Chapter 1: Augustus
"Well?" asked Ms. Kline, as she tapped her pencil impatiently on the edge of her desk. I focused on the rhythm, trying to keep the tears from my eyes.
"Iris, honey," she looked concerned now, like she cared. "Iris, I need you to know you can trust me. I won't tell anyone, it will be just between us. I promise you." She held her pinkie out, smiling weakly.
"Trust. I haven't been able to trust anyone in a while."
Ms. Kline looked puzzled. "What do you-" the bell sounded.
I gathered my books and fast-walked out of the classroom. I could feel the eyes on me, the whispers creeping into my ears. I kept my head down, watching the floor, until I was out of that terrible place. Just keep going, I told myself. Just go.
Excuse me, where are my manners? I’m getting ahead of myself. I guess the beginning, when I was happy, is a good place to start.
It was the 4th grade. I was a bit of a tomboy at that age. Boys never really liked me, but it didn’t really matter that much. We had a course in school called Talent Development, where you would pick a subject that you were interested in, or which just seemed like fun. I chose a brain teaser class, and it was quite fun trying to figure everything out.
I hadn’t noticed him right away. If I knew what would’ve happened, I probably wouldn’t have paid any mind to him. He ruined me.
It was one Wednesday when the teacher announced we’d be working in partners.
“Make sure you work together to figure out the puzzle! Whichever group finishes first will get a reward!”
I glanced around and joined a group with my friend, Mairead, and a few other people, including him.
As soon as I glanced at him, I was a goner. His teeth were so perfect and white… His smile was gorgeous, as were his eyes. His name was Augustus, and I was completely lost in him. I remember he smiled at me, and I just about melted right then and there.
Then, since I am the luckiest person in the world, it was time to leave.
The rest of fourth grade raced by. I didn’t have any more encounters with Augustus, and I could only fan-girl over him.
As usual, summer for me was uneventful, so I was anxious to return to school and spend time with my friends.
Only on the first day did he already begin to change me.
“Irriiisssss,” he taunted. “Iris, Iris! I know something you don’t know!” I rolled my eyes and smirked a bit. We were sitting in class, supposed to be solving the problems on the board. I looked up at him. “Yes, Wyatt?” “Augustus likes you.” I hesitated and my heart sped up a bit. “He… He does…?” Wyatt nodded. I had no choice but to believe him, seeing as Augustus and he were the best of friends.
Augustus and I had hung out and talked a bit since the first day, but haven’t spoken in a while since, it now being early December, but I wouldn’t have expected this. I was so very happy, I couldn’t think of anything to say, other than, “Does he think I’m pretty?” I expected to be swept off my feet with his response.
“He thinks you’re okay, I guess,” he shrugged.
With that, my heart fell a few feet. “Just okay..?” I frowned a bit.
“Well, I mean, look at you.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
The teacher hushed us, telling us to be quiet.
Wyatt sighed, irritated, and lowered his voice “Iris, you dress like a boy. I mean, look at your hair… Do you even brush it?” I was used to his honesty.
I looked at the ends of my hair and my clothes and sighed. He was right. The other girls were taking way better care of themselves.
“Well,” I started, ignoring the glares from my teacher. I whispered, “Well what do you suppose I do about that, Wyatt?”
“Maybe you should start with your hair. Wear it differently. Augustus likes when girls have straight, long hair. He also likes when girls wear clothes from Trisha’s, so go shopping.”
I cringed at the name of that store. Trisha’s. It was a pink, feminine store whose clothes were so bright, it blinded you, and the sweet-scented fumes were strong enough to make you pass out. Most of the girls that came out of there were in mini-skirts and excessively tight tops, with shiny pumps to top it off. I definitely would not fit in, but anything for a chance with Augustus.
I sighed and nodded, thinking about it for a moment, and planned to change overnight.