In school, I sat next to my best friend Romy. Romy's parents were best friends with my parents, and we grew up together. Both of us were the only child in our family, and so we really enjoyed each other's company. I was always very attentive when Miss Stevens was explaining something new, because learning new things was one of my favourite things to do.
In fact, I was one of those girls the teachers always called upon. And I just loved to stand there, in front of the whole classroom, and getting the praise of my beloved teacher.
Sleepovers were great too. Both of us girls would play until our parents told us that it was time to go to bed, and then we would snuggle underneath the covers, and giggle with the lights. Until eventually we would drift off to sleep.
Yes although life was not really exciting in Simville, there were enough things to do to keep us girls happy, and to let us dream of a better life, someday, somewhere ...
Eventually, we grew up too like everyone else, and by the time we were fourteen, just like everybody else in Simville, we would hang out at The Mall. "The Arcade" was our favourite place. Romy was quite good at playing pool, and I loved playing the pinball machines. Sometimes I would join Romy for a game of pool, but somehow she almost always managed to win. Well, she was really good at it.
Sometimes we would sit on a bench in the park, and just talk about our dreams. Romy's dreams didn't amount to much : all that she wanted was to finish high school, get into college, find a good job, and eventually a nice man, get married, and have some kids. Those were nice things, and I too wanted to have them someday. But somehow I felt like there were other things I wanted to do before I settled down. But I couldn't really talk about them to anyone, because no one in Simville would understand. All the people there were born believing in the same things Romy did, and no one ever dared to dream something different. So while Romy would talk about her dreams, I would simply nod my head in agreement, and remain silent, hands in my lap, and not even daring to whisper my dreams.
But that was "once", long ago now. When I was almost 16 my father decided to close down his company in Simville, and open an even larger one in a town called Pennsburgh, and so we had to move there. I loved Simville, it was my town, and I always felt secure there.
I had done some research on the internet, about Pennsburgh, and the new school I was going to. And what I discovered was really scary. Pennsburgh was a town much bigger than Simville, and there were no such places as The Mall over there. It was a place filled with nightclubs, bars, diners, boutiques and parks and beaches. Although all these things might sound like heaven to a sixteen year old girl, they sure scared the hell out of me. Because I was not just any other sixteen year old girl. I was Camie, typical Simville girl, who had never experienced any of these things.
So I decided to research the school, because I guessed that that the place where I would be spending most time. The school seemed like a good one, and it had produced many great people in my country like Stephanie Queen, my favourite author. They also had a large library there, and this pleased me because I really loved reading. So I was looking forward to going to this new school, however much I dreaded the new town.
Anyway, back to that morning... Romy called that morning, the day we when we were supposed to leave Simville. This was the moment that I had been dreading all along. Her parents had already called the day before, to say their goodbyes, since they were working this morning.Romy hugged my mother goodbye, and told her to think of her when shopping in those wonderful department stores and boutiques in Pennsburgh.
But the worst moment came when I had to say goodbye to Romy. Romy was my best friend, and had been my best friend since the beginning of time, and now here I was saying goodbye to her, knowing that probably I will never see her again. She was sad too, but not as depressed as me. Romy would still be going to same school tomorrow, and meeting the same old friends, and on weekends she would still go to The Mall, and meet with all of our friends there, while I was going to be living in a new town, attending a new school, and with no friends around me.I hugged her tight to me, and wouldn't let her go. Romy was the only real friend I had in the whole wide world, and now we were going to be so far away from each other.
That was it now. We all got into the car, I said my last goodbyes to Romy, and daddy drove off. I was off to a new life.
And finally came that first morning when I had to go to the new school. I got out of bed, butterflies in my stomach. I was not afraid of how I will do in school, because like I said before I was a bright student. But I was terrified of the new people I was going to meet.
At 8.30 that morning I was sitting in front of Miss Belle, the school Headmistress. She told me which class I would be in, who my teacher would be, then went on to explain about the different subjects, and the extra-curriculum activities. But I could not understand a thing. I was seeing her lips move, I was reaching out for the papers she was handing to me, but all I could hear was the loud beating of my heart. Finally Miss Belle gave me the timetable, and also the directions to my classroom
I finally arrived in the classroom, and looked around. There was only one desk left empty, and this was the one at the back. I was glad about that, because now I could sit at the back, and people would not notice me much, and I could look around, and observe too.
The girl sitting next to me was called Sandy Howard, and my, was she beautiful? She had the prettiest face I had ever seen, and the clothes she was wearing ... they made me look like I had just climbed out of a trash can. I was dressed all prim and proper, just like all the other girls in Simville, but this Sandy looked like she had just dropped out of a magazine.
