Seeing Red

"She wasn't new in school, or in town, I'd just never noticed her. How I managed that, I have absolutely no idea."
Red wasn't the type of person you forget. Colleen realized this as soon as she met her at the beginning of her Senior year at high school. Extremely ready for a change and extremely intrigued by Red, Colleen finds herself effortlessly immersed in an entirely new lifestyle brought on by this unique girl. When underlying feelings come to the surface, will Colleen address them, or run away from her own confusion?
Rated yellow for strong language and adult themes later on.

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2. Small World

The library was packed with a bunch of Freshmen so it was practically a ball pit at a Chuck E. Cheese. I swear on my life that these fucking kids were way too young to be in high school. Or maybe I was just old and crotchety. Probably that.

 

Regardless of what their actual age was, their level of maturity was undeniably that of a sixth grader’s at max. It was infuriating. They weren’t even doing anything in particular to bother me, they were just there. Oh and they were also loud. Did these kids just not have any libraries before? You’re supposed to be quiet, or at least make it look like you’re half-ass trying to be quiet. They weren’t. Our librarian was super old and practically deaf, though, so he didn’t seem to care. Or he was too lazy too.

 

I’d retreated to the farthest corner of our sizeable library as I could get, doing homework for my other classes instead of my actual online stuff. My eyes were starting to droop though. Finally, after trying to read and effectively process the contents of one paragraph for a solid ten minutes, I just pushed my pile of books away from me on the table, sighing in frustration. The Freshmen were swarming around the numerous shelves and tables like parasites looking for a host.

 

Shh!” An incredibly harsh shushing came from my left and made me almost jump out of my skin. At first I thought it was legitimately someone telling me to be quiet, me, the only person in the whole room who was capable of shutting up, but when I turned to look, I saw it was Red. A smile came to my face without me even noticing, “You are being way too loud.”

 

My entire body felt lighter when she was around. Things just seemed... better? It confused me. I barely knew her. What did it mean...? “Sorry.” Was all that I managed out, my thought process too distracting for me to coherently say anything else.

 

My eyes followed her as she moved to sit across from me, “I’ll let it slide just this once.” She gave me a sarcastically reprimanding look which I just rolled my eyes at. She then wiped that persona completely away, face falling ever so slightly. For a second I wondered what was wrong, before noticing that she was staring over at the pack of Freshmen being idiotic on the other side of the library, “What are these small children doin’ in the highschool?” She asked me, evidently irritated. It was impossible not to be, really. I caught a glimpse of who I assumed was the class’s teacher. It looked like he was seriously considering quitting his job.

 

It was good to have someone else to help me make fun of the stupid Freshmen. It almost felt like a burden if you just had to do it yourself in your head, “Finally, someone just as confused as me.” I looked back over at them, wondering just a bit if they sensed our criticism. Probably not since they were so far up their own asses, “Like... I mean, I wasn’t that bad as a Freshman. Or, well, I can only hope that I wasn’t that bad as a Freshmen.” In retrospect, I had mentally blocked out the majority of that year, as well as eighty-five percent of middle school.

 

Red just sighed as if experiencing nostalgia, “I think it’s best we don’t think about it too much.” I noticed her look back at me in my peripheral vision, so I drew my eyes away from the throngs of lowerclassmen to match her gaze. It wasn’t that hard for me anymore, despite my previously disclosed tendencies, “So you seriously hate everyone in your grade?”

 

She was referencing what I had said earlier, back when I was a complete incoherent mess. I’d improved since then, but not by much, “No, not everyone. There’s some tolerable people thrown in with the literal walking pieces of trash, but they’re a bit too hard to find. I’ve mainly got two friends; Luis and Bristol, dunno if you know them.”

 

She shook her head back and forth, before leaning slightly forward - getting more into the conversation both mentally and physically, “What about Juniors, though?”

 

I realized only then that she must’ve been a Junior. She sure as hell wasn’t in my grade, I would’ve definitely noticed her before. For some reason that concept just hadn’t crossed my mind. When we had stood next to each other back in the cafeteria, she was a bit shorter than me, though, and I was barely above average height.

 

It was then that I understood she was asking because she was nervous. She probably assumed I thought she was a Senior, which was moderately true, and worried I might shun her if I found out her true identity. The absurdity of that fear was endearing. I just laughed lightly and shook my head back and forth, looking idly down at my still open schoolbooks.

 

“Red, I don’t care what grade you’re in.” I told her plainly, not wanting there to be any room left for paranoia. I crossed my arms and rested them on the table.

 

That threw her for a loop, “Huh..? That’s not what I-- I mean, I didn’t think...” She trailed off, deciding against denial and instead just sighing, accepting her blown cover, “Some Seniors are super hardcore dicks ‘bout being friends with Juniors, as all.”

