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“Roxy get your butt down here! We’re going to be late for school!” came the shouting from the driveway downstairs.
“Coming, jeez, relax a little!” I shouted and grabbed my backpack. It was the first day of junior year and I was carpooling with my best friend, Seth. We both had our licenses, but gas was expensive so we were sharing the gas price. I was supposed to drive tomorrow, but I had broken my wrist during cheer practice yesterday. I rushed down the stairs in my jeans and varsity cheer jacket. Seth smiled when he saw me, but as his eyes fell to my cast, he frowned.
“What happened?” he asked, his eyes filled with obvious concern. I rolled my eyes; I didn’t like to be fussed over.
“I broke my wrist” he winced, “we were practicing our pyramid and I’m on top. The girl below me sneezed and accidently let go of my ankle. I fell on the ground and landed on my wrist. The doctor said that I almost cracked the bone in half” Seth listened as we drove to school.
“God that sounds painful! How much does it hurt?” he stole a glance at me and looked almost wistful, but he saw my looking at him and returned to his concern. He fidgeted uncomfortably, how weird.
“Not as much as I thought it would. It just happened yesterday so I have to keep the cast on for eight weeks. Then I have to wear a brace for four more weeks. That’s provided that my wrist heals in the right position” Seth shook his head and chuckled,
“Lucky you” he said. I looked at him curiously,
“What do you mean? I have to take a break from cheer and riding for over two months.” I was forbidden to ride my horse, Ginger, for sixteen weeks. Aside from school, I lived for riding and cheer.
“You’re right” Seth said “that really does suck. I know how much you love Ginger. All I meant was that you don’t have to write in class; you broke your left hand.
“Yeah except that some of us are normal right-handed people” I waved my good hand in his face, “lefty!” I muttered. He chuckled. Seth and I had been neighbors and best friends since kindergarten. I didn’t see him all that much lately though; he had been going to camp every summer since he was twelve. I went to cheer camp every summer so we only saw each other during the school year and even then there was school and homework. I was an honors student and he wasn’t so we had barely any classes together.
“Oh right” he said and then laughed “I guess there really is no upside then” When we got to school we headed to our lockers which were on opposite sides of the English building. I was loading mine up and it was really hard with only one hand. I dropped my math book and reached down to pick it up. Another person did at the same time. As I stood up, we bonked heads, “Ouch!” I said.
“God, I’m so clumsy, please forgive me. It’s my first day and I’m already making enemies.” I looked up… WOA! Major hottie alert! A tall brunette with chocolate brown eyes and a perfect smile.
“Uh…” I was speechless, but I snapped out of it “no, that’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I’m Roxanne” I held out my hand, but he didn’t take it. I took it away, embarrassed.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Adam Hanks and this is my sister, Christine” he motioned to a girl behind him. She was short, probably no taller than 5’ 1”, and she had long brown hair. It contained natural gold highlights and fell in cascading curls down to her waist.
“Hi!” I said, this time keeping my hand at my side. Christine stuck her hand out and I was once again embarrassed as I shook it. Why would she shake my hand and not her brother? “Are you twins?” I asked.
“No,” this time it was Christine who spoke, “I’m a sophomore” her voice was so cute and small. She didn’t look any older than 14.
“Well if you need any help, let me know. That is assuming you’re new…” I said, my people skills were not so hot today.
“Yeah, we are. Do you know where Ms. Carney’s junior English class is?” Adam asked while looking at a small piece of paper.
“Actually, I do. I have her 3rd period. Are you in her homeroom? May I?” I pointed to his paper, assuming it was his schedule.
“Yes, I am” he handed me his schedule and then he noticed my cast. “What happened to you?” he asked with concern.
“It’s nothing,” I studied his schedule. “I broke my wrist during cheer practice. You have a lot of the same classes with me.” I studied his schedule quietly. Christine cleared her throat. “Oh I’m sorry, do you need help?” I asked her.
“Uh no thanks, I’ve got a map, but the bell just rang” I looked around at all the kids moving toward their classrooms.
“Oh wow, thanks! I didn’t even hear it. I guess I’ll see you guys later then” I waved and headed off.
“Uh Roxanne…” I heard Adam say, I turned and he pointed to my open locker and the book in his hand. I rushed over, grabbed the book and stuffed it in my locker.
“Wow I’m so scatter brained today” I laughed as I clicked my lock shut, but the Hanks were already gone. How weird! I rushed to my homeroom; I had it in the dance studio this year. As I walked in, I waved to my friend Danielle. We called her Danni. Danni had joined Seth and I in the sixth grade and we were very close. She was a ballerina so she didn’t have time to do the cheer team with me, but we rode horses together. Plus she was in the tiny honors program with me. I walked over and sat down, “Hey Danni!”
