I hate Heather...
She's in the position that I want so desperately: that golden position as the unofficial ruler of the school. That raven haired tyrant sits on a golden throne, intimidating some with her ferocity and anger; pushing others into an indecisive corner about her otherwise self-declared authority. There's consequences attached to dethroning the Queen Bee...
Consequences that I relish in just as much as I thoroughly adore the idea of what exactly I'd do if I were in her place. Consider me bitter, hungering for my time in the sun, or more appropriately, my time to smother everyone with my delicious darkness. Just wait, you beautiful ice queen. The clock is ticking...
….Tick, tock, tick, tock...
How many different times have I moved over the course of my lifetime now? I'm not lying when I call myself a 'citizen of the world.' Though, in my heart, I'll always be a Spainiard, waiting for the day that I can return home to my sweet Barcelona; watch the ships glide across the turquoiuse waters from the port. Then, I'd smile as I touch my favorite bull-shaped pendant and imagine the day I can step up as a matador and fight with the ferocious, yet beautiful el toro. He shall always be the most majestic of the animal world to me.
Barcelona always crawls into my thoughts whenever I have to settle down somewhere new. Mmm, it's a sobering anchor, a solid purchase for me as I endeavor to climb my newest mountain, face new challenges and obstacles.
I force myself to stop indulging in an over-romanticized inner monologue as I approach the front doors of my new high school. Modest red-brown building, medium-sized student population, and, unfortunately, the fickle and callous setting that trends with most public schools. I begged Mama to kick a few extra dollars into letting me attend private school again; it's so much more intelligent and enriching there. No, she insisted that I could tolerate a year of dumbing down, that it'd make me more rounded and personable because I'd get a slice of how 'real world' people behaved...
Well, I suppose that since I'm stuck here, I'll perform what I like to call a social experiment: Let's see how quickly I can enter the popular crowd here in Cress. I sigh heavily as I barge through the front doors, looking at the droll surroundings. A strange couple passes by: a gingerhaired and gross boy in a grease-stained flannel shirt holding hands with a prim, proper, and well-kempt girl.
Quite the intriguing contrast. Love can be quite universal and blind...Or, that's what I've gleaned from casual observation anyway. Personally, I know how to seduce the fairer sex to a degree most men can only dream about, but I hate the idea of falling head over heels into romantic love. Truly, a female companion is nice, but I treasure my individuality; I enjoy being able to make my own decisions and do as I please whenever I please.
Just as I'm thinking about that very subject, a cute blond wearing a sky blue hoodie walks by, seeming to be searching for a particular someone. By chance, I catch her attention and her green eyes light up; she makes a beeline towards me, extending her hand. "Hi, I'm Bridgette!" she announces cheerfully. "You must be the new exchange student?"
"Me llamo Alejandro," I reply, taking her hand and kissing her knuckles. "No, I'm not the exchange student, but I wish I was if it meant that I could get to know such a beautiful lady."
"Ah..." She pulls her hand away, recoiling into an intense giggle fit. Her cheeks are a pair of bright red cherries as she regains her composure. "I'm...I'm flattered..."
"Do you suppose I could see you again at lunch time?" I prompt, winking at her. "I realize that our time is so limited now, so I would truly love to meet you again when you're not so busy...?"
There's hesitation and indecision in her face; the nervous way she bites her lip. To push the envelope just a little bit further, I smile charmingly at her. At that, she squeezes her eyes shut for a long moment, face becoming a ripe tomato.
"I'm flattered," she persists, opening her eyes again. "But, I'm taken..."
Just as she says this, her boyfriend shows up: He's lean and muscular with short blond hair and friendly blue eyes. It takes him a moment to recognize the tense atmosphere, considering he's caught up in a conversation with a short, darkhaired kid that is, presumably, the true foreign exchange student.
"Hey Bridge, I found-" He trails off when he sees how flustered she is, then he turns towards me.
