Chapter One - Junior Violinist

How come in movies romances are so easily started? Usually there is this odd love at first sight thing. One of the future lovers walks into the room. Time stops for everyone but them. Romantic music plays, pretty lights caress their silhouettes, hearts speed up, and love fills the air. Usually it is a beautiful girl - not that anyone could be that beautiful without the aid of makeup - with a pretty boy. Well, unless the script writer is searching for a totally different form of cliché. In that case, either one of the lovers would be an outcast and ugly, while the other was beautiful and popular. Of course.

Why do things never happen in real life as they do movies? Well, that's a whole other form of movie cliché, isn't it? There's always this supposed "original" meeting that would probably never really happen in real life, and just made its way into movie cliché anyway. We all know why everything happens in movies, right? It has to be dramatic and keep us laughing or crying, with all the grays in between. We've all grown up with things being this way, so it's normal to us.

We just know that we will never have a meeting like one in a movie. Yeah. I never have and I probably never will. In fact, the first time I saw her was just like any other day, actually. It was the first day of my junior year. The air had been really chilly that morning, with a small breeze to blow it on my face and mess with my dirt brown hair. The sun wasn't hidden by the clouds, but if I wanted to warm up at all, I would have to stand directly in it for quite a while. I didn't have time for this, considering that I had classes to attend.

The entire building was air conditioned. I'm not sure why they bothered to do this, considering what a cool day it was - especially for early September - but whatever. I guess it's nothing I should complain about. I had managed it through chemistry and was on my way to College Prep American History. It earned me two credits for college, but I don't know if it was really worth it. Many of my friends last year had warned me that the teacher was absolutely psycho. Mrs. Black. What a morbid name. She enjoyed assigning everyone so much homework every night that the entire school could swim in it. Well, apparently. I guess I shouldn't judge her based on rumors, right? If everyone did that to me, well…

I'm not the most popular kid in the school. But hey, what does that really matter? I'm not a complete loner. But I'm also not an average kid. Not exactly strange either… I guess the stereotype I could fit under the most is geek. A lot of people don't understand that just because someone's smart doesn't necessarily mean that all they love to do is sit around and read science books all day. All of my school career, for a while everyone would roll their eyes and say, "Oh yeah, Ryan is happy about being back in school."

Little did they know that I dislike school as much as the rest. I didn't despise it, but it just was not my favorite place, especially when I had been younger. It wasn't until junior high that I became someone others were interested in. It was all because of my ex-girlfriend, Jennifer.

It was probably the most cliché relationship I had ever been in. There was me, the typical geek who gets picked on. Then there was her, the typical beautiful girl who's smart and good at sports and popular. We had to be partners the entire year in seventh grade science class. Well, she had pretended to like me at the beginning of the year just so I could help her. Hey, call me pathetic, but I was absolutely desperate for friends. She was nice enough, but I couldn't help feeling that she was talking behind my back about something. Did I think I was being used? Yeah, but I could get past that.

One day her friends cornered me near the corridornear the science room and asked me out for her. She was furious in science that day. Why? I had said yes, and it wasn't even her idea. But still, she had stayed with me. We never ate lunch together and went to two dances that year. She would talk to me on the phone for a half hour each night, but other than that she'd try to pretend I never existed.

Well, this made me popular among the guys of seventh grade. Everyone knew that she didn't hate my guts, but definitely didn't even consider me as a friend. However, it was just how things worked in the school. If someone dates a popular girl, it automatically makes them one with the "in" crowd. I think it's stupid, but I went along with it.

During the summer of seventh grade, we still managed to be together. It wasn't until all of her friends were on vacation that she really started to hang out with me a lot. We got to know each other really well and as it turned out, she wasn't really all that heartless. She found me amusing, actually. It was on some starlit night when we were taking a walk that for the first time when our eyes met, my heart actually sped up.

No, I didn't kiss her. She didn't kiss me. But there was this odd expression on her face. It was almost like she was fighting being happy by being frightened. She ran away from me quickly after that. Girls are crazy. It took her two weeks to call me up and apologize. We realized that night on the phone that it was the night we had fallen in love, at just age thirteen. Funny, huh?

