“This is darling.” Mom flips a garment over the dressing room door. I sigh when I see it’s another skirt.
I push it away. She means well, but I’m not showing up for my first day of school looking like a Catholic school reject. “Mom, I told you. No skirts.”
I want to look normal, which means T-shirts and jeans and Vans tennis shoes, not monogrammed skirts and blouses with pearl-encrusted collars that scream stuck-up rich kid.
“I want you to fit in,” she says through the heavy wooden door. “You want to make a good impression on the first day.”
“I know.” I actually agree with Mom that first impressions are important, which is why I’m not waltzing in wearing half the Gucci store like Mom thinks I should. I zip up the jeans I pulled off the discount rack. They have no logo and no fancy stitching or adornments, unlike the ones Mom picked out that have fringe on the side—which is cute, but definitely looks expensive. I tuck in the oversized white T-shirt that has a discreet designer label on the bottom corner that’s so small no one would be able to see it unless they were eye level with my crotch, which is not happening on my first day—if ever.
I open the door and throw my arms out to the side. “Ta da.”
Mom’s face falls. “Jeans an—and a T-shirt?”
“Yeah, this is the style, Mom. This is what normal kids wear.”
“Normal kids wear clothes like this, too.” She holds up a bejeweled sweatshirt with huge block letters spelling GUCCI across the chest.
“No. No normal kids wear clothes like this to high school. If you want me to fit in and make friends, then let me pick out my own clothes.” I clasp my hands together. “Please.”
She heaves out an enormous disappointed sigh and hangs the rejected clothes on a nearby rack. “I just want the best for you.”
I link my arm through hers. “I know you do, but I promise this is the right outfit. Why don’t I wear it out and we’ll put my old stuff in a bag?”
She nods and goes off to find a clerk. Meanwhile, I sort out all the stuff I’m keeping, which is mostly plain, oversized T-shirts, which I prefer because I have a big rack and prefer not to have all the boys making stupid-ass comments about it all day long, and skinny jeans. I did throw in a dress or two, just in case. Those will make Mom happy.
I really do know what I am doing. When my parents told me last semester that Dad was taking a position as the director of some big hospital’s Cardiothoracic Department in Liberty and that I could either transfer to Franklin Universal High School, which is a school for exceptional kids, or stay at my prissy private boarding school, I immediately agreed to the move. I hated that boarding school because all the kids thought they were better than everyone else just because they had money. Newsflash: they were the worst people in the world. Money, in my opinion, makes people entitled assholes.
I might be one, too, and haven’t realized it, but Mom and Dad keep things pretty down-to-earth. Yeah, we have a big house, but I don’t have a driver like most of the kids at my old school. We still fly commercial because private planes are the worst thing for the environment since the invention of plastic bottled water.
Franklin U High isn’t exactly normal. The social structure there isn’t based on who has the fattest wallet. It’s skill-based. It’s a school for kids with special skills—could be music, could be art, could be athletics, or it could be book smarts. I fall into the last category and based on the results of the Instagram hashtag #FUHigh, it looks like everyone dresses like ordinary teenagers instead of trying to outdo each other with the latest designer clothes. Yeah, there are a few girls who are flexing with their Prada purses and their Dolce tennis shoes, but for the most part it’s regular kids trying to make it through their last years of high school—just like me.
“All this shopping has made me hungry,” Mom declares.
“Let’s go to the food court,” I propose. “I want a hamburger.”
“And a shake?” Mom suggests.
“Perfect.” At least we’re in agreement about our food. We grab our bags, pay for all the loot and head for lunch.
As we get in line, we hear a whispered argument.
“I can’t afford it, honey,” says the tired-looking mom to her bright-eyed elementary aged daughter. “It’s too expensive.”
“Okay, I understand,” the girl says but her face is full of disappointment.
The mom sucks her lips in and blinks rapidly. “You know I want to buy it for you, baby. I want you to have the world but it’s so tight at home with your dad and all.”