(Author's note: This is a revised version of the beginning of a story I posted about two weeks ago. This version is better! Haha. Part of this is based on experience, and I don't know if this happens to a lot of people or if I just got stuck with it. Anyway, I'm hoping that it's believable since it's based on fact, as well as, of course, a song! Your thoughts, positive or negative, are greatly appreciated! ~not Ross)
Amy's theory is that as soon as a girl moves past her first boyfriend, she immediately turns into one of those people who you pass in the hallways and think to yourself, "Oh. Her." I didn't believe her – I thought she had just made friends with the wrong people. But then it started happening everywhere.
Alice Barrientos, in eighth grade, was the girl who hid behind her hair every day in class; the one who could barely manage a stage whisper when giving a speech in front of her peers. Then high school rolled around, she found her first boyfriend – although they only "went out" for a grand total of three weeks – and next thing you know, the teachers were exiling her out the classroom door for talking too much and never paying attention. Usually, people label "coming out of your shell" as a good thing. Well, I thought, that's just Alice for you.
Pearl Draper, dancer and student extraordinaire, also began "dating" someone around that time, someone in the school band. Which, of course, she happened to take as a class as well. Before I realized what was even happening, Pearl had become so ensconced in the band world that she started skipping dance practices just to finish her homework (sloppily) because she had spent so much time at band. Every weekend, she was busy with band. With her boyfriend.
And then, Rachel Doucet. Rachel Doucet, the one whom I had befriended way back in the seventh grade, back when both of us wore jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts to school and both earned A's in all of our classes. Well, after a rather dramatic break up with a kid named Danny Gilbertson, her jeans changed to jeggings, her sneakers changed to bejeweled sandals, and her t-shirts changed to skimpy, spaghetti strap (or strapless) tank-tops. I could just imagine her saying, "These jeans are only $50? Someone could have told me the store was having a sale!" Her A's turned into B's because she "studied" with her cell phone more than with her textbook. The people that we used to point at and classify as "creepers" suddenly became the people she went shopping and to football games with. When things started back flipping, I tried to keep talking to her – I'd attempt to strike up a conversation with her at lunch, but we never had anything to talk about anymore. One night, I texted her asking what she was up to, and she responded with, "im alices were abt 2 go tp michael." After that, I just gave up.
So Amy and I stuck together – ate lunch together, went to movies together (without stealing any popcorn), and kept our straight A's, our jeans and sneakers, and our boyfriend free history.
"Hey, Davies," my physics teacher, Mr. Clipper, called to me as Amy and I headed out of his classroom one day.
I swiveled around in the doorway to face him. "Yes?"
"You're going to run for sophomore president?"
"…Because it's just not my thing?"
He shrugged and went back to grading labs.
"He's been bugging you to run for president a lot lately, hasn't he?" Amy asked me as we sauntered down the hallway.
"Yeah, and it's definitely working."
"You're going to run for president?"
"No! I'm bugged."
We climbed up to the top of the bleachers and set our backpacks one row behind everyone else. I dug around in one of the pockets until I found a tuna sandwich with one end squished completely flat. Yay. I was just about to bite into the good end of it when I heard someone say, "Hey, Lucy, Amy, wanna sign my petition?"
I looked up to find Alice standing above us, a pen and wrinkled paper in hand. She smiled, and I wondered what would happen if she stood there in the sun long enough: would her eyeliner or her mascara start dripping off first? "For what? Cleaner bleachers?"
She laughed. Sort of. You know, that annoying laugh that people who wear too much make-up have when they're talking to someone who doesn't wear any. "No, I'm running for sophomore president, and I need forty signatures to be able to run. Will you sign?"
"How about you, Amy?"
Amy had a particular thing with Alice, especially the new, not-so-improved Alice, so she simply said, "I'm not planning on taking part in this campaign at all, so no thanks."
Alice just smirked a little. I signed my name on line number twenty-three of her petition and handed it back. Why she couldn't just ask someone to sign it who actually wanted someone like her to run the school and plan the winter dance, I don't know. There were probably plenty hanging around. "Thanks so much! Lucy."
Amy sighed and then laughed ruefully. "People."
Ten minutes later, I heard the same query, but from a very different source. Michael Mclaurin stood hesitantly before us, holding a chewed up pencil and an empty petition in his hands. "I'm running for president, see?"
"Sure thing." Michael was the kind of person who you'd never expect to run for president, but once you got past the weirdness, you'd see how obvious of a choice it was. Unfortunately, with people like Alice running, he didn't have much of a shot for even getting the forty signatures. Poor kid. Even Amy signed that petition.
That evening, after I had finished my homework and dinner, I logged onto my email to check if anyone had sent me anything interesting. Inbox (3). The first email was from Amy asking if I knew the physics homework because she, once again, had forgotten to write it down. I quickly typed out a response and sent it. The subject line of the second one read, "VOTE PEARL 4 PREZ!!" I think not. So I deleted that one. But the third one said, "VOTE RACHEL D. 4 SOPHOMORE PREZ!!" Rachel? I clicked on it.
