Disclaimer: I don't own High School Musical.
Summary: Gabriella Montez has a charming and undeniably gorgeous Troy Bolton for a best friend. If every clichéd plot holds true, sometime down the road, they're supposed to realize their true feelings for each other and fall in love, right?
Five minutes until the bell rings and the little devils are allowed to enter my class, wreaking havoc upon the brightly decorated kindergarten room.
Drumming my fingers on the wooden teacher's desk in front of me, I sigh glumly. I press my palms to my face while letting out a groan. I'm starving, I'm tired and I smell like puke.
There's this student of mine, Daniel Leinad, that keeps throwing up every day. He could have been sick, but he simply upchucks his lunch and then bounces around the room like nothing is wrong. Today, when I sensed I was about to see what Daniel ate for lunch, I decided to grab him and haul the kid to the nearest garbage can, determined not to have to break out the mop for the fourth time that week. I didn't make it in time and the kid, for some reason, spins around and vomits all over me ("Miss Montez, I didn't want to get it on the floor!"). Big surprise. I was never the track star in high school.
Using my trusty detective skills, I came to the conclusion that the little boy was allergic to something. It didn't take much effort, really. He always brought a cheese sandwich for lunch (which I know because there's little pieces of cheese and bread crumbs littering the floor around his desk every day), and he'd always throw up after lunch. And when I asked him about it, he said 'Milk makes me puke too'. Obviously the boy's lactose intolerant. Parents don't pay much attention to their kid's lives these days. I've sent multiple notes home about his issue but, surprisingly, nothing has been done about it.
My whole lunch break consisted of me rubbing the puke stain off of my unfortunate shirt while I could hear the kids gleefully playing outside. The mark eventually disappeared. I couldn't say the same for the smell, however.
Not wanting a repeat of today's events, I grab a piece of paper and start to write:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Leinad,
Daniel unquestionably has a problem. He vomits. All the time. And for some reason you aren't doing anything about it even after all those notes I sent. I am expressing my concern again because today, your gremlin of a child decides to fucking puke all over my very expensive, brand-spanking-new shirt. I now have to smell like shit for the rest of the day all thanks to your son.
PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Rolling the sheet into a ball, I chuck it into the garbage can, and scribble a more parent-friendly, not-going-to-get-me-fired version of the previous note:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Leinad,
Your son, Daniel, has been vomiting frequently over these past few days. I'm uncertain if you've received my notes, but I'd appreciate it if the problem was addressed. You might want to check for allergies. I have a suspicion that he might be allergic to dairy products.
I'd like to tell them personally, but their son goes straight to a daycare following school where he stays for three hours. And for some reason, his phone is always busy. I never meet his parents which makes me required to write notes then pray that they are received.
Before I know it, five minutes have passed and the kindergartners come rushing in through the door. A split second later, a bunch of wails catch my attention. The door is wide enough for two five year-olds to enter at a time, but six? Not so much. But the children have yet to learn that concept, so several of them are now nursing their mildly injured heads.
"Oh no, oh no! It's bleeding. I'm bleeding! Help! Help! Call 9-1-1!" A little blond girl cries. She's the drama queen of the class. I dubbed her 'Sharpay Evans Junior' after my best friend (who also can be a bit dramatic) on the first day of school when she introduced herself as 'Princess Catherine' and proceeded to tell me how she thought the whole world revolved around her — to put it shortly.
She points to the spot that's supposed to be bleeding. I examine it carefully before informing her of the lack of red substance visible. "Sweetie, it's not bleeding. You're fine. It was just a little bump."
The rest of the kids involved in the collision have now moved on with their lives and are calmly playing with various toys scattered around the room.
"But it hurts, Miss Montez." Catherine whines.
"Would you like a band-aid?" This always shuts them up.
"Yes, please." She smiles sweetly. We stroll to my desk, and I open a drawer.
"Do you want a Dora the Explorer, Spongebob or..." I dig my hand deeper in the pile of junk I have stashed in there and pull out a worn out box. "Or a Princess band-aid?"
I'm sure she's forgotten any thoughts about her injury being life-threatening as she taps a tiny finger against her chubby chin, pondering her decision.
Like she was going to choose anything else.
I tear open the wrapper. She points to the opposite side of her head that she was gripping in pain earlier. After the pink band-aid decorated with tiaras and flamboyant princess gowns is placed on her head, she skips contentedly across the room to play in the sand box with some other kindergartners.
