Every high school has cliques, groups, teens that hang out together for one reason or another and don't care to acknowledge the world outside theirs. There are differences, but all across the country they're pretty much the same: the rich kids, the "misunderstood" kids, the members of a certain official organization, the skaters and skanks, partiers and preppy- dressers...even the black kids all sit together. Now, I'm not racist, although it's a miracle not to be where I grew up. It was more of a silent understanding. Everything at Grayson Academy was symmetrical, equal, but very separate. Nobody was mean or anything less than respectfully polite, but everybody was sorted. The black students and the white students (that was all the ethnicity we had in Grayson) remained apart. They got the same grades, went to the same events, played on the same sports teams, and ate the same food at lunch. It was a phenomenon, really; every sociologist's dream case study. Why would students who seem to have no racial recognition although their parents are direct opposites subconsciously segregate themselves?
Nobody knew. But nobody cared to fix it, either.

I was a senior at Grayson Academy. I knew my way around, had my friends and academic expectations, and was looking forward to the last year of high school just like everyone else. Lily was my best friend and hetero- lifemate. Britney and Katie were pretty much the same, but about five times more boisterous. Occasionally, Sam and Troy would hang around us as well, and sometimes others from the youth group crowd. I guess that's why we all were friends-God introduced us. It was an inside joke. We were ready for one heck of a senior year.
It was lunch at the first day of school. The cheerfully packed academy cafeteria was roaring with chatter. Lily, Britney, Sam, and I all found a table that we could unofficially claim as ours. I actually forgot where Katie was that day, and of course Troy wanted to sit with the basketball team, but Katie must have had some student council thing. We all picked at our food, complained about class, talked about summer, and tried to find kids we hadn't seen over the break. About five minutes into the conversation, we discovered that our table was the great divide.
You see, the cafeteria was very large but well kept. Identical tables lined in rows from wall to wall, six seats each. There was a group of two tables suspiciously placed together in the middle, and the student body had decided that those would be the border. Black kids on the south side, white kids on the north. We sat next to the empty no-man's land. I could now see classmates I hadn't spoken to in years.
"I really like her skirt," I said, staring across the room.
"What?" Lily said while picking through her crackers.
"That girl's skirt...I like it."
"Anna, you don't wear skirts."
"Who are you talking about?" Britney asked, looking towards the back wall.
"The other way...at that table." Everyone turned, and I felt really out of place. "Oh, OK, everyone turn and stare."
"Sorry," Britney giggled.
"You mean...the black girl?" Sam asked. I nodded. He shrugged. "I don't think it's that great."
"What do you know about skirts?" Lily snorted.
"I did the whole "go to work with Mom" thing," he defended. Sam's mother was a fashion designer. He was the coolest not-gay guy we knew.
"Why don't you go ask her where she got it?" Britney asked. The question was a way to change the subject. Never would I ever have the nerve to cross the line and talk to a black table.
"Looks like English is going to suck again this year."
"Way too much reading."
I sort of zoned out of the conversation at this point; I guess my mind wondered as to why I wouldn't talk to her. I knew her name-it was...Alicia. Yes, Alicia Mathews. She was nice. She was first chair clarinet in the orchestra. I guess it was that invisible fence. The next time I looked up, I felt my heart skip a beat. A group of boys had sat down at the table corresponding to ours on the South side, one of which I hadn't ever seen before. Even though they weren't white as heck like us, I still knew most of the kids in my small private school. This one I didn't know. I would have remembered him.
His eyes were amazing. They were Spanish black, but bright like onyx catching the light, and moved with his smile and shone when he laughed. His smile was enigmatically contagious and warm. I felt myself grinning as I watched him beam and laugh with his new friends, nice guys that I had maybe walked past in the hall before. He had features to frame his grin; when his smirk faded, it seemed to linger in those eyes. The most adorable feature was a mess of thick dredlocks falling over his brow. It fit him like a mane, almost hitting the base of his neck in the back, so comically juxtaposed against the fresh dress collar and striped tie of Grayson's wonderful uniform. His chin was just dipped in thin hair, his ear hiding a small hoop under that crazy mess of locks, and instead of casual leather clogs or designer sports shoes, he wore black and white sneakers. The last thing that came was his complexion. It was a deep, solid bronze, not a shade out of place or inconsistency to care.
Therefore, he might as well have been on another planet.

That's how the year started. My friends and I were looking forward to being seniors and getting ready for college. English was going to suck once again. We had picked the table next to the parting of two worlds, and for the first time since the sixth grade I had a real bonafide love-at- first-sight crush on a boy I would literally never be able to have because he was black. I suppose the story starts here.