A Rosie in the Thorns
"Are you sure you don't want to be shown around?" Ivy asked as she parked the car, unbuckling her seat belt as she did so. I waited until she killed the ignition to unbuckle, gathering my things from the back seat. When I looked over at Ivy, she was watching me carefully, patiently waiting for an answer to her question.
"I think I can handle it on my own," I grumbled, struggling to pull my duffel bag from behind me. I had foolishly left it unzipped, so when I yanked on the handle, gym shorts and water bottles fell onto the car floor. Great. That's what I get for rushing out the door this morning. I have what my father likes to call Early Bird syndrome, where I like to show up everywhere early. So that means I always have to rush to get everywhere.
"Really? Because Nick offered to show me around, and he said that you're free to join us if you don't know where you're going," Ivy informed me, gathering her own book bag from the back seat.
I couldn't look at her because I was pushing my things back into my duffel bag, trying to fit everything in. But I could hear the slight sigh in her voice when she mentioned Nick's name. Yeah, like I would really want to walk around with my Goth sister and her equally Goth almost-boyfriend, watching them fawn over each other in the middle of the hall way, where people could see me with them. I don't think so.
Ivy was one of the reasons why I developed EB syndrome. It may seem cold and shallow of me, but I didn't want to be seen with my sister. At my old school a couple of years before, Ivy had gotten her license and had driven me to school. People knew we had the same last name, but nobody put two and two together, assuming that it was just a coincidence. Obviously we couldn't be related; we looked nothing alike. When I started to arrive at school with her, connections were made and suddenly everyone knew Ivy was my big Goth sister. Then came the teasings, the stares, the whispered laughs, and sly comments behind my back, things people thought I wasn't aware of.
So, I came up with a plan. A heartless plan, I admit, but it had its perks. The plan was to wake up earlier, therefore getting to school earlier, and no one would see us arriving together. Ivy didn't suspect a thing, believing I was a dedicated student, something I was grateful for. If she knew my true intentions, she'd be crushed.
The duffel bag wouldn't close all the way, even after I began punching my clothes to make them fit inside. Aggravated, I took out a pair of shorts and a tank top and threw them onto the back seat. Once I closed the bag, I opened the car door and pulled out a folded piece of paper from my back pocket. "Don't worry, Ive. See this? It's a map of the school. I think I'll be okay."
She locked the car before holding her hands up, shaking her head in defeat. "I was just offering, Rose." Her eyes glanced over the almost empty parking lot, then turned to rest on me. "This place is dead. Couldn't we have waited for another twenty minutes?"
"It's the first day of school. I didn't want to be late or get stuck in traffic," I protested.
Rolling her eyes, she gave another once-over to the parking lot. Someone called out her name and we turned to see a dark figure jumping up and down on top of a picnic table at the opposite end of the school. Ivy waved back, telling me, "It's Renee. Wanna go say hi with me?"
"No, I'm fine," Really, I would be fine, especially if I wasn't forced into hanging out with her new friends so early in the morning. Gesturing to my bag, I explained, "I've got to put my bag in the locker room for practice."
"Four thirty, right?" She fished the car keys out of her front pocket. "I'll get a ride home from Nick and Jet. You take the car."
I took the keys that she handed me, and shoved them into my purse, thanking her before we parted ways. I strolled to the back of the school where I knew the gym was. Fortunately, the gym doors weren't locked, and I easily pushed one open and strolled towards the girls' locker room. My shoes tapped against the floor, and I had to smile to myself when I peeked down at them. The day after I made the squad, I had driven to the nearest Payless and bought myself a new pair of blue espadrilles.
I love shoes. They're the only things that truly make me happy, after cheerleading. The last time I counted, I owned nearly twenty three pairs. And that's not including my flip-flops. Or my boots.
Pushing the locker room door open with my shoulder, I dug in my purse to find the piece of paper I had written my locker number on. Us newbies on the squad had been given the assigned lockers after we were picked and told that we could keep our practice gear in them during school hours. Knowing this had been a blessing because I did not want to carry my duffel bag around the building with me until practice time. Cheerleaders at my old school had to carry around their bags everywhere with them, so I knew from experience what a pain in the ass it could be.
