Hello! As I'm working on "Difference" and it's going so slowly, I realized I wasn't being fair to everyone. So, I decided to go ahead and post the first chapter of this… thing. This story features first person narration in the present tense, it's a bit of an experiment for me, and I'm having a lot of fun writing. The chapters are shorter and more concise than anything else I've written. I will warn you: this first chapter is really choppy. After this is gets better. I think? Let me know what you all think!
I have been inspired. The writing muses have absolutely ravished me. I am sitting in English class, reading Anne Frank, and I wonder if she knew her story would be the second most read book in the world? I seriously doubt it. So now I'm thinking that maybe I should write. Nothing important, you know, but just whatever happens to me. It may not be a fascinating read, but who knows? Maybe in 100 years, everyone will have a copy sitting on their shelves. "The Memoirs of Katharine Thames" Yea, I like that.
It's Monday afternoon, and I'm eating lunch with my friend, Ruth. Ruth keeps me grounded (or at least she tries) and in touch with all the latest gossip. She knows everything, really, everything. And not because she reads it in some magazine. She just knows.
Currently she's telling me in quick whispers about a very public break up this morning between Hal and his steady-girlfriend-of-one-week.
"He just told her it was off, he didn't give any reason at all. She started bawling, I mean, absolutely howling." Ruth says.
I roll my eyes, "She's mad. She's mad that he never took her out and her picture didn't get put in a paper."
Hal is quite a popular guy. I don't just mean at school. He is popular at school, of course, but he's popular outside of school too. There are tons of websites and fan forums dedicated to him. Girls constantly stalk him. The paparazzi is all over him all the time. Why? Is it because of his contributions to society? Because he saved a child from death? Because he won the Nobel peace prize?
No. Oh no.
It's because his father is the third richest man in the world, and because he got voted People Magazine's hottest bachelor under 25 two years in a row, and because last year his daddy paid for him to star in a movie opposite Will Smith. Some adventure thing where he ripped his shirt off. There was more to the movie, but that's the only bit people can seem to remember.
So, despite, or maybe because of, his popularity, Hal is an idiot. He parties, he sleeps around, and he's a jerk. Really, he is. He's in my science class, believe me, I know.
Speaking of science class, this happens right after lunch. I walk in there with heavy feet every day. Not just because I loathe seeing Hal but also because my lab partner is Chad.
When Chad sees me, a sneer develops on his face, pushing his glasses further up his nose. "Are you ready for lab?" he asks in his awful nasally voice.
I sigh, sitting down beside him. Chad is, for lack of a better word, a nerd. He wears his pants too short, his collar buttoned to his throat, and keeps a stash of Number 2 pencils in his shirt pocket. The other thing about Chad, though, is that he's really smart, and he knows it. He's really smart, and I'm really not.
I struggle through setting up the experiment; our teacher is walking around helping. Somehow she fails to notice Hal and whatever-her-name fondling across from me.
The other bad thing about science, besides Chad, and my continuous failing grades, is watching Hal and whatever girl he's with make out over the test tubes they were most likely created in. And they do this right across from me.
Why, why does Hal sit directly across from me? Alphabetical order? Maybe. Cruel fates touring me? More likely.
Cruel fates have also placed me a mere two seats down from James. James-who-loves-me-but-doesn't-know-it-yet-Thomas. He is absolutely beautiful. I met James the first day I moved to this school. I was in science class, just like now, and he came over to me to introduce himself. I took one look into those big brown eyes and dropped a jar of formaldehyde all over his feet. James, being the wonderful, gracious man that he is, just laughed. We've been friends ever since.
The irony? James has a twin brother: Chad. How the most perfect man alive could be related to the most annoying man alive is beyond me. But if I squint and tilt my head, sometimes I see the resemblance. Sort of.
The fates really are cruel to me. I realize it now. I must be in some sort of… show. Any minute Ashton must pop out and yell at me. Right?
Because Hal sits across from me, he shares lab supplies with Chad and me. So twice a week, all year now, he's had to ask for supplies. And twice a week, all year, I've told him my name. Does he remember? No.
