The door slammed loudly against the wall as I stomped into the house. Thank goodness my parents were still at work, because they would have scolded me to no end for throwing open the door so hard and for trudging snow into the house.
Right now, however, that was the least of my worries.
"Where is he?" I demanded as I stomped through the living room. I was half expecting to see Philip in the kitchen, but the only one there was my brother.
"Where is who?" Caleb asked innocently, looking up from where he was doing his math homework on the counter. I narrowed my eyes at him. As if he didn't hear me when I walked into the house.
"Your best friend," I hissed, barely edging each word out through gritted teeth. I folded my arms and glared. "Where is he?"
My brother still had that innocent look on his face. "Phil's back at his own house," he told me, as if that was the most natural thing in the world.
Well. That simply wouldn't do. That stupid, obnoxious, annoying, unbelievable, ridiculous-
"Cassidy, why're you looking for Philip?" Caleb asked nonchalantly, still staring at me, his math homework totally neglected now.
I gnashed my teeth together. As if he didn't know. I normally didn't stomp into the kitchen angrily asking for Philip, but today was different. Today was the day everything had changed. No longer was Philip just that semi-annoying friend of Caleb's who often came into our kitchen and devoured all our food.
No, today, Philip O'Brien had become my enemy.
The downward spiral of it all began just three hours ago, when I had been blissfully oblivious. The only thing on my mind had been the date I had been preparing to go on...
"Okay, I'm off," I said over the phone to my friend Maisie, "Wish me luck!"
I could hear her sighing over the phone as I wriggled into my black skirt and checked myself out in the mirror.
"I don't know about him, Cassidy," Maisie said with that hint of doubt in her voice.
"Oh, he fits my bill," I told her impatiently. "Well, I don't want to be late. He's coming at six. I'll tell you about it later!" I hung up before she could protest or give me another reason why I shouldn't be going out with Lance tonight.
I did another double check in the mirror, straightened out my blouse, and tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. There, now I didn't look half bad. Grabbing my purse, I pulled open my bedroom door and headed down the stairs.
Maisie didn't like Lance Porter. I knew that. She thought he was too serious and didn't have a sense of humor. I quirked my mouth and thought about it again. Maybe Lance was a little solemn sometimes, but that was because he knew what he wanted and didn't have time to goof off like other guys at my school did. He was on the debate team, in my Leadership class, volunteered with Rotary, and still had time to take four AP classes this semester. He was responsible and goal oriented and a nice person. Plus he had actually stopped me after school last week to ask me out on a date, and Maisie's doubts weren't going to ruin this for me. He fit my bill.
I could hear voices as I made my way down the stairs. My brother must be home, and no doubt his best friend Philip O'Brien was here too.
Sure enough, I could see the back of Caleb's head as I walked down got to the bottom.
"…sure this is a good idea, Phil?" my brother was saying, his voice full of uncertainty.
"It's worth trying," that was Philip's voice. I couldn't see him, but judging from where his voice was coming from, I was sure he was in the kitchen, rummaging through our fridge. Philip had been hanging around my brother for so long that he was no stranger at our house.
"What's worth trying?" I asked offhandedly as I walked up to the kitchen counter.
My brother nearly jumped in surprise.
"Cassidy!" he said, as if he wasn't expecting me to live in the same house as him. "What are you doing here?"
I rolled my eyes. "I live here, dummy," I told him.
Caleb stared at me. "But I thought you had to make posters or fundraise or something."
I rolled my eyes again. "I don't have to do that everyday," I told him.
I was the junior class President of our high school, and I was often preoccupied with activities to plan or fundraisers to run, especially now that second semester had just started. Second semester meant prom. Even though it was still several months away, we already had to start preparing fundraisers and checking out venues.
"Anyways, what's worth trying?" I asked again, looking from my brother to Philip, whose head had just popped up from behind the refrigerator door.
"Cassidy," Philip said with a grin, drawing out my name like he always did when he saw me. "Fancy seeing you here."
"It is my house, Philip," I retorted, crossing my arms and glaring at him.