My locker number was 501, and I found it stuffed in the back by the showers. Great. That meant I could get to the showers quicker, meaning I could leave earlier. That was another symptom of EB: not only did I have to be everywhere early, but I also had to leave everywhere early.
The lockers already came with locks attached to them, so I had to look deeper in my bag for my combination. Hmph. Why couldn't they have put the two things on one piece of paper?
Finally finding the paper I needed, I opened my locker, clutched the lock in my hand, and began stuffing my duffel bag inside it. It was around this time that I heard noises, realizing I wasn't the only one in the room. When I listened closely, the noises sounded suspiciously like making out, complete with giggles and heavy breathing. Startled, my hands loosened and dropped the lock, it clattering on the floor with a metallic clank when it landed.
The giggles stopped and a flushed face appeared from behind one of the curtain stalls. Whoever she was, she saw me, flashed me a devilish grin and returned to the shower stall. Seconds later, the same girl emerged with a mirror in one hand and lip gloss in another. A boy stumbled out after her, his brown hair tousled and sticking up at ends. He stared at the girl with bright golden eyes and rosy cheeks, his mouth opening and closing as if to say something to her. Finally, he decided on silence and grabbed a book bag from the floor, starting to leave.
Turning her head away from her mirror, the girl placed her lip gloss in her other hand and called out, "Robbie, aren't you forgetting something?"
Rosy Cheeks faced her, his eyes squinting at the pair of glasses she pulled out from the pocket of her bermuda shorts. His cheeks becoming an even darker shade of red, he walked back over to her, grabbed his glasses and shoved them onto the bridge of his nose.
Watching his departure, I turned back to the girl, who was busy with admiring herself in her mirror. Catching my eye, she smiled at me, as if to say 'What can you do?'
Feeling awkward at viewing their little exchange, I coughed, "Was that your boyfriend?"
She let out a soft, tinkling laugh, "Who, Robbie? God, no." Picking up a purse from where it had been discarded on the floor, she stuffed both mirror and lip gloss into a front pocket. "He's a total dork, but I give him a few kisses here and there in exchange for a little help in history. Anyway," she stepped forward a bit and held out a hand towards me. "I'm Kiley Burns."
I eyed her cautiously, not sure what to make of her. She seemed nice enough, with a welcoming smile that glittered with the layers of gloss she'd applied. Her hair was auburn and flat-ironed until it was as straight as a pencil, and her light eyes were as warm as her smile. Dressed in a cute, pale pink top, she looked exactly like the kind of girls I had befriended at my old school.
Rewarding her with my own hesitant smile, I let her take my hand and shake it viciously.
"Hey, I love those shoes," Kiley announced while looking down at my feet. I glanced down at the floor, enjoying the sight of my new shoes against the ugly tiled floor. Feeling giddy about the compliment, I was about to return a similar one about her shoes when she asked, "Hey, aren't you that girl from try-outs?"
"There were like a hundred girls at try-outs," I replied, suddenly feeling uncomfortable under her calculating stare.
"Duh, silly me," she laughed at herself. "I meant, you're that girl with the funky name, right? The one who Katrina confronted? Omigod, I didn't even catch your name. I can be so rude sometimes."
"Rosie Thorn." I told her.
"Yeah," Kiley nodded. "Funky name. I thought so. Hey, don't worry about Trina. She's a bitch, and even though she has a bunch of friends, it's not like anyone really likes her." She glanced down at her slim silver wristwatch and whistled. "Wow, people are gonna be here soon. Are you done? We've gotta socialize. You have your schedule, right? I'll show you around."
"I...I have a map." I informed her, surprised at the amazing amount of energy radiating from her.
"Sorry if I seem forward," she crossed the space between us and linked her arm through mine. "I'm hyped up on coffee this morning, so I come off as ADHD. Anyways, I wanna be your friend. I can introduce you to my other friends, too. And then you'll have someone to sit by at lunch. Well, hopefully, if we have lunch together. Let me see your schedule."
