I smoothed down my new clothes nervously. I'd bought them only days ago at the local shopping mall, hoping to make a good impression at my new school. At the time I'd thought they were casual and elegant, but now...Well I guess that myth about all shop mirrors lying was true.
I shrugged, there was nothing I could do about my slightly chubby stomach and thighs now. I picked up my bag, swung it over my shoulder and walked out the front door of my house, telling myself the same thing I did every morning. No-one notices your faults but you Lilith, no-one notices.
Of course, I knew this theory was utter rubbish in the real world. The only thing that I had to comfort myself with was that even if people did think I was a weird, frumpy, looking girl I'd be at a new school in next to no time. Rowton didn't seem like my family's kind of town, it was bland and boring and we needed places full of life and vibrance.
My family only stayed in one place long enough to unravel all of its secrets, then we were off again. Headed to the next town, eager to discover its back alleys and hidden short cuts. As a result of this constant need to move I'd never lived anywhere for more than two years. Sometimes I disliked the lack of permanence in my life, but mostly I thrived on the adventure and loved to go wherever the highway took us next.
"Goodbye," that and a peck on the cheek was all the affection my mother spared for me as I walked out the door. There was no, 'You'll be fine at your new school talk'. Not anymore. I'd done this all already. Seen it all before.
From what I'd seen so far, Rowton was like every other suburban town in America. It boasted a shopping center and library, with some nice books and a lot of bad ones. It had a subway, connecting it to other towns and it wasn't that far away from Boston, but it was far enough away that the people here wouldn't make regular trips into the city.
I picked up a stick and trailed it along a metal fence, making a strange, unpleasant sort of music. I noticed a few of the kids were standing on the curb and watching me, not unkindly, but not kindly either. They were wary, cautious. They didn't want to welcome the newcomer whole-heartedly. Not just yet at least.
Dropping the stick I averted my gaze and walked on quickly, continuing to observe my surroundings. Yep, Rowton was like any other town I'd lived in, except for one thing. It was too perfect. Most of the houses in the other towns I'd lived in had sprawling, messy gardens, kids' skipping ropes would lie on front lawns or sometimes on the verge.
Here, the hedges were clipped and manicured. There was not a stray twig in sight and the gardens were as contained as the hedges that boxed them. There was no leaf litter in any of these gardens, no child's equipment, not even a hose-pipe. Then there were the alarming similarities between the houses. All of them, including ours, were double storey and the windows gleamed as though they were polished every day.I didn't doubt that they were.
As I neared the school I felt my anxiety mounting. This was partly because I was dreading the perfect building that it would be and partly because no matter how much I strained my eyes I couldn't make out any pieces of litter on the footpaths. Or anywhere else.
I was thankful that I had memorised the street names on the map, otherwise I would have gotten completely lost. The roads here were long and confusing and each of them looked too much alike. Down Wisconsin Street, then right into Maple Road and up Slate street. Then I was there, my new school glaring down at me.
My expectations were fulfilled. Rowton High looked like the school every parent dreams of being able to find for their child. The building was well sized and made of red brick. The windows gleamed as unnaturally as those of the houses and there was a perfect amount of greenery scattered around what I could see of the grounds. I sighed, it was better than I'd expected it to be, at least it wasn't symmetrical. Well, not perfectly so.
I walked up the front steps, which were of course cleaner than every other school's I'd been too. No cigarette butts littered these steps, no-one was even loitering on them. What was wrong with this place? Didn't the kids have any sense of rebellion?
I walked into the front office, and approached the front desk. It was made of some dark wood, that had been polished too thoroughly. "Hi," I said, rapping on the table to get the attention of the grey-haired woman who was sitting down at her computer.
"Hello," she looked up and greeted me, her blue eyes crinkled kindly.
"Um, I'm Lilith Dean," I told her, "I'm new. I was wondering if you had my schedule."
"Yes, yes," she said and shifted a pile of perfectly stacked papers to reveal my timetable. She scanned it cursorily, "Yep, Lilith Blossom Dean," she frowned at my middle name and I blushed. I knew my middle name was a little out there.
I smiled at the woman, "My mother was going through a hippie phase when she named me," no need to mention that mum was still going through that phase.
She shrugged and handed me my timetable and a map. I took it with a polite nod of thanks and headed off down the corridor with my nose buried in it. Of course, I shouldn't have done that...
