Conner Alvarez befriends the eccentric, new girl (Veronica-Rae). Thinking that he may soon move on from his disastrous relationship with peppy Helen, Cannor might be wrong. He cannot surpress his strong feelings for Veronica (et Helen) and he also can't hide the hunch that she's keeping a secret, with what all the strange requests she asks him to do for her.
“Ain’t she one hell of a princess?” Jack exclaimed. He laughed and said, “She’s practically lifting her pinkie finger.” He sighed though, “I don’t care if she’s a stuck-up...she’s still hot.”
“Oh yeah,” Shawn nodded his head toward the girl’s direction. It was like a nod of approval for her being born with such good looks.
They were both right that new girl was absolutely beautiful, I mean, I couldn’t tell my friends that, or they’ll say I was describing her like some stupid pansy. So I had to stick with hot. Isn’t hot such a disgustingly blunt word. Hot.
“”What does the ultimate ladies’ man have to say about this?” Shawn asked with a devilish grin.
I wasn’t really listening to him, so when he threw his carrot at me, I flinched in a rather wan way. My friends laughed at me when I muttered, “What do you want?”
Shawn furrowed his eyebrows in an expression of annoyance. He sighed then said, “I suppose you think that you’re too good for New Girl, right?”
“No,” I replied.
“No,” Jack mimicked, making sure he captured the monotonous wonder in my voice. He scowled then said, “Then why are you sitting around like some idiot, not doing anything about it?”
“Whoa, what are you trying to say?” I started poking at my sandwich and stealing glances over at ‘New Girl’, Veronica-Rae Bramptowne. If they were implying I should go over and say a word to her, I wouldn’t be able to even bring myself up to my feet. I picked up my sandwich and stuffed the remnants into my mouth, muting my horror.
Jack was tapping his fingers on the table, something he usually did when he was thinking up a plan. This made me more nervous as I watched him humming. Then, he scared me when he barked, “Go and talk to her!”
“Oh...that’s good. Great idea, Jack,” Shawn said, nodding his head at him. He threw his soda can over at me and exclaimed, “Come on Connie, we believe in you!” He was like a golden retriever, blond hair included.
Some people sitting at the other cafeteria tables started to stare at us. Either they already were told of my future escapades, or they were just staring at how childish my friends were acting right now. I rested my head on the table anyhow and started to moan.
“Hey,” Shawn patted my back—rather hard, if you tell me. “Don’t get bummed out, you had enough sulking to do when Helen broke up with you.”
Then this phrase escaped from my throat, “Oh my God!” He promised that he would never mention her name. He promised. I lifted my head and stared at Shawn; I could possibly take his lip and wring it between my fingers right now.
Shawn gave a shrug. He looked like he didn’t care one bit about him mentioning Helen. “Dude, sorry, but you’ve got to forget her.”
I gave him an incredulous look and banged the table, “Forget her!” I laughed loudly and shouted, “What if I can’t get over Helen! Huh!”
Our half of the cafeteria tables went silent. I didn’t dare to meet anyone’s gaze as my fist lurched down and rested on my leg. I touched the back of my sweaty neck with my other hand and started to scratch it. I was hoping that two people in particular didn’t hear my outburst.
“Wow, Connie...Calm down,” Jack whispered. He was trying so hard not to laugh.
There was still an awkward silence in the room until some girl exclaimed, “Okay, who cares about that!” Then, like it never happened, the whole room was noisy again.
I sighed and held my breath when Shawn gave a warning, “Uh, Conner.” I looked at him; his head was turned around, looking at something. He scratched his brown hair and then whipped his head back around, laughing to himself. Before I could ask, he said, “Helen’s coming your way.”
“Crap!” I didn’t know what to do. Then, in my frenzied craziness, I stood up and rushed away. I managed to back up into someone. I spun around, muttering, “Sor—” I choked.
She was giving me a strange look as she took in my appearance. Lank, brown, disselved hair, wrinkled t-shirt with the words EPIC on the front, and a tired, tired face. Yeah, I was a far cry from the perfect boyfriend she once had. I only let myself go when she dumped me, and my fall from grace wasn’t on purpose either.
“Conner...” She started, smiling at me all the while.
My voice came out muffled and cracked, “Mmph?” That was meant to be a ‘yes’. The tray held in my hands was shaking now.
Helen looked me up and down with critical hazel eyes. She shook her head and said, “Sorry that was kind of random.” She started to laugh now.
