Author's note: I'm incrementally/superficially editing this story (just because I have a moment away from my studies and I am supremely embarrassed this story still exists). This means I'm looking out for things that don't make any sense, doing some proofreading for grammatical errors I missed the first time around, adding details, deleting superfluous "Author's notes" and such—No real plot editing. All who have already read the story are not really missing out. All revised chapters will bear a ~PW-Revised~ signal at the beginning of the chapter.
I don't think I was supposed to meet him. I had never even seen him around town. We went to different schools, we had different groups of friends, and we were definitely from different levels of society.
You may say that money doesn't really matter anymore, but even today the town of Westbrook takes pride in the disparities that exist between the haves and have nots that reside within the city's limits. The rich kids live in mansions, own bright flashy cars and attend the private James Patrick High School. The beggars attend Westbrook High, public school extraordinaire, live in shabby little ranch homes or in the miniscule apartments of the infamous Westbrook Complexes, sharing matchbox-sized rooms with brothers and sisters. These two sides never cross.
Well, they did…once.
I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I woke up to the sound of the alarm clock, which I likened to the sound a mule makes when breeding. It had definitely rung too soon. I turned the alarm clock off and sat up in bed. My head swirled and blood rushed to my head. The shower was running, and I knew that my little sister Sophie had already taken claim to the bathroom. I fell onto the bed once again and wrapped myself with my blanket. A small smirk debuted on my face as I drifted back to sleep.
"Isabelle, réveille-toi!" My mother called for me to wake up. "Breakfast is ready."
I sighed knowing that it was indeed time to get up. "Oh maman," I yelled. As I stood, I kicked my sister's bed with my foot. I hated this room. It felt more like a closet than a room.
"Isabelle, today is the big day," my mother screamed in a banshee-like voice, punctuating every syllable.
I sighed wiping the sleep out of my eyes and slowly opened the door letting the light flood in. My eyes turned into slits as I walked to the next room, which was a kitchen with a small white-topped table in the corner.
"Oh, my goodness," my mother whispered with a heavy French accent. "I thought that you were ready."
"I don't want to go maman," I said honestly. I let out a long sigh and a pout "The Patricks are just so snobby. I won't know how to act around them. Plus, all of my friends are at Westbrook. I can't just leave Mallory, and Stacey. I obviously didn't think this through."
"What's this nonsense about the Patricks?" Maman's long brown hair reached her thighs. Her blue eyes shone to match the blue robe she wore. "They just have a little more money than you do. So what, we're poor, and so are a lot of other people."
I shook my head. "They're all so pretty and put-together, and I look so-" My mother laughed.
"Isabelle, with just a little makeup you can be beautiful too," Maman declared. "I'll do your makeup, if it's the looks your worried about." I breathed in. My mother was a hair and makeup stylist at nearby salon. She was well versed in the art of beauty.
I often felt that I fell short of my mother's definition of beauty. Though I had attractive features, like sea green eyes and long brown hair that reaches the bottom of my back, I was way too skinny; our family doctor was even worried. Luckily, I had slowly filled out this past summer, but from my skinny phase I had unfortunately picked up the trait of extreme timidity. I was used to keeping to myself, as I was the poorest of all the Westbrook High students and didn't have the money to hang out at the mall or go to the movies. Luckily, I did have two best friends Stacey and Melanie who represented the extent of my social circle.
Ironically, despite being the poorest student at Westbrook High, I was also the first student to ever be awarded with the honor of going to James Patrick on scholarship. This scholarship would have definitely been a blessing, if only my economic status were not etched on my skin somewhere, so that others would not immediately take notice of my disadvantage.
I began eating my runny eggs and toast. My mother had been a model in her past life and had certainly missed the "how to cook" stage in her development from child to woman.
Sophie, the little princess glided through the doorway. She was fifteen and already she was a slut. "Good morning little sister," I exclaimed, frowning at her. She was wearing a black belly shirt (a shirt that had grown too short on me) with a tiny piece of black cloth called a skirt in some amoral circles.
"Sophie Langet, what are you wearing?" My mother screamed in French.
"Maman," my sister whined. "Isabelle wore this just last week to the mall."
I shook my head. "That was summer honey, and I'm fairly certain your skirt has been halved," I replied. "Today is the first day to the new school year. You should care to give a better first impression." I glared at her, making sure to send the message that tattle tales pay.
"Shut your mouth," Sophie screeched. Then after she had calmed down, she turned to face my mother. "I just want the guys to notice me." I can't imagine how they wouldn't. Sophie had short blond hair with my eyes. She was tiny, but had confidence that far surpassed her size. She was definitely the cutest tenth grader at Westbrook High.
"Your bus is about to pass Sophie," my mother yelped and handed her breakfast. "Hurry up and eat then run back to the bathroom to brush those pearly whites."
We ate in silence as the minutes ticked by. Sissy ran back up to our room and finished changing into a nice blue sundress.
My mother and I wished her goodbye, and I moved towards the bathroom for a quick shower.
I changed into the evergreen and black James Patrick uniform, which had originally been far too large for me. I was so skinny I had to get the plaid skirt altered, and in this process, my skirt had shrunken so that it was now short. I wore a cute white top I had bought at last week's Macy's summer clearance with the James Patrick evergreen blazer over it. I felt so strange as I looked in the mirror. I was going to become a Patrick, even if I was a fake one. I should have done worse in school and then maybe they wouldn't have given me the scholarship. It was my senior year and I was leaving all that I knew for the Patricks. Not only that, but my hair was soaking wet and in my wide baby curls. and I looked like a sopping wet two year old.
