Before, when the world was a much more simpler place to live in, this story would have been harder to tell. And I, like many of you, was living a simple life. I had a job, a family, friends, a nice school—a good life. I wish I could say it always stayed that way for me, for it was on my 16th birthday, that everything changed.
The wind was blowing slightly, the trees were a series of colors—red, orange, yellow, the colors that one would expect in a lovely painting. I loved the trees like that, especially when they glistened with the slight frost glazing over from the upcoming winter. It was chilly, enough to wear a light jacket or a sweater, but I liked it that way too. This park was one of my favorite places to be, but it might just be because of mom. I don’t know. Ever since she died, I’ve always liked this place. It’s my favorite place to read, like what I’m doing now. That is, until your annoying little brother interrupts the wonderful peaceful silence.
I stayed in my position, absorbed in the immense storyline of my novel. I heard a thud on the bench, and a weight on my legs as his head crashed into my lap, causing my body to jolt unexpectedly.
“Fynn! For crying out loud, what is the matter with you!”
He pretended to yawn, placing a hand casually over his mouth, “I’m tired, sis.”
“Then go sleep somewhere else, I’m busy.” I opened my book again, desperately trying to finish. He hit it from below, so that it almost fell from my hands. When I looked into his blue eyes and shining face, he flashed me a playful grin.
I shook my head, a smile growing on my lips, and closed the book—placing it beside me. I crossed my arms and looked down at him, “What?”
He sighed, the light breeze blowing his soft blonde hair. “You ready for school tomorrow?”
It was my turn to sigh, “Yeah, I guess. There’s nothing much we can do when we’re going a month late.” There also the fact that it was my first time going; Fynn and I had been homeschooled up till now.
“I still don’t get why Dad’s making us do that.”
“He’s a college professor, remember? He needs this month to plan out the year for his students.”
“Why can’t Yuki take us then? She lives pretty close to us.”
“It’s the start of a new year, she’s got her own business to worry about. Besides, we can’t bother her about every little thing. We’ve talked to the teachers; they’ll make sure to start fresh on their plans. We’re exempt from all homework they’ve assigned up till tomorrow.”
He didn’t say anything, just nodded, showing that he understood. After a few moments of silence he spoke again, “Will we ever see each other in school?”
“You’re five years younger than me, what do you think?”
He pouted, “What about lunch?”
“Depends on when I have it. Apparently in high schools they have different times for lunch so that it isn’t too crowded. Don’t worry, I’ll see you after school.”
“I have track on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Fynn said, “For an hour and half.”
“Isn’t it Tuesday tomorrow?”
He nodded, “Coach said I can start next week, but I’ve got to go tomorrow since we’ve got a competition next month.”
“Perfect,” I muttered, I had sports this week too—along with a job and not to mention the amount of homework that would come in time. Going to school was going to make things a lot more complicated.
“I’ll pick you up when its over,” I told him, “Don’t take too long because I have work.”
He nodded in understanding, then asked, “Is Dad coming home late tomorrow?”
“Yea, its first day for him too right? He has that teacher meeting after school for a few hours. Oh that reminds me, we’re making dinner tomorrow too.”
My eyebrow quirked up in annoyance, “Quit complaining, you know we have to.”
“I hate cooking.”
“I know you do, but I can’t do it by myself every time. I’ve covered your lazy butt more times than I can count.”
“I’ll bake you a cake if you want, but I’m not stirring soup for twenty minutes and watching pasta boil.”
“Fine,” I knew he wouldn’t be much help if he didn’t commit to it, “Just help me get the ingredients out and then you can do what you want. Deal?”
He laughed, “Deal.”
But I just looked at him, shaking my head in disbelief.
He immediately looked confused, “What?”
“You’re such an odd ball. Not only are you the only one who’s blonde in our family but you hate cooking. Mom did it, Dad does it, I do it, our grandparents did, heck I’m pretty sure Tessie can too.”
“Do you really doubt the abilities of a toddler? She can cook more in her toy kitchen then you can in a real one. And you’re eleven!”
“At least I can bake,” he countered, “You can’t.”
