All I needed was a new start, the irate tomboy thought with an exaggerated sigh. But alas, a new start was not simply attained in a town like this, when one attended a school like hers.
Charlie was the self declared outcast of Maybell High, self declared only because she neither denied or accepted the accusations made against her, calling her a disgusting dyke who entertained herself by trying to lay with every girl in the school. Every girl? As if that was what lesbians aimed to do. And she wasn't even admitting to being one herself, she simply never denied it either.
When she entered her first class of the morning, English, she was affronted a little to discover that another girl had dared to sit in her seat. Nobody sat in her seat, the one right at the back corner of the class beside the window so she had something else to look at besides bigotry.
She rolled her eyes and squared her shoulders, ready to set the new girl straight and inform her of all the other seating choices available in the mostly empty room. After all, it was not like her classmates would object to sitting beside the pretty little thing with her wavy blonde hair and perfect skin.
She laid her hands firmly on her occupied desk and stared down at the confused girl, who looked up slightly startled with a blush creeping from her nose to her ears.
"H-hi- the blonde started to say, but was cut off by another sarcastic eye roll.
"Look," Charlie began with her gruff and unapologetic voice. "This seat is reserved for outcasts. If you want to begin your year being tormented with rumors because you sat here, that's fine. But I certainly do not want to begin this year sitting any closer to the students who hate me than I have to, and this seat is the farthest from any of them that I can find."
The blonde squeaked suddenly, a sound that could both be interpreted as embarrassment or indignation, and stood abruptly to bring herself to the dark haired girls level, although there was still a clear height difference between the two.
She looked slightly intimidated, and surprised she had even acted at all, but refused to relocate herself or give any indication on what she was thinking. The annoyed tomboy pressed on. "I don't want to make things difficult for you, but I can and will. Even if unintentionally, trust me… it'd be easier on us both if you'd just move." She allowed a softer expression to overtake the annoyance in her eyes and silently tried to plead with the blonde to be agreeable.
Eventually something must have given way, because the new girl sighed hotly and crinkled her nose in disdain. She hated to be talked to like that, but she was not in a position to argue with the strange girl who seemed happy to have the world biting at her ankles. As she turned to collect her things and move, their teacher entered the room and called her over.
"Everyone, kindly take your seats. Yes, I mean now… You're all much too old to behave like this. I have someone who would greatly appreciate your attention."
Charlie snickered softly, knowing that the last thing the blonde wished for was attention. She took her seat and prepared herself for another long year. Hopefully it would be easier and her peers would have grown up a little, but she doubted it.
"This young lady," the English professor pressed onwards, "Is Sara, our new student who transferred over to us at the beginning of last week. Please be kind to her."
With his last comment coming off as more of a threat, a few classmates giggled nervously and began to whisper among themselves. The idea of a new student was always interesting, especially in a humble town like theirs with few new people arriving ever.
The professor continued, "She comes from a much larger school then ours, but I'm sure she'll still get easily lost without help." Sara blushed and looked meekly to the side, refusing to meet the eyes of anyone in the class. She looked deadly eager to hear the professor continue his sentiment. He was obviously about to pair her with someone in the class and decide her fate. I almost feel sorry for her, Charlie mused while looking out the window. But a girl like her will fit in easily. She already looked the part.
"Charlie, I would appreciate it if you would show young Sara around for these first few days."
The tomboy gawked and suddenly whipped her head around to stare at her professor.
She wordlessly asked him, as best she could, 'are you insane? What are you up to old man?' She knew he was probably taking pity on her outcast status. He probably reasoned with himself that what he was doing was fair, that she needed a friend and Sara was a logical choice.
He was sorely mistaken. Undeniably, inarguably mistaken. Charlie didn't need a friend. Friends were what had ruined her reputation in the first place. And if she had to introduce Sara to school life here, she would be condemning the girl to all kinds of rumors. Not that she particularly cared, but surely the professor recognized a bad choice when he made one?
Sara, meanwhile stared at Charlie with widened and un-amused eyes. Blue eyes, Charlie noted offhandedly. So much prettier than her own muddy brown ones. Sara nodded meekly and thanked the professor for his efforts. Hers was a face far too easy to read. She was sulking.
Charlie coughed into her hand, trying desperately to play the whole situation off as nothing huge, something she didn't care about, and grinned. She stood casually and packed her things up, resigning herself to this fate. She pretended she didn't notice as her classmates glared and muttered nasty things. Some people don't change easily.