I feign innocence, picking at a nonexistant lint speck on my black polo shirt. Smiling, I look up at him, then extend my hand. "Hello, I'm Alejandro!" I supply, shrugging casually as I nod at Bridgette. "Your girlfriend was welcoming me to the school...I'm new."
To an extent, my actions have a certain ambiguity to them; he suspects me, but he can't affirm anything because he didn't see it. His eye twitches and oh, how I want to smirk at his distaste.
"Hey, I'm Geoff," he grunts, waving pitifully.
"Geoff!" Bridgette gasps. "There's no need to be so rude!"
"Yeah," the foreign exchange student choruses.
Geoff makes an irritated noise, his girlfriend and the other guy scruntinizing him. Then he turns towards me again, grabs my arm with a firm squeeze and shakes. "Welcome to Cress," he says, injecting faux cheer into his voice.
The smile pasted to his face says one thing, but his eyes shine with a reserved distrust. I've barely been here five minutes and I've already fostered seeds of wariness. Perhaps I greatly underestimated how intriguing and fulfilling my newest experiment may turn out to be...
"Thank you," I tell Geoff, smiling in a way that could be interpreted as either friendly and endearing or arrogant and challenging. It's obvious which one Geoff picked up on.
In second hour English, I met Tyler, a lineman for Cress High School's Laser Shooting Squirrels. He's a very enthusiastic guy; friendly, openminded, and one of the lower-tier popular guys. It was way too easy to gain his interest and start an avid conversation. One hint at knowing something about American football and he was roaring like Niagara Falls; he even had a football stashed under his desk. He encouraged me to try out for the team as well as inviting me to sit with him and "the guys" at lunch.
In the art class right before lunch, I met the unexpected star of the Laser Shooting Squirrels: the aggressive and abrasive quarterback Jo. She is quite the impressive lady, not only defying cultural stereotypes, but carrying herself with a strong and unyielding confidence; the kind of confidence that very few teenage girls and even quite a few guys lack. She's not really my type, but I won't deny that she was ferociously attractive in her own, undefined way.
With her, I didn't have to approach her at all. Rather, she sized me up, then shamelessly said that the team needed stronger linemen and outright demanded that I join. I'm not very fond of football, but I promised that I'd join, which, for now, seemed to gain some favor with her.
By lunch, I'd started the unofficial iniation into the popular crowd. I sat with the athletes, watching as they chest-bumped each other, high-fived, and bellowed about the most recent football and soccer games. I actually found a few knowledgable soccer fans, thrilled that I could geek out on one of those so unfortunately rare occassions. The brightest spot of my day thus far was quashed very quickly, though:
A tall, muscular African American guy with a buzz cut slammed a plastic tray laden with burgers onto the table. Everyone at the table went silent, turning their collective gazes towards Jo. Slowly, she turned towards the new arrival, her face scrunching up tighter and tighter. The two shot death glares at each other, gritting their teeth, nostrils flaring.
"Get lost, Lightning!" she growled through clenched teeth.
"You can't tell Lightning what to do!" he seethed. "Lightning sits wherever he wants, whenever he wants to!"
"I'm the team captain!" she roared, standing up. "It may not be the official season yet, but when I ban a player off of the team, he's permanently banned." She spread her arms in a very short, brusque gesture for emphasis. "I won't say it again after this: Get lost!"
"You can't do that!" Lightning folded his arms defiantly, eyes narrowing. "'Cause Lightning is gonna be the quarterback this season! Sha-yeah!"
"Jo..." a timid voice spoke up.
I joined the group of faces that turned and realized that Tyler of all people had worked up the courage to interrupt the growing spat between the team's tyrannical leader and her supposed rival.
"Why don't you give him another chance?" Tyler suggested, smiling meekly. "He was our strongest player, right after you..."
Jo considered this for a long moment, bushy brow raised in contemplation. A manic half-smile slid onto her face, her lips twitching slightly. "It doesn't matter how strong a player he is, Tyler..." She shook her head, ran a hand through her dirty blond hair.