“I don’t eat sweet things,” I reminded him, “So baking isn’t exactly something I do on the daily.”
“Yea well,” he rested his arm over his eyes, “You ate plenty when Mom baked.”
My breath caught for a second before I let it out, “Yea.” And then a thought occurred to me, “Hang on, how would you know that?”
He grinned slyly at me, removing his arm, “Dad told me.”
“Traitor,” I muttered under my breath. I glanced at my watch, “Speaking of which, we should get going. He’ll be home soon.”
- - -
I stared at the school in disbelief, “This is CS High?” It was five stories high, with windows that could fit five people, parking space that could harbor dragons, tennis courts and football fields that stretched for miles. I could not stop my eyes from darting here and there. It was truly amazing.
My dad chuckled next to me, “Perce, I told you. It’s not as big as you think.”
My jaw dropped, “Its huge!”
“Percy, remember my college? This high school is barely—
“It’s bigger than I could have imagined!” I looked around at the crowds of people. All students of course, dressed in the school uniform and talking to their friends. I watched in awe at the new environment I would have to get used to.
“Are you even listening to me?”
“Look at the tennis court!”
“Of course you’re not.” My dad grabbed my shoulders and turned me toward him. I kept forgetting how tall and strong he was. He had short neat dark hair, chocolate brown eyes, a gentle and wise face, and a tall figure. “Calm down,” Dad said gently.
I heard Fynn snort behind me, dressed in his school uniform—buttoned down shirt, blazer, and long pants. “She can’t hear anything Dad, she’s too busy having her brain explode.”
I glared at him before turning back to my father.
He chuckled lightly before becoming serious again. He placed one hand on my brother’s shoulder, still leaving the other hand on mine. “I know it’s a big change for you two, and I want to thank you for your bravery. Going from homeschooled to a high school is a pretty big change, so I commend you both. Make friends, learn some new things, and above all,” his eyes twinkled as he smiled, “Have fun. Okay?”
“Got it,” we both nodded. We hugged him one last time before we walked off. I grabbed Fynn’s hand and led him through the front gate.
“Remember to call me when school is over!” he called behind us.
I waved at him, “I’ll remember! See you soon!”
He smiled and picked up his workbag before heading off in the opposite direction. With Fynn’s small hand in mine, I walked him to the West side of the school, where all the middle school students attended. Coming to a school for the first time, one would think my brother and I would be really nervous. But we’re used to crowds, I deal with them on a weekly basis in my job and Fynn helps out often. Being a waitress means meeting a lot of people.
As I reached the front door of the building, I pulled my arm forward to move Fynn in front of me. “Here we are, bud. Get going now.”
I tried to release his hand when I realized that he was still holding on, “Fynn? Are you alright?”
He took a deep breath, still looking away from me, “I’m just a little scared.”
“You’ll be fine, I promise.”
He said nothing. Where did my happy confident brother go?
I kneeled down to him, something I learned from my mother when I was upset. “Hey, look at me…Fynn, look at me.”
His eyes found mine, uncertainty clouding their usually confident vision. “You’re going to be fine, okay? There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“What if I don’t do well? What if I fail?”
“Fail?” I laughed, “On your first day? You’d have to try to fail, Fynn. Trust me. I know we’re late into the year, but we’re excused from everything remember? And if there’s something that you don’t know, you can always ask your teachers or your classmates. You can come to me too.”
“I know,” he said, “But I’m still a little…”
“Worried? I am too, but that’s how everyone feels. You’re a natural at school, so there’s nothing for you to worry about, okay? You’re super smart and my brilliant little brother.” I kissed him on the forehead, “Now go, you little trouble-maker. Have a great day.”
He laughed lightly, though he looked as though he was feeling a lot better. I stood up, “Alright then, I better get going.”
He threw his arms around my waist, “Thanks sis, see you after school.”
I grinned and looked down at him, pressing him toward me (being five years older, its hard to hug him fully, but hey I adapt). “You’re welcome, now go before you get late. That’s not a great way to start school, I’ll you that.”
“Okay, mom. Sheesh.” He ran toward the school, laughing all the way.
I waved behind him, feeling proud that I was able to cheer him up and headed back to the East side of the school.
