I have no idea where I’m going with this. Okay, not true. I have a tiny idea that is starting to take form. This is unedited. I started writing based on the first sentence my muse gave me today. I think it was all the candy I ate during my sons class Valentines party. But anyway, I am continuing with this one because this flowed quickly through those tips of my fingers.
Think of the worst possible thing that can happen to a girl, or anyone for that matter, at the very beginning of their junior year in high school. Now, multiply that by infinity. That, right there, is exactly what happened to me.
I fell from the highest level of popularity into the deepest recess of Loserville and I have no clue how I even got there. One minute, I was the Queen of the Cafeteria and the next, not even the Geek and Freaks would touch me.
Sure, some would argue that it could be worse. At least I have both my parents and my health. But I say try being in my uncomfortable shoes for a day and you’ll quickly change your mind. This mess is way worse. I may have been popular for most of my life but I was never one of those mean girls and I would never, ever wish this to happen on even my arch nemesis, if I had one.
My so-called best friends turn their noses up at me when they pass me in the crowded hallways between classes and I hear them giggling and gossiping about me. My so-called boyfriend doesn’t corner me at my locker for a quick make-out session. In fact, he had already moved on and the body hadn’t even been cold for a month. The teachers now call on me to answer questions even though I never raise my hand, a honor only bestowed upon the lowest of lows.
Since my social life had become non-existent, that left me plenty of time to mull over my current predicament. I’ve tried to pinpoint the circumstances that created my new normal but I keep coming up with nothing. My mom, in her helpful way, keeps telling me it’s probably temporary and to not worry.
Not worry? How can I not? Forget worrying, I’m now entering epic panic mode. Anxiety has me crawling under my covers the instant I come home from school, a place I used to actually enjoy attending but now it’s equivalent to a day in Hell.
I suppose, if anything good could have come from this, it’s that I don’t care about what I look like anymore. My new uniform consists of my brothers grey hoodie paired with jeans and unstylish sneakers. I guess I’ll be saving money by not shopping for clothes because who needs to look presentable when no one even notices them anymore?
Today was much like any other day in my new typical. I went to school, suffered through class, sat by myself at lunch, suffered through more classes and went home. My only saving grace was my brother. He was the only person in the school, aside from the teachers who now feel it’s their duty to torture me, who actually notices I exist anymore.
I’m pretty convinced that there is nothing on this planet that moves slower than hands on the clock during my 6th hour chemistry class. Probably because I am now a feeder in a class full of mean girls and dumb jocks. What were once friendly faces are now nothing more than jerks in hoodies and yoga pants. So, when the bell finally rang, I was the first one out the door.
I dragged my exceptionally burdened backpack toward the exit and headed toward my brother, Danny’s, jeep. I could hardly bare the weight of my load, I had emptied the contents of my locker into the backpack so I wouldn’t have to run into my ex-best friend and locker mate, Camille. It was way too awkward for me and I figured it was a fairly solvable issue. My back hasn’t thanked me for it, my 105 pound frame wasn’t equipped to carry around double my weight in school-issued books, folders and pens.
I stood by the locked car waiting for my slowpoke of a brother. He was one of the most popular kids in his senior class, my sudden departure from the in-crowd did nothing to his ranking. He was always the last one to leave anywhere, he had flirting to do and plans to make for the upcoming weekend. Me? I had nothing going on therefore I had all the time in the world.
A crow landed on the hood of the jeep, startling me. I jumped and almost landed, butt first, on my backpack. I never realized how dark black crows really were, this was the closest I had ever been to one. Normally, they didn’t seem interested in fraternizing with humans. But, this one seemed unfazed that it hand landed in a spot that was already occupied.
Its yellow eyes bore through me as we locked stares. It was as if we were daring each other to make the first move, “Just don’t poop on the car. Danny just washed it, he’ll be pissed.”
The crow cocked it’s head as though it understood me. It let out a squawk but didn’t move.
The loud engines and louder voices didn’t seem to have an impact on the winged animal, it was perfectly content to sit on the hood of my brothers care and looked fixedly at me.
“Okay crow, this getting really weird. What do you want? Don’t you have some roadkill to eat or some buddies to hang out with in a cornfield?” I must admit, I was getting unnerved by its constant, unwavering stare. I started waving my hands to try to shoo it away but I didn’t exaggerate my motions, I didn’t want to call any undue attention to myself. “Go. Shoo. Get out of here.”
