Kayla Ch. 01


Ch. 1--Realization

It has been three brief months since I have left sunny California for Houston, TX, and all it seems to be doing is raining. My new friends say it isn't always like this, but they aren't lying to me. They don't think it will let up soon. It apparently has been raining all summer.

I am so homesick, I could puke. I miss the ocean. I miss the blue sky that never seemed to end. I miss the sun. My tan is beginning to fade. I gave up on staying outside after two weeks of constant rain and became a bit attached to my new computer. Once, I even missed work because I was enjoying myself too much although mostly, I remind myself that if I don't work, I cannot stay in my apartment or keep the computer. I miss my baby brother too. One thing I don't miss is my parents. They always told me what not to do. Too many chains for me. And I lived there until I was nearly twenty. Despite the rain, my new freedom is rather nice.

Sighing, I pull my light brown hair back in a low ponytail that barely drops below my ears. My hair is really soft, but I don't keep it that long. Long hair bugs me. I cannot have it shoulder-length without itching to cut it as soon as possible. Turning my blue eyes to my ceiling, I lift my ankles to the desk and lean back in my black chair a bit. Nobody is online, and I have to go in a minute anyway. One of my teachers and I are going to hang out. She's cool, but I really don't think she is that pretty. Not that I would tell her that. Maybe I don't like her as much as I think I do because when you really like someone, even as a good buddy, they look better to you than if you don't give a shit.

Noticing one of my shoelaces is untied, I bend at the waist a bit and reach over to tie it, keeping my legs stiff and straight. Jerking the faded white lace into a bow, I tie until it is double-knotted. Then I stand up and amble out of my room, glancing back one last time to make sure I really put my damn away message up.

Tossing my head in a perky horse-like manner, I angle my head so that I can see where I am going. As I pass my kitchen table, I grab the keys and continue on my way without stopping, except to pivot and lock the door. Then I race down the apartment steps leading to the solid ground, leaning my head down slightly. The second I step off the last concrete step, my head goes back, and a tiny smile curves on my lips. My lips are rather thin, but people say I have a pretty smile nevertheless. Rather sweet and innocent. I don't agree, but I guess it might be true. It used to be that whenever I smiled, old ladies would grab my cheeks and squeal, "You're so fuckin' cute! Aww!" Luckily, since I've moved, nobody has tried that on me. I can only hope I look like an adult. I hated looking young more than anything.

My feet move at an average pace on the sidewalk as I head for the parking lot. I spot a tall, lean man with a hat, leather jacket, and slight forward stoop sauntering quickly past me, not even giving me a sideways glance. "Damn, he's cute," I think as the corners of my mouth go up a bit higher for a flicker of a second.

Sighing, I force myself to avoid looking back at the guy. As the sidewalk curves, touching the parking lot, I look for my tiny light blue car. It is waiting for me in the spot I left it last night after going to a "corner store" as the elderly woman called it, to gamble a bit, smack in between a red truck and a black sport car. I wonder for the tenth time how Richie keeps his car from being stolen. Slipping in between the red truck and my plain vanilla baby, I hold my car keys between my thumb and forefinger. I can only open the door a crack because it is so close to the red truck.

I back out as carefully as possible. I have quickly learned how crazy apartment people are. Whether they are freakishly paranoid or simply thirsty for money, I have no idea, but the slightest dent causes them to yell and scream at me until I have given them the two thousand dollars they think they need because I "disgraced" their stupid car even though they're the ones parking so close to each other. My stepdad had to give it to me, and it was not easy for me to ask him. I have a lot of pride.

Luckily, I make it out without scratching any cars and am soon weaving my way through the 1960 traffic.

I am not really paying much attention to anything but the streets, so when I notice the trees of the park, I am rather surprised at how fast time seemed to fly.