Once I handed over my schedule, she scanned over it and compared it to her own. Finally, she handed it back to me. "We do have lunch together. And biology, too. And you have study hall with Robbie. He could help you if you have any problems. He's in all honors and AP classes, so he could do your homework for you. I'll just have to kiss him some more. Unless you want to kiss him. He won't mind. I mean, two hot cheerleaders swapping spit with him? A dork like him probably gets off on that."
"Thanks, but I'll have to pass."
Kiley shrugged. "Okay, but the offer is always open." She picked up the lock from the floor and handed it over to me so I could finish putting my bag away. When I was finished, she grabbed my arm and dragged me to the door, smiling over her shoulder at me. "Now, it's time to socialize."
The morning came and went. I breezed through my first three classes easily, one of them being study hall with Robbie Rosy Cheeks, who flushed and looked at his desk when I raised my eyebrows at him. In a way, I was glad that Kiley had introduced me to some of her friends this morning before homeroom. She had introduced me as Rosie, just the way I liked it, so her friends called me the same. Soon, as I could tell they were gossip-mongers, the people they talked about me to would also call me Rosie. And then those people would talk to other people, and so on and so forth. Like dominoes.
I had to give Kiley credit. At first, I wasn't sure about her, with her scandalous shower activity and her speedy dialogue and using someone to get her wants. But I could tell she was clever. The stunt with the gossips had told me that. She had obviously wanted her new friend, aka me, to be accepted on the in crowds of Eastlake High, and had used sneaky means to do so.
As petty as it sounds, I appreciated her for it. I hated making new friends or entering a new group at school. To already be a part of a group without having to even try was going to make starting at a new school so much less difficult for me. And as a bonus, since I already had someone to sit with at lunch, I wouldn't have to stand in the middle of the cafeteria, pathetically looking for somewhere to sit, and then have to sit by myself or in the bathroom. Or worse. By Ivy and her new friends.
Lunch rolled around after my fourth class. I stalked to the lunch line, irritated. My American History teacher, Mrs. Keins, kept forgetting to call me Rosie. Each time she called me Rose, I had to correct her, but the senile old bat wouldn't remember. It had taken all of my will not to shout at her. Correcting my name once was annoying, but most times people got the gist of it and knew to call me by my preferred nickname. Having to repeat myself over and over was not so pleasant.
And to make matters worse, my class had been on the opposite side of the school, meaning I got to lunch late and had to wait in a long line for my food. My lateness only grated on my nerves even more. I hated being late.
After paying for the sad excuse for food on my tray, I made my way towards a table in the middle of the cafeteria where I saw Kiley and her friends sitting. Approaching the table, I saw Kiley glaring darkly at a cookie on her tray. It was so different from how she had looked that morning, and I was just a bit weary to join her. But, gathering my courage, I stepped forward and set my tray down next to hers, saying, "What did the cookie ever do to you?"
Kiley turned her glare on me and I winced a little, starting to worry. Maybe she decided I wasn't cool enough to sit with her. Maybe she realized what a loser I actually am and how I could never compete with any of the other girls sitting by her. I gulped--maybe she had figured out who my sister was.
Another girl at the table laughed. I looked up at a brunette across the table. She wore dangling earrings that sparkled when she moved her head. Silver bangles jingled together on her arm as she waved at Kiley. "Don't mind her. It's been a couple of hours, so her coffee buzz has worn off. She won't be normal until she gets another. You're Rosie, right? Kiles was saving that seat for you."
Nodding, I sat down in aforementioned seat, relief washing over me when it was obvious that I wasn't being shunned. As I started to dig into my chicken wrap, Kiley waved at the girl who had spoken. "That's Olivia, my big sister. She's also on the squad."
I nodded once more, vaguely remembering her from try-outs.
Kiley pointed to the other three girls at the table. "That's Leah, Ginny, and Allison. Gin's the only one not on the squad. She thinks she's smart or something."
The girl with tortoiseshell glasses winked at me. "I'm a genius. Unlike these bimbos."
Protests broke out among the table and ended with Olivia throwing a straw wrapper at Ginny's head. Laughing, she picked it out of her hair and turned to me, "I'm in National Honors Society. And the student council. I don't have time for cheerleading."
