Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Pride and Princesses by Summer Day chapter one
Best Friends and Sisters
When we arrived at school the next morning, Mark and Jet were nowhere to be seen. The boys were hanging out in packs. The girls had already formed their own little cliques: the usual stuff - sporty, indie, nerdy, skeezie, emo-wearing black. Study an ancient DVD of an eighties teen film and you’ll get the idea. The Sunrise High general studies stream was a fusion of select public school purgatory. Only the fittest would survive.
Mouche and I had first walked the halls of Sunrise in sophomore year. We were transfer students and dance majors from the academy we attended in Bel Air: The Los Angeles High School for Young Ladies. Back then, we wore uniforms that made us look like little nuns. Public school was a big contrast. Huge. We barely had a dress code but were well acquainted with the Princesses when they appeared in the hall: a mirage, as if like magic.
“Magic? They are clearly bad girls in disguise,” Mouche stated.
“Just bad, bad, bad,” I reiterated. “I think boys like bad girls though, don’t you?”
“Probably,” Mouche conceded. “But who knows what the boys in this place are looking for?” Mouche said as we observed a Harry Potter obsessive adjusting his fake glasses and etching a lightning scar on his forehead with charcoal in preparation for an acting class. Mouche and I had lain low as transfer students and couldn’t believe how unlucky we were when Teegan, Tory, Brooke and Freya were expelled soon after we were politely shown the door at the Los Angeles High School for Young Ladies. Oh, did I say ladies? It’s not the most appropriate word. The Princesses were fairly considered to be the most evil teenage girls Sunrise had ever produced; two sets of non-identical twins with plans to take over their new school, safe in the belief that since their fathers owned half of Sunrise, the school was theirs for the taking.
“This place is wild,” Mouche said as we rounded the corner that led to a row of lockers.
“At least it’s cheap,” Brooke chimed in with mock consolation.
“I can’t believe the Princesses have ended up at the same school as us....I heard they were expelled from HSYL....big surprise...”
Then Teegan morphed into our world, like dry ice, her red hair as shiny as her lip gloss.
“It’s less shameful than not being able to afford the fees,” Teegan sniggered.
“Oops,” Mouche said, placing her newly painted fingernails across her mouth as if she wasn’t sorry she ’d been overheard. “I’d forgotten her extreme sensitivity during lunar eclipses.”
Peter Williamson, meandering behind us, laughed out loud. He considered Teegan a hormonal witch on a good day.
I ignored the Princesses and began searching my locker for the greatest scene study text ever written, An Actors Guide to Method Acting.
Then, out of the dank and dull drudgery of morning classes, the boys from the airport appeared.
They looked stunning.
Mark had his sunglasses in hand, his dark hair freshly washed d and he smelled like Boycandy aftershave. Endearingly, he also looked lost as he tried to establish class locations. When he paused near my locker, looked up flustered, then looked back down again, I was totally lost for words. Mark managed to find six.
“Hello,” he said hesitantly, looking at Mouche. “I’m looking for room...three...”
He was at least a foot taller than me (so was Jet) and I thought I had more right to be shy since they were total man models in disguise. I thought Mark was hotter, though, simply because I had been reading Austen and decided I liked dark haired men. But really, both of the boys were super hot.
Also, Mark was smart. Perhaps I was already a little intimidated by his grey matter. He was carrying a physics text after all. Mouche and I were clearly missing out on something (“some higher level of boredom,” Mouche observed), because we did not understand physics, nor did we wish to.
Jet was quite garrulous for a boy and politely interrupted Mark. “I’m sorry, we’re new, obviously, and we’d like to know where room 308 is located...”
I looked down at my folder then inched another glance beyond the paper towards a confused Mark Knightly. He looked so adorable in his black jacket and retro jeans. He definitely resembled a young James Franco. (Thereafter, pre-men like Mark will be known through the famed halls of Sunrise High, as Francos.)
But it was Mouche who led the way, “You can follow us if you like,” she said.
“Most men would never admit they couldn’t follow directions,” Mouche whispered later.
“Oh...thanks,” Jet said, giving Mouche a genuine smile, which she returned in full, “We might even have some subjects together, if you’re lucky,” Mouche said mischievously.
“Mmm, doubt it,” Jet replied, “I don’t take acting.”
Mouche was slightly put out by Jet’s comment and Mark was silent on the subject.
“Actually,” Mouche added, “the mainstream academic students are combining with the performing arts majors this year for English class.”
“Well good,” Jet said, “then we’re sure to see each other again...”
They talked on. It was obvious Jet liked Mouche and he was trying to make up for putting his foot in his mouth.
