Going Under

Page 7

“It’s a no go on Taking Risks.” I got my feel for that in day to day life and I didn’t feel like going there with her.

“That leaves Challenging Assumptions or Seeing in New Ways.”

“Princess’ choice,” I offered.

“Alex, I’ll take Seeing in New Ways for one hundred,” she said humorously.

After we chose our ingredient, Mrs. Tanner gave us an envelope with a specific topic to discuss. Preconceived Notions; your partner has one about you, so change it by making him or her see you in a new way. Be creative.

“What’s up with that bullshit?” I asked. What kind of class was this and was I seriously going to get credit toward graduation?

She smirked and said, “Well, this exercise is already over because you just confirmed my preconceived notion about you instead of changing it.”

“What exactly is your preconceived notion about me, Princess?” I asked.

“The exercise doesn’t say I have to identify what my preconceived notion is. It says I have one and you have to attempt to change it by making me see you in a new way, so go for it. Make me see you in a new way because right now, it’s not so delightful.”

“You think I find you delightful? I called you a princess and you called me an asshole. Princess, positive. Asshole, negative.”

“Oh, yeah, you meant Princess in a positive way,” she said while she rolled her eyes the way that only a chick could. “I know what you think of me. I don’t need you to explain.”

“Okay, change my mind. Help me see you in a new way since that is our assignment.”

I could see she contemplated her words carefully and they were guarded when she finally began to speak. “My name is Claire Deveraux. Not Princess. Not Goody Goody. Not Miss Perfection. Not Forbes Henderson’s girlfriend. People assume I’m handed everything on a silver platter because my parents are compensated well for the hard work they do. My life isn’t simple or easy and I’m a real person with real problems. I can never be myself because it isn’t what’s expected. I feel trapped, like it’s never okay to be me because who I really am will disappoint everyone.”

Instead of embracing who she was, she was whining about it and it infuriated me. Try living the way I did and then tell me when it wasn’t okay to be Claire Deveraux because it had never been okay to be Jessie Boone.

When I looked at this chick, I thought she was one of the hottest girls I’d ever seen, but the pity party vibe was a complete turn off and it only proved she was the pampered princess I thought she was.

“Are you serious or are you messing with me?” I accused.

A look of fury came across her face. “I’m totally serious,” she snapped.

“Tell me a time in your life when it would not be okay to be Claire Deveraux? You have everything going for you. I know you come from a wealthy family because I can take one look at the way you’re dressed and know that. Your boots cost more than my truck. I’ve already heard you’re super smart because it’s rumored you are the next valedictorian and you are one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen.”

Somewhere between my first word and the last, I fell into a trap of telling her how wonderful she was instead of how ridiculously spoiled.

She huffed and said, “You’re just like all the others. You only see the outside and what you want to see.”

“Show me something different and maybe I’ll see something different,” I challenged.

She declined my challenge by saying, “My turn’s over, you’re next.”

I considered what her assumption about me must be and decided I didn’t have much of an argument for changing it because most of the things she probably believed about me were true.

“I’m good,” I said, knowing I wouldn’t be off the hook, but unable to resist the attempt.

“No, you’re not good. You’re next.”

“I’m not going to say anything that will change your mind about me, so I’m afraid this exercise may be deemed unsuccessful,” I informed her.

“This is an assignment, so you have to tell me something.”

“Like what?” I asked.

She looked up at me through her long lashes, and in the softest voice I’d ever heard, said, “Tell me something real.”

The way she looked at me almost had me thinking she cared, but then I remembered who I was and who I was talking to and thought a little shock factor might be in order.

“My name is Jessie Boone, aka asshole. I’m a loser from Collinsville like everyone thinks. I don’t come from a rich family like all of you spoiled brats and it completely defines me and what I’m capable of doing, so I’ll never amount to anything because it’s what I’ve been told my whole life.”

Her shock meter didn’t appear to budge in the least.

“So, does this change how you see me or validate exactly what you think you already know about me?”

“No and Yes. No, it doesn’t change what I think about you, and yes, it validates you’re still an asshole.”