I wondered for a moment why she would spend time hanging around cheerleaders then. Did she have any student council friends? Setting down my wrap, I questioned, "Do you hang around cheerleaders to make you look smarter?"
The table erupted in laughter. Even Kiley managed to break a grin before returning to her caffeine-free angst parade.
"No, no, I don't. Although it seems that way, doesn't it?" Ginny laughed when her tablemates scowled at her. She thrust a finger in Olivia's direction. "Livvy and I have known each other since grade school. And even though she became the cheerleader and me the student council treasurer, we're still good friends. We're tight, yo." They knocked their knuckles together to show me how "tight" they were. I laughed at their mock gangsta faces.
"What an odd combination," I remarked. "The bimbo and the brain."
Leah nodded her head enthusiastically. "They're like one complete person. They even think alike. It's kind of creepy until you get used to it."
A term I had learned last year in English came to me. Characters foils. Where two people were polar opposites. I thought for a moment about my sister. Surely Ivy and I would be foils. Probably even more so than the Bimbo and Brain combination.
Someone spoke and surprised me out of my reverie. I turned my attention back to the table and joked around with the girls. They all seemed nice enough, and I could already feel myself making connections with them. We all shared common interests and could talk at length about them. Once again, I was grateful for Kiley. I couldn't have picked a better group of friends myself.
I turned to my right to thank Kiley for inviting me to share lunch with her. She had whipped out a cell phone from her purse and was typing a text with fierce determination in her eyes. All her concentration was focused on the screen, so that when I tapped her arm, she jumped in her seat. Smiling sheepishly at her cell, she hit the send button and faced me.
"Do you have one?" she waved the cell in the air.
I produced my own phone from my skirt pocket and she smiled with glee, commanding that we give each other our numbers. I took her cell and typed in my number, feeling a small bit of happiness when I realized I was exchanging numbers with someone. That meant I already had someone other than my family to talk with. What a relief.
We discussed our classes so far and the teachers we had. When I complained about Mrs. Keins, Kiley sympathized with me. She had Keins first class and explained that had she not had so much caffeine in her system, being called Kyle over and over again would have really set off a temper tantrum.
This girl and I were so going to get along.
Near the end of the lunch period, Kiley's phone went off and I could barely hear the first few lines of Fergie's "Clumsy" over the noise in the cafeteria. Almost desperate, Kiley read the text that had been sent to her, then stuffed the phone back in her purse and got up, saying she'd be right back.
When she came back a few minutes later, her face was red, her lip gloss only a bit smudged, and a steaming cup from Starbucks in her hand.
Sitting down again, she whispered in my ear, "He does coffee runs, too."
Biology was my last class of the day. Knowing that my day was almost over and I was soon going to be at my first practice had dissipated the put-off mood I had been in most of the day. And the fact that my biology class was right around the corner from my French class had only added to my happiness. It felt so good to be the first one in the room. That meant first dibs on seating.
My Biology did not have desks like all the other classrooms I had been in. Black-topped tables were situated in three rows down the room, each table equipped with a sink and two stools. I spared a glance about the room, taking in where the clock hung on the wall, where the waste basket was placed, and how far each desk was from the teacher's desk at the front of the room. Finally, I chose the third table in the row closest to the windows.
Normally, I chose to sit near the door, so I could exit the class before anyone else. The seat I picked was nowhere near any door, but it was right next to the window, where I could stare outside. Behind the school was a picturesque view of a grassy green hill and the football field just beyond it. I knew that science could get boring from time to time and figured if I had something nice to look at, it wouldn't make me fall asleep. And the bonus was that the school gym was nearby my classroom. So it didn't really matter where I sat because I could still get to the locker room early for practice.
Soon, more people began filing into the room. Some I recognized from classes I had been to already, and others were new faces. I couldn't help but wait anxiously as each person walked through the door and found their seats. If I remembered correctly, Kiley had this class with me. Maybe we could be table partners.
Still, as the minutes clocked by, there was no sign of my new acquaintance. More and more students sat next to each other, forcing my nerves to stand on end. What if Kiley didn't have this class? What if nobody wanted to sit with me? I rested my chin on my hand and folded my other arm on the table, to hide the white knuckles caused by my too-tightly clenched fists.
