The administration of Hanson High School may very well be what is left of the peace and love generation. I can’t help but wonder if Principal Hightower sat around a campfire singing Kumbaya. I watch as he walks down the hallway, his ill fitting suit hanging off of his too narrow shoulders. I’m certain he would be more comfortable in bell bottom pants and a turtle neck, throw in some huge sunglasses and a few beads… You get the picture.
It was Principal Hightower’s idea to institute our student ambassador program. What’s this you ask? Why it’s Hanson High’s version of the welcome wagon, complete with an insta-friend and tour guide. As one of the lucky few to be hand selected for this great honor, I am required to occasionally fulfill my ambassador duties. Today is one of those days. We have a new student. I glanced at the name on the little sticky note. Caitlyn Myers. It figures. I couldn’t be the lucky girl who gets to show the new hot guy around. Nope. Not me. I get stuck with the new girl. I looked up as the door to the guidance counselor’s office opened and watched as a redheaded doll literally floated into the student waiting area.
“There you are.” Mrs. Friedman signaled for me to join them.
Painting a smile on my face, I walked over and officially welcomed my new charge. “I’m Max and I’ll be your tour guide. If you have any questions, just let me know.”
Mrs. Friedman cleared her throat. “Maxine is an exemplary student and by far, our most trusted ambassador.”
I gritted my teeth, trying desperately to keep my smile in place. Exemplary student? Most trusted ambassador? Good grief! I sound like the president of the APA. What? You haven’t ever heard of the APA? The Apple Polishers Association? Yep. You know the group… Just go ahead and pound another nail in my coffin.
I pull Caitlyn’s schedule from her fingers and motion for her to follow. “Hmmm. It seems we have some of the same classes.”
Don’t you just hate it when you really want to dislike someone but you can’t. That’s me with Caitlyn. I don’t want to like her… Only, she’s that girl. You know the one. Pretty and doesn’t know it. Funny and not fake. Yep. That’s Caitlyn Myers and I’m just a tad bit envious. I mean, it’s her first day at Hanson High and she’s having no trouble making friends. In fact, I notice that the lunch line has become the Caitlyn Myers entourage. Everyone seems to be caught up in the Caitlyn moment. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Nick and Jake sat down at my lunch table.
“What’s up?” I raised a questioning eyebrow and took a bite of my ham and cheese sandwich. Nick grabbed my bag of chips.
Jake glanced around then scooted his chair a little closer to mine. He leaned in and I swear my heart skipped a beat. Oh my goodness! Was this really happening? He opened his kissable mouth; the beautiful sound of his voice turned into a screeching nightmare. “About the new girl… Do you think you could introduce me?”
I grunted. Truly, it’s all I could manage. My throat felt as though it was being squeezed, making it impossible to breath. I glanced at Nick and saw it in his eyes. Pity. If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s pity. Painting on a smile, I answered. “Sure, Jake.
“Cool.” He leaned back in his seat, completely unaware of my breaking heart. What a jerk…
I took a steadying breath. “By the way, her name is Caitlyn.”
He turned his attention to the lunch line and smiled that self confident smile of his, the one I’ve always loved. “Yeah, I know.” And then, as though he remembered he’s sitting at my table, he turned to me and said, “Oh, by the way, you’ve got mustard on the side of your face.”
Really? The wretchedness of my life amazes me…
Jake Bennett has been my dream guy since middle school and I guess when it comes to dreams, I’m Brandon’s. I’ve known Brandon Miller for as long as I can remember. We sat beside each other in kindergarten. He always tried to help me color my pictures. I didn’t want his help. What I wanted was for him to turn into a bird and fly away. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Brandon. He’s sweet and nice and you know, kinda good looking. He runs cross country and I think he still skateboards. He’s got this incredible smile. But he’s just not Jake… I didn’t even notice that he was waiting by my locker until I practically fell on him.
“Walk much?” Brandon teased.
“As little as possible.” I forced myself to laugh, hating that he had witnessed my klutzy moment.
Brandon pushed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. “Do you think you’d like to go to the movies with me? Maybe Saturday?”
I bit down on the inside of my jaw. “I’ve,” I paused, “already made plans. I’m sorry.”
He shrugged. “Alright. Maybe another time.”
I watched as he walked away and wondered why I had lied. I didn’t have plans. I never had plans. Sleepovers at April’s don’t count. Brandon had actually asked me out on a date and I freaking blew him off. Why? Because he’s not Jake Bennett. And because, I’m obviously touched in the head.
After school, April and I stopped by the Youth Center. A crowd was gathering near the skateboard park so we hurriedly found a seat on the bleachers. My mouth dropped open as I watched a skateboarder fly into the air, tuck his body, grab the board and rotate—not once but twice—and then make a perfect landing.
The crowd cheered.
“Brandon’s amazing, don’t you think?” April squealed.
“That’s Brandon?” I asked.
“Of course.” April shook her head. “Who else could make skateboarding look so hot and sexy?”
“Brandon Miller? Hot and sexy?”
April touched my forehead. “No fever.”
“I’m not sick.” I blew out a puff of air.
“Well, when was the last time you had your eyes checked?”
“My eyes are fine!” I insisted.
April tossed her hair like one of those models on television. “Must not be if you haven’t noticed that chiseled jaw or those rock hard abs.”
“And when did you notice all those changes?”
“I don’t know,” April smirked. “Probably while you were mooning over Jake.”
As Brandon took off his helmet, the crowd moved in. Guys were patting him on the shoulder while the girls vied for his attention. I stood up, trying to get a better look. Observing Brandon in his element was an eye-opener. It was like seeing him for the first time. He wasn’t that irritating little boy from kindergarten, that’s for sure.