Hearts and Fists
Serena Diaz wanted to cry. She hated this school with a passion - the people, the uniforms, the money…all of it. She hated it all. She hated the way Ayden Monroe smirked every time she fell down the stairway. She hated the way the students gossiped about everyone in the school. She had never hated so many things at one time; Serena didn't know if she even hated anything as much as she hated Shay Academy.
One Year Ago
The day had started out normal enough for Serena. Mr. Simpson droned on and on about chemistry in her first period class. Ms. Garcia continued with her Spanish lecture on conjugating verbs without anyone in the class paying attention, and the librarian hushed her and her friends when they spoke too loudly during their lunch hour. School was uneventful as always. Who knew that April the twelfth was going to be a historic date in Serena Diaz's life?
Henry had always told her to live for today. He was the kind of spirit that would think like that. He probably heard the expression from an old folk song and found inspiration from it. But when did life become so routine? If Serena hadn't marked her calendar when she found the acceptance letter, she probably never would have remembered this significant date in the future.
Henry seemed surprised when she told him the good news as they walked home from school that day. Behind his glasses, his brown eyes widened, and he gaped at his longtime friend. "You got accepted into Shay Academy?"
Shay Academy was known for it's sparkling water and perfectly green grass. Everything about the institute was outstanding. They had the best students in the country, the best food in the world, and it was the biggest high school that Serena had ever heard of. It also seemed like the academy had an obsession with the number two; they had two swimming pools, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, two baseball fields, and two dormitory buildings with the perfect view of the school's massive garden. The brochure even showed the famous fountain where students would usually hang out during their breaks. All of them were smiling; they looked so happy. If Heaven existed on earth, Serena knew that this place must have been it.
It wasn't the luxury items that drew her to Shay Academy though. Serena wasn't the type of girl that could be bought with money even if she might have found amazement in the glamour. There were plenty of other reasons why she loved the school so much. Living in Vermont, most people were used to the chilly climate - but not Serena. She despised it actually, and it was only a coincidence that Shay Academy was located in sunny California. She wouldn't choose a school just over it's weather conditions though. The true reason why she loved Shay Academy so much was because of the credibility someone achieved just by graduating from an institute like that. Shay Academy might as well have been Harvard for high school students.
She'd wanted to go to Shay for almost two years now when she had learned about the school her freshmen year at her public school. One of Serena's classmates had bragged about how she had seen the academy when she went to visit relatives that summer. When she was alone with her best friend, Serena had overheard the girl say that in actuality she did see the academy, but she only saw it from the front gates. Curious and wanting to know what was so special about this oh so wonderful place, Serena began searching the internet, taking brochures, and even printing off an application for admission.
She never in a billion years would have expected to be accepted. She had worked really hard on her essay and made sure her application was perfect before she mailed it, but if Serena was being truthful to herself, she didn't expect a poor girl like herself to get accepted into a school made for the richest kids in America, which is why she had a small panic attack when she saw the acceptance letter that had arrived in the mail that morning.
"You're not really going, are you?" Henry probed without hiding his disdainful tone.
Serena's excitement vanished quickly and she frowned at her friend. Henry had been her best friend since elementary school, and she didn't understand why he wasn't happy for her. To Serena, this was a great achievement. As they walked, she kicked a rock off the sidewalk and watched it plummet into the damp soil. "Why shouldn't I go? Do I not deserve this opportunity?"
"It's not that," he huffed with slight annoyance. "It's just that it's a school for snobs. The only students who go there are celebrities' kids. You'll probably have a lab partner with some outrageous name like Strawberry, who will graduate with honors thanks to her family name."
"Well, Gwyneth Paltrow named her kid, Apple. What's stopping a celebrity from naming their kid Strawberry?"
"Henry, it's a really good school," Serena proclaimed with a large smile. The smile didn't last very long though. The apartment she shared with her sister was in view, and Serena could see Fiona's silhouette through the curtained window. The two teenagers came to a stop as Serena continued to stare at the window. "Do you think she'll think so?"
He followed her gaze, shaking his head slightly. "You haven't told her yet, have you? How long have you've known again?"
"Don't look at me like that," Serena replied with a pout. "I grabbed the mail this morning before she left for work, and when I opened the letter, Fiona had already gone to the daycare."
