I guess I could have called myself popular. I mean, popularity was based on how many people liked you, right? By that…I mean I knew a lot of people who liked me. I didn't have any enemies that I knew of. Plus, I was friends with Sam Herald, the starting quarterback of my school's state-championship-winning team, and my best friend in the world, Aria Greene, was the head cheerleader. So if you used modern television and teen movies as a reference, I was pretty well off under the social scrutiny of high school. But honestly, I wasn't nearly as 'cool' as my friends were.
I was the girl who got straight A's, even in insane classes like AP Chem. and Physics. I always had time to study because I rarely went out. Even better, I was the girl that would sit quietly in the back of the class room actually paying attention. I was the girl who people came to talk to when they needed advice, too. I was almost certain they only asked for my advice because they knew I sugar coated everything. I couldn't tell anyone anything to their face if I knew it was going to hurt their feelings- even if it was the truth. Sometimes I wondered if being the nice girl was a bad thing, or if it was okay. I mean for the most part it was good, but then again it was annoying because that's the only thing people usually saw in me.
So there you have it. I was Mackenzie Waters -'You know, that one red-headed girl with the popular friends?'- and nothing more.
"Kenzie!" I heard Aria shout out to me one day, as I was making my way to third period. I turned around to see her jogging towards me, her black, ribbon-tied, pony tail swinging side-to-side.
"What's up?" I asked, as she came to a halt when she reached me.
"Mrs. Dunlap wants to see you in the office," she panted. I bit my lip. The office? What did the office want with me? I had never, ever done anything bad in my entire seventeen and a half years of living.
"Really? Why?" I asked, panicking. Aria just laughed her usual obnoxious laugh.
"Kenz, why would you of all people get in trouble? Plus, Mrs. Dunlap assured me it was nothing bad," she explained cheerfully. She was always cheerful. I guess I just happened to roll with an oddly positive crowd. And she wasn't the only one either. Sam wasn't just a football star, he was also the shoo-in every year for the male lead in whatever the school musical was. If that didn't scream cliche high school sitcom . . .
"Oh…that's good. Wait, why were you there?" I asked, though I wouldn't have been surprised if she had gotten in trouble. She wasn't a bad student or anything, but she had a huge mouth that constantly got her in trouble. She couldn't keep a secret for the life of her. Then again, I don''t know why that would have gotten her into the principal's office.
"I was dropping off a note in the attendance office. I'm leaving early for that root canal," she said, the last part of her sentence significantly less up-beat.
"Ooh, that's rough," I said, sympathetically. She nodded in agreement.
"I know. It's pretty sucky," she sighed. "Well I'll see you later!"
I told her I'd see her later, too and changed my course of direction to the office instead of my third period, which was Art. I didn't like art very much, but it was a graduation requirement, so I had to stick it out.
When I entered the office and headed for Mrs. Dunlap's desk, I noticed a guy already standing awkwardly at her desk, fidgeting with what looked like a schedule card in his hand. I had never seen him before in my entire life, so, given the abnormally small size of the school, I assumed he was a new student. He was on the tall side, with side-swept brown hair and light blue eyes. He wore a red t-shirt, faded jeans and red converse high tops. Secured to his back was a fire-engine-red backpack. 'Hmm, I bet he likes red…'.
I stood to the side politely, ready to wait for him to be done speaking with Mrs. Dunlap, when, instead, she beckoned for me to come over.
"Mackenzie, I want you to meet Beckett," she said, gesturing towards the guy in red. I smiled and reached out to shake his hand.
"Hi," I said. He didn't respond though, he just sort of gave me this deer-in-the-headlights look, then averted his attention to the floor. I awkwardly drew my hand back. It wasn't everyday that I got rejected for a handshake of all things.
"Beckett, you can trust Mackenzie, she's a very sweet girl," Mrs. Dunlap assured him. He glanced at me again, then finally forced a smile.
"I'm Beckett David Saunders," he said, stiffly. I thought it was odd that he was introducing himself again. I found it even more peculiar that he was using his full name.
"I'm Mackenzie Waters. You can call me Kenzie though," I explained. He smiled this goofy, yet strangely adorable, smile and nodded.
"Anyways, Mackenzie, Beckett is a new student and I was hoping you could show him around a bit. I noticed you guys have the same third period, so I thought that that would be perfect for you to show him the ropes a bit," She explained. I looked from her to Beckett ( who was still smiling) and then back to her again.
"Of course," I agreed. I mean, why would I say no? For one thing I'm just too 'nice' too say no, plus it was more of a command than a question. And on top of that, this Beckett guy was sort of cute.
"That is wonderful. Thank you so much, Miss. Waters." She said. Beckett picked up a packet of papers that he had apparently set down on the desk, and then turned to me, ready to go.
"All right, let's go," I said, leading him out of the office. Once we were out of there, I turned back to him and tried to initiate conversation. "So, Beckett, where did you move here from?"
