Six AM and doing my homework. A recipe for disaster. Especially with a disorder like mine. As I frantically flicked through the pages of my heavy science textbook, migraine no. 1 hit. I curled into a little ball on my red duvet, taking small consolation in the abundance of my favourite colour. As the second migraine hit, I prepared myself for no. 3.
My disorder is called Synfiosis Migraine Disorder. If I have an information overload, I will get three to five migraines in quick succession of each other. I have pills to ease the pain, and so when mum heard my agonised cries from downstairs, she rushed up to my room and slipped a few of the white tablets between my lips.
I blinked back tears as I slumped down to the kitchen table. My teachers didn't mind it when I didn't finish my homework, but this was my thirtieth time not handing it in... out of thirty-one.
"Don't worry, Hun," mum said, putting a hand on my shoulder. "It's getting better, right? Only three? I remember when you used to get seven in a row."
I shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose you're right. Anyway," I murmured, eyeing the clock, "I need to go. Seeya!" I grabbed my empty school bag and dashed through the door, grabbing a cookie and a banana on my way out. My idea of breakfast was small and meagre, but it was the best I could do with so little time and so far to go.
I reached for the keys to the Toyota Corolla but stopped. I instead collected the ones for the new BMW my uncle got me, the sleek red sports car glinting as I opened the garage door.
Smiling to myself, I looked at the clock in the car. Ours didn't work... it was a whole hour ahead. I had time to duck into the library and read for a while before school started. I loosened my hand on the steering wheel as I arrived, tired from the half hour drive. I pulled into the parking lot for the giant local library, white and gleaming in the early seven AM sunlight. But instead of walking through the double automatic doors, I rounded the corner and stepped into a musky back room, old and vintage like a room in a mansion.
Lin greeted me with a smile. She was one of the library assistants, and this was her office. She had hundreds, possibly thousands of books crammed into that tiny space. She was a friend I met when I first went to college, and she was near deaf in both ears. I returned the grin, spreading my soft pink lips in a Cheshire Cat fashion. "So," she began, starting our usual awkward small talk, "how are things?"
"More migraines this morning, and no homework," I sighed.
"Yeah, well," she responded, "don't worry, I heard that there's a new kid coming. Maybe he can distract you." I nearly hissed like a wild cat. What she just said didn't make sense, but what I disliked most was how she said 'he' like she expected it would make any difference.
"He's probably just some other way wacko dude who doesn't know the difference between fantasy and fiction. And you know I hate that, seeing as I'm studying to be an author!"
"Ugh," she muttered. "Maybe a boy could do you some good. You know, just to help you get distracted more."
"You've said that already and it still seems like nonsense!" I snapped, exhaling in a soft sigh. "I-I'm sorry. I'll just do some reading..." I glanced at Lin. Her eyes were tinted with hurt and she had her lips pinched tight, hands on hips like a bossy teacher.
Instead of focusing on how much I had disappointed my best friend, I picked up a book, called A Million Things You Mean To Me, a romance that Lin had picked up for me. I began reading, the passion and love between the two characters seeming so natural and real.
"Olivia," Patrick mused, staring longingly at the girl eating a burrito on their musty sofa. "Mmm?" She responded, through a mouthful of beans, sauce and guacamole.
"I love you." Patrick gazed into her eyes. Olivia beamed, blushing bright pink from ear to ear. "Me too," she responded, her heart beating rhythmically to his breathing.
I smiled, longing to keep reading. However, Lin was very punctual. "Come on, lazybones! School won't wait for you to start!"
I grumbled under my breath, picked up my book and bag and headed for the car.
The gates swung open just as Lin and I stepped out of my car. "Lin!" I moaned. "You said we had to leave! There's still half an hour until school begins." Pausing to sigh, I cast a glance at an unfamiliar blue car in the parking lot. "You know what," she said, "I'll catch up with you later. I gotta go to the homework group anyway."
I mumbled a quiet goodbye before making my way over to the trees near the blue car. It wasn't bright blue, but near black. That was pretty weird for a school as outgoing as ours.
I lurked in the shadows and watched as a boy hopped out of the beat up Volkswagen. I gasped, feeling a surprising energy pressing down on me. Instant Cru-ush, a voice in my head jeered. I shook my head in confusion, a tad angry at myself for that thought. I instead payed attention to him, the new guy.
His hair was short, curling around his ears. It was deep blue, as well, and flawlessly dyed to perfection. He had pale skin and black eyes, high cheekbones and pink lips. He was... gorgeous...
I hit my head on a tree, thinking madly about the sudden emotions I was feeling towards this stranger. This connection must be friendship, I thought. Yeah. Just a destined friendship.
