Robbie tumbles around in the sheets of his bed. It's the first day of school, and yet he has no motivation to get up. It's not like he's going to meet any new, exciting people, not in the small town of Northtown. Running his hands through his short blond hair, he sits up, blinking the grogginess out of our eyes. Rubbing his blue eyes, he stumbles over to his closet. What one wears on their first day of high school is very important, and even if he knows everyone there, that doesn't mean he shouldn't make an effort.
After selecting a dark blue dress shirt, black tie, dark skinny jeans, and black dress shoes, he quickly showers and dresses into his ensemble. Straightening his tie, his examines himself in his closet mirror. Stylish, and slightly formal, perfect for the first day of school.
Robbie exits to the upstairs hallway. His parents probably just left for work, and being an only child, he didn't have any siblings to worry about.
As he prepares himself a breakfast of scrambled eggs and fruit, he wonders what this new school year has in store for him. Maybe this year he'll finally get a girlfriend, but knowing the girls in town, that seems next to impossible. After a rumor surfaced a couple of years ago that he's gay, no girl, boy, or otherwise would come within a five foot radius of him, so he couldn't make any friends period, let alone find a girlfriend.
Scrapping the freshly prepared eggs onto a plate, Robbie steals an apple from the dining room centerpiece and jumps onto the family room couch. All of the rooms in the house are interconnected by square archways, blending into the light cedar wood of the house, also making it easy to travel in between rooms.
Turning on his iPad, Robbie taps in the passcode and it automatically turns on to the Wattpad app. He'd discovered Wattpad over the summer, and he's been hooked ever since. He resumes his reading as he eats his breakfast. He'd mainly been reading from the science fiction section, since he's burned through all of the science fiction books in Northtown's small library. His current favorite? "Superior" by starlightt. So good.
Looking at the time on the top right hand corner of his iPad, he closes the device and runs to the kitchen, where he dumps his plate into the sink before dashing to the downstairs bathroom. He brushes his teeth, and spends a couple of minutes parting his hair. He knows there're some guys that spend a lot of time on their hair, but he couldn't be asked.
Grabbing his black backpack off of the nearby dining room chair, he opens the front door and closes it behind him. It's a short six blocks to North High School, and a paved sidewalk leads him through grassy fields with a couple of other houses dotted along the way.
"Hey, Rob!" a dreaded, low voice calls out.
Robbie stands up straight, maybe it won't be as bad now that they're in high school. He hadn't seen them much over the summer, perhaps this has given them time to mature.
"Yo, Rob! Where were you all summer man? We didn't see you at all," Ezra, a tall, gangly guy with a crewcut asks.
Robbie shrugs, "Inside mostly."
"Why?" Donovan chimes in, sporting thick dark hair and an equally intimidating build, "You got something against going outside?"
"Not really. Just didn't feel like it," he replies, hands in his pockets.
"Well, hopefully you at least worked out man, football tryouts for the freshmen team are in a couple of weeks," Ezra explains.
Donovan pinches his shoulder, "Yeah, especially since you're so freaking thin!"
"I'm just saying man, might wanna think about getting into shape. Do you lift?" Ezra asks Robbie, who's avoiding Donovan's incessant pinching.
Robbie slaps Donovan's hand away, "What if I don't wanna join the football team?"
"If you're not gonna join the football team, then what the hell else is there to do?" Donovan asks, "What, you gonna join the cheerleaders?"
Robbie rolls his eyes, "No, I'm not joining the cheerleaders."
"You should at least try out. Everyone tries out for the team," Ezra encourages.
He sounds like Robbie's dad, he was on the North High football team, and would be oh-so-proud if his only son were to follow in his footsteps. But Robbie never had an interest in sports, he couldn't even bring himself to watch the games on TV.
Donovan pulls out his phone, and shows it to Ezra, "Yo, someone just posted on School Smack!"
Ezra leans over and reads aloud, "Patti Jones is such a slut. Should be burned on a cross...ohmigod dude that's so true!"
