump straight into course materials, and, for the first time in my life, I am without my best friend.

Lily and I are a typical duo- or, at least, we were. We would sit together at lunch, do our homework together, sign up for all of the same classes- because, in short, we've both only ever had one another as friends. We met on our first day of Kindergarten where we were assigned in the same seat on the bus. The rest is really history.

Unfortunately for me, and probably more so for Lily, her father was transferred to London, England for his job for at least the next two years. He's a salesman for something that he's tried explaining to me and Lily before that I can never remember, and he's always traveled around. Before, it was always only for a week or two at a time, and Lily would just stay with us or her aunt in that time. Because she is in open refusal to speak to her mother, her aunt said she couldn't take care of Lily for her last two years of high school, and my parents laughed at me with faces filled with pity when I suggested - begged - that Lily stay with us, she had no choice but to accompany him. She went across the pond in the middle of July and, as far as I know, has thus far refused to leave her house.

So, when I am about to walk into homeroom, my stomach drops that I might walk into the room and have to pick a seat next to someone. Mrs. Murray has always had the desks paired in twos. I mean, I've known all of these kids since kindergarten, and been their class president since the seventh grade, but, again, I have no friends. So who do I have to talk to? I work with a boy named Mathis, who I talk to there, but he isn't in my homeroom. 

I find myself sighing in relief when I see that we are arranged in alphabetical order, which is new, so I don't have to make a fool of myself awkwardly asking and being turned away for a space to sit. When I find my seat, about in the middle of the room, seeing as my last name is Johns, I begin to sift through all of the typical 'back to school' papers that will need to be signed and returned to my homeroom teacher as soon as possible (yes, that's directly from the chalkboard at the front of the room). Though, I'm notorious for being late on these sorts of things. Last year, I went into the office for a completely separate reason, and was criticized for not having those returned. It was nearly the end of the second quarter. I may be smart, but I'm extremely disorganized. I lose everything.

I curiously look over at the name of the person who I am sat beside, Declan Johnson- 11. Being as I have been our student council and class president since the seventh grade, I know every student in my grade. Seeing as he is also in the eleventh grade, I assume he is a new kid, who I will inevitably have to welcome and show around anyways. I fidget around on my phone for a few minutes, trying to seem as though I'm doing something while people around me talk. I feel awkward, and I probably look awkward to everyone else. As predicted, Mrs. Murray says that I need to go to the guidance office. Hurriedly, I shove my papers into my backpack, and hope that the halls are cleared when I get back so I can find my locker more easily.

It is a rather short walk to the guidance office because the school I attend, Buchanan High, is very small. There are seventy-four kids in our class- well, seventy-five now- and last year sixty-eight kids graduated. Our hometown is very proud of the only President to come from our state of Pennsylvania, even though I think that he was the worst President ever, along with just about every historian ever. The rest of the grades have a similar number of kids in them, which is why everyone knows everyone else's business here. Even if you don't want to be involved in something, often times, you have no choice but to be involved, because you'll hear about so-and-so's boyfriend cheating on her before she does, and then she'll come to you about it, even if you've only talked to her boyfriend once in your life.

One of the most unfortunate things about a small school is that you don't really have a clean slate with anyone. Your reputation is solidified before you have a chance to change it. I'm the girl who was always going to be class president, inseparable with the girl who was always going to be valedictorian (unfortunately, I also took that spot now because of Lily no longer attending this school). That's part of the reason I'm jealous that Lily is going to a new school in London. She gets to have a new reputation at her new school. She could be anyone she wants, and she'll likely be great. Joining a new group of friends in the tenth grade seems to nearly be impossible, something that I'm sure Lily will find just as hard as I do, but I'm hoping that even if I can't join their tight group, Mathis's friends will accept me into their lunch table.  

I enter the office, saying hello to the secretaries, Ms. Miller and Mrs. White, and head toward the guidance office. When I see Declan Johnston, I very audibly say, "Whoa." Admittedly, not my smoothest moment and I know that when I call Lily later on, she'll make fun of me for this. However, I can't rightly blame myself. He is easily one of the most attractive guys I have ever seen. His light blonde hair is long and curly and his eyes are a sharp green color. My awe causes him to smirk and chuckle lowly, which embarrasses me to no end. I can feel my cheeks heating up, probably now the same color as my hair.