Then she turned towards Lightning, eyes blazing. "He's an arrogant asshole that doesn't get the basics of teamwork!" she cried, her voice raising an entire octave near the end of her rant.
"You just don't get it!" Lightning returned haughtily, lip curling back slightly. "I can mow down the competition with my hands tied behind my back! If you guys would just get out of my-"
"Football is a team sport, Lightning!" Jo growled, her face crimson now. "Find another team to bow down and kiss your feet! We're not gonna deal with your narcissistic shit!"
Most of the guys had their arms folded and were nodding affirmation, but a few others were glaring at Jo, mouthing insults under their breaths. Considering that I've never seen either Jo or Lightning play, I can't give any honest opinion based on skill alone; I believe that, if this escalates any further, though, it'd be in my best interests to continue siding with Jo. Control issues aside, she has the majority's neon bright sign of approval.
"I'll say it one last time," Jo finished, puffing her chest out. "Get lost, Lightning!"
This time, a few of the guys yelled their consent or whooped.
"Fine!" Lightning harrumphed, folding his arms and rolling his eyes. "Lightning can take a hint." Then smirked in a victorious way. "Lightning didn't want to be quarterback that badly, anyway. Good luck finding a-"
"I did find a replacement!" Jo hissed, her eyes bright.
This surprised Lightning, noticeably knocking down his supreme confidence a few notches. For a brief second, I saw the entire story in the guy's eyes; just how disappointed and devastated he was by Jo's open and merciless hostility.
Much to my chagrin, Jo pointed a declarative finger at me, delighting in furthering her metaphorical victory over Lightning. "My man Alejandro here is gonna be one of our new linemen!"
Unexpectedly, I felt a tad intimidated when Lightning scruntinized me as if I were an unsavory cut of meat. Heart beating in my chest, I reached out and grabbed the table top, squeezing it. Anxiety surged through my veins...
"He's my replacement?!" he cried indignantly. "He's a pretty boy, Jo, just look at the earring. I bet he only lifts weights to score with the ladies and he probably can't even toss a football..."
Everyone was looking at me now, sharing Lightning's skepticism. Anxiety transformed into white hot anger; Lightning may as well have had his face in the bull's eye of a sniper scope. Glaring, I ripped Tyler's football out of his arms, ignoring his yelp of protest.
Then I carefully aligned myself, slowly pulling my arm back and getting ready to throw.
"Looks like I hurt somebody's feelings!" Lightning guffawed, smirking. "Don't take it personally, okay? Just put the football down and save yourself some-"
Before he could finish, I launched the ball directly at his chest, throwing it right in the middle of his condescending spiel. Perfect spiral and fast trajectory, Lightning was helpless to stop the football from punching him in the gut and knocking him to the floor. He started gasping; Jo shot a satisfied smirk at me, and my new fellow teammates shot me varying looks of shock, approval, or wariness.
"That was awesome, man!" Tyler appraised.
I turned to face him and he gave me a high-five. Just looking at his smiling face, I felt a small surge of pride in my chest. Perhaps, I had missed out on an unexpectedly enriching experience when I'd been attending private school last semester...I missed being on a team and getting revered like a god for the mere ability to accurately throw a ball...
I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to choose Spanish as that one final class to flesh out my class load. The other two languages offered here at Cress are French and German; I've been meaning to brush up on my French, considering I'm nowhere near as fluent in the beautiful language as I'd like to be. Though, truly, who really learns and fully absorbs a language in such a class taught in high school, at a public school no less?
Well, I suppose I have a class that I can use as a second unofficial study hall...as if I really needed one in the first place.
So, I'm settling in for the utter boredom, watching as the portly, bespectacled teacher, Mr. Smithfield, prepares for class. Idly, I scan the class for cute girls; I wouldn't mind spending the hour shooting fluffy and pointless notes back and forth, perhaps schedule a date this upcoming Friday night. Several prospectives: There's a pale blond with gray eyes in the second row, a very perky and cheerful pigtailed redhead in the third row, a long-haired brunette wearing a blindingly bright orange T-shirt a few seats away from me...
