A sliver of the bright, glowing moon was all we had to guide us through the heavily wooded forest, but we were racing through it like we knew it by heart. I could see Gavin's white T-shirt, which, of course, was ten sizes too big, flapping behind him. Mickey's dark red hair was barely visible, but I knew she was several yards ahead of me because of her jolly laugh.
"This is so retarded!" Mickey cried as she leapt through the air to avoid tripping over a tree stump. "I've never done anything like this before!"
"Neither have we!" Gavin's voice was faint, but audible.
"Just keep running!" I added.
So she did. We all did, that is, until Gavin collasped in a tired heap in a pile of leaves.
"My lungs are about to burst!" he whined, rolling over on his stomach.
Mickey followed suit, and fell on top of him. "Jesus, ditto!" she exclaimed, her words short and clipped.
I stood over them, my hands on my knees. "You guys are babies," I panted. "Especially you, Gavin. Two years of track, and you can't handle this?"
"We just ran about three miles, Lyndsay," he huffed. "So shut up."
"You guys are so weird," Mickey giggled, sitting up and brushing herself off. "But much better than that Pricilla girl down the street."
Gavin gave her a slight grin. "Well, I hope so. Pricilla Bradford is scum."
"And yet, the entire school worships her," I added, disgusted. "They adore her. They idol her. They cannot live without her."
"She's a bitch," Gavin said, basically summing it up. "I asked her out freshman year-"
"Pow!" I slapped my hands together. "Rejected!"
"Nice, Lynds," Gavin snorted.
"It's so weird being the new girl," Mickey stated. "I mean, at my old school, I wasn't popular or anything, I just knew...everybody."
"Which is quiet easy, considering you come from...Idaho?"
"Nebraska," Mickey corrected me for the millionth time.
"Same thing," I replied. "What was it, population thirty-six?"
Gavin flicked my nose and turned to Mickey. "Ignore her. She can be really stupid sometimes."
"And yet, I'm your bestest friend in the whole wide world," I cooed.
"God, don't remind me."
Mickey smiled and leaned back against a tree. "I can't believe summer's ending," she said. "Here comes another nine months of textbooks, pep rallies, and lame school dances." She glanced at us nervously. "I mean, not to diss your school. That's just how it was at Kitson."
"It's worse here," I groaned. "But, thankfully, it's our last year."
"Hallelujah!" Gavin shouted.
"Don't rub it in," Mickey mumbled. "I finally meet some potential friends and they'll be gone within the year."
"Don't look so glum, chum," I said. "Gavin will still be here, attending the community college down the road."
"Screw you," Gavin shot back. "You think you're so big because you're applying to all Ivies this year. You're probably going to get rejected from every one of them."
I nudged him with my sneaker. "You don't have to jealous, Gavie. Working at Burger King your whole life is perfectly acceptable," I said. "Just don't expect to pick up chicks from behind the fryer."
"You are such an idiot," he stated bluntly.
"I know, right?" I laughed.
The only sound was the summer crickets chirping their annoyingly loud chirp for a moment until Mickey pulled her cell phone from her pocket and flipped it open. "It's past midnight," she observed. "What are we doing out here, anyway?"
"It's tradition," Gavin told her. "Every night before another school year is about to begin, me and this piece of nothing you see before you-"
"You should talk," I snapped.
"Anyway," he continued. "We make resolutions. Sort of like a New Year thing."
"And we had to come all the way out in the woods to do it?" Mickey questioned.
"It adds some spice to our lame-ass lives," I explained.
Mickey smiled. "This is fun."
"We aim to please," Gavin replied. "Last year, I made a resolution to focus on my school work."
"That worked like a charm," I snickered.
"And Yoda here wanted to be guitar goddess," he finished.
Mickey's face brightnened. "You play guitar?" she asked. "That is so cool."
"I'm fairly decent," I mumbled.
Gavin snorted. "You should see the way she rocks out when she's alone."
"Or when I'm thinking I'm alone," I said. "You've got to quit spying on people, Adams."
"I can't help it," he said. "I love people-watching."
"Weird," Mickey mumbled. "Well, who goes first?"
"You," I replied. "You, Michelle Oliver, are the newcomer. You have officially earned your place in our circle. Therefore, it is you who makes the first resolution."
Mickey danced around excitedly. "Cool," she said. "Well, I've always wanted to become an actress. I make it my resolution to kick my shyness to the curb and audition for the school play."
Gavin nodded his head in approvement. "That's nice, Mic," he said. "Real deep."
I rolled my eyes.
"My resolution?" he continued. "To get laid by a drop-dead gorgeous girl."
"That's your resolution?" I scoffed. "Gavin!"
