I first noticed that I was being watched on the third of November, a Friday. The day before my sixteenth birthday.
Corban High School was famous for one thing: being the best. CHS was the best at everything: best sport teams, best facilities, best teachers, best science program, best STAR test scores. CHS was easily the best high school in northern California, if not in all of California.
Everyone already knew that CHS was headed to playoffs; with a perfect record like ours there was no way we wouldn't make it. This friday night game was the last game before playoffs began, and the entire town showed up wearing green and yellow team colors to support us. It also helped that we were playing Claybourne High School, a team with identical initials but a completely different record. After losing every single game they had played, their varsity team entered the stadium with their heads held low; in everyone's minds the outcome of the game had already been decided.
Elise, Chloe, Alice, Courtney, and I, huddled together in the student section of the bleachers, watched in dismay as in the opening moments of the game Claybourne scored a touch down.
The crowd sat silent in shock. Even the crowd on Claybourne's side of the field didn't cheer. Everyone's jaws had dropped and eyes widened.
"Did that really just happen?" people whispered to each other.
"I'm pretty sure that was Victor's fault," Alice whispered to us. "Coach will make him stay late after practice next week. He'll be so pissed that Vic missed that tackle." Victor was Alice's boyfriend of one year and seven months. "We were supposed to go out to dinner Monday night too but I bet we won't be able to now."
We didn't say anything, our eyes fixed on the field. It was kind of required at Corban to be obsessed with football; we all knew the game, and we knew it well.
The crowd watched in shock as the Claybourne running back scored one... two.. three... four more touchdowns. Four. The score was 35-0.
Usually during half time, the CHS crowd would socialize and buy food from the Boosters snack bar. But that night everyone sat still, frozen in their seats. As the minutes ticked away until the second half would began, clouds formed and begun to dump buckets and buckets of rain on us.
Was it some kind of sign? Foreshadowing? The night before my life so drastically changed, CHS lost their first football game in twenty-years. The town of Corban had its first rain since June, breaking the almost 6 month long drought.
As the teams jogged back onto the field from the locker rooms, the crowds began to whisper amongst themselves.
"Bea, look at Tom." Court, who was sitting behind me and I was leaning against, tapped me on the shoulder. Tom was limping onto the field, escorted by the assistant coach. He must have gotten hurt during the last half.
"Did you see what happened?" I asked. She shook her head.
I turned my head to look for my dad, to ask what had happened to Tom. Instead of finding my dad's warm face, though, I found my wandering eyes jerking to a stop at a man standing on the side of the bleachers. His eyes were fixed on me, and didn't waver when mine met his. A tingle shot down my spine.
"Court, who's that?" I whispered, taking my eyes off him and looking back at her.
"Him." I turned back to find the stranger gone. "Oh. He's- he's gone now. But he was watching us..."
"Was he hot?" Court asked, grinning.
"For a hella old guy, yea, I guess you could say that."
"Oh." She pretended to pout.
Court called herself single and ready to mingle, since she had broken up with her jerk ex-boyfriend Troy two weeks before.
The second half was twice as bad as the first, with three more touch downs by Claybourne. The game ended with a final score of 56-0. A complete shut out.
Chloe and Alice, both with boyfriends on the team, rushed to be apart of the group forming outside of the locker rooms to greet the players as they exited. They had softly agreed that there would be some serious cheering-up to do that night.
"We know Victor's not getting anything tonight!" a boy jeered as he passed us.
"Like hell he's not." Alice's mom was suddenly behind us. "Time to go hun."
"Mom I got to talk to Vic." Alice stood defiantly still.
Alice wasn't known for her respect, and we all were used to standing around waiting for her stupid arguments with her mom to end.
I craned my neck to see if Vic was on his way over to us. Unfortunately he wasn't, which meant more awkwardly waiting for the argument to end.
And then there he was again. Behind Alice's mom. Walking past us. Slowly, slower than the rest of the crowd. His left hand in his pocket, his right holding a cellphone to his ear. His eyes fixed on me.
Thoroughly freaked out, I moved closer to Courtney. "Want to walk me to my car?" I asked her. "My dad's probably already here waiting for me."
"Are you not going to Elise's house with us?"
"Nah, my mom wants me home tonight. I'm gonna catch up with you guys tomorrow though."
We said our goodbyes and Court accompanied me on the walk down the hill to my dad's car.
"Bye!" She hugged me. "Happy Birthday Bea."
I climbed into my dad's car, feeling my cold skin begin to thaw almost immediately. I forgot any fear I had felt, going into story-mode as I told my Dad about the game. But if I had been paying attention, I would have noticed the same man standing on the sidewalk in front of the school, watching us drive away.