Chapter 2

I woke up the next morning around 6:10 AM. The sun was just beginning to rise and the birds began chirping their morning song. I lay on my back trying to fall back asleep. It was funny, whenever I was psyched about something I woke up at the crack of Dawn, ready and ripped. However come tomorrow, I would cling to the bed sheets, savoring that last minute of precious slumber. I lay on my bed, adjusting myself to countless positions trying to fall back asleep. After fifteen minutes I decided to screw it, and get up. I rolled over to my side and sat on the edge of my bed for a moment, trying to grasp a sense of reality that sleep had taken away from me. I got up and quietly tiptoed to the bathroom, careful not to wake my mom. I swear that lady wakes up to the sound of a pin dropping, all the way in the basement. Me, there could be world war III going on in my own backyard, and I would still be off in dreamland. Once inside I closed the bathroom door and turned on the faucet to the bath. Today was the last day of my summer vacation and I was going to pamper myself to the max. After the bath was almost full, I opened the bathroom cabinet to take out my favorite bubble bath and poured it into the tub. I carefully got in, and let myself soak in the warm water. After I felt I was clean enough, I got out, grabbed my lavender towel, applied my favorite body lotion, Moonlit Path, and wrapped myself in my bathrobe and went back to my room.

Now came the hard part. What to wear. I wasn't a fashionista by any means. I can't color code to save my life, and I come out with some interesting combinations. Plus I'm skinny as a twig, so it's hard for me to find clothes that fit me or don't make me look like a hooker on 42nd street. I rummage through my drawers looking for something decent to wear. The only thing that I could find that was reasonably decent was a cute jean skirt my mom had to practically beg me to try on and a red v-neck shirt. I put on my clothes and glanced at the clock hoping some precious time had gone buy. It was ten minutes past seven. Mom probably wouldn't be up for another two hours, so I decided it would be a good time to finish my insufferable summer reading. I never understood the concept of that. Schools always use that as a grim reminder of how students will eventually have to come back. It's so unfair. They expect you to read a list of flame worthy books they call literature, AND THEN expect you to do a report on each. Then they have the utter audacity to post in big letters, "have a fun summer." Don't get me wrong. I love reading. I just love reading what I want to read. Now if they put a couple of comic books or mangas on the list, we'd be in business.

I grabbed the book and went downstairs and out the back door to sit down and attempt to read. I sat on my deck chair and after two pages decided this was crap and since I'm not in English honors anyway, why bother. I leaned back in my deck chair and enjoyed the scenery. The sun had fully risen and illuminated the trees. I liked my neighborhood. I lived in a quaint little suburb in upstate New York. Most people prefer the city, but I don't. Too noisy. I like waking up to the sound of birds instead of blow horns, or having to take the subway or bus to school. I enjoy my suburban life. All the neighbors' houses are big and have perfectly manicured lawns. And it's mostly elderly people in my neck of the woods and their much more interesting to socialize with than bratty teenagers. That's ironic, since I'm one myself, but I can't seem to connect with my type. But that's ok. I'd much rather be playing with the Parkers 2 yr son Micah or chatting with Mrs. Eloise who just turned 85 last week. Little kids and elderly folks seem to be the only ones that understand me.

After a while I hear my mom come downstairs so I get up and go back inside. The smell of coffee fills the kitchen and I try not to gag. I hate coffee. Taste like chalk. I sat down at our kitchen table and pretended to read this ridiculously boring book. My mom looked up from her coffee. She was wearing a navy blue dress suit and black heels. She smiled.

"I see your finally doing what your supposed to do."

I didn't answer, for I was attempting to humor her and pretend I was so entranced by the book.

I heard my mom chuckle. "You're a card Stephanie." No, I was a girl not a piece of paper, but I decided not to get fresh.

My mom opened the refrigerator and asked. "What would you like for breakfast?"

"Um, just some cereal. Thanks." I answered still pretending to be interested in the book.

My mom closed the refrigerator and opened the kitchen cabinet and took out some Lucky Charms and a bowl. I don't like my cereal with milk. Gets too soggy. I took the box from her, muttered thank you, and poured the cereal into the bowl. My mom takes a seat across from me.

"So are you excited about school tomorrow?" She asked, taking another sip of her coffee.

I shrugged. "Not really."

She looked at me quizzically. "Why not? Junior year is the best. It's a lot of work, but all the options you didn't have as a freshman or sophomore open up. Plus there's homecoming, prom, …"

"You forgot SATS, test, endless amounts of homework." I replied sarcastically.

Mom reached across the table to playfully tap my hand. "Oh stop, your going to have a blast. I loved my junior year. I was voted prom queen and was president of the student council and lead in the spring musical."