"Watch it!" I'd knocked straight into a tall girl, with lank, mouse-brown hair.
"Sorry," I mumbled and went straight back to looking at my timetable. No doubt this girl would very soon have informed the whole school about me, that new kid that had knocked into her. There was nothing I could do about it now. So I just kept on looking for the easiest way to get to my Homeroom, which was E1.
I looked up once I'd figured it out and was surprised to find the girl still standing there. She was giving me the same look the skater-kids had. "Are you new here?" she said, her voice indifferent.
I frowned. If she was so indifferent why the hell had she stood there waiting for me to finish up what I was doing, "Yes," I told her shortly.
"Oh," she seemed to soften a little, "I'm Jane Pearson," she said, "Want me to show you around?"
I looked at her, trying to work out why her mood had swung so suddenly. She'd started off sullen and now she was being nice, "Yeah, ok." I said. She was still reserved, but she'd relaxed ever so slightly and once the cold, hard, look in her brown eyes had vanished she was actually quite friendly-looking.
She proved to be a bit of a chatterbox too, she talked all the way to the classroom. Mostly about the school and the teachers and the people. I didn't pay too much attention, but I did manage to work out that she didn't like a lot of people.
When we finally reached Homeroom, she was in the same one as me, we walked in and she took one look at a girl in the front row and shut up. I looked at the girl for a second, a second was all I needed to judge her. Perfect, strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes and manicured nails. It wasn't these qualities that made me hate her, it was her air.
She was playing with her long hair like your average ditz. Her blue eyes had a wicked gleam and her lips, coated in a sugary-sweet lip-gloss curved into a wicked smile the moment she saw me. A moment later, she had dropped her gaze to inspect her nails. A gesture which clearly told me she thought I was no better than the non-existent dirt beneath those perfectly manicured nails.
I didn't care. I'd been to tens of towns and seen hundreds of girls just like her. "That's Dawn Brooks," Jane told me out of the corner of her mouth, "I was telling you about her before." I nodded, assuming that this was one of the people she disliked. Well at least she had good reason, Dawn seemed like a bitch.
I followed her to the back of the room. That was odd; normally the back of the room was dominated by cheer-leaders and jocks wanting to get out of doing their work. At this school though, those people sat at the front, studious expressions on their faces and folders under their arms. Their conversation was quiet and subdued, if it existed at all. With their good looks and studious attitudes these kids were the cardboard cut-out perfect student. No, scrap that, they were perfect people.
Feeling extremely irritated I tuned in to the conversation that Jane was having with another girl. The back of the room seemed to be composed of the outcasts, but not your typical loner type outcasts who sit up the back so they can slit their wrists. These kids were the socially awkward ones. They weren't all terrifically brilliant nerds with acne problems or brainy geeks with too thick glasses. They were just the people who lacked self-confidence.
I was annoyed to find that there wasn't a seat for me anywhere near Jane. I didn't want to have to go near any of these other kids on my own. They all looked unfriendly, I could feel their gazes, warning me off. I started towards a girl with long brown hair. She immediately put her bag on the seat and looked at me haughtily, as though daring me to ask her to move it. I decided to pass.
There were some seats up the front, next to the jocks, but I was most certainly not going anywhere near Dawn. Those nails looked dangerous. Instead I turned and looked to the opposite end of the back row and what I saw made me stare.
I'd never seen anyone like him. I couldn't put him into any sub-category, he was implacable in every way. His rust coloured hair stuck up at various angles, some of the spikes tinted purple. It was a mystery to me where he'd gotten shirt from, I'd never seen anything like it department stores. To me, it looked like a whole bunch of labels sewn together. The rest of his ensemble was normal though, black jeans and green sneakers.
His eyes, when I managed to catch them, made me inhale sharply. One was violet and the other blue. I must've been staring at him oddly because he smiled at me unsurely before looking back out the window.
Like with Dawn it hadn't been any of the physical characteristics that made him who he was, though they certainly helped. It was the relaxed posture, which stuck out like a sore thumb from everyone else here's rigidity. It was the dancing expression in his eyes, so far from the general cold reserve I had met with previously. He was different. It was as though all the oddness that this town lacked was balanced out by him.
I approached him with a smile. He was an oddity and an oddity is as good as the secrets that my family lives to discover, sometimes even better.