Soon it was lunch hour. The very second that the bell rang, Sandy ran out of the classroom, and I couldn't see where she went. Two other girls called Tara, and Rhanda called me over, and told me that I could stay with them during break time. I was very grateful, and thanked them from the bottom of my heart.
The days kept going by, and however glad I was for Rhanda's and Tara's friendship, I couldn't help but notice that these two were considered as losers, and here in this new school, popularity mattered more than anything else. I had befriended two losers, and I was beginning to think that there was going to be no chance for me at all.
Sandy was one of the most popular girls in school. She never did anything much except just sitting there and looking beautiful, and she was always surrounded by the most beautiful people. I longed to be like her, but it was such an impossible wish - like that of a crow wanting to be a swan
One day, I decided to call Romy. I had missed her so. I often sent her emails, and she sometimes forwarded me a joke, but other than that I had not heard any news of her. I was so depressed in this new life, and I needed to hear her voice to cheer me up. But I was in for a real shock.
Me: Hello stranger. How are you doing these days?
Romy: Oh hi, everything's fine. I cannot stay talking long, because my friends are waiting for me.
Me: Your friends? Hey, aren't they my friends too?
Romy: Yeh, I guess they were your friends too. So how are you doing in Pennsburgh? Where are you going tonight?
Me: I'm doing fine, I guess. What do you mean where am I going? I'm not going anywhere. I'll just stay at home with my parents, and maybe read a good book.
Romy: Come on, it's Saturday night, and you are living in PENNSBURGH! Are you crazy? If I was living there, I would go out every night.
Me: Yeh, but life is not that good. I haven't really made any friends. There are two girls that I stay with in school, but they're pretty boring. God, I miss you so much, Romy.
Romy: Listen, I gotta run. My friends are calling me.
Me: But am I not your friend too? We were supposed to be best friends...
Romy: Yeh, but you live in another town. I have to get on with my life. I cannot just stay inside, crying, because my best friend has moved to another town. And maybe that's what you should do too. Try to get on with your life. We've had some good times together, and I will never forget you, and maybe one day we shall meet again. But for the time being it's time to move on. It's no use calling me again, because I can do nothing to help you.
That night I couldn't sleep. I kept thinking about Romy's words to me - it was time to move on. It was ok for her to say that, but she was still in dear old Simville, and with the same dear old friends. I was the one who was in a strange town, filled with strangers.
But then I decided that after all, Romy was right. I couldn't remain like this forever, crying for the past. Maybe one day when I would be old enough to leave home, I would go back to living in Simville, but for the time being I was stuck here in Pennsburgh, and I had to make the best out of it. That night I made a resolution to myself - I was going to become a Somebody. I wanted to become one of the popular girls. It was difficult, and I still didn't know how. but somehow, I would find a way. After all, those were always my dreams, even when I still lived in Simville.
The next day I woke up determined to find a way to fit in. I hardly paid any attention to the lessons; all I kept thinking about was how on earth was I ever going to get close to the popular people.During breaktime, I decided not to stay with Rhanda and Tara. If I wanted to be popular, I had to stop being seeing with the losers. So I made up an excuse that I needed to study. I was quite hurt to see that they were quite relieved that I was not going to stay with them, and that made my determination get stronger. I went to the library. I had one hour on my own, to try to think of a plan.
However, I never expected what happened ...
As I was lost in thought, pretending to read, the library door opened, and in walked Sandy. I was really surprised to see her there, and even more surprised to see her walking towards me, and sitting down beside me
Me: Hi, I'm Camie.
Sandy: Yeh, I know who you are. You're the girl sitting next to me, right?
I nodded in agreement.
Me: So what are you doing in the library? You don't look to me like the kind of girl who enjoys studying.
Sandy: Of course not. I'm here because I've got detention. That means that I have to come and spend lunch hour in the library. But thank god, I met you here, so it wouldn't be boring.
I was really happy to hear her say this, that I didn't know what to say. We kept on talking for the rest of the break. I found out a lot of things about her. Sandy too was an only girl, and had lived in Pennsburgh all her life. She was indeed a very popular girl, and hung out with the most popular people. She talked a lot about their nightlife, something which I had been missing all my life. The life that Sandy and her friends lived could in no way be compared to weekends at The Mall back in Simville. The Mall sounded just like a shack compared to those glamourous places Sandy mentioned, places like Teen Grove, and Ocean Dreams. I sighed.
Me: How I wish I was a popular girl! What does it take to be popular?
