Updated: Sep 8
Was I ready for high school? Not one bit. There was no part of my introverted and awkward self that was ready to start what I knew was American teenage torture wrapped in a disguise as school. But I woke up that morning and slipped into my big girl panties and did what I had to do. Hell, I even did it with a semi- good attitude and didn’t tell my brother to piss off as we were riding to school.
"Have a good day," my mom said as she dropped us off.
"Yeah, have a good day, trash can," my brother said to me, mocking her as he closed his door.
"Piss off," I responded and closed my door, walking away. Well, I almost made it..
I saw my best friend Amy sitting on the front stairs and I headed in her direction.
“Ready for the first day?” Amy asked as I dropped my bag onto the stairs in front of the school.
I sighed and slumped down onto the step. “Yeah, I suppose.”
Amy sat next to me. “What’s up?”
Shrugging, I replied, “Nothing.”
“I know you better than that, Maddie Blake, and I know that something is bothering you.”
“Really, Amy, I’m fine.”
As she opened her mouth to say something, the bell rang and we were off to our first class.
Amy walked down the side hall and I went down the main hall to find my locker assignment doing my best not to get lost in the land where boys become men and girls…well, I wasn’t sure yet what happened to girls in high school. Everything seemed so confusing at this point. Half of the girls I knew were stuffing their bras—even though their bras were overflowing already—half were hiding under oversized clothes and hoping not to be seen, and the rest (wait… that math doesn’t add up! Math would inevitably be my ruin.) Anyway, the rest of us were just trying to survive. I think this was my category. I waved to my friend and headed off to English class, trying to survive the day.
Being a band nerd, I loved all things music, but I was also a literary buff and enjoyed immersing myself in a good novel or writing my thoughts down onto a page. English class allowed me to do that.
“I thought we’d start out the year reviewing basic grammar skills…” Mrs. Reese said, and I knew this was my cue to do whatever I wanted because grammar? My thing. It wasn’t a complete waste of time since I was mostly able to graze the pages of an exciting book I’d been wanting to read. However, the classes that fell between English and band? Pure torture. Math was like a trek through the desert without water, simply because I was the worst math student to ever grace the planet. Okay, maybe not quite. It sure felt like I was. English kept me afloat through math, which could’ve pretty much been mistaken for purgatory. Although I survived the torturous punishment that was math class, it should’ve been considered miraculous anyway because I had to figure out where the hell x belonged and y or whatever. X? Y? Freaking F of X? What the heck?! I thought math was supposed to be numbers?! Who said anything about letters?! Leave that for writing! I was certain that math was invented as some sort of punishment for crimes I’d committed in a previous life because there was no way any of this could ever make sense. After enduring the confusing torture of algebra, I was pretty sure I counted 247 ceiling tiles in History, which was the only thing that kept me awake while Mr. Broderick read the history syllabus to us word… for… word… like we were freaking second graders. *insert major eye roll here* History wouldn’t have been so terrible, except I was pretty sure I had the oldest teacher alive, and when he talked, it took longer for his sentences to come out of his mouth than it would’ve taken for me to run from here to Brazil.
“Okay, class…” insert a long pause. “Open your syllabus…” long pause. “To the second page…” You get the idea. Unbearable.
Anywho, it truly was something short of a miracle that I even made it through my first three periods to choir; which after what I’d just endured, I was sure would be like water in the desert.
You might surmise there was no way I could ever survive my first morning of Hell wrapped in a package disguised as high school. Nonetheless, I did, and there were even parts I enjoyed. *gasp* Don’t spread that around.
The bell for 4th period rang and I felt a sense of freedom and happiness, especially since I would be with my two best friends in the whole world, Amy and Kaitlyn, both of whom I’d been separated from for the entirety of the morning. Leave it to my small high school to have three different rotations for one grade. Were the high school gods plotting against me already? I believed so. How was I not in classes with either of my only two friends? High school was purgatory. It was the only answer.
On my way to choir, I found Kaitlyn in the hall and we headed for the music room together in the basement on the other side of the school.
“My morning pretty much was the worst few hours of my life,” Kaitlyn said as she shifted her backpack to carry it on one shoulder and grabbed the handle as we hurried down the stairs.
“Yeah, I feel you there,” I responded as we walked across the courtyard to the music rooms. “High school is going to suck… a lot.”
I glanced up to my tall, thickset friend, whose blonde hair was always beautifully set with crunchy curls and whose stunning blue eyes were the envy of my friendship with her. With my average-Jane brown hair, brown eyes, and five-foot three-inch medium build, I felt her far prettier than me any day of the week. There was nothing overtly special about me when it came to attractiveness. My two friends, however, were gorgeous. Kate’s blonde hair and blue eyes, or Amy’s thin frame and red hair set them apart and above me. Me, you wonder? I was smack dab right in the middle of “average girl” category.
We arrived in choir class and dropped our bags in the corner, each of us finding a place on the risers. Being an alto, I had the unfortunate displeasure of standing next to the guys. Fortunately, Kate was right there to support me in my misery.
“Hey,” she said, following me up to the top. “I grabbed a folder for you.”
As our teacher started on instructions, my mind wandered to my surroundings, taking in everything about my new environment and that was when I noticed—standing only three feet or so from me—the most gorgeous guy I had ever seen; I was sure of it. He was tall with wavy blond hair, blue eyes, and a smile that lit up his entire face. His dimples left me breathless, so much so that I found myself staring, lip biting, and mouth-watering as though I was a dog staring at a huge, juicy steak.