"Oh, I didn't move," he said.
"Oh…where did you go before then?" I asked, slightly confused.
"I was at View Point, but then I had to change schools," He sighed, lowering his eyes. "People were . . .mean."
"Oh…that's not cool. Well, I know a lot of really nice people here," I assured him. 'Yep and I'm one of them.' I was very curious to know why people were so mean to him, but I decided not to pry.
"That's good. You seem nice, too…and that's also really good. So are you an artist too?" he asked, referring to the fact that we were on our way to art class.
"Well, I would hardly call stick people 'art'" I sighed, sort of chuckling to myself. He frowned, seemingly disappointed.
"Oh. That's too bad…I like art, though. I'm really good at it," He informed me. I nodded, wondering if he was actually good at art, or if he was just really conceited.
"That's a good way to kick off your year here, then. Because we're going to art right now," I pointed out.
"I know. I saw my schedule. I have Art third period, then gym fourth period, then lunch fifth period and science sixth period then English seventh period and Spanish class eighth period." He told me. Did I mention he recited all of this to me without even looking at his schedule card, which I'm pretty sure he received like five minutes ago?
"Oh, well then it doesn't seem like you have any other classes with me…except lunch, of course," I sighed, as I pushed open the doors of the art room.
"Hmm…oh wow, this is really neat," he said, marveling at all of the pictures and paintings hung up all over the walls. The art room was a very, er…creative place. Not that I didn't like art or anything, it just always seemed to be more enjoyable to the people who were good at it.
"Yeah, I like it in here," I said. "We don't have assigned seats in this class, so you can sit next to me if you want," I offered, leading him over to the table in the corner that I sat at, usually with these two seniors, Ashley and Corey. They were both AP students, so my work always looked more like a preschooler's scribble than usual next to their work. Ashley was a pretty blonde girl that always had sort of a hippy-ish vibe to her wardrobe and Corey was a bit on the flamboyant side, but was one of those guys that would never admit that he was gay in a million years.
"Hey, guys, this is Beckett, he's new here," I said, introducing Beckett to them as we sat down.
"Beckett David Saunders," he repeated. There it was again. What was it with the full name thing? I sighed and plopped down into my seat. Beckett set his backpack down onto the table and turned to me, his face suddenly very serious.
"Can you please watch this for me? I have to go introduce myself to the teacher so I know what to do. Don't let anyone take it," he said. And from the sudden change in his tone, I knew some shit was about to go down if anyone laid a finger on his red backpack.
"Of course. I won't let anyone touch it," I assured him, masking the fact that I thought he was acting really weird.
"So, how do you know him?" Corey asked, as he mixed together various shades of blue onto a wax-paper pallet.
"Oh, Mrs. Dunlap thought I should show him around and stuff," I explained.
"He seems…interesting," Ashley said, in her usual lazy tone. She was in the middle of some sort of painting, too. She was more of an abstract artist though, so whatever she was painting was far beyond my artistic comprehension.
A few minutes later, Beckett came back to the table with a set of drawing pencils the teacher, Mr. Hewitt, had given him.
"Everything okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, yeah, he just wants to know what I can do, so he said to sketch something," he explained, unzipping his backpack. "No one touched this right?"
"Nope," I replied.
"Well that's good. . .Hey, can I draw you?" he suddenly asked, flipping to a blank page in his sketch pad. He flipped through it so fast, though, that I couldn't get a look at his other drawings. I was dying to know if he really was good. Okay, maybe not dying, but whatever.
"Oh, uh, sure," I shrugged. "Do you want me to do anything in particular?"
"Nah, just sit there and…I don't know. Do what you're supposed to be doing, I guess."
"Okay…" I said, thinking of what I should do. I had finished my project (which was utterly horrendous) and had a free day, so I just took out my AP Bio book and decided to read chapter 40 which was supposed to be homework.
"That's great," he said, pulling his legs up onto the stool and crossing them Indian-style as he balanced the sketch pad on one knee. I could tell he was hard at work, too, because he didn't say a single word the entire period. It was like he'd entered some sort of a trance, that is, up until three minutes before the bell was due to ring.
"Finished!" he exclaimed, excitedly, jumping up off the stool.
"Oh, cool, can I see?" I asked, ready to offer my best sugar-coating if necessary. He nodded enthusiastically and flipped the sketchbook around.
I think the dropping of my jaw was a pretty involuntary action. Beckett was right- he was a really good artist. No, he was amazing. I recognized myself right away. He had even gotten my weird curls exactly right, as well as the detail down to the page of the book I was reading. Whoa.
I think it was at that moment that I realized that there was something really special about Beckett David Saunders.
So…what do you guys think?
Update- 8/2013 - So I'm going through and FINALLY editing this story. If I miss anything, just let me know! :)