My mother hurried me to our small living room and plugged in our blow dryer. As she straightened my hair, I checked my book bag for any last minute changes. By the time she was done, I was sure that everything I needed was in there.
My mother pulled my hair into a tight ponytail. "Turn around," she whispered getting out her cases of makeup.
I kept my eyes closed as she put on my base. "Did Papa send his money?"
My mother didn't answer me. She just angrily padded my face with the heavy liquid. I decided that he hadn't by her reaction. We stayed silent as she hurriedly completed my face makeup.
"Maman, I'm scared," I whispered.
"Keep your mouth closed, I'm doing your lipstick," my mother whispered.
"I don't know anyone there, and they don't know me. They might not like me," I whispered.
"Mouth closed Sissy," maman whispered. "Why are you so worried? If everyone in this world would just accept others, there would be no war."
That's what my mother always said. I'm serious. She even managed to insert the phrase into "the sex talk" years earlier.
"Isabelle you are absolutely beautiful inside and out," she whispered into my ear and I smiled. I hoped that she was telling the truth and quickly left the house. I had to take the public bus to school. The bus stop was about three blocks away.
It seemed like forever until the bus arrived and the doors screeched open. I smiled at Diana the bus driver.
"What are you doing chick pea? And why are you dressed like you go to James Patrick?"
I'd known Diana ever since I was a little girl. She lived in the apartment upstairs.
"I can't believe Maman didn't tell you," I replied. "I got a scholarship last year."
"Wow, that's amazing Sissy! Aren't you nervous?" Diana's face looked concerned. I nodded. She shook her head and gave me a sympathetic smile. "Well, don't you worry you'll be fine. A smart girl like you will fit right in with those snobs."
"No, a rich girl would fit in with them," I declared.
"Sissy, those rich kids don't know what's headed their way. You're a spectacular individual." I laughed lightly. It took about twenty minutes to get to the other side of town where James Patrick High School sat in all of its splendor.
The bus stop was about two blocks away, but even at that distance, you could see the waving evergreen and black striped flag in front of the school. I hurried over hoping that I was not late. As soon as I entered the gray stone building, I knew that what I had expected was very different. I had planned to see people swimming around with high-tech laptops, looking filthy rich, but they looked like people at Westbrook with different clothes on.
I had taken the tour of the school earlier in the summer and I knew the location of my first class. My locker was right by it. I placed my books inside of my locker and took out my notebook that said Calculus on it. As I turned, I smacked right into a girl with short blonde hair and nice green eyes. She had diamond earrings on with a matching necklace. My heart stopped.
"I'm so sorry," I said gasping. My eyes grew large as I awaited a verbal beating.
The girl's reaction was unexpected. She shook her head and smiled at me. "It was my fault," she said kindly. "I just wanted to come over and introduce myself. My name is Countess Prudence Merriman. Yes, my parents were on drugs when I was born, so most people call me Tessa."
I laughed lightly. She seemed so sweet. "My name is Isabelle Langet, but everyone calls me Sissy."
Tessa grinned and tilted her head towards the classroom door. "Are you in this Calculus class?" I nodded. Tessa's face lit up. "So am I! We can sit next to each other."
That's how I met Tessa Merriman. I didn't know that she was so popular until we entered the class and it seemed as if everyone stood up to smile at her.
The class went by easily and after Mr. Reeves completed his first day spiel, the class was able to socialize.
"So what's the rest of your day like?" Tessa's voice was high- pitched, but not snooty.
"English, Computer Science, then History, and then lunch," I declared.
"Oh great, we have lunch the same period," Tessa exclaimed. "I'll meet you by the doors."
"That is so nice of you," I said sincerely.
"You'll love my friends," she said. "They're really popular, but down-to-earth."
I smiled thinking the exact opposite of what I was displaying.
"So, I'll see you then?" Tessa's face was so bright. I nodded.
"Which door are we meeting by?"
"The student parking lot doors," She said and then the bell ended the period.
The hours passed slowly and I made no other friends. Everyone seemed to already have his or her little cliques. Perhaps one day I would fit into them.
When lunch finally arrived, I raced towards the student parking lot doors and got lost in the process. I suspected that Tessa had already left without me, so when I finally reached the door I was surprised to find Tessa standing there with a smile. "Did you get lost?" I nodded sadly. Tessa's smile just grew larger. "It's a big school and it happens to the best of us. My friends left ahead of us. We'll just go in my car."
"Thanks so much for waiting and for being so nice," I replied. "You don't know how much it means to me."
"I needed some help starting at this school too, my freshman year. I know how it is," she said simply.
We proceeded to enter her cute little red convertible.
"This is a gorgeous car," I said touching the leather seats.
Tessa shook her head. "I bet your car is fabulous and you're just saying that." Oh no, she thought I was rich. I hadn't thought about telling her. How would I tell her anyway? By the way, I'm poor?
"My parents won't let me drive." I hated it, but I had to lie. "They don't believe in driving until you are mature enough. I don't think I'll ever be mature enough for their standards"
"That's cute," Tessa said. "At least your parents care. There are a lot of people at James Patrick who should not be in possession of a motor vehicle."
I shrugged as she drove out of the school parking lot. It took only a minute or two to arrive at McNally's. Students from Westbrook High School never came here because this was the Patrick's hangout. It was funny because the food at McNally's was cheap, unlike Webster's near Westbrook High. I was definitely glad I had recently babysat and had money for lunch. I didn't want people thinking I was unable to pay.
"This is where a lot of people eat lunch," Tessa said not knowing I wasn't new to town.
"This is nice," I replied smiling.
As soon as I got in the door, I heard the beat from the jukebox. I smiled to myself. I had arrived to the Patricks' hiding place.