Beautiful Eyes

This was a school assignment that turned into something greater than I've ever written before. I was supposed to write a fractured fairytale, but while I achieved the prompt, I also managed to write this from my heart.

 

Once upon a time... No, twice upon a time. That’s how my story goes. I’m sure you’ve all heard of my ancestor, Cinderella. She’s totally famous (so famous that my mom made my name rhyme with hers. It’s Isabella, by the way.), thanks to that one bystander at that fancy ball. No one noticed him, of course, but he was a fly on the wall for Cinderella, and he made her story, her fantasy, into a child’s book. Everyone read it, and now here we are, with little girls wishing to be just like her.

But why? She had the horrible family. I just don’t understand how crazed we can get over a little romance. Yes, I do feel some harsh feelings against Cinderella. But before you judge me, hear me out. I have my own story that can rival her story any day. All you have to do is keep reading… good job. Let’s observe my background, shall we?

I live in the raging city of New York, New York, the fashion capital of America. I grew up surrounded by modern mansions and six figure paychecks. I’m only fourteen, and I have three credit cards stashed in my Prada wallet. Welcome to New York; you can expect the same in every other 14-year-old’s wallet. Everyone at my school has a Blackberry, a Zune, and they only wear designer clothes. You’d be social dead meat if you showed up in heels any shorter than 3 inches. Don’t even think about wearing overalls; you’d be the laughing stock of the season. But that’s just the way we New Yorkers roll; we always find someone else to criticize.

Unlike my great-great-great-grandmother, Cinderella, I have a caring family. Although my father is a big-time CEO of a big-time company, he always makes time for me. My mom died in a plane-crash when I was 4. I know Daddy misses her dearly, but I also understand that he has to move on. My stepmother, Serena Renee-Harrison, is very understanding of me and my emotions. In fact, she’s more like a good friend to me than a stepmother. She and Daddy married when I was 9.

I also have 2 stepsisters (I know you’re comparing my family to Cinderella’s, so I’ll tell you right now: KNOCK IT OFF!). They’re twins, both juniors at Francisco High. Lily is the older, by 3 minutes. She’s the sweeter of the 2. Rose is the younger. Rose’s name matches her personality. She’s beautiful, but she has thorns. Both have California-esque blond beach waves, and each have shocking blue eyes that remind you of the Pacific Ocean. Rose tans, and Lily slathers on the sunscreen. In addition to their beauty, they’re smart, too. Both maintain a 4.0 GPA.

Here I am, practically worshipping them. Let’s get this straight right now: I’m no kiss-up. I’m just as good as them. I have shiny black hair that spills in waves to the middle of my back. My eyes are a piercing green, with amazingly long eyelashes surrounding them. When I smile, I have dimples, and even when my mouth doesn’t smile, my eyes do. I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t need to wear makeup; I have that natural beauty that you always read about but rarely see. My skin is pale, but with my hair, it looks great. In middle school, I was voted most likely to graduate as class Valedictorian.

I attend Francisco High with Rose and Lily. I’m a freshman, but not the weak kind that gets shoved around by the upperclassmen. I personally think it’s because of my stepsisters. They’re very popular, but nice, too. You rarely get that from the popular, attractive students. They’re friends with everyone, and because of that, so am I. I guess it works out.

Let’s get on with the story.

BEEP! I whacked my alarm to shut it off. I sleepily tumbled out of bed, still half awake, and made my way to my bathroom. Since Daddy was a CEO, we had a very spacious, 2 story apartment. Therefore, I had my own bathroom.

Once I set foot in my bathroom, I reached for my hairbrush, untangled my bed head, and put it to the flatiron. After the monster had been tamed, I reentered my bedroom and stumbled over to my walk-in closet to get dressed. Tuesday… hmm… I settled with a pair of white skinny jeans, an ice blue sequined racer-back tank, a fitted black Chanel jacket, and a pair of ice blue, 4 inch wedge sandals. This was the usual school staple.

I carefully walked down the spiral staircase to the kitchen for breakfast. I smelled cinnamon rolls! Our chef, Monty, was a great cook, and his cinnamon rolls were to die for.

“Monty, do I smell cinnamon rolls?” I asked him with a good morning hug. Monty had been the family chef for as long as I could remember; he was practically part of the family.

“Yes, Monty’s world famous cinnamon rolls!” He answered enthusiastically, and he pulled them out of the oven.

“Where is everyone else? The twins?” They usually ride with me to school in the family Mercedes, unless they were sick (somehow, they managed to get sick at the same time), in which case I hitched a ride with my best friend, Nicole. I could go alone, but what’s the fun in that?

