As Amber Nelson glided into her brand new SUV, she quickly dabbed some
last minute blush onto the apples of her cheeks, as if she believed that an
extra dose of makeup was an extra dose of perfection. After one last lip-
gloss check and ideal, white-stripped smile into the mirror, Amber finally
pulled out of her driveway.
I look like a total clown, she thought to herself. Look at me.
Angrily, she thrust the makeup mirror into her backseat, and watched
it fall open, its miniature brush bouncing to the floor of the car. If
Amber had any choice about it, she wouldn't even wear makeup. In fact, the
only reason she did was because as soon as she hit sixth grade, her former
friends had been into nothing but fashion and boys. They had become the
"beautiful," people, the type of girls that her mother had always wanted
her to be. And, pleasing her mother wasn't the only reason she needed that
Much to Amber's dissatisfaction, in order to keep those friends she
had to be flawless. Amber was one of those stereotypical high school
idols, who always looked perfect on the outside. She was one of the
beautiful girls who would sit in class with a brush and a makeup mirror
lying on her desk, as she luxuriously combed through her unblemished golden
hair with a set of beautifully frosted fingernails. As one of the most
popular girls in the prep crowd, everyone either loved her, or despised
her. It wasn't an easy image to have, but Amber never wanted to lose that
edge. Right now, it was all she had.
As the lunch bell clamored through the school, books and backpacks
were shuffled as the mob of hungry students eagerly raced each other out
Amber, however, had to appear graceful in her every move. Sliding
her small collection of books and dainty, pink, leather handbag purse under
her arm, she waltzed out of her desk as she made her way toward the door.
As usual, she didn't just walk to lunch. It almost seemed as if she
floated, on the light feet of a girl who had taken dance team with her
friends every year since seventh grade. However, as she strolled toward
her usual seat at lunch, she noticed that something was definitely wrong.
Why didn't they save me a spot? She wondered to herself. With a few
clicks and clops of her high-heeled sandals, Amber made her way to the
table to correct this injustice.
"Um.excuse me," Amber huffed in annoyance at the girl who had taken
Amber's backpack tugged at her shoulders, and the books in her arms
began to feel like bricks. She desperately needed someplace to set down
her books, and now was definitely not the time for someone to try to take
The girl looked up for a split second, before returning to her low-
"It's her," another girl said. Whatever that meant, the other girls
at the table obviously found this comment funny. As if they had rehearsed
this in advance, three girls began to snicker in unison.
Trying to regain confidence, Amber gave her silky hair a quick flip,
and tried again to get the girl to move. "Perhaps you didn't hear me," she
repeated, a bit more forcefully, as she slammed her purse down on the
table. "You're in my seat."
"Yeah, well, I think it's going to stay my seat for a while too.
Unless you want everyone to know about your.ahem.weirdness," the girl
"Wow," the girl across the table gasped. "That was harsh, Katy."
Amber gasped in confusion. Desperately, she tried to think back to
all the things she possibly could have done to make this girl mad. Maybe
Katy was a friend of her boyfriend's ex or something.
"What weirdness?" Amber demanded, as her palms began to sweat under
her load of books.
Oh, God. I hope it's not.
"Oh, come on, Amber. You know what I'm talking about," Katy scoffed.
"I mean, think about it. What could possibly be weird about you?"
"Katy, you don't have to pick on her about it," Katherine, Amber's
best friend, warned. "It's not that big a deal."
At that moment, Amber's entire mouth went dry. "You.you told them?
Katherine! Why would you do that to me? When I told you, you promised to
keep it a secret!"
As fast as her fancy heels, left over from last year's Homecoming
dance would carry her, Amber ran from the cafeteria and didn't stop running
until she was safely behind a locked bathroom door. She brought the sleeve
of her new, denim jacket up to her sky blue eyes and let the emotion she
had managed to keep bottled up for so long flow from her tear ducts, across
her carefully darkened eyelashes, and down her blushed cheeks, leaving
streaks of black free to mix with her once prominent blush.
They can't know about me, she thought miserably, dropping her books to
the floor. They just can't.
The final seventh block bell indicated that she was late, and Amber
let out another chorus of tears. If she left this bathroom, she would have
to not only face a tardy slip and a detention, but a whole wall of faces,
belonging to students who probably knew everything she had used her preppy
image to hide.
I have to get out of here.
Sighing, she pulled out her cell phone and ran to her car.
"Hey, Gary," she said, as she started her car. "I really need to
talk, okay? I know it's last minute, but can I come over for a bit?"
Gary was her oldest friend and total confident. He had been her
friend ever since he moved down the street in first grade, and he was one
of the few people who knew her for who she truly was. Since he wasn't
exactly a star student, which meant that he missed a lot of school, Amber
assumed that she could find him here. He always stayed home until the
office called home to inquire of his whereabouts, and then he usually
wouldn't do much of anything. It was strange that a girl like her could
call him a friend, but for some reason she felt as if he understood her
better than any one of her "good" friends.
"You're a wreck," Gary stated honestly, as he led the crying girl into
"Thank you, I know," Amber said sarcastically, her voice faltering
slightly from the tears.
"So, are you going to tell me what's up or do I have to give you pizza
before you'll do that?" Gary asked routinely, as they walked into his large
kitchen-area complete with a counter sink.
"They know, Gary," she said bluntly.
"They.they.they know what?" Gary said, cringing with sympathy. His
face took on a more serious expression at that moment. "That you're.bi?
Unbelievable, how did they find out? Are they picking on you?" he
It was definitely a typical Gary response. Since he was almost like
an older brother to her, he never liked to hear that someone was hurting
Amber nodded. "To put it simply, if I stop sitting at my old lunch
table and let this nasty girl steal all my friends, I get to stay in the
closet for at least another week. Or, until she can find something else to
blackmail me with."
Gary was incredulous. "Amber, maybe it is time you come out with it.
I mean, all these superficial friendships are just going to make it harder
when you actually do come out, whether by choice or otherwise. Eventually,
you're just going to have to deal with the facts. Believe me, I've known
plenty of people like you, and you just can't hide it forever."
Amber nodded. "I know. But, life is just so much easier when you