Introspection was something Corrie typically tried to avoid. She knew she wouldn't like what she saw. However, it was always hard to avoid this time of year. The first day of school. The end of any illusion of freedom. She gave herself one more once-over in the mirror. Everything was in place. Corrie looked around her room. It was just as pink as her outfit.
Her favorite color was blue.
She was fake. It sounded harsh, but that was the truth of it. Nothing she projected about herself was true. Just lies designed to make Corrie fit in. Her mother and her best friend were the only people who had any inclination of who she really was. They hated that she hid herself, but they understood. They didn't push. Corrie was thankful for that. She could barely stand herself as it was.
Corrie headed to the bathroom to do her hair and put on her makeup. Not a single brown strand was out of place. Perfectly framed green eyes stared back at her. She hated her emerald irises. She didn't know of anyone else on the reservation with eyes that green. It was a difference that was impossible to mask. One she just had to face.
Finally ready, Corrie hugged her mom and said goodbye. They had passed, "Have a good day" long ago. Instead, they said, "Good luck". Corrie slipped on her shoes and picked up her small white bag. She was skeptical of its ability to carry everything she needed, but it was what was trendy. She would just have to prioritize her school work.
When she left her house, the first genuine smile of the day graced Corrie's face. Her best friend, Lin, was already standing outside. Lin didn't bother styling her hair or putting on makeup. She was very kind and compassionate, but also candid and honest. Lin was not the right person to be friends with, but the friendship was cemented in their toddler years. Lin was the only thing Corrie wouldn't abandon for her quest to fit in. Corrie ran down her driveway and was pulled into a bone-crushing hug. "Hey!"
Lin released Corrie, and they fell into step beside each other. They linked arms and talked about everything and nothing on the way to school, laughing all the while. Lin was the true, rare kind of friend. Corrie knew she was lucky to have her.
As they arrived at the school, their steps slowed. Their arms unlinked, and they drifted a few paces away from each other. Their guards were up. They had knowingly strode straight into the wolves' den. Survival mode activated. Corrie scanned the crowd they found themselves immersed in. Spotting who she was looking for, Corrie discretely waved to Lin before darting off. The last vestiges of the real Corrie disappeared in the mass of squealing teenage girls.
The fake smile spread over Corrie's face almost of its own volition. After so long, it was a habit. She grinned identically along with three other girls. Courtney, Brittany, and Brianna. They were the right people to be friends with. "Omg, guys! It's so great to see you!"
"You too," Brittany squealed, pulling the other three into a tight group hug. They pulled away again, but their arms remained touching.
"It was so lame that you had to help your mom all summer," Brianna pouted.
"Ohmygosh, I know," Courtney squealed. "She didn't give you any time to yourself. So lame!"
"I know." Corrie rolled her eyes, covering the fact that she was very grateful for the excuse her mom had given her for the summer. "What a waste."
"Well, you're here now. We'll just have to catch you up," Brittany gushed. "You missed out on ALL the summer gossip..."
Corrie spent the morning being regaled with stories of who had hooked up with whom over the summer and what her classmates were saying about each other. Apparently Brianna had gotten together with some guy at a party and now had no idea who he was or if she would see him again. She had been DYING to ask Corrie's advice all summer.
They fell over each other, arms linked, giggling, moving as one unit. The quadret stumbled into class, still a mass of giggles, moments after the bell rang. Their teacher raised an eyebrow at them. "Late already, ladies?"
Courtney, Brittany, and Brianna shrugged unapologetically. Corrie had the decency to at least shoot the teacher a guilty glance, even if it was too discreet for him to see. He started his first day lecture once they were seated. Corrie, along with the majority of the class, tuned out. They had six more near-identical lectures coming their way throughout the course of the day.
Instead of paying attention to the teacher, Corrie payed attention to Trevor. As captain of the football team and president of the student council, he was very much the right person to like, but her like of him was genuine. He was smart, and he was actually a pretty nice guy. He had his moments, but everyone did, right? He had good intentions, and it wasn't all too often that he did something stupid. He wasn't exactly hard on the eyes, either...