They both laugh and Robbie tries to laugh with them but he feels uneasy doing so. School Smack is a Twitter page dedicated to posting anonymous school gossip or hate messages, often targeted at specific individuals. Every school has a School Smack page, even North High.
North High School comes into view, a two story school building with a sprawling parking lot in front. Upperclassmen start pulling up in their cars, many of them with extravagant paint jobs or spoilers. Maybe junior year he could drive his mom's car to school on occasion, or maybe his dad will pass down his car. But for now he's a freshman walking to school.
"Yo Ezra, Don!" a tall senior in the school letterman drives up to us in his sporty red Roadster, "Get on in, I'll drive you the rest of the way."
Robbie instinctively turns to the older boy, some part of him hoping he'll offer him a ride too.
"Not you faggot," the senior laughs, before speeding off, leaving Robbie coughing up dust.
He sighs, before continuing to walk to school. Guess some people never change.
Robbie's first day of classes goes alright. Luckily he'd been put in the advanced math class, so at least he could escape Ezra and Donovan there. But of course, one class isn't going to make up for the rest of the day, and it's not like any of his classmates, advanced or otherwise, were going to be speaking to him.
Lunch rolls around and Robbie avoids sitting at any of the tables, instead taking his lunch tray to one of the many empty hallways around the school. Sitting down on the hallway floor, he starts eating his cafeteria lunch of greasy pizza and water. As he chews on his pizza, he looks up and realizes that he's sitting right across from the school activities board. Setting down his food, he gets up and starts looking through the various papers posted on the board. Many of them are old, still leftover from last year. But one new piece of paper catches his eye. It's an advertisement for the school drama club, a purple piece of paper with pictures of theatre masks and dance shoes copy-pasted on. The ad states that there would be a meeting today after school in the theatre. But...drama's for girls, why would he want to join the drama club? He should go home and start working out, maybe if he uses his dad's dumbbells, he'll be in just enough shape to make the team come tryouts.
He's about to turn around when he sees at the bottom of the ad are the words, "All welcome!". Do they really mean everyone? Well, they certainly are more accepting than the football team at least. He really had nothing else to do after school, why not? And besides, getting into the football team was a lost cause anyway, considering how short he is compared to the other guys.
The bell rings, signifying the end of the first day of school. Robbie slings his backpack on and heads straight to the theatre. Before going into the theatre, he peeks his head in, surveying the room. There are six other girls already inside, but no guys. Would he be the only guy? No, there had to be at least one other guy, right?
Swallowing, he starts walking into the theatre. The six other girls are all sitting in the front row, chatting loudly. He recognizes them from around town, but he doesn't know any of them very well. Robbie talks a seat in one of the back rows. Maybe he can just watch.
It's not long after he sat down that another girl confidently walks in. The other girls squeal when they see her, and they all go running toward her. Now this girl he knew...sort of. Her name's Meghan Trent, and she's in Robbie's grade. He's had a couple of classes with her before, but they've never talked.
"Ohmigosh! I can't believe you're finally here!" one of the girls yelps, hugging her.
"Looks like the gang's all here now!" another declares, while the others jump around in excitement.
After all of their screaming and jumping ends, they turn around and notice me sitting in the back row.
"What the hell are you looking at?" one of them asks.
Robbie shrugs, "Nothing in particular."
"Well, stop," another one of them scoffs, the girls giving him disgusted looks.
He wasn't staring at them, it's just that they're in the center of the room, and they're so loud, how could he not take notice?
"Welcome to drama club girls!" a female teacher calls out from the front of the stage.
"Hi Ms. Norman!" the girls respond, filing through the aisle to their seats.
Ms. Norman, a tall, thin woman with short brown hair, peeks to the back of the theatre, "Uhm...excuse me. Robert, right? I'll need you to sit in the front of the theatre."
