Stand Out

She would have stood out anywhere I think, but she certainly stood out here. I think she should have gone to a co-ed school, one where they would have let her wear pants as part of the uniform, but she got around that.

I think if she hadn't been quite the way she was that she would have had a much worse time of this place, but considering that she was indeed the way she was, she seemed to like it well enough. She transferred at the start of year eleven and the first two things everyone noticed about her were that she was too tall and that she was wearing pants.

Since then it has also come to most people's attention that she is also incredibly thin.

The strangest thing about her is her smile, of course there are a great deal of strange things about her, like her consistent insistence that a person take their time. But it is her smile that is strange about her, that and her pants.

It took something like three months for anyone to think to ask her why she wore pants when it was part of the school's dress code to wear skirts. There were no pants in the uniform so she wore jeans for almost four months. It turns out she had a skin condition and so had to wear pants.

But it was the smile that people noticed, she wore it everywhere, walking around with her hands in her pockets with this little smile. It was an odd smile I always thought, it was slightly crooked, but I think that that was the idea. The thing about it was that it was a lazy smile, and effortless smile, something I have never been much good at.

It reinforced her message.

By now, six months after Rebecca had started at my school, she had a great deal of followers, it would be wrong to call them friends. They follow her around and listen to her talk and who knows what else. But I am not interested in being a person like that.

The thing that makes the least sense about her is her grades. She has perfect grades and never tells anyone about how she studies. She just says that she takes her time. I have perfect grades as well but I don't take my time. I study hard and work hard.

She is just so strange. I think it is a front though, that is my opinion, and I am determined to prove it. In my own time of course, I will prove that it is a front she puts on. Or maybe she is just sleeping with the teachers or something stupid like that.

To be clear I don't actually think that that is the case, I just heard a rumour that she is into girls. Which is why I think that her followers do some strange things when they are not under observation, but I guess I am just one to judge others. Though I don't think I can really judge her for that, to the best of my own knowledge, which is pretty extensive in most cases, I am into girls as well.

My phone rings as I lie on my bed and wonder what to do on this particular Friday night, I never have anything to do on Friday, except once, but it went badly. I pick up my phone and answer the call. "Hello my dear," a voice says. Catherine is a strange one, I must say, she always calls me that despite my insistence that I don't like her. "Would you be interested in coming to a party with me?"

The last time she asked me this I turned her down, and the time before that. Both of those times because before that I had taken her up on the offer. Turned out that none of the cute girls were into me, I know I am a bit awkward, but that wasn't the issue.

"Would I be interested?" I ask her in return.

She pauses and I guess she is thinking about it. I used to wonder how she got my number, but I guess if she didn't have it then I would never actually do anything. Except burn myself out, which I don't really have any reason to do at the moment.

"I don't know," she tells me eventually. "But you should come anyway, it'll be fun."

"Alright," I tell her, getting up. "Where is it?"

"Meet me at my house in like half an hour," she tells me, sounding excited.

"Same question," I tell her, opening my closet to see if I have anything I am comfortable wearing outside of school. I recently had a growth spurt that wasn't all up and so not all of my clothes fit me that well any more.

"You're so mean to me," she says. "See you in half an hour."

"Wait…" but she hangs up before I can tell her I'm serious.

I leave my room without having found a shirt that'll fit me. I knock on my brother's door, he makes a sleepy noise at me. "Brother," I call in. "I need to borrow some clothes."

Since I grew a bit his clothes fit me pretty well, they aren't really what I'm into, but it doesn't bother me all that much. Plus I really like his leather jacket. He groans again and there is a loud noise before he opens the door, naked.

"Party time," I tell him, pushing him out of the doorway.

He gets himself some clothes and puts them on while I am still looking through his wardrobe. It isn't particularly diverse, I am just looking for something that has no words, so that no one will recognise the symbol or something and ask me about it.

"I am so coming," he tells me, pulling down this greatcoat he got not long ago and really likes. He somehow managed to hang it from the ceiling.

"Do you know where Catherine lives?" I ask him, finding something that doesn't seem to be a logo. It is in fact a skull that is bleeding from the eyes, which is fine by me. I grab his leather jacket as well.

"Damn do I like the cold weather," he says, instead of answering.

"It's good," I reply. "Better than when it is freezing, do you know? 'Cause otherwise neither of us are going to the party."

