He was looking down at me with intense teal eyes, he reached up and put a hand through his hair before smiling in acknowledgement at my thank you, and I couldn't help how undoubtedly attractive I found him.
I deserve to have my own version of fun for a change, right?
Well, so I thought – maybe I should have clicked on when everyone around me knew who he was, or even when he got a phone call from his mum, and especially when he ran up to Mark and handed him the phone.
But by this point I was having way too much fun to acknowledge, was far to intoxicated to notice and quite possibly not wanting to actually care.
My alarm went off with a deafening blare and I awoke with a start. Groaning I rolled over and searched for my phone on the bedside table, my eyes barley open. Soon I managed to grab it before the chime kicked in again, rising a volume level. I swiped it off, and sat up, pushing my tangled hair back off my face, yawning.
My phone read – GET UP! It's September 8th
The first day of my second and final year of college.
I'm pretty average. You know, long and curly caramel hair with green eyes – my hips the largest part of my body and my legs the longest.
I like school, I actually enjoy homework. Maybe one day I'll want to be a teacher, or something like that. But really, I like music and I'd actually love to sing for a living, but singing isn't something I've done for a long, long time. Ever since I moved here, honestly.
I swung my legs off of the side of the bed, and stretched away the sleep. The light creeping from the crack in my curtains causing me to squint slightly. Standing up, pulling on my dressing gown, I headed for the bathroom.
I moved here almost 2 years ago, after my parent's separation. Here being over 80 miles from the home where I was born and raised.
I brushed my teeth, and turned to stare in the mirror. I gave myself a hard gaze, my jaw tightened in determination.
This year was going to be different, I nodded.
Don't get me wrong, the past year and a half was by no means bad. I moved here with my only aim to just fit in and make friends, and I defiantly did that. Very well.
But in doing so, something had to give – and that was my willingness to participate in only 40% of the activities my friends planned.
Oh, and this weird sense of social anxiety. And I call it weird because put me in a group of people with my friends and I will be perfectly content joining in, joking around and talkative but put me in a one on one situation and I completely crumble, unable to string together the most simplest of sentences.
I absolutely never used to be like that when I lived back home and I've put it down to I maybe don't like being taken out of my comfort zone.
No, I loathe being taken out of my comfort zone.
I grew up with my friends' back home, I am sure they knew me better than I knew the back of my own hand. Every aspect of my life and personality; they were the experts. Coming here to a place where I knew no one un-nerved me and I hid a lot of aspects of my personality from them – all in an effort to fit in and not be the new girl who was in a girl band with the separated parents.
I padded back to my room, and put on the carefully laid out outfit of blue ripped at the knee skinny jeans, a plain white t-shirt and some tan strappy sandals.
I fixed my hair the best I could; smoothing out my curls so they were at least somewhat more representative of waves, and put on my make-up. Finishing off with a matte nude lipstick just as my text tone went off and a car rolled up my driveway.
"Alexia! Taylor is here!" My mum shouted up the stairs, her voice drifting into my room.
I sighed, "Here goes." Grabbing my bag off the side board and a granola bar off the kitchen counter for breakfast I made my way outside.
Sitting in the driveway, in a lavender three door mini, with bleach blonde hair, thick oversized sunglasses and the shiniest lip-gloss that was representative to the sun was my best friend, Taylor Young. She clocked me, and waved.
The passenger side opened, leaking the new Beyoncé album onto the street. Bobbing out was Ruby Johnson, smiling and pulling back the passenger seat for me. Pale skin, scantily clad, with fire engine red hair you could spot from a mile away.
I shut the door behind me, and Taylor lifted her sunglasses, her hazel eyes raking over my appearance.
She pursed her lips and smiled, "You look nice today!"
I glanced at my reflection in the rear view mirror, "Hmm, I haven't done anything different."
She put the car into reverse, and rolled down her window.
"Are you sure? No new make-up, t-shirt, anything?!" She insisted.
I just grinned, "Ah, it's because I'm wearing a new attitude."
She raised a sceptical eyebrow, "That was the most cringy-ist thing you've ever said." She shook her head as if shaking off the uncomfortable feeling, "And you say a lot of cringy things; but do tell?"
"I have a new motto – just say yes."
