Chapter 4 - Long Day

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I had been in school for about a week and was still with Rachel and Taylor’s friend group. It was very odd to be around them. They were the exact same. They wore some brand of clothes, they all had the same skin tone, same activities, same everything. That’s so boring to me. Taylor was always all over me, he was flirting according to Rachel. She was a great guide, I didn’t understand anything. I was having the hardest time in the world adjusting.

I was at my locker, it was the end of the day, and the halls were mostly empty. I had to stay late because of assignments in my English class. I heard steps, and then muttering. I turned, seeing Harry standing by the drinking fountain. He was in a plaid shirt that was too big for him and dark jeans again, he had on a beanie. He was actually very attractive; I think I liked him because of his skin tone. He made me feel like I wasn’t the only pale kid in the school. But his green eyes, that stare, it was intimidating.

I turned my back to him, reaching up to get my books. I tucked them into my bag, he was still there. I stared. “What?” He stared back at me. “Do you have a reason f-for standing there?” Silence, I think I heard crickets. “D-Do you know English?” he smirked, and walked away. “The hell,” I breathed out, tossing my bag over my shoulder. I started down the hall, and ducked behind a column in the hallway. I waited, and watched. There he was, coming back to my locker. He opened it.

“What the hell?” I breathed out.

It’s not like it had anything worth stealing, it was empty except for my chemistry book, who’d want that? But why was he looking into it like he was searching for something. He ran his hands down the metal, and shut it, turning the combination.

“I’m so confused.” I mumbled.

Is this what kids did? Obsess over lockers? I didn’t get it. I was walking out of school, so distracted when I bumped into Taylor and Rachel. They were both dressed in some brand with a check mark on it, looking athletic as ever.

“Where you headed?” Taylor smiled, flexing his overly done muscles. It was a bit too much if I was being honest. I learned that I didn’t like men who looked like they could break me.

“H-Home, what are you up to?” I looked at both of them.

‘Basketball practice starts soon. Taylor was buying me a smoothie because he dumped mine.” She smacked him in the chest with a smile.

“I said I was sorry.” He set his eyes on me. “Want to come with?”

“Oh, um,”

“Come on,” Rachel took hold of my hand, and somehow I ended up in his truck. We drove to a little old fashioned malt shop, guess who’s family name was on the sign? Mathews Malts.

“So, how are you liking everything?” Rachel smiled as she sipped her drink.

“It’s… different.”

“Are you always this quiet?” Taylor asked, with a cocky look as he walked behind the ice cream bar. Was he trying to impress me?

“Y-Yes,”

“Do you always stutter? I just thought you did that because it was your first few days.”

“Taylor, shut the hell up,” Rachel laughed. “You’re making her insecure.”

“It’s… endearing.”

What the hell? I just let out a nervous sigh, and flashed a smile, sipping my drink.

“So, are you thinking about doing any sports?”

It was clear that this is what the town revolved around. It was all about sports, and social standing and positions. It was all about who was where on the social ladder. I didn’t… I didn’t like that.

I wanted to just… be me. I wanted to find that group of friends, or even a friend, who was just like me. They were quiet, and not into wearing those big expensive brands, or having the same hair cut. I just… I really wanted someone to like me not because of my athleticism, or who my parents were. I wanted them to like me because of the shy person I was. If I couldn’t find it, then I’d be more than happy to be alone.

My mom dragged me to the mall that day after school. I didn’t like malls. They were full of people I didn’t know, all buzzing around with bags, kids rushing around loudly. It was overwhelming. I didn’t like shopping either. I never knew what looked nice, or what I liked in truth. I liked comfort.

She bought me dozens of new clothes; all those brands that I really didn’t want, that all the kids wore. That’s exactly what she’d say.

“All the kids are wearing these shoes Finny!”

I’d reply, “So if all the kids were jumping off a bridge you’d like me to do that too?”

She thought. “Well, how close of friends are these jumpers to you?”

I’d just give her an eye roll as she laughed, and let her have her fun dressing me like a doll. I think she thought the sooner I tried to assimilate, blend in, the sooner I would adjust and be happy here. I don’t think it was something you could force. If I didn’t fit, I simply didn’t fit. A t shirt or two wouldn’t change it.

We finished shopping and sat on my front porch, in a rocking chair. I held my knees close to my chest, trying to comfort myself.

“Why do you think I need friends? I miss Antarctica.”

“You deserve to have what I did at your age. I was on the debate team, the science team, math club, I was so active.” She smiled.

“Mom, you were a geek.”

“Hell yes I was!” she laughed. “I met your father, I fell in love, had a beautiful daughter. I want that for you. You can be a geek, an outcast, you can be a popular girl, you can be the inbetweener, or you can be in the middle class. I don’t care, as long as you’re not a slut, or a bitch.”

I smiled. “Gee, thanks for the encouragement.”

“Well, I’m just saying. You can’t be a whore either, there is a difference right? Between a whore and a slut? Pretty sure, whore sounds so bad. I’d rather you a slut if you have to be.”

I shook my head, rubbing my face at her. It was time for a topic change. “Where is dad?”

“He went swimming. He loves warm water.”

“I miss ice dives.” I muttered.

‘Honey you need to give it time.”

I nodded, suddenly, Taylor pulled up. I swallowed hard. He climbed out of his truck wearing fitted blue jeans and a plain T shirt. He had his blond hair pushed back.

“Who is that cutie?”

“Um,”

“Hey Finley.” He smiled. “Hi, I’m Taylor Mathews.”

“I’m Lillian, nice to meet you. What brings you by?”

“I was hoping Finley would like to go out to see a movie with me?”

“Um,’ I said again.

“Yes, she’d love to.” My mom kicked me in the leg to make me jump from my wicker seat. I glared. “Stay out late, have fun, break curfew, do what kids do.”

I sighed; Taylor laughed and opened the door to his truck for me. I climbed in, so incredibly anxious. This felt so strange to me. I felt like I was being hunted, or being herded by this boy. He set his sights on me, from that first day in the lunch room.

“There is only one theater in this town you know.”

“I’ve never been to a movie.”

“What?”

“I’ve never been to one. I mean, they had theaters in the more populated, busy, touristy spots in Antarctica, but we were really, really far off from civilization. We didn’t have anything but a radio.”

“Whoa,”

“Are movies fun?”

“Yes, they’re great fun.”

I hoped he was right; I could really use some fun right now.

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