“Hey Roxy, what happened?” she nodded toward my wrist. I was going to have to make a lot of explanations today. Fortunately, I knew that Danni would not press for details so I gave a simple explanation. Danni was more of a talker than a listener, I shrugged and said,
“I broke my wrist during cheer practice.”
“That stinks. I hope it’s not broken too long. You’ll have to be out of riding. Hey did you hear about Jessy and…” and then she was off on her latest gossip. That was a typical Danni, but that was what I loved about her. She was always the center of attention and that was that. I didn’t like attention. Ironic because I was a cheerleader, but when I was cheering, the focus was on the team and not on me. After homeroom, I headed off to first period science. I had it with Seth; it was his only honors class. I waved and sat down next to him. I was about to say hi when the bell rang. The teacher stepped in front of his desk and began.
“Hello class and welcome to Junior year honors biology. My name is Mr. Ontel and here you will doing many hands on activities to learn about the science of life.” Oh God! I could already tell, I would hate this class. Mr. Ontel finished his spiel and then handed out textbooks. We were supposed to read through every single California Standard in the textbook. We lived up in northern California, within an hour drive of Oregon. While I tried to read through the standards, I passed notes with Seth.
Hey Seth : )
What’s up? You done reading the stuff?
His scribbles were so tiny and hard to read.
No, write bigger! I’m blind over here! I smiled over at him as I pushed the paper at him.
BETTER??? LOL sorry! That’s just how I write, all my teachers hate me for it. Wanna go see a movie afterschool?
I was about to write my answer when the bell rang.
“Sure,” I said, “I want to have one more fun day.” He laughed and got up. Next class, history, oh joy! I was walking down the hallway when I absentmindedly bumped into something. Ow what did I walk into, a wall? I looked up and was blinded for a second. “Adam” I said, startled.
“Roxanne! God, I’m such a klutz, that’s the second time I’ve run into you today! I hope you don’t end up with brain damage because of me” I expected him to laugh or smile, but he looked completely serious.
“Oh please, I’m the one with the cast. Doesn’t that say something about my coordination?” I said, “But if we don’t hurry, we’re going to be late to history class.” He smiled and held out his hand,
“Madame” he made a small bow. I giggled,
“You’re such a goofball” Adam and I were getting along really well considering we had just met. We got to class and found Danni waiting at an empty desk. When she saw Adam, she raised her eyebrows and mouthed, “He’s cute”. I smiled and mouthed back, “Stay away” she snickered and we sat down. Danni smiled at Adam and flicked her hair.
“Hey! You must be new, I’m Danielle” that was Danni for you, sure to get anything she wants. She giggled flirtatiously. “You’re cute” flat out, Danni was very straight forward, and it strangely got her what she wanted most of the time. But Adam looked uncomfortable and didn’t answer.
“Don’t worry Adam. She has a crush on almost every guy she sees” I told him, trying to make him relax. Danni stamped on my foot, “Ouch! Hey! I’m only telling the truth” I said innocently. Adam smiled and relaxed, but the bell rang again- darn those stupid bells!
History class was a real bore; second year contemporary world studies. I was never a history wiz, but I watched in amazement as Adam took detailed notes of Ms. Rodriguez’ lecture on Africa. We didn’t waste any time in jumping right into the curriculum. There was already a test scheduled for Friday! As we packed our things, I tried to start a conversation.
“It’s kind of ridiculous that we already started learning, huh Adam?” Damn! Danni beat me to it. I thought Adam might be the kind of guy I would be friends with, but thanks to Danni, I would never know.
“Um I really don’t think so, there’s a lot of stuff to cover. If you’ll excuse me ladies, I have to go to my locker.” Adam rushed off.
“Danni, you’re an idiot!” I told her and started walking away. She caught up with me and grabbed my arm. “Ouch let go” I told her. She glared at me,
“What did you call me?” God, overreact much?
“I said you’re an idiot” I was stubborn and I had a temper, not the best combination.
“I am not.” She clenched her teeth. “You’re the idiot. What made you think that you could get a guy like Adam?” she laughed maliciously.
“What has gotten into you Danielle?” I asked. Where has this come from? “Oh I see. You didn’t get what you wanted. Adam didn’t show any interest in you.” Now I understood, Danni was too use to getting her way. She was a spoiled, only child.
“How dare you!” she couldn’t think of anything else to say, so she turned and stormed off. It didn’t matter, she would cool off. She wasn’t in my English class, so she had a whole period to get over herself. I went and sat down behind my friend Rory. She wasn’t a close friend, but we chatted every once in a while.
