DISCLAIMER: This book is MY original work and copying it is considered plagiarism, which is against the law.
It's the first day of school and I don't have a thing to wear.
I scan my closet, rifling through the endless racks of clothes hangers holding horrid articles of clothing. Most of my wardrobe is now on my bed or somewhere on the floor, where I tossed it in my desperate attempt to find something for today.
Why didn't I go shopping over the summer?
Oh, that's why. Mom made me get a job. At Sunny Sunglasses in the mall, where the people who came in generally consisted of dull, average people who were looking for something that would help them protect their "poor eyes from the big bad sun" as one flighty woman put it. She was one of my only notable customers, as a matter of fact. Once, a couple of girls from school came in, populars as some may put it, who laughed when they saw me in my cutesy smock with I SHIELD YOU FROM THE SUN printed on it in big block letters. My face burned with embarrassment but I laughed it off and pretended that I didn't recognize them.
Once, Jake Lloyd came in with his friends.
But let's not speak of that.
"Megs!" my mother calls from downstairs. I shudder at the nickname and call back, "It's Megan, Mom! You're the one who named me!"
It's become a routine at this point. She's the only one who ever calls me Megs though my friends call me Meg and I call myself Megan.
"You're going to be late for school if you take any longer!" my mothers shouts. I grimace, not sure if I should face the humiliation of asking her to help me pick out an outfit. I know that when my mother was in high school, she was one of the "populars" who always fit in with the crowd. She could help me choose in less than a second, but I'm not going to ask her. Popular or not, she's my mother.
I finally decide on white skinny jeans that fit just a little tighter than I would usually wear, and a loose, flowy off-the-shoulder top in a deep burgundy that compliments my hair, which is mousy-brown with dirty-blonde highlights somewhere in between. I grab my trusty white Vans, skater shoes that are becoming quite popular lately. I packed my backpack the night before so I just grab it and head downstairs to face the day.
My mom is in the kitchen, frying something that looks almost like eggs. I sniff suspiciously and say, "What are those supposed to be, Mom?"
"I'm making you an omelet, honey." My mom looks taken aback that I couldn't recognize what it was, though a smile plays on her lips. I grin at her and take a seat at the counter. She scoops up the omelet, grabbing a plate in the process, heaps it onto the dish, adds a pinch of salt and some chives and hands me the plate. I grab a fork from the utensil drawer and dig in. She smiles at me and I look up at her.
"Aren't you going to eat, Mom?" I ask. I worry about her sometimes. After Dad left, she's been getting thinner and more delicate every day.
"I will, honey, after you leave. I promise." I'm not sure if I actually believe her but she's stubborn and I know not question it. She brushes it off and asks me, "Are you excited? It's the first day of junior year. It's exciting, isn't it?" She smiles though her eyes look a little foggy and I groan.
"Mom, please don't cry like those cliche moms in those cheesy shows that you always watch." I sigh, not wanting to have to calm down a sobbing mother.
"No, of course not. It's just... you're so—"
"If you say anything along the lines of 'my little baby's all grown up' I am going to murder you." I say it jokingly but I can't face any more cheesiness.
"I was going to say smart," my mom finishes. She smiles at me as I finish my omelet. "Do you need a ride to school?" she asks.
"Nope. Carl's driving me," I say. I check my phone for the time. "He should be here in about two minutes so I should probably finish up."
"Okay, honey. Say hi to Carl for me," my mom says, taking my plate. I gently take it from her hands and put it in the dishwasher for her and she smiles at me again. "By the way, are you going to Carl's after school?"
"No, why?" I ask.
"I was just wondering. Maybe if you don't have any plans we can have some mother-daughter time and talk about your first day together like we used to when you were in middle school. And we could watch Clueless. Or The Notebook. Or even one of your shows, like Riverdale or Gilmore Girls?" My mom looks so hopeful that I bite back the words that I was going to say.
"Yeah, of course, Mom. I'll call you if anything changes." I don't need to burst her bubble. Not today. Not on the day my dad left four years ago.
"Okay, honey." There's an awkward silence until I hear a car honk four times outside in the special code Carl uses to signal that he's here. I jump up, kiss my mom's cheek and rush out the door, calling a goodbye. I jump into the passenger seat and Carl smiles and leans over to kiss me.
