Whitney. Whitney. Whitney. Bobby B. Whitney. Don't ask questions. Just crank the hell out of this and lip sync like your life depends on it. So Emotional by Whitney Houston.
So I know this has been old news, but honestly, it really took me this long to even want to talk about the atrocity that is the trailer for the live action movie version of Jem and the Holograms. Let us start by discussing my own personal history and love for the original 80’s cartoon.
As a kid I loved a lot of things and watched a lot of stuff. Having an older brother, I was exposed to a variety that I would probably never thought to watch like Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, and Transformers. The two shows that I loved the most growing up was She-Ra Princess of Power and Jem and the Holograms. These two shows inspired so much for me as a kid that when I grew up and fell in love with writing, I knew I wanted to create something that would inspire that same imagination and enjoyment for other generations. Jem and the Holograms has always been more than just a show for me for this very reason. It’s colorful look and music solidifies what the 80’s mean, and probably a massive reason why I am obsessed with the decade still. Even the toys were more than just dolls. They came with cassette tapes of the theme song and a bonus song. I would wear those tapes out. It was a great show that embraced variety and culture.
For years, I have been teased with the dream of a live action version of Jem and the Holograms ever since Hasbro announced that the movie rights were bought shortly after the box office success of the first Transformers movie. Those rights were held onto for a few years, until they announced that they planned on going forward in shopping around for scripts and directors. Exciting for a nerd, I know, but that still meant we would be waiting awhile. Then about a year ago it was officially announced that director, John Chu, best known for the Step Up films and the last G.I. Joe, was going to take up the helm and make this movie happen. As much as I was unimpressed with the last G.I. Joe movie, I figured his work with concert films and the Step Up franchise would have sufficed enough as qualifications for the nature of Jem and the Holograms.
Once Chu took over and got screenwriters on board, they started spamming the fan base. They even made it believable that the fans could actually get an opportunity to become a part of the film. They declared that they were just as big fans as the rest of us. They opened auditions, but honestly it seemed that regardless of the outpouring of interest from the fandom, they still ended up picking lesser known actors, but actors in the trade nonetheless.
After all of the love, support, and excitement that was given to this project, we were shortly thereafter told that the film was completed a few months after officially hiring the actresses. Not a great sign, but it is possible that a labor of love could have been easy to achieve if the drive and passion was there. The film began to receive backlash for this after already dealing with the backlash of casting choices particularly for the character of Shana. This wasn’t really a great way to start the program, but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I still believed in hope.
Then that fateful Wednesday happened, and they dropped the trailer for what was supposed to be the Jem and the Holograms movie. I have no idea what the hell John Chu intended for this movie, but he sure as hell didn’t make a Jem and the Holograms movie. To say I was upset after watching it, is putting it lightly. I was devastated. Please understand that I personally allow for variations of material when adapted for the big screen. I get that film adaptations have to make changes especially due to time constraints, but the only thing resembling the original 80’s cartoon is the damn title and the names of the characters. This may actually be cute or entertaining for someone who has no idea what Jem and the Holograms is really about. For a fan, this is what happened in the trailer. Someone took something as entertaining and fun as the show Friends and simply changed Monica’s name to Jerrica.
Jem and the Holograms is the story of Jerrica inheriting her father’s music business after his passing. While dealing with his death and the untrustworthy issues her father’s business partner, one of her father’s greatest passions in life was helping out the orphans of the Starlight Foundation. Unfortunately, her father’s business partner put an end to funding for the foundation leaving the orphans in dire need. Her father had one last gift, and it was one very large and sophisticated computer, named Synergy. This computer allowed her to create her own band with the power of holograms to win a contest for a mansion, a mansion that they needed for the future home of the Starlight orphans.