What I told him was true; I was as worried as he was—but maybe for a different reason. I knew introductions in high school were a little more complicated than in middle school for an eleven-year-old like him, so I didn’t delve too deep in that. I just hoped I looked okay. I had tied my long brown hair into a ponytail and let it hang loose. Since I wasn’t much into skirts and dresses, I chose to wear the pants and jacket uniform instead.
As soon as I entered the building, the sound of bell blared in the halls. I almost jumped at the sound, but remembered that this signaled the start of class. A little panicked, I pulled out my schedule from my sling bag and looked for my first class. Trig/Pre-Calculus, it read, Mr. Parker, Room 341. I stared at the classroom in front of me. Room 23. 23? Where in world did 23 come from? I looked around desperately. I was on the right floor, I knew that much—the guide had showed us when we had come for a tour. What room was it again? I looked left and right, the long hallways intimidating my guesses. Should I go into any room and ask the teacher? Wouldn’t I be interrupting the class? Should I just keep looking for it? What if I get lost? Front office. Yes, the front office could help. I turned on my heel quickly and headed off in that direction, bumping right into someone as I did.
“Whoa!” I heard someone exclaim as I collided with them. The sudden impact caused me to stumble back a few steps, feeling like I had just gotten off a rollercoaster.
“God, I’m so sorry,” I said to the floor, rubbing my head with my hand because I was embarrassed to look him in the eye.
He laughed, “It’s okay, I should really watch where I’m going.” I looked at him. He had neat jet back black hair falling over a handsome pair of emerald green eyes. His smile, which showed two rows of perfect white teeth, lifted his lips up in a playful smirk. He reminded me of a prince, I thought, tall, lean, and a little arrogant looking.
“It’s fine,” I told him, adjusting the bag on my shoulder.
I was about to move past him when I saw his eyes dart to the paper in my hand. “Is that a schedule? Are you looking for a class?”
I was filled with sudden relief, “Yea, actually. Mr. Parker’s class, for Trig/Pre-Calculus. Any idea where that is?”
“Wow,” he raked a hand through his hair, “Yea I do. Funnily enough, I was just on my way there.”
He nodded, “Yea, come on I’ll take you. This way.”
“Thanks so much,” I said, walking beside him, “I got really confused because this classroom here says twenty-three and the classroom on my schedule is like three-hundred something.”
He laughed, “Yea we have weird a weird numbering system here. I mean, it used to make sense a few years ago, where the twenties meant first floor and two-hundred meant the second floor but with the recent construction the whole thing’s been messed up.”
“Recent construction?” I asked, confused. The tour guide never mentioned this.
“Yea, it just finished before school started. Didn’t you hear the announcement? It was during the second week of school I think.”
“Oh,” my voice faltered, “No I…this is my first day.”
His forehead creased before his eyes went wide in realization, “Are you the new student?”
I nodded, “Yea, my brother and I started today.”
“Oh, that makes so much more sense now.” He stopped quickly and jumped in front of me, preventing another step. “What’s your name?”
“Uh,” I started, a bit startled by his sudden movement, “It’s Percinda Bane, but you can just call me Percy if you like.”
“Percy? Isn’t that a boy’s name?”
“There are plenty of girls that have boy names.” I said politely.
“Yea, but it’s your nickname right?”
“Why would you want to go by that?”
My annoyance flared, where was the nice boy I was just talking to? “You got a better one?”
“Yoshida,” he smirked, “Taro Yoshida.”
My jaw dropped, “Yoshida. As in Yoshida Industries?”
“So you have heard of me,” his smirk widened.
“Are you kidding? You dad is like the richest man alive!” Not to mention, he owned the biggest company in the country. I had always dreamed of visiting his office.
He shrugged, “Minor details, miss…. what was it again? James? Daniel?”
I huffed; I just about had it with him. I pushed past him, “Percy.”
“Ah,” he remarked, “That’s the one.”
I said nothing.
“Where are you going?” he asked when I barely reached two steps away from him. “Class is right here.” I looked the room number: 341, Mr. Parker.
