1. MEET AMY AND HER FRIENDS

***

"Amy, wake up! We're gonna be late!" a thin voice rang inside of my head — one that was too different to be my mom's. Tossing away the blanket that covered me, I opened my eyes. Usually, my mom is the only one who ruins my beautiful dreams in the morning. But this time it had to be my best friend.

"Lucy? Don't mess up with my dreams!" I threw a pillow in her face as a protest. "What happened anyway?"

"You're at my place, in my bedroom."

"This I can see with my own eyes. I can distinguish your room just by looking at your pink walls; and your posters are quite unique, as well." Lucy has this obsession with pink. She is kinda girly, very different from me. She wears, you know, all that girly stuff, dresses and skirts, and above all, she likes pink and danceable music... and on top of that, she listens to Britney Spears. "Oh, Lucy, you're so outdated. Just like me, that's why I love you. But there should be a limit to what somebody is allowed to like. I mean, honestly, who else is listening to Britney Spears? Gross."

"Don't you say anything about my musical taste, or I'll steal your 80's rock bands CDs." She got me. Call me outdated too, but I have a passion for rock bands and good-looking singers... especially ones that are in their forties or even older… I suck, I know.

"I give up. Will you tell me what happened… that is, until snowflakes began to fall?"

"But it is September. There ain't any snow." 'Of course, Lucy, that was an ironic statement,' my mind spoke. "Anyway… You're such a scatterbrain." I stared at my best friend, still puzzled. "Pijama party, last weekend, that was yesterday and the day before. School the next day, that is today."

"Oh my God, I remember now." I searched the room for a damn clock. "What time is it?"

"8 A.M."

"Oh my God," I suddenly started to panick. "I am going to be late!"

"Seriously, how did you figure it out?" she asked me ironically. Lucy has a thing for rhetorical questions, she likes to own the last reply, to be the last one that has something to say. "Correction: we are going to be late if you don't get up right in this very moment."

"Where are my clothes?" Lucy's room was a total mess. I didn't even know where to look first. There was a bunch of clothes on the floor, but it's not like it was the only one. There was another one on the chair, one under the bed… and God knows where else.

"I don't know." And with this, Lucy started to search them. Meanwhile I made my way to her bathroom. "Here they are!" she finally exclaimed when I came back.

"Where were they?" I asked, being curious.

"You wouldn't like to know." I put on a suspicious face.

"Your room looks even worse now," I stated after we got dressed.

"This is the reason why I will never ever let you sleep here on Sundays. Again." Combing her hair in a hurry and putting on some lipstick, she turned to me and added, "And this is why I hate you, Amy. You can party all night long and still look good the next day. It's not fair."

"Maybe it's because I don't make such a drama out of it. You look perfect without make-up."

"I don't!" she cut me off after glancing one more time at her reflection in the mirror. Turning to me she asked, "How do I look?"

"Do you really want to know? You know I can't lie to you," I teased.

"Never mind." Grabbing my arm and our backpacks, she spoke, "Enough with the talking. Let's go!"

As we descended the stairs, Lucy's mom greeted us. I didn't even have the chance to greet her back, because Lucy pulled me after her, hurrying to open the door. "Lucy, Amy, won't you eat something for breakfast?"

"No, thanks, mom, could you —"

"Make you some bacon sandwiches? I've already made some for you two. They're in your backpacks," Mrs. Thompson said as she handed our backpacks to us.

"Thanks, mom, you're great! We've got to go now, bye!"

"Goodbye, Mrs. Thompson." Having said that, we both left in a hurry. One thing I envy Lucy for is her mom. She never wakes her up, neither does she yell at her when she's late. "Such a peaceful mom you have, Lucy," I commented on our way to the bus station.

"Yeah, well wait until she's in a bad mood." Suddenly, she pulled my arm.

"Hey, I still need that arm, you know?"

"The bus!" were Lucy's last words, before she started to run even faster and I did the same. The bus was already in the station, so we had to catch it.

***

"Wow, you two look like you've come from the international marathon competition." Matthew and Ashley, our classmates, were right behind us, watching us sighing and sweating. In the end, we arrived just in time, in fact fifteen minutes sooner.