She snorted under her breath, "Lame."
"No, no," I was quick to defend, well aware of what it sounded like and knowing what Taylor was like herself, "Hear me out!"
"I have vowed to make this year different. Make a change, and that change is not being such a boring bitch."
She smirked, and I knew she was judging me under them large sunglasses of hers.
Now, understand this – Taylor Young is what anyone would describe on the surface as a bitch. Quick to judge, with a dislike of anything out of the ordinary – but once you get past that she's pretty generous and open.
Taylor was one of the first to talk to me when I started at her school at the tail end of the final year of secondary school. Whether that was because she wanted to, or because the school enforces a new student buddy system didn't really matter. She introduced me to all of her friends, let me sit with her at lunch and even came round my house to meet my mum. Since that day we've been pretty inseparable. Oh, and Ruby, of course, but she's what you'd call a free spirt.
"I plan to get out there and have some fun. I'm so sick of sitting indoors watching Netflix."
"Yes, finally!" She finally said, a little relief flooded my body. "This fun – does that include coming to more parties!?"
I laughed a little, "Yes that includes more parties!"
"Fabulous." The car rolled up the college car park and came to a stop. She switched off the engine.
"I like this, Al! What a brilliant idea!" Ruby bubbled from the back seat, "Let's all re-invent ourselves!"
Taylor tutted, "Boobie, you couldn't re-invent yourself if you tried!"
Boobie is everyone in our friendship group's nickname for Ruby because of two sizable things she loves to flaunt daily and is not shy about it.
Ruby just winked and flipped open a compact mirror.
"It's not a re-invention! It's just making a conscience decision to make more effort!" I state, pulling the door handle and opening the door.
We all got out, and made a beeline for the college café for a large cup of coffee. The college courtyard was already buzzing with the sound of excited returning students and squeals of happiness coming from friendship reuniting.
Taylor laced her arm through mine, "And this new 'yes to fun' thing – does that count for boys too?"
I stared at her and she gave me a mischievous smile. I rolled my eyes, Taylor has been trying to get me a boyfriend or even near a boy since I've known her, and much to her dismay, I really wasn't interested all too much.
I'm not scared of boys, I've been on a few dates, had a few short relationships since being here but nothing substantial. But yes, I suppose that does go for boys. Fun, not boring, remember?
"I suppose so?" I laughed.
She held her head up high, and raised her sunglasses to her head, training her eyes ahead, a small smile playing on her lips "Good, oh, look," She unlaced her arm and grabbed my hand, "There's Mark – lets go and say hi!"
I gasped when I knew what she was implying, "Taylor, no," I followed her gaze to the picnic tables outside the café. Perched on one of the benches, legs either side, beckoning us over with strong arms was Mark Fleeting.
His brunette hair slightly bleached from the sun, ocean blue eyes and purposely wearing a t-shirt two sizes too small. His grin was charming and sexy and defiantly the reason for him being the college playboy. Mark loves girls, and girls love Mark.
Taylor stopped me and stood in front, placing her arms on my shoulders to give me a stern look, "You said fun, and Mark is fun!"
"I didn't mean that kind of fun Tay!"
"Jesus, I'm not asking you to sleep with him – just go on a few dates. Maybe a few cheeky kisses."
I scoffed, "Oh, yeah, whilst he's having some more 'few cheeky kisses' with every other girl in college?"
She shrugged on shoulder, "I thought you're new motto was just say yes! What's the problem? He's nice, you get on pretty well and he's fancied you forever!"
I glanced back at Mark – he was running his hand through his hair, laughing with some friends.
He was good looking, I suppose?
He turned our way and flashed a smile.
Okay, more than defiantly good looking.
And so long as I wasn't looking for anything serious, which I for sure wouldn't be with Mark – what was the problem?
What Taylor said was actually true – Mark and I did get on really well and we do tend to have a tiny flirt on the rare occasions I actually go to parties, to which once he drunkenly confessed his undying 'love' - ahem - lust to me, the moment ruined of course when I saw him getting off with a girl on the dancefloor no more than an hour later. Not that I genuinely minded, of course – I am not dumb enough to 1. Catch feelings or 2. Actually believe that someone like Mark would 'love' someone like me.