"Yeah, but I'm here more often than you are, it seems like," Philip said with a shrug as he tried to balance an armload of soda, bread, and cheese all at once while making his way to the counter where my brother and I sat.
"That just means you're here way too much," I told him pointedly.
Philip only laughed as he dumped all his food on top of the counter. I frowned as I looked at his pile. I'll never understand how teenage boys could eat so much.
"Have I ever told you two that you look nothing alike?" Philip said as he popped a chip into his mouth, looking from me to Caleb.
My brother and I eyed each other.
"All the time," I muttered.
It was true. And it wasn't just Philip who said that either. A lot of people were surprised when Caleb and I told them that we were twins. We were fraternal, of course, but I guess in everybody's mind the word "twins" made them think we would look more alike than we actually did.
Caleb and I had the same green eyes, but that's where the similarities ended. He was a lot taller than me. He had dirty blonde hair whereas my hair was almost black. And, according to our parents, he looked like he was smiling most of the time whereas I just looked like I was scowling most of the time. Of course, when they told me that, it only made me scowl more.
"Have you ever considered the fact that you were adopted?" Philip went on as he grabbed another handful of chips.
I scowled at him. How could I not look angry when I had to deal with this constantly?
"Then thank goodness they adopted a child like me rather than one like you," I shot back.
Caleb and I were surprisingly close, especially considering the fact that we did none of the same activities. In high school, we had our separate groups of friends, but I knew I could always count on my brother at the end of the day. I would tell him if something at school ever really bugged me, and he kept me pretty informed on his life.
Being around Caleb also meant being around Philip. They had been inseparable ever since they were in elementary school. It also helped that Philip was our next door neighbor. He was only ever a thirty second walk from our house, and usually free enough to come around and hang out all the time.
Philip O'Brien and I had been close once. As children, the three of us would run around together all the time. He was actually the one that taught me how to ride a bike.
He was also the boy that stole my first kiss from me. And I say stole, because that's exactly what he did.
It was fourth grade, and we had been playing hide and seek. Caleb had been the seeker, and the two of us had hidden in one of those tunnel slides on the playground. We had been cramped together, huddling inside the tunnel trying not to make a noise, when Philip suddenly whispered to me, "Hey, close your eyes."
Stupidly, I closed my eyes without thinking much or even asking why. The next thing I knew, Philip O'Brien had planted one right on me! Needless to say, it had been pretty shocking.
"What are you doing?" I had shouted at him. Without waiting for an answer, I then shoved him as hard as I could down the slide.
He had yelped, and my shouting at him had given away our position. By the time Caleb had found us, I was already furiously wiping my mouth with the back of my hand and then wiping Philip's cooties back on his shirt.
Caleb, as clueless as ever, then asked what was going on, to which I fervently responded with proclamations of how gross and disgusting Philip was while wiping the back of my hand on Philip's shirt.
Even back then, Philip had been a goofball. He was the class clown and always drew attention to himself by making everybody else laugh. He was outgoing and rambunctious, but at that moment, he had been unusually quiet. His entire face had turned red, and he could only stare silently at the ground as I went on and on about how disgusting he was.
To this day, I still don't know if Caleb knew about what had really happened. I didn't elaborate, Philip wouldn't talk, and Caleb didn't prod. He probably thought Philip wiped a booger on me or something.
Besides that one incident though, nothing ever really happened. We grew up, and eventually grew apart. In middle school, Caleb and Philip started hanging out with their crowd of guy friends, and I had just met Maisie and eventually hung around with a group of girls. Then high school came and I got busy with student government while Philip and Caleb had sports, and we eventually drifted further apart. The only real interactions I had with him were the five minute intervals when we passed each other in our living room whenever he came over.
Quite a few of my friends had bemoaned how I was missing golden opportunities by not trying to get with Philip O'Brien. He was funny, outgoing, and athletic. Also, growing up certainly hadn't been cruel to him. Altogether, he had become one of the most popular guys at our school.
"I cannot believe he is at your house every single day and you are not doing anything about it!" My friend Annie had told me in exasperation.