Watch the trailer again. Don’t be surprised if nothing about that trailer resembles the above. If you want to have an idea of what good change and modernization of a story looks like, then check out IDW’s comic revival of Jem and the Holograms. There are some changes and variations from the original story, but nothing that takes away from the actual heart of the story. I wish they would have moved from the shy storyline and kept the badass record producer, but I get that they are trying to intrigue teen audiences. The other changes actually help the original nature of the story as far as representing our current and modern culture. Only three issues and it is clear someone knows what they are doing. Now, if only someone from IDW can let John Chu know why he f@#$ed up so badly.
I probably should love Hall and Oates as much as I do, but I will still enjoy them. Just like this track, Out of Touch by Hall and Oates.
Continuing from Afterburn: Chapter 2 Sarah Meyers had a problem with fire. No, she wasn't afraid of it nor did she tote around matches to satisfy any psychological pyromaniac desires, regardless what her therapist thinks. Sadly, her problem was much crazier than her poor therapist could comprehend. Sometimes, if she was angry or scared enough, things around her tended to catch on fire. Sometimes it just happened to be a small trashcan, but other times it could end up being an entire barn. Outside of the possibility of being delusional, which Sarah doesn't buy, she isn't the typical teenage girl. The barn fire forced her father to move the family to his hometown of Sanctuary, Rhode Island, hoping the family name and history would be strong enough to dampen the actions of his delinquent daughter. Now, Sarah has to start the game all over again. New school, more people to avoid, and try desperately to keep herself from setting anymore fires. Sarah soon finds out that some of the kids are not quite like the rest of the others, either. No, there is an old secret in this town that may provide Sarah with answers, but what she may find could be more terrifying than high school, and that's pretty scary. Even though I was still upset with Alton for getting me to go out with him, Annie, and her boyfriend, I had to admit that I ended up having a lot fun. The movie had been terrible, but expected. A good movie based on a book is a rare thing anymore. My new friends enjoyed cracking jokes throughout the movie that had me crying tears of mirth. There were even a couple of moments where the Fed almost made me pee myself. I didn’t even know that kid could talk, let alone be a riot. We had walked to the small ice cream shop across the street from the theater, which I was told was the best in the entire universe by Annie. Her face was so serious when she said that this, that I think she actually believed it. And, honestly, it was totally that good. I was content in my own world lapping up the chocolate heaven that was slowly beginning to melt from the cone in my hand, blissfully ignoring the fact that Alton was staring at me the entire time. The evening was so nice, we decided to walk home through the park. I knew that Annie and the Fed would be breaking off as soon as we found the same spot in the park where we all met earlier. I had graciously allowed Alton to escort me from my home to the others. By graciously, I meant with a scowl, since he had taken it upon himself to come get me from my house. My mother, doing nothing to discourage him, invited him in and showed him up to my room, where a baffled but quickly irritated me opened my bedroom door to them both. Alton said a quick hi, did a quick once over of the room, before inviting himself in with a clearly amused smile on his face, enjoying the invasion of my personal space a little too much. Even though I now wasn’t particularly thrilled to be left alone with him again. Alton had been nice enough not to question me too much throughout the night, choosing to stick to similar interests of books and movies. Annie was yelling at the Fed, playfully, as he chased her about with his ice cream cone. For a quick moment I allowed myself to imagine that this must be what having friends is like. Smiling as your best friend is being chased by her teasing boyfriend. Anticipating the next day, so you can call her and gossip about the cute boy that couldn’t keep his eyes off of you throughout the whole movie. It was a fun little fantasy, but like most of my fantasies, short lived as the reality of my life ripped through these dreams, quickly reminding me of burning barns. I would never be able to have a normal life like this, and I don’t know why I keep letting myself fall so easily instep with it, when I’ve been proven time and time again that this kind of life just will never be for me. The break in the path came quickly with my inner musings. Annie laughed and waved goodbye as she jumped on the Fed’s back. He thought it would be a good idea to run as fast as he could causing Annie to shriek and call out behind that she would call me whether I liked it or not