He pulled a black wheelie bag out of his boot and the contents spilled onto the ground as it tipped upside down. I rushed over to help him.
"Here," I said, handing him a pile of empty notebooks. He looked at me, his lips pinched in a stern line. "Thanks," he responded. Disappointment flooded me. "I... umm... hi, I'm Honey. Nice to meet you."
"Alex. Oh, uhh, can you help me with something?"
"Yeah?" I asked.
"Where's the room A112?"
I was shocked. That was my class, the one where I was studying my fantasy fiction section of writing. "Oh, that's where I'm off to! So you want to be an author as well?"
"Yeah," he said in a relaxed tone. I noticed the corners of his mouth raising a little.
I launched my red backpack onto my shoulders, and decided to keep up a level of smalltalk.
"So why are you here?" I asked, probably sounding more interested than I was. And I was very interested.
"My parents saw a bright future in me, but couldn't afford any of the big universities. So, they sent me here, where it was free if you passed the exam. I was the top of my class... they knew I could do it."
"That's cool. But I mean, what's your disability?"
He hesitated, wincing like he had been stung. I muttered an apology, mentioning that it was a pretty sensitive topic for me as well.
"Yeah, well... mines not so much of a disability as a secret. I'm not what I seem, Honey. Not at all."
"Oh, it can't be all that bad!"
"Yeah, it can." He hissed, taking on a slightly aggressive tone.
I gulped. "Oh, well, we're here now!" I said in an attempt to brighten the mood.
After the dull lecture, Alex agreed to tag along with me to Lin and my favourite lunch spot: a cute, kinda wacky cafe called Breakvizt. He followed me along to my car, marvelling at the sleek red BMW. "My uncle's loaded," I explained, grinning. I had finally impressed him!
A waitress came to our table. We knew her as Scarlett. She was the only waitress who had ever served us and we were really close. "Hey girls!" She piped. "So, the usual?" She smiled at Alex warmly. "Welcome to Breakvizt. You're Honey and Lin's friend, right? Well, you can have the same as them." Her voice lowered to a whisper. "It's not actually on the menu. I made it for Honey once and now the girls get it every time." Her eyes glistened mischievously.
Alex smiled, licking his lips. He was so new to me, and my small world, but he already seemed so close to my heart. He glanced at me as I stared at him, and blushed. So did I. Well, I thought to myself, he must think I'm completely insane now.
But I didn't care. I just relished in his presence, and we gossiped about our old schools before Glansdale, our new college. I told him about Pyro, the old bully, Kaitlin and Josh, the annoying couple, and Synthia, my old friend. He told us about his bully, Greg, his annoying couple, Emma and Caleb, and his old friend, Jack.
We also prodded each other for more personal details, all of which we supplied answers to gleefully. Crushes, failures, funny childhood stories.
However, I didn't want to tell him about the first time I met Pyro, how he'd made me read his textbook to him and then kicked me so that I had bruises running all along my sides.
I didn't want to tell him about my ex, who used me to get his way and then cheated on me with three other girls.
And I didn't want to tell him about my current crush, a boy who I only just met but was falling for anyway.
So I refrained from telling him things that would surface too many emotions. Things that would make me want to cry and throw myself into his arms.
What seemed like a heartbeat later, we were leaving after filling up on delicious pickle burgers and sugary, grape flavoured soft drinks. I said goodbye to Alex and Lin and we showed Alex the way to our little library setup on the way back to the campus where all our lectures were.
When I got home, I sank into bed and pulled out my book. The fluffy duvet surrounded me as I began to read.
"No!" Olivia cried. "You haven't been paying enough attention to me! Your work has been getting in the way to the point where when I get home, you simply peck me on the cheek before just slumping down in front of the computer again!"
Patrick stared at her tear stained face and wiped away a stray trickle of mascara from the corner of her eye. "You know what," he said in a low voice, "you're right. I'll quit. I don't need - or want - work as much as I want you. I love you, Olivia. There's nothing you can do to deny me that, and if you're complaining so much, then I'll do whatever's in my power to make you happy again."
Olivia, breathless from sobbing and relief, leaned into him and collapsed in his arms. She sobbed, her shoulders heaving, eyes red, and unbelievably happy. "I love you too," she whispered.
I read some more and only stopped when darkness had enveloped me and I had to use my phone for light. Somehow, after meeting Alex, I loved the book even more. Maybe it was the fact that I was now interested in a love life.
Maybe it was how I wondered if he'd be that loyal to me.
Maybe it was because... maybe, I was in love.