If I had to choose the most important lesson I'd learned from my teenage years, it would be that nothing goes according to plan. People change, accidents happen, and life moves on whether or not you want it to. Your best friends will become your worst enemies, and your worst enemies will become your best friends. You will break hearts, just as your heart will be broken, and so the cycle continues. When you look back on the moments that made you who you are today, you'll see that it wasn't the graduations or the awards, but the small moments spent with family and friends. These incidents may not seem significant in the moment, but you'll realize, one day, just how important they were. Life never truly settles and neither will you, so learn to go with the flow and let it lead you wherever it may wander.
"Honey, it's your first day of school, you don't want to be late!"
My eyes widened as I leaped out of bed and into my clothes. I snatched up my backpack, slipped into my bright red converse, and gave my mom a quick hug before heading out the door. "Love you, mom!"
I had completely forgotten about breakfast or about tying my shoe laces as I dashed towards the bus – I was simply too excited. Since I was a child, I'd fantasized about high school. TV shows and books proved that it was a magical four years filled with first loves, wild parties, and a taste of true freedom. These would be the years when I'd finally break out of my cocoon and transform into the graceful butterfly I knew I could one day be.
As we slowly halted outside the school twenty minutes later, I could barely contain my excitement. I'd planned my outfit weeks prior, I'd memorized my schedule, and I'd had a good night sleep; Nothing could ruin my first day. I bounded up the steps and shuffled quickly down the concrete sidewalk. Lamp posts and bushes bordered my path and tall, metallic letters hung in an arch above the entrance spelling, "Kensington High". For a small town, we had one of the largest schools in the state, partly because it encompassed the tri-town region. I was already drowning in the wave of unfamiliar students who were ready to face a brand new year, a brand new start.
"Trixie! So glad to see you!" Kaylee beckoned and Addison waved.
I turned around to see two of my best friends since third grade; We were lucky enough to share a few classes this year.
"Hey! Excited for high school?" I reached over for a quick hug.
"Definitely. We're finally real teenagers now, not just middle school babies," Addi rolled her hazel eyes and her silky honey-brown hair bobbed around her shoulders as she chuckled.
Teenagers puttered through the halls, packing away books, zipping up back-packs, and shuffling along to classes. I quickly checked my backpack for my sketchbook as I bent down to my locker and adjusted my thick black-rimmed glasses before proceeding to my first class. As I traveled down the unknown hallway with caution, I discreetly observed the new faces, searching for any potential friends.
And that was the moment I saw him.
Through the colorfully clad teenagers, stood a boy in monochrome. Raven black hair hung over his pensive face and he slouched against the brick wall with an air of loneliness. He wasn't the typical emo wannabe with chains on his pants and black nail polish as I expected, he was dressed in mostly gray and white – Simple taste. Something about him was fascinating to me.
"Who are you looking at, Trixie...?" Kaylee asked, flipping her golden locks as she turned towards me.
Was it so obvious that I had been staring at someone? I turned away with a blush – Hopefully, he hadn't caught me in the act.
"Um, do you know that guy over there?" I motioned as slyly as possible.
Both Addison and Kaylee scrunched up their faces as if there was something foul in the air.
"Loner boy over there? No-no, hun, don't be messing with him. I've seen him around and I hear nothing but bad things about him. He's a junior, I think, but you could do way better than a slimy old 'emo'."
My eyebrows furrowed in contemplation as she pulled me along with her into the classroom. Was she really looking out for me or stereotyping as usual? I'd admit that hanging out with mostly bleach blonde girls and muscle-heads might have spurred my curiosity about him, but I felt some sort of uncanny attraction. Perhaps it was just a kick of teenage hormones – a first crush of sorts – so I shook it off as best as I could.
Despite all I planned to ensure that this day would pass smoothly, I hadn't accounted for one major detail: Kensington High is a giant building and I have zero navigation skills. I'd managed to scramble into each of my classes just before the bell, but this left me with a front row seat next to unfamiliar faces nearly every time. To my utter dismay, my first day of high school seemed to be a repeat of middle school, but now there were even more students and hallways to get lost in. I was back at the bottom, just like in 7th grade. My excitement diminished almost instantly and I wearily rested my hand on my cheek. Hopefully, the rest of the day would be better.
I sighed heavily as the bell signaled the end of 3rd period and I scooped up my books in one arm before proceeding towards the next class. My head hung lower this time and I tried to avoid the gazes of others I didn't know, but as I turned a corner, I accidentally bumped into someone. My books crashed to the floor with a loud thud and I instantly fell to my knees.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! I know I'm way clumsy... I don't know what I was thin-" I looked up to see a guy, but not just any guy – It was him.
I snapped out of my temporary trance and began picking up the books as fast as I could, but I paused the moment he pushed his ebony hair aside. He was utterly stunning. A flawless milky white complexion complimented his boyish features and his eyes were the brightest blue – You wouldn't have guessed from behind his shag of black hair that he possessed such mesmerizing eyes. They pierced right through me as I stared at him and for a moment, he watched too. Our meeting was brief, however, as he suddenly shot me a chilling glare and walked past me without a single word. I sat still for a few seconds, trying to comprehend what I had done to deserve such a cold response. It was an accident after all. Maybe Kaylee was right, I shouldn't spend my time on him.