"Does that really make a difference?" He stared at his friend, giving her a small smile. "Would you have showed it to her if she had been there?"
"I'm glad to know my best friend thinks so highly of me. Look, I would have told her eventually. I didn't want her to have to worry anymore than she has to. Did I tell you that she caught Cody with his ex-girlfriend?"
"I don't see why she keeps forgiving him. I would never forgive a man that cheated on me." Fiona's silhouette moved out of the view of the window, and Serena sighed, glaring at the aged building, trying to convince herself that she wasn't scared. She dropped her gaze to the ground quickly. She wasn't as confident as she appeared. Even though she was sixteen, Serena still sometimes felt like a small, insecure child. Telling her sister her secret admission's letter didn't help her insecurities. Halfheartedly, she grabbed her school books that Henry had carried for her. "Well, I guess I better go. It's now or never."
Serena knew she would need it.
"You applied without telling me?" Fiona had asked tautly. Her voice slightly rose at the end of her sentence, a sign that she was far from mad; she was outraged. The two sisters were in Serena's room, the only light coming from the pink and white lamp on her nightstand. Serena had decided to wait until the very last second to tell her sister the news, hoping that Fiona would be too tired to deal with her. However, her older sister chased Serena to her room, wanting answers.
"It's not so bad," Serena quietly proclaimed. She pulled Monkey, the stuffed animal her mother had bought her closer to her chest, hugging it for moral support. Ironically enough, Monkey wasn't a monkey at all; he was actually a raccoon. However, when Serena was a child, she couldn't pronounce raccoon and soon his name was forever changed to Monkey. "It's the best school in the world. I've wanted to go for a long time. Graduates from Shay Academy have a better chance of getting into an ivy league school like Princeton or Yale. Isn't it amazing, Fiona, that they accepted me?"
"We can't afford this school. Their tuition is more than our rent for a year, and I'm barely able to pay the monthly bills as it is. It's not like we're swimming in cash, Serena. Money doesn't grow on trees. If it did, don't you think I would be doing something differently with my life than babysitting all day. I'm sorry, but you'll have to decline the school."
Sometimes Serena didn't feel like Fiona was her sister. Their parents had Fiona when they were young, then waited thirteen years before having Serena. In a way, Fiona was always there to watch over her little sister, which was helpful in the future. For about ten years, Fiona had played the role of a parent, but even though she could never replace her real parents, Serena thought she did a pretty good job most of the time. And as much as it pained her to admit it, Serena knew she needed to decline Shay Academy. Her sister always knew what was for the best. Having to grow up faster than the normal teenager when their parents died, she took job after job to help support themselves after she graduated from high school. However, despite the fact that she had no other education besides high school, Fiona was probably the smartest adult Serena felt she knew.
Therefore, Serena did what she was told. She wrote a letter to school, expressing how sorry she was that she wouldn't be attending in their fine school in the fall. Surprisingly, they responded to it rather quickly. While Serena lay on the sofa with Monkey watching television, the doorbell rung unexpectedly one night. Fiona answered the door, and standing in the hallway were two males dressed in expensive, black suits. They reminded Serena of secret agents. She was so engrossed with the two, exciting agents that she didn't even see the man with gray hair behind them.
"Is this the…" He glanced down at a piece of paper. "Is this the Diaz residence?"
Fiona seemed baffled. "Yes, what's wrong?"
The elder smiled. "Nothing is the matter, Ms. Diaz. Actually, it's quite the opposite. I'm the dean from Shay Academy. My name is Charles Reagan. We were so impressed by your daughter's application that we just had to meet her for ourselves. So…this is your residence?"
Fiona glanced back at Serena. She thought she saw a glint of anger in her blue eyes, but it was quickly gone as she let the man inside their home. Did she really think that I asked the dean of Shay Academy to our rickety apartment? Serena thought, feeling somewhat insulted that her sister would think she was that stupid.
"Your home is…lovely," the dean proclaimed, hesitantly. Serena spotted what had caught headmaster's attention; bags of trash were placed by the door to be taken out, something Serena was supposed to had done before watching television. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw Fiona cringe with embarrassment. "It's refreshing to see the true environment of Miss Serena Diaz's home."
