I stared at the chess board, my mind racing, contemplating various moves that I could make that might get me where I wanted to be. There were several moves I could make where I could eliminate one of the enemy's pawns, but that wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to eliminate the enemy, to get to the other side of the board. There was only one move I could make that would start me in that direction, but it would mean losing my knight, though it would give my queen the chance to come out of hiding. I bit my lip, and made the move quickly before I changed my mind. Then I spun the board around so that I was on the opposite side, and planned my next move, now playing as my “enemy.” I liked playing against myself, figuring out strategies to trick myself. It was so much easier than playing with someone else, easier fighting against the world.
* * *
I fell out of bed as my alarm clock went off, blasting something by Tegan and Sara in my ear. I just lay there in a heap on my floor, my face mashed against the rough carpet, my eyes still closed as I desperately tried to convince myself I was still asleep. In, out, in, out, don't think don't think don't think, crap I'm thinking again, ooh a giant donut, ugh donuts are gross but man I'm addicted... I left a dollar and some change in my jeans yesterday. This is how my brain works in the mornings... who am I kidding here? This is how my brain works ninety percent of the time. I smiled slightly, my face still smothered in the carpet, and spat out a few clumps of carpet fluff that had just gotten stuck to my mouth. I rolled over and stared at my ceiling, and it looked so far away. It was kind of shimmery in the morning light. Morning. I hated the mornings, especially today. Well, not especially. It was Wednesday though, the middle of the school week, which was depressing. I eventually made it my knees and then sat down on my bed with a huff, and grabbed the shirt I'd laid out the day before from the end of my bed, and tugged it on over my head before reluctantly struggling into cold jeans. I went through my morning checklist, my thoughtless routine. Brush hair, fix face, eat breakfast, usually consisting of yogurt of some kind and either toast, oatmeal or if I was lucky and has extra time, sausage, fix face again now that I could really see since I was more awake, check hair, down a cup of coffee, brush teeth then sling my back pack over my shoulder and march (or stumble, really) out of my door, grabbing my keys and iPod on the way out. Pressing play and half falling into my car, I started the ignition as the beginning of “Smile” by Uncle Kracker played softly in my ears. I drove to school, feeling the familiar ache of loneliness as I wished that I had someone that made me “Smile like the sun, fall outta bed, sing like a bird, dizzy in my head, spin like a record, crazy on a Sunday night. You make me dance like a fool, forget how to breathe, shine like gold, buzz like a bee. Just the thought of you can drive me wild. Oh, you make me smile.” I missed being in love, and having that “you.” Smiling was also good. I shoved that familiar aching feeling away once again, and by the time I parked my car I managed to be completely focused on the show I would be putting on for the rest of the day, the show that yes I was normal, yes I was fine, yes I was alive. What did it matter that as much as I almost wanted someone to see though my impenetrable walls, no one ever would?
I reluctantly entered the swamped halls, determined to make it to my locker in one piece. For some reason, everyone seemed even more agitated and exited than usual. Not caring in the least, I made my way to my locker, shoved my bag in, and grabbed my books for first period English. I saw my best, only, friend, walking towards me, and waited for him to approach.
“Hey, Diane!” Aidan called, grinning. I smiled back.
“Hey, Aidan.” I greeted him.
“So have you heard the news?” He asked excitedly. I sighed.
“No.” I replied simply, knowing he would tell me no matter what I said.
“Guess what?” He asked, still grinning.
“I don't want to guess, Aidan.” I said tiredly. He pouted, and I bit my lip, trying not to smile.
“Fine. A new girl just transferred from England, today's her first day.” He finally told me. So this is what all the fuss? A new girl? She'd be no different than the others, except she'd have that British accent to giver her an edge.