"What?" he exclaimed. "I feel like I'm the only damn virgin in the school."
I waved my hands in front of his face. "Heller? I'm here!"
"Me too!" Mickey piped up.
"You guys don't count," he said.
"Why?" I asked.
"You just don't," he muttered. "Anyway, that's my resolution, get over it, let's move on. Miss Giselle?"
I shot daggers at him for calling me by my birth name and cleared my throat. "Well," I started. "I want to fall in love."
"And you call my resolution ridiculous?" Gavin laughed. "Lynds, you don't plan to fall in love. You can't whip out that annoying planner of yours and write 'Must meet incredible guy that I will spend the rest of my life with on Tuesday.'"
"Get over it," I mocked.
Gavin shook his head, and a few strands of his wavy raven-black hair fell in his eyes. "You're an idiot," he stated.
"You are so sweet," I gushed.
Mickey gave a quiet yawn and Gavin stood up. "I need to use bushes," he informed us.
"Please do it way over there," I advised, pointing off in the far distance.
"I shall do that," he said, and stumbled off into the darkness. I turned my attention to Mickey.
"How are you liking New Hampshire?" I asked. "It must be so different from North Dakota." Of course, I added that last bit to annoy her. She had to get used to me sometime.
"Nebraska,"she sighed. "And I like it. Lots of trees."
"A.k.a. you're bored to hell."
"No," she laughed. "I'm just a little nervous about starting school tomorrow. Or rather, later today."
"You'll do fine at Evergreen," I promised. "Just steer clear of Pricilla Blowfish and Monica Stampps and Christina Gates and-"
"Rich snobs?" she asked.
"Totally. The whole damn town is filled with them."
Mickey gave a low sigh and looked up at me. "What's you and Gavin's deal? Are you guys..."
"Please!" I laughed. "I'd rather make out with my dog, Sonic."
"He's kind of cute," she pointed out.
"No, Gavin," she huffed. "Do you think he'd be interested in a sophomore?"
I raised my eyebrows. "I don't know..."
She stuffed her hands under her armpits. "Well, you've know him for...how long?"
"Right," she said. "You're practically his sister. I just...want someone to be there for me. And Gavin...well, he's pretty cool."
"Yeah, if you like toads," I muttered, shivering under my navy blue hoodie. "But, whatever, if you want me to ask him, I will."
She smiled at me from under her long, wispy bangs and stretched. "He's coming!" she hissed.
"Yeah, that's what the doctor said when he saw the head, but that's before he knew it was going to be Gavin, and he couldn't stuff him back in."
"What?" she asked, oblivious to my stupid comment.
"Something just bit my ankle!" he shouted, falling to his knees and furiously searching for any permanent damage.
Mickey leapt into action. "Are you okay?" she questioned.
He rubbed his ankle and looked up and her. "Yeah," he murmured.
"I'm tired!" I moaned. "Gavin, please take us young ladies home."
"Right away, Miss," he yawned. "But lets stop at Krispy Kreme on the way."
"Oh, awesome," Mickey gushed.
Gavin stood up and took off running. "Last one back pays!" he shouted.
"No fair, you drag queen!" I yelled, taking off after him.
And even farther behind was Mickey, struggling to keep up. "Cheaters!" she screamed over and over, but no one cared. We were all there, Gavin, the desperate idiot, Mickey, the new kid, and me. A hopeless romantic physco.
Oh, to be young and carefree.
"You are such a spaz, Lynds!" Gavin laughed when he saw me ten minutes before our first class. "What happened?"
I tugged at my too-short plaid skirt and ran my fingers through my greasy dirty blonde hair. "I woke up like, ten seconds ago. Literally."
"You look like you just got run over by multiple trains," he went on. "You look bad."
"Thanks, Gav," I muttered, throwing my white messenger bag on a bench. "You got a mirror?"
He shook his head and leaned against the brick building.
"Great," I sighed, desperate to find out if there was anything jammed in between my teeth. Thanks to arriving home shortly after 3 A.M., I overslept and, of course, couldn't find my dreaded school uniform. After about five seconds of searching, I settled for my younger sister's spare uniform, which she gladly let me have because she wasn't there.
"I have one," a chirpy voice called out. The voice belonged to Mickey who was making her way toward us, looking slighty awkward in her uniform.
"Oh, thank God!" I praised, reaching for the purple handheld she gave me.
"Hey, Mickers," Gavin greeted our new friend. "Liking Evergreen so far?"
"I love it!" she exclaimed. "There are so many different people. And Pricilla asked me to sit with her and her friends at lunch today!"
"I hope you told her and her posse where to shove it," I commented, furiously struggling to finger-brush my teeth.