“I just realized,” I told Mouche as we walked to class, “I forgot my schedule.”
“Okay, see you in ten...” The small group walked on. I ran back to the hall and sorted through my locker, disappointed that neither of the boys took any of my subjects but hopeful Mark would be in my English class.
Peter Williamson, my sometime dance partner, was searching through his locker.
“Hey, Pheebs,” he said.
“Who are the newbies?”
“Two words,” Teegan interjected, “no chance. They’re straight.”
“Mmm...” Peter said, probably just to annoy the Princesses, “I believe that was more than two words. A boy can dream...”
I looked at Peter and smiled. He raised his eyebrow and gave me a knowing glance. On cue Teegan snapped at us.
“As if,” Teegan said trying to retrieve a twisted ballet ribbon that was stuck in the fold of her civilian shoes, “real men don’t dance.”
Peter Williamson looked at Teegan with distain and curled his lip and flicked through his iPod playlist.
“Do you like my skinny jeans, Teegan? I got them from the girl’s section...” Peter said, just to freak the Princesses out.
Teegan looked a bit scared.
“Easily shocked,” Peter mouthed. Peter’s been into Glam Rock forever. I smiled then turned my back on the lead Princess.
I finally found my schedule. Peter made a victory sign and stuck his tongue through his fingers, muttered, “Later,” to me and made a cat’s claw gesture behind Teegan’s back as he sauntered off to class.
“Well, look at you Phoebe. Haven’t you smartened up your image,” Tory, (the second in line to Teegan’s throne), noted as she shut her locker door. The hinge metal was lined with faux pink fur and pictures of all the narcissistic celebrities Tory idolizes. At the moment her hair is bleached blonde in homage to her favorite celeb from some random teen TV show.
“Our dream, people, is to be famous for being famous,” Tory announced to her girl posse that morning. It was hardly news to those of us who knew her well.
The Princesses were usually too self-focused to pay any attention to me although they were more wary when Mouche was around. Alone, I was fair game.
“Wonder where the sister is?” Teegan mused aloud, her thoughts still trailing the newbies.
“Petra is nowhere in sight. She hasn’t been seen for days. Rumor has it she’s being home-schooled.” Brooke (the third Princess) shuddered in a hushed d tone.
“Why? Tory asked.
“Because she’s a freak,” Teegan whispered, already jealous of Petra’s close proximity to Mark.
“Ew, she’s his sister,” Freya remarked during assembly, a little late to catch the crux of the conversation.
The girls all looked up and rolled their eyes. I wondered who the real freaks were and it seemed like Teegan and Tory were sure to fit the bill. What a surprise.
I hurried to class thinking about what Mouche told me over the summer.
Being practically psychic, Mouche predicted a month ago that some “nasty girls that we already knew were going to cause trouble” and “two hot boys” would arrive for junior year.
I prayed the second part of her prediction would come true and now it had. The strange thing was, after almost a whole school year as “creative transfer students”, Mouche and I had managed to fly under the radar, but everyone knew the names of Teegan, Tory, Brooke and Freya from the minute their well-manicured feet stepped through the polished d halls of Sunrise Performing Arts High School. They actually wore color co-ordinated sweaters that fell below their crotches and were belted tightly above their waists that first day they arrived - just to get noticed. It worked.
“Those girls are fashion criminals,” Mouche stated when they sauntered down the hall like a posse of Bratz Dolls. The Princesses had been expelled from HSYL for “undisclosed reasons” but were passably talented so they ended up here. Their primary focus in life seemed to be driving a wedge between other females and boasting about their popularity with the male species. I could’ve told them jealousy and bitterness were wasted emotions but they’d never have listened.
Instead, I did my best to ignore them.
At lunch, Mouche and I sat apart from the Princesses, trying to work out some on-paper choreography for dance class. We overheard them speaking about Mark and Jet in the lunch queue, though.
“Three words...Mark. Knightly. Franco.” Teegan over-enunciated loudly, stealing my pet term. “I actually witnessed Mark Knightly’s arrival at LAX when I touched down from Eye-bee-tha.”
“She knows how to pronounce Ibiza,” Mouche whispered. “We can all sleep well tonight because Teegan has learnt how to pronounce the name of an island off the coast of Spain,” Mouche said. Mouche was way smart.
“Mark Knightly totally wanted me when he arrived in Bel Air,” Teegan continued, adding, “We locked eyes in The Reader’s Nook. Oh well, girls, you can’t rape the willing,”
The Princesses laughed.
“I didn’t know she read,” I whispered to Mouche.
