The last place she thought she'd end up in her first year of high school, and all because she tried to be cool and got caught learning how to smoke in the school backyard.
There he was, sitting on the front seat of detention, the guy he tried to look cool for. Her heart pounded faster. She didn't expect to see him there. Theodore Jordan Shanley, the annoyingly good-looking senior, the soccer star athlete of Pinehurst Valley High, and the coolest guy in school who was her brother's best friend since kindergarten.
It's unfair how some people could grow up to be so cool while others stay as plain as a burlap no matter how hard they try. At least that's how she felt when her boobs started to grow, got her first period, and thought she would magically turn into a unicorn.
Instead, she still wears her favorite denim overall, an oversized sweater underneath it, her washed-out sneakers, tied her hair in a bundle, and covered it with a large bandana. Not that she knew another way to dress, she always prefers comfort over trends.
He was leaning his head on his palm looking half asleep. His light brown hair fell over his face. His head fell and jolted him. The first thing he saw was her walking past his seat. "Mickey?"
She hated that nickname. He's the only one who called her that because of a stupid incident that happened years ago when she was 9.
"What are you doing here?" he asked with a bewildered look on his face. "Detention? Really?" It was rather unbelievable because Hazel was not the kind of girl who would ever get herself in trouble.
She walked past him and took a seat in the back, "Long story." She threw herself on the chair, didn't really want to explain how embarrassing it was to be caught coughing on her first drag of cigarette smoke. "Just don't tell my mom."
He raised his brows and turned his back on her because the teacher's assistant gave them a look for talking in detention.
She took out her notebook from her backpack and started doodling. She would glance at him every few minutes just to admire him from the back. She had been doing that for years even when he came by to her house to hang out with Max, she would always find excuses to be able to be seen.
He'd seen her. Not the least bit interested in his best friend's quirky little sister whom he always called Mickey because she wore a Mickey Mouse costume on Halloween. She was 9 years old and he was 11. They went trick or treating together with Max and some other kids from the neighborhood. Everyone else was wearing scary costumes but Hazel wanted to wear something cute. She insisted on wearing that Mickey costume despite her mom persuaded her to wear something that's more in line with everybody else.
She wanted to stand out, and that she did. Theo never let her forget that night when he started to call her Mickey even until they're in high school together 7 years later. She was 16 now. Never been kissed, and never got over her crush on Theo even after she watched him, date girl, after girl since middle school.
She flirted with other guys, but none was more interesting than Theo. Smoldering green eyes, gorgeous wavy hair, and a playful smile. She would drop everything she was doing just to be able to spend a few minutes with him on an uneventful occasion. Pretended she was fine hanging out with his girlfriend even though it broke her heart every time she saw them cuddling and kissing.
Mickey ... she doodled it on her notebook. She hated it because it sounded silly and childish. It meant he only saw her as that little girl with the wrong costume, his best friend's little sister who never grew up in his eyes. She wanted him to see her as a big girl now, but it seemed impossible because she will always be Max's little sister.
Mickey ... she loved the fact that it was a special thing she has between her and Theo. No one else calls her that. But who was she kidding? He's 18 and was about to graduate. For seven years she had kept those feelings, and never once he showed any interest in her. Why would he start now?
When the bell dings, detention was over. She gathered her stuff and felt the tension trying to find words to say to him. Before she could think of anything, he turned to her, "Hey ... Mickey ... you want a ride home?"
Her heart bloated, she didn't want to rush her answer. They were neighbors, it was the most practical thing to do. "Sure." She wondered if her answer sounded cool enough. Then she thought of what she was going to say to him in the car, his new vintage red convertible that everyone at school talked about.
It's not like they've never been alone with each other, but her secret crush on him made her feel out of place whenever he's around. They walked toward the door in silence. If it was any quieter, he could probably hear her nervousness. Once the door opened, Peyton Brown was standing in front of it. The super hot blonde cheerleader in her practice uniform was waiting for her boyfriend. He leaned over and kissed her.
Hazel pretended not to look.
"Hey handsome ... sorry I couldn't join you in there, did you miss me?" she looped her arm around his, marking her territory, letting the world know she was his girl.
"You know I do," he said sweetly and kissed her again.
Hazel rolled her eyes almost as loudly as her gag re-flux.
"But I'm not alone in there ... look who's got her first detention," he added.
"Oh ... wow ... Hazel? What did you do?" her tone was unbelieving.
She waved a dismissive hand, "Ah ... you know ... they exaggerate everything ... you know what ... I just remembered something, I have to stop by at Janice's place ... so you guys go ahead, I'll just go home by myself."
"Are you sure? I can drop you off at Jan's," Theo said.
She was already walking away, "No, that's okay, I need the walk," she didn't have a better excuse. She couldn't possibly tell him that she couldn't stand his cheerleader girlfriend. Out of all his previous girls, Peyton was the worst. She was tall, gorgeous, popular and everything she's not, and they looked absolutely great together.
She let out a long sigh, at least she didn't have to sit in the backseat, and watched them gobbled each other up. She didn't really have to stop at Janice's, she was just not in the mood to pretend she was okay to see him with his girlfriend.
In less than a year, he'll be off to college. As a sports superstar, he's got colleges lining up to take him to be their student. Not only he was the captain of the school soccer team, but he was also a wrestling champion. Theo was always very physical since he was a kid, he loves the outdoors, going on adventures, something that she has in common with him. But the only reason she could do things together with Theo was that Max was there too. She was the tag-along sister who didn't have many friends she could hang out with, and Max was a great older brother who let her come wherever he goes.
Her stupid crush has occupied most of her teenage years, and it's not even close to being over. As she was thinking about it, his car passed by her near the schoolyard.
"Hey ... Mickey ... you sure you don't want a ride?"
Damn it. He looks so cool driving that convertible, one arm on the wheel, the other hanging on the edge of the door. His wavy hair floated against the breeze, vintage yellow shades slid down on his nose, and his blonde girlfriend nibbling at his ear.
She faked a smile, "No, thanks ... maybe next time."
He pursed his lips, pushed his glasses up, "Suit yourself ... see ya' Mickey." Then he drove off.