I held my hands up, "Okay, fine! I'll see what I can do."
She clapped her hands in excitement, "Don't worry, I'll do it for you! It's almost impossible to get Tom to go anywhere without Mark."
I threw my head back, of course there had to be an ulterior motive.
"Ah, I see. This hasn't nothing to do with me wanting to have fun, but more with the fact you want to go out with Tom?"
She pursed her lips, avoiding my gaze, "Partially – but what I said still stands!"
"Mmhmm," I just laughed at her and we continued on our track towards the table where our friends were sitting.
Ruby slid into the seat beside Mark, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, "Hey, Marky-Moo."
He patted her arm, rolling his eyes, "Hello, Ruby."
Ruby and Mark were pretty close friends, from what I gather. Even though they rarely hang around with each other, it's always something I questioned. Purely because Ruby is Ruby and has a slight obsession with boys, and Mark is Mark who loves any action he can get from a girl – what I do know is that they've never been together, not even kissed. They have known each other since they were in the womb, their parents being best friends and everything.
"Hey, Taylor, Aleixa," He smiled at me.
"Hi," I put my bag down on the table. Usually this would be a situation where I would let someone else take the lead in the conversation, but not today. "Happy to be back at college?" I say sarcastically.
He stared at me slightly, I pretended not to notice he looked surprised, before he grinned, "Mm, yeah sure, so excited." He rolled his eyes, "No, I'm actually looking forward to getting back into football actually."
Mark is captain of the college football team – yeah I know, how unbelievably stereotypical.
"After a summer of doing nothing?" I teased.
Tom scoffed, his black hair in his eyes, "Mark, you went to that bloody football camp for 4 weeks of the summer!"
"Yeah, then I had them two weeks off. Need to get back into it- full-time." He trained his attention back onto me, "How about you? Excited to be back?"
"Yes, actually. I am." I grin, taking in my surroundings.
"Ooo, Alexia has decided to re-invent herself!" Ruby exclaimed upon hearing our conversation. I tried to stop my cheeks from flushing red.
Mark raised an amused eyebrow at her, "Really?"
"Yep," Ruby lifted her phone to her face, punching in a text. "She has a motto – just say yes!"
I took a deep breath, brilliant.
"Yes. To everything?" Mark asked, smiling at me amusement playing on his lips.
I just nodded, my confidence wavering, "Basically. Within reason."
He gave an approving nod, "That means you can't say no to coming to my party Friday night."
Taylor laughed, "Nope, she can't!"
"Brilliant, looking forward to it," he winked at me, "See you later."
And he stood up just before the college bell rang, and I tried not to blush.
TWO MONTHS LATER
"Okay, how about this!?" Taylor held up a black sequined dress to her body, examining every thread of it in the mirror.
"Yes that's nice," I say, before returning back to my phone where I was previously scrolling aimlessly through Facebook.
"You didn't even look at it!" She accused, slamming the dress back down onto the rail.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I like shopping as much as the next girl, but I found that 2 hours of searching for one dress was a bit excessive.
That's 16 black dresses – all similar, give or take a sequin or a button. I had to mentally slap myself to stay awake.
"I'm sorry! But they all will look good on you!" I defend, closing my phone and putting it into my handbag.
"Easy for you to say! I need the perfect outfit for tonight!"
Tonight. Being Mark's party – my fifth weekend in a row to be exact actually.
I know, we should all congratulate me on how well I was doing with my 'just say yes' campaign. I keep on pushing away the exhaustion it's causing me. Not physically, but mentally. Doing the same thing every weekend without fail is proving quite taxing.
Taylor plans on making things official with Tom tonight – official meaning they can actually move from 'seeing each other' to 'in a relationship'. Teenagers.
"Tay – calm down. It is not a big deal."
I practically saw her eye twitch in annoyance.
"Ruby! Can you come and help me! Alexia is being unsupportive!"
I gave her a look of mock-offence, and turned to where Ruby was leant against a unit of folded jeans, talking to some guy in the stores uniform. His back was to us but he had brown hair, was pretty tall and Ruby had this look of flirt in her eyes, so my guess is he's good looking too.
Ruby snapped her head towards us upon hearing Taylor, shot the guy an apologetic look, squeezed his bicep and strutted over, her 4-inch cork heels echoing on the tiles.
