One; Fleetingly odd, seemingly normal

“Len,” Katie groans, “come to tryouts with me, you can do more than one extracurricular.” It doesn’t matter that she is a senior and has been on the squad for the past three years. Rules are that they only take the best, and if others come along that are better than you seniority be damned.

“Why would I try out for cheerleading? I have absolutely no interest in it.” I double check that I have enough film and the right lenses before zipping up my camera bag. “You have survived the past three years without me, I’m sure that won’t change now.”

“Fine, go home and take more amazing pictures and prove to the rest of us, yet again, that our extraordinary talents in high school will get us nowhere in life unlike yours.” She rolls her eyes with a smile and skips to the door. “I’ll call you later dearest.”

“I would wish you luck but we both know you don’t need it.”

“True.” She laughs leaving the room. Mrs. Parsons is in the storage room rearranging everything for the fifth time in the past two weeks. I offered to help the first couple of time but have since given up. Camera bag and purse slung on my shoulder I clutch my binders that hold my homework for the weekend to my chest and make my way into the hall. Though I can’t see her, I can hear Katie laughing. It’s her ‘that wasn’t funny but I’ll be polite’ laugh.

This weekend is the last one of the month which means the family will be getting together at Grandmothers, just in time for my family project for photography class. I will be doing both digital and film and already have the album I am going to use at home. Once the project is returned to me I will give it to Grandmother for her birthday present. Two birds, one stone. My mother, who is very particular about giving presents, said that it was a good idea.

I am so lost in thought about whether I should start with my digital camera or not that I don’t hear the shouts of warning or see the puddle in front of me until it is too late. “Are you ok?” Is my camera? I heard the bag hit the ground rather hard. I look and see that it is sitting in the puddle of what am sincerely hoping is water and snatch it up quickly. It does not look like it absorbed any water though I’m still going to check the inside before leaving the school. “Are you ok?” I look up startled completely forgetting that someone was there with me.

“Oh, sorry, yes. I’m fine.” It’s the transfer student, it has to be. He has been here for three days and I have had yet to see him but Katie did, and all she has been able to talk about since his arrival is how gorgeous he is. Light blue eyes, black hair, and the concern on his face for me is about to cause a puddle of Lenore. He bends down and quickly places my papers back into my binders. He stands halfway and holds out a hand to me. I take it and let him help me up, I don’t normally where heels, the only reason I had today was because I was running extremely late and couldn’t find any other shoes. The skin on his hand is very soft, like a newborns. I’m tempted to ask what lotion he uses. Then I think of the reason he may have for using lotion and the moment I am upright I steal my hand back.

“Your camera didn’t break did it?” I’m surprised he knows it’s a camera bag, most people sadly assume it’s an unfortunate choice in purses. My hope for our generation isn’t as high as it should be.

“Hopefully it’s fine.” I’m not worried about it having broken so much as I am it getting wet. “Would you mind holding those so I can check?”

“Go ahead.” I unzip the bag and pull the camera out feeling around on the bottom relieved when I feel that it’s dry.

“Nothing happened to it.” I tell him closing up the bag. I hold out my hands and take the binders from him. “Thanks.”

“Do you need a ride home?” That doesn’t seem the least bit creepy. I’m not sure if the nervousness in his tone adds or subtracts from the level of creepy.

“No, I have a car, but thanks.” I don’t waste any more time and though it may seem rude I quickly walk away. I already know Katie is going to think I’m insane for not accept his offer regardless of the fact that I do have a vehicle. She’s going to see it as a missed opportunity to get to know the new kid better and subsequently get to know him herself. I’m sure he was just trying to be polite and he’s probably nice enough, but it was weird. And I have a bag to pack and homework to do, I don’t have time to possibly be murdered by the seemingly innocent new boy at our school.

I stop by the library on my way home to pick up a few books for my research assignment on the towns local history. They only have two, but I’m sure I can manage to find something. If not I can always search the archives, it will take longer though there should be more information. I drive past my fathers auto shop on the way home and glance over, his car is in its usual parking space and the line of cars to be worked on tells me he won’t be home until late tonight. This means Mom and I will be going out for dinner tonight. It, as Dad calls it, is our ‘bonding time’. On nights when Mom gets stuck at her office Dad and I order a pizza and watch documentaries together.

As expected the house is empty when I get home. This gives me a few hours to finish most of my weekend homework, pack my bag, shower, and get out the dinner wheel. When Mom and I started going out on nights when Dad had to work we couldn’t always agree on where to go. Mom decided to make a wheel for us to spin that listed all of the restaurants we liked to eat at on it and we left it up to the wheel to decide. Before we spin we take off the name of the last three places we ate before so we don’t end up at the same place too often. By the time it is set up on the table Mom walks in.

“How was school?” She smiles dropping her briefcase onto the couch. Though we could afford a larger house with Dad owning the only auto repair shop in our town and Mom being the best private lawyer in the state we still lived in our small cottage outside of town. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. My parents and I got along fine and I loved my home.

“Same as always.”

