To Die For
Alarm Clocks & Dells
Eaving Kuo's day was off to a bad start. That usually happened when one bought an alarm clock at Wal-Mart after a frenzied back-to-school sale for 2.99. Flinging it across the room and against her olive green walls didn't help matters, either. But at least it died with one last persistent ring. After a string of curses in fluent Mandarin, she swung one leg off of her bed and the rest of her body tumbled out after.
With one groggy eye open and the other one effectively blinded by a tangled mass of hair, she surveyed her clothes, all conveniently in a pile on the floor. At least it was a neat pile. She easily found sweatpants and a Paramore t-shirt, but a good pair of socks was a little harder to come by. After deciding that a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone, she pushed her feet into the socks, and dashed into the bathroom to brush her teeth.
"Eaving!" Her dad called from downstairs. "Aiiya, can't you hear me calling? You're going to be late!"
"He must have a snooze button somewhere," Eaving groaned, shrugging into a black hoodie before looking crossly at the smashed alarm clock on the floor. "And that is what happens when I can't find one."
Breakfast was a fancy affair; her dad had made chocolate pancakes, eggs, and pork liver porridge, instead of his usual raisin oatmeal concoction that was more mysterious than her Auntie Mei's "lamb chops." Eaving shuddered and gratefully spooned some of the scrambled eggs into her mouth. Dad was watching her out of the corner of his eyes while wiping his hands on the "CHEF #1 100 percent" apron she had found on sale at a Hong Kong shop in San Francisco. After bargaining with a balding, middle-aged man sitting on a little stool, he had practically driven her out of the store and thrown the apron at her. Dad had been so proud, then.
"So, first day of school." Dad announced cheerfully, pushing the bowl of porridge closer to her. It was his way of saying "eat this first otherwise you will be eating this cold for dinner."
"MmhmmIpromiseIwon'tgetkickedoutthistime," she mumbled. Bits of white porridge dribbled down her chin.
"Why you no wear something nice?" He finally asked, fed up with her barbaric eating habits.
She shrugged, licking her spoon clean. "What nice things? Oh, well I guess I could have worn my new jeans and that Bruce Lee t-shirt, huh? Maybe tomorrow."
Her dad sighed, clearly disappointed that she hadn't gone with that choice. Eaving made a mental note to hang up the outfit tonight.
"You hang around Uncle too much. Just like a boy." He tutted underneath his breath.
"I thought we wanted sons in China," Eaving teased.
Dad simply glared at her. "We not in China. Texas now. Eat your food, Shiou shiou."
Eaving smiled up at him cheekily, motioning for him to eat some of the food, too. She shoveled more eggs and some of the pancakes into her mouth. Somewhere in there, she choked on a whole piece of bacon. She was seventeen now, but dad still used the endearing name "little one" for her. He never could be mad at her, and if he ever was he never made a good show of it. Her mother had run off with another woman (hey, if you lived with seven men, you'd be tired of them too) and he had taken care of her by himself ever since she was just two years old. Sure, he had the help of six, equally clueless brothers—all of whom ran a company that trained professional bodyguards in the art of taolu and sanshou. The end result was a tomboy with a smart mouth and an even smarter fist.
No matter where she went, she eventually got kicked out for being too violent. It was all rubbish. Take for example, Lowell High. In her opinion, throwing the school's football star over her shoulder and then putting him in a chokehold wasn't all that bad—not when he had made fun of her only friend, Mallory, for being butch. She could have done worse, but she had decided to be the better person. Still, the school didn't buy it. No matter how diplomatic she had tried to be.
So, they considered it fortunate when her uncles found a great job out of state and everyone moved to Corpse City, Texas. That was only a month ago and she was quickly enrolled into a nearby high school, with her dad hoping that she would get a fresh, non-violent start. Uncle Cun Xi mentioned that it was some type of prestigious school with a lot of white people. What he had failed to mention was that it was some private school that they actually had to pay for (with an Asian population of .02, added Uncle Stanley), but she had only found that out yesterday after a very suspiciously delicious dumpling stew. So, obviously, anger was out of the question.
"Hurry up before you late," her dad scolded. His accent was always more noticeable when he was anxious or excited. "Ride your bike carefully."
She gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek, leaving a little smudge of porridge drool. "Thanks pa. Good luck on your first day at the restaurant, okay?" She would have kissed all of her uncles good-bye too, but they had an earlier start than she did.