Most people don't think two teenagers as young as thirteen can fall in love, right? Well, I guess a lot actually don't. They just hold hands occasionally and go to school dances and talk on the phone, correct? Most relationships only last a week or two, maybe a month if they're lucky. Then of course there are those really odd cases where they seem to last a century… Well, Jennifer and I managed to last until our freshman year in high school. Those had been the best two years of my life… But I won't get to the end of the story.

I slid into my American History seat, behind a girl with flowing long blonde hair. May Stevenson. She had been Jennifer's best friend up until ninth grade and she hated my guts. She turned around, looking at me with her green eyes. They reminded me of water filled with algae… But I decided not to tell her. I guess it would not really be a compliment.

"Ryan," she greeted simply. "Enjoying your first day back in school?"

I could have answered her politely, I guess, with a clear answer. I also could have said something mean to her like, "I was until I saw you." I was never either of those people. I simply shrugged and let out an, "Eh."

She rolled her eyes, turning back around. "Boys," she grumbled.

I ignored her. No sense in getting all worked up over her. The rest of the class packed themselves in, just as the bell rang. We all sat around and waited. Our eyes were wide as we searched the room for our teacher. However, confusion swept the room to see that she was not there. What part of this made sense? She was one of the craziest and strictest teachers in the whole school, yet she wasn't in the room for the first day? "Whatever," I grumbled. Dumb school.

We waited another twenty minutes, all seated in silence. I guess we were fearing her hiding under her desk or something, just ready to pop out at the wrong moment. I was tense the entire time. I wish I'd had a distraction. It would have been easier to pass the time. No one had given us text books yet, though. No homework. Everything was just introductory on the first day.

Finally, twenty-five minutes late to her own class, Mrs. Black strolled in casually. I couldn't help but sense a tense and strict aura coming from the gray-clad woman. She dressed in a business suit, almost like she was a lawyer or something. Her skirt reached her bony knees and the collar of her shirt reached up to her chin. Her jacket seemed stiffed and was completely buttoned up. Mrs. Black did not bring in the message of happiness. Not in the least. Her graying black hair was tied back into a tight bun. Wrinkles covered her face… Yeah, I guess the rumor that she was really old was true.

She set her briefcase firmly down onto her empty desk and looked at the room with cold and steely eyes. "Pathetic," she spat at us after taking us in for a few minutes. "This will be yet another horrible and slacking class, I can see it. Look, none of you have any posture. Your bags are completely empty, which obviously means that you are nowhere ready for this class. I suggest you all get a separate bag for it. You will have two text books, a work book, and always an extra paperback history book to read that you will be with your own money. You will also need to keep a binder. Throw away nothing. Not even things that you don't finish. Trust me, you will finish everything in this class. I know I have rumors about being tough, so none of you should be surprised at this." She stopped talking, looking around the room again, picked up her brief case, and stalked out.

We all sat in stiff discomfort for about ten minutes before someone from the back of the classroom let out a giggle. Someone else began giggling with her, and soon we were all laughing or giggling nervously. It was definitely the most mature moment of my whole high school career up until that point.

"Is she serious?" a girl in front of May asked.

This caused silence again. "I think so," I replied uncertainly. "We all know how she's crazy."

"It's been proven!" a guy from the back agreed with me.

More silence. What a strange class. I could feel the relief in the entire room when the bell finally rang. We scrambled out like frightened preschoolers. Next class was orchestra. I had been playing the violin since I was four years old. It wasn't my choice. My mother insisted that I take lessons. I was only four, it's not like I really had a say. Since then, I had taken up playing the trumpet, piano, trombone, and saxophone. I was automatically classified as a band geek back in freshman year. I didn't do band after that. Orchestra was okay. The class was bigger and it was much more normal to be in it. Italso looked better on a college application.

I entered the large room, setting my backpack down on the growing pile. My violin was in the storage room. I didn't bother bringing it home every summer. I ventured in there, looking for the familiar case. The storage room had always been dark and dusty. I didn't like it much. Didn't take long to locate my case, pick it up, and walk out into the filling up room. Many shaky freshmen were making their way into the room. Silly freshmen. I hadn't been scared coming into this room when I was a freshman. Maybe it was because I was a confident player by then.