"Hmm," he replies, pulling his phone from the pocket of a pair of pants lying on the floor and doing something complicated with it. "Yes, yes I do."

"Good, she wants us there in half an hour," I tell him, shrugging into the coat and leaving his room.

Aaron is three years older than I am, he is a university student, but I'm still his older sister. He isn't very good at staying awake for that long. So I always had to keep him awake when he was in school, since he left I gave up.

He sniffs himself.

"You probably need a shower," I inform him, "but we don't have heaps of time."

"Give me a minute," he says, going back into his room.

I wait for him by the door. The sound of deodorant reaches me, I really hope he isn't planning on driving there. Though I guess he is probably planning on drinking and, despite my repeated assertions, he isn't an idiot.

He comes back smelling like aerosol, I have difficulty not thinking of it as such even though the aerosol fades before the smell it contains. He shrugs into his coat and I open the door for us, he walks out ahead of me.

I know that siblings are supposed to hate each other and whatnot, but I really couldn't say that I dislike my brother. Certainly some things about him annoy me a great deal, but I like him. I think he is the opposite of me in most ways. Maybe I am the opposite of him, since he was here first. But I don't mind us being opposites.

It is probably better.

"What's the plan?" I ask him.

"There is a bus that will leave us near her house," he tells me, then checks his phone. "If we hurry."

We hurry and manage to get the bus.

I knock on the front door of the house that my brother is fairly sure is Catherine's. I know I've been here before, but I can't remember it even a little bit. Catherine opens the door to find us standing around, looking around at the houses.

"You were right," I admit to my brother.

"You owe me something," he tells me.

"You brought your brother?" she asks, not quite seeming to mind.

"He knew where you live," I tell her.

"You weren't joking?" she asks.

I don't even bother to answer that. "So, do we need to go now, or can we come in?" I ask her, fine standing outside, but a little uninterested in it.

"We don't really need to go now," she admits, looking my brother up and down. "But it is probably better if we do."

Aaron leans over to me. "I think she just decided not to let me into her house," he whispers to me as the girl locks her front door.

I just shrug, it wouldn't be the first time someone has decided that about him. He looks scrappy, according to my mother. Of course she doesn't care, and she isn't around enough to complain about it anyway. But he doesn't quite look trustworthy unless he really tries at it.

We take another bus and then the train into the city.

"Whose party is it?" I ask the girl. "And what kind of party?"

"You know Amanda?" she asks.

I nod, even though the amount I know Amanda is about the same amount I know my father. People have told me about him and I think I may have talked to him once, a good long while ago. It was probably more recently than that when I talked to Amanda.

"A friend of hers is throwing a party for some reason," she says.

"Amanda invited you?" I ask. "Doesn't that mean that we are guests of a guest's guest?"

Aaron laughs at Catherine's confused expression.

"Amanda's friend invited me, you just don't know him," she tells me.

"There aren't going to be any cute girls are there?" I complain to no one in particular.

"None that will be interested in you, I expect," my brother tells me happily.

"I didn't ask you," I tell him.

Catherine is confused again.

I wonder if I ever told her.

We arrive at a bar that is strangely quiet, as in quiet enough that I can still hear other places nearby from the doorway. Catherine tells the bouncer that we are there for someone's party, I don't hear the name, and the man just waves us in. He checks Catherine's id, which has got to be fake because she would have invited me to her eighteenth birthday.

He doesn't ask either me or my brother, I guess we both look the right age. I am taller than I should be, and in the leather coat I look older. Or so I assume, he didn't ask me for id. I go in and find that it is not only too loud, it is also too hot. I take my coat off and then have nowhere to put it, so I carry it as we follow Catherine over to a group of people.

I recognise some of them from school. But obviously I don't know any of the boys.

She introduces us, again I don't catch the name of the guy whose party it is, it doesn't bother me. Amanda says hello and so do a couple of the other girls from my school. They are all surprised by my attire, and my brother. I think one of them thinks he is my boyfriend.

I find that I don't much care.

"Brother," I almost shout into his ear. "Do you want a drink? I am getting myself one."

"Can you get me a vodka lemon?" he asks.

"One day you are going to have to remember your own damn wallet," I tell him.

He just shrugs and I go up to the bar.

"Vodka lemon and an orange juice," I tell the bartender, who has to lean over the counter to hear.

