Crystal Hays quickly threw on her clothes, not giving much thought to her outfit. She ran a brush through her messy hair, wondering for a moment if she should just touch up the uneven bangs that she had cut by herself the night before. In the end, however, she decided to leave it. After surveying herself in the mirror, she gave herself a nod of approval before turning towards her bed.
A black backpack laid on top of her comforter along with an assortment of notebooks, pens, pencils, and various other school supplies. Normally she would have taken special care to arrange all of it neatly. Today, however, she was running late, and so it all got thrown into the backpack haphazardly. She was about to zip it up but hesitated, kneeling down and sticking her hand underneath her bed to pull out a book. It was leather bound, the spine cracked and worn with use. Crystal bit down on her bottom lip as she debated whether she should take it along or not.
Just then her bedroom door opened and she stuffed the book into her bag, zipping it up as her mother stepped into the room.
"Crystal, hun, you need to hurry up," the Native American woman said. "You're going to be la-" She faltered in the middle of her sentence, dark eyes widening as she took notice of her daughter's hair. "What on earth did you do?!"
The young girl shrugged and avoided her mother's gaze. Before she headed off to bed last night, her hair had been down to the back of her knees; now it barely reached her shoulder blades, was uneven and choppy. Never in her life had her hair been touched with a pair of scissors; her head felt incredibly light. Plus it was great revenge against her mother as well.
"Young lady, look me in the eyes right now. Why did you do this?"
"Not now, Mom," Crystal muttered as she shouldered her backpack. "I'm going to be late. Remember?" With that, she pushed past her mother and walked down the hall to the stairs. She could hear her mother struggling for words behind her, but hurried out the front door before the woman could recover her bearings.
For a moment she leaned her back against the door, her eyes closed as she tried to calm herself down. She almost felt guilty for acting like that towards her mother, for betraying their beliefs and chopping off her hair. Those feelings didn't last long as she reminded herself that the woman deserved to feel hurt, to feel worse even. It was her fault that Dad had left, she was the one that forced Dad to leave. It was all her fault.
A stray breeze of the Colorado wind assaulted her and pulled her out of her thoughts. She could always mope later. But for right now, she had to get to school. With her shoulders hunched she trudged forward, now thankful that her mother had bought a house close to the high school. Within ten minutes she had made it to her destination.
Students littered the front lawn of the school, mingling before the first class of the day began. Nearly all of them took a moment to stare at her as she passed, a rare few completely ignored her. It was to be expected, after all. This was a small town and while it was the first day of school for her, the rest of them were already a month into the first semester; the combination of which made it obvious she was 'the new girl'.
Doing her best to ignore all of this, Crystal pushed through the crowd of kids and into the school's double doors. She turned right through the cafeteria and into the hallway lined with lockers. Slowing her pace she eyed each of them until she spotted 178 marked on one of the lockers. Then she stopped, entered in her combination and yanked on the handle. But it wouldn't budge.
"Oh, come on," she growled underneath her breath, Entering in her combination once more she yanked on the latch but still it resisted. Crystal gritted her teeth together and banged her fist on the locker as hard as she could. A soft chuckle came from close behind her and a hand rested heavily on her shoulder. Whirling around in surprise, she pressed her back up against the lockers and glared at the boy who had touched her.
His blue eyes shone with amusement and even though a black bandana covered the lower half of his face, she was positive that he was smirking at her. "Here, let me help you," the boy said, his voice slightly muffled by the bandana. Casually, he leaned in towards her, close enough for her to catch a whiff of Axe from his messy blonde hair. He then began to fiddle with the lock. Within moments there was a soft click; he then pulled back from her, letting the door swing open.
"H-how did you-" she trailed off and stared into the empty locker. Why did it open for him and not her? And how did he know her combination to get it open in the first place?
The blonde didn't pay any mind to her concerns, though, chuckling softly to himself. "Don't worry about it. You can return the favor later. And I'll definitely come around to collect." He gave her a soft wink before sauntering down the hallway. "You might want to hurry and put your bag away," he called over his shoulder, "Classes are about to start."
As if on cue, the bell rang twice as a warning to the loitering students. Everyone who had been hanging around outside quickly flooded the building as they all rushed to their first hour classes. Crystal sighed, then let her backpack slip off her shoulder and began to unzip it.
"Hey there, you're new, aren't you?"
Turning around, Crystal saw a girl about her age staring at her intently with light brown eyes. Her curly blonde hair was pulled back with a thin red ribbon and she wore a red dress over a white button down shirt. The girl gave her a warm smile and offered out a hand. "My name is Gabriella White. What's yours, hun?"
After taking a moment to stare at the outstretched hand, the Native girl tentatively took it in hers and gave it a light shake. "I'm Crystal Hays. My mom and I moved here a few days ago," she murmured. She tried to pull back her hand, but the other girl held onto it firmly, her face lighting up.
"Oh, so you're my new neighbor! This is wonderful! I wish I had know earlier so we could have walked to school together this morning. But there's always tomorrow for that." The final warning bell rang just then, cutting off anything else Gabriella was about to say. "Oh, dang it. Time for class. Do you know where your homeroom is? What's you're first class? I bet it's Algebra, am I right? Most us freshmen have it first. Come on, I'll show you to the room!"
Before Crystal could even reply, Gabriella slammed her locker shut and began to pull the bewildered girl behind her, barely even giving her time to pick her backpack up off the floor.