'Sometimes, you just have to write what you feel in your heart. Sometimes, you need some sort of outlet.' I looked down at the paper and laughed at myself. 'Sometimes, you feel ridiculous doing it.'
I slammed my notebook shut. This was not working. But then, what would? I was bursting with feelings and longings, and writing was the only way I knew to get them all out. Still, a diary was pushing it. There had to be a better way, one that didn't make me feel like I was eight years old.
But writing things out, it was all that I knew. I fancied myself a bit of a story-teller. I had written several novels, but they were the work of an amateur. All of the main characters were modeled after myself. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to make any of them do something out of character for me, I couldn't seem to make them any more interesting. It was like the stories wrote themselves. My male main characters? They were all the same, too. Even when I went in having already decided that the next would be new and different and wild, I went back later and realized that nothing had actually changed. I was stuck in a rut.
The stories themselves, they were interesting, though, so I mostly forgave myself for having my two most important characters be eternally the same. So many stories, in so many different places that I could only imagine visiting. It was a source of continuous wonder to me that I was able to come up with it all, but I kind of cheated. Everything I wrote came from the dreams that haunted me. It was always these same stories, with different pieces falling into play each night. I never knew which story I would learn more of, which made going to sleep at night kind of exciting. I had to keep a notebook by my bed just so I could be sure not to forget a single detail. So it was no wonder that I had finally decided to put my own life on paper, too. It was foolish and it felt like I was being self-centered, but that was alright. Besides, what else was I supposed to do with my time?
Maybe this was only fitting. See, you know your summer is pathetic when the only thing that will listen to you is a notebook. But I had expected this. Moving to a town in the middle of nowhere while there was still a month of summer break left might have been the worst thing to ever happen to me, save one. Okay, maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but that's only because most people can't imagine this kind of tedium. Every day was the same for me, except that each seemed just a little bit more mind-numbing than the last. If this kept up, I was going to lose all of my personality before school started. I was going to forget how to have a good time. Was that possible? I sure hoped not.
I knew no one, and I had no car for getting around. My twin brother Christopher was with our aunt in Texas. I had refused to go because southern accents bothered me, not to mention how miserable the heat was. I got heat headaches way too easily. I had always preferred by far to be icy cold. That, I could handle.
Despite that, I was kind of wishing I'd just sucked it up and gone now. Basically, I spent every single day, all day, in the house, feeling pathetic and all too alone. Dad was always at work, and Chris wouldn't be back until three days after the school year started- how he'd managed to talk Dad into that one, I would never know.
I'd had friends back in Massachusetts, sure, but none of them had been all that close to me. After a week or so of my moving here, it seemed like they had forgotten about me completely. I tried calling the one girl that I was closest with- even though that wasn't very close, as I was a bit of a loner- and ten minutes into the conversation, she made up some excuse and hung up. I suppose it was my fault, because I didn't put all that much effort into connecting with people back in my old town. Why bother? What was there to say? Still, though I'd never expected them to remain my friends, it was saddening how quickly and easily I'd been dropped. No one likes to feel forgotten.
I shook my head and got up to brush my teeth. Summer break was finally over, and I would be going to Regency High in the morning. I tried to think back to previous years, to figure out whether the prospect of going back to school had ever been quite so exciting to me. I didn't think so.
I heard the front door slam open and shut, and spit out a mouthful of toothpaste so I could holler down the stairs, "Good night, Dad!"
"Night, Honey!" he called back.
I hadn't seen his face in four days- not that I was counting. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't a terrible father and I knew he loved me; he'd just been really busy setting up his new office. Besides, ever since Mom died, he always got this tight look on his face whenever he saw me, like I was hurting him just by existing. I knew why.
I looked exactly like my mother, except for my light green eyes. It was no wonder- after all, Mom's parents were from India, but Dad came from Ireland.
Now, don't get me wrong, I knew Dad loved me. I knew he would have been broken if anything bad happened to me. But that didn't stop him from avoiding me around the house, at least for a little while. And I could understand that. It was a shock to my system every time I looked in the mirror, even though I always braced myself. I couldn't imagine how much worse it was for him.
I shook my head and walked back to my bed, stooping to kiss the framed picture of me and Mom that I kept on my nightstand, and settled in for the night.
There's nothing worse than hearing your alarm clock blaring and realizing that it means that, for the first time in months, you actually have to listen to it and get up early. But once I was moving, I felt immediately better. Excited, even. Some part of me had been waiting for this, had been longing for a new start at a new school, for more years than I could count.
Besides, Mom had gone to school here. Just knowing that made me feel a little closer to her.
I lived close enough to the school that, instead of having Dad wait around to drive me, I decided to walk. It was really pretty refreshing. Something about Regency drew me in. Everything was so green here, and the air had a clean smell you just didn't get in big cities like Boston.