"What you do after school?" Dad asked, following her outside. A small frown crossed his otherwise smooth features. People could never tell that he was already in his mid forties. "I feel like I forget something."
Lacing up her shoes, Eaving shook her head and patted her purple backpack. "Nope. I got everything here, pa. I'm visiting the uncles afterwards, wanna check out their new work place here in Corpus Christi."
After a grunt of approval from her dad, Eaving took off on her bike. The cool, morning air was actually a pleasant surprise, especially since it was autumn. Definitely a stark contrast to San Francisco's sharp, chilly mornings, complete with heavy fog. Hell, she didn't even need her hoodie.
It didn't take her long to arrive at school, and Eaving was surprised that she was even ten minutes early. Normally, she would have flew into her class, looking like a zombie, and then the bell would have rang for the next class. Locking her bike, she raised her head to get a better view of her new school.
So this was Wolf Lane High School. Eaving's eyes widened as she beheld the humongous building that was to be her new school for the rest of her senior year. It looked more like a university than a high school, with beautiful marble columns adorning the front of each spacious entrance and wide, architecturally beautiful hallways. The admissions building itself was creamy white with about three levels, or at least that was what Eaving guessed, but she wouldn't be surprised if there were more. All around her, tall oaks and sycamores competed for space as far as the eye could see.
"I hope you've still got your kidney, pa," she whispered, still awestruck by the grandeur of the place. He must have sold something in order to get her into such a nice place.
As she was dreamily admiring her surroundings, she couldn't help but notice that there was something remarkably different about the students that were standing about, talking to their friends about how exciting their summer was on their yacht. Or that excellent trip in Paris. Yes, they were all definitely filthy rich and she… Well, she was just plain filthy with bed-hair and wrinkled, just-out-of-the-pile clothes. But besides that--
"Ooomph!" A muffled voice groaned against her back.
"Goddamn it!" Eaving roared, pumping both of her fists in the air wildly. Students glanced furtively at her, committing the crazy lady to memory.
"S-sorry!" Whimpered a mild voice.
Eaving whirled around to glance at a timid-looking blonde girl with glasses and an extremely pretty face. Her perfectly pink frosted lips rounded in a frightened 'oh!' But Eaving was much more interested in what she was wearing. A simple gray pleated skirt, white blouse, and a matching gray blazer to go with it. It wasn't exactly fashionable (as if she would know what was fashionable or not), but it was what every single girl around her was wearing. The guys had on a similar ensemble, only with gray slacks instead of a skirt (unless one was so inclined…)
Grabbing both of the girl's shoulders and ignoring the squeak of surprise from her, Eaving said, "Ohmigawd, I knew it. I just knew it."
Pushing up her glasses tentatively, lest the crazy woman with the crazy hair bit her, the girl managed a small, "what?"
"I forgot my uniform." Eaving muttered, gesturing at her sweatpants.
"Oh." Even the girl knew how grave the offense was. "Headmaster once suspended someone for that. Major harsh deal."
Eaving glanced at her watch. Damn, only five more minutes until class started. There was no way she could pedal back home, change, and pedal back to school in time. Oh, well, show time. She would just have to suck it up. On the bright side, she would eventually have to get used to the principal's office, anyway.
"Are you new here?" Blonde girl asked. Eaving was surprised she hadn't made her escape yet.
"Yeah." Eaving started a slow trek towards her class, occasionally glancing at the map she had pulled out of her backpack. "But at this rate, I think I will be transferring out soon."
Blonde girl giggled, and then grabbed Eaving's hand. "Come on, I can help you." She then dragged Eaving in the opposite direction with a surprisingly strong grip for such a tiny, short girl. Eaving was a whole head and shoulder taller than her.
"Hey! The only thing you're helping here is my tardy record." Eaving protested, but curiously followed Blonde girl anyway. "What's your name anyway?"
She turned to look at Eaving with huge, shining hazel eyes. Her glasses only made them shinier. Eaving immediately thought of puppies and kittens. "Morgan Sinclaire at your service!"
They stopped at a row of lockers and Eaving watched as Morgan spun her combination, then opened her locker and pulled out a uniform. Smiling, she shoved the uniform into Eaving's hands and nudged her towards the bathroom.
Eaving's eyebrows quirked upwards. "Why do you have two uniforms?"
