Here is a story about a loner who may want to be less alone. So Lydia takes a break from her busy schedule of hating everything and makes a new friend. This comes from When We Were Strangers, which is the free introduction to the characters in the One More Thing Series. This post is the introduction to the introduction. Or something.
This image perfectly sums up Lydia. And you can read this scene or the whole story at anytime because it is free. In case you missed any of the times I said free, I’m going to say free again. Free!
What a beautiful summer day. With fresh air, flowers blooming, and sunshine shining down… everything was super annoying. I hated days like today. I hated most things, but I especially hated today.
Despite protests, I somehow ended up at a church picnic with my family on the other end of the park. I could only survive a few minutes of everybody praising the lord for this ‘blessed’ day and being offered potato salad from people way too intense about potato salad. Naturally, I fled.
In the back corner of the park, there lied a neglected area where public space met someone’s private, unkempt property. Sitting on top of the backrest of a hard as hell bench, I smoked a cigarette in solitude.
Hard to say what was more isolating: being alone in a crowd or being free and almost wanting to go back because maybe terrible company would be less lonely than no company. If being alone wasn’t good, and being with people wasn’t good, then how did I win?
Suddenly, I wasn’t alone.
“Does being such a cliché ever bother you?” a voice asked. The speaker stepped into view, a girl with burgundy hair, wearing a light blue shirt.
“Excuse me?” I responded coolly, steadying myself by resting my free hand on the concrete slab doubling as my seat, though I gave no other indication she startled me.
“Bad girl in black smoking by herself,” she elaborated, small smile on her lips. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, 10/10 on the aesthetic. I can feel the angst even from a distance, but it’s a little obvious, isn’t it?”
“Who are you?” I kept asking my own questions instead of acknowledging hers.
“Alicia Phillips, we go to the same school.”
“I believe you.” If I wanted to know my peers better, I… nope, I couldn’t even finish the thought.
She forced a laugh, smile turning tense. “You have no idea who I am, do you? It’s fine.” The confidence she possessed to speak to me so boldly evaporated as if it never existed.
I raised a hand, indicating she should stay while I considered her. I… she… huh.
Studying her, her blue shirt displayed a small white logo near the right sleeve, part of a uniform for a counselor at a summer camp near the outskirts of town. She wore khaki pants with her hair tied back in a ponytail. Her skin had more color than my vampiric whiteness, her figure fuller and curvier. It was hard to place her because she might look different during the school year.
Alicia Phillips. She wasn’t afraid to give me attitude, yet she acted embarrassed when I failed to recognize her. A girl both at home and uncomfortable in her own skin. Capable of brief moments of bravery… like when in front of an audience.
“I recognize you,” I realized. “You’re in plays, right? Plays are… cool.” Plays weren’t cool, but I was trying to be polite. Rudeness was more satisfying when it was earned.
“Wow, you couldn’t sound even the slightest bit convincing, could you?” she asked in that gently teasing manner she kept addressing me with.
I should put her in her place, eviscerate her. It may make me feel better. Because I was confident, scary Lydia Smith, the badass in black clothes. People wanted to know more about me but weren’t stupid enough to come ask. I was unapproachable. Nobody talked to me like she did. I would be annoyed, but curiosity won out.
“Wanna help me be less of a cliché?” I asked.
“Huh? You’re not suggesting a makeover, are you?” Never. Wordlessly, I held up the pack of cigarettes in an offer. “Oh, smoke with you?” She neither accepted or refused, talking to herself as she continued, “Peer pressure. This is, I’m being pressured by a peer. Holy afterschool special, Batman.”
Hopeless theater weirdos were the last thing I needed, people who didn’t know how to talk without a script, so I wasn’t charmed. I laughed anyway. “You’re strange.”
“Yeah, well.” She met my eyes, held her head higher. Impressive. “I’m a proud drama kid, and my best friend is a bad influence on me.”
The rest is available here. For free!