Sandy: You just have to be beautiful, and then you need one popular person who things that you are ok, and that's it, you've got it made.
I sighed deeper: That's it! I know I can never be beautiful. Look at me, I look like a scarecrow.
Sandy looked at me: "Have you ever considered cutting your hair, and wearing some make-up? And maybe buy some real trendy clothes. I think if you looked a bit after your image you will be really beautiful."
I sighed again, "But I don't even know where to begin."
"If you want I can help you. Maybe I could over to your house this evening, and help you fix your hair. I've had a course in hairdressing, you know. And I will bring you some of my clothes. But you must speak of this to no one. Because I have an image to protect, and be seen helping the losers won't help me. But I really like you, and I want to help you. I'm sure that you will be really beautiful and my friends will find no problem to let you hang out with us, when I ask them."I was so happy that on an impulse I hugged her. This was Sandy, one of the most popular girls, and she was helping me! I couldn't believe it. Sandy laughed, "Now, now. I can let you do this because we are in the library, and there's no one around. Cos if we were in public I wouldn't get near you. But of course, after tonight, this will change, and we can hang out together all you want."
That evening Sandy kept her word. She came over to my house, and with her she brought her hairdressing kit, and a couple of her outfits. She helped me with my hair. "All it takes now is some ruffling to remove this serious style," she said. The she helped me put on my make-up, and dressed me in one of her outfits.
Sandy and me both looked in the mirror when she was finished. I couldn't believe my eyes!!! I looked just like one of the popular girls Sandy was always with. And all it had taken was a haircut, some make-up, and new clothes. Nobody had ever told me that I was beautiful, not even Romy, and I had always believed that I was ugly.
I guess that was the moment that I really started hating my old town, and that really resolved that I will have nothing to do with it anymore
I spent the whole night on the computer, and when morning finally came, I jumped in the shower, and afterwards put on the other outfit that Sandy had left me.
That morning in school, I was so tense that I hardly knew what was going on. Sandy kept looking at me, asking if I was ok, and I simply smiled and nodded at her.
I was surprised by how much popularity counted in school. Even the area where the popular girls stayed during break time was very much different that where I used to sit with Rhanda and Tara. Flowers grew all around, and there were orange trees too. There was even a small fountain in the middle.
And then came the really surprising moment when Sandy put her arms around me and said to her friends: "Girls, came is a new kid in town, and we have to help her. She needs some showing around. Next Saturday I am taking her shopping with me. What else do you think we could do to show her how pleased we are to have her around?"
Anthea looked at me, smiled sweetly and said, "Well, what about Saturday night? She could come with us to Teen Grove - that is, if she doesn't have other plans."I jumped to the occasion.
"No, I don't have any plans. I just moved to Pennsburgh this week, and I really don't know anyone in town. I was always out partying during the weekends, that I would miss it so much if I had to stay at home."Devnee looked up surprised:
"Stay at home? Are you crazy? 16 year old girls are not supposed to stay at home, but go out and party till dawn. We will be more that pleased to have you around."I was really happy, it seemed like I was fitting in. And all it had taken me were a few changes here and there, and of course Sandy.
Saturday morning I was up really early. I had already made a list of the things I wanted to buy. I needed a new pajama because mine was really shabby. Then I definetly needed lots and lots of clothes. I also wanted to buy some perfume, and make-up, not to mention a new bathing suit
We immediately made our way to 'Trendy Wear', the clothes department that sold the hottets things. I spent a fortune in that shop, both on clothes and nightwear, but I was really pleased. Sandy bought some clothes too. I was really looking forward to going out that night, and showing off my new clothes
As we were shopping, Sandy explained to me that all these places were open 24 hours a day, but they surely looked different at night. She told me that tonight we were going to Teen Grove, and that was the place to be. It was the place where all the popular people hung out. I asked her what Teen Grove was like, and she told me that downstairs it was this 50s style diner, but upstairs it was a nightclub, and really cool. I couldn't wait.
That evening came and I met Sandy in the same place where we had met that morning. I was all bubbling inside. That morning I had been nervous, but now I barely knew what I was doing. And the trouble was I couldn't show it. It was ok for Sandy to see how nervous I was, but in front of the others I could not. I had to pretend I had always been a popular girl, even back in my old hometown, wherever that may have been.When we got to Teen Grove, Devnee and Anthea were already there. We walked over to the booth they were sitting at and greeted them. They greeted me back, and seemed genuinely happy to see me. They got up and joined us at our table.