I ignore him. If I can't remember my name, I can't remember he's talking to me.
"Hey." He says more loudly.
I still ignore him. Chad pokes me. Whatever-her-name is clears her throat.
"Hey, blue shirt girl."
I snap my head up from the instruction sheet, "Yes, white-shirt guy?"
"My name is Hal." He says, offended.
"My name is Katie."
"Okay. Well… can you hand me that tube thing?"
I sigh, "What tube thing exactly?"
"The one with the yellow thing on the bottom."
"The graduated cylinder?"
I dangle it a few inches out of his reach, "What's my name?"
He stares at me blankly, then turns next to me, "Hey, Chad, can you hand me that tube thing?"
Annoyed at his calculations being interrupted, Chad wrenches the cylinder from my grasp and hands it to Hal, before lowering his nose back to the calculator.
James leans over his brother's back, "Don't let him bother you." He says, nodding at Hal, "He's just put off because you won't, you know, put out."
I blush and smile. James is a gentleman. Unlike some people. James never tricks girls into going out with him just so he can get them in bed. James, I happen to know, has only ever slept with two girls. He only slept with these girls because they had been dating for more than a year. And James doesn't just break up with girls after he's slept with them. James, essentially, is perfect. In stark contrast with Hal.
I ride the bus home after school, as usual. I've often heard that people hate the bus, but I don't mind. Lily rides on the same route as me, so we talk or finish homework on the ride. Why would I complain about a free ride? Lily is my other best friend. Lily is an amazing listener and our resident Romantic. She's utterly convinced that her knight will come and rescue her from impending doom.
"I'll see you tomorrow!" she calls as I get off. "Don't forget to write your English essay!"
Lily is also very concerned about her academics.
I wave and jog into the house. "Mom!" I yell.
"Hey baby!" she calls, wrapping me in a big hug. "How was school?"
"The usual." I answer, surveying my surroundings. I notice the big crates of party supplies sitting around the foyer floor. "What's going on?"
"Mrs. Monroe is throwing a big charity function Saturday night, she decided to host it at her house instead of the lodge, so I was transferring supplies from there to here. I'm heading over to the big house now, actually, to get everything started. I'll see you at dinner."
"Don't work too hard." I say, knowing it's pointless. My mom doesn't know how to take it easy.
My mom is a professional house keep and party planner. Maybe it sounds low. She used to be the head of housekeeping at an inn. Then Mrs. Monroe threw a function there, and offered a full time position at her house. Now we live in adjacent to their big house, and my mom oversees pretty much everything that happens.
Yes, Monroe. Like the oil. Like Mrs. Monroe, the famous socialite and head of the DAR. Like Mr. Monroe, the third richest man in the world. Like the father of Hal Monroe. Also known as Satan.
Again, proof that the fates hate me. Not that I see Hal that much in his house. He normally is out, partying, getting his picture taken while his tongue is in some girl's throat. He does, however, leave a trail of destruction behind him. He likes to throw parties and leave a huge mess for my mom and her staff to clean up. He also likes to take girls back to his suite and well… they make a mess there too.
Basically, Hal Monroe is the most disgusting pig on the planet.
I take a long time to wake up on Tuesday morning, as I was up late writing my essay. My mom shakes me awake, promising eggs and toast when I roll out of bed.
"Why were you up so late, kid?" she asks when I finally make it downstairs, buttoning my uniform skirt up.
"English essay." I tell her, biting into the toast.
She shakes her head, "You know I would write you a note."
This is one area where the fates have been so good to me. My mom. She is the coolest. Maybe it's because she was so young when she got pregnant. Maybe it's because she raised me on her own. But whatever the reason, she just rocks. She always tells me she would rather me get a good nights rest and skip school than stay up all night to do an assignment. She always lets me fake sick and stay home. She'll write angry letters to teachers who mess up my grades. She's just always in my corner. And I love that.
"I don't mind." I tell her, smiling.
"Anything else due today?"
"We'll finish up calculations in chemistry."
"With that awful Thomas boy?"
"And what about James? Have you jumped his bones yet?"