He nods and walks off.

"Somehow it isn't what I was expecting from you Gabrielle," a girl's voice shouts in my ear.

"Drinks or attire?" I ask Rebecca as she sits on a stool beside me.

"Both I guess," she tells me. "And your presence here."

"I got over my bad experiences," I tell her.

The bartender comes back and puts the drinks down before me. I drink the entire juice in one go, it is really damn hot in here. I hate heat, I really do.

"Excuse me a moment," I say.

I get up and take the vodka lemon over to my brother, who is talking to a girl whose name I think starts with an 'M'. I hand him the drink and lean up to his ear.

"I think you might be making a bad choice here," I tell him. "Rumour has it that herpes doesn't go away."

He almost spits out the sip of his drink he had taken.

"I'm sure it is just a rumour," I say, patting him on the back.

"I hate you," he tells me.

"You love me," I reply.

I go back over to the bar and sit down next to Rebecca.

"Is that your boyfriend?" she asks me.

I actually laugh. "I think you are the only person to ever ask me that out loud," I tell her. "That is my brother."

She laughs. "Sorry," she says. "You don't look that similar, but you are dressed similarly."

"I borrowed his clothes," I tell her without thinking. "Most of mine don't fit very well anymore."

She nods. "I don't have any siblings," she tells me. "I used to want one, but I got over it."

"Having a sibling can be annoying at times," I admit. "But except for him never bringing his wallet anywhere it isn't too bad mostly."

She smiles at that. "So what are you doing here?" she asks me.

"Catherine invited me to a party," I tell her.

"Hmm," she says. "Mary invited me."

So Mary is her name.

"Do you have any idea whose party this is?" I ask her.

She grins at me. "None," she tells me. "But I think it is one of those guys over there."

She gestures expansively at the dance floor.

"Presumably," I reply.

I beckon the bartender again and order another orange juice.

"Do you not drink?" she asks me.

"I did once," I tell her.

She grins. "I guess you got over it," she says. "I guess that those were your bad experiences."

"I tried to make out with a girl I'd never met and had no evidence to think would be into that," I tell her. I wonder why I would tell her that, I guess I just find it easy to talk to her.

That gets me a surprised look, which I think is a first that I have seen on her. Her lazy smile is strangely absent here. I wonder if that proves that it is her front, of or if it just how she feels at school. But I find I don't much care, I have a front for school and I know it has slipped here.

"For some reason I didn't think you'd be into that," she tells me.

"I don't know that you have a reason to think either way," I comment. "But I don't think anyone ever really suspects it of me."

"People tend to suspect it of me," she says. "I can't for the life of me think why." She doesn't say this with conviction.

"Probably because of all the girls who follow you around," I tell her.

She smiles at me. "It is true anyway," she tells me.

I can't help but smile back. "I prefer this smile here to the one you wear at school," I tell her.

He smile widens. "I prefer your smile to the dour face you wear at school," she tells me.

"I am actually dour at school," I tell her. "Are you actually slightly amused and feeling lazy at school?"

"A lot of the time yeah," she tells me. "But I get what you mean."

"Hmm," I say. "But I guess we all put up different fronts for different places."

She smiles again. "That is certainly true," she replies.

The bartender comes back with my drink, which took a weirdly long time. He asks Rebecca if she wants a drink, and she orders water. I drink my juice almost in one go again. She sips her water as the bartender takes my glass away.

"One thing that I didn't make up for school," she says. "You should always take your time."

"What does that even mean?" I ask her. "You say that that is how you get good marks, by taking your time. It doesn't make any sense to me."

"I don't sleep as much as I am led to believe other people do," she tells me. "So I just do all my homework slowly. And then I don't need any more time than we are given for tests and stuff."

"I guess that makes sense," I reply.

"I think so," she replies.

Then she grins.

"Do you want to know where I got that from?" she asks.

"The look on your face makes me unsure that I do," I tell her, and she smiles. "But sure, tell me."

She smiles even wider. "It was last year," she tells me. "I was really sick, so I couldn't study for a test I had coming up, or take it on the day that was set. So I had to do it later, in the teacher's office. She sat with me to make sure I was well enough to do it or something like that.