A group of giggling girls walked in through the door, causing me to turn around and stare at them. I had never seen them before, so it was obvious they were freshmen. The way they were dressed would give them the stereotypical label of prep. Stupid labels. I ignored them. It's not that I don't like all freshmen, but the giggling girl kind get on my nerves.

It was at that moment that she stepped into the room after them. I had just sat down and was dusting off my case and looked up. Time didn't stop like in a movie. My heart sped up a little, but nothing overly done. No fans blew her long, curly auburn hair like what happened in movies. The only music to be heard was some of the brass section tuning up their instruments. She didn't even see me. The girl that had caught my eye just dropped off her bag with the rest of the other ones, walking over to where many students had dropped off their instruments that morning.

I looked down at my hands, staring blankly at the dust covering them. Okay, so I admit I was having that love - or lust - at first sight feeling. I think we all get that sometimes. Occasionally we're attracted to someone when we first see them at some point in our life - right? Maybe it's not love, but it's something. I guess I should have been happy with this, but I had kept myself out of the dating loop since Jennifer. I don't want to get into why.

So you know how in movies one or two things always happens? After the first sighting, the main character doesn't see the future lover until lunch time or something, correct? That or there'll be this unfortunate - or fortunate, I suppose - happening of where the two conveniently both have string instruments and end up sitting next to each other. Do I even need to tell you what happened next?

I looked up to see her carrying a harp that was as big as she was over. We didn't have any other harp players. She awkwardly took a chair in my general area, still not noticing me. I couldn't help but stare at her beautiful pale skin - it looked like she didn't see much sun - specked with a few small black freckles. Yeah, she was pretty, but not overly done like in movies. No, not a single pretty light caressed her silhouette, either. She was just there, oddly close to me, and for some reason I was infatuated.

She finally arranged herself, sitting down. It was then that she first noticed me. You know how I was staring at her? Yeah, well, I didn't exactly have enough time to look away when she snapped her head up. It must have been really odd from her point of view to see this strange guy just staring at her. I didn't know whether to look away or not. She had already caught me, right? I noticed that her eyes were an odd but beautiful color of purple. It took me a few moments to seize the fact that her face was staring blankly back at me.

I looked away. Okay, so, on a scale of one through ten, how much do you think I freaked her out? Well, it was enough for her to shuffle her chair back a bit and over to the right. I guess first impressions were never that great with me.

Ryan, I started to lecture myself, she's just a freshman. Get over it. It wasn't "cool" to date down in my school. Now normally, I don't go with what the "in" crowd does, but rumors would spread that I was a pedophile - even if it was only two years - and that's not what I wanted to remembered as. Whoa, wait. Why was I thinking about dating her? I hadn't even spoken to the girl yet. I had just gotten her freaked out by me and further away.

I started to lecture myself, It wasn't "cool" to date down in my school. Now normally, I don't go with what the "in" crowd does, but rumors would spread that I was a pedophile - even if it was only two years - and that's not what I wanted to remembered as. Whoa, wait. Why was I thinking about her? I hadn't even spoken to the girl yet. I had just gotten her freaked out by me and further away.

Yeah, I'm the guy everyone thinks is smart. Except for when it comes to girls. I never thought I'd feel anything for one after Jennifer, - yeah, so what if I'm only sixteen? - at least not for a while. So what gave me the impression that I was feeling such things for a freshman girl I had just met? Guys can be as confusing as girls sometimes, I guess.

I somehow managed it through that class. Orchestra was the only one that actually did something the first day. The instructor thought it was more important to get playing time in than just talking. He was insane, but that was alright. I had a freshman girl sitting next to me. I learned her name was Cindy. She was just any other girl to me. Why had the other freshman caught my eye, when I didn't even know her name?

Like I said, guys can be as confusing as girls sometimes.

