|Doppelganger by Milda Harris out July 30, 2012!|
Doppelganger (A YA Paranormal Romance) will be out on July 30, 2012! Keep a lookout for it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Itunes!
I knew it was going to be a bad day when I woke up just as my first period English class was starting. It was totally unlike me to be this late, ever. I was usually the good kid, always on time, always prepared. Last night, though, I had stayed up way too late reading The Hunger Games. It was that good and books were my one vice and besides, I wanted to find out what happened to Katniss and Peeta. I loved to read and when a book got good, everything else went to hell. Yeah, I was a bookworm and I loved it. Now, I was probably going to get detention for tardiness and I’ve never gotten detention. Ever. It was going to be just one of those days. I knew it.
My mom was working the early shift at the hospital. She was a nurse. My dad had left us when I was five, so he wasn't in the picture anymore. I barely ever saw him. He lived across the country in Portland, Oregon and had remarried with no kids. Still, he was just too busy with his own life, it seemed, to make time for me. I'd grown to be okay with that, although it was really hard when I was five. Regardless, all this meant that nobody was at home to drive me to school. Normally, I liked having the time to myself. I read and ate breakfast and somehow managed to get ready in time to make the bus despite it all. Those mornings were perfect and quiet and spent thinking about the book I was reading and what was going to happen to the characters next.
On the mornings she was home and not working at the hospital, my mom tended to ask a lot of questions about school and boys and life over breakfast. There was no time for reading - it was interrogation time and it drove me totally insane. I just wanted to wake up in the mornings, maybe read and eat something. Not answer fifty questions. Besides, there was never anything new to tell. I didn’t have a boyfriend. My grades were good. That was pretty much the extent of my life at the moment. I was the quiet girl, so my social life was really kind of lame. I mean, my friend Olivia and I hung out all the time and watched movies and went to the mall, but that was the extent of it. I know it's boring to most people. I was totally fine with that, though. Olivia and I had a lot of fun hanging out. Plus, from all the teen movies I had seen and the books I had read, nobody liked real life high school anyway.
Since I had now missed the bus and my mom was at work, I knew I had to make my own way to school. My old bike was in the garage. Riding my bike was definitely not the way to show up to school in style, but it was going to have to do. It was only a two mile bike ride to the high school. It wasn’t going to be fun, but at least it was only fall and in Illinois that wasn’t so terrible. Plus, at least it wasn’t snowing or raining or a billion degrees and humid. It was mostly just leaves turning colors and falling and that was actually kind of pretty and I loved the smell of the cold, crisp air.
I grabbed my books and a breakfast bar and pulled my bike out of the garage. I had no idea where my old bike lock was, so hopefully nobody would steal my ancient bike at school, not that I ever rode it anymore anyway, so it wouldn’t be that big of a loss. It was so junior high to ride a bike. Besides, I had just turned sixteen and had my license. It was way cooler to drive, if only I had my own car. One day. I was dreaming about a sleek blue convertible - the kind that would be perfect in a place like California, but my car would probably end up being an old Honda Civic. That was cool. It was still a car that could take me wherever I wanted to go without having to borrow the car keys or worse, my mom having to drop me off. I mean, as long as it didn't break down. That was one of my worst fears - being stranded, alone and without help on some highway in the middle of nowhere, where your cell phone didn't work. That was terrifying.
I pedaled down my street on my bike, dreaming of my one-day car. I wondered if I'd get one before high school was out and I went to college. I hoped so. I wanted to drive to school my senior year. I pedaled on and on. The leaves were starting to change color and I probably should have paid more attention to the beautiful ride, but I had to think about my history test. I had World History second period and we had a big test. I had studied a little for it last night, but I was still running dates and practice questions through my mind. I probably should have studied harder. It was just that I had been dying to get back to The Hunger Games and finish it. The second book was sitting in my bag burning a hole in it and waiting for me to crack it open. I couldn't, though. I had to keep studying and going over questions in my head. I hoped that I wasn’t about to flunk because of my reading problem. That would be sort of ironic, right? I didn't study because I was reading. I was every teacher's dream student, except that I wasn't reading my history textbook.
