Kat still remembered the first time she saw Adam. It had not been a moment for ringing bells or fireworks or any of that romantic imagery. In fact, she hadn't thought very much of him at all. Definitely not love at first sight.
She had been the new kid at school, feeling decidedly out of place, out of step, out of synch. She didn't exactly miss her old school, and there hadn't really been any good friends to mourn the loss of either. But she missed the familiar. At the new school she didn't know who to avoid, who to talk to. The school was smaller than she was used to, and her clothes were pretty clearly not what everyone else wore. She had wanted to try something new, so she'd pulled on a dark denim skirt, knee-high socks, and a t-shirt from a band everyone at her old school had talked about. She didn't really like their stuff, but she hoped it would ease things in for her.
She hated first days, hated the feeling that she had to make the right impression.
It had clearly been the wrong thing. The girls were mostly in jeans and regular t-shirts. She didn't see any band t-shirts on any of the guys. Mostly she was getting funny looks.
She should have worn her usual thing. At the other school it had been the wrong thing. At the new one it looked more like she fit. Sort of. Most of her jeans had doodles on them and that didn't fit, but she refused to be absolutely just like everyone else.
Walking down the hallway she managed to find the locker number that was scrawled on the paper in her hand. Leaning against it, trying to hold the stack of forms and books the office had given her, she tried to open the lock. The paper with the combination and number fluttered to the floor and she clutched at her books awkwardly, trying to keep from losing everything.
A snicker came from her left and she turned her head, glaring.
"Got enough stuff?" a boy asked. He looked like the poster boy for the boy next door. His hair was a bit rumpled, but Kat was pretty sure his mom washed his clothes, folded them, and put them away. Plain t-shirts, the regular old levis that everyone was wearing. He would have been cute if he hadn't been making fun of her.
"Ugh! Why is everyone here such a jerk? You could have offered to help, but no." Kat was near tears. It had been a bad morning before she'd even left the house, and it was only getting worse. It was also only 8:47 am according to her watch.
The guy gave her a bit of a grimace, but he did swipe up the paper with her locker combination on it and hold it out for her. "Here. And you could just set your stuff down, you know." That was it. He just shrugged, closed his locker - the one next to hers - and walked off to go join some friends.
They were probably laughing at her, Kat thought. Making fun of the new girl who threw a fit. She just wanted to hide. Blend in.
She'd skip if she could, but that wasn't who she was. Plus it would make things worse at home.
Setting her stack of papers and books on the floor, she straightened and tugged down her skirt and the sleeve of her t-shirt, covering the just-forming bruise on her upper arm. Definitely a bad morning.
Just as she popped her locker open the boy appeared again, startling her. She stumbled into her stack on the floor and sent it sliding. This time he at least bent down to help pick it up before he flicked his lock open with practiced ease. "Sorry. I'm Adam, by the way."
"Kat." Her response was surly, as so far he'd laughed at her and made her look like an idiot. What a jerk. All she wanted to do was get away, go slump down in her seat and hope nobody noticed her. That was the way she liked it, being the ghost in the room. It was lonely, but at least nobody was making things worse, asking questions, making her feel wrong or dumb or out of place.