Heading into school that morning, I walked right past a group of students vying for attention during school elections.
“Vote Nami Lynn for senior class president.” The girl absentmindedly handed me a flyer and a lollipop.
There wasn’t much diversity in this school, but Nami Lynn was among those small numbers. Being black and Asian didn’t stop her from climbing up the social ladder. Her ethnicity didn’t get in the way of the things she wanted. She was president of almost all of the clubs and her grades were impeccable. Nami Lynn was just one of those people who seemed to have their lives together.
I watched as she threw a lollipop at Nash’s head. “Vote for me, bitch.”
Nash rubbed at his head as Cara glared at Nami.
“You look tense. You should masturbate with a knife sometime, I bet that will loosen you up, darling.” Nami smiled sweetly at Cara’s horrified expression before walking away.
I chuckled and slipped the lollipop and flyer into my bag. I was going to vote for her even though it wasn’t like she was going to lose. She’d won for the past three years.
I gathered my belongings from my locker with a smile. I was seemingly in a good mood for no reason at all. Maybe because lunch was next period.
“Whoa, is that who is think it is?” I heard someone say, bringing my attention to the end of the hall.
Gray hoodie. Everest.
Instead of bronze hair sticking from out of the hood, the hair was now black. He dyed his hair? His head was covered as he put his bag into his locker.
“Hey, Everest.” Martha Summers, one of the cheerleaders from Cara’s entourage, swayed her hips toward Everest and threw him a flirty smile.
He turned and she gasped. “What’s next? Black nail polish?”
I couldn’t see from the angle where I was standing, but other people stood around with surprised looks on their faces. Cara’s eyes practically bulged out of her head, and even Nash looked startled. I really wanted to see what they were seeing, but the lunch bell rang, and I was really hungry.
After waiting in line for about two minutes, I heard Nami’s voice as she joined the end of the line.
“. . . and he stuck his middle finger up, and asked her if black would be a cute color on that nail,” she laughed along with her best friend, Tiffany.
Tiffany’s laugh rang through the line. “That was so funny, her face turned, like, six shades of red. I never knew Everest could be capable of being rude to someone.”
“Are you guys talking about Everest? Am I the only one who thinks his new bad-boy image is sexy?” Another female voice joined the conversation.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Everest sticking up his middle finger was such a taboo thought. Everest being bad? An even stranger thought.
Grabbing my water, I made my way to my dusty utopia. The sunlight barely peeked through the large windows—it was a beautiful autumn day. I couldn’t help but smile. I sat at my usual table and pulled out my brown paper bag before something happened that I would never forget.
“Are you lost?”
The voice was dangerously husky, and I almost fell out of my chair. No one ever came to the library in the east wing, so randomly hearing a deep voice inside a badly lit library was enough to make me almost crap myself. I dropped my sandwich and hurried to the door before I saw Everest come out from behind a bookshelf. I stilled and zoned in on his face. He looked confused as I stared at his newly ebony hair.
He looked so different.
My throat itched as smoke filled my nose. I glanced down at the smoking object in Everest’s hands.
Since when did he start smoking?
“Helloo?” he asked, slightly annoyed. He brought the smoking object to his lips and puffed. It was slightly beautiful—the image, I mean, not the potential risk of lung cancer.
“Smoking isn’t good for you,” I blurted, mentally slapping myself.
He stared at me weirdly for a second before chuckling. “Neither is trying to kill yourself, but that didn’t stop me either.”
Everest brought the butt back up to his mouth and the smoke whizzed around him. His strong jawline flexed as the smoke floated in patterns before disappearing.
“Are you lost?” I asked.
“Huh?” He squinted his eyes at me, and his mouth gaped slightly open in a sideways fashion.
“You asked me if I was lost, but I’ve always been here. I’m not the lost one, you are.”
Everest glanced down at the ground before looking back up at me. His piercing eyes met mine, making my skin tingle, before he chuckled a humorless laugh. “I guess I am the lost one.”
And in that moment, I realized I was talking to someone. Not only someone, but Everest, the most popular guy in school. Everest, the boy who tried to kill himself; the boy with the sad eyes. I noticed the crinkles between his eyebrows and I wanted to do something about them.
“My name is Beverly, and we are going to be good friends.”
I walked closer to him and held my hand out. My heart thumped in my ears as I waited for him to respond. The energy of the room stilled, and maybe I’d ruined whatever I’d tried to start. He stared down at my hand before returning the handshake.
“My name is Everest, and there is no chance in hell.” This is going to be a little harder than I thought.