"Mooom!" I howl. My mom is totally inappropriate. That's another reason why I love her.
She just grins and pushes me out the door so I can catch the bus.
"Hey." Lily says when I sit down.
"Your essay done?"
"Yea. So, guess what I heard?"
Unlike Ruth, who was born knowing all the gossip in the world, Lily knows things by reading websites. She does a round in the morning and at night, checking each celebrity site. She likes to be knowledgeable.
"I heard that Hal already has a new girlfriend. As of last period yesterday. And that he's taking her on a date on Friday."
"If she lasts that long." I mumble.
Lily grins and turns around to talk to some of her other friends.
Lily and I are a lot alike. Her parents are maybe a bit wealthier than I could ever hope to be, but she won't be "launched" into society as many of our friends will be. Her parents have sort of publicly denied society and it's ways. Her dad is famous for his book about the inner workings of an American socialite.
Ruth, on the other hand, is one of those budding socialites. Her parents are, for lack of a better word, rich. They're part of that old money, her dad's ancestors came off the Mayflower or something. She'll have a coming out party and a big dance when she turns 18 in December. She'll be a part of the junior league and eat cakes and drink tea and wear funny hats.
The best part about Ruth is that she totally doesn't mind. Some girls hate it. All the tulle and pomp. Ruth isn't obnoxious or anything, but she's a bit dramatic and she loves being the center of attention, as well as to gossip and be girly. She's used to the tight lifestyle, and she'll always live it.
I love them, my friends. I love how different they are, and yet we all blend together. It's another place where the fates did me good.
Tuesdays are blessed days. So are Thursdays. On these days of glory, I have scheduled time in the band room. This means that I am allowed to be by myself in a sound proof room with only my violin. I'm not particularly good at math, English, or (obviously) chemistry, but there's just something about putting my beautiful violin under my chin and running the bow over it. I think it's the closest thing to Heaven I can experience on earth.
It's a good thing that I love my time in the band room so much, because right after I pack up my violin, I have to go back to chemistry.
Chemistry is torture, there's no way around it. If the government is still looking for ways to make criminals talk, I suggest chemistry. Twenty minutes of this and they'll say anything just get loose. I'm sitting with Chad, his little science club buddies huddled around him.
Today we are supposed to analyze the data from yesterday's lab. I'm about as good at analyzing as I am at coordinating. This isn't saying much, seeing as how I am wearing one blue and one black sock.
"Alrighty Kath-arine." Chad says.
I hate it when he says my name. He breaks it up into chunks, like it's too much to say in one of his stunted breaths.
"Can you just put numbers into the calculator?"
I sigh as his buddies giggle like five years olds. I do try to be smart in science, but I just don't understand how that bubbling mass of smelly stuff from yesterday translates into these numbers for today.
"I'll say them slowly for you." Chad starts. "4…add…56…divide by…3…"
I am often surprised by how much crap I take from Chad. The truth is, Chad is right; I'm not smart. And as Chad has very little else to gloat on, being smarter than me can be his thing. Sometimes, I imagine going home and studying hard, then coming in the next day and making Chad feel like an idiot.
This never happens.
I finally just hand the calculator to Chad and tell him to do it. This makes his buddies laugh even harder. I look away and see James shoot me an encouraging smile.
I wonder what it would be like if James were my partner. Our eyes would meet over the Bunsen burner and then BANG! it's love, a true chemical reaction. James knocks everything off the table onto the floor (incidentally setting the Sci-Lab on fire) and passionately kisses me. I become his girlfriend and Sci-Lab is cancelled until further notice.
See how ideal that is?
I hand in our papers at the end of class and I feel someone bump into me, sending me and my stack of homework onto the floor.
I glower at Hal, "Katharine. My name is Katharine."
He just walks away. He doesn't help me up. He doesn't pick my papers up. He just leaves me on the dirty ground to pick it all up myself. That ass.
Well? What do you think of my new darling? Let me know, I'm really interested to hear what everyone thinks of the style and where it's going. As for Difference, the new chapter should be up in a week-ish. Ack. Blame school. Always blame school.