Rumors are traditionally planted the first day back at Grove High. This morning Lemon takes her sweet time whispering the news to Scarlet. In Biology I overhear Scarlet say to Rose it's all about girls behaving badly, but the rest of us will have to wait a little longer for the dirt.
Time moves like tree sap in Math. Who needs to solve these ridiculous puzzles in the real world anyway? I droop in my hard plastic chair as the clock ticks slowly, wishing I hadn't skipped breakfast. Rose passes a note to Why (whose parents have a whack sense of humor). Why reads it and sniffs the air; this must be raunchier than the usual dish.
An hour later we're being quizzed on the mandatory summer reading in Lit when my stomach rumbles so loudly I sink into my seat. After third period is when I pass Del in the hall and now that's all I can think about. Del is exactly the guy I was hoping for, tall and charming but a little dangerous too.
The bell finally chimes and I check my phone. No word from Lily to distract my heart from thumping so violently. I gather my books and brace for the moment that keeps me awake nights.
But when I see him across the slapping waves of students, Del avoids me. Instead he flirts with a pair of sniveling freshmen who giggle. Is that what I sound like when I'm around him too? I break down and text Lily. "Del alert." In the crunch of bodies making their way, a Messenger clips me with his silver bike handles and my phone goes flying. It skids across the floor but doesn't shatter thanks to my fancy case.
The Messenger miserably retrieves it from under a locker and hands it to me, bowing. "So sorry ma Lady."
I nod to let him know it's no big deal. The students at Grove High are so outrageously spoiled that what technology can't do for us, Messengers take care of. Want tonight's last-minute project done without the bother of even picking a topic? Or a gift delivered to your crush? All we have to do is call "messenger" with the thumb on voice control―they are not taught to read―and one will come pedaling our way.
By the time he moves back into the swarm, Lily's getting impatient. "Earth to Fuchsia? What did Del say?" her speech bubble demands.
"Not a thing, blew me off. Wtf?"
"Nothing about a midnight swim?"
"U know that never happened even if he promised it."
"He needed you to hold his hand all the way to the bookstore to buy the summer read. U know he wants u." Lily can be fabulously supportive.
"I think he legit needed my help. He'd never heard of Richard Adams."
No response. I've lost her. "Heller?"
"Sky's texting me," Lily snaps.
"Dirt of the day?" I hate to admit I'm eager to hear it. Anything to make the hours move faster.
"Must b. Gtg."
"U have to let me know who the new skank is, K?"
"K, mwah." And I'm left alone surrounded by the cacophony of voices making the most of these five minutes of freedom.
In sophomore history, we review the local battles everyone already knows just not in the kind of detail anyone normal would. Like the fact that the massacre at Coonskin Creek involved 8,745 beheadings after the invasion. I really didn't need to know that. When at last the chime sounds for lunch I feel nauseous and in desperate need of fresh air. They say they're protecting us by holding classes indoors but it feels like being released from prison when I step through the archway framed in black and white bark.
At lunch we're allowed to go outside to the courtyard and recharge in the sun. Since school starts back in August it is intensely hot and the rays make me sweat. Lily and I lay out, propped on our elbows, and take in the scene. Lemon and Scarlet steer their posse of fashion trends to the center of the quad. With them are Why and Rose dressed in orange and pink, respectively. The whole table looks like a fruit salad.
Officer Aquilegia chats it up with Dr. Weber. You can tell they're enjoying the sunshine as much as everyone else because their faces are tilted up to the sky while they talk. Over at the edge of the shading Aspen is the new pitiful transfer. I saw him once this summer by the brook behind my home and he startled me so much I went back inside instead of going for a swim. "What's his name?" I ask Lily.
"I heard it's Court, or is it Cord? Anyway, I feel sorry for him." I know what she means. His parents are doctors and move around a lot to communities who need their help with the goriest accidents. The fact that they have chosen the Grove as their next locale makes everyone uncomfortable so no one talks to him.
"So, who's the new skank of Grove High? Is it Blue? I saw her flirting with practically the whole Lacrosse team at the scrimmage.
"Um, I'm not sure." Lily looks down at the designer bag beside her as if she's confused. She grabs the handle on the teal tote I helped her pick out after an agonizing decision-making process on Pinterest.
"What do you mean you're not sure? Didn't Sky tell you?"
"Wait, you don't want me to know, do you?"
"I'm, sorry―I can't. Not here. I'll tell you after school." Lily gets up and walks away. Just being seen with me is giving her the hives. I look around the quad with fresh eyes. No one―not even the drab geeks in the corner―stares at me. They are all too busy whispering about me.
I'm the new skank of Grove High.
A/N: How will Fuchsia react to her news? Thanks for reading, commenting and voting by clicking the star if you enjoyed the first chapter!
Dedicated to @tamoja who cheered me on to the finish line and was the first reader to complete this story. I can't imagine Fuchsia's world without Tammy in it! Check out this prolific writer's latest, a witty ChickLit called Love Inherited about a starving art teacher who gets a new chance on life. I'm enjoying this story so much and tend to let out a little squeal when it updates.
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The Grove is a Wattpad Featured Story. Fifteen-year-old Fuchsia speaks like an average teen navigating the usual drama, but her community of tribes called The Grove is an even more terrifying place to be than the halls of high school. The two major...