I panicked, not knowing how to react. I laughed between the increments when it became inappropriate to laugh after a joke. My cheeks flushed. Then I blurted out, “How are you?” It sounded like I spat it out at her.
“I’m great, how are you doing?”
She was torturing me right now. I shrugged and said, “Me? I feel fantastic.”
Helen laughed, “Ooh, great choice of adjective.” Then, she quieted down and gave me a serious look. “Listen, Conner, I have to make something clear with you.”
My heart peaked, “Heh?”
She looked up at me and flipped her auburn hair. I cleared my throat and steeled myself for the impact. “It’s about what you just...shouted out earlier.”
I laughed, “You heard that?”
Helen gave me a weird look, “Yeah, we all did. As a matter in fact, some of the teachers were laughing about it when I passed by them.”
“Oh,” I replied. I held the cafeteria tray tighter, looking past Helen.
“Uh, so anyways,” Helen began, “I was just here to say that...” She sighed, “Sorry Conner, I didn’t realize that you were, having troubles...”
She made it sound like I was struggling in life. I laughed and shook my head, “No, no! What I meant to say there was how I couldn’t get over you when...when you won the Regional Art Competition! I heard it this morning! Congratulations!”
Helen nodded slowly. She grimaced then nodded again, unsure of what to say. Then, she mustered, “Thanks...I thought you were saying that because of—”
“No, no! I was talking about the Art Competition Hel, it was only the...yes...the Art Competition.”
She blinked and looked away from me. Helen was playing with the lone braid in her hairs she thought over my inane excuse. I knew she was just making an effort of pretending to believe me.
“Wow, relationship problem, huh?”
Helen and I looked up, first at each other, then at the girl who said it. Yes, to make things peachy it was Veronica-Rae. I felt like screaming.
She was standing there, looking amused, as if she had been watching this scene for awhile. She had her sac slung over one shoulder, and a brown bagged lunch in her hand. I’ve never seen anyone make brownbag lunches look so cool. I shifted my weight from foot to foot in my most anxious manner.
“Excuse me?” Helen asked, breaking the silent void.
Veronica-Rae smirked, “Oh, don’t mind me, go on.” She nodded her head and waved a hand. Hm, people said that Veronica-Rae was a tad bit weird, but that only came from the girls, so I thought they were talking out of jealousy. Yet, I have to correct myself; she is starting to make me wonder.
I glanced at Helen; she was gaping at Veronica-Rae. This couldn’t be good. Helen isn’t aggressive, but she can talk in her outdoor voice from time to time. Shawn and Jack used to say that she fit in better with them than I did.
“You’re the New Girl, are you?” Helen was pointing at her now. I raced myself for embarrassment.
She nodded at my ex-girlfriend. “Yah, I am.” Veronica-Rae shrugged then added, “I do have a name though.”
“Oh, really...” Helen sighed. She rolled her eyes and turned back to me, saying, “It was good talking to you Connor, but I can’t do this if our privacy is breached.” Oh, I used to love it when she’d start talking like that. I watched her flash me a smile then storm away from us, managing to shove Veronica-Rae in the shoulder all the while.
I watched her walk away, the skirts of her dress even swung in a commanding motion. Helen Peirce-Thomas was a short girl, five-foot-three, to be exact, yet she walked as if she was seven-feet tall. Wow, I missed her a lot. Although, she still talked to me from time to time, but we were ‘friends’—it never felt the same after that. It just felt so empty now.
When I turned around to walk back to my table, I was stunned to notice that Veronica-Rae was still beside me. She had one hand on her hip and the other holding her bagged lunch—pinkie up, like Jack had said earlier. If I had to pin a label on this girl, it would be quite hard to determine. She had a short jet black bob, and she wore a long red tunic-shirt thing with white leggings underneath. On her feet was a pair of sparkly red flats. This was a far cry from what Helen was wearing, a yellow dress and sunhat. Helen’s label was a Fashion Goddess, at least—this wasn’t coming from me—that was what my sister Brenda told me upon seeing her.
I tried to think back on other things that Veronica-Rae wore in the past two weeks of being here. All of them were far cries from the next and previous outfit. Hm, I guess she likes to change things. Although, I needed to know, I couldn’t just talk to her without looking like I shouldn’t be talking to her. Ah, crap, my rationalization is starting to sound very inarticulate. I bit my thumb and looked at her, she was almost taller than me, and it was intimidating.
“Hello?” Veronica-Rae said.
My eyes widened, “Hi...”