tomorrow. I just blinked stupidly after them perplexed by the similarity of my mini daydream. “She’s a good friend, and she can be one for you, too, if you give her a chance,” Alton’s voice vibrated softly next to my ear, his close proximity startling the ice cream right out of my hand. I turned sharply to face him, poking my finger into his hard chest before saying, “Do you know what personal space is? I actually liked that ice cream.” Alton had the damn nerve to smirk at me, which just infuriated me even more, before he replied, “I’ll just have to buy you another one on our next date.” After which, he promptly turned and started strolling languidly down our path, leaving me standing there, mouth agape. First this guy had the nerve to practically invade my life, and now he assumed that we were on a date? I wonder how smug he would feel with his jacket ablaze. As tempting as that thought was, I had to be careful, because I was annoyed enough to actually do it. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes before counting to ten. “You just going to hang out there all night or are you coming?” Alton called out softly from the tree he had decided to lean against. I opened one of my eyes to stare back at him while continuing my deep breaths. I shut it tightly again, hearing him chuckle, and counted to ten again for good measure before striding forward. He fell into step beside me with a smug smile on his face. “We are not on a date,” I said staring straight ahead at the path before us. He chuckled again. I was really beginning to hate that sound. “I don’t know, Sarah? I did pick you up from your house, buy your ticket, and share my popcorn with you at the movies. That sounds date-ish to me. And, let’s not forget that I’m gallantly escorting you home,” Alton had the nerve to bow like he was some gentleman type from the nineteenth century. Now I was pretty irate and was about to give the guy a piece of my mind when the glint of something silver from the corner of my eye kept me frozen to the spot. The sinking fear I felt was confirmed when I looked at Alton’s face. His eyes were wide and fixed directly behind my left shoulder. I felt a strong hand grip that same shoulder and something firmly poking my lower back. “Nice and slowly, give me your money,” a gruff and rancid voice stated next to my ear. My breathing grew rapid, as the object on my back was pushed further forward, poking me sharply. I must have made a noise, because Alton’s eyes immediately found mine instantly mirroring the panic that I felt. “No funny business, boy, and I won’t slide this blade into your girlfriend. Just give me your money,” the voice sneered. Alton brought his hands up slowly, making sure my captor understood he was willing to comply. He gulped loudly before saying evenly, “Look, I’ll give you my wallet, just don’t hurt her, please.” Alton looked defeated as he slowly reached for his back pocket. I felt the knife shake against me as he chuckled menacingly. I guess Alton’s surrender satisfied him enough that he decided to get cocky, which was a really big mistake. “I don’t know. The girl is awfully pretty. I might just slice up her face just because I can,” he breathed out, amusement clearly in his voice. I certainly wasn’t amused. No I was pissed. Forgive me for losing my cool when someone threatens to slice up my face. Unfortunately for me and especially for chuckles behind me, being pissed off isn’t the only thing that happens when I lose my cool. That was when I felt the knife being pulled quickly away from my back, and the guy began shrieking in fright. I looked at Alton and saw a light dancing in his eyes effectively hiding his expression from me. Spinning around I found my assailant desperately trying to pull off his coat, which was now being consumed by fire. Alton reached out and grabbed my arm yanking my back beside him. The mugger managed to shrug out of the coat before getting injured and took his new found freedom with him as he bolted back down the path and towards the town. I expected a lot of things to happen next, like Alton grabbing me and pulling me towards our homes. Maybe even Alton freaking out and hugging the crap out of me. What I did not expect was Alton putting out the fire. I should rephrase that. I didn’t expect how Alton put out the fire. We were standing near a pond that had gone unnoticed by me until I saw a fluid stream arc out of it, completely on its own, and smoothly smother out the flames on the coat as if ponds do this type of thing all of the time. For someone with the tendency to set fires at any random moment just by thinking about it, one would think that a little water floating up out of a pond wouldn’t be as alarming. It sure is. Yeah, I totally freaked and grabbed poor Alton’s hand squeezing the hell out of it, which he returned with enthusiasm, making me assume he was also having issues dealing with what was happening. Then Alton spoke, “Personally, I would have aimed for his shoes. Would have gotten him running quicker, but the coat was just as effective.” I broke from