Chapter One: Iris

And I don't want the world to see me,

'cause I don't think that they'd understand

and everything's meant to be broken

I just want you to know who I am

"Iris," by the Goo Goo Dolls

It would seem to any outside viewer that I had the perfect life. I had the seemingly perfect family- a mom who's a teacher, a dad who's a lawyer, and a 13 year old sister that skates in champion figure skating competitions. My parents had always wanted me to be a well rounded kid, so I got involved in lots of different activities by the time I was five. I look perfect, especially to people in my school and town who see all the things I do. I'm taking Honors AP English, Spanish communication, Accelerated chemistry, and AP European history. I'm on the cross country and soccer teams, and I'm first chair clarinet in the national IMEA conference. I sing 1st soprano in choir and me and A's are like peanut butter and jelly.

Perfection has always been a rule in my house- I had to be good in school because my mom was a teacher. Once in 5th grade I didn't show my work on a problem and she made me redo it. I was good at sports because my dad pushed me to run when I was younger. I remember being 10 years old on a Saturday, reading at 6 AM.

"Hey, Kat. Want to go running with me?"

"Sure, daddy."

I put on my hello kitty sneakers, sweats and mesh jacket and head out the door. We run to the park in Westmont and back, and we race from the corner of Willow to our driveway. We head inside and dad makes me hot chocolate and pop tarts- we only get them when mom's not looking, from dad's secret stash.

"I'm glad you came with me, Kat."

"I had fun, daddy."

"You want to come every week?"

"Sure."

I remember that day like it was yesterday and how every week turned into every day and running on different terrains. It was a bonding thing, just for me and him, and then when my sister Sophie turned 9, she came too. I stopped going before my eighth grade graduation, and Sophie quit after 6th grade.

When we got to the middle school in 6th grade, it was the first year we were allowed to do competitive sports. I remember looking at the list of teams- basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, track, cross country, tennis, the list seemed endless. I joined cross country, and I was the only 6th grader on the team.

"Yeah, she's the new girl. 6th grade."

"Is she any good?"

"I don't know."

The other girls made comments and I tried to ignore them as I sat on the bench retying my blue and white sneakers.

"Welcome to girls' fall cross country. This is no cut and there's meets every month. Let's get on the track, ladies!" I had a no-nonsense coach, and the first day was testing us to see what we could do.

"Hattle, Parker, Stevens, Leonard, on the track."

I walk up and get into position, and she blows the whistle. I run ahead, the 7th grade girls far behind. I stop and coach clocks me in, and the other three girls jog in after me.

I was on the team every year and got transferred into soccer in 7th grade.

So even though I look perfect, I'm far from it. My family hardly ever talks, we're all too busy with whatever we're doing. I'm usually working on homework, Sophie's practicing double axels in our garage. I sigh, thinking of how much fun I used to have. And I look ut the window and see kids I know from school riding their bikes around the subdivision, racing and laughing on the bright, warm Saturday.

The pencil saves my place in my chemistry book, and I head up to my room, which is neat, of course. I change into black track pants and a fleece hooded sweatshirt, and grab my iPod. I open the front door and start out slow, jogging around, and I'm into my song when I ram into another runner.

"Oh, sorry, I'm- Sophie?"

"no, that'd be me."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I just like to mess with you."

"I thought you were practicing."

"I thought you were doing chemistry."

"Race ya to the lake!" I yell and take, off, Sophie sprinting behind me.

Just like old times.