My alarm went off at an incredibly high decibel range and I proceeded to throw it across the room, thus beginning another year-long battle with my alarm clock.  My goal had been to smash it to pieces but it didn’t really work.  Somehow it managed to fall into the bean bag chair in the corner and it just lay there, beeping incessantly while I pulled a pillow over my head and tried to ignore it, which didn’t really work.  Needless to say, my stand-off with the alarm clock didn’t last long and I got up and put it back on my side table, cursing it’s maker as I stumbled my way toward the shower.  What a way to start my day.

The shower made me feel a little better and Mom’s chocolate chip pancakes made me feel a whole lot better.  She must have heard me muttering in the hall and knew that I needed a little bit of a pick me up this morning.

“So are you ready for school?” my mom asked as I scarfed my pancakes. 

“I guess so,” I mumbled.

“What’s wrong Sweetie, didn’t you sleep well last night?”

Ah, my mother, the woman who thinks that every bad thing that could ever happen to you is a result of a bad night’s sleep.  A tree could fall on my head and she would say it was because I’d had a bad dream. 

“I slept fine mom, Bills just woke me up a little earlier than I would have liked.”

“I knew it, I knew you hadn’t slept well.  I think you need to make sure you get to bed early tonight.  You can’t have too much sleep you know.”

“Sure mom,” I grinned as I downed my orange juice and went to brush my teeth.

“Are you working after school today?” my mom called after me.

“Yeah,” I yelled from the bathroom, “I should be home by 6:30.  What about you?”

“Oh, Becky’s closing tonight so I should be home by five, I’ll have dinner ready for you when you get home.  Okay?”

“Sounds great,” I called from my room as I scrounged for something to wear.

I know everyone always makes a big deal about the first day of school, Maggie especially, and how you ought to make a good first impression and all, but I had been going to the same school for the past three years and I just didn’t see the point.  It was the end of August and it was hot and there was no way I was going to sit through my classes in stuffy dress clothes or even a pair of jeans.  My favorite outfit, for the summer anyway, had been my pink plaid Bermuda shorts, a couple of layered tank tops and my flip-flops so that’s what I wore.  I put my hair in a couple of messy knots, threw on a little makeup and was ready for the first day of my senior year of high school.  I grabbed my heavily decorated backpack and headed back toward the kitchen to kiss my mom bye.

“Oh don’t you just look cute,” my mom cried as I made my way toward her, “you have to let me take a picture.”

“Mom, I’ve been wearing this outfit all summer, why do you have to take a picture now?  I’m gonna be late.”

“You are not.  Now stop whining and smile, this is the last time I get to do this, indulge me.”

“Mom, you and I both know this is not the last time you’ll be doing this.  I still have at least four years of college and if I know you, you’ll be there to document every major first day for the rest of my life.”

“I probably will,” my mom grinned, “now smile.”

I smiled and my mom took the picture and then I kissed her on the cheek and headed for the door. 

“Drive safe and have good day,” my mom called after me.

“You too,” I yelled back as I began pulling out of the driveway.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at my mom as I drove to school, every year it was the same, pancakes and pictures on the first day of school.  I didn’t mind really, it was just one of the many traditions we had started after moving to Colorado. 

I was eight, when my mom decided that she’d finally had enough of my father’s ridiculous shenanigans and carted me, and as many of our things as we could cram into our car, off to her hometown of Boulder, Colorado.  Up to that point, we had been living in Chicago and the switch to, what felt to me like a small town, was a little difficult.  I was too young to understand why mom and I had to leave the city and why Daddy wasn’t coming with us.  It wasn’t until I was old enough to understand what “sthupping” was, that I realized just how big of a jerk my father really was.