By the time I made it to school, I was fifty minutes late. If I didn’t hurry, I would be late for my World History exam too. I wasn’t even sure what Mr. Meadows’ policy was on tardiness and tests. I hoped I wouldn’t have to find out. I threw my bike in with the others at the bike rack and ran for the entrance. I had five minutes.
The Security Guard at the front doors stopped me, “You’re late.”
He was an off duty police officer picking up extra cash and I could tell his coffee hadn't kicked in yet. He was looking at me like he was exhausted from a never-ending week and really could care less that I was late because I was no threat to the security of the school. Still, it was his job description to send me down to the office to get a tardy slip and potentially get in trouble for being so late to school.
“I know,” I said.
“You have to go to the office,” The Security Guard reminded me as if I didn't know and motioned to the main office, as if it was an effort. He took a sip of coffee gratefully.
I groaned, wanting to complain because I really did need to hurry and get to my class for the test, “But I have a test this hour.”
“Rules are rules,” The Security Guard said and pointed me toward the office again, clutching his coffee for more energy.
There was no way around it. If I had to go to the office and get a pass, I was totally going to be late for my World History test. Nobody got out of the office fast. My shoulders slouched and I wanted to pout, but I walked into the main office anyway, and up to the front desk.
The Receptionist looked up, “Late?”
“School ID?” The Receptionist asked as she pulled out a form to fill out.
I put my backpack on the ground and rifled through my front pouch. I finally found my ID at the bottom. I hated the picture and placed it face down in front of the Receptionist.
The Receptionist picked it up, looked at my horrible school picture ID, and continued to fill out the tardy form, “This will take a minute. Have a seat.”
I nodded and looked behind me at the row of chairs that were for students to sit in while they waited to talk to the principal, get a pass, or get detention. There was only one other girl sitting, waiting, and I was horrified to see that it was the one person in the whole school that I would rather not be sitting with, waiting for a tardy slip.
Her name was Melissa Day. I hated Melissa Day and normally I didn’t hate people. It started when we were in grade school. For some reason, Melissa thought it would be funny to call me Orange. My first name is Citrus and yes, I can see the funny, but when you’re seven being called something that is not your name is a big deal and I hated Melissa Day for it ever since. Besides, Melissa kept it up and still called me Orange if I ever had to speak to her. We're in high school. It should have been old by now. Mostly Melissa ignored me. We were in two different social circles. I was a normal girl and Melissa was popular. So, it was the usual division of high school classes. I was grateful for it. I didn’t like being called Orange. So, not having to talk to Melissa was a good thing.
I sat down as far as I could from Melissa and turned my back to her. I pretended to look at my history notes, hoping that Melissa would take it as a hint and not speak to me. She didn’t.
“Orange, what are you doing in here?” Melissa asked, putting particular emphasis on the word Orange.
I felt like someone had just scratched their nails over a chalkboard. I attempted to ignore Melissa again, hoping she would get the hint.
Melissa wasn’t the type to be ignored, “Orange. I’m talking to you.”
I knew she wouldn’t give up, so I said in a monotone voice, “I was late.”
“Oh, Orange. Tardiness is so tacky. Hope you don’t get detention,” Melissa replied flippantly.
I turned to look at her in annoyance, “What are you doing in here?”
Melissa smiled, “The Principal wanted to congratulate me personally on helping raise money for the school with the cheerleader bake sale and car wash. It was all my idea and we raised a lot of money.”
Melissa emphasized the words “a lot.” She liked to do that - emphasize particular words, now that I thought about it. I frowned. I wasn’t impressed, even if she did emphasize the words “a lot.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Melissa had pimped out the cheerleaders to get the money and called it a car wash/bake sale to make it more politically correct. Maybe that was mean on my part, but Melissa really rubbed me the wrong way. Everyone thought she was this great person, but how great of a person could she be if she insisted on calling me Orange when she knew it wasn’t my name?