I let her ramble on about the good ol' days so she wouldn't feel so old. Mom keeps forgetting I'm nothing like her. Unlike me, she's gorgeous. She looks twenty-five instead of forty and has the perfect caramel complexion to go with it. Her hair was long and wavy and she had beautiful green eyes. She had a model like body and had men falling at her feet left and right. I can barely get a glance from the nerd in bio class. She a tries to connect with me, but it just doesn't work. She's beautiful and successful. She works at a prestigious law firm in Manhattan and makes about 200 grand a year, hence our humungous house. She has a date every other week, if she's not on the night on the town with the girls. I sit in the house watching anime on the internet every Saturday night. So basically were two peas in the wrong pod.

"Steph, this is going to be the best year of your life. Please try to enjoy it. And please sport at least more than one A this year." She eyed me.

"Of course mother." I said in a faux British accent. Yeah right.

"Listen I have to go to the office today. Are you going to be ok?"

"Yeah. I'm hanging out with Tristan today at the town square."

"Alright, but clean your room first. It smells funky in there."

"Sure, sure." I said.

"Ok, I'll see you later baby." She said, getting up from the table.

"See ya mom." I said and with that she was out the door.

I sat at the table a moment longer before getting up and going to clean my room. It wasn't as bad as the last time. A couple of clothes on the floor and books out of place, but overall not bad. My room is my favorite in my house. It's painted a funky tie-dye color, which mom absolutely detest. My bed sheets are a matching tie-dye color. My bookshelf is across from my bed and is painted lime green. My walls are covered with all my anime hotties and I have a cool lava lamp on my night stand. I put all the clothes in random drawers and place the books in random order. Voila. Done. And it took me all but 5 minutes. I walk down stairs and check the time. 1:30. Time to go. I take my little purse thingy and make sure I have my key before leaving. I closed the door and began to walk down the street.

The town square is only 10 minutes walking distance from my house. It's where all the teenyboppers hang, chat about the latest hook-ups and break-ups. It's packed on the day before school. High school girls strut their mini skirts and high heels and boys wear muscle shirts to show off their muscles they obtained over the summer. I make my way through the crowd to the fountain in the center. To my delight, Tristan is already sitting on the bench, staring up at the sky. He was wearing a red plaid shirt, jeans with holes in the knees and white tennis shoes. His brown hair was shaggy and unkempt as usual. I tiptoed around him to scare him. I circled around the bench, counted to three and yelled.

"Boo!"

Tristan didn't falter and was still staring up at the sky. "Nice try Stevie."

I laughed and plopped down next to him. "Hey old buddy old pal. What's up?"

Tristan turned his attention to me and shrugged. "Nothing much. Had a lousy summer, but that's nothing new."

"Aww, come on. It had to have been better than mine. I sat staring at a computer screen ogling pics of Johnny Depp." I joked, trying to get him to lighten up.

"It's just I had to spend most of it with my dad." He grumbled.

"Ah. Well your lucky. My dad only called once this whole summer." I said, sounding bummed out.

Tristan's misty blue eyes studied me. "Sorry." He muttered apologetically.

I smiled, not wanting him to feel guilty. "It's all good. Come on lets walk." I said, grabbing his hand and tried to pull him up.

Tristan smiled slightly. "Ok, ok. Don't pull my arm out of my socket." He said, getting up.

When he stood up I almost stumbled backwards. The boy must have grown 3 inches over the summer.

"Wow" I said in amazement. "You grew a lot."

Tristan's blue eyes stared at me curiously. "Really? Huh, I didn't noticed." He ran his fingers through his hair.

We walked around the town in silence. It was busy with people chatting, sipping Starbucks, and making out.

"So, where you wanna go?" I asked.

Tristan thought for a moment. "How about the reservoir." He suggested. "We can stop and grab a slice of pizza and sit and eat it at the park. He eyed me for approval.

"That sounds great."

"Cool". We walked over to Nicky's Pizza and got our slices before heading to the park. We walked along the grass, watching little kids play tag and people walk their dogs. We sat down on a nearby bench and started eating our pizzas.

"So what did you do this summer?" I asked taking a bite out of my pizza.

"Spent time with my dad. He took me fishing, camping, all that boring crap."

"Oh come on. That sounds like fun."

Tristan rolled his eyes. "Yeah getting poison ivy and mosquito bites is so much fun." He said sarcastically. "He thinks he can make up for past years by "bonding" with me but it just doesn't work that way."

"Well at least your father doesn't ignore you." I said softly.