It would have been very difficult to adjust to my new life, at the time, if it weren’t for Maggie and Yuuki.  They were the first of the kids in my class to make me feel welcome and it wasn’t long before the three of us were inseparable.  Once my social adjustment was no longer a concern, my mother relaxed and began to enjoy our new life together.  I think that until I made friends, she was more than a little afraid that leaving my old friends and my father was too big of an adjustment for an eight year old.  Luckily for us both, I’ve always been one to adapt and though I didn’t really understand why Daddy was gone, at first, I was able to adjust to “me and mom world” just fine; though now that I think about it, it’s probably because my mom did such an awesome job at making such a major change go so smoothly.

My mom’s the type of person who always tries to make the best of things and she did a darn good job of keeping our lives as normal as possible.  We moved to Boulder on sort of a whim and spent the first month with friends of my mother’s, Stan and Stella Bradford.  Once the money from the settlement came through, mom bought us a little house with a great big yard and we quickly settled into our new lives where my mom turned into Willy Wonka and opened her own candy shop downtown; needless to say, I had a lot of friends in grade school.  It was a bit hectic for my mom, at first, trying to juggle life, a kid and a new business, but she got the hang of it pretty quickly and once she did, we were able to get on with our lives as if nothing had ever happened.  Well, for the most part, anyway. 

There were the occasional nights when I would wake in the early hours of the morning and hear the stifled sobs of my mom, and sometimes I would crawl in bed with her and tell her it was going to be alright.  But for the most part, we got on pretty well.  We both found a strength we never knew we had and we leaned on each other whenever we were too weak to go on.  I think that’s the reason we’ve always been so close, freakishly close as Maggie would say, but hey, it’s a relationship I wouldn’t trade for the world.  I would say we’re best friends, but no one really wants to admit that their mom is their best friend so she’s just a really good friend; besides Yuuki and Maggie would be hurt if my mom ever usurped their “best friend” positions. 

Really my mom’s a lot like me, or I should say I’m a lot like her, but however you word it, we’re very similar.  We’re both creative and artsy and a little strange at times, we both love great music, sappy chick flicks, old musicals, good books and neither one of us is afraid to randomly burst into funky dances.  Needless to say, life at my house was never very boring, especially after Bill Sparkles came to live with us. 

I never will understand what possessed my mother to bring a Great Dane puppy into our tiny home but I have to say, I’m glad she did.  Bills has been our greatest headache and our greatest joy, he’s been our constant companion and friend since he first set paws into our house and we both love him to death.  He’s truly the man of the house and I know someday I’m gonna have to bring my boyfriend over to meet him, if I ever get a boyfriend, that is.

I seriously began doubting my ability to get a boyfriend the second I pulled into the school’s overcrowded parking lot on that last first day of school.  It was then that I noticed Ian, leaning nonchalantly against his black ‘67 Mustang Fastback, laughing with his soccer buddies.  I nearly ran some poor sophomore over as I tried to stare at Ian and find a parking space all at the same time.  The kid was more than a little upset and I quickly pulled into a space, hoping Ian hadn’t noticed my brief moment of stupidity.

Luckily, I don’t think he did and I quickly ran inside, desperate to find Yuuki and tell her about my morning.  Finding Yuuki was always easy, as a member of both marching and jazz band, she’d spent every morning in the band hall for the past three years and today, thank goodness, was no different.

“Yuuki!” I cried as I made my way through the crowded hall toward my friend.

“Hey Lyla, what’s up?”

“Oh nothing, I just almost killed some poor sophomore, you know, no big deal.”

“What?”

“Well, Ian was out in the parking lot with his buddies and I kinda got distracted and almost ran over some poor kid.  I stopped in plenty of time but he was a little ticked.”

“Probably,” she chuckled, “near death experiences on your first day of school aren’t usually seen as a good thing.”

“I suppose not.”

“So have you come up with any brilliant ideas yet?  School’s started and every day you chicken out is just one less day you have before he leaves.”

“I know, I just don’t know how I’m going to do it.  I can’t just walk up and say “hey, I like you,” ya know?  Maybe if I was Maggie, I could, but I’m not and I can’t.”