The darn thing didn’t budge. Its yellow eyes darted back and forth across my face as though it were trying to read me. Like I was a book or something.
“What do you want?” I was starting to shake a little, there was something about this whole experience that was completely freaking me out. I mean, crows simply don’t act like they are fearless of humans unless they are trying to steal food from a picnic table.
The crow fluffed its wings a bit as though he were posturing, “You, Iris.” Is what I could have sworn he said.
My jaw dropped. The crow squawked “You” again and then took off straight up into the sky. Shielding my eyes, I watched him as he flew toward the forest that separated the school from the rest of the small town.
Maybe, out of my sheer loneliness, I imagined that a crow just spoke to me using my name. Or perhaps I was going insane and that, also, would explain why the mass exodus of friends happened. They noticed something I hadn’t. But, then again, wouldn’t my parents have noticed my descent into madness and addressed it by taking me to the doctor where I would have been loaded up with medicines to make me normal again, thus maintaining my place on the school’s throne?
No, I wasn’t insane. But, I heard what I heard. And that crow clearly spoke to me.
I didn’t have much more time to ponder because Danny finally showed up, ready to go. His sandy blonde hair spilling out from the sides of his black hoodie and his green eyes sparkling in humor, “Hey Iris, sorry it took me so long. I just got a date with Natalie for tomorrow night, we were talking about where to go and I just lost track of time.”
“No big deal. Unlock the door though, okay? I just wanna get out of here.” I decided to keep the talking crow episode to myself so I remained quiet while Danny talked incessantly about his day.
“I did some more prodding, Iris. No one seems to know why they don’t like you anymore, they just know they don’t like you. It’s so weird. I’ve tried to convince Camille to talk to you but..wow..how was that bitch ever your best friend? Because the words that come out of her mouth, she was raised by a herd of truck drivers.”
“Gee, thanks Danny but you aren’t making me feel any better about my plight.” I blinked hard to keep the tears from falling as my heart did the familiar sinking into my stomach. I knew Camille could be a bitch and now that she replaced me as the most popular girl, her over indulged ego probably made those tendencies even worse.
Without taking his eyes from the curving country road, Danny reached over and squeezed my shoulder, “It’ll be okay. The order will right itself again, it always does.” He tried to sound confident in his words but he didn’t fool me. Girls like me, they don’t just lose ranking like this overnight. Not in this way. The first day of school had everyone excited to see me and by the second day, no one would even say my name or look at me.
It literally happened overnight. No rhyme. No reason.
And, here I was, being driven home by my popular brother as he droned on and on about his weekend plans. I was only half-listening as he told me about a huge party the entire senior class and probably the junior class would be going to tonight. Everyone except me and maybe the GeekSquad.
We turned up the long driveway that led to our house. It was tucked away inside one of the many cornfields of our rural town in New Hampshire. We lived in one of the wealthier cornfields, our dad was the town’s most prominent lawyer and our mom was the only ob-gyn for miles.
When we approached the house, Danny slammed his car into park and turned to me, “Hey Iris, you should come with me tonight.”
I shrugged, “Why? So I could subject myself to more ignoring?” I gave him a pathetic excuse for a smile as I grabbed my backpack and pulled it up onto my lap.
“Maybe, by showing up at the “it’ party, you can finally find out what the heck is going on. Maybe, if everyone gets as drunk as they are planning on getting, they’ll finally come clean?” He pulled his key out of the ignition and reached around to get his own backpack from the back seat.
“I’ll think about it.” I climbed out of the car and dragged myself into the house.
Coming up behind me, Danny slapped the top of my hooded head, “Don’t think too long, you need to save some time to get prettied up. Ride leaves at 7.”
Our parents weren’t home from work yet but mom had clearly stopped by home, there was a bag of donuts sitting on the counter with a note, “Hope these taste as good as they look. See you two later. Love, Mom.”
Peeking inside the bag, I pulled out my favorite kind of donut, vanilla creme and I went upstairs to my room where I planned on hiding out for the rest of the weekend. Or maybe even for the rest of my life.
I had really had no intentions of going with Danny to the party. I was content just sitting alone in my room, reading about beautiful creatures and eternal love. My dad had called to let us know he was taking mom to dinner and a movie and would probably be home after eleven. He warned Danny to not miss his midnight curfew again or he would find himself carless.