Tristan looked at me with sympathy. " Hey I'm sorry. It wasn't all bad. He took me to this awesome guitar shop."

I laughed. "You and your guitars."

"So what did you do this summer?" he took a sip of his coke.

"Nothing. I sat around and watched soaps and read Draco and Hermione fanfics." I beamed proudly.

"I never understood why that's so popular. I mean the movies were alright, but it's just, you know not my thing."

"That's why I've been trying to get you to read the books."

"Whatever. Did you hang out with Rosie and those at all?" he said, squinting.

"No, their all off working and making use of themselves." I tried to sound humorous.

Tristan gave me an inquisitive look. Man those blue orbs could see right through me sometimes. "Hey, don't be so hard on yourself. You relaxed. That's what summer is all about." Good ol Tristan. Always trying to boost my confidence.

I smiled, feeling a little less like a loser. "Thanks."

We sat for while watching random people before Tristan said. "Hey I got to go. The band wants to get a practice in before school starts."

"How is that going by the way?" My interest perked.

"Good. We've got this one song that I wrote, "Bitter Sweet" down pact. We were planning to play it at Indigo next weekend. I was wondering.." He stopped suddenly.

I tilted my head to look at him, wondering what he was going to say. "What?"

His eyes were glued to the ground. "Well I. I was wondering if maybe, you know. If you wanted to help out and then maybe we could get something to eat later, after the show I mean." He still wouldn't meet my gaze.

I smiled. "Sure, when's the show?"

He looked at me and a small grin played on his face. "We go on at 6:00."

"I will be there then."

"Awesome. Thanks Stevie. You're the best. I mean that." His perfect pink lips formed into a soft smile.

I felt my face go hot. Tristan looked at me and motioned on his nose. "Hey you have something on your nose."

"Where?" I said attempting to get it off.

He chuckled. "Here let me." He took a napkin and wiped my nose. We stared at each other a moment longer. "Well I guess you should be going," I whispered. I didn't want him to go. I wanted us to stay on the wooden bench, forget about school, and just watch the sunset eternally.

He stared into my eyes. "I guess. Thanks for meeting me. You gonna be ok getting home?" His voice held concern.

"Yeah, I'm going to walk back." I said getting up to face him.

He frowned slightly. "Ok, be careful. The freaks come out at night." His voice danced with both playfulness and seriousness.

"I will. Bye Tris."

"Bye Stevie." He said, before walking in the opposite direction.

I watched him a moment longer before heading back myself. One would wonder how Tristan and I could be friends. For one thing we both had absentee fathers. His biological father had left when he was a baby and went off to pursue a career in music. My parents divorced when I was eight and my dad went off to California. He calls when he feels like it.

I walk silently back to my house and push the button on the answering machine. It's mom. She will be home late, she says. I walk upstairs to my room and put on my favorite Stevie Wonder CD. He's my favorite artist. Hence my nickname, Stevie.

Only Tristan calls me Stevie. That's how we met. On the first day of 7th grade I was singing, "Ribbon in the Sky." Tristan, who was quite scrawny at the time came up to me and said. "You sound bad." I kicked him in the shin and things went off from there. He decided that he didn't like getting kicked in the shin and was nice to me from then on. Everyday at lunch we sat together, talking about random things. I conversations got pretty weird sometimes. Like once we had debate on who would win in a fight, Bugs Bunny or Spongebob Sqaurepants. It was nice to know I wasn't the only weirdo out there.

Our taste in music however differentiated greatly. A person would think someone like me would listen to depressing, suicidal emo music. Nope. I'm all about Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion; you know popish, sappy music. Tristan's ears bleed whenever I screech out "Always Be My Baby." He thinks his punk rock is so cool, but to me it's nothing compared to the smooth ballads Of Stevie or Boyz II men. But that's just me.

Other than that, Tristan and I are of the best of buds. And to top that, I think he just asked me out! I'm so excited. I'm not into that type of musical genre, but if it means hanging out with Tristan, it's all worth hearing a bunch of teen girls screaming their lungs out.

My Stevie Wonder CD finishes and I take it out and put in my Christina Aguilera CD. I set it to number 3 and listen to. "Turn to You."

Tomorrow was the first day as school. As usual I would enter the school building, hopeful that things would be different. That I would be somebody. When I walked down the halls, people would actually acknowledge my existence. I would start off the year good, passing all my test with flying colors. Then I would get lazy, start slacking and my grades would drop. Then mom would yell and I get grounded and yaydiyada. Who am I kidding? Nothing would change. I would forever be invisible and that's the way it would stay. I turn up the volume of my radio and lay on my bed, and waited for sleep to claim me.