A/N: Hi there everyone! Thanks for stopping by to look at my story! This idea just randomly came to me one night, and I've been working on it for a couple of months. Updating may be slow because of my school schedule, but I'll try to keep all of you entertained on a semi-constant manner. Let me know what all of you think, but tame constructive criticism only. We're not all professional writers, right?
~Wild Winged Warrior
When I was seven years old, I used to dream about what my life would be like if it had elves, magic, and everything fantasy in it. I blame the books my mother gave me to read, of course. Everything she considered age-appropriate for me existed in a land of wonder only found in the imagination. Those days, my imagination was expansive and had no end…
Now, my days are filled with the latest trends, school work from Hell, and greasy food that can be summed up in one word: gross.
"Lenore! It's time for school!"
Then there were my parents. My father was a successful lawyer who could win a court case for anything. Not always the right thing to do, but it paid the bills. Mom gave up her job as a teacher to stay at home and take care of her two lovely children. Her voice every morning telling me to wake up was the equivalent of the annoying buzzing sound that all alarm clocks seemed to make, especially when you were having a good dream.
"Lenore! Matthew! Let's go!"
"I'm coming!" I hollered, staring at the ceiling of my room. It was painted to look like a sunny sky with fluffy clouds. I slapped my alarm clock, threw my legs over the side of my bed, and looked at the calendar. It was Wednesday, and school picture day. With a groan, I walked through my bathroom into my closet. What I wore today would determine my status for the next year and maybe longer.
My name is Lenore Powell. I'm 17 years old, and a junior at David Starr Jordan High School in Long Beach, California. My hair is the color of flax, a dull yellow that could be mistaken for the color of baby poop, and my eyes were the color of water when you're flying overhead in a plane in the middle of the day. My skin is tan, the color of a white girl who goes out in the sun from time to time, but forgets the sun-block, so parts of me are darker than the other parts. I try to be a vegetarian—as much as I can be for a McDonald's employee—but for the most part I'm unsuccessful. My life isn't exactly what you would call exciting.
Though I have a rich father and my driver's license, I find myself every Monday through Friday getting dropped off by my mom in her soccer-mom van—she isn't a soccer mom, by the way—that doesn't have consistently working air conditioning, and sometimes I find myself wondering if it'll start in the morning. Dad won't replace it because it still runs. Magically, it works every time he turns it on, not that he has to worry. He drives a convertible, black mustang that's as sleek as it gets. With two more years left of high school, I doubted I would ever get my own car before college, let alone one that was as nice as my dad's, and sometimes I prayed that my friends would get their licenses, too, so that way I wouldn't have to feel the shame and embarrassment of getting out of mom's van every school morning.
A hand passed in front of my vision, and I turned to my friend, Gale. "Oh good, you're awake," he said, shaking his head. "What's wrong, sweetie?"
"Nothing, I was just thinking."
"About?" he pressed. "Is it a cutie?"
I laughed. "You're the only cutie in my life," I told him, and gave him a hug. Gale was my best friend since elementary school. Sure, he was gay, but at least I'd never get hurt. Our looks matched, with the exception that he wasn't a natural blond. You could tell by his eyebrows and roots. We rode our bikes together on the weekend when we weren't pouring over work for school. I may have been an A-student in the normal school classes, but when it came to AP anything, I was strictly C no matter how hard I tried.
"Be careful with your zoning out. You might get hurt."
"No one gets hurt from daydreaming."
"Unless you're me, in which case we both know I will never hook up with Brad Jamison of the football team."
"What about Brad?" Kelly asked as she and Lizzie sat down with us. Both of them were bleach blonds, and both waxed their eyebrows only to draw them on with a matching pencil so it looked natural. Their bodies were darker because they went to tanning booths to get their color. I've stopped lecturing them on the health hazards.
I wasn't sure how the four of us became friends. We were two cheerleaders, a gay guy and a bookworm, and yet we all fit together like the bunch of social outcasts at the table next to ours—the undeniable nerds. Gale and I were the only ones who hung out on a regular basis. I only saw Kelly and Lizzie at lunch five days of the week, unless we were going shopping over the weekend, but I talked to them all the time on the phone. These were my closest friends, and we always had something to laugh and joke about when we were together every lunch period.
