September 5th, 2019: Before

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"Have fun at breakfast and have a great last first day!" My mom beams.

"I will, thanks." I smile.

I brush past her and I fish my keys out of my school bag on the way to my car. I sit in the driver's seat and fight my car to start and when I finally succeed the music blasts and almost totals my hearing.

"Jesus," I mutter and I turn the dial multiple clicks counterclockwise.

That's better.

I throw the car into reverse and I slowly make my way out of the driveway and into the road behind me. The drive to the diner is quick; not too many slow drivers out but plenty of good music on the radio.

I'm the last of the group to arrive and my four friends wave me over to a booth.

It's not long until the inevitable selfies begin and I can tell the waitress is judging us as she approaches our table.

"Good morning, ladies." She smiles and hides her thoughts well. "Can I start you off with something to drink?"

Everybody but me calls out drink orders at once and she astonishingly catches every last one of them.

"And for you?" She turns to me.

"Oh, I'm okay with water," I say.

She seems relieved to be leaving our table and I sense those drinks are going to take a while to find their way over.

"So Blair," Mercedes says. "Will I see you at cheer practice tonight?"

"Of course," I say with a smile.

"What about you, Peyton?" Mercedes asks.

"Obviously." Peyton nods. "I'm cheer captain, I have to be there. We have to be there." She glances at me.

"I didn't know you made captain," Mercedes comments as she turns to me.

I nod and give her a tight-lipped smile.

Thanks for that one, Peyton.

"Congrats," Mercedes says and I can tell it's said out of jealousy and spite and definitely anything but sincerity.

"Thanks," I say quietly and I am definitely right about those drinks.

I listen to Mercedes and Peyton discuss the impending cheer practices of the season and drama and competitions and drama and stunt groups and more drama and where are our drinks? I pick up my buzzing phone and I try not to groan when I see that it's just my mother.

"Everything okay, B?" Mercedes asks.

"Just my mom," I say. "She hopes we all have a good day."

"Your mom is the sweetest." Mercedes smiles.

Finally our drinks make it to the table and the waitress takes our orders. We all decide on pancakes and there is no way for her to give us the wrong dishes in a poor attempt at being petty but I'm sure she'll spit in at least three of them.

"I'll be right back," Ashley says.

"Where are you going?" Mercedes asks.

"The bathroom."

"Oh, I have to go, too!" Gianna jumps up.

Miraculously, everyone but me seems to have to pee and before I know it, they disappear around the corner and I'm alone at the table.

And then I see you.

The first thing I notice is your hair. It's magnificent. Your dark brown locks look almost black in this light. Your eyes seem to be hazel but it's a tad difficult to tell from this angle. I can see a dimple on your left cheek and my heart soars and you catch me staring.

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