his grip, spinning to face him. I could see the ghost of a smirk fade off of Alton’s face. I could feel my pulse begin to race and the air around me start to crackle. Alton must have felt the sudden change, because he quickly put his hands up in a defensive position. “Whoa, whoa! Calm down! I am not going to hurt you. I am just like you. Please just take a breath and calm down,” Alton pleaded with me. “Don’t tell me to calm down! Who are you?” I growled bringing my hands up as a shield. “What the hell do you want with me?” “Nothing!” Alton cried, “Hell, you act as if you don’t know what you are?” He stopped then and looked at me, ice blue icy jumping across to study me, before hesitantly asking, “You don’t know what you are?” “What the hell do you mean by what I am?” I bit back at him, as a tiny lit spark of fire flashed quickly in the space between our feet before extinguishing. Alton’s eyes quickly dropped to the flame eyeing the spot it left warily. He voiced pleaded shakily, “Look, I am just like you. Not with the whole fire thing, but we are the same,” he swallowed before continuing, “You clearly don’t know about your family or your grandmother. We heard stories about your grandmother keeping it a secret from your father after your grandfather died, but we thought he would have figured it out. Especially with all of your suspected arson incidents.” “What the hell are you talking about?” I growled, my fear slowly dissipating into anger. Alton was clearly not going to hurt me, but it didn’t mean I would just easily trust him. “My family has nothing to do with my abilities, Alton. I am a freak of nature.” “Yeah, well you’re not the only one, and definitely not the first one in your family. The Meyers have quite the history, something that either was well-hidden from your father or he has conveniently chose to ignore,” He bravely tried to slowly step forward, quickly stopping when a flash of fire lit up quickly at his feet, snuffing out in warning. He nodded when his gaze moved slowly up from the spot and caught my narrowed eyes. I raised up a finger to him and seethed, “Leave me alone,” before turning on the spot and bolting down the path towards my house. I could hear Alton call after me, but it seemed he was smart enough not to follow me. My lungs began to slowly burn with my speed, but I forced myself to listen to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement. I refused to focus on anything other than getting into the safety of my bedroom. The lush green area shifted to residential houses, and I kept running. Somehow my feet new where to go. The brick walls identifying my neighborhood appeared, and my eyes focused quickly in on my gate. Gasping for air, when I reached it, I slammed in the code, relieved to hear the wrought iron groaning loading as it begin to move on its hinges. Bolting for the last time to the safety of the house. The lights were off, which was a welcoming sight. That meant that my parents hadn’t made it home yet, and I am sure I didn’t look like a normal kid that just came home from hanging out with friends. I quickly locked the doors up behind me, resetting the security system. I stopped long enough through the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge, chugging it as I slowly trudged my now aching feet up the stairs. My grandmother greeted me at the top. Her expression unchanging since when I had left with Alton, but I was the one now changed. I stared into her green eyes distrusting what I saw, and asked her, “What am I?” Expecting no answer, I simply sighed and said, “Goodnight, Grandmother,” then lumbered, defeated, down the hall and into my bedroom.
Don't everyone go running off to watch Mannequin now! At least stay and enjoy the song first. It is one of those great 80's power ballads. I present Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship.
Continuing from Afterburn: Chapter 1
Sarah Meyers had a problem with fire. No, she wasn't afraid of it nor did she tote around matches to satisfy any psychological pyromaniac desires, regardless what her therapist thinks. Sadly, her problem was much crazier than her poor therapist could comprehend. Sometimes, if she was angry or scared enough, things around her tended to catch on fire. Sometimes it just happened to be a small trashcan, but other times it could end up being an entire barn. Outside of the possibility of being delusional, which Sarah doesn't buy, she isn't the typical teenage girl. The barn fire forced her father to move the family to his hometown of Sanctuary, Rhode Island, hoping the family name and history would be strong enough to dampen the actions of his delinquent daughter. Now, Sarah has to start the game all over again. New school, more people to avoid, and try desperately to keep herself from setting anymore fires. Sarah soon finds out that some of the kids are not quite like the rest of the others, either. No, there is an old secret in this town that may provide Sarah with answers, but what she may find could be more terrifying than high school, and that's pretty scary.