My reverie is interrupted by Smithfield gruffly clearing his throat.
"I'm not going to bore you kids with rules and stuff," he announces, smiling. "The rules you've heard from every other teacher today...Just assume that's my rhetoric, too."
I lean back in my desk chair, folding my arms and jiggling my leg. ¡Maravilloso! Yet another teacher who wants to deviate from the American school system's centerfold and be the "cool teacher"...
"Let's do something fun," Smithfield continues, clapping his hands. "You're all going to partner up and we're going to spend the first two weeks learning how to tango!"
His announcement is met by audible groans, loud squeals, and general apathy alike. Alright, my interest is officially piqued; I raise an eyebrow, scanning my prospectives again. I have a new mission for today: I'm getting a date this Friday night before the hour ends. One lucky lady in this class is going to get full, uncensored Alejandro-brand seduction this week...
"Okay, everybody. You have fifteen minutes to find a partner!"
My eyes are pinned to the pale blond, my first choice of the girls I was looking at-A brownhaired guy in a navy green T-shirt approaches her. The redhead has glued herself to a lanky beanpole with spiky black hair. Blowing out a breath, I start approaching the brunette; she looks incredibly irritated and disenchanted, eyes darting around the room like a pair of pin balls. Oh, how cute, she's shy!
Moments before I can make my move, a darkhaired and brown-eyed boy swoops in. From the way she blushes and smiles, I can tell that she's harboring an intense crush on him. Even if I had beat him out, she wouldn't be very susceptible to my advances anyway.
Of course, the entire class has paired up by now. I'm kind of disappointed and deflated; I'm not usually the one that's the last chosen. Truly, I'm the most attractive and appealing of all of the males in this class. A few of the pairs are disgruntled same sex friends who are shooting death glares at the teacher and griping to each other under their breath.
Lump caught in my throat, I shoot a nervous glance at the teacher. Would he be brash enough to single me out and insist that I help him demonstrate dance moves...? The thought is so embarrassing and degrading that I'm ready to excuse myself from class. Just as Smithfield looks like he's gearing up to segue into the next phase, a student walks in late.
Thank Dios! My first reaction is relief, but then I really take a moment to look at who it is: She's five foot seven, only an inch shorter than I am. Long raven hair falls past her shoulders and down her back; she has charcoal black eyes, which make me imagine the first stirs and embers in a fire for reasons I can't describe. Not only that, but she easily beats out the other three in regards to looks with her slender, but slightly muscular body; the way her low-cut black jeans and maroon sweater accentuate and flatter her frame. Her shoulders are squared and her posture confident.
Mentally, I'm wolf-whistling. If I were to rank her by the archaic and ridiculous system that guys use, she's, undeniably, a ten.
And, I get the uncontested privilege of being her dance partner. ¡Bellísima!
"Heather!" Smithfield rounds on her. "Why are you late?"
"Dance meeting ran a few minutes late..." she replies, rolling her eyes. "So, what are we doing?"
"Learning to tango." Smithfield smiles. "Better find a partner fast, because we're getting started!"
With that, he gestures and the class follows him out of the room and into the hallway. Heather watches with an irritated glare, arms folded and seething.
"I suppose that you wanted to sit through one more dull lecture and then call it a day?" I prompt her, smiling.
"I guess you're my partner?" There's a slight edge to her voice as she warily sizes me up.
"Sí," I reply, wondering how to approach making a move on her. "Me llamo Alejandro."
"Alors, vous savez comment parler couramment espagnol...," she returns in fluent French, tilting her head slightly. "Je ne suis pas impressionné."
"Vous êtes impressionné par ma capacité de parler trois langues différentes, puis?" I smirk a little, watching her scoff and roll her eyes.
Apparently, I'm going to have my work cut out for me. I'm going to shape my goals more realistically: If I want to impress and score a date with Heather, my best bets are that I may get a coffee date Saturday afternoon. And, I may not persuade her to acquiesce until Friday.