“Hi...” She said back and stood there with a sly smile. She played with the white beaded necklace around her neck as she stared at me. Man, she didn’t even try to hide the fact that she was staring at me. She glanced over my shoulder and asked, “That was Helen Peirce-Thomas, right?”
“Uh...Yeah...” I was not prepared for that question.
“Ah,” she grinned to herself.
“Why do you...” she gave me a look, which made me stutter, “W-want to...know?”
Veronica-Rae pursed her lips and shrugged, “I don’t know, I had a hunch.”
Before I could ask her how she knew that was Helen, she asked me, “You’re Conner Alvarez, are you?”
This freaked me out. Now I wasn’t nervous for her beauty, I was more so fretting for my personal information. “Uh, ye-yeah....” I scratched my head and asked, “How do you know that?”
She smiled a kind of private smile, “Let’s just say I know things.” After a second, she threw her empty brownbag in the garbage and piped, “Want to sit somewhere?”
Wow, I didn’t even have to make an effort of grabbing her attention. This was actually easy. I turned to see where my friends were and saw Shawn and Jack watching. They gave me thumbs up of approval and high-fived each other. I smiled, feeling awfully too stupid for the praise.
“Sure,” I said to her.
She immediately started to walk out of the cafeteria, I followed after her. She walked very fast; it was quite hard to keep up with Veronica-Rae. We were in the busy halls of the main wing when she came to a stop and glanced at one of the large windows. She pointed at the wide windowsill and said, “That’s good, eh?” She plopped herself onto the ledge then motioned for me to sit next to her.
I wrenched a nervous grin. I sure do recover fast. It isn’t my fault though; Veronica-Rae is so beautiful. It’s not like she goes around unnoticed, but I suppose that no guy has acted on her beauty because (1) She has a boyfriend (2) She isn’t interested (3) They are afraid/freaked/scared of her (4) She might have done something strange to ward them off. I was feeling that option number four was a very good one, because Veronica-Rae seems awfully brash and straight forward. I’m okay with weird though, I guess.
I decided to sit next to her and listen to what she had to say. She was looking at me with oddly impish eyes; they were blue and glinted with mischief. “So?”
“So?” She said back.
I shifted my gaze away from her. How awkward. I must come up with something to say, but I didn’t know what to talk about. Oh, no, she’s looking at me... I can’t think of anything...
“You still have your cafeteria tray,” she told me.
I looked down and in my hands was the rest of my lunch. I blushed. “Oh, hahaha, well look at that. Thanks...for telling me.”
“Wanna go bring it back?” Veronica-Rae asked me. Before I could even say anything, she grabbed hold of my hand and led me towards the cafeteria once more.
Was I dreaming? It would be very cruel if I was dreaming... I mean, I just met the girl and she’s holding my hand. I couldn’t get Helen (or myself) to hold hands for a whole month. It’s weird though, it felt sort of normal to be holding Veronica-Rae’s hand. It was cool, and not warm like some of the seats you’d get if you changed classes early.
As I trailed behind her, nearing the cafeteria, I had a strange feeling overcome just then. Everything seemed to pass by slower, all the people around us were just extras, and they were extras in our scene. This was Veronica-Rae’s and my scene only. I think she felt it too, as she ran down the hall, holding onto my hand. She had turned to look over her shoulder and she winked at me.
I had to catch my breath. I didn’t even know what this girl was all about. Was this how flirtation should feel like? I never flirted with Helen. We were sort of just going out because our parents knew each other and thought it’d be lovely if we tried seeing each other—which rendered our friendship to an awkward comradeship.
“You’re running awfully slowly,” she mouthed to me. She turned her head away from me and pushed the doors of the cafeteria open.
I couldn’t hear anything. All I heard were the thoughts running inside my head. As strange as it may sound, it felt like Veronica-Rae can hear everything I’m saying in my head at this moment. It felt like she knew what I was thinking. I gripped her hand tight and followed her to the trash can. People were staring at us. Now, I didn’t even seem to care. Strange, huh?
I threw my leftovers in the garbage then Veronica-Rae walked us towards the lunch line, where I placed the tray on a stack of other ones. I never knew that getting rid of your lunch could feel so epic.
I glanced at Veronica-Rae, she was beaming, and I almost gaped. Then she pulled us out of the cafeteria, clinging onto her bag. I stared down at it. There were many buttons that were pinned on the front pocket. They were all scratched and indecipherable. There was only one that I read well through all of the mud and dirt.
Interesting people are right around the corner. Don’t turn now, wait until they startle you—then dive into life with them.
Save for it being an awfully random and long message for a button, I found it fitting.