It was Monday morning and my first day of school. To say I was uncomfortable would be an understatement. Wedged between my parents with a folder filled with psychological evaluations, a consent letter from my psychiatrist, and legal privacy documentation clutched tightly within my father’s hand was not how I imagined my first day of school. I figured I would be greeted by the principal and shoved into the hand of the poor student assigned to be my guide while I attempted to avoid as many people as possible. I guess there was still hope for the last part.
Because of the fire, I had to be approved by the school board for admission, much to my father’s annoyance, which was partly due to our name in the community and mostly due to legal reasons. The Meyers family has been giving a yearly, sizable donation to the school corporation, not to mention that the auditorium is named after my great grandfather, William Prescott Brannelly.
The fact that the school demanded medical certification of my sanity was insulting to my father. The lawyer in him not only has supplied paperwork concerning my psychological profile, but also several copies of legal literature highlighting my rights to attend a public school. I didn’t really mind so much. Who wouldn’t be scared of a girl that randomly sets things on fire and burnt down an entire barn? It’s only fair, especially since I’m not even aware of what I’m fully capable of. The school was looking for proof that I wouldn’t suddenly go up to some random kid with a lighter and set his or her recent blowout ablaze, not that I need a lighter.
I have been previously given a probationary period of six months and have to keep supplying updated consents from my psychiatrist. This is what the school board is standing by, but I have a feeling that after my father shoves the forms and contracts he brought with him under the principal’s nose, that all of this will be brushed off as a misunderstanding. He’s even going to let them keep the psychiatric evaluations, only because they say I am not dangerous to anyone, just to myself. I am sure my father knows how the angle of being forthcoming with that information will look in trial. I just wonder if he would have been so eager to hand it over if the information actually stated the opposite.
The long awaited Principal Addams, a stout middle aged woman without a hair out of place, finally graced my family with her presence, frowning after absorbing all the forms that were promptly placed before her by my smug father. My mother, the dutiful wife, continued to mirror my father’s expressions. After some short-lived tension, the principal finally addressed me by introducing herself and the school, then promptly called for the before mentioned poor soul who would have the pleasure of showing me around. I found myself being shoved out of the office into the presence of a short redheaded girl named Annie Anderson with only a quick goodbye to my parents.
Annie was definitely not the girl that I expected. The retro rock t-shirt paired with worn jeans finished off with a couple of marked up sneakers was the kind of outfit I’d prefer to be wearing right now instead of the flower tunic dress that my mother insisted on me wearing. I don’t really do dresses and wasn’t thrilled to be in one. This is what I expected my guide to be wearing. Eyebrow raised, Annie seemed to be having the same impression of me.
“Looks like we have home room together,” Annie said handing me my schedule, eyebrow still raised. “We have three more after that.” She paused for a second squeezing her eyes together and shaking her head quickly before smiling warmly at me. “Sorry, I’m Annie Anderson,” she said to me, holding out her hand.
“Sarah Meyers,” I replied shaking her hand.
“Nice to meet you,” she smiled. “As much as it blows being the new kid in such a small school, this place is virtually impossible to get lost in,” Annie snickered. She placed the pencil she had been holding behind her ear and grabbed my arm gently, guiding me through the halls, weaving in and out of the various teenagers. Every once and awhile Annie would throw her hand up in a wave or nod at a few students.