Cindy played the violin sloppily. I know, I sound highly conceited saying that, right? Well, her hand was shaking like an old person's, and she couldn't seem to control the bow at all. It was driving me crazy. It caused me to scoot over to my right a bit - which made it so I couldn't see the sheet music we shared - which made the other freshman girl get annoyed with me. It was a highly fun cycle, trust me on this.

It made me happy when the bell rang. I quickly packed away my violin and rushed over to my backpack. I let Cindy take care of ourstand. One good thing about having her as a partner is that she actually did it. Next I had lunch. Great. Lunch with mainly freshmen. Like I said, I didn't mind freshmen... Butwhat if the purple eyed girl had it with me?

Well, it was just my luck that I bumped into her in the line for Subway sandwiches. She nudged her friend, whispering something while indicating towards me. Oh great, now what was my reputation among freshmen girls? Was I was a pedophile already? I decided to ignore them. Whatever. I was past those little games. I got my own sandwich, heading to a lunch table where my friends usually hung out. There were already two girls there. Freshmen. Again. Well, since I was a friendly person, I decided to started a conversation with them.

"Hi," I greeted. Yes, that's the way to do it, Ryan. Now if only you could have said that to those other freshmen.

One of them had a teddy bear - wait, what? Yeah, it was definitely a teddy bear. Her hair was long, about to her elbows. It was also dark. Very, very dark. Yet still brown. She looked like one of those people that if I called her hair black, she'd yell at me about how it was brown. Her skin was pale, even more pale than the purple eyed freshman - think she has a name? She just stared blankly back at me.

The other one, however, looked like a vibrant… teenager? Well, she had this aura about her that made me think, "She's a cute little kid!" but she was obviously not a little kid. Her red hair was barely shoulder length and layered… and kind of stuck out in some spots. Glasses covered her blue - or were they gray? - eyes, which belonged to a nice round face. She was a bit on the chubby side, but I guess I wouldn't suggest Weight Watchers or anything. Well, maybe compared to the other one someone would - she looked anorexic.

"Hi!" the red head greeted back. "I'm Jenna, this Emma, and this is Benjamin! You can call him Benny. He likes it when you call him Benny."

I was wondering who the heck Benny was - imaginary friend, maybe? - when I saw that she was pointing at the teddy bear. Oh. Yeah, of course any other freshman would name her teddy bear. He was certainly white… "Nice bear," I replied.

"That's your name? What is it, Native American?"

I snorted. Okay, so I wasn't exactly expecting that answer. It was obvious Redhead Freshman - Jenna? - was kidding. "No… It's, um… Persian…" That just got me a slightly amused expression back. "I'm Ryan Walker."

I guess my name likes to bring silence or something, because that's certainly what followed. Where were my friends? It'd suck if I got stuck in first lunch without them. About five minutes into lunch, two others joined us. From the way Emma and Jenna reacted, they knew each other. I actually recognized them, since they were also juniors. One was Candace. Most of the guys called her Can-Can, only because Candy had been a childhood nickname… And she didn't like it much. A lot of people still called her Candy. Ha. Her stick-straight brown hair was somehow magically combed back into a pony tail and she wore these thick black glasses… I wore thick black glasses too. Well, at least we had something in common.

On her arm was her boyfriend. Scott. His blonde hair was slightly spiked, I guess in an attempt to be cool or something. He was a fellow geek, but we weren't really friends. He wore thick black glasses that matched Candy's - what was this? Showing devotion with matching glasses? - and… surfer looking clothing. He was certainly special.

"Ryan," Jenna started, "this is Candance and Sco-"

"I know them already," I interrupted her. It was obvious to me already that only one word could describe Jenna: hyper.

"Oh," she shrugged. "C'mon, Emma. Let's go get Manwiches."

I watched the two freshmen girls walk off as the two juniors sat down. We all sat there silently, which gave me a chance to look for the Purpled Eye Freshman… Pef, what a name. I wish I could understand what my sudden infatuation with her was all about. I found Pef sitting with some people, but she seemed pretty secluded from the group… Poor girl. If I hadn't already freaked her out enough, I would have probably gone over and talked to her, but I didn't think that would help very much. Instead, I made my Subway sandwich my business, just waiting for the day to be over.