1: Bad Luck
I was wandering inside the mystical forest, the dappled sunlight filtering through the emerald leaves, casting enchanting shadows on the moss-covered ground. And then, as I turned a bend, there he was, Knox Sullivan, dressed in shimmering silver robes, like a prince of the forest.
He extended his hand to me, and I took it, feeling an electric connection between us. We walked together, our steps harmonizing with the gentle rustling of the leaves. I could feel the magical tension between us like a magnetic force pulling us closer and closer.
As we stood beneath a canopy of roses, their petals soft as silk, Knox tilted his head, and his mesmerizing eyes locked with mine. The world around us seemed to disappear as he leaned in, his lips moving closer to mine...
Just as our lips were about to meet, I felt a tap on my forehead. My heart leaped into my throat as I snapped back to reality. I opened my eyes and saw Mrs. Jenkins, her face a stormy sea of anger, staring at me.
"Why do you look like a fish?"
The classroom erupted into laughter and I almost covered my face in embarrassment and also checked if there was an excess saliva near my lips.
Shocks! I'm still in school, I forgot! I fell asleep...
"Miss Weber, as much as I appreciate your creative daydreaming skills, this is a math class. Please keep your imaginative forest adventures for later." Mrs. Jenkins, in a stern tone, said.
I felt my cheeks burn with embarrassment, and Knox, my woodland prince, had vanished back into the depths of my imagination. The laughter of my classmates and the disapproving gaze of Mrs. Jenkins made me wish I could disappear too.
"Jocelyn, could you please share your fascinating adventure with the rest of us? It seems like a trip worth taking than this math class." Mrs. Jenkins crossed her arms and said.
The class erupted in laughter again.
"Uh, it was nothing, just my usual daydream." I almost stammered and I saw Mrs. Jenkins roll her eyes at me and continue the discussion.
"You've really outdone yourself this time, Joce. Even Mrs. Jenkins wants to know what's inside that wild imagination of yours!" Ethan, my friend, couldn't resist teasing me by whispering.
"Yeah, Jocelyn, we'd all love to hear about your mystical forest. Who knows, it might be more interesting than math." Mia chimed in.
The laughter continued, and I couldn't help but join in. Even though I was blushing, I had to admit, my daydreams did add a dash of excitement to our otherwise ordinary school day.
When break time finally rolled around, it was our little escape from the world of textbooks and teachers. I rushed out to the courtyard, sandwich in one hand, daydreams of Knox in the other. My friends joined me, and we found a quiet spot under the tree, away from the bustle of the cafeteria.
My friends often poked fun at my Knox obsession, but those conversations were like little bursts of sunshine in my day, bringing laughter and comfort.
Lila leaned to me, "Hey, Jocelyn, have you spotted Knox today? He's like a walking daydream, isn't he?"
I sighed dramatically, "Lila, you've got no clue! I saw him in the hallway, and he was like... extra dreamy."
Ethan chuckled, "Joce, you're still swooning over Knox? It's like you're in another dimension when he's around."
"Love doesn't play by the rules, guys. Remember what he said in that speech? It was like words from the heart, I'm telling you!" Blushing, I defended my Knox devotion.
Mia, our classroom study whiz who also fails every exam, pointed at my notebook covered in hearts, "Jocelyn plus Knox? Seriously, Jocelyn, can we please math here? You've turned your notebook into a love letter."
Embarrassed, I protested, "Oops, my bad, Mia. But Knox, you know, he's just... irresistible."
Ethan couldn't help but shake his head, "Joce, maybe someday you should actually talk to the guy instead of zoning out. He might be a sucker for a girl with a wild imagination."
Flustered, "You think? That would be like, a daydream come true!" I exclaimed.
"Jocelyn, you should get to figure out a way to get to know him better. Maybe join the same clubs or something." Lila offered her usual pep talk.
Lost in Knoxland, I replied, "I've thought about it, Lila, but how do I even start a conversation? What if he thinks I'm too... different?"