I let them play for a bit longer before I call for them to sit down at their respective desks and open their workbooks to do some simple math questions. I assign pages with addition and subtraction questions using numbers no bigger than 9. That should keep them occupied for a bit. They should be able to understand it all by now. I vivdly remember yesterday's mathematics lesson. It took a shitload of patience and one big jar of candy for a visual aid, but I got it through their thick skulls that one plus one is indeed two. Not eleven or 'window'.
I shuffle around some papers on my desk, pretending to be occupied with something. If there's one thing I've learned from my six years of teaching, it's that younger kids won't work if they see you slacking off. They'll complain because they don't know after they go home, you have all their stuff to mark and you also have to plan lessons for the ungrateful students.
My stomach grumbles. I can't wait to go home.
I'm starving, I'm tired and I smell like puke. Not to mention bored as hell.
I glance around, hoping for a distraction from all my previously listed problems. The door was left open and I hear some teachers gossiping about another colleague's love life as they pass my classroom. I, Gabriella Montez, have no love life. I've been single for 99.9% of my entire existence. No joke. Sure, I've been on a few dates but I've never gone steady with anyone except for Anthony Lawler in seventh grade — glasses, sweater vests and all (that lasted for 0.1% of my life).
My cellphone rings. Some of the kids' heads perk up. I apologize to them and quickly answer it after seeing the caller ID. My students love me, they wouldn't tattle, right?
"Troy! You know I'm teaching right now!" I hiss.
"Sorry!" Comes his reply. He sounds so adorably excited. "I have such amazing news that I forgot. I'll tell you about it later, okay?"
Forget? You don't just forget your best friend's career that she's been complaining about for years (Not that I don't like teaching; It's just one gets tired working with kids ages 12 and under for six years. I'm still waiting for a high school position to open up). Must be really important news.
"Alright, bye." I hear his muffled 'Goodbye!' as I detach the phone from my ear and hang up.
I've never gone steady with anyone because anyone who's asked has never been Troy Bolton.
We're best friends. And if every clichéd plot holds true, sometime down the road, we`re supposed to realize our true feelings for each other and fall in love, right?
Well, I have. Fourteen years ago. But Troy's always been a bit slow in the head.
I can still recall the first time I met him, that fateful day in kindergarten...
I owed it all to my older cousins.
In my situation, the pronoun 'it' in the above-mentioned sentence happens to have replaced the noun 'buzz cut'. Yes, on my first day of kindergarten, I walked, proudly, into an inviting classroom full of judgemental eyes sporting a less-than-half-an-inch-thick head of brown hair.
Somehow, when I was napping, my bored cousins chose to stick ten wads of gum in my curls. And they weren't considerate enough to attach it to the ends so I could easily snip it off either. No, they jam the sticky, cotton-candy-pink material deep in my hair, almost at the roots, with their pudgy fingers while leaving me to sob for hours. My sympathetic, yet amused, mother took me to a hair salon for professionals to work their magic, assuring me everything would be fine.
I never trusted my mother after that. Inevitably, everything was not fine.
They shaved off all my hair as I sat bawling, wailing "Mommy, I hate my hair!" and refusing to look at the mirror in front of me.
I was avoided by every kid in the class. The girls would stay away since they thought I was a boy and sounded like a girl. And as soon as the boys got close enough to realize I was a girl, they scampered off, wondering why their eyes had deceived them. Being four, the kids had never been exposed to this type of weirdness before. They labeled me as a freak of nature.
Maybe he was dropped a few times as a baby, but he approached me one day, asking if he could play in the mini-kitchen with me. My haircut was irrelevant to him. All that mattered was that I was holding the plastic frying pan and he wanted to make imaginary eggs.
Our first meeting pretty much went along the lines of this:
"I like your hair."
"Yeah. My uncle has a hair cut just like yours. He's huge and he has big muscles and he has lots of tattoos and he's a pro-wrestler."
"I know ...Erm, can I touch it?"
"It feels soft and fuzzy."
"Really? Oh wow it does! That's so cool. I love my hair!"
"I know. When I get home, I'm going to ask my parents to cut my hair just like yours!"
"Great! Hey, want to be best friends?"
"Sure, but only if I can use that frying pan you're holding."
It wasn't one of our most exciting conversations, but definitely a memorable one.