He laughed at my surprised expression as he opened the door to the class, effectively causing twenty pairs of eyes to glue on to us. My body went stiff with the attention, but I was more amazed with the classroom. It was bigger than I expected, with five rows of desks (about four in each row), all facing a gigantic blackboard. The wall in front of me had three large windows, with a perfect view of the Colorado Mountains. Secluded in one corner to the front of the room, is what I assumed was the teacher’s desk. Mr. Parker, a man who seemed in his early thirties, stood at the blackboard. He had wavy blonde hair, with bright eyes and a chiseled face from his last shave, the specks still clear on his cheek and jaw.
The students seemed to recognize Taro immediately, calling his name like an audience in a tournament.
“Mr. Yoshida? Late again, I see,” Mr. Parker noted.
“Sorry Doc, my flight landed late last night.” Flight? What flight?
“So I’ve heard. But your sister was able to make it on time, which leads me to wonder exactly how late your flight landed.”
Taro sighed, clearly caught, “Well you know her, Doc, she’s always on time.”
“Regardless, Mr. Yoshida, it is still not a good enough excuse.”
“I wouldn’t be that late if I didn’t have to escort her!” he gestured back to me.
He raised his eyebrow, “Who is this new friend you’ve made?”
“Percinda, sir!” I stated, rushing forward to greet him. “I’m the new student, Eric Bane’s daughter.”
He looked at me for a second before the memory hit him, “Ah yes! I remember now. Sorry, Percinda, it completely slipped my mind. Yes, I recall meeting with your father a few weeks back.” He stuck out his hand, “I’m Mr. Parker, your math teacher.”
I shook it, “It’s nice to meet you, sir.”
“A pleasure, please have a seat,” he motioned to the third row seat nearest to the window.
“Thank you,” I ducked my head and sat in my designated spot.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asked Mr. Parker sharply, as Taro was about to sit down. The class immediately fell silent, as if they were holding their breath for something terrible to happen.
Taro left his bag near his desk and made his way towards the front again. Mr. Parker crossed his arms; “I will pardon it this time, since you helped Percinda find her way to my class. I understand you came into town late, but if this continues I will have you put in detention.”
Taro slumped his shoulders in relief, “Thanks Doc, but I promise—it won’t happen again.”
“It better not, Mr. Yoshida, for your sake. You may sit down now.”
Taro winked at me and walked back to his seat near the back of class, near his endless amount of friends.
“In your assigned seat, Mr. Yoshida.”
Taro flinched as if he had expected it. His friends moaned silently in the back, but he shrugged—knowing he had already been let off the hook. He collected his things and sat in the vacant desk next to me.
I stared at him in surprise as he sat down. No way, I had to sit next to him too? I grumbled silently—this was going to be a long class.
“Now then,” Mr. Parker clapped his hands together, “Let’s begin.”
- - -
“Aw, come one. Just once!”
“Figure it out yourself.”
“I just need this one variable, then I can solve it!”
“If you were paying attention, you would know what it is.”
“Hey, I’m smart, I don’t need to pay attention to every little thing.”
“Wonderful, then you should be able to figure it out yourself.”
“Taro let me do my work. Go bother someone else.”
“Just give me this one thing and I’ll leave you alone,” Taro insisted.
“That’s what you said for the last eight problems.”
“I promise,” he pleaded.
“Not buying it.”
“Miss Bane?” Mr. Parker’s voice came from the front of the room. He was sitting on his reclining chair, feet propped on his desk, an unsolved Rubik’s Cube in one hand. “Is there a problem?”
“I don’t know,” I looked at Taro, raising an eyebrow, “Is there?”
Taro cursed under his breath.
“No sir,” I called back.
Mr. Parker’s gaze shifted to Taro, “That’s what I thought.”
“Wow,” Taro said moments later, “First day and your already the teacher’s best friend.”
I shrugged, trying to figure out the next math problem.
“Five minutes! Remember the worksheet is due by the end of class!” Mr. Parker announced.
“Better hurry,” I reasoned, “We don’t have much time left.”
“Maybe if you’d help me, this would go right along.”