"Joce, if he's as smart and amazing as you believe, he'll dig your unique vibe." Mia non-attentively suggested while writing in her notebook.
"Yeah, and remember, love doesn't do the class thing. If it's meant to be, it'll happen." Ethan chimed in with a grin.
With a goofy smile, I hugged my friends. "You guys are the best. I'll find a way to get to know him, and maybe, just maybe... my daydream will turn into a reality...."
I remembered him on that remarkable day when Principal Gregory Hansen introduced the incoming freshmen to the campus.
I was late again. Rushing through the school corridors, backpack bouncing behind me, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever make it to the event on time. My friends, Lila, Ethan, and Mia, had given me the "We're-going-to-be-late" looks as we'd made our way to the auditorium, but it seemed like my internal clock had other plans.
As I hurried to the auditorium doors, I could hear Lila's voice, tinged with a mix of amusement and exasperation, "Jocelyn, seriously, you've got to work on that punctuality of yours."
"Yeah, Joce, you almost made us the center of attention. And not in a good way." Ethan chimed in with a sly grin.
"The next time you're late, we might need a special entrance just for you." Mia, ever the pragmatic one, added.
I couldn't help but laugh, though there was a small pang of guilt for almost making my friends the subject of whispers and giggles. I promised myself to set multiple alarms for the next event.
As we finally entered the auditorium, the room was abuzz with anticipation. We'd missed the initial speeches, and I was blissfully unaware of the significance of this one. We were aware that we were not going to find some seats, so we just stood near the exit door.
"It is indeed an honor to have this speech in front of you..."
My head immediately turned to the guy on the stage.
The guy on stage, standing confidently, was someone I hadn't noticed before. He had a magnetic presence, commanding the attention of the entire auditorium.
"It is indeed an honor to have this speech in front of you..." he started, and his words were like music, soothing and inspiring. I was drawn to him, even though I had no idea who he was.
My friends were whispering about something, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the stage.
"We, as the seasoned students, are here to welcome the newcomers to our Pole Middle School family. It's a place where friendships will be forged, knowledge will be gained, and dreams will take flight."
His words resonated with me, like an echo of what I'd always hoped school could be. The world around me seemed to fade away as I hung on to every word he said.
"In the grand scheme of life, we are all explorers of this vast, uncharted territory, and our journeys will be enriched by the diversity of our experiences," he continued, his tone filled with warmth and sincerity.
The room was completely silent, everyone was absorbed in his words, and I couldn't help but feel a connection to what he was saying. It was as if he was speaking to my heart, addressing my longing for a world where friendships and dreams could flourish.
"In the world we live in, there's a tendency to label, categorize, and separate. But, let us remember that love knows no class. Our hearts don't discriminate based on grades or intelligence. What truly matters is the kindness we extend to one another, the friendships we form, and the support we offer, regardless of our academic standings."
"Gosh... so good-looking and smart," I whispered. "Who is he...?"
"You don't know him?"
I turned to Ethan next to me and shook my head.
Ethan's eyebrows shot up in disbelief. "You don't know him? Seriously, Joce, where have you been hiding? That's Knox Sullivan. He's not in our class, but he's one of the most renowned students in the whole school."
My eyes widened. So he's that Knox Sullivan?! The legend, the genius who had been dominating the academic scene? He was more than just a handsome face... he was the epitome of excellence!
My friends were all too eager to fill me in, practically whispering in my ear as the enigmatic Knox continued his speech.
"Joce, he's like the genius of geniuses," Lila said, her eyes glued to Knox. "His IQ is through the roof, and he's not just academically smart. He's an all-rounder, excelling in everything he does."
Ethan added, "He's also known for his calm and cold nature. I've heard he never loses his cool, no matter the situation. He's like the Zen master of our school."
I was stunned. I'd always had a vague awareness of Knox's academic prowess, but I hadn't paid much attention. Now, watching him on stage, I was in awe of the person he seemed to be. Handsome, brilliant, and charismatic, he was the embodiment of perfection.