“Maddie,” Kate nudged me.
I glanced up at her, my eyes were wide and alert.
“What are you staring at? I asked you something.”
“Oh. I’m not staring. What did you want?”
“Yeah. Right. Something or someone has your attention. Your eyes were practically glued in that direction.”
“No they weren’t.”
Kate glanced around my shoulder and saw the cute and tall blue-eyed blond I’d been eyeing up and she smiled. “Mmhm. Sure. Anyway, I asked if you were walking to band after school.”
“Um. Yeah, I’m walking. Walk with?”
The bell rang and our teacher sat at the piano and was ready for class to start. Kate leaned in and whispered, “Definitely. Let’s stop by and get a snow cone first.”
Kaitlyn was my band camp roomie and was pretty much my band nerd go-to girl whenever I needed someone to hang with at band practice. When it came to all things band-nerdy, she was my gal.
The whole period, I found myself having a hard time focusing, especially when I sneezed and almost fell backwards off the risers, causing the boy next to me to reach out for my arm and say, “You okay?” and the blue-eyed stud looked my way, giving me a heart-stopping side smile. I thought for sure my knees were going to give out from underneath me right there. Honest-to-god, I have no idea what I did. Did I smile? I don’t know. Did I wave? No idea. Did I take off all my clothes and run naked through the school? There’s a strong probability because my mind went blank, and I was biting my lip so hard it began to bleed and Kate said, “Maddie… Maddie!” shaking me by my shoulder when the teacher called my name along with a few others to come to the front and look at a list of songs for the upcoming state competition.
“Madison…come down and pick your song,” the choir teacher said, which in a freshman girl’s mind felt like she was screaming it through a megaphone while I was standing on the risers alone, naked. It was mortifying. It felt like all eyes were on me and it was a feeling I hated. Attention? On me? No, thank you. After scanning the list of songs, I checked which song hadn’t been chosen by anyone else and hurried to my backpack to gather my things for lunch as the bell rang. I was sure to let my gaze wander back to my blue-eyed beauty as he jumped off the risers and went to grab his backpack that was placed not too far from mine.
As he was doing that, I realized that he was chatting up a girl I knew from band. My heart was crushed. Reality took over in my mind telling myself to shake it off. I didn’t even know him or his name or the reason he was talking to her. Yet, with eyes like his, what girl wouldn’t be jealous? In my 15-year old’s brain of judgment, I felt she was far prettier than me and assumed she was his girlfriend. On his way to the door, I took the opportunity to eye up his cute backside, despite the very obvious fact that this blue-eyed stud was far out of my league.
On his way out the door, I also noticed he was now talking to a guy I thought Amy knew.
“Amy,” I said as she stood and tossed her bag onto her back.
To keep from gaining attention, I turned my back to my blue-eyed stud and spoke to Amy.
“Who is that tall guy?”
Amy looked over my shoulder, staring right at him.
I smacked her arm and gave her stern eyes for almost giving me away.
“Don’t get all fussy. They don’t know what we are talking about,” Amy said and looked back again, tapping her chin. “Tall guy… you mean the cute one talking with Brady?”
“Is Brady the dark-haired one you’re going to homecoming with?”
“That’s Charlie. Why?”
“Oooh, right. Well, he’s into sports and all that. I’m not really sure he’s your type, Mad.”
This time, I was the one to look back at the two guys who were now walking our way. When his gorgeous eyes locked onto mine, panic surged through my body, and I darted through the doors, up the stairs to the outside foyer, and rested my back against the red brick building to collect my thoughts.
Once outside, the worst happened. Resting my back against the wall, I put my hand to my forehead and waited, counting the seconds for it to pass. These “episodes” had become quite regular for me the past few weeks, and my mom made an appointment for me to go to the big hospital to see what’s happening. Whenever an event came, it felt like deja vu. I got the strangest sensation in my head and then everything became suddenly very familiar, as though I’d lived it before. I almost enjoyed them. When I told my mom about them, I spent like ten minutes trying to convince her I wasn’t doing drugs… parents. *eyeroll*
“Maddie!” Amy hollered as she tried to catch up with me. When she burst through the doors and saw me, she said, “What was that about? Are you okay?”
Fortunately, the episode of zoning out was gone by then and I shrugged. I shrugged for two reasons, really. The first was because I didn't want my best friend to know I was having a freak out episode over the stud that I didn’t even know. Reason two was because I wasn’t sure what emotional state was coming over me. Also, if I was completely honest, I didn’t want her to know about the zoning out. Not yet, at least. Perhaps it was my nervousness about the first day of high school. Maybe it was that gorgeous guy and knowing he was far out of my league and the overwhelming feeling of inferiority and the girl he was chatting with but also knowing I was no competition—a combination of it all, perhaps—or maybe it was something that was yet to be determined. Either way, Amy was right. I wasn’t acting like myself. Normally, I was determined, headstrong, and resilient. For some reason, however, I was acting unsure, confused, and vulnerable, and it was all because of a pair of gorgeous blue eyes attached to a big smile that happened to look in my direction.
Get ahold of yourself, Madison, you don’t even stand a chance.
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© 2021 Meg Sechrest All Rights Reserved.
This is only an excerpt. This novel may be purchased soon in its entirety in either digital or paperback version.
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