Life is rough, and at times, it can be so hard being — me. Every single day I find myself battling demons that are not in my mind, but more so, the way of the world that is full of judgmental people. School is the most unpredictable and complex place that takes up most of my time. To be honest, I could be doing something better with it. However, I am here. Sitting at my desk, twirling my pencil in my hand, and watching the second-hand tick on the stainless-steel clock on the white brick wall. The bell finally rings for dismissal. We were supposed to be heading to our next class, but for some reason, we have an assembly to attend. This place suffocates me. Every time I walk the halls, the air is dry and heavy, as all eyes are on me.
Far in the distance, I see Brooklyn. She’s walking with Olivia and Montana; the four of us are the best of friends. The gym is crowded with so many people. I stood in place, waiting on them to walk my way. Last year, we sat together during chemistry lab, and our friendship took off from there. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
Olivia, she is too much at times. She thinks all of the boys like her — as we call her, she’s a ‘pick me girl.’ I mean, well, most of them like her, but she thinks evvvveryone likes her. There she goes walking in the gym like she owns the place. I like her pink beachy sweatshirt with the shorts to match, her long slim, perfectly tan legs taking causal steps as if she is in a fashion show. Her blond hair seems like it is moving in slow motion as she flips her hair and turns to talk to Brooklyn. Brooklyn is laughing at something Olivia just said. She has on the same outfit as Olivia, but instead of pink, it is orange. She has her braids pinned up in a cute messy bun. Her chocolate skin is glowing! Montana is walking into the gym, looking like she knows that all eyes are on her. She has on a plain hoodie like mine, but mine is light purple and yellow. Her curly hair is bouncing as she walks with such confidence. As they came closer to me, I walked towards them, “Well… well… well the…” Olivia cut me off and hugged me, “Girl, we missed you yesterday.”
“I know… I know. I had to help my mom get everything together for the week.”
Montana flashes her fingernails, “Yeah, girl, we got our nails did.”
Brooklyn joined in the conversation, “… and our toes did as well.”
Olivia flipped her hair again, “The best part was the tan!” She looked at the girls, “We had our girl time and…” all of them said at the same time, “…our girls chat!”
I nodded my head, slightly rolled my eyes, and put my hand in my hoodie, “I am more than sure you all have a lot to chit-chat about.”
Olivia put her arms around me. “So, what is the plan this afternoon?”
I smiled because I already knew what she had in mind. We all said at the same time, “Ice Coffee in the sun!” Olivia played with my messy bun, “Honey, what are you going to do with all of this?”
Montana laughed, “Girl, you and your messy buns.”
I raised my eyebrows, “Well, I am fine with how my hair looks.”
Troy walked by and waved. We all waved, but Brooklyn, on the other hand, was in a daze. She has had a crush on Troy since forever. Troy is low-key, but he is a player. I think all of the dudes in our school think they are a player. I never understood why Troy licks his lips all the time. Maybe because they are always chapped and ashy, but I mean, that is an easy fix. I think it is so gross and very unattractive. Brooklyn deserves and can do better. When I tell her, she just brushes what I say to the side. She asked me to support her feelings, and I am doing just that. Maybe, I am wrong about how I feel; maybe he is a good guy. Who knows? “Why don’t you go over and talk to him?” I asked, walking backward with my hand in my hoodie.
She frowned and shook her head. “He should say something to me.”
I continued to walk backward, “Well. I don’t think he knows you like him.”
“Watch out, Stella,” says some dude with red hair. I do not remember his name, but I know he is the star player on the baseball team.
I waved my hand, “My bad.”
He turned around and started to jog backward, “No problem.” I nodded my head. He smiled, “I see you! I like your Chuck Taylor’s.” He was jogging pretty fast. I yelled, “Thanks!”
Olivia mocked him in a squeaky voice and shook her head from side to side, “I like your Chuck Taylor’s” I didn’t like what she said next. It was more so that she was being playful, but she was taking a jab at me on the sly. She looked at me, rolled her eyes, yet smiled, “Everybody likes something about Stella.”
I lifted and dropped my eyes brows, and my eyes tightened, “What?” I asked.
She waved her hand and tried to brush off what she just said, “Ugh. You know what I mean?”
Still walking backward, I shook my head. “No, I do not know what you mean. Tell me?”
She abruptly stopped and put her hand on her hip, “All I am saying is, everyone loves them some Stella.” She was abrupt, impatient, and annoyed, “I’m just saying everywhere we go, someone notices something about you.”
“Okay, guys. Let’s not go there?” said Montana.
I put up my hand to stop her from talking, “Olivia. I cannot help the way you feel, but I think what you just said is messed up.” I nodded my head, “Anyway… how you feel is not my concern.”
Olivia put her hand on her backpack, “It shouldn’t be your concern because all of the boys like you because you are mixed. You can have long straight hair, or you can choose curly hair, and…”
I stopped her in her tracks and laughed, “What do you mean?” I pointed to Montana. “Montana is mixed too.”
“Hey! Don’t put me in this conversation,” said Montana.
Olivia sucked her teeth, “Whatever, you know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Tell me?” I asked.
Olivia flipped her hair and walked off to talk to a guy name River. He is a preppy guy. His family is rich, but they do not pay River any attention. Therefore, he hides his hurt by being cocky, showing off his cars and his house. He has a party at least twice a month. He and his boys always dress neatly and wear a light sweater around their shoulders. I like their style, but I do not like their cocky ways. River’s father told him that he is too young to commit to any girl. Having said that, he never had a girlfriend. He just plays them like a deck of cards. It is really pathetic. The girls know it, but they cling to him, and he just picks a girl to escort once a day. I guess you can’t be mad at him; he is just doing what the girls allow him to do. Olivia has a crush on him, but I do not think he likes Olivia like that. He is always looking at other girls. He is more so of a man-whore. He wants to mash and pass, and that’s about it. I try to tell her, but she never wants to listen, because again, she thinks all of the boys like her. If you ask me, she can do better, but to each its own.
Without knowing, Brooklyn walked over to introduce herself to Troy. However, it didn’t work out as planned. I didn’t like the look on her face, so I walked towards her to see if she was okay. She walked toward me, her fist balled and her lips firm. She yelled, “I hate you, Stella!” She got in my face, pointed her finger at me, and made a scene in front of everyone. “I hate you!”
I stood there in shock.
She looked me up and down with a disgusted face. “All of the boys like you because you are mixed. If you wasn’t mixed with ‘good hair,’ they wouldn’t give you a second look.” She pointed at me. “Troy likes you, not me.” Tears filled her eyes, and she pushed me, “I hate you!”
Olivia stood there shaking her head with her arms crossed, “See, what did I tell you?” She rolled her eyes, “It is all about, Stella.” Before Olivia ran after Brooklyn, she looked over at Montana and pointed her finger, “It’s about you too, but there is something about Stella that the boys like.”
Montana wanted to fit in so badly she didn’t take the hint. She ran after Olivia, “Wait, Olivia. What did I do?”
I stood there in shock and lost for words. I was shocked that my girls, my closest and best friends, would treat me as an outcast over a boy — over my race and, as Brooklyn says, my hair. The thought crossed my mind, and I said to myself, when will this ever end?