Teen Fiction: Her Full Potential
By Tara Raa, 16
The first thing I saw was the arch. The massive arch of balloons, stretching from one side of the entrance to the other, a whirl of light blues, pinks, and yellows. The effect was supposed to be warm and welcoming, but the pale hues instead made me feel slightly nauseous. I tore my eyes away from the helium monstrosity, and glanced around the place I would be calling school for the next year. I searched desperately for some memories of home, but there were no familiar stone gargoyles or ivy-covered walls here. All I could see was a whitewashed building with a brown roof, and a few trailers scattered across the overgrown turf. Before I could turn around and demand that the bus driver take me back home, a hassled-looking teacher grabbed my arm and shoved me through the colorful entrance into a bland concrete room that served as the cafeteria, gym, and auditorium. She forced me into a chair reserved for new students, and then hurried back outside to find her next victim. Determined not to make eye contact with anyone, I sat still, and out of the corner of my eye I watched the first through fifth graders tumble into the room, giddy with excitement. I occupied myself by shuffling my bright white sneakers across the laminate floor, until...
"Hi!" A high-pitched girl's voice chirped in my ear.
I looked up, and found myself staring into a row of brilliantly white teeth. The girl sat down next to me, and grinned even wider.
"I'm Rachel, we're both new here," she announced.
I gave her a half-hearted smile. She, too, looked like she didn't belong here, but for a completely different reason. Her hair was composed of about twelve shades of blonde, yet as I looked harder, I could see that her natural color was brown. Her eyes were blue, but I could make out a faint ring of plastic outlining a pair of colored contact lenses. Even her grey pleated skirt and ruffled white blouse looked nothing like the pastel shorts and baggy shirts everyone else seemed to be sporting. She belonged in an ad for Bloomingdale's.
"I think we should be friends," she continued.
I stared at her for a good minute. I barely knew this sophisticated-looking person, and she already wanted to be friends. Of all people, why on earth would she want to be friends with me? She seemed to guess my unasked question.
"We should be friends because we're both different."
I paused to consider this. Yes, she was absolutely nothing like me from her hair to her toes, but she was right. We were both aliens to everybody else. We needed each other.
The morning assembly was a blur of embarrassment. Each new student was announced, and made to stand up and face the entire school. I promised myself I'd seem cool, likeable. But when I stood up, I panicked. I choked out my name and stumbled back down into my seat, ignoring all the curious glares and whispers from my new classmates. But Rachel, Rachel was a pro. As she got up, she flashed a brilliant smile at her audience.
"Hi, I'm Rachel, and I'm super excited for this year!" she gushed, and with a toss of her hair and a giggle, she gracefully sat back down. I couldn't believe it. She had done the impossible, she had managed to come off as being friendly, cool, and breezy. Unfortunately, I didn't realize her full potential until it was too late.
I knew from popular culture that lunch is the most trying time of a person's first day of school. You have to have someone to sit with, or else you're doomed to be a loser. I was contemplating this when a girl wearing a baggy blue shirt that read "River Falls Swim Team" tapped me on the shoulder, and with a soft smile said, "Hi, I'm Sophie. I was just wondering, since you're new here, do you want sit with us at lunch?"
She motioned at her friends, a group of girls that seemed to make up the majority of the grade's female population. I could tell them inviting me was a big deal and a really nice gesture, and I was tempted to say yes. But I realized that somebody else had already made this move two hours ago, and to sit with Sophie would be abandoning her.
"Thanks, but I'm actually going to sit with someone else during lunch" I replied, and hurried off to art, ignoring Sophie's incredulous expression.
A few periods later, I made my way towards the cafeteria, and the overwhelming smell of sweaty socks that it gave off. I saw Sophie sitting with her friends at a table, so I waved as I passed, and tried not to be hurt when she completely ignored me. I found a table to sit at alone, and occupied my time staring at the entrance waiting for Rachel. I noticed people's stares, but I ignored them. I wasn't being antisocial, they'd soon see. A few minutes later, I saw Rachel rushing through the double doors. She spotted me, and began hurrying along to the back of the room where I sat. A smug grin came over my face as this designer-decked girl came towards my table. I watched her almost trip over a stray volleyball, and then with a quick glance towards me, I watched her sit down next to Sophie, and link arms with her.
The stares continued as my face burned with humiliation and betrayal. It was going to be a long year.
Leave a Response