CHAPTER 7 - Rae
“BARK! BARK!” I woke up to my dog, Chloe, barking downstairs.
“Chloe! Shut up!" I covered a pillow over my head, but that didn’t seem to silence the noise. She was annoying sometimes, especially when she barked at seven in the morning. As I slowly sat up, I tried not to wake up Nico, my mom’s cat, that slept in my room most nights. The cat laid on top of my feet, which were becoming numb from the weight. Luckily, I was able to accomplish this feat, sliding Nico with my blanket. For some reason, I had a slight headache from my bun. I took out the bun and brushed it, but now my hair was all poofy, so I put it in a french braid. Quickly grabbing my skinny jeans and my blue elephant shirt, which were kinda nice, but not over the top, I went downstairs and took care of my dog, and then ate a bagel with cream cheese.
It was a nice day while I waited for the bus. As the bus pulled up the curb, I got in and saw him, Alexander Cohen. He was sitting in the back with his friends, and some of them looked like they had a growth spurt in the past summer. Alex, it was as if he didn’t change. Same towering height. Same dirty blonde hair. Same blue eyes. Well, maybe just a bit of a difference if you count his hairstyle. Last year, it used to be combed, but now, it was just messy. If you hadn’t guessed it already, yes, he’s my crush. The one I’ve kept from my friends for a very long time. It killed me inside every time they asked me if I liked someone, to which I always denied. I kept quiet, found an empty row, and saved a seat for Belinay. The bus approached Belinay’s neighborhood, recognizing the line of houses that were so beautiful. I caught sight of Belinay running to the stop and flailed my arm around so she could see me.
"Hey, Belinay! I have a seat for you right here!" I called from the window. She got on the bus as fast as she could, and made herself at home with the saved seat. We talked about what classes we had today, and about how nervous we are. Suddenly, the bus stopped, causing Belinay to almost whack her head on the seat in front of her, and I tried not to laugh. But she didn’t move from her position, only sinking deeper and deeper into the seat. From what I could tell, Belinay looked like she was more in a panicky mode than her usual self.
"Don't look now," Belinay whispered to me, still stuck in the same funny position.
"What are you doing? You look crazy!" It felt impossible not to take a picture of Belinay, who kept sneaking a couple of glances at some boy next to the bus stop.
"Shush! It's Keith! The guy I crashed with the other day! Don't let him see me!"
"Don't worry. He is looking through the window. I don't think he noticed you." I tried to reassure her by laughing. When we got to Sienna High, Belinay finally moved from her spot and looked normal again.
I turned to Belinay, pulling on her sleeve. "C'mon, he’s gone! Move on, or we'll be late!"
"Ok!” Belinay said frantically and grabbed her backpack in a rush.
We were almost off the bus when Belinay tripped on one of the steps and fell into that boy’s arms. And that’s when I realized it was Keith.
"You need to stop landing on me," Keith said with a grin on his face. The rest of the conversation I didn’t hear because I saw Alex walking off the bus. I tried to get the courage to talk to him, or at least get his attention, but I was too shy.
When I finally snapped out of my thoughts, Belinay and I met up with Cassie and Lynn. Then the two of us went to Algebra. Mr. Shirley was not a rude teacher, only that his lectures were long and there was a lot of homework. Alex was also there. We didn't talk, but he smiled and looked me in the eyes, so I smiled back and went to work.
After Algebra, I zoomed through the halls and into Astronomy. The school layout wasn’t that hard to navigate, so getting to my next class was easy. As I sat down, I caught a glimpse of Jake, one of Alex's best friends. It was time to be assigned partners, and all I wanted was to not get Jake because that would mean I would have to talk to him. I could envision him talking about Alex, and that was something I didn’t want to see. Mrs. Richards, the astronomy teacher, pulled out a name and called mine. I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers, promising I’d never ask for anything else for as long as I live.
"Ms. Rae Beckett is with... Mr. Jake Myers." Well, the universe just doesn’t keep its promises anymore. But that wasn’t the problem right now. What I dreaded most had happened, I was partners was Alex's best friend.
Astronomy was over, and thankfully, Jake didn’t talk to me at all. A small victory for me! I had a fifteen-minute break, so I met up with Belinay and Cassie and walked to history together. The even cooler thing was that Lynn was there too since she was a TA for her old teacher, Mrs. Stinebaugh. Belinay got in trouble for trying to talk to Lynn during a lecture.
Next was English, and I was excited about it because the teacher was fun. Ms. Henley was my English teacher in 7th grade and then she went to high school to teach. I missed her, and I was glad to see her again. But she wasn't the only person I saw again. Alex was there, and he was walking towards me. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry because I didn't know what to do. As he got closer, I felt as if I shrank.
"Hey." He said.
"H-hey." I felt so nervous.
"So, we haven't talked in a while."
"Y-yeah we haven't."
"About 8th grade-"
"It's fine, forget about it." I immediately went from nervous to stone cold. I thought he would've forgotten about what happened in 8th grade by now. But that was last year, so he probably didn’t. In 8th grade, my ex-friend, Abby, asked Alex If he liked me and he said, word-for-word, "As a friend for sure, more than that not so much." And it gets worse. Then he completely ignored me because he thought I liked him. In fear, I never told the girls, because then, the secret would’ve been out and they would probably hate me for keeping a secret from them.
Alex breaks my train of thought. "Rae, you sure we’re good?"
"Yes, I'm sure." He smiled and walked away because the class was starting.
English ended, and it was lunchtime. I found Lynn and sat next to her. Belinay came next, and Cassie arrived last. During lunch, Cassie was acting weird. I decided to ask what was going on, and then a boy, who we later found out was named Nathan, came over to our table. We figured out that Cassie was acting weird because whether she likes to admit it or not, she likes Nathan, and judging by the “evidence” we collected, we’re pretty sure he likes her back. But we left her to be so she wouldn't get mad at us.
Now I had a choir. I loved choir as long as I sang in a group and I wasn't in the front. It was the first day of the choir, so I was a little nervous. No one I knew that well was there, and that didn’t really help my shyness.
After the choir was PE, and the universe again decided Alex will be there. I feel like he's everywhere I go. Like a haunting memory when your brain sees an object and remembers. Except it wasn’t really haunting. I just didn’t want to see him at the time. When we were PE, Belinay got hurt and had to go to the nurses' office, and I felt kind of bad for her. Well, up until the point when we saw Keith walk through the doors and set a piece of paper next to her. Classes were about to start, so we three waved goodbye and went back to our classrooms.
And now my last class of the day was french. My favorite thing to say in French is "Je t'aime," which means I love you. But it wasn’t like I was going to say that to anyone I know anytime soon. When I saw Belinay again, I kept on asking about the note, but I couldn’t get anything out of her.
I got home after I saw Belinay and Alex get off their stops. I was exhausted and ready to go to bed. But Chloe still wanted her to walk, and Nico wouldn’t stop being annoying, so it would still be a long way to go until I could sleep. And I'm pretty sure I'd be dead even before I hit the sack.