I wake up to my sweat drenched pillow and rub my eyes thoroughly before leaning up on my elbows, stretching out my toes. It was another dream, though this time there was so much white light that I could barely see what was happening.
"Elena," mom yells from somewhere downstairs, "come on kid, you're gonna be late!"
I get up, already regretting getting out of the warmth that is welcoming me back under my covers. I stretch out my back and hear several of my bones crack and set back into their places, before checking my phone for any messages.
I'm not a popular girl, by all means, but it would be nice to get a message or two from my friends... or a guy. But like dad always says, beggars can't be choosers, so I always settle for seeing the former at school, since that one particular guy eluding me has yet to appear in my life.
Mom is downstairs at the kitchen table looking through some flyers. She is the mastermind behind our being able to afford decent food and clothing with my dad's limited income. He's a supervisor at the Metro several miles from here. It's a supermarket that offers my mom an unlimited supply of discounted foods. At least one of them found no fault in him having picked such an interesting career.
"No eggs this morning. Your father ate the last ones," she says. I groan and start pouring myself a cup of coffee. "Elena," she warns and I put the pot down. "There's some toast in the oven and enough cereal to feed you for the morning."
I love my mom and all, I really do, but sometimes she doesn't get that cereal and me don't mix in the morning. Especially the first day of school. Her long wavy black hair hangs loosely behind her as she flips from one page to the next while humming some tune that she probably picked up off the radio. I roll my eyes before grabbing the toast that she instructed me to take before going to the front door, where our full length mirror hangs off the wall behind the door. Mom is still humming but I know that she is now staring at me and possibly raising an eyebrow.
I, Elena de la Cortez, am never going to grow. My short stature(just over five feet), embarrassing flat chest, and pixie-like facial features do not aid my cause. I'm seventeen, eighteen in five months, yet I look like I'm twelve. I see my mom out of the corner of my eyes and she is in fact raising her eyebrows at me. She has the Latina, curvy body that I crave to have, yet I'm cursed with my dad's lean figure.
"Elena," mom chimes again, returning her attention back to the flyers. "School will start without you and if you're late on your first day big things will arise." This is just like mom, who spends her days reading novels about karma and stuff that I will never touch. They're too mystical for me. I mean, angels and stuff? Why would anyone read that?
She gives me a sharp look and I sigh. "Fine," I say, grabbing my bag from the living room, which is right behind me. "What's for dinner anyway?"
She looks up, clearly not liking my joke, and I put my hands up defensively. "Okay, understood. I'm leaving."
Outside, the warm leftover summer breeze blows softly, hopelessly blind to the fact that fall will soon take its place. Our house is one of twenty in a complex in the town of Lauden, Florida. Though it is pretty warm all year round, the fall months can get slightly chilly. I skip over the soggy morning paper, out of habit, before continuing towards my car. It was my dad's way back when he had first started at the Metro when I was about four or five. Needless to say, the 1990 Toyota doesn't run as smoothly as say, Vicky Lauren's 2010 Nissan Infiniti. But then again, not all of us live the high life in this town.
I settle into the driver's seat, taking in the smell of coconuts that my air freshener promises me every morning. It is wonderful and already I feel awake. Tossing my bag into the back seat, I put my key in the ignition and pray for it to work this time. My faith in prayer remains alive as the Toyota coughs and comes to life with a magnificent, yet frightening roar.
What to say about Lauden High? Rich guys and girls who like to flaunt their parent's money in our poor faces is a great start. I can also say how the second floor bathroom has a smell to it that cannot be explained. Or how the library is a sanctuary for those who can't find peace in the cafeteria, where if you aren't in a social group then you're seriously screwed. But I think the most important thing to know is that Karly Cast and Heron Williams are my two best friends who, despite their lack of texting ability, sit through every meaningless high school day beside me.
My car screeches to a stop in one of the only free parking spaces left. I immediately see Karly and Heron before stepping out into the hot morning. Karly's black hair is in two buns on her head and her olive skin is accentuated by the light sprinkling of freckles on her nose. Heron has a more understated look with her red hair in a high ponytail and green eyes that make others stare the first time they see her.