“Congratulations,” I mumbled sarcastically and turned back to my history book.
It was already a bad morning, so my being rude to Melissa really couldn't be helped. Actually, I hoped the Principal would hurry and congratulate Melissa so that I could get away from her. I could use the extra peace and quiet to get in a few more minutes of studying time. I really wanted to read my book instead, but I had to study. A few more seconds might give me the better grade. What was taking the Receptionist so long anyway? I needed that tardy slip so that I could get to class. I was going to be late for my test, like really, really late.
“Citrus Leahy?” The Receptionist said as if on cue.
I jumped up and made sure not to turn and look at Melissa. I could feel Melissa staring at my back, regardless. Why did she want to talk to me anyway? I focused my gaze on the Receptionist, who was watching me approach.
“You weren’t here first period?” The Receptionist asked.
“No,” I said, “That’s why I’m in the office. For a late pass, so I can go to second period. I have a test.”
The Receptionist frowned and I noticed that she was looking at an attendance sheet. She grabbed a pencil and made an erasure. I felt overly anxious. What was this woman doing? There wasn’t time. I was going to miss my test and it was going to majorly affect my grade. The day was definitely not going well. I needed to get to class.
“Okay, here’s your tardy slip. This one’s a warning. One more and you have detention,” The Receptionist said in monotone, as she handed me the slip. She obviously made this speech all the time.
It was a relief about the detention, but now I was worried about missing the test. I grabbed the slip and immediately turned to leave. I was only going to be about ten minutes late. I could finish the test in forty minutes. I may not have studied adequately, but I was a great test taker.
“Bye Orange!” Melissa yelled after me.
I cringed, but outwardly ignored Melissa and sprinted for my World History class. I didn’t even have time to go to my locker. I’d have to swing back and get my Spanish book before third period, but I’d be okay for history.
As soon as I rounded the corner away from the office, I broke into a sprint. My class was at the other end of the school. The quicker I ran, the more time I had to take the test.
I was breathing hard by the time I made it to the right hallway. I was definitely not a runner. Sweat drops were forming on my face. It was going to be one of those days where I just couldn’t wait to get home and take a shower. I couldn't believe I felt gross and it was only second period. I couldn't help thinking that I was probably going to get a pimple from the sweat on my nose or something too. I bet that it would be one of those ones under the skin, that wouldn't pop and totally hurt. The lengths I went through to get decent grades and be the good kid.
I walked the rest of the way to my classroom, totally forgetting to obsess over World History facts and instead wondering if I had any face wash in my gym locker to try and head off that pimple. I couldn't remember if I had taken it home or not. I crossed my fingers that the face wash would still be there, in my locker, when I had gym in a few hours. I tried to even out my breathing and dabbed the sweat off my face with the bottom of my shirt. I wasn’t going to give the other students anything to talk about by running in, out of breath, and sweaty. I was just going to walk in and hand Mr. Meadows the tardy slip, ask for the test, sit down, take it, and get a decent grade, and hopefully not a pimple. Then I could get back to reading my fun book and not worry about my grades for the rest of the day.
My mind was already planning how it was all going to turn out, as I caught a glimpse of the classroom through the window in the door. That’s when everything froze for me. The Receptionist in the Main Office had been correct in thinking that the attendance reports were strange because they were. How else could I be standing outside of my World History class waiting to go in and take my test and also be inside, already busy with the business of test taking? I swear. I'm not kidding. I was dressed in different clothes, but it was definitely me - same body type, a little longer than shoulder length dirty blonde hair and side swept bangs, oval face, and green eyes. Well, I'm guessing her eyes were green because the girl I was looking at was focused on her test and not looking directly at me. Still, it was me in there. I just knew it.
The thing is - I didn’t have a twin. What I was seeing was totally impossible. I couldn’t be in two places at once. What in the world was happening? And, really, could my day get any worse?