The nerves didn't hit until after I entered the building and realized that I had no idea where the office was. I froze up, looking down both sides of the hallway and trying to divine which was correct. I must have looked pretty lost, because soon, a kindly looking guy approached me.
"You're new," he said. It wasn't a question.
"Yeah, I am. My name's Lydia Gallagher," I offered. He stared at me for a moment, nodding slowly.
He nodded briefly. "Dalton Findlay. I'll show you to the office." I smiled gratefully.
Neither of us said another word until we reached the office, which was almost unbearably awkward. Luckily, it wasn't all that long of a walk. "Well, Lydia, I hope you have a nice first day," Dalton said, sounding a little forced and more than a little awkward, as soon as we reached the doorway. He walked away before I had a chance to properly thank him.
The secretary took her good, sweet time hunting up my schedule and locker assignment. After an endless time spent waiting, she finally handed me a small mountain of papers and sent me on my way.
I shouldn't have been surprised when I collided with someone in the hallway and an avalanche of paper scattered. I blushed furiously and scrambled to pick up my papers before they could get trampled, but whoever I'd run into beat me to it. I didn't know how he'd collected them so quickly, but I was too embarrassed to question it.
"I'm sorry. I'm not normally so clumsy," I spluttered, refusing to meet the eye of whoever he was.
"It's fine," a low, male voice said. He sounded annoyed. I glanced up and met his eyes, and a funny expression crossed his face. Not ha-ha funny, but… odd. He was frozen, gawking at me.
Can you say awkward? " I'm Lydia," I offered uncertainly.
"Warren," he muttered before turning on his heel and walking away. I tried not to, but I couldn't help it; I watched him half-run out of the school.
What, did he think I had cooties or something?
And as if that wasn't bad enough, I was late to my first class. Way to make a first impression, Gallagher, I thought sarcastically. Just one of my quirks was that I silently addressed myself all the time. Good thing people couldn't read minds, or they might think I was insane.
Though I watched out for Warren all through the day, I didn't see him again. Or at least, not until I was walking home. He was suddenly just there. I was sure he hadn't been anywhere on the street just a minute ago. The only thing I could think of was that he'd come from the woods that bordered the street. Weird.
"Erm. Hi, Lydia," he said, looking like he hated himself for saying even that little bit to me. What was with this guy?
"Warren," I acknowledged briefly. It seemed like he really didn't want to talk with me, so I decided not to seem interested, though my mind was working at a mile a minute trying to figure out what he was doing here. I didn't know what he wanted, but I was sure it wasn't good.
"You remembered." He seemed genuinely pleased by this.
"What do you want?" I hadn't meant to sound so rude, but I was confused. What was going on here?
Warren looked vaguely uncomfortable. "I just thought I'd get to know you better."
"Better? You don't know me at all." Something about him made my defenses go up. I couldn't help these biting answers. Silently, I berated myself. I didn't want to push people away here. I didn't want a repeat of the last town. I wanted people to miss me when I was gone. I wanted to fit in. This was not going to help.
"I want to," he said, stopping. I pointedly kept walking, but he grabbed my hand, pulling me to a stop.
"Why?" I asked, looking him straight in the eye.
"I…" Warren looked lost. I almost felt bad for him. "I'll see you tomorrow, Lydia."
Talk about odd. When I got home, he was all I could think about. It was just because of how strange he'd been acting, I told myself. I almost believed it, too.
I called Chris as soon as I walked in the door, knowing that he was waiting to hear from me. "Lydia! Took you long enough," he greeted me after just two rings.
"I just walked in the door, Chris," I said, laughing. He wasn't the most patient person I knew. Not even close.
"Really? Well… fine. Then I'll forgive you, this once. How's our school?"
"It's alright, I guess. The people are nice enough. It's pretty small, which means it's not too hard to find your way. So, about average."
"Make any friends?"
I thought of Warren. What was he to me? "Not yet, though I met a lot of people. It would have been better if you were there."
Chris apologized, "Sorry, Lyd. I wish I could have been there with you. It's so hot here, and everyone talks funny."
I laughed. He should have listened to me when I said the exact same thing over a month ago. "Remember that next time you want to leave me for the summer."
"I will. Don't worry, won't happen again. Look, I've got to go. Aunt Patty is insisting on dragging me to her yoga class. But I'll see you in two days. Do me a favor and start getting to know some girls, would you?" Yoga? Oh, what I would have paid to see that.
"Sure, and I'll tell them all about how you suck your thumb and sleep with Claude the bear."
"That was years ago, Lydia! Years!" I laughed as I hung up the phone. It had been a good day, I was pleasantly surprised to realize. And I was in such a good mood that I didn't even laugh at myself when I sat down to write about it in my notebook.