"Hey," Karly says eying my blond hair that dad graciously passed down to me in his DNA. "I thought you were going to dye it." Karly is the type who voices her opinions before saying anything else. I'd gotten used to it when we first met back in our freshman year, so her comment barely affects me. "It isn't that I don't like it," she explains when Heron, not as immune to Karly's comments as me, gives her a sour look. "I just thought you were going to change it up for senior year."
"I was," I say, embarrassed. "At least, before my mom walked in on me and demanded that I throw away the hair dye."
"Whoa," Heron says.
"I know," I shrug in a what can you do way. "My mom's always been a bit out of it."
"She's still gorgeous though," Karly says and I snort. "I mean it. Your mom? Major Latina goddess."
"Okay," I say putting my hands up in the same way that I had when my joke backfired this morning. "Too much information."
Karly and Heron meet me at my locker after the final bell rings. They both look ready to explode with details about their day, but really, all I want to do is go home and sleep. My thoughts drift away as I imagine my bed, warm and inviting, back home.
"Ow!" I nearly yell as Karly pinches me, hard.
"Wake up," she says, unaffected. "We've got something big to share."
I rub my arm, where I know it is going red. Since my mom is naturally tanned I got a bit of her color, even if it clashes slightly with my blond hair. Thankfully this gene from my mom helps me hide the mark that Karly's pinch leaves behind.
"Okay fine, spill," I say in a low voice.
"You know how basically all of the hot senior guys are spoken for?" Karly asks.
"Or at least, most of them are hooking up with someone," Heron says. Karly gives her a warning look. "But you know, that isn't the issue at hand here."
I nod, patiently waiting for them to get to the point.
"Well, there's a new guy," Karly waits for my reaction, which I don't give. "Come on Ele," she gestures wildly with her hands and I almost laugh when she almost hits a freshman girl in the face. "He is gorgeous."
"Aha," I say, flashing her my best that's great for you smile. "And what exactly are you planning?"
"I was thinking that we could show him the ropes," Karly's lopsided smile is always a dead-give-away for when she is planning something. "You know, let him see us before being fondled by the likes of Vicky and The Mermaids."
Karly had termed Vicky and her clique The Mermaids because of their constant need to drink water. I know that it's healthy to drink a lot of water, but seriously they take the need to a whole new level.
"So," Karly finishes after exchanging a look with Heron, whose green eyes are shining with the excitement that only Karly's plans bring out in her. "You in?"
"I don't know guys," I say, still unloading my locker. It's insane the homework we get on the first day of school. "I kind of just want a quiet year."
They both look at me open-mouthed before Heron places the back of her hand on my forehead. "She doesn't have a fever," she says to Karly, "I don't know what to say."
I laugh at them both and turn them around, gently shoving them forward. "Go to your lockers and get your stuff, I'll see you guys tomorrow."
They concede and I watch them leave, Karly wiggling her hips and Heron simply walking the way she always walks: small steps always trying to catch up with Karly.
Turning back to my locker, I bend down and take several pictures of us girls, some magnets, and a locker mirror from my backpack. It's when I finally place the mirror on the locker door that I see him, standing at least six feet tall. His blond hair nearly matches mine, but his blue eyes are smoky with curiosity. He hunches his broad shoulders down to look in the mirror and his smile takes the breath out of my lungs.
I sloppily turn around and he quickly grabs my forearms to keep me from falling. The touch just about sends flames up my skin.
"Hi," he says, his voice throaty. "Do you think you can help me out?"
It takes me a while to realize that he is asking me a question and that he has let his arms fall back at his sides. "I'm sorry?" I ask, trying to hide my staring. He is wearing a white cotton t-shirt, that shows his muscled stomach, over fitted dark blue jeans and his Adidas shoes are unnaturally white. I gulp, then mentally kick myself for doing so.
"I'm kind of lost," he smiles and my heart nearly melts. "This is a much bigger school than my last one."
"Oh," I say lamely, forcing myself to regain my composure. What the heck is wrong with me? "Um, where do you need to go?"
He smiles down at me once more and my composure is lost again. "My name is Castiel Luther," he says, "and I just need help getting everywhere in this place."