Mr. Benson, grinning from ear to ear, announced that the exam would be in 3 weeks. Catherine shifted in her seat from the nerves that had come over her. She was failing the class rather miserably but was enjoying it. A sudden tap on the shoulder brought her attention back to a handsome boy with azure eyes, a charming smile and a sense of self-assurance that was almost uncommon in a high school setting. She offered him the pen that he had requested, and he turned back to his worksheet, which Mr. Benson had assigned as a refresher for the exam tomorrow. She quickly turned her eyes back to the paper before she was punished for talking during the quiet part of today's lesson. Her thoughts drifted back to what she was thinking about before the teacher had so rudely interrupted with his declaration of the exam. She caught a quick glimpse back at the handsome boy, but she just as quickly turned her head back to her paper. A girl could always dream. The class went by faster than expected, and she quickly packed her books up as she tried hard to not to have any eyes on her. She usually did have eyes on her, the class geek who laughed too quickly at people's jokes, tried too hard and smelt strongly of loneliness. A voice came from behind her, and Catherine turned.
"Thanks," he said as he let the pen slide out of his hand and drop to the floor.
She looked up, her hopes dashed by his actions, and a sense of humiliation washed over her as her cheeks burned a deep crimson red. She picked the pen up knowing full well everyone was snickering behind her back as they saw the fat girl bend over. She could hear their comments like a full-length movie playing in her brain as she reached for the stupid pen.
"Check out how fat she is," a tall blonde girl with the perfect body would say, as the boy with the azure eyes would snicker.
"She's huge and so disgusting," he would comment back to the blonde girl.
"Sorry." His voice rang in her ears as time returned back to normal, and she was no longer in her own dream world. "I didn't mean to drop it."
"That's alright," she answered, her voice shaking softly.
"Are you okay?" he asked. "You don't seem well."
"I'm fine," Catherine answered quickly, and just as fast she was out the door and heading to her class.
She walked speedily down the hall and into the washroom, trying to avoid stares from the girls at the sinks who were gossiping back and forth about girls—nameless girls to her. She took a stall and ignored them. The tears poured down her face, and she knew she had to remain silent so those gossiping girls wouldn't hear. The bell had already rung for last period, and she was late. She tried to dry her eyes and bring her composure back, but it seemed it had already left back in the science class with Mr. Benson and the boy with azure eyes they call Xavier. Taking a deep breath, Catherine stopped the tears that threatened to steal her time away. She stepped out of the stall, checking her face in the mirror to see if the tears had ruined the small amount of make up she did wear. She wanted to break the mirror into a million pieces so she didn't have to see what everyone hated and what she hated the most. She smoothed down her ruffled hair and stepped out of the washroom. She crashed into a warm body as she tried to flee the washroom. The warm body talked, softly.
"Are you okay?" he asked
"Why is everyone asking that today?" she demanded, trying to regain her composure and pushing her long brown hair back off her shoulders.
"It's not everyday a pretty girl goes crashing into me with red rings, messed up hair and oh honey, look at your nose."
"What's wrong with my nose?" she asked defensively.
"It's beet red and you look like you've been crying all day," he answered softly like he was trying to rectify his comment.
"I kind of have," she said and closed her mouth again, wondering why in the world she'd shared that with a complete stranger.
"How about we skip this next class and go have a cup of coffee at the Starbucks down the street?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said again and tried to avert her eyes as she turned him down. "I'm not much for dating, and I don't even know your name."
"I'm not asking you out on a date, sweetie," he said and laughed, clearly amused. "I'm just asking you for coffee and my name is Lucas."
She thought it over for a moment and smiled. "Sure, I'd love some coffee."
"I'm buying," he said and smirked, "if I can know your name."
"Catherine," she answered, "not Cathy, just Catherine."
"Alright, just Catherine, let's go."
The handsome boy she had run into less than a minute ago was trailing out to the full parking lot in the overfilled high school parking lot. He was handsome enough, she decided. He had dark brown hair, deep green eyes, an attractive body and was a very stylish dresser. His navy blue slacks were snug to his body and his sweater was a hunter green with a stripped shirt poking out under. In short, his clothes looked like they had come right off the racks of an expensive store. She looked down at her own wrinkled clothes and sighed. The over sized tank top sagged away from her body and her jeans were too snug on her belly; she tried to tug the pants up to cover her belly.
They got into the car, a very beautiful and well-kept car. She noticed the way it smelt, like a shot of grape air freshener.
"Your car is very clean," she remarked as she got into the leather seat of the hunter green mustang.
"Thank you, darling." He smirked. "Not many people notice that."
"I have an eye for small details," she said and snapped her mouth shut with embarrassment. She was silent for a few moments, simply trying to take in his speech as he chatted.
"I'm new, if you hadn't noticed. I was originally from New York, but my Dad got moved to Canada by his company," he chatted away. "I like it here, but it's hard making friends in high school when you're gay—"
"Pardon me?" she interrupted, almost choking on air.
"I'm gay, sweetie. Like you hadn't noticed," he laughed gently.
"No, I just thought you dressed well and were very…feminine," she said and laughed. "I guess that's why it's not a date."
"If I weren't gay," he said and turned his gaze to her, "I'd date you in a heartbeat."
"Thank you," she blushed, "but why would it be hard to make friends while being gay in this town?"
"I'm not familiar with the people here, and when I'm trying to dip my toes into new water, it kind of makes for an interesting conversation," he answered with a quick smile. "I guess you can call me an outcast with a great sense of style."
"I like you already," she said with a laugh. "I'm an outcast here at school because I'm your typical fat girl."
"You're not fat," he answered quickly. "You're well fed, and you need to embrace that womanly curve of yours."
"I hate it," she stated flatly and looked down at her stomach.
She hated when her weight came up and resented when people called her chunky or pleasantly plump. It was always a subject she tried to avoid, but talking with him, she felt comfortable. It was a strange sensation for her to feel at home and like herself with anyone other than her mother. Being teased would do that to anyone, close them up and make them feel un-liked, unneeded and left behind. The nicknames still rang through her ears when she walked down the hall and the laughter from other students cut through her. She would imagine that it was her they were laughing about, all her faults and all her traits that were deemed unlikable.
"You okay there, princess?" he asked when they pulled up to the Starbucks. "You look like you're off in your own world."
"I'm fine," she said and got out of the car.
The coffee shop was less than crowded because it wasn't yet time for the students to flood it with the normal after school coffee with friends. They ordered their coffees and took a seat near the window, Catherine with her back to the door. It was another defense mechanism of hers; unseen meant no one could make fun of her. The coffee tasted sweet, and she enjoyed it as she sipped.
"You are so pretty," he said. "If only you did your eye brows and had some make up on, make those beautiful brown eyes of yours stand out."
"I don't know," she said and blushed. "I'm just not the kind of girl to doll up and have all eyes on me."
"You don't want people to see you," he said and leaned back against the hard plastic of the chairs. "You don't want to stand out in a crowd because that would mean everyone would see you."
"Exactly," she said and took another sip of her coffee.
"Why in the world would you want to blend in?" he asked "You are so beautiful and you could be gorgeous if you just took a little time to make yourself that way."
"Then I'd just be a fat girl in nice clothes. I'd be picked on twice as much as I am now."
"It's a shame," he said and sat up, sliding his hand to hers and grasping her hand in his. "You're beautiful."