"And she told me to take as much time as I needed," she says, her grin turning mischievous. "It only took me about twenty minutes to do the test and I had more than an hour. The thing is that I really liked the woman who taught us math, so…"

She trails off and gives me a meaningful look.

"With a teacher?" I ask, sceptical.

She laughs a little at that. "I took my time," she tells me. "And so what she said has stayed with me."

"I should have just said no," I say.

Rebecca shrugs. "Probably," she admits. "Do you think I need a better story?"

"I think you should just not tell people that story," I tell her.

"Why?" she asks me.

"For a start it could quite easily get back to your old school, which would be bad for the teacher in question," I tell her. "And it is a little concerning."

"Hmm," she looks ponderous a moment. "Normally I wouldn't tell anyone, it's just that I wanted to tell you. I feel kind of comfortable talking to you, you know?"

"I guess I know what you mean," I say. "I probably wouldn't have told anyone else about my 'bad experience'."

She smiles. "I guess it is better than trying to talk to anyone else here anyway," she says.

"I think you are correct," I reply.

She smiles at me again. I really like her smile.

"Do you want to go outside?" I ask her. "I could use some air."

I can't believe I actually asked that, admittedly it is pretty innocent, but still.

"I know how you feel," she says. "It's pretty suffocating in here."

I guess I am just over thinking it. We get up and go outside, where it is cold. I like the cold, I really do, I don't even need to put my coat back on. Rebecca is actually shivering, of course she doesn't seem to have any flesh, so it makes sense.

I hand her my coat. "I think either you need to eat more or bring a coat when you go out," I tell her.

She pulls on the heavy leather jacket. She's taller than I am but also thinner, so it fits her just as well as it fits me. "Thanks," she says. "I got a lift here so I didn't think to bring a coat."

"I was actually regretting bringing a coat," I tell her. "It isn't cold enough for me to really need it and I just have to carry it around inside."

She laughs at that. "It isn't cold enough?" she asks me. "I am wearing your coat and I am still cold."

"We could go back inside," I suggest.

"It's that problem isn't it?" she asks, I raise an eyebrow. "It's like having only a hot blanket on a warm night, you take it off you are too cold, put it on you are too hot."

"I'm just warm blooded," I tell her. "I don't need blankets."

She laughs again. I like her laugh as well.

"One more question for you," I say. "Why do you wear pants at school instead of the uniform?"

She smiles. "I hate skirts," she tells me. "My mother is a doctor so she wrote me a note or something saying that I had to wear pants because of a skin condition."

I can't help but smile. "I guess that is an easy way to fabricate a note from your doctor," I say.

"The easiest," she replies with a smile.

"Do you want to go back inside?" I ask her.

"Not really," Rebecca tells me. "It is hot and loud and boring in there, and none of those things out here. But I don't mind if you are going back in there."

"I don't much want to," I tell her. "Wait here, I have to tell my brother I am leaving."

I go back in and tell my brother than I am leaving, he gives me his coat. Sometimes I really want to hit him, but I guess it is heavier that the one I lent to Rebecca. I come back out and swap her, it is actually kind of cold outside, which is good, but I still need a coat.

"This one is a lot thicker," she says. "Where did you get another coat from so fast?"

"My brother," I tell her. "He didn't much want it."

She just shrugs. "Where to?" she asks.

"I guess I didn't really think it that far through," I say. "Do you know anywhere nearby?"

"No," she tells me. "I don't really go out that much"

"That surprises me," I tell her. "Or would have earlier in the day."

She smiles a little at that. "I don't drink so mostly I only go out if someone invites me somewhere," she tells me.

"I often don't go out even then," I tell her.

"I didn't actually think that you and Catherine were friends," she tells me.

"We aren't actually fiends anymore," I tell her. "But she still thinks we are."

"Sounds about right," Rebecca says.

I smile.

We start walking the direction of the train station.

"I guess we are going home," she says.

"We don't have to," I tell her. "But neither of us can think of anything else to do."

"I can think of something to do," she tells me.

"You remember than neither of us are drunk, yes?" I ask.

"You don't need to be drunk to have casual sex," she tells me. "I would know."

"I need to be drunk to have casual sex," I tell her.

We are drawing attention, sitting at the train station talking about having casual sex.

"How about we go on a date and it won't be casual sex," she suggests.

"That is just having sex on the first date," I tell her. "As everyone knows, only sluts have sex on the first date."