I had mostly shrugged it off. It was not really something I thought about. It would just be too weird, what with both him as my brother's best friend and someone I had once been close to but then drifted apart from as we got older. Also, Philip O'Brien was too much of a goofball to be my type. He was the type to crack jokes in class while we were supposed to be working on homework and the type to get a mohawk and dye it in the spirit of homecoming week. Not that that was bad, or course. As a class officer, I understood that showing spirit during homecoming was important. But it just meant he wasn't my type. Lance Porter, on the other hand, did fit my bill.
"Well, whatever you guys are up to, I don't have time to really stay and chat, I've got to be off," I said casually, picking up my purse from the counter and getting up to head to the door. Lance should be here any minute now.
"Where are you going?" Philip asked, lifting his head up and raising an eyebrow.
"Hmm…a date," I said with a smile. It was a first date. That made it sort of exciting.
Philip frowned. "Really? With who?"
He had full on stopped eating and was just frowning at me. Caleb, on the other hand, almost seemed bored by the subject. I knew my brother didn't really care to hear much about my dating life. He had never been the overprotective older brother type. Well, maybe being seven minutes older didn't really qualify him to be overprotective, but still, he was more of a "You do what you want and I'll do what I want and I don't care who you date as long as they are not a jerk to you" kind of person.
"Lance Porter," I replied, wondering why Philip had still not gone back to stuffing his face yet. Was my love life so interesting that it could distract him from food that long?
"Him? Really?" Philip said in disbelief, his frown deepening with every syllable. "He seems kind of boring, doesn't he? Is that what you're into?"
I suddenly felt annoyed. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Caleb look up, although he wasn't looking at me. He was looking at Philip. He seemed to be trying to catch his attention, but Philip's gaze never broke from mine.
"He's not boring," I retorted with a glare. "He's just serious about what he wants to do. And I happen to find that attractive."
Then, without another look back at him, I turned on my heels and walked out the door.
Lance was right on time, just like I knew he would be. He had even dressed up a little for the occasion, wearing a crisp button down and nice jeans. He was handsome in that classic nice guy way. He had a nice smile and soft eyes and would never say more than he was supposed to.
We ended up going to a small restaurant by the lake. It was mostly a seafood restaurant. I didn't really like seafood, but I refrained from saying that. Not after all the trouble Lance had gone through to take me here. So I only smiled and tried to force down the fish that I was eating.
The date went on sufficiently awkwardly. It was a first date, so the awkwardness really couldn't be avoided, but I still couldn't help but wince internally when we somehow talked about the weather for a good five minutes.
"So…how're your classes looking this semester?" Lance asked when we finally got off the topic of how nice it is to have both snow and sun at the same time. What a January it was!
"Oh!" I replied, trying to swallow and respond to him at once. He had asked me the question right as I put another fork full of sea bass into my mouth. "Hmm…it's been good," I said, nodding. "Yeah, I'm taking pre-calculus, and I'm in journalism, and of course, we have that Leadership class together."
Lance smiled and nodded at my mention of that as I wracked my brain for more things to talk about. I guess I could go on listing my other three classes, but after that, what would we talk about?
"Yeah, that's a pretty neat class," Lance went on, "I like Mr. Kleiberg."
I nodded in agreement. Mr. Kleinberg was an old man nearing the age of requirement. There was nothing not to like about him because in class, he basically let us do whatever we wanted to. Granted, it was a leadership class, and it was more about coming up with your own ideas rather than taking orders from a teacher, but Mr. Kleinberg would read newspapers for the majority of the class while the rest of us debated which fundraiser we should try next.
All class officers had to take the class. There were also the super involved, who wanted to take Leadership to help plan events and contribute their suggestions for improvements, new activities, and events that we should try. Lance wasn't overtly one of those super enthusiastic, but he did have quite a few ideas on fundraising that had been quite helpful.
"It's getting especially busy now that all the candidates have submitted their intent to run for class officers for next year," Lance went on. I had the feeling that he was also desperately searching his brain for something to say.
