The last week had gone by quickly. My new neighbors had barely stopped at their new house and my curiosity had been increasing since the day that I had face-planted onto the stairs on our front porch. All of that now though seemed unimportant as I started noticing that a hole was slowly opening in the layers of my friendship with Kelly.
Kelly, though shy with freckled arms and wavy strawberry blond hair, had always been the rebellious one of the two of us. When we started high school we were all ready put into our own separate group, thanks to the student body that also transferred over from the elementary school, but she was the one who always showed a hint of annoyance. She stole a kiss from Darin Meester, the head of the Chess Club, the only one of us two to break her curfew, and the only one to get a belly button ring, which she kept hidden under sweaters that she secretly hated.
I'd often see her eyes stray to the jocks and pink princesses of the cafeteria while I talked to her, and lately I had begun to notice a strange new fixation that she had gained over the summer. Whenever I spoke to her she would click her nails on something around her. Kelly had never been a victim to a nervous twitch like Eddy Ackler in our Biology class, or a weird facial movement like our Gym teacher, Mr. Schmidt, whenever we ran too slowly for his army expectations.
But over the summer she had gained her own nervous body twitch.
"You should get that checked out." I said while interrupting my own recounting of my new neighbors. "It can't be normal."
'I'm fine." I cringed at another nervous twitch, but this time with two syllables.
"You sure? I mean, at the movies last week you weren't too eager to see that scary film, and I know those are your favorite."
"Yeah, it was all right." Kelly responded, obviously distracted by Cody Helfer, Union High's quarterback, who was sitting at a table several feet from us.
I barely registered what was happening even after Kelly murmured an, "I'll be right back 'kay Laur?"
Back in grade nine Kelly had tried to be something that was supposed to defy everything that we stood for. Being quiet and off to the corner just didn't cut it for her anymore. "I just, I don't know, feel like there's something missing. Like I'm missing out on something that maybe I won't be able to live without later on in life, you know?" She had confided in me when I had asked if she was sick after her sudden stint of saying a quiet hello to the Pink Princesses.
I had only treated it as a phase because I could never imagine that my best friend would leave our exclusive two member group to become something so common. But now, as I watched in utter amazement and sudden loneliness, my best friend, my silent other half, chatted flirtatiously with Cody, who surprisingly flirted back. Added to the odd scene was the fact that the Pink Princesses were nodding in agreement.
At Kelly. My best friend.
Something definitely changed over the summer.
I sat alone at a small lunch table beside a rumbling Coke machine, which the school had lovingly nickname Grumbles for the angry noises that it would emit randomly, and I looked down at my half eaten leftover pasta. I sipped on my juice box until the echo of emptiness warned me of my impending rudeness, bit into a soft apple before throwing it out in a garbage can not too far from where I sat, and slowly put the rest of my lunch in my plastic bag. The sound melted into the booming noises of the cafeteria and my heart shuddered to think of the year ahead of me.
School years had always been a little more manageable with Kelly beside me, but now she didn't even look up when I stood up and left our designated table.
The rest of the day passed by in a blur of nervous new teachers, hectic new lab partners, and heavy new text books. Bell after bell rang and I dragged myself, eyes drawn down to the books in my arms, from classroom to classroom.
I kept planning my course of action with Kelly. I would call her tonight, ask her to come over, and confront her about what she was unsatisfied with after so many years of friendship. I was wondering all of this up until my last class of the day, English. Mrs. Helen was sitting at her old wooden table as she watched us walk in fearfully into her cursed class. This teacher with half-moon glasses and a pointed nose was well-known for her strict grades and demanding reading lists. This was definitely working out to be my day.
"Okay class," she warned us to be silent as she rose from her desk. She closed the classroom door and quickly began writing her name and school email address on the board. “I am sure you all know who I am, but here is the information anyway. Whether you decide to use it or not is up to you."
Someone in one of the desks closest to the windows on the right of the class coughed. I looked down at my open notebook.
"This year I expect only the best from all of you, I understand that this is your last year here," she looked over at Richard LaPoint who was passing a note to Cathy Steward in the seats in front of me, "or for some of you it might not be."
A round of quiet snickering overwhelmed the class as Richard and Cathy blushed.
"But either way, I still want nothing but your A game--and yes, the pun is intended." The silence in the classroom could have cut through one of my mom's PB&J sandwiches. "Now, for the reading list for this semester: I have printed it out and hole-punched it so that you don't lose it, right Miss Dennis?" Paula Dennis, sitting in the back, scowled. "And I have put the texts that will be high explored in bold letters."
I took one of the sheets that were being passed around and saw that every title was bolded. I felt a sheepish smile growing on my face as I heard Kyle Turner say, "But, Mrs. Helen, they're all in bold!"
"Exactly." She said matter-of-fact before a knock resounded in the quiet room. There was a hushed whisper behind me as I heard one of the Pink Princesses, Becky Notting, tell her boyfriend, Adam Junt, that it was probably about one of the new students.
"New students?" He asked curiously.
"Yeah, like, three of them." She responded in awe.
"Whoa," said Chad Gellum who was sitting beside me and in front of Adam. "Like, triplets or something?"
I didn't need to turn around to see Becky nodding enthusiastically, "Yeah, totally."
I heard all of this while watching Mrs. Helen talking to someone outside of my line of sight. Her head was bobbing energetically, which was uncommon for her, and her hand jumped out and shook a stranger's well-mannered receiving hand.
After a few moments of excited rumor sharing and increasing wonder, Mrs. Helen finally turned to the class and told us to settle down. The sunlight poked through the thin material of the closed blue curtains of the class and the rebellious strands shot through towards the red walls, illuminating the large collection of poetry that previous classes had written. My attention was elsewhere so when everyone gasped I nearly jumped out of my chair.
Mrs. Helen hadn't even spoken and, yes in front of me were my two gorgeous neighbors, but though their looks were above normal I couldn't understand why there was such a massive amount of blushing girls.
"Class, this is Michel Logan and his identical brother, though I am sure you all ready have heard of him, Zachary Logan and they will be joining our class this year." Mrs. Helen announced, a sparkle that no one would have dared seen before was now brightening her dull brown eyes.