“Teegan’s love of literature is well-known,” Mouche stated loudly as she gestured towards Teegan’s copy of Teen Vogue.
Admittedly, we both loved Teen Vogue but Mouche was out to prove a point.
“Teegan just loves an audience,” Mouche said, as Tory continued.
“...And Jet was undressing me with his eyes this morning, in the hallway before homeroom.”
Brooke rolled her eyes, “Everyone wants the pretty,” she said smugly, “I bet I could even turn Peter straight.”
Freya looked doubtful. I turned my head to glance over at the new boys, hopefully without them realizing it. To my dismay, they were looking at the Princesses who smiled gleefully right back at them.
“Wishful thinking,” Mouche mused as she ate her sandwich.
“Oh please, those girls are disgusting,” I said, wondering if what they said was true about how much all the boys wanted them.
“How they are so secure about their popularity with guys, I don’t know, since there were no males at all to practice on in our previous school,” Mouche added.
“Maybe they did a summer internship,” I added.
“C’mon,” Mouche said and we wandered off to the gym to prepare our shoes for the prospective year. We pulled our pink ballet slippers, newer than they would ever look again, out of our individual tote bags.
At the gym, we began rolling the moistened, darned tips of pink satin shoe in chalk in preparation for class. We smacked the ends on the gym floor to soften the toes. It was quite a long process and one we started at the beginning of the school year and repeated many times. We had to soften the soles, but not too much. There were a few other dance majors in a huddle with us. They all had good posture and acted friendlier than they really were.
Although Mouche and I want to go to New York one day, I’m very focused on high school life and training to become a triple threat, whilst Mouche concentrates on dance, acting and her academic majors.
Our day goes something like this:
As you can see, my schedule beats the usual academia from nine to three plus I managed to drop math and science, which is a good thing because I am totally driven. Even though I might seem shy, I’m never shy onstage, when I’m pretending to be someone else – living in the moment, so to speak.
By the time the Princesses - Teegan, Tory, Brooke and Freya - arrived in the gym, it was pretty obvious they thought they were slumming it at Sunrise High. The girls had an air of superiority which clung to them like cheap cologne. Their dance ensembles were still color co-ordinated, but mercifully their matching black leggings were covered by mini-skirts in various styles (bubble, pleated, ruched and vintage A-line). They were so psyched about not having to wear the HSYL uniforms; they kind of went overboard in the fashion department. The Princesses thought dance class was a beauty pageant.
They thought they were totally it.
“We’re going to get with so many guys this year,” Teegan snarled as she whipped off her skirt and re-tied the satin ribbons on her ballet shoes. She stuck her foot close to the bar next to my hand.
“I was warming up,” I said.
“Excuse me!” Teegan snarled haughtily.
I inched my fingers out of the way as Tory walked over, claimed her spot on the bar and began to flex her ankles.
It wasn’t that Tory was a bad dancer, but she was certainly uninspiring. Although the Princesses never planned on careers in the entertainment business, it didn’t make them any less snarky about women who did.
Tory found her spot on the wall and began her mechanical plies. Brooke fumbled around in her tote bag searching for her hair clip. Teegan abandoned the bar and applied extra gloss to her ample mouth and Freya pulled her hair into a tight bun, keen to look the part even if she couldn’t dance it. Wow, now I’m starting to sound like a Princess.
Besides, I’m giving you the wrong impression.
The Princesses aren’t the main characters in this story. They are just the featured extras, the minor players. They may highlight our plot from time to time but I can’t say for sure how big a part they’ll play as the story progresses.
For now, this tale is really just about me and Mouche and Mark Knightly and his best friend Jet and all the teenage boys we determined to transform from geeks to our personal princes in the course of a year.
This story is also about the plan of action that became a guide we intended to modify as the year progressed. The plan that became the Boy-Rating Diary.
“I’d give them a 9.9,” Teegan said as she performed a reasonable arabesque.
“I’d give them a 9.8” Mouche replied after she did a perfect pirouette. “There’s always room for improvement.”
“I think you’re talking about the same men,” I said under my breath as I pointed my toes and leaned over the bar.
“Game on,” Mouche replied with a smile.
“But we haven’t even worked out the rules,” I whispered under my breath.
“A minor detail,” Mouche replied.
“Not necessarily,” I said.
Everyone stopped talking when Mrs Stefanovich, the dance teacher, arrived.
Mrs Stefanovich was Russian and very strict and even the Princesses were careful to toe the line with her.
“Okay girls, ve are ready now... begin.”
But the whole class, I was thinking about how we’d devise the plan. And as I looked across at Mouche’s furrowed brow, I could tell, so was she.