Day 21 – Trying to work through some angst of my own, and this came out. Not my best, but I did say that this challenge was going to be first drafts every day, to create a portfolio of stories to polish and perfect. (And this is better than the other thing I wrote first.)


Why won’t he look at me? Cat stood in front of her locker, dithering as she watched him out of the corner of her eye. She didn’t want to do a full glance round; she didn’t need ‘stalker’ as her ID line in the yearbook this year. Or any year, for that matter.

But he was just so pretty. She couldn’t help it. Chet, the captain of the basketball team; he was such a stereotype, it was laughable. Cat knew that she shouldn’t have a crush on this guy, but the heart wants what it wants. And apparently, it didn’t want anything but Chet.

Honestly, their names worked so well side-by-side: Chet and Cat. Cat and Chet. So similar it was obvious that they should be together but different enough that they maintain their own identities. They would be perfect. They should be perfect.

The reality was so very different.

Cat hung her head, closed her locker door, and turned to head to class. Not looking, she bashed straight into Chet’s chest, knocking them both back a couple of steps.

Oh fuck, I’m turning into a stereotype now as well. Her self-contempt raged acidly at the back of her throat. She forced it down, swallowing hard. Don’t babble. Don’t look like an asshole like last time. As coolly as she could, Cat said, ‘Sorry. Wasn’t looking for you.’

The reality was so very different.

What came out was a croaking whisper that barely sounded like language.

Chet stared at her, flanked by several of his closest acquaintances. The pause was so awkward that it could have become a Mean Girls meme.

He just kept staring at her. Silent. Cat blushed, and hid behind the protective armour of the armful of textbooks clutched to her chest. She shrank back, avoiding touching him. She shuffled to one side, and went around Chet and his entourage, muttering nonsense sounds in apologetic tones.

Cat made it about ten feet away, and was prepared to breathe a sigh of relief that she had gotten away without being mocked, when she heard it.

A bizarre, meaningless squeaking sound. Almost like Beeker from the Muppets. But less coherent. At first, just a single voice started it. Then another joined, and another. Until most of the basketball team was imitating Cat’s attempt at an apology.

And Chet had started it.

Finding her back frozen and her shoulders drawn up to her ears, Cat knew she looked like a troll on heroin. She had a choice in this moment: scurry off, and suffer another two years of humiliation before graduation; or, turn and end this right now.

She inhaled and straightened up, rolling her shoulders back. She lifted her chin, her jaw almost locked with her rage. Cat turned with graceful precision, and glared at the squawking baboons. Her mind was blank; what could she say?

Something unusual was happening. Before she could compose her putdown, the boys stopped squeaking, one by one, until Chet was the lone squeaker.

Cat’s face changed from anger to disdain. As Chet continued, and the others shifted away from him, Cat realised what an idiot Chet actually was. Why did I ever give him so much power over me? She turned and walked away, without looking back.