A few moments later, a really handsome boy walked in. Devnee squealed and rushed over to hug him. At first I thought that this must be her boyfriend, but then later on Sandy explained to me that they were best friends, having grwon up together, and that was the way with popular kids - they hug and kissed each other whenever they felt like it.She introduced me to him as "the new kid in town", and I learnt that his name was Trey. He was really gorgeous, but then again, who wasn't around these parts?
Soon three other handsome and gorgeous boys joined us. They were all part of the group. Rick sat on the edge next to Anthea and this boy called Bryan sat next to Devnee. The last boy whose name was Alec sat next to Sandy, and I found myself sitting next to Trey.
Later on we went upstairs, and had a really great time dancing and drinking in that place. Trey was really nice and he kept joking all night long. But I couldn't help noticing the looks that the others were giving me, as he teased me and played with my hair. I must say that I liked all this attention, but I couldn't help but notice how really gorgeous and attractive Bryan was. But he seemed all absorbed in Devnee, and did not talk much to me.
Finally as the night was coming to an end, or rather dawn had arrived, Trey spoke to Devnee:
"Listen Dev, I know that we will all sleep in late tomorrow, but in the afternoon my parents are not going to be home, and so you could all come to my pool." Devnee squealed once more. "All of you people must come tomorrow ok." And then he looked at me "And especially you Camie," he said. I nodded and told him that I would be there
All the boys were older than us, they all were 18, and could drive. Trey offered to drive Sandy and me home. Devnee was going home with Bryan, and it seemed like Anthea was leaving with Rick and Alec.
Trey dropped Sandy first, and then drove me home. He came round and opened the door like a real gentleman. And then he reached out, and kissed me on the cheek. At first I was surprised, but then I realized that this must be quite a normal thing to do among popular people. "It was really great getting to know you," he said. "I'm really glad that you moved to Pennsburgh. Maybe we will get to know each other better soon." I smiled and replied,
"Sure, Trey we will." He smiled again, and said,
"OK see you tomorrow then." And drove off.
At around 1pm the next day Sandy came for me and together we left for Trey's house. It seemed to me like everybody was very rich around these parts. No wonder my parents had wanted to move to Pennsburgh. Ar around 1.30pm everyone was gathered around the pool. Trey greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He had no shirt on, and he was very well built. But I couldn't help not staring at Bryan. He too had no shirt on, and looked absolutely gorgeous.
Soon we were all in the pool, enjoying ourselves splashing each other. This had been definitely the best weekend I had ever had so far, and it was not ever yet. Trey showered me with attention, and I noticed that both Devnee and Anthea were somewhat jealous. I couldn't understand because I wasn't doing anything to lead him on. I was more interested in Bryan, but Bryan seemed so out of reach.
When it started getting darker, at around 6.00pm, the boys decided that it was time to eat and drink. So Trey and Bryan started grilling on the open bar-b-ques and Alec started preparing drinks for everyone. They told us to leave everything to them, so we girls just sat together and talked about the usual stuffs, like clothes, makeup, perfumes, etc.
It was indeed a lovely day. And I was hoping there will be more and more of these days in the future. I had always heard things about the popular people, and the lives they lived, but I had never imagined how happy this kind of life would make you.
"It was really a nice party," I said. "One of the nicest I have ever been to." In fact, it was the only real party I had ever been to.
'Yeh," he said. "We always have a great time on Sundays. We all live in large houses, and someone's parents are always away for the weekend, so we generally have a party at that house. What about you? Do you live in a big house?"
"Yes," I replied. "In fact we live in a mansion. But we have just moved here, so I don't think my parents will be away for a while. What happens if no one's parents are away?"
"Oh then we just go to the beach. It's gorgeous over there. And in winters we go somewhere else, like for a picnic in the woods, or to the park."
At that moment, Devnee saw me talking to Bryan, and she came over to him, and hugged him. "Hi honey, I guess it's getting late now, maybe we should leave." I didn't want to have an argument with my new friends, and so although hurt, I remained silent and just walked away. But I wished that it was me Bryan was hugging instead of Devnee.
The next morning in school, I expected Devnee to say something about what had happened during that weekend - about Trey and Bryan. But to my surprise she didn't say anything, but acted as if nothing had happened. Yet, I couldn't shake the feeling that something had happened last night beside the pool.
That evening Sandy was coming to my house for a sleepover, and I decided to ask her about it. Sandy would know because after all these were her friends. So that evening, when we were sitting in my room, I brought the whole thing up.
"Oh that. Look it's really nothing. Trey likes you and wants to go out with you, and Devnee is jealous, that's all. Trey has been out with almost every beautiful girl in town, except with her, because they have known each other since they were kids. And he says that he finds it very hard to see her as a girlfriend, cos he knows lots of stuff about her that of course no one else does. You know, the stuff that only your childhood best friend knows about."