“Maybe if you would pay attention, you’d be done by now.” I tucked my pencil away and rose from my seat, a completed math assignment in hand.
“You’re done?” He asked surprisingly, “That’s impossible.”
“In your case, yea it is.” I responded, organizing my papers. He made a face of disbelief as I walked up to Mr. Parker’s desk and turned the assignment in.
“A month late and you’re already doing much better than my students who’ve been here since the first day of school. An excellent job, Miss Bane.”
“Thank you, sir. To be honest though, I’ve already done this type of stuff before.”
“Ah yes, your father warned me about that. Don’t worry; we are finishing up the topic this week.”
“And the test….”
He waved it off, “You’ll be fine. I’m planning to have it sometime next week, but if you understand this then you’ll fly through it. I have placed an extra practice test online if you want to look at that.”
“I will. Thank you.”
He nodded, “You can go help Mr. Yoshida now, I think he’s gone through enough.” I looked behind me to see Taro’s head in his hands, utterly confused and disheartened.
I laughed, “Of course.”
As I sat back down, I turned toward Taro, “Okay, tell me what you need help with.”
His head snapped up, “Really?”
“For real? You’re not going to yell at me again?”
“No, Taro, I’m not. You’ve got less than three minutes and if you don’t tell me now, I might change my mind.”
“Okay, okay, hold that thought. Here….”
After class, I waited for Taro outside the room (mostly because he made me, something about “If you get lost, who’s going to take you to the next class?”).
He came out with his other friends, but they parted ways at the door.
“Oh, you actually waited?” he asked when he waved his goodbyes.
I raised an eyebrow, “Yea…you told me to.”
“Yea but I didn’t think you’d actually…never mind. What’s your next class?”
“Not with you hopefully!”
I started to walk away from him, “I’ll be fine. Just go to your next class or you’ll be late.”
He raced up to me, “Like you this morning?”
“You were late too!”
“I told you, I had a flight.”
“Uh-uh, sure you did.”
“You want to challenge the richest man on the planet’s son?” His eyebrow quirked up as he smirked.
“I don’t want to, what’s your next class?”
“Not really, no.”
“Come on!” He grabbed my arm, pulling me closer into his gaze, “What’s the worse that could happen?”
I twisted my arm from his grasp, “You make a dramatic entrance and I have to introduce myself to the teacher in the middle of their lecture.”
“So tell me now and I’ll get us both there on time.”
“I highly doubt that.”
“It’s not that bad to be late. It’s your first time here; the teachers will understand.”
“Yea, but that doesn’t mean I have to be late to every class!”
“Just tell me.”
“Go away, Yoshida.”
“Fine,” he said. He shook his head and began to walk down the hallway.
“Thank the lord,” I muttered; though I was surprised he listened. When he was a safe distance away, (meaning I couldn’t see him through the crowd of people), I pulled out my schedule. Biology, it read with a room number next to it. But before I could read it, someone snatched it from my hand.
I looked up, “Taro! Give it back!”
He held the sheet above his head, “Biology, huh? No way! Me too!”
I groaned, “Why does this have to happen to me?”
“You refused to tell me, so this was my only option.”
“Or you could just leave me alone.”
“But your so fun to tease!” he said happily, “Come on, let’s go find the lab.”
“Taro, give it back!” I jumped up frantically.
He stretched the paper above his head while walking through the hallway, “Hmm, maybe if I feel like it.”
“No, give it now!” I jumped again, but I barely reached past his head.
He chuckled, “Wow, you’re so short!”
“I’m average height, thank you very much.”
“Oh relax,” he shoved the slip into his pocket, “I’ll give it back eventually. You won’t need it anyways.”
I punched his arm, “How am I supposed to get to the rest of my classes?”
He smirked, “I don’t know, but its something I’d like to see.” Why in the world was this popular guy hanging out with someone like me, I thought. I was new, had no friends, it was my first day—I was a complete klutz. I didn’t see what he wanted or what I had to offer.
“Let’s go, Shorty.” He said, striding off.
I ran after him, “I’m not short!”