I did my best to dismiss his rudeness and I gathered the books he so ignorantly refused to help with. I was tempted to look back, to see if he was still walking, but I shook my head and determinedly set off to class with my mess of papers. I quickly scuffled into the room and sank into my seat, quietly doodling as the teacher droned on about the class' curriculum that year. A sigh of relief slipped from my mouth as the bell rang and I slung my bag over my shoulder before heading off to lunch.
I hope it won't be this boring in all of my classes...
The hall quickly refilled with students and Addison and Kaylee soon joined my side. They did their best to cheer me up, but my mood soured slowly after reaching the cafeteria. Blue eyes sat only a few tables away from us and with him were his worn backpack and a crumpled paper bag. Though I was still bothered by his standoffish behavior, I couldn't help but notice the meager sandwich he pulled out and devoured in a heartbeat. Didn't he eat? I hardly paid attention to my friends' conversation over lunch and I instead tried to concentrate on him without being painfully obvious. He'd only had one thing to eat and he sat alone, listening to a cracked ipod. A nagging in my heart told me that this boy needed a friend, and in a cruel teenage wasteland, they were hard to come by. Tomorrow, I resolved, I would try to talk to him again.
"So how ya likin' school?" Kaylee chimed as the first day came to a close a few short periods later.
"Ehh, it's okay I guess. It's a lot like middle school so far, but with older kids..."
"Well, hopefully it'll get better and we'll meet some hot guys!" she winked with her long lashes.
I smiled with her and we both waved goodbye as we separated to our respective buses.
My morning routine was unusually haphazard the next day and I hardly had time to put on my shoes before the bus stopped outside. I'd slept in after a restless night. I hardly had any time to make myself look presentable, so I ran my fingers through my tangled mess of copper hair just before pushing my way through the heavy metal doors of the school's entrance.
I was met by Addison and Kaylee who were just excited as I was yesterday. Surely they hadn't experienced the same mind-degrading boredom and humiliation as I had.
"Hey, guys...?" I inquired nervously.
"Yes?" They answered in unison without a hint of worry in their voices.
"Is it alright if I miss lunch with you today?"
"Oh, do you have somewhere else you need to be?" Addi asked, inquisitively.
"Um, remember that kid I saw yesterday...?"
"Not that creep again... I thought we told you he was bad news."
"Well I noticed how lonely he seemed yesterday and everyone needs a friend, maybe he's just misunderstood..."
"Alright, alright... But make sure you don't miss too many lunches okay? We wanna spend some time with you too, you know?" Kaylee added.
"I promise," I smiled, eager that they didn't totally reject the idea.
My classes passed more peacefully the second day since I wasn't glued to a map of the school, rushing to find every room. I hadn't seen him yet, though. I was beginning to worry that I had lost my opportunity yesterday, but surely enough, he was sitting at the same table when I walked into lunch. I stopped before entering the cafeteria, fearing that he might stab me with those eyes of his again, so I quietly composed myself before proceeding.
"Is this seat taken...?" I asked with a gulp.
I could feel his eyes on me even though his hair covered them.
"No," he stated tritely.
Does that mean I can sit here...? I'm going with yes.
I took the seat opposite from his and stared at my lap, scared to meet his eyes again. The tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife, but after much mental coaching, I convinced myself to look up.
"Hey," I said, I putting on a nervous smile and holding out my hand. "We sort of met yesterday. I'm Trixie and you are...?"
He moved his hair aside as he had yesterday and stared carefully at me with his ocean blue eyes. Something about them were so cold and I lowered my hand, all at once regretting that I decided to sit here.
"Kaden Hunt," he enunciated slowly and quietly.
"That's a cool name," I said with hesitation, hoping the compliment wouldn't annoy him.
I pulled a lunch-bag out of my backpack and he looked at me, curiously. "You pack your lunch...?"
That's right, he'd had a packed lunch yesterday.
"Yeah, I think it beats waiting in line... Speaking of lunch, didn't you bring anything?"
I mentally scolded myself for asking such an insensitive question and Kaden glanced to the table with a sigh. Before opening my big mouth again, I looked at him with pity-filled eyes and silently passed him half of my sandwich. His eyes met mine and though he accepted it hesitantly, I could see how much he wanted it.
"Why did you want to sit with me? Do you want something?"
"W-well, to be honest, I saw you yesterday... sitting by yourself. I just wanted to say hi or something because I used to be that girl, until my friends made an effort to include me."
"You used to be like me? Somehow I can't believe you ever had a hard time making friends... Maybe it's because I can see how much your entire table is missing you over there."
I turned around to see my friends jump and hastily continue their eating, acting as if they hadn't been watching us the whole time.
Kaden gave a slight chuckle and I laughed nervously with him – He didn't seem like the smiley type, so this must have been a rare sight to behold.
For the remainder of lunch, we ate silently and chatted here and there. When the bell rang, I jumped slightly. The time flew faster than I expected and I found that I actually enjoyed being with him for that half hour. I shot him a quick smile as I packed away my things and as I began to move away, he grabbed my arm. I was taken aback at first, but I felt no need to worry once I saw his timid expression.
"Do you want to have lunch with me again tomorrow...?"
"Sure, I'll bring something for you too," I smiled shyly.
His eyes brightened at the offer and I could tell he was struggling to say a thank you or a goodbye, so instead, we nodded at each other and parted our separate ways. School had been predictable so far, but meeting Kaden was totally unexpected. I hadn't planned on meeting any boys so early on in my freshman year, especially not a boy as unusual as him. When I stepped onto my bus that afternoon, I could no longer thing about the fantastical portrayals of high school on TV; only about the curious turn reality had taken.