I meet Ian out on Main Street to hang out. Main Street is the commercial center of the city, and it's also the perfect place to go back-to-school shopping.
"So, what do you need?" I ask him as he looks at the list on his phone.
"Not much. All of our textbooks are digital, so are our notes, so I just need a new backpack, I already ordered my laptop online."
I sigh, "Well, I guess it's me who needs to get all the stuff." but then I smirk, "But hey, at least I don't have to wear a uniform anymore."
"For real? Lucky." he replies, "You should go all out man, wear whatever you want."
"Oh, I am. But my mom's making me wear a suit for the first day."
He shrugs, "Everyone dresses up for the first day of school, no big. It means you have the other one-hundred seventy nine days to do whatever you want."
I nod as we enter the City Target where they're having a back-to-school sale, "You know, my school still hasn't released our textbook list yet. School's next week, how fast do they think online delivery is?"
"Maybe they sell the books directly at the school. That's what the Academy for Boys does." he assures me.
"Yeah, but they haven't even given me my schedule yet. How am I suppose to be prepared if I don't even know where to go?"
He puts his hand on my shoulder, "Hey, don't freak out about it. Just show up, and I'm sure there'll be someone to help you out."
I push him off as I see two familiar faces looking over the backpack section, "Hey, it's Nick and Josh." I look over at him, "What should we do?"
"Do what you like. I'm just here to get my backpack." he replies, walking up to the section.
After silently freaking out in place for a couple of seconds, I chase after him, just as we catch Nick and Josh's attention,
"Hey, it's Ian and...uhm...his friend." Nick declares, his expressive brown eyes wide in anticipation.
"Sup." Ian mumbles, not turning his attention to them.
Nick leans into Ian, getting into his personal space, "You know, you might wanna change your attitude now that we're in high school. AL is a very different place from Alice Fong Yu."
Ian pauses, "...I did say hi, right?"
"You said sup." Josh points out.
Nick smiles at Josh, whose expression remains blank behind his glasses, "So...who much is your family planning on donating to the school this year?"
"Same as usual I guess." he shrugs, taking a black and red backpack off the the hook and turning to me, "I'm gonna get this one."
And that's our cue to leave, "Cool."
"Just saying, you might want to watch yourself. With both me and my sister at AL, my family's going to destroy yours."
Ian waves behind him, "Nice seeing you too."
"Well, that was awkward." I chuckle as we make our way to the other school supplies.
"I know, right?" he smiles in return.
"But I mean, what're you going to do about him and Addie? If only Andrew didn't have to graduate this year-"
"I can handle them without my brother's help, thank you very much." Ian snaps at me.
I recoil back, "Of course, I didn't mean to suggest anything! I...I was just saying, it would've been helpful."
"Of course it would've been helpful." he repeats as I grab a set of lead pencils, "But it also would've meant living in his shadow...again."
"Well hey, junior year your younger brother will come to AL too right? Then he'll have to look up to you."
He smirks, "Yeah, I don't think I'm the world's greatest role to be looking up to."
We buy our things at the check-out and leave, walking to the bus stop, "I wonder what the drama situation is like at MLK, do you think they have major donor families like AL?"
Ian shrugs, "I have no idea."
I practice my moves in my room, which I share with my little sister. The room is too small to be able to adequately practice, but Mom's watching TV in the living room, and Dad's taking a nap in their bedroom, so I really don't have any other options. I start with the basics, pliés, turns, and the leaps I can accomplish without hitting anything. Most people at school would be horrified if they found out I'm into musical theatre, so I tend to not bring it up. It would definitely conflict with my image to say the least. I have my collection of sheet music by my bed, as well as my jazz and character shoes. Over the summer I always perform with a childrens' company, sometimes even for money. I also do a little modelling on the side, despite me being huge for an Asian girl, nearly five feet and already a hundred pounds. I've tried cutting meals, exercising more, but when I exercise more, I gain weight, and I can only get so thin before I start to see my performance suffer. Maybe I'm just destined to be fat.
"You practicing in here, Kim?" it's Mom, checking in on me.
"Yeah." I tell her, coming to a stop.
"You do know school's tomorrow, right? Shouldn't you be getting ready?"
I nod, "I am ready Mom, don't worry."
"Alright, just making sure." she says, before she closes the door.
Thankfully she reminded me, there's still a few more things I need to do. I pull my hair out of a ponytail, and reach into my dresser drawer. From there, I reach under all of my neatly tucked clothes and feel something sharp at the bottom, slipped in between the panels. I pull it out to reveal a small hunting knife, which I got off a kid who used it as payment for his science project. I made him the tornado in a bottle project, a classic. I also take a smooth stone that I normally use as a paperweight for all of my homework or, more often, other peoples' homework. Sitting at the base of my bed, I start sharpening my knife. I've never had it to use it before, but if MLK is as bad as they say it is, I need to be ready.
"What's that?" oh shit, it's my sister.
I hide the knife behind my back. Why didn't I hear her come in? She's still in elementary school, she didn't need to see that, "Nothing Christine, just fixing something."
"Is that a knife?" she asks, pointing behind my back.
She knows, there's no point in hiding it from her now. I reveal the knife, "Yes, yes it is."
"Can I hold it?"
"NO! Absolutely not!" I shout, keeping it out of her reach. I instantly regret sounding so harsh.
"...why not?" she asks, frightened, but also still curious.
I hold out the knife in the palm of my hand, and hold it out to her, "This is a weapon. You can hurt someone with this, and, and you don't wanna hurt someone if you can help it."
"Then why do you have it?"
"Because sometimes you have to hurt someone so they don't hurt you or your friends." I explain.
"...you don't have to hurt anyone."
I sigh, "I wish that were true."