“Let’s see… your father had to go to the office early, Serena had to go to the studio on an emergency order on a dress for Ashley Something-Or-Other… the twins should be down any minute.” Oh, have I mentioned that Serena was a dress designer? She owned a little small-name shop that’s so trendy that you'd have to be escorted to the store; you couldn’t just stumble upon it by accident.

“Well, they’d better hurry up. I have a test in first hour Trig, and I will not be late for it.” I mumbled mostly to myself.

“Sounds like you could use some tea with honey before you set off; it should help you relax.” As he started bustling around the kitchen to make the tea, the twins entered the kitchen.

“Good morning!” They sang out together. They always did that, without even trying.

“Good morning, you two. Would either of you care for a cinnamon roll before you leave for school. Tea, perhaps?” Monty offered, ever the polite one. I see why they were 10 minutes late getting up and around; Rose had decided to curl her hair into tight ringlets, Lily had twisted hers into a complicated-looking side-bun. Rose was sporting a raw silk fuchsia tunic that belted just below the chest, over smoky grey leggings and tan Uggs. Lily wore a bright red kimono wrap dress with gold accents and gold 4 inch stilettos.

“Going on a double-date?” I asked. Even on their good days, they don’t dress this good.

“No… but you are aware of the Seniors’ Dance, aren’t you? It’s this Saturday.” Rose hinted.

“Isn’t the key word there ‘Seniors’?” I answered a question with a question, I know, but it was the only thing running through my head.

“Ah, but the seniors are entitled to ask an underclassman to the dance. We figured that we’ll have better chances of being asked if we kind of flaunt our assets a little more than usual.” Lily explained it like she was announcing the obvious, but I knew she meant well. This whole time, Monty was still making my tea.

“That is a brilliant idea, ladies. Might I suggest you carry out this conversation in the car, on the way to school?” He said, nodding toward the modern clock on the north wall.

“Okay, thanks for the breakfast, Monty. It was fabulous, as usual.” Lily spoke for all three of us as we flounced out the door and to the garage.

We live only 10 blocks from school, but with the infamous New York traffic, it usually takes about 30 minutes to get there. Once we arrive at school, we do the usual celebrity-style, heel-clad-foot-first exit from our car and walk up the steps to our kingdom.

You would think that it’s only in the movies that the entire student body separates down the middle when the Popular Ones make their entrance, but it happens in reality, too. I would know, because that’s exactly what they did when the doors opened for us. But they parted in honor, not in fear.

The whole hallway split down the center. Wait… someone hadn’t moved. Paul Smith! He was adorably unaware of everyone else, listening to his Zune and reading a book. It was as if he were glowing, the light reflecting off his shaggy blond hair. He was absolutely amazing, and I wanted him. I’d wanted him since the first time I ever saw him, in 7th grade, when he was a freshman. One problem: He’s a senior. Bi-grade relationships rarely ever work; everyone at Francisco knew that. Oh, well… what happens will happen.

As we walked through the halls, me in the front and the twins flanking me, everyone, save for Paul, smiled and greeted us warmly like long-friends. Well, there were a few enviers, but why worry over them when so many others canceled out their stink eyes?

We pranced to our lockers (even though we’re in different grades, we managed to get our lockers lined up next to each other) and spun our combinations. Each locker swung open one at a time; first Lily’s, then Rose’s, then mine, none missing a beat. It was as if we were moving to a song that only we heard, making our movements a dance that was meant to be seen.

While Rose and Lily made a few minor adjustments (adding a little more lip gloss here, a few pinches for color there…) in their custom-made locker mirrors (roses hand-painted on Rose’s, lilies etched onto Lily’s), I noticed a sheet of folded notebook paper flutter down to the floor of my locker. I glanced about quickly, and bent to retrieve it. I popped back up quickly and unfolded the paper. Someone had written something - a poem? - on it.

I.H.

Glowing, Gorgeous

Eyes green and refreshing like spearmint.

I would be honored

If you would go to the prom with me.

Meet me by the weeping willow

If you agree.

P.S.

P.S… Is it? It couldn’t be. But who else could it possibly be? Left with these nagging thoughts, I closed my locker, tossed my hair over one shoulder, and made my way to first hour for the dreaded Trig test.

I was constantly spacing out, focusing not on school but on my mystery man. I didn’t finish my Trig test, and I could’ve cared less about the difference between deciduous trees and coniferous trees in Biology. I’ve never been so unfocused in my life! But what can I say? It’s possible a senior – a perfect, beautiful senior – wanted to go to the prom with me! I think it’s okay to space out for once.