Morgan looked at her as if she had grown another head. "Accidents, duh. What if you happen to spill something on your blouse… Or had a little tear…Or forgot your uniform." She said the last line with a wink.
"Works for me." Eaving shrugged, then made a mad dash for the ladies' restroom. Remembering her manners, she stopped just outside of the door and turned to thank Morgan. "Hey, you're just as cool as Mallory back at home. Except, not butch and all."
"Don't sweat it. Really, don't. Uniforms are kind of expensive around here, and I don't want to buy another one." Morgan laughed, tickled pink by her own joke. "I'm going to class first. See you around!"
Eaving watched as her blonde curls bounced away before speeding into the bathroom stall and changing into the uniform. The uniform was pristine: neatly ironed, stain-free and she could tell by the smell of fresh detergent that it hadn't been worn yet. Still, there was something incredibly wrong about it. Beggars can't be choosers, Eaving reminded herself.
It really couldn't be helped. Not today, at least.
She decided that it didn't matter too much as long as she didn't get into trouble for it and nobody else noticed. Inhaling deeply and smoothing down her skirt, Eaving carefully opened the door to her first period class, English. Earlier, she had been ten minutes early, but now she was fifteen minutes late to class. Oh, how the fates hated her, Eaving bemoaned silently.
But when she opened the door, the classroom was completely empty. Well, not completely. In one corner of the room, on top of a desk, was a girl. And on top of her was a guy.
"What the hell?" The girl shrieked. "Get out!"
Apparently she felt priviledged to use the classroom as a hotel. The guy, however, just looked up at her with a bemused expression. He propped himself up with both arms, hovering over the girl like a caveman in a blazer.
"Lookin' for a show, baby?" He asked, dipping his head to capture the Brunette's lips. Eaving nearly threw up.
"No—I'm looking for my class." Eaving said, retreating. "You two…uh…should, too. You guys are late, you know."
But they were no longer paying attention to her, and Eaving was more than happy to hoof it out of there.
She was relieved when the next classroom turned out to be the right one. "Yes! I am not lost!"
The teacher, a severe looking woman, turned her head sharply and frowned.
"Miss Kuo, I presume," she began icily. The hairs on the back of Eaving's neck stood, and she felt them do so one by one. "What a pleasure to have you finally join us."
"Sorry, Mrs. Duncan." Eaving murmured quietly, ignoring the sniggers from the class.
"Detention for a week," Mrs. Duncan announced breezily. She looked pointedly at Eaving's skirt. "And add another two weeks for your indecent uniform. Smaller sizes don't cost less, you know."
Eaving felt her cheeks grow hot, but she kept a strained smile plastered on her face. "Sorry again, I'll keep that in mind."
"Just take a seat," she ordered, pointing. The chalk dust flew everywhere.
As she walked to her seat, Eaving heard a wolf-whistle from the back of the room, and that set the whole class in an uproar of snickers and laughter. Eaving turned around hastily, dark eyes glittering, scanning for the asshole that dared. Her hands itched, and she had to keep a tighter grip on her backpack to restrain herself from smashing the nearest face.
"Eaving!" The teacher barked. "You're holding up my class. Get to your seat immediately."
Eaving sat down uncomfortably, tugging her skirt down self-consciously. She glared at anyone who sneered at her openly.
"Oh man, I am so sorry," a voice whispered behind her. Eaving recognized the voice and smiled. Well, at least somebody understood her situation. It didn't fully register in her brain when they had met, but Morgan Sinclaire was an extremely tiny girl. And extremely short. Therefore, her uniform was also extremely tiny. And extremely short.
"Chill, it's not your fault you're cute sized." Eaving reassured her, glancing at the teacher to make sure the attention was off her. Fortunately, the teacher was back to droning about the summer's assignment, which Eaving would have the most joy catching up with. "I am so glad you are in my class."
"Likewise," Morgan assured her.
Eaving sagged against her seat, relaxing a bit. Hopefully the rest of the day will pass uneventfully, so all she had to think about was how to explain to her dad and uncles why she got detention for three weeks on the very first day of school. That had been way too harsh, Eaving thought to herself, wondering if Mrs. Duncan was always that strict. Judging by the tight, auburn bun she had her hair in, and those dark, angrily slanted eyes, she probably was.