The first time I started crushing on him was a while after that. One day in our freshman year, Troy, our friends and I were gathered at a table in our cafeteria. Troy and I had come late, sitting down next to Chad and Sharpay respectively. We had to stay after class and clean up our science project gone wrong — erupting volcanoes aren't as hard as they look. They're harder. So that caused us to have to wolf down our lunch in order to finish on time for our next class. Troy was a growing boy with a bigger mouth so of course he ate faster. We've always been competitive. I couldn't not continue eating so slow.
Well guess what happens when you bite off more than you can chew?
And I did.
My fingers curled around my throat as I tried to clear my airway. At first, Troy leisurely patted me on the back, saying something about me not even having a chance at beating him. His nonchatantness turned into panic when no sound escaped from my purple-tinted lips. He immediately wrapped his arms around my waist and started the Heimlich maneuver. A couple seconds pass, and just barely before I'm about to go unconscious, the huge carrot chunk that almost killed me goes flying into Chad's afro. I looked at my saviour and muttered a thanks, feeling sparks as his hand brushed against mine when he let me go.
I think I've always felt something for him, but that was the first time I allowed myself to admit it.
Even though I've been afraid of losing the friendship we've built over the years, I've asked him out it before. Although, he may not have replied. And his back may have been turned towards me. And I may have squeaked it out so quietly that the sound waves I created might not have even reached his ears. And at one point in our senior year, I lost my good judgement during a party and attempted to seduce him, following Sharpay`s advice. I may or may not have mistaken another guy for him while under the influence of alcohol. You can't really blame me. Lots of guys have brown hair.
But he'll come around, right? Because if every clichéd plot holds true, sometime down the road, we're supposed to realize our true feelings for each other and fall in love, right?
I mean, come on. We've been friends for twenty-four years. The road has got to end sooner or later.
I ring the doorbell and wait silently outside Troy's door. We kind of have a ritual on Fridays that wasn't anything more interesting than ordering takeout and watching a movie. It had all started after my horrific first week of teaching when I came to his apartment in tears, screaming at him for letting me take the job in the first place. Without notice, I came the next week too, but to my surprise (and delight) he was ready for me, movie rented and all. He had sheepishly confessed he was hoping I'd come.
Troy opens the door. Now the first impression you might get from Troy is that he's perfect. He's got brilliant blue eyes and really great hair. Plus, he works out pretty much all the time so he's got this amazing body. He's so friendly and lovable that sometimes, you can't help but feel jealous. Now if you've been friends with him for twenty-four years, you start to notice little things that stray from perfection like his obliviousness and his unhealthy plaid obsession, but those things can be easily overlooked.
"Gabriella!" He exclaims. He gives me a bear hug which after my long day at work, I'm grateful for.
"Hey Troy! So what's this great announcement you have to make?" I ask, stepping inside.
"Well, you know how I never date?"
"Yes..." I can almost hear him saying 'It's because I've been waiting for the right time to ask you out', being all cheesy and romantic like the movies I pick out when it's my turn to choose.
"Well," He pauses. I think he's trying to be dramatic. All the more reason to love him. "I have a date!"
My heart is pounding and blood rushes up to my head. I'm just about ready to scream 'I'd love to go out with you!'
But he interrupts. "Her name's Tracy! We met at work and I don't know. I simply asked her and she said yes right away. Can you believe it? I'm taking her to Ortega's tonight at eight."
I'm speechless. My mouth is gaping, kind of like the fat class goldfish that the kids keep overfeeding.
Okay, so Troy has decided to take a little detour off the road. I can redirect him back.
I struggle to come up with something to say. Fourteen years of opportunity and I let it pass. This is karma for not telling Sharpay it was me who spilled cranberry juice all over her white gucci bag, isn't it?
"Gabriella?" He's confused about the absence of my joy for him. "Are you okay?"
"I—I'm ...fine. Actually, I'm kind of feeling a bit dizzy." Concern flickers over Troy's azure eyes. "Can you get me a drink of water?"
He rushes down the hallway and I hear the tap running before he bounds over to me again, holding a cup which I clasp with my shaking fingers. It takes a moment and a few sips of the cold liquid before I'm thinking straight again.
He pipes up, taking the cup back when I'm done. "So, Gabriella. Could you help me out? I have absolutely no idea what to wear — "
His answer is me slamming the door in his face and rushing down the street.
Author's note: It's going to be a short story. Maybe two or three chapters in length. Review, please? :)