"Oh yes," I nodded agreeably. "I bet there's a bunch of stuff we have to sort through before they officially announce all the candidates next Monday."
Student government elections at our school began with candidate submissions in January. We had to get a certain amount of people to pledge for us, and then we could run for a spot. Next, candidate reports were sorted and filed in the Leadership class, which then shifts the work to the administration, who can approve or disapprove of your candidacy. And that was more of a formality than anything else. As long as you weren't expelled, I doubt the school would try and interfere with your decision to run for a class officer.
I had been President of my class since middle school. I knew the inner workings of running a class better than anybody. It was quite exhausting sometimes. Between planning class events, helping set up for dances, and organizing trips and volunteering projects, I sometimes barely had enough time to myself. Freshman year, I had been on the tennis team and in drama class, and I had to give up both of those because I simply did not have time. But being class President was rewarding as well. The experience, the sense of accomplishments, and the people I got to meet throughout it all made it worth it.
For the past two years, I had run for class President uncontested. It definitely made it easier not having to campaign.
"You're running right?" Lance was smiling at me. I smiled back. "For senior class President?"
"Oh, this year I've decided to change up the pace a little bit," I said lightly. "I'm going to run for student body President."
I said this all casually, but in reality, I had been planning to run for student body President since the beginning of high school. There were a lot of ideas I had for the school as a whole, and the only way they could be realized is if I worked with all four years rather than just my own.
Lance's eyes widened. "Oh really? I saw your name on the candidacy ballot, but I just glanced at it. I thought you were running for class President."
He was one of the people in my leadership class who was looking over the candidacy forms. Since I had actually submitted mine and was running, I wasn't allowed to be involved in the process. Conflict of interest.
"Yeah, I'm running for Student Body President," I said, trailing off. Lance and I weren't close enough for me to have mentioned this to him. I had mentioned it to a few of my friends and my brother, of course. That was enough people to have spread the word enough that probably no one else would run against me. Student Body President always went to a senior, and what better senior to give it to than someone who had as much experience as I did?
For some reason, Lance was staring at me awkwardly. He opened his mouth and closed it several times. He seemed like he was on the cusp of trying to tell me something, but couldn't quite get the words out.
"What?" I asked, frowning at him. Did I have something on my face?
"But…" Lance mumbled, and then he shut his mouth and looked away.
My frown deepened. "What?" I asked again. Did he not think I was capable of being student body President or something?
"Well, I mean, I'm just surprised that he's running too, I suppose," Lance went on, looking uncomfortable. "I mean, he must know you're running for the same position…" he trailed off again.
My hand froze in midair. The piece of pasta I had forked up was frozen in place as I looked at Lance.
"Who's running?" I demanded. I definitely hadn't heard of this. I wasn't allowed to review the candidacy forms that the rest of the Leadership class was working on, but usually, gossip spread around fast enough that I would've at least heard word of who was planning on campaigning.
Lance looked more uncomfortable by the second. "Wait, he hasn't mentioned anything?" he asked me, trying to look at me and avoid my eyes at the same time.
"Who hasn't told me anything?" I crossed my arms.
"Philip O'Brien," Lance muttered. "I mean, he hangs around with your brother so much that I was sure you would've known. Isn't he over at your house all the time? I thought…"
But I never heard what he thought. My brain was so shocked at the fact that Philip O'Brien was running for student body President that it never quite recovered enough to turn its focus back on the date. I don't really remember quite what happened the rest of the night besides the fact that it was rather unmemorable.
In fact, the most memorable moment was when he had mentioned that Philip was running against me.
What. The. Heck.
How in the world had this happened? I had been cocky enough to think that I would run again uncontested, but barring that, what the heck was Philip doing? And how in the world had I not heard about it?
It seemed impossible that he would do this without blabbing about it. No, not Philip and how much of a chatterbox he was. He would have at least mentioned something to my brother. Who would have mentioned it to me.