She is standing there near a bench. I can see her from the parking lot. I get out of my car and trot to her, enveloping her in a quick, friendly hug. Her acorn brown hair is long and pretty, but her face is plain. To me anyway. Sometimes, I am bad at telling how pretty a woman really is. Hut I usually know that my friends are pretty. Ms. Johnson's eyes are green and lashes aren't that long. Like most people, she is taller than me, and despite the rainy weather Houston is hitting, her skin looks like a dark peach color. I have never seen her in jeans before today, but I hardly notice what she is wearing. I guess the dumpy grey shirt is throwing me off. Her smile is wide, but I don't see anything special about it.

"What's up?" she asks.

Turning my face up to the sky, I reply, "Um, it looks like it is going to rain again."

"If it does, we'll go in the parking lot. To one of our cars." Her voice is soft, but the accent I cannot place. Not Texan, is it? Perhaps. I really haven't quite been able to tell a Texas accent yes by the many different voices. Once, two Minnesotan teachers taught at my school, and they did sound alike, but Texans are much more complicated. Especially since I expected a southern accent. None of the Houstonians I've met so far sound southern.

"Okay." Reluctantly, I sit on the soggy bench. My sneakers are worn out from all the mud and washing I have been giving them lately. I am beginning to wonder why I even bother trying to keep them clean because I am fighting a losing battle.

"So, what's up, Kayla?"

I sigh and trace a circle on the table with my fingertip. "It's just...things have been happening lately. You know, I've never been to a real school before now. Just homeschool. My mother said she was protecting me from the world. And..." I blow out a breath, "I don't know, I guess I'm kinda mad at her. I feel like a major idiot in this world."

"You'll do okay," she reassures me, touching my hand gently.

"It's not about that," I inform her, liftin my gaze to meet hers but tilting my head slightly. "It's just...I just feel so dumb, and I really don't know if I'll ever feel smart. I had no idea half these things were going on. Sure, I've read a lot, but the books hide many things."

The first drop of rain falls, landing on my head. I glance up and sigh. "Ms. Johnson, it's raining."

We rush to the safety of her light green minivan and begin talking some more about the things going on in my life and how silly I feel and reluctant to go anywhere. Like my other professors, Ms. Johnson encourages me to make new friends, but the only other girl that I feel doesn't mock me for my idiocy. I don't know why I care so much, but I do. She keeps insisting they aren't all Cruella De-Vils, but somehow, I just can't believe her, not after what Vanessa and Drilla's soroties did to me.

She puts her arm around me, and I shut my eyes, placing my arm on her shoulder.

"I don't wanna talk about it any more," I mutter tiredly. "Let's talk about something else."

For about forty-five minutes, we talk about college and how I am liking UH. I really enjoy our talk. A part of me wishes I had friends my own age so I could have these nice, long chats more than just occasionally, but I suppose I wouldn't enjoy them as much if I did.

The rain begins letting up, and both of us first notice because the pitter-pattering begins to slacken. Still deep in conversation, I ignore it.

Looking at my watch a few minutes later, I gasp, "Crap, I'm going to be late for work! Damn, damn, damn!"

"Hey, it's okay, you'll make it. You can speed in Texas, so long you watch out for cops. Heck, most Texas drivers have a radar for them."

"Well, I don't! And I'll be even later if I get pulled over! Look, I'll see you later! Bye!" I hug her fast and hard before running to my car at top speed.

When I start my car, an odd thing happens. I see Ms. Johnson come up to me and kiss me on the lips. The weirdest thing about it is the fact that I really don't think she is pretty.

"Oh my god," I think as I suddenly remember what I recently learned online. About three weeks ago. Girls can be bi. Something else comes to mind. Flooded memories that I dismissed as nothing before because I had no idea that girls can like girls like that.

"Damn parents!" I think angrily and may have even uttered through gritted teeth. Because of them, I thought the images of kissing girls had no meaning. I did not know they were trying to tell me that I am...bi.

I used to think I was the dullest, most boring girl on earth.

"I don't care what happens," I decide as the sweet memory of Ms. Johnson's lips on mine, the daydream that changed my life...forever, lingers. "I will not lie."

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