Off the top of my head, I could name three people dropping out of high school. Two of them were hardly called high schoolers, having been held back in their freshman and junior year. The third I only know from around, and might I tell you what people say in the halls about them.

In the classrooms it's easy to see who would succeed in life and who really wouldn't. Not only do the teachers silently distinguish who and who wouldn't, but even with the glances and power stares held between the students. As ruthless as it sounds, it was the power pyramid in Gimmerton High School. You have the outcasts on the bottom, and the perky preps (no offense to you if you're one of them really) stand on top of the outcasts…sometimes literally.

Like I said, it's as ruthless as it sounds.

All in all, it didn't really matter to me. Gossip and rumors always flew by, and none of them were about me—it was a plain, simple, and comforting truth for me. But it didn't mean I couldn't enjoy all the crazy rumors spreading sometimes. Some are really funny; others truly aren't, but they die fast anyways. I think this is all psychological transition from teenagers—I know I'm one of them—from being happy-go-lucky kids to mature (or claiming to be) adults. Everyone goes through it, and I am like everyone.

Well…in most ways…I'm like everyone else.

The name is Amora Delacruz, and I'm a sophomore from Gimmerton High. I am fifteen and I was born on May 19th. How I look is not essential, so you can just find me staring at the bulletin board. I'm the girl with the black hair and brown highlights. Please ignore the boy behind me tapping my shoulder. He's of no importance…

"Amora…?"

"I'm looking at the call back chart. Give me a minute." I wrinkled my nose as I looked down a wide chart of who would go back to the auditorium during fifth period. It was in alphabetical order, and sure enough, my name was there. My lips numb from chewing finally widened to an ear to ear grin. I stood on my tip toes and looked again to make sure.

"Amora, I…"

"SHHH!" I said. Narrowing my eyes, I stared at the black and white letters.

And then to my shock and horror, I read what the bulletin board really said as Connor explained aloud, "Talia…Talia actually got the part you wanted…" I turned a one-eighty and looked at Connor with indifference. He offered a lop-sided smile, but I only heaved an annoyed sigh. Those cerulean eyes were analyzing my reaction to the call back chart, so I sauntered to my locker in a rather calm manner.

Opening my locker, I pulled out my chemistry book and slammed my locker shut loudly so as to let go of my rage. Connor stood with his back to the bulletin board and his eyes fixed upon me the whole time. He and I were emotion control freaks in a way, believing that emotions could catch a person off guard.

I stopped in front of the bulletin board, silently asking Connor to join me. He walked ahead, and I saw past his curly brown hair those words… TALIA DELACRUZ.

I feel somewhat pathetic, ya know?

--XoX—

Talia Delacruz is my rival in school, in sports, in life, and even in my own family. I mean, sometimes, I wonder if my mother even likes Talia more than me. Talia is my cousin on my dad's side of the family, of course. She is quite intimidating with her look that is beautiful, flirtatious, intelligent, and then some. She is happily involved in everything…I'm not.

I'm sure she didn't mean it when she decided to audition for the school production…even if she's involved in everything else I'm not: debate club, math team, scholars bowl, tennis, volunteering, etc. I was part of drama club, volleyball, honors society, and student government.

Still, I'm a little nervous about her on my turf.

Did I just compare after school activities to territories?

I crossed my legs and started to stab my macaroni and cheese lightly at first, and then remembering how she got my call back, I looked down at my pathetic cheesy lunch. No doubt I was annoyed…

Feeling eyes center on me, I finally lifted my head in defeat and saw Connor, Emma, and Lily looking intently. I was obviously annoyed, but Emma, believing that wallowing in misery isn't any good, assumed a preppy expression. Lily offered an indifferent smile and asked, "Amora, are you ready for chem. test?"

I groaned and pushed my lunch aside. Sue me if you don't let me drown in self-pity.

"I'll give you twenty bucks for your troubles," Connor said, clicking his tongue. He grabbed a fry and chewed while he pushed my chemistry open. Connor was the one who propped me up, and I always appreciated his help.

"Seriously?" I asked in disbelief.

Fine, you can bribe me to stop moping.

"If you behave…" said Connor. He continued to study and he was so focused that I began to focus on him rather than the open textbook he laid out for me.

Emma cleared her throat and said under her breath, "Amora, Talia's coming over right now." Her brown eyes sparkled with innocence…that I myself would never really hope to attain. She flipped her brown hair off her shoulder and gave my cousin a dazzling pearly white smile.

I remained indifferent to Talia's smooth entrance. It was like watching a movie—the perfect girl strolls over and everyone watches her walk with the catty eyes and charming smile. Her hair blows by as all the guys check her out. She was really pretty, and standing before me, I looked up at her with my chin held high.

I would not be a step stone.

She greeted me, "Amora, have you seen the call back charts?"

My expression was indifferent, but I strained a genuine-looking smile. Only my eyes flickered with my true expression.

"I got the call back! Isn't that wonderful?" she shouted with glee.

Define 'wonderful,' Talia.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see some people watching her. Ah yes, now she wanted to create a scene. I wanted roll my eyes, but hey, how long could she keep this up?

"Is something wrong, Amora?" Talia tried a frown, but her sickly sweetness would not work on me. I gently rested my chin on a propped arm, suggesting that she continue. As dramatic as she could be, I decided to play along with her act.

"So how are you, Connor?" Talia asked my best friend. She smoothly took a seat next to Connor, who was still reading the text. That boy was too focused for his own good. I kicked his leg under the table. Annoyed, he lifted his head and gave me a glare. Connor turned his head and looked at my cousin. He attempted a smile, but it was truly a smirk both of us shared.

"Good, I gotta go," said Connor. He stood up and said as he turned, "See ya, Amora."

Did Connor just wink at me?

He slung his book bag onto his back and exited the cafeteria with ease. Good gosh, why was everyone staring at me?

Talia looked at me in confusion—that sparkling fear glistening in her eyes. Right-o, Connor, you're so evil!

"Uh…er…I have…a chem. test… I gotta go…" I literally jumped up and out of the cafeteria. Emma and Lily followed suit, and we were scurrying down the halls.

For good reason, mind you, did you see Talia's ever-furious rage? She was about to pull out my hair!

Emma whispered in the halls, "What is going on between you and Connor?" Her eyes gave off this catty, curious glisten that was intimidating and hypnotic at the same time. I should've been warned, when I first met her, that she can surely pry any secret from you and make you confess your darkest memories. Yes, she can be very, very scary.

Lily nudged me and asked, "Do you have the hots for Connor?"

"No."

Well, did I?


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