And that's what prompted me to stomp into the house half an hour later. I had not really bothered with a proper goodbye to Lance, who I was sure had an awful time on this date and was probably totally regretting the fact that he had asked me out. I had grumbled and mumbled and then debated with him about why Philip would run for the rest of the dinner. I highly doubted he would ask me out again, but at this point, I didn't really care.
"Well!" I fumed, throwing my purse on the couch in the living room and pacing up and down the kitchen. I was mad at Caleb too. He was being so unhelpful. "Well!"
I was pretty sure smoke was coming out of my nostrils as I paced across the dining room and kitchen. "Well!"
Caleb continued to stare at me, looking worried. "Um…Cass?" he asked uncertainly. "Are you alright?"
That set me off. I stopped my pacing in front of him
"Am I all right?" I demanded, shooting him the most furious glare I could muster. "Am I alright?" I jabbed my index finger at his chest. Caleb winced, but did not move back. "How could you not tell me about this?"
I had said each word slowly and angrily. Caleb was now frowning at me.
"About what?" he asked cautiously.
"Philip O'Brien is running for student body President!" I growled.
Caleb actually flinched. Good. Good. I knew he knew about this, and it was totally not okay that he didn't feel the need to tell me at all.
"Oh," Caleb said, his voice dropping an octave lower. He seemed to shift back on his chair, looking at me warily and bracing for an attack. "That."
"Yes," I said, narrowing my eyes at him. "That."
"Right," my brother jerked the collar of his shirt, still shifting rather uncomfortably in his chair. "So you found out, huh?"
That did it.
"What do you mean I found out, huh?" I yelled at him, flinging my arms about in consternation. "You knew about this didn't you Caleb? Didn't you? Why didn't you tell me about it? You knew how much I wanted to run for President!"
My brother frowned at me. "So?" he asked as if confused. "It's not like you can't run. You just have competition now."
"Yes, but-" I began, then froze. I thought about it for a second. Why did I mind so much? It was not like Philip running prevented me from running. I fumed. maybe it was just because I did not expect anyone to run against me. After all, no one had run against me for class President for the past three years. But that was not really fair. just because I did not expect competition should not mean that I would be upset by it. How childish would that be?
But that was not the only thing, I thought about it. It was because it was Philip. And I knew him. I knew what type of person he was. he was not doing this because he genuinely wanted to lead the school or implement changes or something. He was doing this for another reason.
"Okay," I growled, glaring at my brother with my hands on my hips. "Spill. Why is Philip O'Brien really doing this?"
Caleb stared back at me, eyes wide, feigning confusion. Ha! Like I didn't know better.
"Uh...because he wants to be student body President?" my brother replied, contorting his face in the way he did whenever he felt awkward.
I scoffed. "As if!" I huffed. "This is the guy who comes up with events like Pie Your Teacher in the Face days, who shows up shirtless to the football games, who rode to school on a self built chariot for the Spartan themed homecoming last year!"
My brother raised his eyebrows at me. "What's wrong with any of those things? The pie your teacher thing was for charity. I think even you said that it was a good idea last year. The teachers gladly volunteered. Donate more than twenty dollars and you get to throw lemon meringue at your math teacher's face? Come on, that was brilliant. It was the most successful fundraiser we have ever had. Plus, Phil shows up shirtless to games because he paints his torso to support our team. And aren't you supposed to support spirit during homecoming anyways? Most people thought his chariot was really funny and awesome."
I folded my arms. That was all true. I remembered that even the teachers had gathered around Philip's hand built chariot last year and asked if they could sit in it.
"Well, no one wants to see him shirtless!" I retorted, not being able to think of a good comeback. And even that one was not good because it was a lie. Plenty of people wanted to see him shirtless. I was sure that during our football games, half of the girls that showed up went to look at Philip rather than the game itself. Still, it did not make me any less agitated by this whole thing.
"Plus, what is wrong with those things anyways?" Caleb asked me. "It's not like doing any of those things would make him a bad President."
"He is not serious about anything!" I fumed and stalked to my room, refusing to hear any more of Caleb's counterarguments.
