"Today is the day."
Jude had awoken to those words in his head. Today was the first day of the new school year. Another year of being alone. "Not that I mind being alone." he thought to himself with conviction. Best to convince yourself of things than to wallow in what it really is. As he got out of bed, he was still shocked to see the blood red tips on his shaggy dark brown hair. It had already been a week, but the shock was still there whenever he awoke or looked in the mirror. Maybe because it was his first real act of rebellion that he wasn't used to it. There was a feeling that came with this weird act of rebellion, and Jude couldn't put his finger on it. Either way it didn't matter.
And of course he couldn't find his uniform. Jude detested the uniform. For spring it was navy pants with a white button-up that had to be tucked in at all times; and in the winter, the only change was a navy blazer with the school emblem on the front. So very boring. It didn't matter what the school said, he would put his personal touch on it. But first to find the uniform so he could do so. After looking pretty much every place he could think of, he remembered his mother had said she would keep it hung up in the hall closet across from her room. How could he forget… the look on his mothers face. The first real joy he had seen in her face since his father had died. The tears that filled her eyes when she found out he had gotten accepted into the finest and most prestigious high school in their area. Her son, who seemed like he was nobody, was really very intelligent. It was like her own special secret. He didn't want to take that away from her, so he studied very hard every year to stay in that school, and every year she would wash and press his uniform with care.
He would hide any personal touches he made to it until he was out of the house.
Jude stepped up to the closet slowly and opened the door. Sure enough, hanging on the back of the door was his uniform in one of those bags that keep off the dust. He took it down and carried it to his room and laid it on his bed. Looking in the mirror for the fifth time that morning, he looked deep into his own eyes and asked aloud: "Just who am I anyway?" He shook his head and took out his favorite shirt of the chest-of-drawers. It was completely black and white. The torso part was black and white checkers, and the sleeves were black and white stripes. Long sleeved. He would put it in his bag and put it on after he was out of sight of the house. With a shudder he put on the uniform, flung his bag over his shoulder and walked down the stairs to the kitchen.
"Mom, I'm heading out." he said with as much cheerfulness he could muster.
His mother looked up from her coffee she was staring into and looked at Jude. A smile spread across her face. She looked so proud, but she didn't say a word. Jude's heart sunk. Every day she said less and less. How much longer could he stay in this house with a mother who was slowly crumbling and wasting away in grief? How many years had it been since his father had died… Jude was only eleven. That was six years ago. He had been her whole world; a world Jude could never even touch.
He couldn't bear to be in this oppressive house anymore, so he turned away quickly and almost ran out the front door. He looked back only a moment to see his mother through the window staring back into her cup, the smile gone from her face.
A little way from his house was a gas station he frequented often. He went in the grimy bathroom and put on his favorite shirt under his uniform button-up. Even though it was a fairly hot day, he knew the school would be air-conditioned. Fortunately the school was only a twenty minute walk from his house. As he walked, he could see people staring at him. Who wouldn't? He was wearing a long sleeve shirt in the middle of August, and looked as though he had blood dripping from his hair. The first day of school was always the worst. So crowded and full of noisy kids all his age trying to scope out every one and every thing. He would be a topic of discussion for sure. What did it matter? In the end they'll remember me.
Jude treasured his mornings alone while he walked to school. He missed them over the summer. Of course this summer he had gotten to know himself a little better. He found out he wasn't happy. He found out nothing he did could make him happy. It was a depressing fact but he couldn't do anything about it. He didn't know what he needed. All he knew was that in the bottom of his heart he was searching for something, and until he found it he wouldn't be happy. He put his hands in his pockets, hoping it would be there, but he felt nothing.
The twenty minutes went by quickly. He was seeing more and more people walk in front of him. Each person looked at him with complete surprise. After awhile he just kept his head down. People were congregated everywhere. All along the school wall and the park across from the school. It was a pretty big school, even if it was prestigious. When he reached the front gates, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. As he lifted his head and prepared to let out his breath, he just happened to open his eyes.
His heart nearly stopped. He couldn't even let out the breath he was holding.
Just a few yards away from him was a girl surrounded by a group of people. It was easy to see why; she had bright pink hair that went down to the middle of her back and it was extremely layered. But that wasn't what was making people surround her. She was incredibly beautiful. She was touching her hair and looked really embarrassed. Apparently she wasn't used to such attention. His heart leapt in his chest and it surprised him.
Jude realized he was almost suffocating for not breathing and let out his breath and nearly choked. He heard people giggling behind him. He blushed and started walking toward the school doors. He couldn't help but stare at her. Then something happened that completely shook him from head to toe.
Right as he was passing by her, she looked up to catch his eye. Their eyes locked. Time almost seemed to go by in slow motion. A few precious seconds seemed like hours. His heart sped up and he could feel his eyes get wide. He quickly ripped his eyes from hers and put his head down, but his eyes still stayed wide and his heart wouldn't slow down. "You're being so frikkin' juvenile, Jude!" he thought to himself over and over. He had liked girls before, and every time it didn't work out. He just wasn't the "likeable" type. As he watched his friends in grade school get girlfriends, he found himself constantly alone. When his friends tried to set him up, the girl always find him repulsive for some reason. Maybe it was because he was so shy; maybe it was because he seemed very perceptive. He noticed things others didn't. but never in his life had he had an instant connection with a girl like that. He felt electricity flow through his veins in that one glance. That's what amazed him. It was only one meet of the eyes. He shook his head. This was ridiculous. The school was huge, no way he'd see her again after this day. And maybe that was for the better.
