Chapter 1: Because of the Rain
Lactic acid poisoned every part of her leg. She couldn’t feel her knees, and felt as malleable as play dough. She walked down, pausing between each step, her ankles holding her feet and legs together with the strength of a rotting twig. Why did it have to rain?!
Neither of them talked as they walked, longing for the support of a bench. The rain was still hitting hard, audibly thumping onto the shelter above them. The silence prompted both girls to bring out their phones. Such devices were now a replacement to conversations, making up for the words unsaid.
It was almost six o’clock and few were roaming the school grounds. It was raining, and on the usual day, Rachel would be tempted to walk carefree down the drive of the school, letting the drops fall where they may. But today, she despised the rain and did not wish for it to leave its scent on her skin. The physical fitness session was uncalled for, and hitting a green fluffy ball back and forth, was much preferred in comparison to the forty sit-ups and the frog leaps up the stairs.
Rachel had planned to take the bus, where she would listen to her iPod, whilst staring out the window. She would listen to ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane, or ‘The Haunting’ by Anberlin and would dive into her clandestine world, in which she was the heroin and the beautiful girl, making the love triangle complete.
However, today, as she sat with Halina, overtired, her heart beating too fast for her to count – she did not care for such trivial indulgences. Instead, she yearned for a fresh-out-of-the-oven, classic pepperoni pizza, and the fastest way to acquire it was to get her father to pick her up. The two friends waited patiently for their respective parents to arrive, not expecting them anytime soon due to the bad weather traffic.
A brief ring sounded jocundly, and Halina slid up her phone to view the text. Her face curved into a coy smile, and she, although trying her best not to show it, typed eagerly at the mini buttons. Rachel looked at her quizzically, and Halina waited for her to figure it out. On a normal day, when Rachel’s gears were working, she would have known in an instant. It was all very obvious who it was, and Halina began to mouth the letters of the name. Her mouth shaped into an A, N, D…
“Andric!” Rachel exclaimed in realization.
She never quite identified with Halina’s taste in men, and especially not Andric. Rachel had two conditions with which she based her opinions on: intellect and athleticism. She was aware that both criteria could be seen as superficial and shallow, and that others would say “a nice sense of humor” or “sensitivity”, for example. But this did not bother Rachel, for she knew, even for those who claimed differently, that the truth was either “looks and wealth” or “social status and a six pack”. At least, she thought, I’m honest with myself.
Halina was different. She was one of the rare cases where those two “honorable” traits were truly and sincerely were her only prerequisites. To her, suavity and nice abs were merely a bonus and would come from “good karma”.
Andric didn’t come with any extra benefits. He was sociable and sensitive, making sweet and encouraging comments. To Rachel, in plain words, he was a bad dancer who is overconfident, and will not be a famous musician one day, despite his numerous statements – it won’t happen without some talent.
The enthusiastic text conversation was finished with Halina’s abrupt goodbye. Despite the thoughts of others, she did want someone of the opposite gender to say “I love you” to at the end of an MSN conversation or a phone call.
She was contemplating whether to inform her two best friends (one who was presently swearing in her head, starting to get impatient at her father’s late arrival), of her plan to “pursue the man”. This was the cute title she’d made up in her head on the bus ride in the afternoon, the day before.
She reckoned she ought to shorten the conversations between Andric and her. The prompt replys to the facebook mail would have to go, the length of the texts would need to shorten, and she had to end a conversation every so often. With reference to only cheesy movies, and the clichés that have materialized in the world of teenage girls, these gestures would “leave him wanting more”. Halina still had her doubts of the success of this method, but she did not want to appear clingy.
“Rachel, how do you… flirt?” Halina asked embarrassedly, hoping that Rachel wouldn’t make one of her snide remarks towards which she had a tendency of doing.
“Flirt? You want to know how to flirt?” Rachel said, bemused.
Rachel thought for a moment or two, knowing not at all how to answer the question. At fifteen, it had become quite natural to her, and she even wondered if she did it at all. It was an unusual question, which was inevitably followed by not a prompt and concise answer, but an awkward silence. Soon, it came to her.
“You make intelligent and sexy comments that just pokes at the guy’s ego, but not too much that he doesn’t want to talk to you again.”
She said this from personal experience. Rachel was rather famous, or should we say, notorious for her critical remarks, at times, inappropriately disparaging and her intolerance of people who couldn’t keep up with her intellect. She was avidly working on this major foible, and it was evidently getting better. Nevertheless, it did cause her misfortune on previous accounts, for she had, on a number of occasions, pierced a tad too far into the ego of a male.
“Right. I’m not sure how I’m gonna do that, but thanks.”
Gwen Stefani’s ‘The Sweet Escape’ began to play in the background and Rachel picked up the phone to find out her father had been waiting in the underground car park for the past ten minutes.