“Hi Rory, how was your summer?” she turned around, annoyed.
“What Roxanne? You want to yell at me too?” she turned back around angrily. What had gotten into everyone?
“Jeez, Rory, calm down, what did I do?”
“We heard about what you did to Danielle” she accused, aiming daggers at me.
“Whoa, chill out Rory. I bet you don’t even know what really happened,” I was about to explain when Adam was suddenly behind me. One hand was on my desk and the other, on my shoulder; a little too close for me.
“No, she doesn’t so I think she should just back off” he sounded threatening. Rory’s face was a mixture of surprise, fright, adornment, and anger. She was at a loss for words. Luckily the teacher saved her. Her name was Ms. Carney and she “loved Shakespeare.” Great, I got stuck with all the bad teachers this year. I contemplated on how to handle Adam. If he acted like that all the time, I wouldn’t have any friends. I had to say something. After class I walked up to Adam who was packing up.
“Um… Adam” I started. He turned anger clear in his eyes.
“You know Roxanne; I’m not going to stand up for you all the time like I did today. I’m not your personal protector.” I would have responded, but he was plainly furious and I was slightly frightened. Besides, I didn’t have time he was out the door when I blinked. I was left standing there, in total shock. What was that about? It wasn’t as if I asked for him to come barging in my life as the freak hero, scaring off all my friends. I was frustrated and angry as I walked to the library for study hall. I sat down at a table and, forgetting me wrist, slammed my hand hard on the table out of anger. I gasped instantly in immediate pain. Before I knew what was happening, Seth was behind me with one hand under my elbow.
“Roxy, are you okay?” he asked, once again head over heels in concern. I nodded, but the tears in my eyes betrayed my lie. People turned to stare at me, but Seth led me to the nurse’s office. I protested the entire way.
“I’m completely fine” I said.
“No you’re not” Seth answered. “Why did you slam your broken wrist into a table anyway?” he asked.
“It’s been a frustrating day” I told him.
“We’ve only been apart for two hours, I find it hard to believe that something that bad could have happened” he laughed. I glared at him in return.
“Seth Ryan Jamison, I don’t see anything funny about thin situation” my anger at Adam and Danielle was still fuming.
“Oh come one Roxy, relax. I bet Dr. Dan, the band aid man could make it all better” he joked. When we were young, that had been our favorite book. We read it everyday and stuck band aids on all of our toys and all over our faces. I couldn’t help it, I laughed despite my anger. Seth smiled, he was always so happy go lucky. I sighed,
“I don’t know Seth. This isn’t something that a kiss and a band aid could fix.” I swear I heard him mutter, “I bet a kiss could” but I ignored it and continued. “Danni’s mad at me for calling her an idiot.”
“Why did you do that?” he asked, remaining calm.
“Because she is!” I blasted, but calmed down almost directly after. “It doesn’t matter; I don’t want to talk about it.” Seth accepted my resistance and we walked into the nurse’s office. She saw my cast and rolled her eyes.
“I suppose you’d like a pass for your injury as well?” she said and then mumbled as she looked around for a pen, “you kids’ and your excuses.”
“Actually,” I interrupted her, “I’m not here for a pass”
“She’s here because she’s sick” Seth interrupted me. I looked at him like he was crazy. I knew what he was doing and I was not ditching school.
“No I’m not” I said. The nurse eyed us suspiciously.
“Whatever is going on, you better come out with the truth right now” she threatened. I didn’t give Seth the chance to continue his lie and he looked at me like a puppy that found the bones, but couldn’t reach them. I told the story of how I slammed my wrist.
“Teenagers, they’ll do anything to get out of class. Ms. Cooper, I’m going to have to send you to your pediatrician” she huffed and quickly wrote a validation note for my mom and the doctor. “Go wait for your mother in the office. And Mr. Jamison, go back to class” she snapped at Seth.
“Bye” was all Seth had time to say before she pushed him out. I sat in the office listening to the quiet clock. Tick tock tick tock. I didn’t know how significant that ticking was. It was marking the time of innocence I had left, like a quiet bomb waiting to explode my world any second.
My mom got there and looked sternly at me. She was smart enough not lecture me in front of the office staff. As we drove to the doctor’s, I got it bad, but I didn’t pay attention. I’d heard the lecture a hundred times.
“Control your anger… look at your sister… bla bla bla!” While my mom rambled on I thought about Adam. He was a freak, I couldn’t be his friend. But he had been sweet in the beginning, hadn’t he? I wasn’t sure what to do about him. I had thought I liked him, but I had only known him for a day. I wasn’t paying attention to my mom until I heard her say,
“You know Roxanne, if I can’t get better control of you, I’m going to have to send you to live with your cousin” I snapped back into the conversation.