8 I Need A Broom Fast


As I walked to my locker after Humanities class, I could only think of Jessie Boone’s severe inconsistency. He was unguarded and sincere for a brief moment when he temporarily forgot to be a jerk. I thought the assignment was successful for a minute and I might be seeing him in a new way, then the thought dissipated as quickly as it formed while I watched him shift back to his former self. I found myself wondering which Jessie was the real one because he couldn’t be both.

The moment I realized he was in my class and sitting behind me, I felt breathless. When I tried to sneak a peek at him, he saw me and grinned to let me know I was caught. The realization of him knowing I was checking him out made me want to die right then and there.

He was probably the most handsome boy I had ever seen. I struggled with calling him a boy because the way his black T-shirt stretched taut across his chest and around his muscular arms clearly proved why the term didn’t fit him.

While I stood at my locker swapping out my books for my next class, I was thinking about the way Jessie’s black tattoo peeked out of his sleeve as he reached to pick up his pencil when it rolled off of his desk. I guess I was in deep fantasy mode because I let out an embarrassing squeal when Payton walked up behind me and began speaking. Mr. Grisham was in the hall and gave us that look-the one we all know that says, “Ladies, keep it down.”

I spun on my heels and said, “Don’t sneak up on me like that, Payton.”

“I did not sneak up on you. You just didn’t hear me because you were off in La La Land…with Jessie Boone,” she whispered in ear.

“I was not,” I lied.

“Oh, my dear Claire, you know you are the worst liar ever. I don’t know why you even try because you practically have a lie meter across your forehead and right now it’s telling me you just told me a big, fat one,” she teased.

“Okay. You’ve got me, but I was only thinking about him because we had second period together and we had to be partners on a class exercise,” I explained innocently.

“Your lie meter is registering a half truth because you were thinking about him as a partner that included exercise, but not on a class assignment. It’s more like the horizontal tango.”

I gave her a shove and said, “No, I’m not. You are so crude you should have been a guy, Payton.”

“Hey, somebody’s gotta keep it real,” she laughed.

Forbes walked up and joined us at our lockers. “What are we keeping real? Payton’s need for Penicillin?”

Payton spun to face Forbes and said, “You are seriously stroking my urge button to pimp slap you, so you better back it up.”

The job of refereeing the two of them was exhausting. I pointed to Payton and said, “You. U.S. History. Now.” I shoved Forbes in the direction of his next class and said, “Go, before you exceed the limits of her restraint to push her pimp slap button.”

I walked into Mr. Buckley’s U.S. History class and sat on the back row with Payton because it was our other thing. Since we didn’t disrupt class, teachers never said anything about us sitting on the back. I was, after all, in the running for Valedictorian and Payton was a fair to good student. On test day she was an even better student when she could see my answers.

We were seasoned note passers and read lips fluently. I guess you could call it our gift. Our favorite trick was to write a note using heavy pressure and pass the blank page underneath, so if taken up, the teacher only saw a blank page. One of us would claim the other needed to borrow a sheet of paper. That little trick had saved us on more than one occasion.

While waiting for Buckley’s class to start, Jessie Boone walked in. I silently prayed he would sit on the opposite side of the room, but he took the seat in front of me. He peered over his shoulder and whispered, “You took my seat.”

I made a show of searching the desk for his name and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t see your name on it anywhere.”

He turned around and begin to write his name across the desktop with his pencil and I hoped it rolled off his desk so I could get another peek at his tattoo as I watched him reach for it. I came to my senses and mentally slapped myself across the hand for thinking such a thought because I’m pretty sure that made me a sucky girlfriend.

“There. Now my name is on it.”

“That’s called destruction of school property,” I sarcastically warned.

My statement amused him and he laughed before he turned around in his seat. I looked down to erase his name and saw it didn’t read Jessie Boone. He had written, ‘U should smile more.’

I leaned forward and whispered, “Why do you say that?”

He peered back over his shoulder again. “Because it looks good on you.”

There it was again; that mysterious inconsistency making me think about Jessie Boone more than I should. Mr. Buckley began class, but I couldn’t hear his words over the fluttering in my stomach. I felt Payton’s stare and turned to look at her, seeing her mouth the word, “Foreplay,” and I laughed to myself while I shook my head.

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