I couldn't sleep that night. I was furious. Furious and fuming and pacing around my room so much that I was sure I would wear out a path in the carpet. Who did Philip O'Brien think he was? He knew I was the better candidate. He knew I was more devoted, more experienced, and more suited in every way.
Ugh. I picked up an eraser from my desk and started fiddling with it, scratching the rubber top and trying to crush it in my hand. I wished Philip O'Brien was that piece of eraser.
We were next door neighbors. In fact, looking out of my bedroom window, I could just see Philip's window. The lights were off. I knew he was probably asleep. And why shouldn't he be? It was one am on a Thursday night.
I clenched the eraser in my hand. That jerk. That absolute jerk. Then, on a total impulse, I walked over to my window, lifted it up, and chucked that eraser at Philip's window. It hit the pane with a dull thud.
I froze. For a moment, I was totally panicked that I had woken someone up, but no lights went on in that house. No movement.
But it wasn't relief that washed over me when I realized no one was woke up. It was anger. How dare Philip O'Brien sleep through that? How dare he just stay in bed all comfortable while I was here fuming?
I knew that I didn't function well when I stayed up late. I got angry and cranky and upset at the smallest things. Not the best combination. Especially not when I just found out that one of my dreams since middle school was being threatened by a guy who decided to run for student body President on a whim.
Philip O'Brien wasn't just my brother's best friend anymore. Not just a neighbor. Not that little boy who had stolen my first kiss. No. He was now my enemy.
I stomped over to my desk and grabbed another pink eraser. Breaking it in half, I chucked it at Philip's window again. Another thud. Still no movement.
"Argh!" I groaned, now thoroughly frustrated. Somewhere, the thought that I was acting like a madwoman right now crossed into my mind, but I quickly brushed that off.
Taking the other half of the eraser I had left, I threw it with all my might at Philip's window again.
Only I wasn't expecting him to pull the window open at the last moment.
"Ouch!" Philip jumped backwards as the eraser half hit him squarely in the nose. I clasped my hand to my mouth, gasping in surprise.
He looked up, frowning towards my direction, and I dropped to the ground instantaneously.
I looked around frantically. I knew I probably looked like a deer in headlights right now. I hadn't expected him to actually wake up. Gulping, I looked at my bed, wondering if I can somehow make it there, turn the nightstand lamp off, and crawl under the covers without Philip O'Brien seeing me. I was hidden well enough right now. I had dropped down so that I was now sitting with my back to the window, but my head was just below the window sill so he couldn't see anything.
...or could he? I gulped again. Peering upwards, I was sure that my head was below my window sill. Still frozen in place, i was deciding on the best way to crawl to bed undetected when Philip spoke again.
"Cassidy, I can see the top of your head," he said pointedly.
Well, so much for that.
"Alright!" I growled, springing up and leaning out the window. "I heard you were running for student body president."
Philip suddenly looked a lot less groggy and confused. Instead, he propped his forearm up against the window and smirked at me. "Oh? Did Sir Lancelot tell you that?"
I clenched my hand into a fist, wanting to knock that grin right off of his face. "It's Lance," I hissed through gritted teeth. "And so what if he did?"
Philip shrugged. "Just didn't know he was the gossipy type," he said.
I narrowed my eyes. Philip wasn't usually like this. I wondered what he had against Lance, but decided not to pursue it. There were bigger fish to fry.
"I didn't know you cared so much about the school," I told him pointedly.
His grin got even bigger. It was as if he was trying to bait me.
"I have a lot of good ideas," he replied. "I've always thought Crestview could benefit a lot from someone who had good ideas."
I pressed both hands on the window sill and glared at him. "You think you'll win against me?"
"Why are you chucking your erasers at my window at one am?" Philip said, still smirking. "You're already threatened."
"As if you could ever be a threat," I said.
"Then why don't we see how the actual election goes?" He said, cocking an eyebrow at me.
"Fine," I said in a huff. I reached up to close the window, but not before one last parting statement. "May the best candidate win."
Philip smirked at me. "Bring it."
/A/N: I always seem to have multiple stories in my mind. Will be working on this in parallel with Lunch atop a Skyscraper :)