The bell was about to ring. There was no way Kiley would be walking through that door in the next twenty seconds. The class was basically packed by now, with only a couple of scattered seats still open. The one next to me was one of those empty seats.
My eyes began to burn, and I felt a lump in my throat. I was so stupid! To think I actually had a friend so fast in just one day. New students never got friends that quickly. Most likely Kiley just felt sorry for me because she could see I was some pathetic loser--
The bell rang, cutting off my self-pitying thoughts. Someone was walking through the door just as the ringing stopped. My back straightened, hope radiating so fiercely from me that I wouldn't have been surprised if someone near me felt it. My eyes were locked on the door, on the figure of the person who was practically walking in slow-motion...
...and I was horrified to see him.
"Cutting it a little short, aren't we, Mr. Gates?" the biology teacher, Mr. Peterson, quirked an eyebrow at the boy who drifted into his classroom. After letting out a disappointed sigh, the teacher flicked his wrist towards the tables, telling the boy to grab a seat where one was open.
And the boy shrugged back his shoulders before sweeping a glance across the room. His eyes widened when they landed on me, sitting alone and pale by the window. At first, I thought he was going to stand there all day, but then I realized, my fingernails digging into my arm in horror, that he was moving towards me.
No. Nuh-uh. No way. There was no way he could do that. I wouldn't let him. I pursed my lips into a scowl, my narrowed eyes warning him not to--
"Hello, Legs." Jet greeted, dropping his book bag on the table.
--sit by me.
Kill. Me. Now.
Mr. Peterson began the roll call, but I barely paid him any attention. I was outright glaring at the boy sitting beside me, scooting my stool away from him. If I had been a snake, I would have been hissing at him by this point.
"Stalker." I spoke in a whisper. Actually, that did kind of sound like a hiss. Maybe I wouldn't have to be a snake after all.
"What can I say?" Jet lifted a shoulder in a careless manner. "Your legs call to me. And speaking of your legs, I really like that skirt you wore today. If you had worn jeans like every other girl here, then I would have been really sad."
Smoothing down the aforementioned beige skirt to try and cover more of my thighs, I snapped quietly, "Pervert."
I aimed my head at the front of the class, pointedly listening to Mr. Peterson call out everyone's names. Jet began tapping his fingertips on the table, the steady thumping creating an oddly relaxing rhythm. Try as I might, I couldn't seem to tune him out.
"Justin Gates." Mr. P, as I had already dubbed him in my mind, announced. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jet raise his hand slowly, not even bothering to look up at whoever had spoken his name.
When Mr. P went on to call on other students, I sneered, "Justin? Not Jet?"
His fingers stopped at the sound of my voice. He looked over at me, face not revealing any annoyance at my condescending tone. "I told you it was a nickname."
How did anyone get the nickname of Jet? I wanted to ask him, but kept my mouth shut when I saw he was staring at me. He had done the same thing the first time we met, I remembered. The only difference was that, before, he had been staring at my legs. This time, it was my face that had captured his attention.
Even though it was highly uncomfortable to be stared at so openly, I returned the favor. Last time, my eyesight had been blind with white hot rage. It was as if this was the first time I truly saw him. I took his features into consideration, noting how he was all lines and angles and yet his skin looked as if it would be soft to touch. And he had dimples. I thought only babies and really young children had dimples.
True, he wasn't the handsomest of males, but he did have a sort of endearing quality about him that called out to me. Perhaps it was how open he seemed. His entire face was unguarded, as readable as a book. Like anyone could observe his thoughts and he had enough trust to let them.
But more than that, his eyes held my attention the longest. They were deep sea blue, almost an inky black. I loved the color blue.
"Rosie." I corrected automatically, never tearing my eyes away from Justin's. If anyone noticed our staring contest, they didn't say anything about it. Not that I would have heard anyone because all my focus was on the staring. I had even managed to ignore the small chuckles around the room at the voicing of my name.