"Hi, Carl," I say back. I've known Carl since forever but we only started dating last year. It's been iffy at times but we've been friends for so long that we always manage to bounce back.
"So. Junior year. You ready?" He lets out a deep breath and starts the engine, pulling out of my driveway in one clean motion.
"Sure. I mean, if you discount the fact that we don't have any classes together and I got stuck with Ms. Reed, then yeah. I'm ready." Carl glances over at me, shaking his head.
"I just can't understand why we don't have any classes together the one year it actually means something. Last year, we only had gym. And you either spent the whole period ditching or running errands for Mr. Pierce." I grin.
"I hate gym."
"I know," he says, grinning. "Too many concussions?"
"Yeah. And sweaty boys." I shudder at the thought.
"Hey, I'm one of those guys."
"Yeah, but you're special," I say, a smile erupting on my face.
We pull into the school parking lot, ready to start the day. I get out of the car, grabbing my stuff and Carl looks me over, whistling teasingly. He knows I hate it when he does that so he does it on purpose. I sigh as he says, "Wow, Megan. You really dressed up." I start to speak but he stops me. "You look good."
I grin. "You too," I say, looking appreciatively at his ripped jeans, polo shirt, and a light blue hoodie that I forced him to buy last summer. He, like me, is wearing Vans, only his are checkered, and to top it all off, he's wearing a dark blue beanie that contrasts beautifully with his light brown hair.
"Let's do this thing. Carpe dime. Or whatever."
"It's diem, Carl. How many times do I have to tell you?" I say, annoyance flickering on my face. He reaches over and pulls me closer to him.
"As many times as I need until you stop getting so annoyed about it." He kisses me and I grimace.
"Carl! We're at school." I look around to see if anyone noticed but no one did.
"What? I would never." He places a hand over his heart in mock innocence.
I sigh. Whatever. Everyone knows we're dating, anyway.
We enter the school and I'm immediately swarmed by tons of people rushing this way and that, trying to find their friends or their classes or whatever. I look around for my best friend, Clare Riggins, who I finally spot talking to our other friend, Marcia Bailey.
I tug Carl with me as I head over to them. Clare's face lights up when she sees me.
"Hey, Megan! I like the outfit!" I roll my eyes. Clare loves anything to do with clothes and fashion and appearances. I nod along to her statements about how it compliments my eyes or whatever.
Carl shifts uncomfortably next to me so I clear my throat. "So, how was summer?"
"Ugh, horrible. I had to go to this stupid tennis summer camp and I didn't know anybody there and there was this one girl, Hannah or something, who was even worse than Bethany Russo! Can you believe it? Oh, but I met this guy and—"
At this point, I zone out. Clare can go on and on and on about things and I'm used to it. That doesn't mean I need to listen. Finally, I can't handle any more of this.
"Clare, I'm going to go find my first class."
"Ooh, what do you have?" She grabs my schedule that I just took out from my backpack. "Oh, you have homeroom with Mr. Martin. I heard he's about 70 and he's a grumpy old man. I feel bad for you. I got Ms. Greta. She's nice, I've heard." I sigh. More bad teachers? Great.
I head in the direction of the classroom, Carl in tow. I finally reach the door and I peer inside. There's a couple of kids waiting but not too many so I decide I don't need to go in yet. I turn to Carl.
"Who do you have for homeroom?"
"Ms. Greta too. I don't know, maybe Martin's not so bad." He grins like he pities me and I shove him.
"I'll be fine. I'm Megan Peters, remember?"
He nods. "Of course I do. You're my girl." He leans down and kisses me slowly and I feel tempted to push him away, but I don't. All of a sudden, I hear the door open and I jump away from Carl to find myself facing a pudgy man wearing glasses, sporting a receding hairline. His face is in a frown that doesn't appeal to his appearance and he's wearing a pink checkered shirt with khaki pants and brown shoes. He peers at me.
"There's no PDA in the hallways here, Ms..."
"Peters, sir. Megan Peters," I say promptly, returning to proper, smart me.
"Hmm. You're in my class for homeroom, am I right?"
"Are you Mr. Martin?" I ask.