“Mr. Rick is our home room leader and history teacher.” She paused before continuing, running her fingers through her long red hair. “I think I’ll let you make your own judgments of Fuhrer Rick, and, yes, that is his last name, first name being Richard. I can only hope his middle name is Randy, cause that would make my day,” she waggled her eyebrows at me, blue eyes twinkling, and making me laugh. “A little advice, always do the homework whether it’s right or not and use footnotes on papers. That usually keeps the beast happy and off your case.”
“Thanks for the warning,” I replied. “Forgive me for mentioning this, but you’re not the typical overachiever that usually gets this job.” I said to her as we entered a classroom behind a couple of guys that Annie shoved playfully along.
“Oh, I’m an overachiever. Top of the class here, but that’s as far as I go with bragging. I like showing new meat around. I think everyone should be given the proper information to survive this hellhole. I’m a rebel like that,” Annie replied, pointing at a desk for me near the back and slid into the one next to it.
“I know you’re not what you seem either.” She chuckled at me when I narrowed my eyes at her. “Hey, no need to get testy. I was just letting you know that unfortunately not all of your secrets have remained as such. Gossip is an evil affliction that has consumed this town and not even I can escape it all the time,” she said, nonchalantly, which was actually irritating since she basically told me that the entire town knows how big of a freak I was.
“In my opinion, you learn quickly that not everything is what it seems in this town, and in your case, so you burned down a decrepit old barn. Sounds to me that you probably prevented it from falling down on some poor bastard’s head. I mean, you’re not the first person nor the last person with issues, right?”
“You don’t hold anything back do you?” I asked, slightly puzzled.
“Not in my nature, and time’s too precious to waste on BS,” Annie stated while shrugging.
A few more kids were shuffling through the room to their seats. I knew that I needed to regain my stoic demeanor. I don’t think I talked to anyone this much in the first few months of a new school let alone the first day. This blunt conversation I was experiencing was definitely throwing me off. Immersing myself back into school was my only option right now. Unfortunately, the way to get started in this would be to ask someone about it, and Annie was the only person available. A couple of kids laughing as they came through the door caught my gaze before I could ask Annie about what we were studying, and who other than Alton should come strolling in behind them. He brightened when he caught my startled gaze and headed for the desk right in front of mine.
“Just the boy I was looking for,” Annie said happily to Alton, giving me a chance to regain my composure. “The Fed and I were thinking about getting a bunch of people together to see the new horror film tonight. You interested?” she asked him, propping her head up on her hand.
Alton squeezed his eyes together dramatically, pretending to be deep in thought, before answering, “Yeah, I can come. I don’t have any plans.”
“Cool, but you know the rules. I only let you slum with us outcasts as long as you don’t bring that dickhead cousin of yours or that revolting female who insists on drooling on your shoulder at lunch,” Annie pulled out a pencil from behind her ear and pointed it menacingly at him. “I don’t want to have to hit anyone on my night off.”
Alton smirked then clutched his hands to his chest and replied, “Ah, Anderson, I’m touched that you would have those feelings for me. Here you are confessing that you stare longingly at me during lunch.”
“You’re adorable, Alton, really,” she exasperated, “Just let The Fed hear you say that. Do you know how hard it is to ignore a screeching cockatoo that squeals out ‘Oh, Alton’ every five minutes when you’re trying to execute your basic right of digesting?”
“Tell me how you really feel, Annie,” Alton chuckled. Turning to me he asked, “What about you? You should come, too.”
I shifted uncomfortably under his eager stare, before answering, “Probably not. I, uh, still got a lot to unpack at the house. I should really help my mom out with that first.”
I knew exactly what movie they were talking about, and a part of me was tempted to say yes, because I wanted to see it that much. I didn’t know what was going on here. When I started my last school, I just got pointed in the right direction of my classes. The only people to actually talk to me extensively were the teachers, concerning caught up assignments. I instantly established myself as a pariah. Here, even with the knowledge of a barn fire flying around faster than a fighter jet, I’m getting asked to hang out, and my first class hasn’t even started.