"How about the second date?" she asks.

"Maybe," I reply.

"Can you go on two dates in one night?" she suggests.

I can't help but laugh. "We could try," I tell her. "Dinner and the movies could be considered two dates. If you really want to stretch it."

"Let's do it," she says.

"Dinner and the movies or just casual sex?" I ask.

"Casual sex seems to be out of the question so dinner and the movies," she says. "Though I'm not likely to eat anything."

"Would you say going out for drinks is a date?" I ask her.

We walk over the bridge to the other side of the platform before she answers.

"It could be said to be one," she says.

"In that case we don't have to do dinner," I tell her. "We just went out for drinks."

"Cool," she says. "Where is the cinema?"

"Two stops up and then about twenty minutes walk," I tell her. "I don't think the busses are running anymore."

"Alright," she says. "I haven't seen a movie in ages, not since I moved anyway."

"I haven't actually been to the cinema in a while," I tell her. "I used to go with my brother, because none of my friends from school are into horror or action movies. He sleeps more than he used to."

"He have a girlfriend?" she asks.

I am about to answer when the train comes, a bit too loud for continued conversation.

"I don't think so," I tell her after we sit down. "If he does she is going to be pissed that he went to a party and tried to hook up with high school girls."

"I would be," she tells me. "But I haven't had a girlfriend in a while."

"I've never had a girlfriend," I tell her. "Not a real one anyway."

"So you had a fake one?" she asks me.

"A good way to describe it," I reply. "There was this girl last year who I was really good friends with for a while, like two years, and I asked her out. She was a good looking girl, and we got on really well, it was quite nerve wracking you know?"

"Yeah," she tells me. "But that is how I ended up with a girlfriend."

"Me too," I say. "But not for very long, she was nervous about it too I thought. It is weird that I knew her for three years and she didn't tell me that she had a boyfriend" – Rebecca winces at that – "or that she was willing to do anything for him."

"You aren't serious," she insists.

"I certainly am," I tell her. "He asked me if I wanted a threesome with them and I broke his jaw."

She laughs. "Broke his jaw?" she asks me incredulously. "You are full of surprises."

"Cracked the bone here," I point to the back of my jaw on the left. "And knocked out three teeth."

She laughs again. "I've never done anything like that," she tells me. "Worst thing a guy ever did to me was accuse me of stealing his girlfriend."

"You stole someone's girlfriend?" I ask her.

"I may have," she tells me. "But that time he actually had me mistaken for someone else."

"What do you mean, may have?" I ask her, smiling at the story.

"I never really ask if people have a significant other," she tells me. "If they tell me they do then it is usually to tell me to go away, so I go away."

"This is our stop," I tell her as the train stops, we get out.

"No comment?" she asks after we start walking.

"It isn't something that I can say I'm ok with," I tell her. "But I don't want to say that I am not."

"You're weird," she tells me.

"Thank you," I reply. "You too."

She smiles at me. "What movie are we seeing?" she asks.

"I don't know," I tell her. "I just decided that I am against casual sex."

"I still think it counts as casual sex," she tells me. "We are just also seeing a movie."

"Shut up," I tell her. "I don't want to have casual sex with you."

She stops. "You don't want to have sex with me?" she asks me. "Then what are we doing?"

I stop and turn to her. "Did I say I that?" I ask her in return. "Should I have stressed the word 'casual' more do you think?"

She looks surprised. "Wait…" she says. "You want to… go out with me?"

"Yes," I tell her, almost surprised to find that it is indeed the case.

She grins at me. "Why?" she asks incredulously.

"Because you are the only interesting person I have met in three years," I tell her.

She grins again."I can't say the same," she says. "But I have to say that the reason I agreed to go on two dates in one night with you was because I kind of wanted to go on a date with you."

It is my turn to smile. "Why?" I ask her.

"Because you are more interesting than you seem," she tells me. "I want to get to know the person you are, rather than just the person you act like at school."

I can't help but laugh, she pouts at me. "I'm sorry," I tell her. "I'm not laughing at you, I was thinking the same thing earlier, and almost since you arrived at my school."

"Are we both just idiots or something?" she asks me. "We both wanted to go out with each other and both wanted to get to know each other. And neither of us realised it?"

"We must be," I tell her with a smile.

She shakes her head and smiles. "Let's go see what movies are on."