"Hey, peeps! I'm running for sophomore class president! Cool, huh? Voting starts a week from wednesday, so make sure to vote 4 me!! Cool, thx so much 3 you guys!!!! 3 3!!"
So all three of them were running for president? How could all three of my former, boyfriend-changed friends be running for the same position in student leadership? I guess why would have also been an appropriate question.
It was crazy. That was all I had to say.
Mr. Clipper continued to bother me in physics the next day about running for president. I didn't want to hear it.
Amy and I made our way back to the bleachers, back to our typical bench, and when I was digging around for my most assuredly compressed tuna sandwich, I overheard Alice talking to Rachel about something.
"Are you coming tonight?"
"I don't know, aren't Josh and Nick coming, too?"
"Are you kidding? My mom would kill me if she figured out I went to a boy/girl sleepover! I'd be grounded for the next millennium!"
"Just tell her they're gay. I mean, that's what I did, and she's totally cool with it."
I slammed my hand down on the bench above me. "That's it, this is totally crazy!"
"What is?" Amy asked, somewhat perturbed at my outburst.
"I don't want someone who lies to their parents without even thinking about running this school! I mean, what does that say about how she's going to treat us as her citizens? Is she going to lie to us with a straight face on, too? How are we supposed to trust anyone anymore?"
"I don't want to be president. But I don't want any of them to be president, either. Where's Michael?"
"Yes, you know, short, black hair, looks like he just crawled out of a drainpipe?"
"Yeah, I know who you're talking about. What does Michael have to do with any of whatever it is you're yelling about?"
"Did you just say I crawled out of a drainage ditch?" somebody asked quietly. I swirled around to find Michael, petition still in hand, staring at me.
"How many signatures do you have?"
"Ten… But Tracy signed it twice, so I don't know if that counts."
"Sweet. Let's get you some more signatures."
"Lucy, where are you going?" Amy asked me, flinging her arms so wide that a glob of peanut butter flew off her sandwich and hit Pearl's hair. She didn't even notice. I tried not to laugh.
"I'm going to make sure that no one but Michael wins this stupid election."
"You are?" Michael asked me.
"Yep. And it starts by getting a little bit more aggressive in your pleas for signatures. Do you have an email address?"
That night, after homework and dinner, I jumped onto the computer to send out my own email, since Michael only used his mom's account, and I figured his mom didn't have quite the same contact list that I did.
"Vote Michael Mclaurin for sophomore class president!!!
Hey, guys, I know you've been getting a lot of emails about people running for president, but I know one more person who's adding his hat to the proverbial ring. Michael Mclaurin, and he's not about to let any certain un-named parties do any more lying to the future sophomores of Valley High School. So make sure to vote for him next Wednesday if you want a real president with real values and a real plan for the future of this school. Thanks so much!
~Lucy Davies (his campaign manager)"
Okay, so maybe it was a little out of my place to mention those certain un-named parties who had no real values and no real plans for the future, but the fire from lunch had not died, and I was not about to let anyone like Alice, or Pearl, or even Rachel control the school like they controlled their make-up brushes. If that happened, there would be no control at all.
With Michael's help, I had gotten the rest of the thirty signatures, as well as permission from his counselor, and we had turned the papers into Mrs. Crenshaw, the leadership teacher, by the end of the day. Michael was officially just as good as any of those girls at that point (better, in my opinion, because he didn't even have to worry about his supply of blush running out). My in-class daydreams about summer turned into in-class campaigning, and in-class daydreaming about hearing Michael's name announced on the bulletin as the next sophomore president. I could just picture Alice's face. Pearl's face. And, I hate to admit, even Rachel's face. They wouldn't even know what hit them.
In the middle of listening to my favorite song, "Outcast" by Kerrie Roberts, on iTunes, I noticed that my computer had changed from Inbox to Inbox (1). From Rachel. I clicked on it.
"lucy r u rly helping michael run for prez? if u want the power, instead of just controlling him, y dont u just run for prez urself? cuz i thot u were 1 of those people who doesnt like manipulative people. just sayin"
One of those people who doesn't like manipulative people? I didn't – I don't. But there's a difference between assistance and manipulation, and there was no doubt that Rachel knew that. I glared at the computer screen, then at the keyboard before clacking out a quick response.
"Rachel, I don't want the power. It's just that I don't want people who can't even spell insults correctly running my school. I'm sure you understand."
Quick, and maybe a bit rash. Unfortunately, nobody had invented the "Unsend" button yet on any email service that I knew of.
With that out of the way, I went back to "Outcast." I have always loved the lyrics to that song – it's like Kerrie Roberts wrote it just for me.
I'm not good enough
I'm not what they want,
But let me tell you what,
I know who I am.
So just throw me out
For not fitting in.
I will stand my ground
And be an outcast.
I could not agree more.