"Why do you say that?" Fiona asked, reluctantly. She pushed her blonde hair behind on ear, looking doubtfully to her little sister.
"Serena Diaz is truly a genius." The man laughed and directed his gaze to Serena. "You're excellent grades and all the volunteer work you've done really had our committee amazed. You have a great future ahead of you."
Serena smiled with excitement. "You really think so?"
"What is your major?"
"We don't have majors at the public school I attend. They just teach us the basics to get us ready for college."
"Well, what is it that you want to do in the future?"
Serena grinned, sheepishly. "All sorts of things! I mainly want to work as a writer though. It's my best subject. I can -"
Fiona put her hand on Serena's shoulder, frowning with dismay. She then looked up to Mr. Reagan and politely smiled. "It's unfortunate that you had to make a special trip all the way from California. I'm afraid Serena cannot attend your high school. We're grateful that you considered her though. She's a great kid, and the fact that she could-"
"We didn't travel here just to be declined once again, Ms. Diaz," Mr. Reagan interrupted. "Nobody declines Shay Academy once they've been accepted - nobody. It has never been done before, and we're certain it won't happen again. Certainly, there's some way for us to convince you that our private school is far better than whatever other school Serena has applied for."
"You're school is too expensive for us."
"Get a scholarship."
"There's a solution for everything. If money is the problem, Serena will be admitted into Shay Academy with a full scholarship." Mr. Reagan suavely walked across the room, keeping his hands behind his back as he continued taking in the opposite environment of what he was accustomed to. "You don't seem to understand how rare it is for someone, especially someone in Serena's poor financial condition, to be accepted to Shay Academy. It's even rarer, Ms. Diaz, that someone declines our fine school. So, you see, it would benefit the both of us if you accept the scholarship."
"A scholarship would be great, but it sounds too good to be true."
"There would be conditions, of course."
Fiona smiled, warily. "There always are."
Mr. Reagan looked at Serena but did not smile. "First, you would have to agree to work for the school after hours to pay your way. Second, this would not be a charity donation; the scholarship would pay for your schooling and board but that is all. Third, you must keep your average above a 3.0, and fourth, you must not tell a soul that you declined our institute."
"That's it?" Serena eagerly asked. "Yes!"
"Hold on a minute," Fiona grabbed her sister's arm. "I can't just take off and leave, Serena."
"It's why we have dormitories, Ms. Diaz," Mr. Reagan announced. "Many of our students come from across the country and even from across the world. Half of the student body resides in the dorm, and there's a curfew that we strictly enforce. We have guards to watch the gates, security cameras on every corner, and there's always adult supervision on each floor. Obviously, boys and girls have different dormitories. We need to know your answer by today, girls. Our rooms do tend to fill up fast."
"Please, Fiona," she whispered. "Please."
Fiona stared at Mr. Reagan for the longest time. The room stayed silent as we all anxiously waited for her answer. Serena thought she could even hear the kitchen clock tick as she waited for her sister to answer, and then finally, she sighed. "And these guards - are they any good?"
By the defeated tone of her voice, Serena felt like squealing like a little girl. She couldn't believe it. She would actually be attending the best high school in the world - the true heaven on earth.
Mr. Reagan smiled confidently. "We hire only the best."
Author's Notes: I would like to mention that this story is inspired by the Korean drama, "Boys Over Flowers." I wanted to tell you this beforehand just so you didn't think I was copying parts for my own story. When writing this story, I was thinking to myself, "What if "Boys Over Flowers" was a drama in America? How would everything play out?" So, if you're a fan of "Boys Over Flowers" then you may see a chapter and think, "Oh, I see why she said it was inspired by the drama." A lot of you probably won't even notice and to those that don't, I encourage you to watch the drama, even if you have to read subtitles. It's a really good drama, and you would love it far more than reading my sad attempt at writing fiction. Anyways, the characters from the drama and my story are different even if they are similar at the same time. I just didn't want BOF fans to think, "Alright, if this girl is supposed to be Jandi, she would never do that." It's not Jandi. It's Serena. These aren't the same characters. The story is only inspired by BOF; it's not based on the series.
Also, if anyone is interested in character pictures and biographies of the characters, I'm thinking about making one. If I do, it will be on my myspace blog that I use solely for informing my readers. If you need the URL just message me.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this story about love when you least expect it.