"Jessie, come on!"
Why did I have the feeling that I had spent my whole life waiting for my stepsister to get out of the bathroom? Oh, I know. Because that was what I had been doing every morning since the day she had moved in with us.
They say you can't choose your family and that's too bad. Because if I could, none of my family members would have been there. Especially not Jessie. It's not that I didn't like Jessie, because everybody liked Jessie. She was the kind of person you couldn't hate, and that's exactly why I couldn't stand her. As soon as Jessie had moved in with us, right after her dad had married my mom, I felt threatened by her. But who could blame me? She was all cute with her long blond hair and her big blue eyes, as kind and sweet as a lamb, and brilliant in everything she did, either in class, sports or singing. Me? Well, sure I was a good student and I was pretty good at soccer, but I wasn't cute, or sweet, or kind, no matter what my mom could say. So I couldn't possibly compete with Perfect Jessie whom everybody loved and admired. And it had only taken one week for her to be the most popular girl in school without even trying. She had just shown her pretty face and that had been enough to make everybody crazy about her. But I didn't care. Because when I saw how being so perfect made Jessie the centre of everyone's attentions, and that her parents, her teachers, and even my mom always expected something from her, I was kinda glad just to be Grace Manning and not Jessie Sammler. But the weird thing was that Jessie didn't seem to be very happy to be Jessie Sammler either. Nobody saw it, but I could see right through that bright smile of hers, and see that all she wanted to do was to disappear. I guess I could have helped her, made her talk to me, but all I did was to be even more of a bitch to her. Maybe that was because deep down I was jealous, I don't know. But I guess the fact she started dating Tad didn't help either. I'd had a crush on Tad for months but he was completely oblivious. And then he had met Jessie and two weeks later, they had become the most popular couple in school, even though she didn't seem to be remotely interested in him. At first I thought she had done it just to piss me off but anyone who knew Jessie knew very well that she couldn't possibly want to piss someone off, not even me. But then when I had seen them together, when I had seen the look in her dad's eyes, and later in her mom's, I had realized why Jessie was with Tad: because that was exactly what she was supposed to do. A girl like Jessie was supposed to date a handsome boy, captain of the basketball team, the kind of guy you see on TV wearing those awful varsity jackets. And Tad was exactly that kind of guy. And that's was all Jessie's parents needed to be happy. But was Jessie happy? Nobody knew. But if she wasn't, she never let it show. She always seemed happy, smiling all the time and showing so much PDA for Tad that it was almost gross.
But in the end, I didn't care. I had other things on my mind. More like someone on my mind. Because if I was so excited to go to school that morning, it wasn't because of the food cafeteria. And that didn't go unnoticed to my mum.
"You've still got time," she said, emerging from the kitchen with a cup of coffee in her hand. "Why are you in such a rush?"
"I'm just sick of waiting for her every morning!" I said, my eyes fixed on the top of the stairs as I felt hers watching me.
"Is there someone waiting for you?" my mum asked, trying to sound casual.
"Mum," I said in a tone teenagers only use when they talk to their parents.
With that I added a few more insults to Jessie's attention and my mum retreated back to the kitchen.
After what felt like an eternity, Jessie strolled down the stairs, a big smile on her face, and completely ignoring my death glare.
"Have a nice day, girls," my mum said from the kitchen.
"Bye," Jessie shouted back as she went out the door and I mumbled a 'goodbye'.
Once in the car, none of us spoke, just like every morning.
"You look nervous," Jessie said, breaking the silence.
"Nervous? Why would I be nervous? What makes you think I'm nervous?"
"The fact that you're driving thirty miles over the speed limit and the fact that you look at your watch every ten seconds," she answered, looking out the window.
Why couldn't she be dumb, just like any other blond girl?
I shrugged but she wasn't even looking at me. She didn't say anything else for the rest of the ride, probably thinking that she had shown enough interest in me for the rest of the day.
Every morning, there was this weird thing happening as soon as we would get to school. Dozens of students would surround us and talk all at the same time and ask hundreds of questions. All this not for my pretty eyes but for Jessie's who would just smile and nod or even throw a little compliment for the luckiest among them. I always admired the patience she had in those moments. If it had been me, I would have told them to go to hell and have a life. But then again, it wasn't me, and Jessie was showing how perfect she was, just like every morning. Of course, it would be before she saw a suspicious jacket at the end of the hallway. After that she would just ignore everybody and run and jump into Tad's arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. Everybody would be in awe at how perfect they looked; everybody but me who would just roll my eyes. That morning was no exception, until I remembered why I had woken up in the first place.
As usual, I was the first one in class.
"Oh, hello, Grace," Mr Dimitri said as I took a seat in the first raw, right in front of his desk.
"Hi," I said, blushing.
I always blushed when he said my name.
"Have you read the book I lent you?" he asked without looking up from his work.
He stopped what he was doing and finally looked up at me. And just like every time, we just stared into each other's eyes without even blinking. That was, of course, before all the other students entered the classroom.
"Right," he said, shaking his head and getting up. "Good morning, everyone. Before we start, I'd like to remind you that the Gay-Straight Alliance will take place tonight at my house and I hope to see you there."
And he threw a last glance in my direction before beginning his class.