Wednesday morning cried its eyes out. The dark, wet sky fidgeted between downpours and thunderclaps so loud I had to cover my ears. Yes, the sky gods were throwing a temper tantrum a "terrible two" year old would be proud of.
Did I mention that I walk to school? Perfect.
I started out early so that I would have time to clean up before class. Since my mother is clearly out of touch with everything around her, we don't own any umbrellas. My hair would dry looking passable, so I opted to protect my books instead. Head down, I trudged through rivulets of water on the sidewalk.
About a third of the way to school, I heard a car horn behind me. I kept walking until the car stopped beside me and Tom yelled, "Rhea! Wanna ride?"
"Hell yes! Tom, right?" I hopped into the passenger seat and slammed the door. Trying not to look at his perfect black hair or his lean, muscled chest, I searched desperately for a topic. Act confident, pretend you aren't flipping out... Deep breaths, Rhea...
"Oh, sorry... Now your seat's all wet."
"It's chill, spiff happens, right?"
I laughed that he used a phrase I'd only ever heard my dad say.
"Yeah, I guess. What brings you to school so early?"
"Picking up all the damsels in distress walking around in the rain. And you?"
"Hahaha, I just thought I'd have time to dry off at school if I left early."
We lapsed into silence. Pulling into school, I thanked him, hopped out, and ran up the steps to the front door. Isobel Smith was waiting just inside, and from the look of shock on her face I could tell she'd seen Tom pull in with me. Ignoring her, I went to my locker to put away my (dry) books.
Slipping into the bathroom, I went into the handicapped stall to dry myself off. Hauling off my wet dress, I took out my pony tail and hung the dress over the stall wall after wringing it out. Leaning over the toilet, I grabbed my ponytail and started to wring the water from it.
Suddenly, the bathroom door flew open and two giggling girls tumbled in.
"NO waaaay! Are you sure?"
"Yeah, seriously! He looked like someone hit him in the head with a bat when he came in too!"
It was Chrissy and Isobel, two girls in my Psych class, probably gossiping about some football player with an overdeveloped sex drive and an underdeveloped cranium.
"Do you think they were... last night?" Chrissy gasped.
"I have no idea! Doesn't really seem like either of them but I guess we don't really know them that well..."
The other girl sounded sick at her stomach. "But would he GO for a girl like her? I mean... she's a little whacked!" The whiny quality seeped into her voice. She was starting to panic. "Have you seen the way she dresses? Something's gotta be weird at home for her with the way she acts."
The penny dropped. They were talking about me and Tom. They thought I was sleeping with someone I hadn't said more than two words to before this morning. PERFECT.
"I can hear you, you know." SHIT! Where did THAT come from? What am I getting myself into?
They froze mid-breath. Tentatively, Isobel squeaked, "Rhea?"
Might as well go through with it. "Yeah, who do you think? I'm not deaf!"
Chrissy blurted: "Did you sleep with him?" Now that made me mad. Who does she think I am? Who does she think she is, asking me a question like that?
"CHRISSY! None of our business!" Isobel sounded horrified.
The door to my stall flew open. Still in my underwear, I started yelling at Chrissy, who probably didn't deserve it.
"That's none of your f$%king business, you nosy little tramp! Not everyone sleeps with whoever they like like you and your posh preppy friends do! Get your perfect little nose out of my business and PISS OFF!" I couldn't believe I'd just said that, and it probably showed on my face. Isobel looked terrified, and Chrissy looked like she was going to cry.
"I'm sorry, I just -"
Isobel grabbed Chrissy's hand and fled the bathroom.
So much for making friends this year. There went me ever looking sane. Adios, social-life-I-never-had... Perfect.
I sighed and put on my dress. Forlornly, I French-braided my hair and slunk into Psych. Sitting next to Tom, I tried my hardest not to look at him.
"Hey, I can drive you to school if you want. I probably go right past your house anyways."
My heart jumped and simultaneously fell into my stomach.
"Yeah, that would be cool, I guess." I forced a smile at him, thinking of how jealous Chrissy would be. Now that got a real smile.