Miss Jones, our guidance counselor, introduces myself and the absolutely stunning boy. "Ah, yes, Ireland, this is Declan." I nod, looking at her, and avoid looking at Declan because I can feel that he is still looking at me. "Today is his first day and I noticed that he is in your homeroom. Declan, Ireland here is your class president and personal tour guide for the next few days." 

He finally tears his eyes from my blushing face, and turns toward Miss Jones, saying, "Thank you so much." He picks his schedule up off of her desk and his bag from the floor, slinging it easily over one shoulder. He looks at me, waitingly, expectedly, and I sheepishly open the door, allowing for him to exit in front of me. 

"Your name is Ireland?" he questions, and I notice that his voice is incredibly deep, which is fitting for his tall figure.

I nod and begin walking in the direction of Mrs. Murray's classroom. He follows. "My mom is super in love with Ireland. Both of my parents are second generations and she especially thinks it's beautiful over there." 

"Well, I think that it's a really beautiful name," he says, and I feel as though I can physically hear the charm that he just turned on. My cheeks begin to burn. Again.

Changing the subject, and avoiding direct eye-contact, I say, "You actually sit next to me in homeroom. I was being nosy and looked at your papers. I figured you were new because I know everyone in the school. But, I'll check out your schedule when we get in there to see where I have to take you." I ramble when I'm nervous.

He might respond, but the announcements have just started and I can't hear anything over them. Back in homeroom, I notice that his first class is right near mine, so I won't have to be late, although I do have a special late pass for the specific reason of showing new kids around the school. Still, first period on the first day of school, with the toughest teacher in the school, is not something that I want to be late for. He rants, in general, about anything that interrupts the flow of education, including sports, competitions, and community service. I show him to our lockers, which are also right beside one another, because last names, and then we enter the classroom and sit in silence. 

"So, here's the math and science wing," I say as Declan and I walk through the heavy, black double doors into the C-Wing of the school. "Trig is basically right across the hall from my Chem class, so that's good." I shrug, unsure of what to say. I find myself acting strangely around him, and I know that I shouldn't be. I know that I should try to act cool and confident, but I can't seem to be my normal, carefree self. I suppose that I was always that person around Lily. He waves me goodbye as he enters the Trig room, sending me a million dollar smile. I sigh to myself as I take a seat in Mr. William's room, waiting for the rest of the class to file in so that I can see who my choices for a partner are. After all, I normally always partnered with Lily.

I feel a wave of relief wash over me when I see Mathis enter the room. Wearing dark fitted jeans and a burgundy sweater, he looks nice. He catches my eye and smiles at me, walking toward my desk and sitting down in the desk to my right. "Hey," he says, coolly.

I smile at him, "You'll be my lab partner, right?" I almost plead, and I'd be very embarrassed if he turned me down. 

He laughs slightly, probably at how desperate and awkward I sound asking him this. "Of course. There's no one else I'd rather be with." We both look around at the slim pickings of the class. Seeing as how eleventh graders have the choice between Chemistry and Biology, we don't have many kids in the class, because no one finds Chemistry that appealing. I do, though. 

As the last of the few kids in our class trickle in, Mathis speaks, "Heard there's a new kid. I assume you've met him?" 

I nod, unsurprised. News always travels fast in this school. I think about how Declan asked me in homeroom if he could sit with me and my friends at lunch. "Yeah, I'm his tour guide for the week," I chuckle. "Hey, what lunch do you have?"

He pulls out his schedule and hands it to me. I notice that he has A lunch, just like me and Declan. Thank God. "Great, can we sit with you at lunch?" 

He nods and we both turn to where Mr. Williams has begun to speak about class rules. I take a syllabus as the pile comes around to me, feeling relief about not having to seem uncool with no friends in front of Declan.

When lunch time comes around, I walk Declan to the cafeteria and basically drag him to where Mathis is in the main lunch line, apologizing profusely to the people that we're cutting in front of. For the most part, as long as I'm not a jerk about it, no one cares if I jump line. Lily and I always saved one another a spot in line. "Declan, this is Mathis. Mathis- Declan." They do that awkward sort of head nod that boys do to acknowledge one another.