Gale and I sat in his living room in our pajamas. I wore a plain purple top that accompanied a purple pair of pants with varying sizes of orange, pink and white polka dots. My hair was put up into an untidy bun, and my face was covered in a green mud mask. Gale wore a white tee-shirt and pink pajama pants that had bears and bows on them. He wasn't wearing a mask because he still had to open the front door. Kelly, Lizzie, and Kelly's cousin, Kim, still had to join us. Kim was from the east coast. Vermont, I think.
I filed my fingers as Gale looked though my vials of nail polish. It was a once-in-a-month ritual between the four of us to get together and play "dress-up" and "makeover" like we were each our own version of Barbie. I wouldn't go as far to say that she was our role model for looks, at least neither mine nor Gale's, but there always seemed to be one that popped up sometime during the night, and just as silently disappeared by morning. No one knew—meaning confessed—where it came from or where it went.
"Homecoming is next month," Gale mentioned.
"Yeah, and we're still on the singles list."
"Not what I heard," he mentioned in a sing-song voice. He grinned at me, devious in all his gay glory.
"Are you going to tell me, or will I have to sweat off my mask first?"
"Oh gosh! Decisions!"
"Gale!" I threw my pillow, and he caught it, holding it in his lap.
"At least wait until the other ladies get here so you can all squeal at the same time."
"Then why did you bring it up?"
"Because I like to see you go crazy about who I heard may be asking you to homecoming."
I tried for pouting.
"Ooh, don't do that! It's not pretty, no matter what the trashy romance novels say!" We both laughed hard; I tried not to wipe at my face as tears threatened to fall from my eyes from laughing too hard.
"Can you give me a hint?" I begged.
"Yes. He's taller than you—"
"—And he's cute."
"Heath Ledger-cute or awkward-cute?"
"Can't answer that without giving it away."
I groaned. "For a gay best friend, you suck at your job."
He chuckled as he popped a grape into his mouth. "Yeah, but don't tell my boss or he'll fire me. That kind of behavior is only acceptable on porn sets."
I shook my head, getting off the couch. "I'm going to wash my face."
"I'll man the door."
I looked back at Gale. "You might need back-up."
"Oh, ha ha!" he called, and I shut the bathroom door.
When I returned to the living room, three more girls in pajamas were rolling out sleeping bags onto the floor. Bleach blond Lizzie was rolling out a Tinkerbell sleeping bag, and she was dressed in a long Tinkerbell night shirt. Bleach blond Kelly wore a baby blue night shirt and tan shorts that you could only see if she sat down cross-legged. She was sitting on a pink sleeping bag that had Belle from Beauty and the Beast on it. I wondered if they knew they were in high school. When was the last time they went camping?
Black-haired, blue-eyed Kim was wearing plaid, red boxer shorts and a plain red tank top. She was sitting on a black sleeping bag that was well used. The dark bag and hair made her skin look white like porcelain, and I was afraid to get near her. "Hi," she said meekly, her blue eyes searching my face for something, possibly anything to hint whether I would be hostile or friendly.
"Hi," was all I replied at first, then added, "Enjoying Long Beach?"
She nodded. "I wish I wasn't stuck with Aunt Lucy during the day, but that should change soon."
"Why's that?" I sat on the couch, handing my hands over to Gale.
"I'm transferring to your school. They're waiting for my records to be transferred over."
"By that time, school will be out for summer."
"Yeah, I'll probably have to go to summer school to make up the classes. Luckily, I'm not a total drop-out."
"Kim's super-cool!" Kelly exclaimed as Lizzie put green mud on Kelly's face. "Plush she's smart like you and Gale. She'll fit right in."
"Yeah, if we bleach her hair and give her skin cancer," Gale huffed, and Kim paled—an occurrence I thought impossible with her already white skin.
"What kind of trend is that?" she asked, her blue eyes wide, panicky.
"The Beverly Hills-L.A.-Be Stupid trend," I told her. "I'm naturally blond, and unintentionally tan."
She looked at her cousin. "I think I'll just stick out like a sore thumb instead."