The door burst open and a not a second later, Kiley came rushing in. Justin blinked once, then twice, each time slowly. I was beginning to see that that's how he did everything, from sliding his fingers across the table to fidgeting in his seat. He was the poster boy for slow motion.
Grinning evilly because I had won yet another staring contest, I returned to the front of the room where Kiley was handing a pass to the teacher. She looked over the room, saw me and waved eagerly. I smiled back, but we both frowned when she saw the seat next to me was occupied. Lifting her hand in an apologetic gesture, she took a spot on the opposite side of the room, smiling flirtatiously at the buffed-up boy who was to be her partner.
"So," Justin drew the word out. Feeling triumphant over winning our staring contest, despite how infantile it was, I stared down my nose at him. "We're friends now, aren't we?"
"No." I told him sternly, my eyes as hard as steel. "What gave you the impression that I wanted to be your friend?" Hadn't he asked me something similiar during our last meeting?
"Well, we're sitting next to each other--"
"Because you sat next to me. Don't think I actually wanted you there."
"Oh." He was silent after that, and I turned to stare out the window. From the corner of my eye, I could see Justin (no way was I going to keep on calling him Jet) glancing over at me, but I tried my best to ignore him. After our teacher began taking to us about the rules of the class, Justin leaned over towards me, whispering, "Are you sure?"
Puzzled, I questioned back, "Sure about what?"
"That you don't want to be friends with me."
I would have banged my head on the table if it wouldn't make me look like someone recently released from the loony bin. Shutting my eyes, I said quietly, "Justin..."
"Rosiiiieeee..." he said back, stretching out my name as though he were trying it out. He smiled at me. "Look, I even used the name you like. I'm already a good friend."
Did he think that would win me over? Okay, it might if these were normal circumstances, but they weren't, so it didn't. "Justin," I said again. He was watching me expectantly, as though he knew I was going to agree to being his friend. Poor, foolish boy. "Leave. Me. Alone."
His smile fell, and he leaned back in his chair. It didn't look like he was mad, just crestfallen and a tad bit disappointed. Had he been someone--anyone--else, I would have felt terrible and taken back my words. But as it was, I felt a small smidgen of guilt, but that was it.
I returned to my window watching. Besides me, Justin let out a long, deep sigh.
This was going to be a long class.
Okay, so this isn't where I planned exactly to end this chapter. I had one more scene I wanted to write, but I felt like it was going to take me forever. So, I finished up this scene and voila! It's done. Hope that you like it. Sorry it took forever.
In this chapter, I introduced Kiley. Despite how scatter-brained and whorish she seems, I love her character. She seems like a ditz, but trust me, there is more to her than you think. I won't reveal her story in this one, as it is ultimately Rosie's story. But once I finish this, I will be writing about Kiley. She's a unique character and I don't think I've written anyone like her so far. It was really fun writing her, especially the locker room scene with Robbie. There will definitely be more of those two later.
I actually started writing this in the summer, before school started. I was trying to fingd a name for the chemistry teacher, so I picked one at random that I remember having heard around my school. So, of course, in August when I got my school schedule, I ended up having Mr. Peterson for my economics class. How ironic.
A couple of things that have happened since I last updated any of my stories:
1. I got a job! Woohoo! I know. It sucks. Anyway, I mostly work on the weekends, so that cuts into any free time I have, meaning I have less time to write now.
2. I've started my junior year at school and my classes are hell. Seriously. I have a ton and a half of homework like every night./ So, combined with work and other stuff I need to do during the week, I have even less amount of time to write.
3. A couple of weeks ago, on October 17th, I turned 17 years old!!!!! I know. 17 on the 17th. I was so excited.
4. Last Thursday, John McCain (you know, the one running for President of the U.S), was at my school. It was a big deal for our city. I didn't go personally, but I did see the line to get in. There was a bunch of people.
5. I saw High School Musical 3 the night it came out. Troy was hot. End of story.
6. And finally, I have found the love of my life. Jeopardy. I have been watching that show for about a month now, and so far, I've only missed 2 shows. I am a genius when it comes to that game. One day, I'm gonna go on it. I know. I'm a geek.
And that's about it. So, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter.