Bonnie could remember Odessa as a small town when she was a kid, but only barely. Of course, most people at her school definitely still felt like it was the smallest town, and one that needed to be escaped as soon as possible. And Bonnie's mom definitely still felt like she was a kid.
But with her dad gone without a trace, and her mom dying, Bonnie hadn't felt like a kid in a long time. She spent more time taking care of her mom and little sister, Meghan, than anyone had spent taking care of her in years.
For Future Nurse Bonnie, as she thought of herself, Odessa was actually perfect. There weren't enough nurses who wanted to work in a town like Odessa, but it was growing quickly enough to have quite a need for them. Taking care of her mother had given her plenty of opportunities to get used to nursing, and she knew she was good at it. Going to nursing school in Memphis, not far away, was exactly the step she needed to take on her path to guaranteeing a stable life for herself and her sister Meghan.
"It's a long road there, though," she told herself in the mirror. She smoothed her hands down her black hair, hoping to help the curls look styled, and not quite so wild. Failing that, she continued the motions down her pink blazer and pinstriped jeans.
"You don't look like a high school student," she heard from behind. Bonnie turned to see the ten-year old Meghan eating cereal in her doorway. They had been hearing constantly for the past couple of years that Meghan was a mirror image of a younger Bonnie, and the older sister was starting to see it.
"What? You think I still look like you?" Meghan snorted, spraying milk down into her bowl.
"No way, I'm totally hotter than you ever were."
"Meghan! You are not supposed to think you're hot at your age."
"Well," Meghan said, "I'm definitely better looking than you, even though you're starting eleventh grade today." Meghan wrinkled her nose and put her cereal bowl to the side, on Bonnie's vanity. "And you look like you're thirty."
Bonnie rolled her eyes and went to Meghan. She looked down at her sister, and she couldn't deny that Meghan's curls looked much more put together than her own. The upturned nose they had gotten from a father that Bonnie barely remembered was cute and preppy on Meghan's face, but just made Bonnie look like one of Santa's helpers, she thought.
"I want to make a good impression," she said before heading towards their mother's room. She had been doing well for the past six months, but still needed help doing some basic things.
Meghan's eyeroll looked just like Bonnie's, most likely.
"A good impression on whom?"
That girl even speaks better than I do, thought Bonnie.
"You know everyone at that school. You always have."
Meghan had a good point. Unless someone had moved to town over the summer, which was possible with the recent interest in the town's art scene, she wasn't likely to run into anyone new.
"Probably true, but I'm going to have teachers I've never met, and I might need a recommendation from one of them in a couple of years."
When Bonnie had finished helping her mother do a few hygenic tasks, it was time for her to take Bonnie to her middle school, so that she could be at her high school by 8:15. There was no reason for either of them to arrive early; they knew their small schools well enough.
Bonnie stopped when she got to the open end of the hall when she spotted Meghan, sitting on the couch with her messenger bag on, phone in hand and fingers tapping. She had been glued to the device ever since Bonnie gave it to her. Meghan was home alone with their mother frequently enough that Bonnie felt she should have her own phone, just in case soemthing came up. Even though she had been showing Meghan how to help with basic things for their mother, she worried that something would come up that the younger girl couldn't handle.
After watching her sister stare and text, stare and text for several minutes, Bonnie finally stepped into the living room. "Who are you texting there, kid?" She tried to sound casual, but Meghan quickly shoved the phone into her messenger bag and jumped up.
"Ashley. Josylen actually thinks we're going to eat lunch with her this year. As if." Bonnie narrowed her eyes for a moment, but decided to accept Meghan's response. Anyways, there were more important things to focus on.
"As if? Isn't that a little before your time? Before my time?"
Meghan cocked her head to the side and huffed.
"Trends are cyclical, sis. Are you ready to go?"
"Most ten year olds are not excited to go to school," Bonnie muttered to herself as she watched Meghan practically skip out to her friends. She couldn't help but notice they were all wearing bell bottoms. Maybe trends really were cyclical, but how the hell did her little sister know that? There wasn't anyone behind her in the carpool lane, so Bonnie took a moment to watch the kids around them. There were a lot of glances a the group her sister was in, who had just taken up residence on the front steps to the school.
"But I guess it's different when you're popular." Bonnie continued to watch her little sister, who certainly didn't look like a little sister, perched at the top of the school steps.
A set of quick blasts from a car horn let her know that it was time to get going. She quickly put the old Bonneville, a total whale of a car, into drive and headed towards her own school.
Halfway across town, Bonnie parked in her assigned spot, assigned the year before, at Odessa High School. They rarely had new students who weren't incoming freshman, so the parking lot stayed structured as seniors near the back entrance, juniors a little behind them, and the freshmen and sophomores who had hardship licenses near the entrance.
It wasn't particularly uncommon for the younger underclassmen to have permission to drive because of their parents' long working hours in a town like Odessa, but they were kept near the front where they could be readily observed. Bonnie had been one of those students, and coveted her new parking space, even if it was a farther walk.
Despite having had to drop off Meghan at Northside Intermediate School, Bonnie had still arrived early enough that there weren't many cars around her. Plenty of her classmates had early morning farm duties that had to be done before they headed to school, so she had a few minutes to breathe and prep herself before the first day routine started.
She had just closed her eyes and taken a couple of deep breaths, visualizing a successful first day of school where she impressed her teachers, when a tap came at her window, making her jump in her seat. Annoyed, she looked to her left, wondering who could possibly think that interrupting her was a good idea. Most of her friends knew that she took this time not to socialize like they did, but to make sure that her day would go well.
However, Bonnie was surprised to see someone she didn't recognize - a girl with bright red, curly hair straight out of a Pixar movie, decked out in ?. Not knowing someone her age was a rare spectacle in Odessa. She hovered her hand over the hand crank for the window, not sure she was quite ready to face someone she didn't know.
The girls smiled wide, with lips painted a light brown, echoing a trend from before their time, though anything else might be a bit much with her fiery hair. It was an infectious smile, and Bonnie reciprocated it as she finally decided to roll down the window.
"Hi!" the girl said, before Bonnie could ask her what she wanted. "I'm Merida!" The redhead laughed. "Just kidding! My name is really Sasha. I'm new and we're like the only two here already. So I thought I'd say hi!"
Bonnie only blinked in response for a moment, not sure how to respond to such blatant extroversion.
"Oh, um, hi," she responded.
"What's your name? Are you new, too? You looked a little nervous in there."
"I'm Bonnie," she said. "No, not new. I just like to spend some time to myself getting…I dunno. Prepared, mentally, for the day."
Bonnie nodded, curls flying.
"I totally get that. I get up early and do yoga and it makes me really feel like I can take on the day. Do you do yoga? Maybe we could do it together!" Bonnie couldn't help but be drawn in the girl's enthusiasm.
"Uh, no, I've never gotten into that kind of thing." She wanted to add that she didn't really have time for it, either, but she wasn't feeling nearly as open as Sasha apparently was.
"Well, maybe you can try it with me!" Sasha's red hair shook as she jumped a little. Bonnie watched her pull a phone out of her pocket, the newest model, from the looks of it. "I have to take this! See you later! Maybe we have a class together or something!" She scurried back to one of the few other cars in the lot this early in the morning, a bright blue, shiny thing. Bonnie had never learned to recognize different models of cars, but it looked fancy.
In fact, she didn't see Sasha for the rest of the day. Part of her had hoped that she would, while part of her wasn't sure she could handle the amount of energy the other girl had. Not on the first day of school, when she was teeming with her own nervous energy, anyways. She had look around for her a little hopefully at lunch, though she had her own friends to eat with.
"Who are you looking for, Bon?" asked Madison. She had long been the unofficial leader of their group, which had formed in middle school and held strong for nearly six years now. Madison followed Bonnie's gaze, right when she happened to be looking past a table where Bonnie's ex-boyfriend Joshua sat.
"Oh my stars, of course," Madison said. "Are you still hung up on him? It's been months!"
Madison was right. Joshua had dumped her right as school ended, so that he could be 'free as a bird' for 'summer delights.' Plenty of time had passed, and Bonnie was definitely over him. Mostly.
"I'm not looking at him," she assured her friends. Nathalie and Emily had turned to look, and now they were all turning back to her with knowing looks, eyebrows raised. "I'm not," she insisted. "I met a new girl this morning, and I thought maybe she'd need somewhere to sit."
"Oh, Sasha Vickers?" Nathalie asked. "She has plenty of options. She's been making friends all day." Madison's eyes flicked up from her food.
"Oh really? Why haven't I met her?" Madison's voice had gone up in pitch just a bit, and Bonnie suppressed an eye roll. Madison was never thrilled when something was going on and she wasn't a part of it.
"I don't know, Maddie," Nathalie said dryly. "Maybe because it's her first day and it's only halfway done?" Emily snorted into her yogurt.
"But someone should have said something to me about a new girl!" Madison glared at Bonnie, who only kept from shrinking back thanks to years of being accused of things by Madison.
"Yeah, I know, I know. Look, I met her this morning in the parking lot. I've been too focused on, you know, school, to say anything." Madison sighed and pushed her food put her elbows on the table and folded her hands together.
"Well, now's your chance. Tell me everything."
"I don't know much. She said hi, asked me if I do yoga, and got a call."
"Yoga, huh? And she got a call that early in the morning? Who does that?"
"Well, I don't see her, anyways. Maybe you'll run into her later and get a chance to ask her that."
Lunch period was over quickly, since they were only given half an hour to get food and eat it. Bonnie was curious about where Sasha could be. Their school was small enough that there was only one lunch period, so she should have been around somewhere.
A/N: I know it's short, but I just wanted to get this out there and make it real. There's a hook coming, I swear. ;)