“No way in any universe am I going to live with Andria” I told her. I crossed my arms and turned to face the window like an angry toddler. My cousin Andria was sweet and I loved her to death, but we were complete opposites and she lived in Texas. I shuddered at the thought. My mom looked satisfied, for now.
“Then you’d better get your act together.” With that final warning she parked the car and got out. I jumped out behind her and took extra care in slamming the door. My mom rolled her eyes, but otherwise ignored my actions. The doctor’s appointment went relatively fast and the doctor had to reset my wrist. He told me that if I did anything like that again my wrist would heal crooked. I didn’t want a crooked wrist so I promised to be good. By the time we left, school was already over and there were messages on the machine at home. I played them.
“Hey Roxy! It’s Seth, as if you didn’t recognize my voice. Anyway I hope your feeling better. I wanted to know if we were still on for that movie?” his voice sounded hopeful, “Okay I guess that’s it then, call me back. Bye!” I had completely forgotten. I had to go get ready, but there was one more message:
“Roxy? It’s me, Danni. I wanted to tell you that I forgive you for making me mad and calling me an idiot. Adam’s not worth EITHER” she emphasized the word to make sure that I did not go after him, “of our time. Rory told me what he did in English. What a freak! You should keep your distance. Well anyway, I have to go, see you at school” I rolled my eyes and sighed. That was the closest to an apology that you would ever get from Danni. It meant that somewhere, deep inside her, she felt a little remorse and wanted someone to gossip with again. I turned towards the stairs to go change, but my mom called me into the kitchen.
“Where are you going?” she demanded.
“To the movies, with Seth” I didn’t bother asking permission, I would go either way. Her expression softened, she trusted Seth.
“Okay well, don’t stay out too late. You have school tomorrow” she reminded me with her eyebrows arched.
“Yeah, yeah” I said and bolted out the door. I didn’t bother changing because I wanted to get out of the house. Ever since my older sister had gotten married and moved out, it was rough for my mom and I. She’d been a single mom her whole life and was really dependent upon my sister. My sister and I were twelve years apart and we always had more of a mother daughter bond. I never had much respect for my mom; I blamed her for my not having a father. I hated that she wasn’t married and I was embarrassed by her. My sister, on the other hand, was perfect. When my sister turned twenty-six, she met her love and they married six months later. They loved each other and never had any fights. They were always eager to compromise. They moved to the Bay Area and only visited on holidays. For two years my mom and I fought and bickered. Multiple times I felt like I would crack and just run away, but I had been able to restrain myself. I thought about all of this while I waited for Seth to open the door. He opened it with his mouth full and a half a pop-tart in his hand. He tried to smile and greet me, but ended up spitting crumbs everywhere. I laughed so hard, tears were coming out of my eyes. He joined me and it must have been five minutes before he got enough air to say,
“Come on! We’re going to miss the movie!” I laughed a little more and followed along. When we were both sobered I asked,
“What movie are we seeing?” Seth whistled and pretended not to hear me. I cleared my throat.
“Oh I’m sorry miss, were you talking to me?” he looked over for a second to smile mischievously. I rolled my eyes and he turned serious. “If you keep rolling your eyes too much, they will just keep going and never stop” he warned.
“Stop it” I reached over to smack him playfully. He only smiled and kept his eyes on the road. When we got there, we had to pick up the tickets he preordered. He wouldn’t let me pay for my ticket so I raced him to the snack counter. I won and paid for the popcorn. We ended up watching some creepy movie, and I had an uncomfortable feeling that Seth picked it for a special reason…
Near the end of the movie when the girl was about to turn around and see her killer, I screamed. Seth’s hand crept its way to mine and intertwined our fingers. I froze and stared at our hands. What the hell? No! No way was I letting him make a move on me. My head snapped up and before I could open my mouth, he kissed me. It lasted a few seconds before I pushed him away and slapped him across the face. People were staring and complaining, but I honestly didn’t care. I was too angry and I knew I would shout if I tried to tell him off. I stood up, stamped on his foot, and stormed out of the theatre. I couldn’t drive and as much as I hated it, I had to call my mom to pick me up. She got there and had this look on her face that said, “I’m so disappointed.” I got in the car and she drove away without a word. The drive home short, but the silence stretched it out to last three lifetimes. We parked, but my mom didn’t move. I wasn’t about to wait for a lecture, so I got out to go inside. I walked into my room and looked out the window at my mom. She was still in the car; her hands were clenched tightly on the wheel, her seat belt still fastened. I didn’t know what was wrong, but being the rebellious teen I was, I ignored her.