Mickey smiled. "Don't you worry about a thing. I told her I already had arrangements."
"That's our girl." Gavin gave Mickey's curled hair a ruffle, which made her blush. "I got to go talk to Mrs. Witoski about my schedule. I got stuck with art instead of P.E."
"But you can barely draw a stick figure!" I exclaimed.
"Exactly," he replied. "Later." He gave us a wave and slung his backpack over his shoulder.
"He is so amazing," Mickey breathed, once he was out of earshot. "Have you asked him yet?"
"Not yet." I noticed she had a paper bag. "Your lunch?"
She nodded and opened it. "I have a sandwhich, crackers, and a mini-cupcake."
"Gimme the cupcake," I said.
She tossed it to me and then I heard her gasp. "Oh, my God!" she sighed. "Who is that?"
I ripped open the wrapper with my teeth and glanced up at who she was drooling at now. "That's Lloyd Berkley, Christina Gate's boyfriend. I wouldn't bother. Any female come within a ten mile radius of him, and Christina whips out those nails."
Now she was pointing at Stephanie Vickson, a junior who was in my journalism class last year and always seemed to have a problem with everything. "Steph Vickson, editor of the school newspaper. She thinks she owns everybody. Don't get caught up in her drama."
I took a big munch on her cupcake and rolled my eyes. "I dunno, Mickey, why don't you just go up and introduce yourself?"
A look of horror took over her usual cheery face and she shook her head. "No way, who would do that?"
"Someone desperate to find out people's names?" I guessed, tossing the wrapper in a nearby trash can. "Come on, class starts in a couple of minutes, and I want to help you find your homeroom teacher."
"Thanks," she said, gathering her books and standing up. We started toward the entrance, Mickey absolutely astounded at the landscaping. Evergreen Academy was the town's only high school, besides Remedy Cape High, but that's where the "burnouts" and "druggies" slum it, and my mom refused to enroll me. "Evergreen is fine education," she informed me, but it's a pain in the ass. All the plaid and navy blue was enough to make me go insane. My younger sister, Gracie, however, loves it. We rarely communicate, which is fine with me.
I reached for the door handle, but someone's manicured, tan hand clapped over mine. We both turned to see Monica Stampps, our annoying school president. She's also on Crime Stoppers and she thinks she has a World Police badge.
"What is it?" I sighed.
"Your socks," Monica answered. "Your socks is what it 'is.'"
I looked down at my silver and ice-blue stripped knee socks that were stuffed inside my scuffy black school shoes. "What's wrong with them?"
"Take a look around you," Monica said, waving her pen in the air. She's always waving something around. "Do you see anybody with ridiculous stripped knee socks?"
"Whatever." I made another attempt to enter the school but she blocked me again.
"Look," she started snottily. "I know you have this whole rebel image thing you're working on, but it's getting really boring."
I raised my eyebrows. "You think I'm a rebel? No, no, I'd describe myself more as witty or sarcastic."
She sighed. "The school year has barely begun and you are already violating the dress code and you're tardy."
"What are you talking about? I'm not tar-"
The first bell interrupted me and Monica smirked and held out her hand. "You're late. Do you have a late pass?"
I gave her a disgusted look and pushed past her, not even remembering Mickey, who was now trapped.
"Are you new?" I heard Monica demand.
I whirled around, mouthed 'I'm sorry!' to my friend and turned back around. I was feeling pretty damn good for escaping Monica's clutches alive and was beginning to think that maybe the school year wouldn't be so bad when he caught my eye. He was Robby Wilkes, Evergreen's only badass. No one ever talks to him, and he always has this glazed look over his eyes, like whatever's happening is extremely boring and he is simply uninterested. He is a complete genius, though, so I've had him in all of my AP classes since freshman year. He doesn't hang out with anyone but his own damn self and he is more than pleased at that fact. There was even article on him in the Remedy Cape Times telling how these three college girls died when he looked at them with interest.
"Stupid piece of shit!" Robby yelled at his locker, kicking it and making a dent. "Worthless piece of school garbage!" He stared at the lock for a few seconds, and then tryed to yank it off. "Open up, you son of a bitch!"
I found this amusing. The lockers at Evergreen were always a pain, but anyone with common sense knows you have to jiggle it sometimes.
"Here," I found myself saying, and reaching out to grab his lock. "Let me."
He glared at me, a few strands of his dark brown hair falling into his eyes, but nothing could distract me from his huge blue eyes. This was one of the few times they weren't hazy, and I was soaking it up.
"Fuck off," he spat, pulling at the annoying blue tie all Evergreen guys had to wear.
