**Beep Beep BeEp BeeP bEEp*
The alarm, painfully waking Chloe up—even though being an early bird on the regular—was simply too much today. It was Friday, the day she knew she’d spend later eating Twinkies and maltesers until she found something good to watch on Netflix. Kelsey was going out to a party, invited Chloe, but being the shy one she was, declined. Chloe preferred nights alone with twinkly lights, movies, maybe a book—especially when it rained—and chicken nuggets from McDonalds. It was looking to be one of those nights—and Chloe was excited. Rubbing her eyes, she rolled to the left a little too far and fell out of bed pulling the sheets with her.
“Well that’s a great start to the day” she muttered under her breath.
Standing up, she went to her closet looking right at her reflection in the mirrored doors. Tugging at her brown hair which looked thrillingly atrocious she crunched up her face to make herself laugh as she pulled goofy faces. Giving a minute of thought to if what she was doing was weird, she stared at her reflection, then ended the moment with a stuck out tongue and rolled eyes. Spotify list was instantly begun before she took the usual shower and did her makeup. Once she got to the wing of the right eye she heard a *clank* outside her window, curiously she moved her feet to the side of the window to peer out into what was the sun rising—her favorite part of waking up. Smiling to herself she looked around finding nothing. Weird.
“I’m thinking of wearing the red lace shirt with my white jeans and heels maybe, but not tall ones because those will give off the wrong idea” Kelsey went on about her outfit for tonight.
“Yeah, that’d be cute” I said spooning yogurt into my mouth.
“I wish you were coming though—why don’t you ever? Doesn’t it ever get boring siting by yourself?” Paige, another one of Kelsey’s “friends” asked honestly.
Kelsey just shot her a look.
I accepted that I wasn’t destined to be a partier and that’s just who I was- it gave me way too much anxiety the idea of being stuck in a house with people crowding every inch of space, some crazy drunk while others crazy something else.
“Paige—it’s not that I don’t feel like I’ll fit in, it’s just that I don’t want to” which was a bold face lie even Kelsey knew.
“Okay” Paige said with a shrug as she got up to grab an apple on the other side of the cafeteria.
“Eh, she’s too much even for me today” Kelsey joked.
“She’s not horrible, I just wish she would Not judge me for something I can’t control.”
“Oh yes, your impossible need to be by yourself on a night when everyone else will be dancing and living their senior year to its peak” she said as she spun around the lunch chair flipping her hair into my face.
We both laughed.
“I highly doubt throwing up until my lungs cave in is living my life to its peak” I got out in time before I caught plaid shirt Hayden looking over me as he walked to the table to our left.
“I didn’t say ‘life,’ I said senior year.”
“Oh, correct me why don’t you” I said to her rolling my eyes with a goofy face, hearing a slight laugh only a table away.
“No Hayden today” I thought as I passed his house, kicking a rock as I went.
oooo too to the left.
And now a little too far to the right.
Why am I playing with a rock?
that barley moved…
I threw my hands over my mouth because I knew that was either going to hit someone walking or with any luck land in someone’s yard.
It didn’t end up being the latter.
“OW?” my neighbor a few doors down questioned with a puzzled look on her face.
She was old, it had only just missed her ankle, I felt she was being too dramatic yet I still responded with:
“Oh my god I’m so sorry! Can I get you anything?”
“What’s your name??” she demanded.
“Chloe…” I replied nervously.
“Courtney, you could’ve broken my leg. Now do you think that’s any way to treat— “
“No… I… it’s Chloe by the way, and” was all I could say before getting the look of death from her and an unexpected visit from yet another neighbor.
“Hi Mrs. Myrtle, are you alright?” a voice came from a distance too close for comfort. I didn’t even have to turn around to notice him, he was like a looming shadow. And all of a sudden it was as if I had completely vanished.
“Oh Hayden, I was just telling your Dad how much I loved the cake he brought over the other day on the phone,” she smiled gracefully.
“I’m glad, he was hoping you’d like the almonds on top too because the plain cinnamon apple one was getting too boring to him,” Hayden so casually says as if the details of the almonds didn’t shock me enough.
“Awee, no. I didn’t like it. I loved it. Any time you want to bring one over we’d be happy to try it.”
“That’s nice to hear, I’ll mention that to him. Well, I sort of need to get going, I promised this one we’d get her home before 3 because she has to get back for Days of Our Lives, just can’t miss that” he said in the most smug way.
“Oh, I love that—” she stopped as she remembered who I was and stared through my soul.
We walked away fast, but not enough to seem like assholes. She of course still smiled at Hayden before turning around to check her mail again.
“What a guy” I heard in the distance while I just puked a little in my mouth. Oh, if only she knew.
Rounding the corner to my house Hayden broke the ever-present silence with a “I saved you.”
I looked at him with raised eyebrows.
“You saved me? You bragged about cake and pretended I’m into daytime television, why would I thank you for that?”
“I didn’t say you had to thank me.” He smirked.
It’s kind of like the time when you fell off your bike because your dad took off your training wheels and Mrs. Myrtle told off your Dad until I came and said “we all have to learn some time.”
“I haven’t ridden a bike since,” I laughed while remembering that moment but not him.
“That was you?” I turned to look at him. He was taller than I thought, standing next to me was so much different than sitting.
“Yeah,” he said looking down. “Guess you forgot, ow” he playfully put his hand over his heart.
“You can’t be serious right now” I said looking to my left at the other side of the street… at the distance we should be right now.
Reaching the end of my driveway, we stopped; I watched a few leaves fall as he said “to thank me, you could just invite me over tonight to watch a movie, or would that be too forward.”
“You mean impossible?” I looked at him hiding my lips because otherwise I’d end him right then and there.
“I’m not that kind of girl” I went on as he waved his hands like he was stopping traffic.
“No, no, No, that is not what I meant, I literally only want to watch a movie. Or two, or five” he tagged on to ease the awkwardness I felt in my throat.
“Were you listening to my conversation earlier at lunch?”
“Why, yes I was Courtney” he said putting a finger under his nose as if it was some kind of disguise.
“Look, you don’t get to decide when, where, or what we watch, and you definitely don’t get to listen in on my conversations.”
“I’m just looking out for you, and today at lunch was because I was at the table ear-shot away, I can’t help what I hear” he said kindly.
I don’t know why I believed him, there had to be something else. But what?
“I get that you like being alone, I like it too, but sometimes it gets boring. And you can’t tell me you’re not bored sometimes” he said in an understanding tone.
I looked at the ground, hoping my hair would hide the blushing from embarrassment. It did get boring, but it wasn’t so bad. At least I didn’t have people 24/7 directing me who to talk to, what to do, or who to be with.
“I’ll let you come over, but I pick what we watch.”