Alton gave me a knowing smile, easily reading through my fib. If he wanted to call me out, he never voiced his opinion. It was odd, but nice. I may want to be left alone, but I never wanted to be known as a bitch.
The lively classroom quickly settled as a short, stocky man blew open the classroom door, wearing a suit that hadn’t seen an iron in the last ten years. His very presence cast a ripple of silence across the students. Alton immediately faced forward and began pulling out his textbook and notebook, an action that the rest of the class mimicked. I glanced quickly over at Annie to find her pointing at her own books and gesturing to me warily.
Setting his briefcase down loudly on the front desk, Mr. Rick cleared his throat obnoxiously, clearly trying to maintain the fear he had over the class. People like him didn’t faze me at all. It is kind of hard to worry about what a teacher thinks about you when you know you can burn down his house…accidently of course. He stared around the students before finally saying, “I hope that you all are eagerly awaiting to hand in your research papers. Especially you, Mr. Donavon.” Mr. Rick smiled haughtily at a sleepy looking kid in the third row. “I always await what gibberish you tend to fill multiple sheets of paper. I’m always torn between amusement and general anger over having wasted my time,” he sneered.
It didn’t take long for the teacher’s eyes to find me in the back, causing him to smile, sickly, before saying, “It looks as though we have been honored with a new student. Come forth Miss Meyers, so that we can get to know you.” He beckoned me forward using his hand.
I got up slowly, Alton giving me a reassuring smile as I passed, which seemed to do the opposite of helping. I definitely have never been put on the chopping block before. This teacher seemed to revel in superiority and making sure that others were always aware of that.
Mr. Rick met me at the front of the desk, sizing me up before remarking to the class more than to me, “Miss Meyers, in this classroom you will find that it matters less who you are and more what you know, so tell me, dear, what do you know of our current subject, the Women’s Suffrage movement?”
I shot a look at the staring faces that awaited my answer before swallowing hard and replying, “One of the first major victories was prohibition, even before gaining the right to vote.”
Mr. Rick nodded his head slowly in agreement before addressing me. “I can see that some intelligence resides within you. It is a wish I have of every student I have to encounter. Please don’t disappoint me, Miss Meyers, now that you have set a standard for yourself. I find myself satisfied, so you may take your seat,” he said stately, raising his arm in the direction of my seat. “As for the rest of you, turn to chapter fifteen in your text.”
* * *
I found myself in a blur of textbook readings, until at last it was lunch time. Annie, who had promptly met me outside as she had done all day, helped me find my locker again and then steered me towards the lunchroom. Once we collected our meals of overly square shaped pizza and lukewarm fries, Annie did not give me the option of finding my own table, but dragged me to one where a boy with shaggy brown hair sat devouring pizza.
Annie smiled affectionately at the guy before sitting next to him and pointing a chair for me to do the same. As she patted his head, she said to me, “He may be an animal, but I can’t help but adore him.” She pointed at where I sat, tugging at the boy’s sleeve to gain his attention before saying, “Babe, this is the new girl, Sarah Meyers.” To me, she said, “This is my boyfriend, Jackson Federline, but everyone just calls him The Fed. As you can see, he’s not much of a talker. It works better that way for me.”
I gave a small wave to the boy, earning only a raised eyebrow before he returned to his lunch. His indifference was quite refreshing and more what I’m used to. Smiling, I turned to check out the rest of the lunchroom. Alton’s table was next to us as Annie mentioned before. He gave me a wave when we made eye contact. I just nodded back at him. He sat with a large group of kids that included the ones from the car. Arrogance seemed to flitter out from the table, which was the opposite of mine I discovered after scanning the rest of the room. Annie and The Fed really just didn’t seem to care about anything, while the rest of the student body continued to glance at Alton’s table with awe and envy. These were obviously the popular kids of the school.