“I still think a letter might be the best way.  You could stick it in his locker or mail it to him, that way he’d get it for sure.  I mean, who doesn’t like getting mail?”

“Yeah, well with my luck he’d see it was from me and just throw it away.”

“You wouldn’t have to put your name on the envelope, you know.  Just your address, that way he wouldn’t know it was from you…unless he knows your address.”

“Ha, that’s not likely.  I don’t know, I’ll just have to think about it.”

“Just don’t take too long.  You’ve wasted five years on this guy already.”

“I know, I’m pathetic.”

“Not pathetic, just…”

“Pathetic,” I offered glumly.

Yuuki just smiled at me and together we made our way towards our first class.

“So have you seen Maggie yet today?” I asked as we walked through the crowded halls of Roosevelt High.

“Um, no, actually I haven’t.  Maybe she had an early practice?”

“I don’t know.”

“Here I am!” Maggie cried as she snuck up behind us.

“Augh!” Yuuki and I screamed in surprise.

“Sorry I’m late but Matt was so stinking slow this morning.  The little twerp.”

“What happened?” Yuuki asked.

“The dork couldn’t get his hair spiked at the right angle, he was in the bathroom for thirty minutes!  What guy takes thirty minutes to do his hair?”

“Apparently Matt does,” I laughed.

“Ha ha,” Maggie groaned, “I practically had to throw on my make up and I didn’t even get a chance to paint my nails.”

“I thought you painted them yesterday,” Yuuki pointed out.

“Yeah, but I’m not coming to school with purple glitter on my nails.”

“Apparently, you are,” I teased.  “Besides, I don’t see what the big deal is.  I wear purple glitter all the time.”

“Exactly,” Maggie laughed.

“Yeah, okay, whatever.  So what’s your first class?”

“Ugh, English and you?”

“German for me,” I answered.

“French,” Yuuki announced as she headed for the classroom at the end of the hall, “see you in Biology, Lyla.”

“See ya,” I called after her.  “Guess I’ll see you in math?”

“Yup,” Maggie answered, “see you then.”

With a quick smile Maggie sauntered off and I stepped into the same room for German that I had for the past three years. I wasn’t surprised to see it looking exactly the same, the same posters of Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt hung on the walls as well as the same huge German flag.  There were a couple of new posters, of the Rhein and Neuschwanstein Castle but other than that, the only difference was that now, instead of a room full of students, there were only a handful of us.  The faithful few, that was us, the only people willing to stick with our chosen foreign language for four years.  I think German IV was probably the smallest class in the entire school, there were only seven of us this year and Ian just happened to be one of them.

I hadn’t known, at the time, that Ian was planning on taking German, I had just signed up because we had to pick a language at the end of eighth grade and I chose German.  Needless to say, when I walked into German I the first day of high school, I was more than a little ecstatic to see Ian Wallace sitting next to the window.  Oh that was a good day!  I knew that no matter what classes Ian took for next four years, I would have at least one class with him every day for two years.  Those next two years were great!  I got to stare at the back of Ian’s head every day but at the end of our sophomore year, I nearly went into a panic.  We were only required to take two years of a foreign language and at the end of our sophomore year, the requirements were met.  I didn’t know if Ian would be taking German again the next year and I spent the entire summer in agony, wondering if I would ever have a class with him again.  Oh man was I happy when I walked into German III on the first day of our junior year and there was Ian, sitting in the same chair he had been for the past two years, joking around with one of his buddies. 

So, seeing Ian sitting in his chair next to the window, as I walked into the room made my day.  I would get to sit in the same room as Ian Wallace every morning for the next year.  I was certain life couldn’t get any better!  I would have spent the entire hour staring at the back of Ian’s head but Frau Schultz came in with her usually boisterous voice and started class.

“Guten Morgen meine Damen und Herren!” she cried. 

And with that cheerful greeting, the first day of my senior year of high school began. 

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