Finally, lunch rolled around. I floated into the cafeteria on cloud nine, without my sisters to back me up. I quickly hopped into line for my tray. I thanked the lunch ladies for their time and effort (you’d be amazed at how easily we can overlook them, so I try to make their days a little brighter) and walked slowly to the doors that open out to the courtyard. Time to meet my destiny.

I walked down the concrete steps, careful not to spill my food, and scanned the courtyard. It was noticeably divided into groups, each clique claiming an area. The preps stood to the left, studying under the 3 tall oaks that grew together into an archway. A little to the right of them were the Populars, who took up all the shadeless grass patches to tan. On the far edge of the courtyard was the curb, where all the Extras, Loners, Social Butterflies, and Drifters ate. Most of the freshmen hung out there. More to the right were the Burnouts, who sat under the vandalized picnic benches. Then, to the far right, was the weeping willow.

…meet me at the weeping willow

There was a path of stepping stones on the lawn that led to the tree. I used them to take a step toward the tree, then another, then another… there he was. Paul Smith was sitting with his back propped up against the base of the willow, writing in a notebook. I caught myself wondering what he wrote in it. I walked closer, closer, closer… then there I stood, a little behind him so I could see his words. I was so nervous that I just stood there so silently that I went unnoticed for several minutes. It allowed me to read over his shoulder. Apparently, I was dealing with a poet... how perfect could he get?

“Hi,” I nearly whispered, careful not to startle him. I set my tray down on the ground as he closed his notebook quickly with his pen marking his page. He set it aside and hopped to his feet.

“Um, hi…” He greeted me with a question in his aquamarine eyes, his brows knit together.

“I, uh, got your note…” I hinted, wondering why we didn’t sit down. What was going on? He shook his hair out of his eyes—he’s so cute when he does that!—and looked at me guiltily.

“Oh, no… what’s your name again?” Was he joking? He couldn’t have forgotten. I analyzed his question—and his face—carefully, hoping to find a bit of humor on his words, a silly grin lighting up his face, anything to show that this was simply a playful prank.

“Isabella… Isabella Harrison. You wrote a note—a poem, maybe—and put it in my locker.” What little hope I still had was being burnt to ashes as the anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach took over.

While that battle was raging throughout my body, his expression grew even guiltier. “No… no, no, no… not again...” He was muttering to himself. Was he crazy? What was he doing?

“Um, Paul? Are you okay?” I hadn’t meant for this kind of reaction. No, scratch that. I hadn’t expected this reaction. What I had expected was in a whole different world.

He shook his blond hair out again, and turned towards me. “Isabella… I’m sorry. I’m dyslexic. I tend to mix numbers and letters up often. I must have gotten the locker numbers flipped around. Locker number 142 isn’t your locker, is it.” His voice was flat, not stating a question—just a disappointed, frustrated sentence.

“No, I have locker number 124, Paul. You put the note in locker number 124. What I don’t understand, though, is why your poem had the initials I.H. on it.” I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. This was every girl’s nightmare, and I was living it.

“Dyslexia, remember? I must have switched the letters around. It’s supposed to be H.I. As in Haley Indigo.” Haley Indigo? Who was—oh. Her. That was the senior that every guy wanted—single or no. She was one of the Populars, like my sisters, but she was a witch. She was awful. And drop-dead gorgeous. She had strawberry blond curls that hung to the middle of her back. Her eyes were an unnatural neon green, her wispy bangs framing her flawless face perfectly. But she was known for getting around. She was a one-nighter, and everyone knew it. I couldn’t believe my dream guy—my Paul—wanted such trash.

If crying really does make eyes prettier, mine were beautiful. Before I could stop, tears blurred my vision, but I refused to let them spill over. Paul was a still blob of color in front of me. No! I could tear up until my vision was useless. Fine. But I would not cry in front of Paul. Or in front of my kingdom, my friends, my enemies. Anywhere but here.

Oblivious to my beautiful eyes and my tears, Paul was cursing himself. Then he refocused on me. "You wouldn't mind helping me, would you? You know Haley, right? Could you find her and tell her I want to talk to her? If you have the poem with you, you could give it to her. Thanks a ton." I couldn't believe this was happening. Without another thought, I blinked, releasing a single tear to roll silently down my cheek, and stared right at him. I hope he got a good look at it—my tear, my face, my beautiful eyes; I wanted him to feel my pain. Then I bent to unstrap my stilettos.

"What are you doing?" Paul asked. Apparently he didn't see the tears. After my shoes were removed and sitting empty on the grass next to my tray, I stood up to face him. I shook my hair away from my face so he could see my tear tracks, my pain, my piercing, naturally green eyes.