"He your boyfriend?" Declan asks, almost under his breath, so that I can hear him, but Mathis cannot. The way his eyebrows are raised, I can tell that he doesn't think that Mathis is my boyfriend, and I wonder why he asks. 

My cheeks turn hot, "No, he's not. I, uh, don't have one." My stomach begins to tighten and I take a deep breath, rambling again. "We work at the local pharmacy together, actually. It's, like, really in town. I guess I don't know which way you live. Anyway, we're going to sit with him and his friends." To this, he shrugs, uncaring. I notice that his face is kind of hard to read. He's not smiling, and he doesn't seem annoyed by it, but I don't know what he's thinking. I wear my heart on my sleeve, at least, that's what my brother Nolan has always told me. But, with Declan, I can't tell how he actually feels when he's saying something. Then again, I've only known him for about four hours, so I decide not to think too much on it. I think too much on pretty much everything.

We get, what I consider, to be disgusting cafeteria food- we always have chicken patties on the first day of school- and follow Mathis to the table with roughly ten other kids sitting down. We take seats and Mathis introduces us, "You all know Ireland and this is Declan, the new kid." I notice a few people giving Mathis sly glances, but am unsure what to make of them.

I wave hello to them, of course I know everyone at the table. There are actually eight others, one of who is Nolan. He's a year older than me but his girlfriend is my age, so he can be found hanging out with kids my age. "Hey, sis. I'm glad you found new friends." I glower at my brother, who starts chuckling, "I mean, we're all sad for you that Lily left, but I was worried you'd just stay to yourself all the time." 

"Well, you're totally welcome to join us anytime," says Emily, Nolan's girlfriend, with her ever-present, contagious smile planted on her face. When I first really met Emily, after Nolan and her began dating, I thought that her smile was fake and that there was no way she could be that happy all of the time. But she's one of the most genuine people that I've ever met. Her long hair is light brown and she always has flowers in it and some random pieces of it braided. She's what we all call a child of the earth.

I smile at her, as I slide in the seat next to Mathis. "Who's Lily?" Declan inquires in a quieter voice once everyone's settled back into their conversations from before we arrived at the table. 

I sigh, missing her more than I have all summer. Between rushing to show Declan to his classrooms and listening to teacher's drone on about the same handbook and syllabi that we get every year, I haven't had much time to miss her since homeroom. "My best friend. She moved to London like a little over a month ago, and I kind of only hung out with her and Nolan." 

"He's your brother?" I nod, and glance down at him and Emily laughing at something. "Cool. Seems cool." 

I ask to see his schedule again and notice that he is in band with me after lunch. "Oh, what do you play in the band? I'm in there, too. Piccolo"

"Clarinet. I was first chair at my old school, like, always." He says this so coolly, like he wasn't intentionally bragging that he's a brilliant clarinet player. It's such a laid-back response that it almost doesn't seem arrogant, but I like the arrogance in his voice. 

"I'm the only one, so I guess I'm technically first chair. Three other girls tried out, but Ms. Wilson says that even huge orchestras only have one piccolo, so our small band should only have one. The rest of them play the flute." Too much information from me. Again. Declan could say that he was the best in so few words, but it took me two minutes to say the same, and I sounded way less cool doing it.

As I talk to Declan throughout lunch, I learn a lot of different things about him, and tell him some things about me. For instance, I learn that he's an only child and loves eighties music. When the bell rings to go to lunch, Nolan holds me back. "Do you want me to drive you home?" His voice becomes quieter, "I was planning on stopping by the cemetery on my way home. Thought that you might want to come with me." 

I frown, annoyed. "Nolan, you know that I don't. I- I can't." 

As I attempt to go around him, he doesn't budge, grabbing onto my upper arm, forcing me to stop. Nolan isn't very tall, but he's quite muscular. He spends a lot of time at the gym and is always nagging that I need to go with him, because I won't have my metabolism forever. "Ireland, you need to get over this properly." 

"I have to go, Nol. I'll see you at home tonight, okay?" I pull my arm harshly out of his grasp, and don't turn back to look at him.

"What was that all about?" Declan asks, startling me out of my thoughts. "Everything okay?" 

I nod, "Yeah, everything is perfect."

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