Chapter 1 - 08/08/2012
The alarm rings noisily and I roll on my back. The deafening sound of the alarm wakes me up and I get up hastily. I am in no mood of waking up, but I reluctantly and lazily meander toward my bathroom. I walk in and look at my reflection in the mirror on the wall. I tuck a lock of my light brown hair under my ear and I wince at the sight of monstrosity looking back at me. My hair is definitely chaotic and my eyes are bloodshot, but none of that matters.
We have English Literature today, and Ms. Reese has a whole assignment planned for us. I am excited, but too sluggish to show it. The students who take Literature instead of Art are going to be pairing up and working on a surprise project, regarding a novel we have just completed: R. K. Narayan’s 'The English Teacher'. We have finished the syllabus for this semester and have plenty of time for revision. So, Aliza - my friend, Aliza Napolez - has suggested that we do a dramatization of the novel, and Ms. Reese has decided to think about it and talk to us today.
I quickly have a wash and brush my teeth. After flossing, I step out of the bathroom and put on a white and black t-shirt and black jeans. I fiddle with the velvet bracelet holder resting on the edge of my dressing table and put on a few bracelets. I take a look at the mirror and my eyes instantaneously dash to my thighs. I recoil momentarily and cup my thighs slowly. The problem is I can’t. I throw my hands away and pull my top further downwards to conceal the fat in my thighs. I use a vest to try to hide the horrendous image in the mirror, but fail. I then frown and head downstairs with a messenger bag on my shoulder.
My mother is downstairs. She is preparing a spicy dish of enchiladas. I inhale deeply and exhale relatively leisurely. A large plate of enchiladas and Spanish rice is on the center of the table and I gasp when I see it. It is large, but I see it as a plate covering the entire surface of the dining table. It eyes me deeply and I head to the fridge and pull out a green apple.
She sees this and heads over to me. "Sweetie, aren’t you eating my enchiladas?" She asks me.
I bite a large chunk from the cold apple and reply with my mouth full, "Mom, I think an apple is healthier."
She laughs and eats a small piece out of the dish. She shakes her head and places the fork down. "Isla, Aliza’s mother gave me the recipe last week, and she said that Aliza had eaten it for breakfast last week."
Then it hits me. Aliza has indeed eaten it last week. I can now remember how she had almost tackled me forcing me to eat a small portion of the enchiladas her mother had given her for break. I ate it that time, mostly because she forced me to. Aliza is pretty aggressive and brash, I then decide.
I see my father walking down the stairs, looking as handsome as ever in a button-down shirt and jeans. I smile as he approaches me and gives me a huge hug. I cry out loud, "Daddy! Stop!" He laughs and takes a huge mouthful of the enchiladas. "Isla… my darling!" He gives me a kiss while chewing the enchiladas. A few grains of rice fall on my bare shoulder and I wipe it off after giving out a loud groan.
"Daddy, can we go now?" I look at the little clock on the wall and back at him. He is already at the door and my mother is giving him a kiss on the cheek. I take a look at my half-eaten apple and I realize I don’t have time to finish it. My mother looks at me from across the room and flashes me a smile. "Isla, please eat the tiny enchiladas I packed up in your lunch." I swiftly slip the apple into the trash can, near the backdoor and run to the living room. My mother gives me a kiss and watches me till I go to the car.
I step into the car and adjust my clothes. I look into the mirror and suck my cheeks in. Better. I look fine when I’m thinner. I look like a fish… what do they call it? Oh, yes, duckface. But, I still look thinner. I suck my stomach in the same way I did for my cheeks and sweep the bangs on my face. I needed to look thin, not pretty. If I’m thin, then I’m pretty, right? Isn’t that how beauty worked? That’s the cliché, though.
I see a little boy with a plump figure running toward the SUV trying to balance his outsized backpack and his stability while running. Halfway, he slows down and walks unhurriedly toward the SUV, opens the door and sits in comfortably. I look back at him as my father greets him. He says good morning and goes back to reading his Enid Blyton book. I clench my teeth and switch on the radio. This is my normal morning to school.
The little boy’s name is Karl Braxton. He’s a sixth-grader and a pompous one, as well. He always has this attitude where he seems arrogant and I always want to twist his limbs into a taut knot, so that he would never be able untangle it. I told it to my mother a few weeks ago, but she demanded me not to do that or even think like that. She adores children and this annoys me.
I sing along to Kris Allen’s 'Out Alive', a seventh-grader named Finn Donnell gets into the car and we drive off to pick up one of our family friends, a sixth-grader named Zoe Lysander. We pick her up as well and drive off to school.
When we reach school, I am excited because we have Literature period first. Ms. Reese will assign our partners and I am eager to find out who I am partnering with. Personally I don’t want to be partnered with anybody. The truth is that I know that I will do better when I work alone. When I work with somebody else, I tend to get bossy and controlling. I want things my way, because I have this gut feeling that I know what’s right. This can sound very bigheaded, but a few people know it, like Aliza and Abby in my class. Anyway, Abby is in Belgium since her grandfather is very ill at the moment, so she wouldn’t want me. I smile and assure myself. Abby wouldn’t want to be with me anyway. Abby and I didn’t get along now.