* * * * *
Meimei was at a complete loss. Hundreds of boys, but when she saw him… it was indescribable. She could only TRY describe it as a "connection." She had never seen a boy like him in her life. All her years of traveling... At first it was his hair that shocked her. His dark brown hair was tipped with a dark red that looked as sticky as real blood. But when she saw his face, she was shocked to see such a good-looking boy under that shaggy strange hair. When their eyes met, she saw such sadness in his eyes. A look of pain mixed with a sad longing. She wanted to know what it was he longed for, and why he did so long for it.
She wanted to see him again, but how could she in such a big school? Apparently he was smart of he could make it into such a school. She smiled to herself. "He's deceptive." Meimei loved a paradox. She could ask around, but she didn't know anyone. It was possible they would see each other on the way to school, but the best thing to do would be to wait it out until she obtained friends. No doubt he was a hot topic. A boy like that couldn't go unnoticed, especially with that hair. She would find out.
Meimei checked her schedule. Pretty much the same as always. Every school she went to was fairly predictable. She wanted something exciting, new. Is that why she couldn't get that boy off her mind? "Okay, stop thinking about him for now, silly girl." She scolded herself in her head. "School first, then our little paradox-boy later." The school was split into three wings, each with a certain type of student. Wing A was for the students at the very top of the class, which she was included in; Wing B was for the middle ground; and Wing C was for the people who barely got into the school. Each Wing had ninth through twelfth grade, so in a way each Wing was a different school. The only thing they shared were the class and break times. Meimei would try and find that boy in the masses of kids at lunch if she could.
She made her way up the three flights of stairs it took to get to her class level. People were crowded at every corner of the school, and everywhere she showed herself people stared at her. Even though she had been started at since she was little, every time in a new place it still made her uneasy. She would get used to it eventually. Her hair was quite the anomaly. It wasn't like she could help it though. She liked the pink shade of her hair; it made her unique. She was having a hard time finding her homeroom in this huge floor of classes. After five minutes of searching she finally found it. "Room 11-L" she said under her breath.
Taking a very deep breath, Meimei placed her hand on the door and turned the knob. When she opened the door, she was shocked at the size of the room. It was tiny. For such a huge place, she expected the rooms to be large. She looked around. Apparently there wasn't a seating chart. She scanned the room once more to find a spot that wasn't occupied. Kids were everywhere and had already formed groups. She made her way to the back and stopped dead in her gait.
There almost right in front of her was the boy. He had a window seat and was staring out it blankly. His hand was propping his head up, revealing part of his neck. He had a nice neck… obviously he was tuning everyone out. She just couldn't get over that hair. Like she should talk, considering her hair was pink for goodness sake. The seat next to him and the seat next to that was empty. She decided to take a risk and take the one next to him. Getting her thoughts back together, she walked over to the desk next to him and sat down. She stared straight ahead, then glanced over at him. He hadn't noticed her. "You're apparently going to have to break the ice, Meimei. I can do that." Her heart was racing. Never had she been so nervous about thinking about talking to a guy. It wasn't like he was intimidating, he just seemed very far away.
Meimei cleared her throat. He didn't even blink.
"Hello there!" she said cheerily, leaning over her desk to see him.
He still wasn't moving. Now she was getting annoyed. She was going to have to pop his little bubble.
"Hey, excuse me!" she said louder and poked him firmly, but not meanly, on the arm.
That did it. He snapped out of whatever daydream he was in and looked over at her. His eyes got wide with surprise and he flushed. His mouth opened slightly too, almost as if he couldn't believe that it was her that wanted to talk to him. He was a lot more attractive than she thought. His face appeared almost perfect. He was very slight and had long thin fingers. His eyes were a shade of bright green with a little yellow and red. You probably wouldn't have noticed because his hair covered most of his eyes. His lips were a nice shade of red. It made her heart beat even faster.
She tried again with a bright smile. "Hey there! How are you today?"
He still looked dumbfounded, but he answered quietly, "I suppose I'm alright. Thanks."
"So what's your name, stranger?" She leaned back in her chair and smiled again. "Good gracious I'm smiling way too much." she thought.
The boy looked down, seemingly bashful. "It's Jude…" She noticed he had nice straight teeth.
"Jude. That's a nice name! Very unique; I like it. I'm Meimei by the way." She reached out her hand to him. Jude just kept getting more and more stunned with everything she threw at him. Nevertheless, he reached out his hand and gave her a firm handshake. Chills went up her spine. Those thin fingers shaped themselves around her slender hand. She somehow couldn't let go for a moment. She looked up at him and peered onto his eyes. Again she saw that terribly obvious searching and sadness. He looked as if he was doing the exact same thing to her. What did he see? With those striking eyes she felt like he could see straight through her uniform and into the depths of her soul. She didn't know if she liked that.
Meimei realized her face was turning a burning shade of red and broke her hand away perhaps a little too hastily. She turned away to look in front of her again. "I just moved here." She replied with a shaky laugh. "It seems like a nice place…"
Just then the bell rang. The first school day of the new year had officially begun.