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Everything That Makes You

By:Moriah McStay

Everything That Makes You
Moriah McStay

       FEBRUARY


FIONA


Fiona scooted low in her chair. Damn Mr. Phillips and his English  project. Why did he have to assign Trent McKinnon, of all people, as her  partner?

Half the class reshuffled, and screeching chairs fractured the room's  quiet. Books smacked onto reassigned tables. Trent started in her  direction, and Fiona pulled her bangs as far forward as they'd go.

She'd loved this boy from afar since fourth grade, although they'd never  said more than two words to each other at any one time. Now he was  going to sit less than twelve inches away. God, and she woke up with an  enormous red zit on the right side of her nose.

Lucy would be thrilled. Even now, her best friend was turning in her  chair and mouthing Oh. My. God. behind Trent's back. Fiona ignored her.  Still, she couldn't help notice how nicely he filled out his union      High School Lacrosse T-shirt.

He sat down on her right-damn it, she should have switched chairs, so  he'd have to sit on her left. She slouched lower in her chair. From this  angle, a pimple was the least of her problems.

"You do the reading?" Trent kicked his legs straight in front of him,  ankles crossed. He gave a friendly, lazy kind of smile, like the earth  wasn't shifting directly underneath them.

When she remembered how to breathe, Fiona craned her face too far around to answer. She probably looked like an owl. "Yeah."

Trent McKinnon's eyes made a brief sweep over her face, hairline to  chin. It was so quick and subtle someone not looking for it wouldn't  notice.

Fiona noticed.

She pinched her arm under the table. Get over it, Doyle.

"Good thing you're my partner," Trent continued, like he hadn't been caught ogling. "I need all the smart I can get."

Fiona stared at him a few seconds longer than socially acceptable. Trent  McKinnon actually seemed happy to be her partner. And-and-he knew  something about her. Just the "smart" bit, but hey, it was something.

So why on earth did she say, "How's the dumb jock thing working out?"

"So far, so good," he said, with a little laugh.

"Well, rein it in. I have goals." What are you doing? Shut up, you idiot!

This time, Trent glanced at her face-then gazed at her steadily. His  eyes weren't the pure blue she'd fantasized about for years, more a  periwinkle with intermittent specks of green. A cowlick near his  hairline made a subtle spiral pattern over his right temple.

She struggled not to faint.

Mr. Phillips handed out paper topics, interrupting the most awkward  moment ever. Trent flipped through the packet before pushing it over.  "You pick. Doesn't matter to me." He gave her another quick,  heart-stopping look. "But I guess you knew that already."

She took the handout. At some point, they would need to set a time to  meet-she'd need his phone number, his email-but she wouldn't mention it  now. She didn't trust her mouth from going traitor.

It felt like she'd been snapping at people all day-Ryan for running  late, her dad for his corny joke this morning. If Trent McKinnon  couldn't restore her usual easygoing mood, the rest of the day was  hopeless.

The bell rang, Trent gave a cool nod, and their paths diverged at the door.

Immediately after, Lucy grabbed Fiona's left arm and hissed, "What'd he say? What'd you talk about?"

"Nothing. The project." I insulted him for no reason. He hates me.

Fiona couldn't work up any enthusiasm for her usual, exhaustive analysis  of All Things Trent McKinnon. Lucy, herself not a fan of boys in the  romantic sense, usually tolerated these in-depth breakdowns for only a  few minutes. Eventually, she'd cut Fiona off with something like, "Good  Lord, enough already!"

Anyway, besides her awful behavior, the only part of the conversation  that really stuck with her was that subtle-it was subtle, wasn't  it?-sweep of his eyes over her face.

"Well, it's about time, I say," Lucy told her as they walked down the hall. "You have to talk to him, now."

"I don't want to talk to him."

"You're such a chicken."

Fiona rolled her eyes, but only her left eyebrow lifted from the gesture. The right never went anywhere.

Lucy rolled her eyes right back. "I know what you're thinking." She  gestured vaguely to Fiona's right cheek. "But you make a bigger deal  about those scars than anyone else."