And Aliza would want to be partnered with Liam Ferguson, the class bigmouth. He is the nerd in our class, but in a really cool way of course. He was with all the students, cool or not cool. He is like the male version of a girl in our class called Geneva Gonzalez. Geneva is always competition for Aliza. Geneva "says" that she doesn’t indulge in liking other people, but recently Aliza and I were convinced that she was interested in Liam. It was pretty obvious. Now that I think about it.
We searched for signs a girl is trying to flirt on Google, and we came up with so many signs and they all matched. I always try to deny it though. I know how much it will hurt her. But, I truly think that Liam likes Geneva. But, Aliza is into optimism. She has hope and is somehow convinced that Liam likes her. Now, I’m stuck in the middle. It’s not that I like Geneva. I don’t. Now that I mention it, I don’t like her at all. She appears to me as stuck up. She is absolutely hard-hearted and is only concerned about her studies.
This has always baffled me. The fact that she doesn’t have true friends and I have never seen her cry nor have other people in my class. Even when one of our closest friends, a girl named Milena Castro, had left a year ago she hadn’t cried. I know that I can’t call her hard-hearted because of this, but it’s more like an instinct. The truth is I find a lot of fault in people. It’s one of my traits. Not many people know that. Only Heidi had pointed it out when I had met her and befriended her a long time ago.
So, my father drops me at the gate and I walk amidst the crowd of many children trying to get into the gates. I spot Aliza, luckily near the gates and walk to her, after waving at Zoe. Aliza gives me a little hug and pulls me to her. "Hi, what’s up?"
I smile and say, shrugging, "Nothing."
"I’m so excited! Do you know why?"
"Yes, because you want to be partnered with Liam."
She nods her head, and clasps her hands to her chest. "I just know we are meant to be." I feel sorry for her. Honestly, I don’t know what’s going on with Geneva, Liam and Aliza. I have no clue who likes who and who doesn’t. I don’t understand how crushes work. I haven’t had one in years, so I can’t remember. I am happy though. I don’t want to be wasting my time over some fool.
"Okay, okay. I’ll stop blabbing about him," she finally compromises. I laugh and interlock my arm with hers. "I can deal with that. I’m your best friend, remember?"
She doesn’t budge, after a second she continues, "So, what character do…"
I roll my eyes and desperately hope that for my sake, she gets Liam as her partner.
I wave at Heidi and Nina as they head over to their class. I sit at my seat next to a girl named Tiffany Price; she’s nice, but too nice. I can’t stand people who are too nice and overly sensitive though. She cracks me up every time though, in her defense. But, I like her… she’s nice.
Ms. Reese then enters the class with another one of her large pretty handbags, and a stack of papers and books. As usual, Geneva and her friend, Salina help Ms. Reese with her bag, since they are at the front row and she greets us. We all greet her unevenly and she sits down with a genuine smile on her face. She’s really pretty. She’s plump, but pretty. Her face is orb-like, and her eyes sparkle like a child’s. She is one of the best teachers I have had for Literature, ever.
She waits for us to settle down, and begins, "Okay, students, as I mentioned before, I will be informing you about the little play we are going to put up." All the students at the back row cheer and sit up straight, listening eagerly. I grin and glance back at Ms. Reese, but I meet Aliza’s dark tresses. I push her slowly and say softly, "Move, Aliza!"
She smirks and waits for a second. I say, "Can you please move?" And she moves.
Ms. Reese continues, "So, I have partnered all of you guys in pairs. I’ve already done that to save you any trouble. No problem. So, here’s the list," she places the list on her table, "and Geneva, can you please read that out loud so everybody can take down who their partner is."
Geneva, obediently, stands up and takes the paper from her. She smiles slyly and begins her voice shrill yet sharp, "Salina, you’re with Tripp," she smiles, innocently, "Tiffany, you’re with Gwyneth," she pauses and goes on mentioning everybody’s names except Aliza’s, mine, hers and Liam’s. I don’t like where this is going. If Geneva is partnered with Liam, it would be the end of the world for Aliza. I could say I told you so, but I’m not that kind of person. I’m nice and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her or let anybody else harm her or her feelings.
I nudge Aliza and she shows no response. She looks back at me and her eyes are about to tear. I lean to her and I whisper, "He’s not worth it." She smiles and turns forward. I lied. He’s a nice guy, excluding his ego which is the size of three elephants mashed together. I am serious. His ego is something even the teachers complain about. Not utterly seriously, of course, but they warn him, if that counts.
But, I don’t really know him. So I can’t judge him. I wait for a few seconds; I know how much this means to Aliza and I don’t want her to get sad for some douche.