That comment brought back memories of my childhood, with Romy. Romy, who was my best friend, and who had suddenly forgotten about me, just because I moved to another town.
"And what about Bryan?" I asked.
"Oh, about two months ago, Trey was dating Anthea, and Devee was so jealous that to pay him back, and make him jealous, she started going out with Bryan. Anyway, I think that Bryan is really in love with Devnee, cos I think you have noticed that he rarely leaves her side. Devnee is in love with him too, so of course she is afraid of you, cos first you take Trey, and then when she saw you talking to Bryan, she was afraid you might seduce him too."
"God, this is so confusing!" I exclaimed. "Devnee likes Trey, but he was going out with Anthea. So she fell in love with Bryan. Now Anthea is going out with Rick, and Trey wants to go out with me, but I like Bryan, and Bryan is going out with Devnee." Sandy smiled at me.
"Don't worry, honey, everything will be allright. You will go out with Trey when he asks you, and I don't think that's very far away, because it's obvious that he's obsessed with you. And forget about Bryan. After all, he's Devee's property."
"But I don't think I want to go out with Trey!"
"Are you crazy???" Sandy exclaimed. "Trey is the most popular boy in town, and every girl would do just about anything for one date with him."
"She won't say anything, believe me. She thinks that you are this mega super popular girl, and won't even dare to whisper anything about it. I really think that she was drunk last night, to have come between you and Bryan like that."
"Or maybe, it's because she's really in love. I can understand her being in love with Bryan, cos he's so perfect."
"Nah," Sandy said. "She might be in love with him. But popularity comes first for her. And Bryan doesn't amount to much. Any popular girl in her right senses would not choose Bryan to be her boyfriend. But he happens to be Trey's best friend, cos he helped him out of a sticky situation once, and so he somehow got accepted in the gang. And to other people he looks just like any popular boy. But we know the truth, and believe me if someone else gets to know the real truth about Bryan, she will dump him that very second, no matter how much she loves him."
"But that's not fair." Sandy looked at me.
"Welcome to my world. Nothing is really fair in this world. The only thing that matters is looks and popularity. Nobody here likes you for what you truly are, but for how you look and what you represent. Except of course me. I know the real Camie, and I like you for it.
"Thanks," I said to her. "You are a real friend. You knew me when I was a nobody, and a loser, and you helped me. But why did you do it?"
"Well, I needed a friend that I can talk to. One who is not totally obsessed by superficial things. I saw behind your looks and your clothes, and I saw the real beautiful girl, and I knew that with some help you would be more than welcome in my world, and at the same time you would remain real enough to be a true friend." I hugged her tight.
"We will always be friends," I promised her. "And I will never forget what you did for me."
That night I found it very hard to sleep. I kept thinking about what Sandy had said. Devnee was in love with Bryan, but would dump him if he got in her way. Trey wanted to go out with me, but I was falling in love with Bryan, something that I should never do, because only Trey was the ticket to my popularity. And maybe Alec. But Alec wanted to go out with Sandy, and she herself told me that she was in love with him, and from the looks he gave her, I figured that he too was in love with her. And I was really happy for her
On Friday evening, as I was getting ready, I got a phone call. It was Trey!
Trey: Hi Camie, how are you? I've been thinking about you since last Sunday.
Camie: Hi Trey, I'm fine and very flattered.
Trey: Listen, would you like to go and hang out somewhere tonight?
Camie: I would really like to Trey, but I have already made plans with Sandy and the others.
Trey: Oh don't worry about that. Just call them, and tell them you're coming with me. They will understand.
Camie: Ok, where shall we meet then?
Trey: I will come and pick you up about 8pm ok. Oh, and don't dress casual. Wear something elegant tonight.
After dinner we went upstairs to the bar, and sat near one of the windows. Trey told me that in summer this place was heaven, because one could sit outside on the terrace, and be literally on the beach. But for tonight we were sitting inside. However, the windows were open, and the fresh ocean breeze was blowing, and we could hear the sound of the small waves rushing in. I loved this place, and I was enjoying myself so much, that I didn't want this night to end.
As we were drinking we started talking about lots of different things. I found myself liking Trey very much. If it wasn't for Bryan, I think that I could have fallen in love with him there and then.
Still later we went for a walk on the beach. We stopped right at the edge of the beach watching the sea, when suddenly Trey turned to me, took my face in his hands and kissed me. I kissed him back. I liked Trey, and after all he deserved it after such a wonderful evening.
If only there wasn't Bryan on my mind...