 

I nodded, bringing my eyes back to her and getting surprised when I saw her avoiding eye contact for once, “I know. I’m not like that, though. If you’re a cool person, it doesn’t matter how old you are...” I noticed some Freshmen literally playing catch with books in my peripheral vision and internally cringed, “... unless you’re a seven year old somehow eligible for highschool enrollment.”

 

It took me a while to actually process what she had said about friendship, and by the time I had, she was already talking, “Well last time I checked, I w--”

 

I simply couldn’t not comment, “--Wait, time out; so we’re friends now?” My tone was hard to read. I hoped I didn’t accidentally come across as an asshole or something.

 

She stopped in her tracks, appearing almost dumbstruck,”Wh-- wha...? Um, well, i-if you...” She sounded so scared. Guilt immediately set in - I never meant to scare her.

 

“It’s just that I was wondering if you were serious.” I tried to explain myself but she didn’t seem convinced. Then again I wasn’t being very convincing. Jesus, she almost looked sheepish, which was very different from how I’d normally seen her, “Because I mean, I didn’t want to get my hopes up or anything, that’d suck.” I leaned forward - she wasn’t looking at me. Tilting my head, I added on, “Y’know?”

 

She pursed her lips, digging one of her hands into her red hair and resting it against her scalp, “...Whaddaya mean hopes?”

 

I knew I needed to reassure her more, and I was willing to do that. Something about this girl just... I wanted to be around her. And if she was showing signs of wanting to befriend me, I needed to jump right on that, not ward it off like a dope by overusing sarcasm, “I don’t have a lot of friends. It’s like decent people are a breed and they’re dying out...” She finally met my eyes again, “... and the really good people practically don’t exist.” I made sure to make my expression seem warm - I didn’t want to upset her in any way ever again.

 

“And which am I?” She was starting to sound like how she had at lunch, getting a twinkle behind her eye again.

 

I shrugged, giving her the sweetest smile I could possibly manage, “You tell me.”

 

Red laughed lightly, and her entire persona seemed to be restored in an instant. I watched happily as she smiled, pulling her legs up onto her chair to hug her knees against her chest, “So... friends, then?”

 

There was no hesitation on my end, “Yeah. Friends.” My heart fluttered unexpectedly at the realization that since we were officially “friends” now, I’d get to see her more. Spend more time with her. At the thought, I couldn’t stop smiling like a dope to myself. It seemed to make her smile too.

 

“Hey... so...” Her chin rested atop her kneecaps. Some of her hair was falling in her face, managing to frame it perfectly, “...D’you live in town?” I nodded at her, which made her smile broaden, “Cool, where?”

 

“65 McAdams.”

 

She squinted for a second, before staring in the distance for a while - thinking, “McAdams... McAdams... why does that sound familiar?”

 

I still had a pencil in hand, and I gently tapped its eraser against the table, conjuring up a shitty vague birds eye view map of my neighborhood in my head, “Um, well it’s a dead end street, kinda up right next to the edge of a hill - my place is on like the highest part at the end... Uh... lets see... I think it branches off of uh, Hudson, and it’s next to Wilbur--”

 

“--You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.” She cut me off in awe, scoffing in disbelief, bringing her legs back to the ground so she could lean closer to me, “I live on Wilbur!” Jesus I’d never seen someone so pumped before. It surprised me too once she said it.

 

“Seriously?”

 

“Yeah! Holy shit, Colleen, we’re neighbors!” She was completely elated. It was endearing; she was this excited about living near me? This entire conversation was just a huge ego booster, and I didn’t get a lot of those.

 

I laughed ever so slightly to myself, “Yeah, I guess we are!” It was impossible not to share her enthusiasm.

 

It was then that she presumably realized that she may be coming off as a bit much (I didn’t see it that way, but some might), and she tried to reign it in, “Sorry, I got a little... I dunno, isn’t it kinda weird though? We just met literally like an hour ago and we didn’t even know we were neighbors??”

 

I nodded, “Small world.”

 

Right when she opened her mouth to say something else, the bell rang again. It surprised me that time and I jumped slightly where I sat. Despite having gone to that school for years, the excessive volume of the bell still got me sometimes. She wasn’t fazed. We both had to go now, though. She slung her bag back onto her shoulders while I started shoving my books back into mine. Being focused on this new task, I didn’t notice her come around to my side of the table and was startled when she put a hand on my shoulder - just for a second, it was little more than a pat - then left.

 

For some reason, that physical contact, though incredibly minor, jarred me so much that I stayed sitting in that chair for what must’ve been a whole minute. Goddamn, this girl. Where the hell did she come from and how much was she going to impact my life? It felt like a lot of stuff was going to change for me and I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. All I knew for sure was that when she was around, I felt more happy than I had in years.

 

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