Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chapter 4~Max

After running into Trilby outside the bathroom, Max spent the rest of the day in a state. He didn't know what to think of that wild-looking red-haired girl. They’d caught her with his iphone, but she said she didn't take it. Would it be stupid to believe her? He wanted to. Very much. Of all the pretty, interesting, sexy, and even dazzling girls he’d noticed on campus his first day--and there had been a few of them--only Trilby had managed to burn a little emblem into his brain. It was like it got caught in an automatic loop, or something. He thought he saw her everywhere. Well, to be fair, he really did see her everywhere--at least in the morning. She was in his English class first period. Then his P.E. class second period. Then when he went to the bathroom during third period, there she was again, kneeling down in hall in front of her locker, in an astonishingly attractive way.

And by that he didn’t mean that she was astonishingly attractive, but that the fact that he found her so attractive was astonishing. A lot of guys would have objected to the freckles, for instance. She had freckles spray-painted across her face, up her arms, around her neck, and pretty much everywhere skin was visible. He couldn’t help wondering if there was one square-inch of skin that was left unfreckled. He was very keen to find out.

And then there was the fact that she looked kind of like a little kid--small and undeveloped. Her breasts were little mounds that barely changed the shape of her kind-of-gross and vaguely-offensive tee shirt. The way she moved reinforced the image. She didn’t glide around the room, leading with her hips, all langourous and sexy like some of the other girls on campus. Instead, she seemed to flit about on her tiptoes--a pretty difficult feat in those big boots--like an annoying insect, popping from one side of the room to the other quickly and showing up next to his desk unexpectedly.

None of these details added up to “hot chick I want to get to know better.” But there was no denying the attraction he felt for her. In English, the moment he entered the room, his eyes were glued to her at the white board, and when he walked behind her to hand his admissions note to the teacher, he had to stifle an instinct to sink his hand into her hair.

After he sat down, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her, despite the efforts of the tall blonde girl sitting next to him to attract his attention. Kore, the blonde one, would be sharing some inane detail, and he’d find himself trying to peer around her tall frame to see what the little redhead was doing.

During PE, he noticed her talking to that big, good-looking guy over by the bleachers, and felt inexplicably jealous. Then, when he saw her talking to the teacher, he gave her his best 1,000-watt smile. That wasn’t a smile he gave to just anyone. It took special effort to give that smile, and it revealed a level of vulnerability. It meant taking a risk. It was almost like wearing a sign that said, “please like me!” You had to be pretty high on his desirability list to merit the 1k watter. But he’d tossed it to her without so much as a second thought.

And then later, when he’d seen her kneeling down before her locker, he’d walked directly over to her without thinking, like she had some kind of powerful man magnet hidden in her backpack. And when she’d given him her hand, he just couldn’t give it back. It was exasperating. It was ridiculous. It was seriously awkward. Several seconds passed with him just standing there holding her hand inappropriately. He knew he should let go, but he couldn’t.

Finally, she broke the spell with her admission of the theft--or her denial of it. Should he believe her? That was the question. There was no doubt that he wanted to. But there was also no doubt that he didn’t want to be a fool. He’d had enough of that.

One good thing about starting over at a new school was that they knew nothing about your past. Back where he’d come from, in Redding, he’d recently become something of a campus joke. It was strange how it happened, almost overnight, and he still wasn’t sure about the contributing factors. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong with him. He was a reasonably intelligent human being. He was good looking. He was kind. But those qualities suddenly weren’t enough one afternoon when he was smoking pot with his friends and playing Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Looking back on it now, he thought the chief problem was that smoking pot slowed his thinking. That and Lance, the evil bastard who was jealous that Max was best friends with Jeremy--the story was so convoluted, it made him seasick to recall it.

Before that afternoon, the boys in his circle sat around and made sarcastic jokes about everyone they knew. That was their modus operandi. But after that afternoon, all the jokes were about him, exclusively. Lance led the charge, pounding away at him mercilessly. Max knew he was being targeted, but he didn’t know why, or what to do about it. His stupefied brain couldn’t think of a strategic response, particularly after Lance had wounded him, and got him on the run. Then the other boys noticed that something was wrong, and like a pack of dogs smelling blood, they piled on.

Max went home demoralized that first afternoon, but he figured things would go back to normal the next day. He was wrong. The next day, and every day thereafter, Lance joyfully infected everyone at school with his new anti-Max virus. Suddenly, everybody’s favorite passtime was taunting Max.

Max tried to play it cool for awhile, to pretend it wasn’t happening. He sidled up to a few different groups at lunchtime, hung around the perimeter, made a few comments to test the waters. But he always found the group unresponsive. He even quit smoking pot and regained his wit, started tossing off funny comebacks, but although that won him an occasional moment of glory, the tide had turned against him, and there was no turning it back.

Ultimately, his only option was to withdraw from school completely. Not that he could quit going. His parents wouldn’t allow that. But he could quit socializing with people, so that’s what he did. It was that, or be the butt of every joke. So he went to school and came home. Nothing else. He dropped soccer. He dropped Guitar Hero club. He dropped friendships--even his best friend Jeremy.

His mother was beside herself, and he didn’t like to see her upset, so when she came into his room practically in tears one evening, asking what was happening to him, he told her. But even with her considerable brainpower on the problem, and his father’s, they couldn’t come up with a solution.

He would have transferred to another high school, but Redding, California, only had one. So it was unbelievably lucky when his dad was offered a job in San Francisco. He expected his mom to resist the move, because she liked living in the country. She had a huge vegetable garden, and grew flowers, and kept goats and chickens--and even had a horse that she loved like a baby and rode at night under the moonlight. But she didn’t hesitate for a moment. She said she’d always wanted to try living in the City--that it would be an adventure. He was pretty sure she was lying, that she had given it all up for him.

And he was grateful--very grateful. Because Santa Inez High School was better than he had dreamed. Max could see right away that what had happened in Redding wouldn’t even be possible at SI. Santa Inez was magnificent in its diversity. There wasn’t one dominant social group on campus that everyone else followed doggedly. There were 25. If he didn’t fit in one group, he could move on to another, and not suffer any shame. And even if his first impression proved erroneous, and Santa Inez wasn’t as welcoming as it appeared at first glance, there were a dozen other high schools in the City.

His relief that first day of school made him a little giddy. Not only did he have an opportunity to return to his old self, his real self--his handsome, intelligent, charming, and attractive self--but he’d also met this extraordinary girl.

The fact that she seemed to dislike him after their exchange at the locker wasn’t a problem. He would overcome that obstacle, if he decided he wanted to. When he got home from school that afternoon, and told his mother about all the things that had happened that day, he could see the worry lines that had been marring her forehead for the past few months smooth away. She gave him a big hug, and said she was glad they had moved to San Francisco.

And when Trilby didn’t come to school on Friday, Max figured it was a good sign. She hadn’t been lying about being suspended, anyway. That was evidence of honesty. But he wasn’t ready to drop his defenses completely, to begin his campaign to win her over. First, he needed to make sure that she wasn’t playing him for a fool.

So he decided to keep an eye on her from a distance, to find out what she was like before he pursued her. He decided to ask her skinny blonde girlfriend where the wild little redhead lived.

Come back next week for another chapter of Trilby Awakes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hm ,.. nice post ,... if you have some time you can look mine too

September 11, 2011 at 4:51 PM  

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