"I do not." She blew it off most of the time-things like the new kid  doing a double take in biology, or the coffee shop guy repeating her  order loud and slow, like she was mentally challenged.                       
       
           



       

"What's keeping you from Trent McKinnon, then?" Lucy asked. "You're  smarter, funnier, and prettier than nearly every other girl in this  school."

"I'll be sure to share that theory with all the boys waiting to date  me." Now at her locker, she looked over both shoulders. "Oh, wait. There  are no boys waiting to date me."

"I'm not talking about your ridiculous hang-ups anymore today. Trent McKinnon. Specifics."

Fiona didn't want to play. Lucy didn't seem to care. She kept throwing  out questions-"When are you going to meet?" and "Did your elbows touch?"  Fiona was ready to snap, firmly not in the mood, when Lucy asked,  "What's he smell like?"

"You did not just ask me what he smelled like," she snorted.

"I thought that mattered."

"Yeah, if he's unwashed. Otherwise, what am I supposed to say? He smells like cantaloupe?"

"Who smells like cantaloupe?" said another voice. Fiona's brother, Ryan,  showed up, nudging her right shoulder. He was the only person she  didn't mind standing on that side.

"Trent McKinnon," Lucy answered.

"He does not smell like cantaloupe," Fiona snapped. "I don't even think that's possible."

"My grandfather totally smells like cantaloupe," said Lucy.

"Is that the orange one or the green one?" Ryan asked.

"Orange," Fiona said.

"Oh, never mind. He smells like the green one. What's that called?"

"Honeydew," Fiona said. "Now that we've established the various melons,  and the men they do and do not smell like, can we move on?"

"Why were you smelling Trent McKinnon?" Ryan asked.

"He's her new English-paper partner."

Ryan whistled, rocking back on his heels. "Maybe it's your lucky day, after all."

When Fiona and Ryan got home, their mother was standing at the kitchen  counter, sliding flowers into a vase. "Did you two have a good day?" she  asked.

As usual, she looked ready for an impromptu dinner party-shiny leather  flats, sweater set, classic pearl earrings. Even the apron was ironed.

Ryan gave a generic grunt from inside the refrigerator. When he emerged,  folded salami slices were hanging from his mouth. But it didn't matter.  Their mother always focused on Fiona.

"Sweetheart, please make a haircut appointment," her mother said to her. "It looks terrible."

Anger, irritation, and-God, self-pity-surged through her like hot tar,  filling up all her crevices. "Fits the rest of me then, right?" she  snapped. Ryan stopped midchew, a limp piece of salami dangling from his  fingers.

"Fiona," her mom said.

The stare-down went a few long seconds. Their golden-brown eyes would  look identical, if it weren't for the thick ridge of scars bordering  Fiona's right one. Maybe that's why her mother always won these little  staring wars. She didn't have a ridge of inflexible flesh always tugging  at her muscles.

Fiona stormed up the stairs and took her frustration out on her bedroom  door. Luckily, the Doyles lived in an old house. Not only was her door  solid enough to be slammed, it made a satisfying bang that would be  heard downstairs.

"You've got to be freaking kidding me," she mumbled, staring at her bed.

A pile of preppy pink waited for her-the same designer-y stuff her  mother always bought, even though Fiona lived in old T-shirts. Pushing  it all to the floor, she flung herself onto the bed, face-first. She had  the urge to cry, but she hated crying. Instead, she took off her shoes  and hurled them across the room.

There was a knock. "What?" she snapped, her head buried under her pillow.

The door opened with a slow creak. She looked up to see the top of  Ryan's head as he peeked in. With the same hair and eyes, they were  constantly mistaken for twins. And both had fair, creamy skin, though  Ryan had it all over his face, not just on the left side.

Ryan's eyes darted around the room, as if looking for objects that might be launched at him. "You okay?"

"Go away."

He came in anyway. "That's a lot of pink," he said, looking at the pile of clothes on the floor.

"Clearly, she understands me." She pointed to her navy Neko Case T-shirt and the black jeans she'd worn three days straight.

Ryan nudged her over on the bed, sliding next to her. They lay side by side, staring at the ceiling. "Bad day?" he asked.

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