Robbie's head jerks up when he realizes she's talking to him. He gets out of his seat and slowly walks down the aisle to the front. He glances over at the other girls, who ignore him. Probably best to stay out of their way. He sits down on the other side, taking the first seat in the row.
"Thank goodness we have a boy, we've been having to cast all girls ever since Daniel graduated last year," Ms. Norman comments.
"Ohmigosh, Daniel's so cute," one of the girls whispers to Meghan.
Meghan's tanned cheeks blush, "Yeah I know, right?"
"Ahem, girls. Now, the musical we'll be doing this year is Cinderella, so they'll be plenty of female roles to go around," Ms. Norman announces.
"Yes!" all the girls cheer, high-fiving each other.
"But wait," one of the girls pauses, "Ms. Norman, Cinderella is a big play. Will we have enough people to pull it off?"
A nervous look comes across Ms. Norman's face. That girl had a point, counting Robbie, there were only seven kids in the theatre.
"Well, I've been speaking with the speech-and-debate club, maybe we can get some of them to audition," she proposes.
The girls glance among each other.
"Ew, not those nerds," one of them whispers.
"Okay, everyone get up onstage for some games!" Ms. Norman declares, clapping her hands, and gesturing for them to come up.
The girls practically run up the stairs to the stage, Robbie trailing behind them.
"Alright, first, name game. Everyone get a partner."
The six girls all find partners. Robbie doesn't even try to approach one of them, knowing what the result will be.
"Someone become a group of three with Robert," Ms. Norman calls out.
The girls all back off, their eyes shifting to the other groups. They all stand in silence for a couple, unbearable seconds.
"Robbie should just be his own group," one of the girls suggest.
"No, that's not how this game works. Girls, what's gotten into you?"
"It's fine," Robbie shrugs, "I'll just...go."
"Yeah, go!" that same girl scoffs, raising her eyebrow.
Robbie takes a walk of shame down the stage steps and out of the theatre. He doesn't stop until he's in the school's front courtyard, a perfectly green lawn spanning until it meets the parking lot. He finds a plastic table a little off to the side before he sits down and starts to cry. What was he thinking? Believing that these people would accept him without any rhyme or reason? He quickly wipes away his tears as he hears a small group of students coming. He pulls out his phone and continues reading on Wattpad, but even the current story he's reading doesn't help, and he sniffles as the tears start to come back.
Robbie angrily swipes to the next page, and accidentally pulls up the menu instead. But something catches his eye, the Create button. Feeling bold, he selects it, and selects "New Story". A blank page comes up before him, and he quickly punches out on his phone:
Do you ever feel like you'll never belong? Like this world was just made for people that aren't you, and they're just waiting for you to get out of their way, to disappear? We all feel like this at some point, even if we don't want to admit it, but it's worse for some than others. Some of us truly don't belong in this world, or at least are made to feel that way. Because everyone else is so desperate to feel like they belong, that they're willing to push others down to gain approval. Well, I can tell you all about it, because I'm one of those kids that's been pushed down, again and again. My name is Robbie Wilmer, and it's high time I push back.
Without thinking, he taps "Publish" and just like that, his story is published. Would anyone look at it? It's highly unlikely, but some part of him hoped that someone will read it. He'd seen a lot of authors on Wattpad who get thousands, even millions of views. But he shakes his head, quietly chuckling to himself, there's no way he has that kind of potential.
"Hey," Robbie turns off his phone and turns around and sees Meghan standing behind him, her tanned skin and blond hair illuminating against the afternoon sun.
"Look, Ms. Norman sent me to go find you, so can we just go?"
He nods, getting up and putting his phone in his pocket, "Sure."
They begin walking back to the theatre, Meghan keeping a distance from him. He glances at her occasionally, as she flips her hair behind her shoulder.
"Hey, don't take this the wrong way but, I'm sorry about what the girls did back there," she genuinely apologizes, "but that doesn't mean we're friends."
Robbie shrugs, it's better than what most people would give him, he'll take it