"Hey, are you okay? Those shoes giving you foot troubles?" Oh my gosh. He was really that clueless. Remaining silent, I dug around in the pocket of my Chanel jacket. I pulled the folded paper out and unfolded it carefully, taking my time. When it was completely unfolded, I looked at him one last time. I looked long and hard, tears still escaping my eyes, as silently as the first.

"You know, your eyes are pretty..." He thought out loud. That was all it took. I took the poem in my hands and turned the words toward him. I placed my hands on the top of the sheet; one on the left, one on the right. Then I pulled. I put those two pieces together and pulled again. Again and again, until all that was left was bits and pieces, the ashes of my hope. I threw it in his face, my anger overriding any control I had left.

"I'm sure she'll get your message, you jerk. While you wait, read between the lines!" With that, I quickly grabbed the straps of my stilettos and ran. I left my tray at his feet; how could I possibly eat after this? I didn’t care who saw me run, saw me cry. All I knew was that I had to get away. I stepped on twigs, glass, stickers. I couldn’t feel any physical pain; the shards of glass left by the Burnouts that were slicing my feet apart were nothing. The twigs scraping my ankles were like air. I welcomed the stickers that jabbed their sharp points into my toes like family.

My feet were bleeding, leaving twisted footprints wherever my feet landed. I vaguely heard my stepsisters call out, and I think I remember them trying to run after me. But how could they when their pumps were still strapped to their feet? They only teetered uncomfortably for a few steps like toddlers, then gave up on their pursuit. Even without their shoes, I was too fast for them. My black mane whipped my face, fluttering around as I raced past the staring eyes, the pointing fingers, the haunting smirks. I just wanted to get away.

I charged up the concrete steps where only minutes ago I’d looked upon my courtyard in ownership; now I’d been stripped of my honors, down to another scrawny freshman with a good sense of fashion. I pushed the door open with too much force, and it slammed against the wall, making a sound that resembled gunfire. I tracked my bloody feet through the marble-tiled cafeteria. The lunch ladies were startled at this intruder, but when they recognized me, their faces were those of sympathy and pity.

I didn’t want their pity. I didn’t want their questions. I wanted to go home. And that’s what I did. I jogged through the halls that were no longer mine to my locker. I opened it in record time and retrieved my Blackberry. Our driver was on speed dial. I hit the button 9, and then hit send. I let it ring 3 times, and then hung up. I knew he’d be waiting for me outside within minutes. We had a code that we’d created years ago. Three rings mean EMERGENCY! RETRIEVE ME IMMEADIATELY! Three rings fit this occasion perfectly.

I didn’t bother with my textbooks or papers or assignments. I didn’t even strap my shoes back on; my feet were so slippery with blood, I'd surely fall and break an ankle. I left my pack in my locker and slammed it shut. I bolted through the double doors and I was right. The family Mercedes was there, blocking the fire lane.

I rushed over and threw the backseat door open. I hopped in and slammed the door behind me. As soon as it closed with a POP, the driver spun out and sped away. He understood me so well; he didn't ask questions, he didn't look into his rearview mirror at me, he didn't do anything but drive.

I looked down and noticed that these white jeans were ruined. In my frantic escape, my blood had risen to soak into the hem of my jeans. Only when I saw the blood did the pain come flooding back. Unbelievable, searing pain radiated throughout both feet, ankles, spreading halfway up my calves, though the calves themselves had been untouched. I could feel every slice the glass had made, every prick of the stickers, every scrape of the twigs, and they stung like nothing I'd ever felt before. I was sure it was because of dirt. I could see dirt caked onto my feet, a red mud. It would take a miracle if I healed from this without infection.

Of course, I had to heal in other ways. My ego was damaged, my emotions were hurting like never before. How could he be so clueless? Did he not understand that I'd shown up in response to his poem. And how could I be calling that a poem? It didn't even rhyme! It had been so easy to assume he was something he wasn't. I had made him out to be a character of my dreams, when, in all actuality, he was just another boy lusting after another trashy girl.

So that's how my story goes. I'm sure it's just as good as my ancestor's story, but for very different reasons. Yes, my feet healed without infection, and I carry the scars as reminders of what I've been through and how I'm stronger for it. I reclaimed my kingdom after a few weeks of lying low and recuperating.

Paul never went to prom with Haley Indigo; I'm not sure he went at all. At the end of the year, he graduated 23rd in his class; no wonder he was so clueless. Haley also graduated 27th in her class; she was always too busy with her social affairs and keeping her neon eyes, well, neon, to bother with grades.

I guess my story just goes to show that not every Cinderella gets her guy. That's something every girl should keep in mind. I didn't think of it that way, and I got hurt for it. I hope you learned from this, and I wish you a better high school experience than mine.

If you agree…”

The End

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