She herself was one of them, and she refused to look angry when she heard one of them whisper "disgusting dyke will come onto Sara first chance she gets, poor girl."
She clenched her fists, but smiled cheerfully as she made her way to the front of the room and then out through the door, Sara following soon after when the English teacher urged her to go along.
She caught up to Charlie who walked at a brisk pace, and struggled to adjust her brown cotton school bag over her small shoulders (a task made difficult when trying to walk quickly at the same time).
Charlie refused to look over at her as she huffed and fiddled with her bag, but spared the blonde a little by slowing down her pace to a more manageable walk. She wasn't used to walking with people, she was always on her own simply getting from point A to point B. Or finding ways to get from point A to point B while avoiding all forms of human life apart from the teachers who kept an eye on her.
She was actually on friendly terms with some of them.
A small and somewhat annoyed sigh brought her attention to the little blonde girl who was trailing behind her. Charlie waited a moment to see what she wanted, and then turned around when she realized that the girl was asking for her attention. She was always happy to appease people.
"I don't know why you're acting like I'm a pain in the rear…" Sara commented with a reddened face and pouty lips.
Charlie blinked dumbly and then shot back without hesitation. "Because you are a pain in my rear. Look… I'm sorry that you got stuck with me. I'm probably the last person you should have been stuck with… Our professor has obviously lost his mind." The tomboy paused for a moment, and then shrugged indifferently. "It's not your fault, but I don't expect this to end well."
Sara looked caught up between frustration and feeling confused. Now that they were standing adjacent from one another, it was easy to take in all the details. Sara was shorter than she was… She was absolutely girly with white-blond wavy hair and sky blue eyes. They were deep blue and entirely focused. She looked somewhat intelligent, but who knows if she just naturally looked smart. Underneath it all she could be a stupid as any girl, Charlie supposed. She suited the gray and black school uniform, and for that the tomboy was slightly envious.
Sara wore the skirt and blouse like it was made for her. Charlie had to wear the boys pants and polo simply because her narrow hips and slim figure could not fill the girls uniform like it was supposed to. It just looked baggy and ridiculous on her, not to mention that she preferred to stay away from dresses whenever she could avoid them.
Another reason the others claimed she was a lesbian. If she dressed like a boy, surely she was batting for the same team as them. They were all so frustratingly closed minded, and she hated it. She hated the name-calling, she hated the unveiled threats and she hated the physical assaults that sometimes accompanied them.
She looked down at the shorter girl and held up a placating hand. "Calm down, no tantrums, I'm not trying to upset you… Let's just get this over with so you can go and interact with your own kind afterwards."
The blonde looked hurt and frustrated before sighing. "Forget it, you don't have any responsibility to me. I can show myself around the school." Her voice wavered slightly, and Charlie suspected it was from anger. She sighed and against her better judgment placed a firm hand on the smaller girls' shoulders to stop her running off.
Sara flinched slightly and lowered her gaze to the ground but didn't move away. Which was interesting, considering how upset she was. Charlie wrote it off as emotional girls clinging to any form of comfort available, and lowered her own face to try and catch the girls' eyes.
"I have a responsibility to you because I know the school and you don't. I'm sorry that you're mad at me. Try to get over that." She squeezed Sara's shoulder and then let it go. "I just thought you wouldn't want to have your reputation sullied on your first day here by hanging around me." Charlie grinned playfully as Sara looked up at her with a kind of scornful expression.
"Maybe I don't care much for my reputation." She sniffled and followed Charlie down the corridor. "Whatever they say about you is up to them to decide. And personally, I don't care much because I can decide for myself. Why do they all avoid you anyway?"
Charlie laughed suddenly, and the abruptness of it had Sara red in the face and staring down at the ground even harder as she walked.
"They don't avoid me." Charlie softly chortled. "I avoid them because they're so nosy and obsessed with my life. They all think I'm a big scary dyke."
Sara went white with surprise and was glad that her wavy hair shielded her face from the dark haired tomboy. She had not expected that answer and she didn't really know how to reply. She was nervous.
Eventually she bit her lip and decided to go ahead and ask, because either way she was in an awkward situation. "And are you?" she all but murmured.
Charlie just shrugged in reply before she asked in a level tone, "does it really matter?"
Sara didn't say anything after that and Charlie welcomed the silence.