"Thanks." We grinned at each other, and I could tell I'd be close with Kim through the rest of high school. Just as long as she didn't steal any of my potential boyfriends.
Which reminded me…. "Gale, what was it you wanted to tell me?"
He blew on my nails to dry the layer of enamel. "I wanted to tell you something?
"You were going to, but you said I had to wait until everyone was here. Everyone is here, so spill the beans." I pulled my hands away so he would stop avoiding the topic.
"Girls aren't the only ones who gossip in the locker rooms," he began, and Lizzie interrupted.
"It's not gossip if it's between two straight guys. That's a track record or a sex log." She sat down in front of Kim, smearing the mask over the poor girl's face, explaining about exfoliation and bad pores.
"Well, it wasn't either, and I was right next to them listening."
"Okay, stop fight before I pee my pants in anticipation," I snapped, and Lizzie schooled herself before Gale continued.
"George and Greg were talking about a conversation they heard in their History class from Pamela and Traci. If I remember correctly, Traci said that a senior in her art class was drawing a picture of Lenore."
"A picture doesn't count for anything," Kim said. "It's just creepy."
The rest of us nodded.
"It'd be a different story if she walked in and overheard him practicing to a mirror."
"Which is still majorly creepy," Kelly pointed out. "We can't let a creeper get our Lenore."
"It's Isaiah," Gale mentioned, and we all gasped, except for Kim, who obviously didn't know the wonder of Isaiah White.
"That's tough," Kelly muttered. "He's like Heath Ledger in high school."
"Okay, I'm sure Health Ledger wasn't that hot in high school," Kim groaned. "Besides, he's dead. Shouldn't you find a new scale?"
"And use who?" Lizzie snapped, looking ready to take Kim's head off. Lizzie was an avid fan—almost rabid fan—of Heath Ledger. She was the one who created the scale.
"I don't know," Kim squeaked, backing up slightly. "Johnny Depp? George Clooney?"
Lizzie and Kelly looked at each other. "She has a point," Kelly said. "Comparing people to Heath Ledger is like comparing them to a corpse."
Lizzie didn't answer right away, and you could almost see the smoke coming out of her ears as she thought. "Yeah, I guess so, but Heath will always be a hotty in my book."
"So…Isaiah: Johnny Depp or George Clooney cute?"
"Johnny Depp for the mysterious side and artistic ability," Gale answered immediately. "George Clooney's more like a parental figure, and no one gets down with parental figures."
"YES, THEY DO!" Kim, Kelly and Lizzie rebutted, and Gale made a face that had all of us laughing.
When class started again on Monday, I had a plan to snag Isaiah, concocted on Sunday night between Kim, Gale and myself over the phone. I would meet him at his locker, which meant I had to wait for him, then follow him to figure out which one was his. Then I would casually comment him on his appearance, and hope he doesn't catch on or think I'm weird before I asked him to homecoming.
Gale met me outside the school. "Are you feeling okay?" he asked as we waited for a sign of Isaiah.
"A little nervous, but I think I'm okay." I took a deep breath. "What if we're wrong?"
"Don't start doubting," he insisted. "Fear is unattractive, and he'll think you're doing something strange if you're nervous."
I continued to take deep breaths as a school bus unloaded. I saw him then, walking behind two girls who looked like they got dressed in a cotton-candy machine. Isaiah was looking hot with his perfect tan, spiked brown hair, white polo shirt and ripped blue jean combination. "Okay, let's go," I told Gale, and we made a b-line toward Isaiah. We followed him secretly to his locker, and I tried not to laugh as the Mission Impossible theme song played through my head.
Apparently, Gale had the same problem. He pushed me ahead. "I can't stop giggling. Go on," he urged, shooing me away.
I approached Isaiah slowly, gripping the strap of my messenger bag, which caused my hands to get sweaty. "Hi Isaiah," I said when I was behind him. I thought I'd said his name too quietly but by the shocked expression on his face, I thought for a moment that I'd been too loud. "I'm Lenore."
He nodded. "What's up?"
"I'm working up courage," I blurted out, and he stared.
"For what?" he asked cautiously.
"To tell you I heard you drew a picture of me in art class."