And it went on like this….for about three more classes. During 5th period, I was able to lose him by pretending to go the bathroom. Okay, so he had the first four classes with me—perfect, but how many more? I had an eye on him now, standing outside the other entrance to the bathroom, leaning against the wall and talking to his friends. For once, I was glad he had a ton of friends—it made it easier to distract him. I walked back slowly, keeping an eye on him but moving slow enough so that he wouldn’t notice me. When I was a safe distance away and Taro turned his head away from my direction, I ran.
I chuckled as I made my way to the beautiful grassy field the school had. It was lunchtime, and I had finally managed to get away from him…even if it was for a little bit. I knew this was a game we were playing, it’s not like I hated him. Weirdly enough, I was laughing the entire time. Even though he bothered me and annoyed me, he knew how to make me laugh and it was fun hanging around him.
“Excuse me!” someone yelled behind me. I spun around to see who it was.
It was a girl, with beautiful bouncing black hair, green eyes, and body of a model. She wasn’t that much shorter than me, but my height was noticeably higher than hers. And her hair…it was short and curly, framing her face perfectly. It wasn’t the crimped or messy curls either, but the type girls try to do with a curling iron—except it was natural, bouncing around her gracefully. She smiled brightly at me, intensifying her beauty by ten fold. She was without a doubt, the prettiest girl I had ever seen. Beside her, was a tall boy. He had wispy blonde hair, sky blue eyes, and a handsome face.
She ran up to me, “Hi, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I shook myself from my temporary trance, “No…its fine. Can I help you with anything?”
She smiled widely, “You could say that. Do you know where my brother is?”
What? I scanned her again, how in the world would I know that. “Your brother?”
“Yea, you know. Taro Yoshida? I know it seems weird to ask you, but I’ve seen you too hanging around each other all day and I really need to find him.”
“You’re his sister?” It made sense now, why her green eyes and face were captivating and so strangely familiar. “Uh…no sorry. He’s been following me around all day and I just got away from him.”
She laughed, “Oh, man! I’m sorry about him, he’s a little...special.” She stuck out her hand, “I’m Rena, by the way.”
I shook her hand, “Percinda Bane.”
“So you’re Percinda! It’s so wonderful to meet you!” She shook my hand with both of hers. “This is Atsumori,” she pointed to the tall blonde.
“Hi,” he said calmly, “Call me Aya.” Now that I could see him more clearly, it was amazing just how similar he looked to Fynn. Aya was like an older, mature version of him and his kind and wise face showed that. Even his behavior—it was all very similar. He even had the same playful twinkle in his sky blue eyes.
“Percy,” I replied, “I think Taro’s back in the lunchroom, that’s where I last saw him. Near the bathrooms.”
“That little trouble maker doesn’t pick up his phone,” Rena shook her head, “But thanks, I just had to make sure he got out of Computer Science safely.”
I cast a weird look at her.
Aya sighed, “Taro always spends at least an extra fifteen minutes talking to the teacher about mechanics and whatnot, he loves technology.” From the way that Aya talked about him, I knew they had to be very close. But then again, who in this school wasn’t friends with Taro?
“I’m sure he would have if he didn’t go chasing after me after every class.” I reasoned, “I don’t know why but since I met him he won’t leave me alone.”
“That’s just the way he is, I’m afraid.” Rena said, “But don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” she winked, “You have your first four classes with him?”
“Unfortunately yea, and I don’t know how many more.”
“Try, all of them.” Aya said, scrolling through his phone with his thumb.
I wasn’t sure what I just heard, “All of them?”
He nodded, “Taro just sent me a picture of a new schedule that is identical to his, he wrote ‘check out who has all their classes with me’”
I groaned, now I know why it didn’t matter if Taro gave me the schedule back or not. “This is a nightmare.”
“Oh don’t worry I’ll make sure he won’t bother you anymore.” Rena laced her arm through mine, “Besides, Taro, Aya, and I have the last two classes together.”
“Oh, thank the lord!”
“To the lunchroom!” Rena exclaimed, thrusting her arm into the air and dragging me along with her.
“Wait…ow! Rena my hair…it’s caught…my hair!”
Aya threw his head back and laughed, “You two are so weird.”
Weird we might be, but I was having the most fun in my life.