"As if he wasn't intimidating enough already, right?" Mia commented, and I nodded, unable to tear my eyes away from the magnetic presence of Knox.
Knox Sullivan continued his speech, captivating the entire audience with his wisdom and charm. It was as if he had the power to make the ordinary seem extraordinary, and I found myself hanging on to every word, just as I did in my daydreams.
I couldn't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, there was a place for someone like me in Knox's extraordinary world.
In the midst of my thoughts, the words that had introduced me to Knox Sullivan came back to me. Each grade in Pole Middle School was divided into six classes, A through F, based on intelligence and test scores. Those who were categorized in Class A were naturally the most pampered. Among the A class, Knox Sullivan, a gifted student with an IQ of 200 and an all-around ability, was the most popular. He was the light of Pole, and Principal Gregory Hansen was so proud of him.
While me... I'm in Class F. We were called dumb, stupid, idiots, hopeless, freeloaders, and such. I didn't know that I'd be embarrassed because of that now.
But I think maybe I do have a chance.
One sunny afternoon, after hours of psyching myself up, I finally decided it was time to take a leap of faith. Knox was in the courtyard, surrounded by his friends, his aura glowing with a sort of distant allure that had always made my heart race. It was now or never, and I had to face my feelings for him, no matter the outcome.
With a bit of hesitation, I approached Knox. "Hey, Knox," I greeted him, my voice trembling slightly.
Knox turned his head to look at me, his icy blue eyes studying me with curiosity and a tinge of surprise. "What?"
Gathering what remained of my courage, I took a deep breath. "Um, well, Knox, I've been wanting to tell you something for a while now."
He just stared at me blankly.
And there it was, the moment I'd replayed a thousand times in my head. "I, uh, really like you... Knox. Like, a lot. I think you're amazing, and I can't help but daydream about you all the time."
Knox blinked, but his eyes turned colder, and looked at my ID. "I appreciate your honesty, but I don't really have time for, well, dumb girls. I prefer people who can keep up with me intellectually."
"You're so frank, dude."
I saw him and his friends leave and I saw the other other students were looking at me.
My heart plummeted as his words struck like icy knives. The hope that had warmed my chest a moment ago was now extinguished. I felt like a fool standing there, exposed to Knox's cold rejection in front of his friends.
The rejection by Knox stung like a fresh wound, and I couldn't help but replay his cold words in my head. It was as if a spotlight had been trained on me, and the entire school was the audience, laughing at my expense. I had foolishly believed that love could transcend the boundaries of classes, but reality had slapped me in the face, reminding me of the harsh divisions that existed.
For days, I couldn't bear to face the school hallways, knowing that whispers and laughter followed me wherever I went. My friends tried their best to cheer me up, but the humiliation weighed heavily on my shoulders.
"You didn't even tell us that you were going to confess, maybe we could at least support you that day!" Ethan exclaimed.
"Jocelyn, don't let Knox's rejection get you down. He's just one guy, and not worth all this heartache." Lila, always the empathetic one, put her arm around me.
Mia nodded, "She's right, Joce. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and you'll find someone who appreciates you for who you are."
"Come on, Joce, you've already faced a forest fire of embarrassment at school. You can handle anything now." Ethan, the humorous one of the group, attempted to lighten the mood with a teasing grin.
I couldn't help but smile, despite the heaviness in my heart. My friends were a ray of sunshine in my stormy days, and their support meant the world to me.
It was a painful lesson in the difference between "dream" and "reality." I had to accept that not everything would go the way I imagined, and that was okay.
My friends were comforting me when suddenly, my phone rang. I saw "Dad" on the caller ID, and my heart skipped a beat as I answered.
"Jocelyn, go home now," his voice was strained, and I could hear a raspy cough in the background. My brows furrowed in concern.
"Dad, what's going on?" I asked, my worry growing with every passing second.
"Go home, sweetheart! Our house is on fire!"
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