I own nothing.

March 16th, 2012

9:48 p.m.

I am simple. Boring. I don't really possess any redeeming qualities that I think make me better than anyone else in this hick town. Nothing about me can save me from this hellhole. I am who I am, where I am, and those are the two foremost things I cannot change about myself.

I go to school. I do my paper route. I try to get all As, and then I try to get all Bs, but I end up getting all Cs, because before I know it I've blown through half of the semester and I haven't learned a thing. I set goals to do better, be better... but this is me. Friday evening through Sunday morning, I'm trashed.

I am no better.

I hate country music, but every other goddamn radio station in this town is country and it's all I ever hear.

Like right now.

I have an iPod, but all of the music is pretty old. It doesn't stop me from listening, though. Even if all that's playing is the worst kind of grunge rock, it can't be worse than fucking country. It just can't.

"Hey." I hear a pretty voice, but I don't look up from the beer in my hand. This town is filled with them: Beers and pretty voices. "Is this seat taken?"

I don't know why I am supposed to look up, but I do it anyway. I'm not disappointed.

She is just as pretty as her voice sounds. Warm brown eyes. Gossamer pink lips. Cheeks tinted with the slightest blush. Dark mahogany hair, with a tint of strawberry. She looks sweet and... new.

I don't know why I scoot over, but I do it anyway. Again, I'm not disappointed.

The girl slides into the vacant seat beside me and flashes me a friendly smile. I can smell her now. Lavender, vanilla, and the bittery sweet smell of malt liquor. "Do you go to school around here?"

That's a stupid question. There isn't another school for miles, unless she's insinuating that I'm a dropout. Which ... well over half of these people are.

I look to welcoming brown eyes, and the bitter feeling in the pit of my stomach is warmed. But it's not even that I'm drunk, it's just the look in this strange girl's eyes that puts me at an unnatural ease.

I look away, then back to her. I'm awkward, and I'm certainly not the friendliest here.

Why she chose to sit here is beyond me.

Finally, I open my mouth to respond. "I'm a junior."

She smiles effortlessly, and I wonder how it's so easy for her. No one smiles around here. "I'm Bella. Heidi brought me here."

I have no idea who Heidi is. I don't really care enough to ask though, either. I know five people at this party, although I've been around every single one of these kids every day since preschool.

Except for her. I definitely would have remembered meeting her.

"Edward" I stick my hand out, like I think a normal person would. Before I can second-guess myself, she shakes my hand.

Her lambent smile is unbreakable as she looks around herself. "I hate country music. What are you listening to?"

My lips curve up against my will and I hold an earbud out to her. "Kings of Leon. You want to listen?"

She nods, grinning widely.

This isn't me. I don't share earbuds. I don't share anything, with anyone. But I like warm trusting eyes and pretty coral-colored smiles. I like this sweet scented stranger and her friendliness. Maybe Bella reminds me of something I haven't had in a while.

Like new beginnings.