“Well I don’t know about you but I’m starving. Spin the wheel and let me know where we’re going, I need to get out of this suit.” She pats my shoulder and wanders off towards her bedroom. I spin the wheel and wait for it t stop on a restaurant. It lands Sakura, the Japanese steakhouse and my favorite restaurant. I call it out to her and head to my room to change out of my pajama’s. I decide to wear the new Betsy Johnson dress Mom got for me. She loves clothes and can usually be found in one of the boutiques in town on Saturday afternoon, even if I don’t go with her she comes back with something for me. I never complain, it makes her happy. The only time I’ve ever put my foot down was when she bought me the heels I’m currently wearing, wedges I am fine in, the bottoms are solid and I don’t have to depend on a thing stick for my balance. These were the last and only heels she ever bought me.

Mom is waiting for me by the door, they tell men to look at a girls mother to see what she will look like when she’s older. If I can look half as amazing as she does in her ruffled plum chiffon dress then I’ll be happy. “I knew that dress would look perfect on you.” She smiles opening the door.


“How’s Katie?” Mom asks over her sip of saké. “She hasn’t come over in a couple of weeks, is everything ok?”

“Yeah, she had cheerleading tryouts so she’s been practicing.”

“It’s ridiculous that after being on the squad for three years they still make her tryout.” I take a bite of my salad and nod in response. “Have you heard from her yet?”

“No,” I say realizing I put my phone on silent while I was doing homework and never switched it back or bothered to check it. I pull it out of my purse and see that I have a missed call from Katie and three texts. Two from her, one from Erin, my younger cousin who is a freshman at school. “She made the team,” I say reading over the first one, no surprise there. “Her mom got sucked into a work trip last minute, she wants to know if she can stay with us for the weekend.”

“Of course. You know she’s always welcome.” Katie has gone to our family get together a few times and she loves them. She doesn’t have much family and what she does have she rarely see’s. I send Katie an apology for the late reply and tell her she can stay with us. “Tell her we’ll pick her up on the way home.” I add that as well and press send. I read Erin’s text next. She’s asking about the new guy, apparently she saw me with him earlier. I stuff my phone back in my purse, that is one thing I am not telling Mom about.

“How is the new intern working out?” She immediately grimaces. “I’m sure they can’t be that bad.”

“Aside from the constant bathroom breaks caused by the non stop coffee intake, the inability to go 10 minutes without checking their phone, and not being able to do one thing I ask them to do without having to be reminded at least three times, it’s going great.”

“You could always make a no-cell phone policy for the interns.”

“I’ve tried, they always find a way to sneak it in.” She give me a ‘what can you do?’ look. “I’m under no assumption you are going to follow in my footsteps, but if you would like to intern over the summer after you graduate it wouldn’t be a bad way to earn some money before you leave for school.”

“In other words you want me to come work for you since I have to listen to you because you’re paying for my college education?”

“Exactly.” The chef comes out and starts to prepare the rice and vegetables while I finish my salad. “Honey, who is that boy over there? He’s cute.”


“Do you know him? He keeps looking at you.” I look over and though the restaurant is dark it isn’t hard too figure out who she’s talking about.

“He’s the new kid at school, I slipped on my way home and he helped me up.”

“What’s his name?” She has this tone that I know all too well.

“No idea.”

“You didn’t even introduce yourself after he helped you up?” Amazing how she doesn’t ask if I’m ok or why I slipped.

“No, he kind of creeped me out.” Her eyebrows raise and I know I shouldn’t have said that. “He offered me a ride home.”

“That’s not creepy, it’s sweet.”

“Yeah until you find my head staked onto a pike alongside the road.”

“You watch too many crime shows.” She rolls her eyes. “He probably just wanted to get to know you, he’s a boy and you’re a very beautiful girl. It wouldn’t be the most unnatural thing in the world.”

“Mom.” I groan.

“It looks like he’s coming over. Be nice. And let me see your teeth.”

“Incase you haven’t noticed our table is directly in his path to the restroom.” I whisper. “He is not-”

“Hi.” My mouth runs dry and I turn to look at the new kid. He has his hands shoved in his front pockets his thumbs hanging out. “Lenore, right?”

“Uh, yeah.” I didn’t give him my name. He must have seen it when putting the papers back in my binder.

“I asked around.” I don’t have to look to know my mother is grinning like an idiot. “I’m Luke, I just wanted to apologize for earlier, I never got the chance.”

“Apologize for?”

“I think I freaked you out when I offered you a ride home, I was honestly just trying to be polite, I wasn’t going to try anything.” His words suddenly make me embarrassed and I want nothing more to crawl into a hole. “Also for the water, I had dropped it and went to get paper towels to clean it up. You reached it before I did.”

“Oh, thanks. It wasn’t really your fault, had I been paying attention I would’ve seen it.” This is making me feel stupid. So much so that I desperately wished I had injured myself in someway when I fell and wouldn’t have been able to go out tonight.

“Ok, well, I thought I’d come by and offer my apologies anyway. See you around?” I nod. “Great.” He flashes me a smile and I nearly swoon. Get a grip. “Enjoy your dinner.” The second he is out of ear shot Mom leans over.

“I think he likes you.”

This is going to be a very long dinner.