"Your grasp of the French language is quite impressive," I start conversationally, following her as she saunters out of the classroom. "Where did you learn to speak such a romantic language so fluently?"
"I'm from Quebec," she replies, rolling her eyes.
"Perhaps, you could tutor me...?"
That comment causes her to scoff and shake her head in disgust. "Get in line, Alejandro."
"The boys are tearing down your door to get you to teach them, I presume?"
"Drop it," she warns, glaring at me. "I'm not interested."
She definitely carries the air and the attitude of an in-demand woman. I'm going to have to approach this from a far different angle if I want to be seen as something above one of the faceless and valueless of the numerous suitors she gets approached by on a daily basis. For now, I'll have to take a different tack.
My mind is whirring, gears clicking as we walk onto the stage. The eccentric Smithfield employed an unsuspecting and baffled blond to help him give a basic demonstration of the tango moves he wants the class to try. A few minutes pass and Heather makes a few disgruntled sounds; she seems to be paying close attention to the blond, observing the dance with a critical eye.
"She does not have a very good sense of rhythm, does she?" I speak up.
Now I'm starting to catch Heather's attention...
"She's moving her left foot when she should be moving her right," I observe, touching my chin. "The problem appears to be that she's counting two beats shorter than what Mr. Smithfield is."
"Good," Heather snarks. "I have a competent dance partner..."
"What are you implying...?" I bait coyly.
"Just because you speak Spanish doesn't automatically mean that you'd know how to dance the tango," she replies, shrugging.
"I also know how to Flamenco..."
"You're really fond of aggrandizing yourself, aren't you?" Peeved, she turns towards me, arms crossed. "Enough about me, then," I counter, placing my hand over my heart. "What are your strengths, other than speaking beautifully fluent French, that is?"
"You're trying too hard."
"You're not being very conversational..."
"You're annoying!" she cries, gritting her teeth.
I know that my original goal was to try and impress her, but I'm getting a very fiendish, obnoxious delight from teasing her. Oh, how her eye twitches and her shoulders slump; the irritated tone of her voice. It's adorable, so, so adorable!
"What an original insult!"
"I would if you weren't continuing the conversation..." I smirk a little, watching as she clenches her fists.
"Alejandro! Heather!" Smithfield approaches us, frowning. "Everyone's dancing already except for you two slowpokes! Get to it, this is a participation grade!"
Once he leaves, Heather groans and rolls her eyes again. Then she turns towards me again, mouth pulled taut at the corners and glaring expectantly. With a fake exasperated sigh, I reach out and take her right hand, then perch my other hand on her waist. Reluctantly, she places her left hand on my hip, then I slowly lead us into the basic dance step.
The two of us are bobbing back and forth like a lazy fishing lure; she glares and seethes at me silently for a full minute. Eventually, she relents, the silence a bit too much to bear.
"You know how to Flamenco?"
"Show me," she demands.
Shrugging, I move my free hand from her waist to her arm. "It's a 12 count dance," I begin, tapping out the beats with the toe of my boot. "I'm not sure if we could properly iniate the Flamenco with the song currently playing...It's geared more towards the 4 count style-"
"Alright," Heather cut me off, smirking. "So you weren't bluffing."
"You were fact checking me?!"
"Duh." Heather's smirk grows. "It's usually too good to be true when a guy says he knows how to dance."
"I thought you said that you weren't interested..." I wiggle a suggestive eyebrow at her.
"Quit pushing your luck," she playfully snaps, wearing a Cheshire Cat's smile.
What an intriguing change of pace. Perhaps, I can get a date with Heather sooner than expected, but honestly, I feel caught off-guard. She knows the aesthetics of the game as well as what I do; I better be wary around this particular chica.
...Why is my heart beating so fast right now? It's like I've been zapped by a bolt of electricity. Holding her hand and looking into those mysterious eyes really isn't helping me either...