They didn’t even bother asking me what I was doing. They knew what the past few weekends had looked like for me and this weekend, since there had been no change in school, would likely be the same as the previous ones. Poor Iris, sitting home alone again.
I sank further into my bed and tossed my book onto the floor, totally losing the page I was on. Part of me sort of wanted to go with Danny, to say to everyone “Hey, look at me, I’m still here. No matter how much you ignore me, I’m not going away.” The other part of me was like, forget about it. If you’re going to dump me like a load then you don’t deserve me anyway.
My heart thumped when my phone vibrated from an incoming text, something I hadn’t received in awhile, aside from my parents and brother. I grabbed my phone and inspected the display, the thumping ending in sinking, it was Danny asking if I was going with him.
I threw my phone next to me and rolled onto my back. Staring up at my ceiling, I weighed the pros and cons of staying home versus going to the party. The sides were evenly stacked which left me to decide on my own, lists were useless in this instance. Squeezing my eyes tightly shut, I inhaled deeply. My decision was made, I was going with him. I’d definitely need to break into my parents alcohol cabinet, liquid courage was a necessity.
I quickly texted Danny back that I was, indeed, going with him. I hurried to get ready before I had the chance to change my mind. Once I was ready to go out, I was committed to the cause. I chose my outfit carefully, picking out a cute mini paired with boots. I applied a light coat of make up, fluffed my hair and was as good to go as I would ever be.
Before my quick decent from the top, I was never nervous before parties. It didn’t matter who was throwing it, I was always expected to be there. Now, I think I’m the last person anyone would expect to walk through the door. Well, reactions are definitely going to be interesting this evening so I had that to look forward to.
Shockingly, I was ready before Danny so I went downstairs and helped myself to a generous glass of my parents rum. They’d probably never notice it was missing, the bottle was the same one they have had since forever. It even had dust on the glass bottle so I had to be careful not to leave marks from my fingers imprinted in the grit.
Taking my glass, I headed outside. I felt a bit like I was suffocating and needed the fresh air. Although I should have been shocked to see the crow on the railing of the front porch, I wasn’t. Maybe it was the couple of sips of rum already taking the desired effect.
“You again.” I sneered into those deep gold eyes.
The crow shook its head and instead of a squawk, it responded in a gruff male voice, “Iris.”
We had a stare-down which I ended up losing, “Okay, this is clearly some sort of joke. Where’s the dude with the remote control and microphone?” I looked around but saw no one there.
It blinked a couple times, “No joke, Iris.”
I was about to ask this creature what the heck it wanted but Danny came crashing through the front door, his keys jingling in his hand, causing the crow to take off, “Who you talking to?” Danny glanced around curiously.
Looking up, I saw the black dot flying off toward the horizon, “No one. Myself, I guess.” I gulped down the rest of the rum, “Let’s do this.”
He punched my arm softly, “Yeah, let’s do this.” Then, hugging me tightly, “You’re going to be fine, Iris. If you want to leave, just say the word and I’ll take you home. I promise.”
We climbed into his jeep and headed out to pick up a couple of his friends, both of whom didn’t seem overly excited to see me sitting in the front passenger seat. It was bad enough Danny had brought his little sister, it was made worse that his little sister was now the biggest loser in the school. Oh no, I may tarnish their reputations. But, in my heart, I knew part of the reason Danny did this. He was hoping that if people saw me with a group of the hot senior guys then perhaps it would redeem me in some way. I knew it wasn’t going to work but I was willing to play along because hey, you never know.
As expected, jaws dropped when I walked in, and not in a good way. I received nasty looks by almost everyone I walked past. I was so close to an about face and head back out to the car but something in the back of the room caught my attention. Well, not something, more like someone.
Leaning casually against a wall, talking to none other than Camille, was the most gorgeous guy I had ever seen. Raven black hair so dark it looked blue, wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. I couldn’t see what his black t-shirt said but I imagined it was probably as bad-ass as he was.
I couldn’t stop staring at him, he was about as perfect as a guy could get. Which meant, quite likely, he was a complete douche bag with no personality. He must have felt me burning a hole in the side of his chiseled jaw because his head slowly turned until he was looking at me.
That’s when I saw his eyes. They were almost as black as his hair but for a brief moment, when his gaze locked onto me, they turned as yellow as that crazy crow that had been following me around today.