I smirked at him. What a dumbass. "Hey, I've gotten stuck with some of the suckiest lockers in the school. Just let me-"
"Hey, Socks?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. "Aren't you late for class or something? A student council meeting?"
"It's Lyndsay," I corrected, still trying to wriggle it away from his grip. "Giselle Lyndsay. Let me open this damn thing for you, it's driving me crazy to see you struggle with it and cuss it out. Just give me your combo."
"Screw it," Robby said, picking up his backpack and charging away. "Let it be a motherfucker."
I bit down on my lip to avoid laughing at his pointless rage. He was hilarious when he was angry, and I was probably the only one who noticed it.
"Are you sure?" I called after him. "I could-"
"Shut up!" he yelled back and rounded the corner on his way to his first period. It was now 8:10, and homeroom would be ending in a matter of seconds. I knew I'd get shitted on by Gavin for missing the first class of the first day of our last year of high school, but I could care less. I wouldn't trade that exchange for anything.
I skipped to first period.
"I love this school!" Mickey announced as she slid across me at lunch later that day. "My French teacher is total hottie!"
"Mmm," I mumbled through a mouthful of fries. I swallowed. "Did you get Brauning?"
She nodded. "He's so dreamy."
"Score," I agreed.
"I hate this damn school!" Gavin moaned as he plopped down beside me. "You know that new teacher, Mason? She's the worst! I'm going to fail this year, I know it."
"And that would be different from which other year?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
Suddenly, a loud, obnoxious voice broke through our conversation. "Gavin! Giselle! Mickey! Hello!"
My eyes darted to Pricilla Bradford, twriling her espresso brown hair and smiling at us. "Pricilla," I muttered. "It's been a while."
"Yes it has." She sat down next to Gavin and looked at his hair. "I love your hair, Gavin," she said. "It's gorgeous."
"Thanks." Gavin, who lost all interest in Pricilla the day she rejected him in 9th grade, took an sip of his ice tea.
"I just wanted everyone to know that I'm having a party this Friday," she continued. "It's at my place, and it's seniors only." She cast a sad glace at Mickey. "Sorry babe. Anyway, you both should totally try to make it. It's going to be awesome."
"We have plans," I lied. Of course we didn't have plans. We're total misfits. Plans, hehe.
Pricilla didn't buy it, and she laughed loudly. HA HA HA! "I'm sure you do," she said, quite drippily, might i add. "Well, if you can fit in your busy schedule, I'd love to see you guys." She blew Gavin a kiss and struted away.
Gavin stared after her. "She blew me a kiss," he observed. "She invited me to her party and blew me a kiss." He was about to have several back-to-back heart attacks.
"Chill..." I advised. "First of all, she invited us to her party. And second, she blows kisses at everyone. Even Principal Baylor."
"She wants me," he concluded. "She is so in love with me."
Mickey shifted in her seat. I felt terrible for her.
"Anyway, I see Tobey over there. I'll catch you ladies later." He waltzed over to his next door neighbor, Tobey McCulkin, and I turned my attention to Mickey.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I'll talk to him today."
"It's no big deal," she insisted, tucking a strand of her strawberry-colored locks behind her freckled ear.
I took a bite of her sandwhich and instantly regretted it. Tuna. Ugh. "Well," I said. "I think I like someone."
She instantly perked up. "Oh?" she asked. "Who?"
I surveyed the cafeteria for Robby and found him, reading a web developement and administration textbook. "You see that guy over there by the windows? He has shaggy brown hair and he's reading."
Mickey stared at him and gasped. "Oh, wow, he's hot!" she exclaimed. "Name, please."
"Robby Wilkes," I answered. "Don't expect to be seeing him a lot though."
"He'll usually be suspended."
"A smart bad guy?" she asked. "You don't see much of them."
"Nope. That's why he's something special."
Mickey giggled and looked at me. "So, basically, you've already reached your resolution."
"Well, you wanted to fall in love."
"Well," she explained, "you've really set a pretty low resolution. You can fall in love with anyone." She pointed at a Korean boy with glasses and said, "There. I'm in love."
"You're crazy," I said, but she was right. "But I'm not in love with Robby. I just really like him."
"Give it a few more weeks."
"There is truth behind your absurd logic," I admitted. "Okay, so I change my resolution. I don't want to fall in love. I want to be in love with somebody who feels the same way."
"Excellent." Mickey grinned. "Does he like you back?"
"No," I answered truthfully. "Not yet."
"You're going to make him fall in love with you?" she laughed. "You're so weird."
"I know." I picked up my bag and got ready to take it out back for a quick smoke. "Welcome to Evergreen Academy. Welcome to The Suck."