"Matt, Ashley, we were about to lose the bus," turning to Lucy, "See? I told you there's no need to make me run like the wind!"

"Exercise is good. It refreshes the mind, it gives inspiration…" I gave her a look, so as to show her that I got the idea. "Thanks to me, you'll have a slim body."

"Yeah, yeah, I get the picture. I'm starving." Opening my backpack, I fished out the bacon sandwiches and started to eat. "Aren't you going to take a bite?" I asked my best friend.

"No, I'm not that… hungry."

"Liar, you're just trying to get slimmer than this. Like you'd need to." I know Lucy has a lot of complexes, but this one was really stupid. She looked perfect, I don't understand why she bothered that much.

"That's not true," she quickly contradicted me. Meanwhile, Matt and Ashley were talking about something else.

"These sandwiches are so tasty. Geesh, Lucy, I want a mom like yours. Can I borrow her? Yummy!" I exclaimed as I took the last bite. "Hey, Matt, do you think Lucy looks hot?" Lucy quickly poked me. I know she likes Matt, but she would never admit it.

"Hey, what are you trying to do?" she protested.

"What? I'm trying to raise you self-esteem. I whispered teasingly.

"She looks great!" Matt finally exclaimed on a playful tone.

"Then could you please tell her that there is no need to starve herself?"

"Alright, alright, hand me that sandwich," Lucy finally gave in, before Matt had the chance to tell something else.

"Hey, look at that…" Ashley interrupted us. We both twisted our heads to look behind. A guy that I've never seen before was standing on a bench with some books in his hands. He seemed older than us.

"I thought there isn't a single student in Maryland High School that I don't know about. So… Who's that guy?" Lucy asked.

"A guy," Matt replied.

"Very funny. I wouldn't expect him to be a girl, you know. I mean what's his name, for God's sake?"

"Is he the new classmate?" Ashley asked. Matt always answers her questions. He just likes to tease Lucy. I told her once that the two of them should be a couple, but she says that I fail at my own love life, so I shouldn't give advice to others. I guess she's right, though. Sometimes I wonder if I ask too much. I only wish what an average teen girl would ask for: cool friends, a caring boyfriend and nothing more. Lucy blames it on my bad luck. I blame it on the stupidity that's in a guy's brain at this age.

"Probably," Matt replied.

"Oh, wow, he sure doesn't look our age. What do you think?" Lucy whispered to me. I bet she was trying to find out what I think about that new guy.

"That the weather is cloudy," I switched the topic, looking up to study the sky. "I don't think we'll go roller-skating after school, after all."

"That's not what I meant. The guy, Amy…" she insisted. "Never mind. But don't you ask me again what's the reason why you're still single."

"It's not like I'm going to ask you again. Last time that I did it, you suggested that I should be with Bryan."

"So…?" Bryan is, well, I know this sounds mean, but he's like… a total nerd. He's somebody whom every student that cares about his or her prestige in this school avoids. I would never associate myself with such classmates. Girls like Brittany would make my high school life a nightmare if they'd find out that Bryan and me are good friends. Stupid labels, I know. But high school is about knowing how to survive. If you graduate not being labelled as anything, then you can consider yourself lucky.

"Well I'm sure that he hasn't had a girlfriend. You didn't have a boyfriend either. And he's good at science…"

"Yeah, so, what other qualities would make him worthy of me?"

"I don't know, Amy, there must be something. I mean, isn't there some kind of rule that says that any guy or girl has his or her good parts? It's our job to discover them. That's how we make friends, right? I once thought about you that you're still sleeping with your teddy bear."

"Hey, don't insult Mr. Nuggets. He is the best teddy bear that I've ever received for my birthday. As for Bryan, I doubt I could discover his good traits until we finish high school." At this, Lucy laughed a little. "Alright… Alright, well, let's say I like taller guys… and I don't like blue eyes. And…"

"Bryan's eyes are not blue," my friend remarked.

"I was talking about the new guy. Bryan is way too uncool for me. I thought you've figured it out already."