"What do you think will make Tom go – Wow, she needs to be my girlfriend!" Taylor said, making gestures with her hands.
Ruby observed all of the dresses hanging on the rail before picking up two and thrusting them at her, "Here – take both of these!"
She then wondered over to another rail and picked up a nude plunge body suit with a silver chain harness, which she caught me looking at before, "And you take this! I'll get you both boyfriends yet!"
I laughed. This Mark thing was apparently still something they were both obsessing about now, I'd gone on a few double dates with both Taylor and Tom and Mark and me, but I doubted anything was there, especially when at whatever party we were at the next weekend Mark was all over some other girl.
We still flirted – I'm not going to pretend I don't enjoy the attention of a hot guy. Who wouldn't?
"You should still get it – it'll look really good on you!" She smiled at me.
I pulled out the tag, "It's a bit expensive, Rubs."
She shrugged a shoulder, and stared around the store like a meerkat, "I'll get us discount!" she locked eyes on someone, her eyes darkening and fluffed up her hair in the mirror.
Taylor was holding up the two dresses, contemplating Ruby's choices.
"How can she get us discount?" I asked, watching Ruby bound off towards the cash desk.
Taylor just waved her hand in dismissal, "Her ex works here."
I'd gotten home from shopping about half an hour before my mum got in from work. I ran toward the door to help her with some bags of shopping.
"What's all this for?" I ask her upon seeing the bags of groceries and a few bottles of wine. I swallowed the fear of telling me she was going on a date.
My parents had been separated for almost 2 years now, but that doesn't mean that I am completely comfortable with them dating other people. My dad has a girlfriend – the skank he cheated on my mum with, naturally.
I've yet to visit or actually meet her in person other than that brief time I caught them across the road in his car.
My skin itches at the thought of her – all sickly orange tanned skin and jet black hair. She's what I would describe as a tramp.
Others would call her bronzed and sexy but whatever.
"Ah, well you're going out. Again," She gave me a pointed look with a hint of a smile. Secretly I know my mum missed me sitting in with her on the weekends, watching shit TV and cooking big pots of carb loaded pasta – I did too. But I know she gets it.
"So I invited some people round from work for a little dinner party."
I smiled, "Aw that's nice mum, what are you making?" I riffled through the bags, and pulled out a large chocolate cake.
She slapped my hand and pulled it away, "Not for you! And just some chicken."
I leaned against the counter, the granite cool against my back.
"Where are you going tonight anyway?" My mum asked as she started to unpack the shopping bags.
"Just Mark's for a party."
"Another party?" she almost spluttered, her eyes wide.
I furrowed my brow, "Yeah… Is that a problem?"
"No, just that's a lot of parties – do you not ever do anything else?" she said, shrugging a shoulder and putting something in the fridge.
"I went out to dinner the other day! That's different?" I tried to defend, but mum was right. We actually never do anything other than go to the grill from some food and have parties.
She rolled her eyes, "You know what I mean, Alexia. Do you not ever go to shows or concerts anymore?"
"Um, no. I don't think my friends would like that very much."
"You always used to go to concerts back home – and sometimes be in them yourself!" She spoke with motivation, seemingly trying to convince me.
"I know, mum. I just don't think it's there thing." I said truthfully, I felt like the idea of going to any kind of concert that wasn't some sort of dance/house music would be laughable to them.
Don't even get me started on singing in front of them.
"Look, I found this flyer and brought it home for you," She pulled it out of her handbag, smoothing it as she went, "It's a local venue, they play all kinds of live music and things – just ask them!"
I took it from her and eyed it,
Live Music – Board Games – Pool
Alternative, Rock, and Pop Club
Open Thursdays – Sundays
12pm – 1am
"You loved doing things like that with friends at home." She smiled at me, and the way she did it, with some sort of sympathy made something swell inside me.
I slammed the flyer down onto the counter.
"Yeah, well, I am not at home anymore am I? Here is different." My voice was low and collected, but I directed everything at her through my eyes.
Yes, my friends and I used to go to concerts and gigs and fun bars, and yes I do miss it.
But here I can't do that, so I just have to blend in and deal with it.