You’re headed to school. You can’t believe it, finally the day has come, after months of waiting. Charlie is coming to give a speech at school today about the power of newmedia. Your mom turns and asks why you look extra done up today. “I am not extra done up, I’m the same as always.” Embarrassed, you look out the window and stay silent for the rest of the trip. You hope your classmates won’t notice the extra work you put into your morning routine as quickly as your mom did.
First period drags on. You try to focus on your school work hoping that will help the time move quicker, but you glance up at the clock every forty seconds. 8:30, 8:34, 8:35, 8:37, 8:37 and a half. You try counting seconds, even attempt to make conversation with the people sitting around you.
Finally, second period comes. It’s study hall so at least you can spend your time silent in thought instead of pretending to workon assignments. You listen to the girls talking behind you.
“I’m so excited to see Charlie after his speech, my mom is friend’s with his aunt so we’re going to say hi and get lunch afterwards”
You turn to see who the voice is: Eleanor. Eleanor watches youtube? The girl you’d grown up with for years, then abandoned you for cooler friends in middle school? Eleanor watches youtube? You turn your attentionforward and think I guess youtube isn’t underground anymore.
“That’s SO exciting, Eleanor. Charlie’s so cute, you too would be a perfect couple”
Haley too? You try to brush it off. This sounds like something Eleanor would lie about for attention, how could her mom possibly know Charlie’s aunt?
The bell rings and you jump. Nervously you collect your books, time to head to the assembly.
“Why are you all done up today?” You turn and realize Eleanor is talking to you. “Not expecting to catch Charlies attention are you?”
“As if.” Haley adds, “Like Charlie would ever be interestedin someone as plain as you.”
“It’s cute that you’re trying though.”
They laugh and walk out ahead of you. You burn with embarrassment, of course someone would notice. You chastise yourself. You wear the same tshirt and jeans everyday to school and for the first time you’re in a dress and makeup. Did you really think people wouldn’t see how hard you’re trying?
You catch your reflection on the way to the assembly hall. Stupid, stupid. But your heart races with excitement anyway. You can’t help it, and you can’t help but hope you might catch his attention. Maybe get to have a real conversation. You blush just knowing how much you secretly want to talk.
The assembly fills up and you choose a spot in the middle left. Don’t want to sit too close and be packed in with the fan girls, or too far away and risk not being able to properly hear him. Two rows up and to the right you catch Eleanor applying her millionth layer of lipgloss.
Someone walks out and your heart jumps, but it’s just Scott, the class president there to introduce Charlie. He talks a bit about what an honor it is to have Charlie here, rattles off about some school anouncements. You look over again and spot Eleanor fixing her hair, when all the fan girls up front start screaming.
What? What did I miss?
“Alright everyone! Calm down. Charlie’s going to be doing a meet and greet after his speech so just hang around during lunch if you’d like to say hello.”
You can’t believe it, you are going to meet Charlie. You ring your hands and hope the person sitting next to you can’t feel the excitement coming off of you. You secretly hate that you’re letting yourself get this excited, you’re no different than the mindless fan girls after all.
And suddenly, Charlie’s walking out on stage. You see his smile, his hair, his mole, you take it all in. Wondering now if choosing to sit so far back was a smart idea. He starts his speech, and there’s something so different about him. So charming and honest, and modest about him. He’s so funny and the assembly laughs at all the right spots, and you can’t help but laugh too.
Then it’s all over and everyone’s applauding. Charlie waves to the audience, and you secretly hope he’ll look at you.
“Charlie!” Eleanor shouts with a wave.
He turns to look at her, a moment of recognition, and waves back. Eleanor turns to Haley “Told you so.” and your heart sinks. She wasn’t lying, she actually knows him.
Everyone’s getting up now to go meet him. Charlie’s in the crowd now, surrounded by people. You stand in the back, ringing your hands again, and suddenly you’re self concious about your makeup and your dress. Why didn’t i just wear what I always wear? Why am I trying so hard to look like one of them anyway? Why do I even care?
You turn away from it all. Desperately hoping no one can sense how stupid you feel. Charlie’s interested in the Eleanor-type, just like everyone else. Why am I even surprised? You leave the assembly hall and hold back how upset you really feel. Stupid. So stupid.
It’s after school now and you head to the bathroom to whip off your make up. You pull your hair back up into it’s usual ponytail. Nothing to be done about the dress, but what does it matter anyway. You leave to go catch your bus and realize you must have taken longer than you thought, bus is gone, almost everyone’s left the campus. You sigh and sit down on the curb, you regret the dress once again as the autumn chill sets in. You shiver and lean against your backpack. Reflecting on todays expectations and realities. Suddenly, you sense you’re not alone. Again the embarrassment and vulnerability in thinking they may have caught what you were thinking.
“Your ride late too?”
“I don’t have a ride, I take the bus” You retort.
The stranger sits down next to you. “Me too,” he says. “I just wanted to sound cool.”
You look over at him, and have a moment of shock. Charlie. Charlie is sitting next to you right now.
“Ummm… hi.” You meekly say. Please don’t let him notice how nervous I am.
“I’m Charlie by the way.”
“Yeah, I know who you are, you gave a speach at the assembly today.” You play it off, you know him from the assembly and not youtube.
“Something like that.”
You sit for a moment in silence.
“Here, take my hoodie. I can see you shivering” He hands you his black and white striped hoodie, your hands touch for a moment. He looks at you now, he’s so close to you, you can see his eyelashes. You want to say something, tell him how much of an influence his videos have had on your life. He lifts his hand and softly brushes your bangs out of your face. He moves closer and you can feel his breath.
“Who are you?” He says.
He puts his other hand on your face, then stabs you in the throat with a hunting knife. You bleed to death on the pavement.