SNEAK PEAK! This is a character introduction to an upcoming YA/middle-grade book “Popularity”.
Certain kinds of combinations like spaghetti and meatballs, movies and popcorn, and shoes and socks are famous pairs, but socks and sandals or spaghetti and tuna are definitely not.
What if people were like that? Meredith was. She was movies and milk. She just didn’t think she fit.
When her school district closed her high school, they redrew the district lines to split up the kids to neighboring schools. Suddenly, her friends since elementary school were no longer in her class. And even worse, living in a depressed part of town, she was now enrolled in the “rich kids” school.
The first day of school was right out of the pages of Seventeen Magazine and Teen Vogue. Designer shoes, clothes, backpacks… the bling was literally blinding. Fancy phones and even the cars parked in the drop off area smelled of money.
Meredith looked at her head-to-toe Goodwill hammy-downs and felt like Cinderella going to the ball in rags instead of a beautiful gown.
“No fairy-god parent here,” she said and walked through the hallway with her head down.
Unfortunately, she didn’t see someone on her direct intercept course and crashed right into them, spilling her drawing notebook on the floor.
“Those are spectacular,” a girl shouted and grabbed one drawing.
The girl’s name was Alyssa. She was one of the “popular” crowd.
“Did you draw these?” she asked Meredith.
“Yes, they’re just doodles of things I see.” Meredith replied in a soft voice and picked up the other drawings and put them back in her notebook.
They were doodles to her, but to most people, they were wonderfully detailed representations of people and things showing their innermost feelings and true colors. The picture of her father reading a book showed the depth of his interest in the subject in the wonderment reflected in his face. A drawing of her dog showed an older dog with a ball in his mouth, but the eyes of a young pup who always wanted to run and play.
“Draw me,” Alyssa said excitedly and thrust her hand on her hip, striking a pose.
“I don’t draw people posing like a model. I usually draw them while they are doing something,” she said.
“Ok, eat with us at lunch and then draw me while I’m not looking,” she said and bounced down the hallway, motioning Meredith to follow her.
Meredith never saw anyone bounce like that and she definitely never ate at the “cool” lunch table. She watched them from afar, sitting on the bleachers in the cafeteria/lunch room drawing. Secretly, she scribbled a couple people laughing and talking, but never showed them to anyone. No one ever saw her work until today. It was private; it was personal.
The popular girls were the most beautiful, richest and most talented in the school. Homecoming princesses, prom queens and most of the dance cheer squad. She looked at them sitting at the table like they were perched on a glittery cloud with pastel-colored auras all around them. They had everything in the palm of their hands.
She stared at them awestruck, forgetting everything in her head until Alyssa told her to sit across from her, so she could draw her face.
Meredith pulled out a notebook and gel pens out of her bag. She liked the pretty colors and sparkles of those pens to give her drawings a pop art kind of feel. She sat at the table looking around. The girls were talking loudly, all at the same time. She wasn’t really sure who was saying what or how they were eating, as none of them seemed to take a breath.
No one noticed her. She was like the table or the air; she was just there. But she noticed them, every facial expression and every movement. Their hair flowed back and forth and eyes seemed to glow while they talked with their hands, expertly drinking their soda with one hand and eating with the other. To Meredith, it was electric. She drew with a speed and enthusiasm she never experienced before. She grabbed pen after pen in rapid succession drawing not only Alyssa, but everything she saw.
This was it, she thought. She didn’t fit in now, but someone, someday, she dreamed maybe she could.
(c) 2021, Suzanne Rudd Hamilton