If Cinderella was born in the 21st century and moved to the small town of Dollings, Oregon, she’d look like Emily Evenson.
Blonde hair, blue eyes, with a white headband. She even came with a step-mom and two younger step-sisters and no, her father is still alive and rich enough to own half the oil companies in town.
The day Emily transferred to Woodlink High to finish her senior year, everyone in the student body council decided she would be the school’s most popular girl, which currently sits at a ninety-seven percent approval rating. She got knocked down three percent today for pouring milk on the football captain at lunch.
No one knows why she did it but that’s what landed her in detention for the third time this month.
Emily sat in the back of the room near the windows, arms crossed, and stared out into the school’s football field which was drenched by the rain.
Sana sat three desks across from her, not because she was in trouble herself, but because she helped grade papers for the teacher who monitored the room.
Emily was everything Sana’s mother warned her not to look for in a friend or a girlfriend: wealthy and arrogant with a tendency for violence, though she was pretty sure her mom was only describing her late father.
The bell rang to signal the end of the period. Sana crossed the room to hand in the graded papers, along with the answer key, to the teacher sitting behind his metal desk. He thanked her with a nod and put her stack into a manila folder. While he signed off on her teacher’s assistant report so she could be credited for her participation, she turned around to check the clock on the wall but instead, found Emily gazing at her.
When their eyes met, Emily darted her eyes back out the window, crossing her arms tighter around herself.
It wasn’t the first time Sana caught the other girl watching her. Sometimes in the locker after PE, during math class, or when they sat across from each other at lunch, she’d catch a glimpse of Emily staring at her, only for Emily to look away when Sana turned in her direction.
She wasn’t sure if Emily was sizing her up for a fight or just staring into space and Sana happened to be within her peripheral view. Sana hoped it wasn’t the former reason, but if it was the latter, it didn’t explain the light pink which colored her face each time Sana returned her gaze.
She turned back around when the teacher called her and signed off on the report to confirm the hour she spent assisting him. Then she left the room.
The hallway was crowded with students walking or sprinting about to get to their next class. Sana just made it to her locker when she heard Emily’s voice.
“Jesus!” Sana jumped and almost lost her balance. She turned around to see the taller girl standing behind her.
“Sorry,” Emily said, a sheepish expression on her face. “I’m Emily.”
Sana nodded, almost amused at how red Emily’s cheeks were. In class, she’d always seen the other girl exude nothing but confidence…or boredom. Never nervousness. “I know. We have a few classes together.”
“Yeah.” Emily scratched the back of her head and looked at her feet before meeting Sana’s eyes again. “Can you be my girlfriend for a few weeks?”
Sana’s mouth opened to say something but she couldn’t form words. If confusion had a physical form, it was probably lodged in her throat. She looked behind Emily to see if any of the other students passing by heard. Never in all the months they had classes together did she think Emily would ever ask her something like that. She cleared her throat but again, nothing came out.
Emily took a breath. “Gabriel keeps asking me out. You know, Gabriel? The football captain.”
That’s right. The one she poured milk on at lunch. Did she do that because he wouldn’t take no for an answer?
“I told him I wasn’t interested but he keeps bothering me, saying he doesn’t mind a chase. When I told him I preferred girls, he said he preferred them too, and he’s doubled his efforts since I’m not taken, so if you don’t mind, can you pretend to be my girlfriend for a few weeks? Just until he stops pestering me. Please?”
How Emily wasn’t out of breath after letting all that out was beyond Sana. What she couldn’t comprehend even more was the proposition she was just offered and why that made her heart beat faster than normal. Maybe she was about to have a heart attack.
“I--I’m not sure,” Sana said. “I’m kind of busy. I’m a TA and I work after school.”
“I know. You walk dogs around the neighborhood part-time.”
Sana hid her surprise. So, it was Emily she spotted at the park on her work days. She shifted her weight to one side, slipping her hands in her jean pockets, praying the blush warming her face wasn’t as obvious as it felt. “I can’t.”
“I’ll pay you.”
Sana’s mouth dropped again. She straightened herself, unsure if she should be angry or pleased that Emily-ninety-seven-percent-Evenson would be willing to pay her for her time. She shook her head, a smile forming on her lips at the thought of being paid for being a popular girl’s girlfriend.
“I don’t want your money.”
Emily’s lips formed into a straight line. Her eyes dipped to her shoes again which made Sana want to reach out and touch the other girl’s arm to comfort her.
“You know that music studio on Halverson Avenue?” Emily asked.
Sana nodded, raising an eyebrow at the sudden change in topic. “The one painted in big letters that says ‘Private Property, No Trespassers?’”
“I heard what happened to your guitar. I know you’re working to buy a new one. My step-mom owns the studio. If you be my girlfriend, I can open the studio for you for two hours on Tuesdays after school. That’s when no one’s in. You can have your pick of any guitar and practice your music free of charge without having to rent the space.”
Despite herself, Sana’s eyes widen. “You’re bribing me with guitars?”
Emily bit her lower lip. “I guess so. Is it working?”
For the first time since their conversation, Sana laughed. She’s relentless.
Her light laughter caused Emily to laugh too. After a moment, Sana composed herself. Still smiling, she said, “Make it four hours and you have a deal.”
“Okay.” Emily smiled. “Four hours. Done.” Her lips curled even wider, brighter, and Sana couldn’t help but smile herself. She didn’t realize they were late for class until the bell rang.
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I really enjoyed this! I think you had enough description of the environment for me to get a picture in my head, so I'm not actually sure if you need any more. You may just end up messing up the pace. Then again, I've never been a fan of lengthy descriptions so others may feel differently on that. But overall, I thought this was really well done!
I used this prompt to practice my action-reaction moments. Let me know what works or what doesn't. I sacrificed sensory details for reaction details, but if you could add sensory details to get a feel of the environment, where would you put it? Every feedback helps me to improve. You know I adore you.