When I glanced back at Alton’s table, I found the girl, Handley, staring back menacingly. She made no attempt to hide her emotions when Alton shrugged her away and got up to make his way towards, well me, which did nothing but earn me an even fiercer look from Handley. Alton just sidled up and sat in the chair between me and Annie like nothing was amiss.
Reaching across to shake The Fed’s hand before gesturing towards me and saying, “Well, I just had the best idea. After getting to know our new friend, Sarah, yesterday, I am aware that she is a kindred spirit of ours.” He said all of this without looking at me, which to be honest irked me. Unaware of my feelings, Alton said, “I figured she was bummed by not being able to see the movie with us. It just so happens that fate is working in her favor, and she can now. I was thinking we could grab food at the usual place and celebrate our new found friend here,” He finished by patting my shoulder affectionately.
What the hell is this guy talking about? I am not going to a movie with him or anybody else for that matter. My irritation was beginning to boil over at this point, prompting me to say, “Excuse me, but I clearly told you I had to help my mom out, regardless what you think you know.” My eyes bore into him to emphasis just how serious I was. I barely know this guy, and he just shows up and starts dictating what I can and cannot do? Did he really expect me to be okay with this?
Alton smiled charmingly at me before adding, “It’s cool. Your mom said you could go.”
“You talked to my mother?” I cried, incredulously.
Raising his hands up as a shield, he quickly answered, “Whoa. I didn’t ask her.” His cheeks darkened a little as those stunning blue eyes began looking everywhere, but at me. With a softened voice, he added, “My mom kind of did.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, wondering how only one person, a person I just met, could have caused me so much irritation in less than a day. Apparently, my face translated enough of my sentiments, because Alton began cringing.
He threw up his hands in a defensive gesture, and quickly stated, “She just called me during my free period to tell me that I would have to fend for myself for dinner, because she and my father were taking your parents out for dinner. I then told her I was fine, because I was already going out tonight to the movies.” The one breath he used for that sentence finally running out, he took in a quick ragged breath before continuing. “My mother,” he emphasized, “then informed me that she had a great idea. She said that I should invite you to come with me so that you could see the town and meet some of my friends. This idea was then immediately shared with your mother, who just happened to be right there with her. Your mother thought it was a great plan and signed off on it saying that you would have a great time.”
He paused then, looking at me strangely like I was a giant rubik’s cube he was trying to solve, before saying, “For someone our age, you seem to have a lot of trust issues.”
My eyes rounded in bewilderment as I took a small, sharp intake of air, when Annie chimed in, pointing a now cold French fry at Alton, “You picked up on that, too?” Seeing my permanently confused expression focus on her, she added, “Don’t be mad, okay? I’m just really intuitive. Being the new kid isn’t a bad thing. You get to start fresh. Be who you want to be.” Annie was waving the same fry up and down in her fingers like is was some kind of conductor’s baton, bouncing down on every word to emphasize her statement.
“Listen, your life is like a novel, Sarah. Sure you could flip back through the pages you’ve already read, obsessing over plots and scenes like you’re going to somehow change them. The problem is that you can’t, and you’ll miss out on the important part. The ending. An ending you’ll never discover, if you don’t take the chance and read the next page,” she said matter-of-factly, only to pop the entire fry she had been holding into her mouth.
What kind of twilight zone did I end up in? Who the hell were these kids? Regardless of how poetic and weirdly poignant that little speech was, what the hell kind of teenager talks like that?
I guess my face must have shifted from shock to confusion, because Alton decided to say with all seriousness, “That was just another fine example of why every single Ivy League school in the country has been hounding her with literature even though she’s only a junior.”
“Most of them even waived the application fee,” Annie added, brightly.
“This is definitely going to be an interesting school year,” I sighed dejectedly. With a half-smile, I picked up one of my own cold fries and began chewing slowly.
Don't ask me why, but I have been jamming to this song for the last week. Just blaring it on the way home from work and singing horribly from the top of my lungs. Who doesn't love some Billy Ocean? I give you Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.