After my alarm clock screamed for me to wake up a million times, I finally decided to stop slamming my hand angrily on the snooze button and actually wake up for once. I sluggishly dragged my body out of bed, rubbed the sleepless nights out of my eyes, and slowly began making my way to the bathroom.
I brushed my teeth as vigorously as a half-asleep person can and washed my face using the special, ultra-clean, just-for-teens, vanilla-scented, organic face cleanser, but when all of the bubbles had swirled down the drain and I looked in the mirror, nothing had changed. I had the same boring black hair with random pieces defying gravity, the same snow-pale skin, and the same old gray-blue eyes, and I knew I was going to have another mind-numbingly boring day. Every day felt like a song on repeat, and today would be no different. I would wake up, go to school, try to ignore the teachers, try to ignore the students around me (which wasn’t hard when they could barely even bother to notice I existed), go home, rush through the homework, and go to bed.
When I got to school, I inwardly groaned at the love-sick couples hanging off of each other like kissing was how they breathed, and I laughed at the thought of having a boyfriend. I laughed at the thought of even having a friend. Sure, I talked to people at school sometimes, but it wasn’t like I ever talked about anything real besides the occasional relatable teen remarks (i.e. “Wow, that test made me want to kill myself”, “I’m going to drop out”, etc.). It wasn’t like any of them truly knew me as a person because honestly, I, Jackie Dell, didn’t even really know who I was. Who does in high school?
After circling around the hallways a few times like a ghost, I finally settled in my first period class of the most interesting and wonderful literature and composition (also known as lit or death or both) a few minutes before the bell. I was staring at my phone blindly as a coping strategy to ignore the absolute monotony of my loneliness when Mrs. Hansen motioned me to her desk. Thoughts of what she could have to say to me rushed through my head, and I began to internally hyperventilate because although most of the time I was mildly aloof in most situations, social situations that included possible confrontation always caused a primal feeling of panic to arise deep within me, but I somehow pushed that down and made my way to her desk like an almost normal person.
“Good morning, Jackeline,” Mrs. Hansen kindly said.
“Um… You too?” I nervously responded. Gosh, did I always sound like this much of an idiot?
“Jackeline, I was wondering if you could maybe help a new student who is coming today. You see, you’re always such a hard-worker, and I thought you would be able to give him a friendly, warm welcome to Beaver Dam High!”
“Uh, sure. I mean, of course!” I choked with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
“Great! Okay, the other thing is, he broke his arm, so I thought you would be able to possibly help him carry his books throughout the day and other things like that. His name is Jay, and oh look, there he is!”
I turn around and the most beautiful boy walks into the room. I do not usually like to objectify guys and gawk over them like your stereotypical, hormonal teenage girl, but I swear, he looked like he walked out of a Hollister magazine. Our eyes met, and electricity rushed through my body as I stared into his deep brown eyes. His lips curled into a cute little grin, and his muscular, dark-chocolate body began walking towards me.
“Jay! Come over here! I want you to meet someone special.” Mrs. Hansen yelled embarrassingly, and I was mildly mortified.
Then, Hot Guy kept walking past me and began hugging the girl behind me, and a scrawny, ginger guy with more freckles than muscles came forward instead. He had a bright, electric blue cast on his right arm which he meekly waved to me with, and I groaned at my hopeless stupidity.
“Well, Jay, this is Jackeline, and Jackeline, this is Jay! You two can sit over here,” Mrs. Hansen cheerfully said, oblivious to my existential struggle.
I awkwardly moved my bag from where I had been sitting and brought it over to the pair of desks that Mrs. Hansen had pointed to when I noticed my new buddy, Jay the One-Armed Ginger, was struggling a bit trying to get his bag off.
“Hey, um, do you need a little help?” I asked uncertainly.
“That would be great,” he responded with a slight, nervous smile.
While clumsily trying to take his bag off, I accidentally brushed my hand against his bare, pale neck (somehow even paler than me), causing me to immediately ignite into blushing flames. After dropping his bag on the ground like it was a hot coal, I quickly sat down and grabbed my phone to start pretend-texting all of my imaginary friends.
“Thanks,” he said and sat down.
“No problem. So, how did you even get the cast?” I tried asking nonchalantly while quickly searching on my phone how to non-awkwardly start conversations with guys when you’ve never had boyfriend let alone a guy who was a friend let alone a friend.
“Well, it’s kind of embarrassing,” he said with an embarrassed chuckle, “I fell out of a tree.”
“You fell out of a tree?”
“You see, I was working at this wildlife reserve, and I wanted to climb the tallest tree there, but then, I was almost to the top when I just lost my grip. I fell. It took a while for anyone to find me, but I’m fine now. Just have to keep this baby on my arm for 6 more weeks,” he quickly spurted out in a vomit of words.
“Heh, okay…” I do not know why Mrs. Hansen thought this would be a good idea.
“So, um, how do you like Beaver Dam High?” I tried to cheerfully ask as if we weren’t both hot messes.
“It’s fine. Dam fine.”
We both nervously started chuckling and then actually started laughing and then almost crying out of laughter. It wasn’t even that funny, but I hadn’t laughed that hard in a while. I smiled at him weakly and tried not to laugh anymore because people were starting to look like us like we were mentally ill, and maybe we were, but that didn’t give them a right to judge us. Mrs. Hansen had given us some random lit assignment to work on about how Things Fall Apart (like my life), but instead of scolding us for laughing during class, she encouragingly smiled at me. I could do the work at home later.
“So um, that was funny,” I awkwardly stated because I have the social skills of a potato.
“Dam funny,” he replied equally as awkwardly.
I smiled. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I would finally have a friend.
“So tell me about where you come from? What made you decide to come to this dam high school?”
“Well, do you want the truth? Or do you want the story I’m probably going to tell everyone else who asks. If anyone else even asks.”
“The truth, I guess.”
Suddenly, the bell rang, and students run to the doorway in a stampede as if they opened the gates to a prison cell. I tried to pick up my stuff and shove my unfinished worksheet in my book bag, but in addition to my poor social skills and general difficulty at the thing we call life, I was also a complete and utter klutz, so it took me extreme effort to collect myself together through the whirlwind of students. When I finally pulled myself and my stuff together, I was in an empty classroom. Jay was gone. He had flown away like a blue jay with one broken wing.
The real truth was that he was never even there. I took a deep breath for a moment and walked out of lit to continue on until my 4th period lunchtime reprieve, but I walked alone in the hallway. I was always alone. Jay was never real because I made him up. I did that sometimes. I would imagine things that could happen because life was always so unbearably dull. The only color in my black and gray existence came from my daydreams because you wake up from dreaming, but you don’t have to wake up from a daydream. I sighed again. If only I could live a daydream for real. If only I had a real friend like Jay. Someone to laugh with about how dam hard life is.