I hate first days back at school after the holidays. All the girls look stunningly beautiful with gorgeous tanned legs which they show off in short skirts which the guys stare drool over. And then there's me. I'm as short as ever with no figure to speak of, dressed in my normal jeans and t-shirt, trying as hard as I can not to be noticed.
I see my group of 'friends' standing in the school entrance as I arrive and I saunter up to them, slotting myself into the group with very little fuss.
This is the group of people I call my friends, but really they're just the people I hang around with. If you look at our group from a distance you would see me sticking out like a sore thumb. The girls are all six foot goddesses, dressed in designer labels and the men are Greek heroes with toned figures and sexy eyes. That's right, I'm in with the popular crowd. At least one member of the popular crowd.
Alex Kenley has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. We grew up together and as we grew up we became individuals. She is now Queen Bee and is campaigning to be this year's Prom Queen.
I on the other hand am a musical geek who likes to hide in Alex's shadow. Sometimes I'm surprised she still lets me hang around with her now she's the girl everyone wants to know, but then she'll smile at me or whisper something funny in my ear and I'll know she wants me around. She knows I'll always be there for her, no matter what.
'Hey Nessie,' Ellie Newton, one of Alex's cool friends said, her usual look of contempt on her face. 'How was your summer? Did you go anywhere nice?'
I had been to Italy for two weeks with my parents, Ellie knew that, but she loved nothing more than teasing me.
'I had a good time thank you Ellie,' I said, trying to find some sort of confidence inside me. 'How was your summer?'
'Absolutely divine,' she smarmed. I could tell she was about to jump into one of her speeches about how wonderful her parent's villa in the south of France was, so I switched off and prayed Alex would turn up soon.
Thankfully my prayers were answered and I felt an arm go around my shoulders, pulling me against Alex's slim figure.
'Hey guys,' she said brightly, looking more stunning than normal in her giant sunglasses. 'What have you guys been up to? I've been missing you so much!'
The conversation continued, mainly talking about what everyone did over the summer. I occasionally joined in but mainly stayed an observer, feeling extremely left out when Alex moved from my side to Logan's, wrapping her arms around his waist and leaning her head on his shoulder.
The bell finally rang and our group sauntered inside. Once again I felt an arm go around my shoulders and I smiled up at Alex as she fell in beside me.
'I feel like we haven't spoken properly in ages,' she said. 'I haven't heard a word from you all summer. What happened?'
'Nothing,' I said, looking away. 'That's the problem, I didn't have anything interesting to tell you about.'
'You can't be telling me your holiday to Italy was dull? There must have been at least one good-looking waiter for you to tell me about. Why are you looking away? There was someone!' She exclaimed excitedly. 'Come on then, spill.'
'There's not a lot to say,' I lied, wanting to spend at least my first day back at school off the gossip radar. 'I've got History first. I'll see you at break?'
'I'll want to hear everything later,' she called after me as I walked down the hall towards my first class. 'Don't think you've gotten away with this!'
I smiled to myself as I walked down the corridor. I liked the small moments Alex and I shared, as infrequent as they were. They made me feel normal.
'Buongiorno,' a familiar voice said as he sat in the seat next to me.
'Hey Luke,' I smiled at my History partner. 'How was your summer?'
'Boring as always. I spent a week with my relatives in Scotland. I'll tell you now, I have never seen so much rain in my life. How was Italy?'
'It was alright,' I said, skimming over it. 'I would rather have spent time with you.'
'What? And not got that fabulous tan you now have, which looks very good by the way, you should go out in the sun more often.'
Luke was my 'normal' friend. As much as I loved Alex, her group of followers drove me up the wall and I needed some time where I didn't have to worry about what I said or did. Luke didn't judge me. He was my retreat when things got too heavy. He always looked after me.