He nods. "Who else would I be?" I blush at his obvious opinion of my intelligence and nod. He stares me up and down, tsk tsk tsking the whole time.
The bell rings, saving me from a lecture from a grumpy old man. I slip into the class, giving Carl a silent apology with my eyes, and sit down in a seat near the front. I generally choose the front but I don't want this guy to notice me any more than he already has.
Class commences and I pay attention as best as I can, putting as much information as possible into my brain, though it's mostly the same things that have been told to us since first grade. He goes over classroom rules and school behavioral policies, not failing to mention that there can be no public displays of affection—he stares right at me at that point—and that anyone caught doing excessive displays shall be sent to the principal's office.
Finally, the bell rings and I stand up, desperate to get out of there. Who knew that twenty minutes of homeroom could feel so long? I check my schedule and head to Science with Ms. Jurik. She drones on and on and on and I can almost feel my brain closing in on me in revolt against this torture. I was never one to be bored at school but today feels almost draining.
Lunch rolls around after about three lifetimes and I line up in the cafeteria lunch line, waiting to be given my daily mystery of the day. Helga, the lunch lady, smiles at me as she has done since freshman year, and I smile back. I take my tray and head to the table that consists of me, Clare, Marcia, Carl, Gerald and John—Carl's friends—and Jason, a boy who's head over heels in love with Marcia but has never had the guts to say so.
"So, guys. How's hell?" Gerald asks.
I shrug. Carl looks at me. "Really? You, Megan Alice Peters, aren't going to respond with something about how school is intellectually stimulant for the cognitive receptors of your very soul?" I shove him and he laughs at me.
"I'm glad something I've said has gotten through your thick skull," I say. "But actually, today has been pretty horrible."
"So goody-two-shoes Megan has decided to join the normal kids," John jokes. I smile at him weakly though my face probably says something along the lines of I-want-to-punch-you-but-you're-my-boyfriend's-best-friend kind of thing.
"Anyways," Clare interrupts. "Anyone who has Ms. Reed. I feel bad for you. She sucks."
I sigh. Really?
"She told us that we are going to be analyzing the collected works of every revered 1920s author by the end of the month. Like, I can't even name one! And we're going to do on decade by decade until we reach our decade and then we're going to be doing a huge end of the year project analyzing how writing has changed over the years. Like, nobody wants to do that!" Clare looks annoyed but to me, it sounds almost interesting. I like the idea of authors decade by decade, though I'm hoping the project allows me to work alone. I hate group or partner projects.
Carl clears his throat. "Well, I just had gym with Mr. Banks." I shift away from him, grimacing. He stares at me questioningly and then grins as it clicks into place. "I'm not that sweaty today, Meg. We literally sat down and went over the rules of sportsmanship and conduct et cetera, et cetera, et cetera." I move back instinctively towards him and he grins. "Anyways, as I was saying, he's cool or whatever but I like Mr. Pierce better. He was more competitive."
"You're so lucky you have gym before lunch!" Jason says. "Dude, I have it right after this meaning every time we run a mile, let the barf rain down in that class!"
I shudder and Marcia groans. "Can you not say things like that at the lunch table, Jase? I'm eating." She points at her food sitting in front of her.
Jason looks abashed and I almost feel sorry for him. She's so oblivious. But then I remember his statement and I go back to being grossed out.
We continue our banter until the bell rings and I stand up to throw out my tray. I didn't eat much of anything on it so most of it ends up in the compost bin. Carl walks me to my next class, ever the gentleman, and leaves me to head to bio while I go to calc. After another hour of going over rules and syllabi, I head to English where Ms. Reed proceeds to explain what Clare told us. Finally, I head to Journalism 3, my last class of the day and the best class. I've been in Journalism two years in a row now and it's quickly become my favorite class. It's where I can unleash who I am and write things that I want to write. Ms. Leon smiles at me as I enter the doors and she, unlike the other teachers, sets us off to work, which I appreciate.
The period goes by all too fast and suddenly, the day is over and I'm following traffic out to the parking lot. I find Carl, who's offered to drive me home and we talk about what happened after a long-awaited for kiss. He drops me off and I wave goodbye before taking a deep breath and entering the house where my mother is surely waiting for me.
Cue the mother-daughter convention.