"Speaks Miss Coolness… Okay, okay, I know. Adam! He's a great guy. Besides, wasn't he your best friend, how romantic!" Adam is a cool boy… and one of my best friends, too. Or used to be. In middle school we were always together, but high school changed it all. We aren't moving in same circle anymore. We have different friends. I've never had anything against him, but rumors say he is a player. Even though I know him and I think it's a complete lie, sometimes I doubt that he's still the same boy I've known since the fifth grade.

And I can't say I imagine us being together. In fact I have never thought of him as more than a friend. We have pretty much in common… However, he can be quite stubborn. And this is a side of him that I don't like at all.

"No way, I'm not going to turn my life into a cliché!" Lucy really had a thing for clichés. Her idea of perfect romance is good girl falling in love with bad boy. So overrated! "He is too best friend for me. Plus too popular. And he's… our age."

"I get it, I get it," Lucy cut in. "Boys our age are not worthy of you, right?"

"Am I that picky?"

"More picky than Brittany." So, I've already mentioned this name twice. You probably wonder who this girl is. She is the man-eater, and you can call her my 'enemy' too. Well, not that mean, but any male that represents a potential boyfriend becomes her victim. This girl knows what she wants and always gets it. She has a bad reputation when it comes to guys, especially new schoolmates, because they do not know her past, therefore they easily fall for her.

"Well she isn't picky at all. She tries to get all guys from our school."

"Yeah, you're right. I heard she's had like… over fifteen boyfriends," Lucy added.

"People always exaggerate."

"Not when it comes to her. How long do you think it will take until she starts to flirt with the new guy?"

"Hm… let me think about it. One day."

"Wrong. One minute. Look at her," she indicated to me the direction, "she's already talking to him. Now she's trying to seduce him." I beheld them from the distance. Weird enough, that boy didn't seem to pay attention to her charm. He just sat up and left her behind. Our jaws literally dropped.

"He doesn't seem interested in her, though. Wow, smart guy! I have just changed my overall thoughts on teenage boys."

"Really? Are you going to get a boyfriend? How cool!"

"No, not really, of course not. I've worked so hard not to lose my reputation, refusing so many guys…"

"Yeah, you refused one: Adam, right?" Haha, yeah, Adam really asked me out once, at the beginning of high school. I thought he was joking, so I just turned him down. Plus I was scared of the whole boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. I was the shy girl. I like to think that I've changed in the past years, though. It raises my self-esteem.

"What do you know, Lucy? My seduction power is indisputable. However, I'm independent and that's how I will stay… but now there is an exception to my rule."

"Let me guess… Boys have no brain, but not all of them."

"Close enough, but not exactly what I thought. All boys are stupid," I emphasised, "but some of them have their moment of brilliance."

Lucy laughed again. "Smart or stupid, that was a record. Has any other guy showed so little interest in Brittany before?"

"Right. Come on," I said when I heard the bell ringing, "let's head to our classroom."

***

"Hey, Lucy," I spoke while I placed my notebooks and manuals on my desk, "how long did it take you to learn for the Geography test?"

"Well… three hours."

"Thanks God, so I still have time to learn." Yeah, thankfully the Geography test was planned for tomorrow.

"Are you kidding? The exam is today. Will you skip school to learn geography or what?"

"What? What have you just said? Damn it, I haven't read a page. I wouldn't have slept at your place last night if I had known this."

"Sorry, Amy, you didn't ask me either. Well… In this case, you have two options; one: you get your parents to take you home pretending you have a cold or something like this."

"It won't work." This excuse never works with my parents. "Let me hear number two."

"You learn during breaks. Geography is the last, you know. If you have a good memory…"

"Which I don't. You said it took you three hours."

"Well I am not that smart as you are." Suddenly, I felt so unlucky… Whenever Lucy tries to raise my self-confidence, she fails. "What? I am trying to encourage you. Think positive!"

"Great, don't talk to me until the school's over."

"Done. I'll hang with Matt and Ashley. Don't worry, I'll give them strict orders to ignore you."

"Thanks, Lucy, you're such a good friend!" I exclaimed ironically. From all subjects, I hate Geography the most. The teacher sucked and I absolutely disliked him. The only geography I know is the one of the town I'm living in.