Eaving sighed. Back in California, she had always gone to public schools and could wear whatever she wanted as long as it wasn't her birthday suit. The teachers never cared about her as long as she didn't beat anyone up that day. Ah, the good old days. Here, Eaving knew she was quickly going to be on every teacher's shit list. They all seemed so uptight that even the students actually paid attention in class. No doubt out of fear.
Eaving glanced at the clock. Each class was an hour and a half, and only half an hour had gone by. Lord monkey Buddha, this sucked.
Just when she glanced back down, the door opened and another student walked in. Eaving looked up at Mrs. Duncan's new victim. A tall, muscular frame filled the doorway, and she recognized him immediately. And she knew why he was late, too.
Eaving quickly noticed that she wasn't the only one staring at him.
With dark blonde hair disheveled in just the right way, illuminating blue eyes, and perfect complexion he was the epitome of handsome. He wore his uniform impeccably, his cravat loosely hanging about his neck casually. A cursory glance around the room confirmed that every single girl (and perhaps a few boys) was enraptured.
"And here comes the school's PC," Morgan whispered.
Eaving turned around and looked at her in confusion. "PC? Like Dells?"
Morgan covered a giggle with her hand. "No, PC as in rich, popular, and insanely gorgeous. He's Wolf Lane's 'Prince Charming'."
Eaving turned back around to stare at him again. "Wow. I think I can feel my breakfast trying to make a guest appearance."
"Just take a seat dear." The teacher cooed at the Dell.
Eaving frowned. Oh, wait a minute. She had completely missed his name. And what was more--why the hell didn't he get detention too? She watched him sling his backpack over one shoulder and settle languidly into an empty seat right in front, looking incredibly cocky. Well, she would too if she had just got away with making out well into the first fifteen minutes of class! She saw him cock his head and murmur something. A couple of boys chuckled, then gave him playful punches on the shoulder.
Eaving raised her hand immediately, waving it around like she was in Chinatown trying to flag her uncles down near the local dim sum. Normally, she would have never made a scene, but—oh, who was she kidding? She was known for it.
Mrs. Duncan turned steely eyes towards her. "Miss Kuo?"
"I sense foul play," Eaving said flatly.
"I beg your pardon?"
The class erupted into furtive whispers. Probably taking bets as to how long her head was going to stay connected to the rest of her body. The way Mrs. Duncan was holding the pointer… Eaving almost reconsidered this talking back business. Even Morgan was jabbing her shoulder in panic.
But hell, if she didn't stand up for justice and all that bullshit, who would?
"Well. The Dell there didn't get any detention." Eaving quirked one eyebrow at said PC. "And I got three weeks worth."
"You mean a month's worth," the teacher corrected. "Mr. Henley had an excusable explanation. He had something to do that took longer than expected."
"Yeah, a Brunette something," Eaving said snidely.
"Enough," Mrs. Duncan said sharply. "One more word out of you and it's to the dean's. Anything else to solidify your first impression, Miss Kuo?"
A small hand clamped over her mouth, and she heard Morgan talk for her. "Everything is peachy keen here, Mrs. Duncan! Please continue with the lesson."
Mrs. Undies Up My Ass just 'hmphed' and turned back to her chalkboard. Eaving drummed her fingers on the desk indignantly. Okay, so a month's worth of detention was not so bad. It was better than a whole year's worth of detention back when she was in middle school. But there had been a difference to her long year exile at lunch in the delinquent's room and now. There, the teachers didn't give a shit as who you were. Detention for everyone and anyone! Here, Eaving could clearly see the unfairness of the situation, and she didn't like it one bit.
"Calm down, girl," Morgan intoned, jotting a couple of notes down about Hamlet's first act.
"I reject." Eaving muttered.
And just when she thought her day couldn't get any worse, Dell turned around and gave her a wink. One that he probably thought was funny. His buddies seemed to think so too because they started chortling and punching each other around again. Mrs. Duncan remained blissfully unaware. Eaving seethed. Suddenly, he didn't look like a Greek god anymore. No, he didn't look handsome at all in her eyes.
"Too bad," he mouthed at her.
He looked dead.
Author's Note: this chapter came out shorter than I planned. Ooops. Anyway, thank you for reading and please feel free to leave some feedback for me. :) Chapter two should be up by next week.
EDIT: September 04, 2008. I changed this chapter around a bit and added in a scene. : )