Corrie's daydreams were cut off by the not-quite-discreet-enough buzzing of her cellphone. Luckily, the teacher was too engrossed in his own lecture to notice. She quickly flicked it to silent before checking. Three messages had accumulated in the group chat before Corrie noticed.
Brit: What's on your mind, Corrie?
Bri: Isn't it obvious? TREVOR! :D
Court: Too bad it won't work out. :(
That was the downside to liking the right guy: other people were bound to like him too. Courtney had never outright staked a claim, but her intent was clear. Even though she had known Corrie liked Trevor. Not that Corrie would expect it to make a difference. Corrie cared about these girls. She had seen them through countless dramas and heartbreaks. Loyalty just wasn't a value they tended to have in spades.
Corrie: A girl can dream, right? XD
Brit: Of course! Maybe it'll work out for you. *hugs*
Bri: Group hug! :D
The bell rang, and they transferred their virtual affection into the physical realm. Their group fractured into smaller pieces to drift off to individual classes. The day continued in the same monotonous pattern of texting, giggling, and exchanging furtive smiles with Lin. The pattern broke briefly at lunch, where she spent more time finally finishing getting caught up on gossip than actually eating. Then she plunged right back in again. Corrie was relieved when the final bell released her.
Her spirits lifted even more when she realized track was starting right away this year. Track was on the short list of school activities she engaged in that she actually enjoyed. Even better, it was a viable excuse to interact with Lin. Sprinters, distance runners, and hurdlers all ran varying routes at varying rates. Corrie and Lin were the distance runners. That meant they had to stick together. They exchanged grins as they laced their sneakers and pulled their hair into pony tails.
Corrie relished the wind against her face, the rush of adrenalin, and the steady thump of shoes hitting the ground. No conversation was exchanged. Both runners were focused on the task at hand: trying to improve their time. Neither of them minded the silence. In fact, it was this kind of companionable silence that Corrie missed the most throughout the day. There was no pressure to say something witty or know everything about twenty-some-odd people she didn't really know at all. They knew each other, and that was enough.
In a way, improving their time was a double-edged sword. The sprinters, who ran a shorter distance in less time, were already back. The coach had them do some stretches then allowed them to leave. The hurdlers would be a while yet. Corrie almost wished it had taken more time. Her mind was at its clearest when she was running. She wasn't quite ready to let go of that clarity yet.
However, there was no point in begrudging the fact. That wouldn't change it. Instead she said goodbye to Lin and went to retrieve her bag and regular clothes from her locker. She closed the door and saw Trevor standing there looking at her. Great. She was still covered in sweat from running and her hair was sloppy. Of all the times to notice her, he had to pick now?
None of these facts seemed to phase him in the slightest. He grinned at her, and the gesture was effectively disarming. His spiky dark hair was in a perfect disarray, and his eyes seemed to sparkle with promised mischief. "Hey."
Corrie grinned back at him, self-consciously smoothing a stray strand of hair behind an ear. "Hey yourself."
Trevor quite obviously took in Corrie's appearance. "Track start already?"
"Ya," Corrie admitted, looking towards the floor and nibbling carefully on her lower lip.
"Well, I hope that doesn't take up too much of your time." He leaned against her locker casually and crossed his arms over his chest.
The question was clear in Corrie's eyes when she looked up at him, but she asked it anyways. "What do you mean?"
Slowly, Trevor smirked. He carefully brushed another loose strand of hair behind her other ear. "Well, I was hoping the most beautiful girl in school would agree to be my girlfriend."
It didn't occur to Corrie to be happy. It didn't cross her mind, despite his rather obvious flirting, that he would be talking about her. That was a title most commonly awarded to... "Did you want me to talk to Court?"
He laughed and rolled his eyes, and, despite the situation, Corrie felt compelled to smile. "I'm not talking about Courtney."
Her brow furrowed in confusion. "Then who w-"
She didn't get to finish that sentence before Trevor's lips were on hers. When they pulled back, they were both grinning. "You, Corrie. I'm talking about you. So, what do you say?"
It felt to Corrie that she was walking on air. Her smile had to be splitting her face, she was sure. "I say yes."