I used to think the world revolved around what people put into it. I’m not even talking about giving back, although important. More of how much energy and happiness someone makes another and themselves. I used to think a lot of things; I used to know where I wanted to be in ten years time or what my dream job would be. I used to know my future like it was written in my palm and I could see it laid out in front of me. I knew what I wanted, who I wanted to be. I used to know a lot of things. Now I can barely see anything.
I’m running late. I’m never late. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves, my bugbears and all. I’m pretty much flying out of the door, my jacket only on one arm and my purse dangling on my bare shoulder, spilling from the number of papers I’ve tucked inside. I make it to my car in enough time to see my boyfriend and neighbor, Cameron Burns dipping his head into his own car, chucking what looks like his football bag into the seat next to him. I’d usually say hello, go up and give him a kiss or something, but although this may not look late to someone like Cameron, who arrives at school at the normal time, I’ve got a list a mile long to do this morning and they all start off with needing to be at school twenty minutes ago.
Stressed is an understatement, and I slam my foot on the gas, trying to weave my way in and out of cars, pedestrians and other road blockages until I confidently turn into the school parking lot and find my usual space is taken by a lone motorcycle which should be parked in the correct bay, AKA not here.
I’m not against motorcycles. My brother Evan has one, and I used to ride on the back when Mom wasn’t looking. I like the feeling of the wind in my hair and the excitement of being able to feel every cell in my body work. But this is my space. Mine. I have taken up informal residence in this space for the last five years and someone has the nerve to...
But I have no choice but to close the door on my thoughts because someone is honking at me behind and I realize I’m in the way of other cars getting past. I maneuver myself to the left and park up in a space that is less than ideal. My usual space allows me to be at the front of the school doors in seconds, this space, however, allows me to be at the school gate in minutes. It sounds lazy, I know, trust me. But when you’ve got as much stuff to do as I have every morning, every second counts.
I’m trying to multitask, rummaging through my purse and locking my car door at the same time. I virtually run across the lot, barge through those double doors and head down towards the office where I am supposed to be giving a new student a tour that should have began five minutes ago. I find the right paperwork I need, step into the office and greet Mrs. Potter with a smile.
“Sorry Angie, I know I’m late,” I say to her and flop down on the chair in front of her desk. Our receptionist smiles, I’m the only person that calls her Angie and it’s pretty much because I’m the only student she actually talks to. She’s a large woman with a black bob and drawn on eyebrows and she’s got two kids, Mark and Austin who used to go to this school until they both died in a car accident a couple of years ago. Now, most people don’t bother to speak to her and she used to be the chattiest person I knew. For months after the accident, all she did was cry - understandable, of course. But this meant she couldn’t hold a proper conversation with people so she only speaks to me, the principal and anyone over the phone.
“No worries Chelsea,” she looks up from her red glasses and points with her pen towards someone standing at the back of the office, their back turned. I hadn’t even noticed anyone was here when I came in. “That’s your new student, hon, turn around, I’d like you to meet our student body president and valedictorian Chelsea Winters and Chelsea, this is Logan...”
I watch as the boy in the black hoodie turns around and my mouth gapes open. “You!”
2 Days Earlier:
Mom’s idea for my cousin’s birthday was to visit one of those farms that have those tractor rides and bouncy pillows and a helter-skelter. I’m not going to lie, if I was my cousin I would be in my element. Evan and I used to come here once a year. Much of its changed since we were kids but the original rides are still here. Farmer Joe still leads the tractor ride and you still get sprayed with water on the ghost train. It was one of those places that you just loved.
That day I had spent the majority of the time running after said cousin, both equally impressed that she could run that fast for being eight years old and how I could run this slow being eighteen years old.
The point of the story is that I started my period that day on this farm. I was early, so this was unexpected, and I was only armed with a panty liner and a single tampon. I had to take my cousin to use the restroom with me, considering I was on mothering duties, and make her wait outside of the cubicle as I sorted myself out. It was when I came out of the toilet when I saw she had vanished. I think I pretty much died, my heart screamed and my breath quickened and I couldn’t see her blonde bobbing ponytail anywhere. It was one of those moments out of some thriller movie where you expect to see a masked figure dragging my eight-year-old cousin out of the farm and into a van.
I left the bathroom, searched for what felt like hours but must have only been minutes, and found her standing inside of the men’s toilet, mirroring the same cubicle as my own and grabbed her shoulder.
“Maisy! Where the hell have you been? You can’t just leave!”
Maisy turned around and I realized she was now holding a box of empty tampons in her hand. There was nobody else in here other than us and whoever was behind the locked door. “Chelsea? I thought...I thought...”
I blinked at her, baffled and relieved at the same time. “What did you think?”
“I thought you were in this toilet. I ran back to Mom and she handed me this,” she shoved the empty box of tampons into my hand. “And told me to give you the box but they wouldn’t reach under so I had to throw them to you.”
“But this is the men’s bathroom Maisy,”
“I’m sorry,” she said and looked at her feet, “I must have gone into the wrong one.”
I stared at her, then pulled her into a hug, the tampon box still in my hand. “Wait,” I looked at the locked door and it began to open. A guy around my age stepped out, the floor littered with tampons and one hanging from his head. He reached for it, pulled the applicator but it just burst open and pinged to the floor.
“Thanks for the gesture babe, but I have the wrong bits for that kind of thing.”
I stared at him, bewildered and embarrassed. “I’m sorry, my cousin thought...” I trailed off, not sure how to get myself out of this one.
“Just don’t do it again,” he said with a smirk and stalked out of the bathroom like the world belonged to him.
And I’m staring at said guy right now. He looks better than he did at the farm, or maybe I’m just really looking this time. He’s got dark hair, olive skin and the kind of green eyes you wished you'd always had. He looks grumpy, his black hoodie is figure-hugging and he’s got on a pair of dark denim jeans. But from what I know, he’s also armed with a bad wit, an ego the size of a mountain and charm that makes your knees buckle.
“Hey Chelsea,” Logan says and takes a step forward. “Did you sort out all your lady problems?”
My mouth opens wider, my cheeks burning and I can feel Mrs. Potter chuckle behind me. “I guess no introductions are necessary. Logan is going to be your shadow today Chelsea, so show him around.”
I take his schedule out of Mrs. Potter’s hands and squirm that it’s almost identical to mine, minor some extra classes I am taking and open the office door. I don’t want to look at him, so instead, I say over my shoulder, “you coming?”
Logan grins at Mrs. Potter. “Thanks for the coffee Angie, your company is just the best.” I watch Mrs. Potter grin at the boy like he’s the next best thing, and he closes the door. Angie? They’re on a first name basis now?
“Where can I go for a smoke?”
“Excuse me?” I spin around.
“Don’t you have a designated smoking area?”
“Um, no?” It’s illegal and disgusting I want to add but I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of saying something back.
“I guess I’ll find somewhere,” Logan shrugs just as the bell rings and the hallway clears. I watch him exit the building and rummage around in his hoodie pocket and retrieve a lighter. I can’t just let him leave, he's my responsibility.
“Oh for god sake!” I mutter to particularly no one and follow him out of the double doors and essentially towards hell. I can pretty much see my future changing before me now, Logan Howard digging my grave, and I’m not going up, I’m going down.