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1: Today is where your book begins
A newly bought, freshly sharpened pencil was carefully taken out of the pencil case and placed neatly in line with the black pen and rubber, both of which were also new.
The pencil, pen and eraser fit in perfectly with the whole arrangement that was on display on the table. The books needed for the day were in line with the top and right edges of the table. A pencil case lay obediently at the spot that it was designated, which was the top left corner and parallel to her books. Not surprisingly, the writing materials also followed in that immaculate fashion.
Fiona Tan smiled to herself. She was ready. She was ready to have that "fresh start" that she needed. It was a new school and a new neighborhood, so why not be a new person and use the opportunity of a fresh start to its fullest?
Admittedly, this fresh start couldn't have come at a worse time, a time where others would have been well settled in with their lives. It was a time where the friendships were solidified, the pattern of school was becoming bearable, the dream jobs were evolving into more realistic ambitions and the time spent with parents were becoming more cherished because very soon they would no longer have any control. It was a time where people of her age, 16, needed the comfort of familiarity to send them off into the world of unknown. Instead of being busy with preparations for life after school, she was forced into having to reacquaint herself with the whole process of high school.
But it was better that way. Whether she liked it or not, adapting to a totally new environment was a much more desirable situation to be in than having a familiar environment being a constant and unsolicited reminder of a god-awful event.
Everybody was still chattering away about their holidays, their new classes and whatever else they felt they needed to chatter about. They were so oblivious to anything that did not concern them that the newness of Fiona was still not picked up on. She did contemplate going up to a random group of people and introducing herself, but by the end of that thought she realized she wasn't bothered anymore. It was the second last year of school anyway. She figured by the time she was successful in fitting in with a clique, everyone would already be planning their trips to their desired universities.
She was careful not to think of the word "friends" or anything that had to do with them.
One of her legs betrayed the cool, calm and collected vibe that she was trying to put on by beginning to shake. Before she knew it, everyone's eyes were on her. The teacher had already arrived. The boredom that consumed everyone the instant the teacher uttered the daily announcements gradually lead to their eyes to land on the new girl.
When the lesson was well under way, Fiona was too engrossed in the world of Chemistry to notice some were still dissecting everything about her.
"She's kind of pretty…for an Asian," muttered one boy to a mate.
"I wonder what subjects she chose," mused another.
"Oh my god, look at her desk. Neat freak, much?" one girl said to her group of friends. They nodded approvingly.
Doing something the old Fiona would have never done even if she was handed a million dollars, Fiona raised her hand confidently to answer a question. Her cheeks burned up and her leg shaking went to overdrive when she was actually called on. She suddenly regretted it. All eyes were on her again. All confidence she had in her answer dissolved instantly.
"Is it…a, um…isotope?"
Her voice sounded foreign. Her voice felt foreign. She felt foreign. She was foreign but she felt as if everything that stood out about her was suddenly magnified for everyone to mock at. Her fresh start didn't seem so promising anymore. She didn't take into account how it easy it was to revert back to her old ways.
Relax Fiona. You're doing well. It's going to take awhile to have full confidence but right now, you're doing well. Remember, baby steps. So relax.
But she couldn't relax. Trying to be positive didn't help. Just like the old Fiona, she was so horribly unsure of herself.
So horribly unsure of herself that she didn't notice that the teacher had accepted her answer and moved on. She didn't even notice someone sit on the empty seat next to her.
"Where did you come from?"
"I was here all along, ma'am."
The sound of the whirling of the fans was muffled by the eruption of laughter.
"Don't patronize me."
"Sorry, Ms. Lowe"
Ms. Lowe rolled her eyes and shook her head. She didn't bother with an in-depth enquiry of how Josh materialized out of nowhere and into her class. She just looked at the girl next to Josh and said, "Tell David Copperfield what we're doing."
Fiona stopped shaking her legs, held her breath and turned to her right. Josh's lips curved up into a sheepish smile. From his perspective, his smile felt like a polite way of greeting people. From her perspective, his smile felt like the comfort of a warm, cozy blanket during the harsh, freezing winter.
Fiona couldn't help but smile back at him.
"So…," he started to say as an expression of impatience began to emerge from his face.
"Yeah?" said Fiona, still smiling.
"Where are we up to?"
She stopped smiling.
"Oh yeah, right."
Josh let out a small laugh. He studied her casually as she adorably panicked, trying to remember what they were doing for the lesson. He had already noticed the stark contrast between her table and the tables of the others. He found it unbelievable that she would still have the energy to make an effort of looking like she was enthusiastic about school. Maybe she was trying to put on a façade. Instead of shouting at people that she was ok, she was going to show them and shut them up. Maybe even shut them out of her life. Or maybe she was putting on a façade to trick herself, to make herself think that she was ok when she really wasn't.
Or maybe he was overanalyzing everything. Yet again.
When she was done panicking and finally remembered what they were doing, he gave her another smile. As expected, it coaxd her smile out. She had a gorgeous smile. He would happily give up on Chemistry just to watch her smile.
For the rest of the lesson, Josh did not say a word to Fiona. She wanted an excuse to look more closely at him, to remember exactly what the first person she talked to at Meriden High looked like, but he didn't give her a chance. Not wanting to come across too desperate she did not say a word back.
By the end, however, he smiled at her and walked off. She wondered if he caught her smiling again. She then wondered if she would be seeing him in more of her classes. So their first interaction was awkward and brief and he didn't seem interested in having more conversations with her, but he smiled at her again as a form of goodbye. The smile he smiled was definitely a smile that meant, "I hope to see you around." It had to be. Fiona was sure of it.
What she wasn't too sure of was why she so badly wanted to see him again. She couldn't quite put a finger on what it was about this Josh person that intrigued her. Was it the fact that he chose to sit at the empty spot beside her when there were clearly other empty spots he could have chosen? Was it the smile that made her want to smile? Was it the way his blonde hair carelessly but charmingly framed his face?
Or was it because she just desperately needed something (or someone) to distract herself with?
Chapter Title: Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
So what do you think? I would really like to know what you guys thought. This is the first story that I am willing to continue (usually, I just write the first chapter and I give up). I know I've got loads more room for improvement. But if there's not much reviews, then I might just not continue. Thank you for taking the time to read! :)
Chapter 2 Preview:
Others would have interpreted the slightly acidic tone in her voice and the leave-me-alone vibe that screamed out from her body language as a foreshadowing of the events that would follow if they were to sit next to her. That did nothing to deter the ever-intrepid Josh.
"You don't mind me sitting with you right?" he asked. After he'd already settled down beside her.
She was about to ask him how he knew her name when she realised the answer was blindingly obvious. It was in the way he looked. He looked like a guy who had connections. The students at Meriden High probably made it their number one priority to be one of the connections; to be connected to a guy who mattered. He mattered simply because he was a guy could just as easily induce terror in someone as he could dazzle his way into someone's heart.