His ears turned red, and he started messing around in his locker, rooting through his books.
"I wanted to see it."
"It's not done."
"Why did you choose me?"
He shrugged, turning around to look at me. His ears were still red. An awkward silence started.
I took a deep breath, hoping the sound was loud enough to break the silence.
"Would you go to homecoming with me?" we asked at the same time, and I started laughing. Complete mental breakdown due to stress caused by nervousness. "Will you?" he asked, his face red now, too.
"Yeah, I will." I grinned, then started laughing again.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Um, can I…get your number so I can call you about arrangements?" I pulled out a notebook and pen."
"Uh…sure." He scribbled down seven numbers and closed his locker. "See you."
I watched him leave, and Gale bounded over.
"So?" he asked excitedly, grabbing my arm and leading me toward our first class period.
"Well, we asked each other at the same time, which is funny because I was pretty sure he thought I was strange and odd."
"You deviated from the plan, didn't you?"
"I couldn't help it. The tension was getting to the awkward stages. I had to make conversation somehow!" My joy was slowly disappearing as we walked to our classroom. "I got his number though. I don't know if I'll be able to call him even about homecoming."
"Maybe he texts?"
I looked at Gale, feeling nauseous. "I just asked a senior to homecoming. I'm so lame."
"Maybe he'll take you to prom."
"I feel like you're getting more joy out of this than I am. Are you bringing someone?"
"No, I'm going stag and hoping for a one-night stand at least."
My head whipped around, and I was certain my face was full of the shock and disbelief I felt.
"Don't give me that look. Just because you're a virgin doesn't mean we all have to be."
"When did this happen?" I quizzed, but he shook his head and opened the door as the bell rang. "We're not done with this discussion," I whispered as our teacher greeted us in Spanish.
I twirled in my new dress in front of my mother, who clapped and wiped her eyes. My dress was floor-length and strapless, red like a candy apple and plain. The only decorative piece on it was the folded-over strip of fabric across my chest. It was the perfect dress to accessorize with. "Calm down, mom," I told her, admiring myself in the foyer mirror. "It's just homecoming, and maybe prom."
"Oh no, sweetie. You'll need a whole new dress for prom!" she insisted. "You'll have to be the belle of the ball, the crème de la crème!"
I could feel my face heat up. "If you say so."
"And we'll schedule you with Miranda to put highlights in your hair to give it some life. Then we'll give you a mani-peti and do something about those caterpillars!"
"Thanks mom." What the heck? I didn't think it was possible to compliment and insult someone at the same time, but there it was: You look spectacular in the dress, but your hair is lifeless and you have a unibrow. I was never so glad to hear the doorbell chime. "That's Gale," I told her as she fussed over my hair. "We're going to the beach, then check out some tuxedos."
I ran up the stairs to my room as mom went to let Gale in.
"Have fun," she called after us, but I pretended not to be able to hear her over the slam of the front door. She was Matthew's problem now.
"You have the best timing ever," I told him as we walked through the neighborhood. The beach was ten minutes away by bike and twenty-seven on foot, but my bike tire had a flat in it. We opted to walk instead of driving mom's mini-van.
"Trying on your dress for mother dearest?" he asked.
"Yeah. She says I look great in the dress, and that we'll have to get a new one if Isaiah takes me to prom."
"I hear a 'but' coming on."
"If you heard her say it, you'd think she was trying to help out. To basically put it, she called me ugly and said I had large, unappealing eyebrows."
"You do not!"
"I thought I didn't."
"She's just blind. Obviously your disgusting facial hair doesn't bother Isaiah."
"I can't believe you just said that."
He laughed as we stepped into the city, passing numerous shops right off the bat.
I couldn't help but smile. "We should look at tuxes first," I suggested. "that way we can stay at the beach as long as possible to even out our unruly tans, and we won't have to worry about getting sand everywhere."
He said something dirty about sand in bathing suits that had us both giggling.
I closed my eyes and turned my head up to the sky as we walked, enjoying the sun on my skin and the light April breeze until I heard Gale call my name, all scared for no reason. It was a great day. I turned back to see him on a sidewalk before I heard a blaring horn, and then everything went black.