Can You See Me?
Regan slammed his folder onto the bench, and sat down heavily next to it with a grunt. He was alone in the studio, so no one would be able to hear him complaining to himself. He almost laughed in the irony, knowing that no one else on the planet likely wished they had a big nose or a plump face.
Thing was, Regan Walker was handsome; everyone thought so. With his dark brown hair, and ice blue eyes, he got way too many compliments about his looks. Not that any of that was bad. His mom had often told him that being handsome or beautiful was a gift, and that those who possessed such a gift were to treat it just so. “No one takes pride in a gift God bestows on not just anybody,” she would say.
And so Regan had grown up like any other guy. He’d never thought twice about what he looked like, or that his friends maybe didn’t have the proportionate features he did. Actually, the “ugliest” kid in middle school had been his best friend. Regan had to smile thinking about what a cool guy Zachary was on the inside. Sure, he wasn’t exactly handsome, and he was more on the chunky side because of liking oreos too much, but he was thoughtful and nice. The kind of guy Regan’s mom had done her best to teach himself to be.
Of course, middle school was a long time ago. Regan looked around the dance studio and sighed. Just less than 20 minutes ago this room had been filled with boy-crazy teenage girls. He almost wished he hadn’t accepted the position to be an assistant to the dance instructor in Classroom #104 while he balanced his own studies. He’d lost count of how many times he’d had to deal with a fainting girl just because he tried to show them a dance technique. He was in over his head.
École de Danse was probably one of the finest dance schools in the country. It was a boarding school. Generations ago it was an elaborate manor owned by a family whose last name not many Americans could pronounce. Naturally, it was a very groomed building with fancy manicured lawns and gardens surrounding it. Regan felt quite lucky to be able to attend, but this place wasn’t like Greyton Highschool. There, everyone just hung out, no matter who was who. Everyone was friends regardless of whether you were pretty or ugly, rich or not so well off. But after graduating Greyton, Regan was hit with the fact that not everyone here was like everyone back at Greyton. Here, Regan hardly felt like he had any real friends.
Well, except for Kobe. Regan and Kobe Davis had gone to Greyton together since 6th Grade, when Kobe had moved into the area. They both had had the same background in student equality, and tried to be genuine friends with everybody. Apparently though, this school had a superficiality Greyton had not possessed.
Other than Kobe, everyone flocked to interact with Regan in any way possible as if he were some celebrity. Especially the girls (and trust me, in a dance school, there were a lot of them!). At first he was flattered, and thought he just had a knack for making friends quickly, but he soon began to figure out how shallow his friendships were. That bothered him at first, but as time went on he found himself more and more limited. And although more people noticed him, he felt less and less like he was fitting in.
He stared at the wood floor of the studio and clenched his fist. No, he was sure no one in the world wished to be ugly. Everyone that set an eye on him wanted to be his friend, and he was sick of it. He was sick of not being able to show people who he was on the inside and let them like him for that. In frustration he grabbed his folder and hurled it to the floor.
Just then the door opened.
“Regan? You still in here, man?” Kobe poked his head through the door.
“Yeah,” Regan answered, subdued.
“What’s wrong?” Kobe walked over to him and sat down on the bench.
“Just thinking about all the work you have to do, huh?” Kobe chuckled, punching Regan in the arm.
“Something like that,” Regan said slowly.
“Well, don’t worry about that right now. C’mon. Let’s go down to the cafeteria to get a bite to eat. I’m starved.”
“Ah, nah. You go on ahead. I think I’m gonna go get some take-out or something.”
“Take out? And miss the great food they serve us here? Are you crazy?”
“No. I just… haven’t had takeout in a while. And I’m kind of craving it tonight. You can come with me if you want.”
“Nah, man. I’m not going to miss dinner when I have all the chances I want to have takeout after I leave this place. Sure you won’t change your mind?”
“Well, ok. See you tomorrow then.”
The door clicked closed behind Kobe, and Regan took a deep breath, dragging himself to his feet. He was kind of craving a burger, but the real truth be told, he would rather eat cafeteria food too. The real reason he didn’t want to go down there was because World War 3 started every single time he walked into the cafeteria. Everyone wanted to sit with him, and the tables were only so big. It was always a mess. Adolf Hitler would have been proud.
Regan grabbed his folder and his jacket and headed down the hall. It was slightly chilly outside as he walked to his car, but he didn’t really care. The peace and quiet seemed to just sock him, and he loved it. He opened the door to his little old blue Sedan and slipped behind the wheel. He sighed as he started the engine. The silence was golden.
“One, and two, and three, and four, and five, and one and…” Mr. Black’s voice filled the studio as about 30 girls in pink leotards twisted and twirled to the rhythm of his counting. Regan stood there watching them as they performed the routine they were working on. He could feel quite a few of them glancing his way, but he pretended not to notice. He wanted to enjoy this day as much as possible before his morale got dragged down at lunch time.
“…and, stop! Good job, girls. That’s enough for now. Go ahead and drink some water and take a little breather.” Friendly chatter filled the room as break time commenced. Regan took in a deep breath and glanced down at his watch. Not too much longer until he would have to go to his own lesson.
“Hey, Regan.” Regan turned around to a familiar voice calling him. He found himself staring into a pair of shallow ocean blue eyes.
“Hey Erika,” he replied. Erika Francis was arguably the most popular girl in school. If not that, she was certainly the most well-to-do. Her father owned an impressive sized law firm in New York somewhere, so she’d had a fairly comfortable childhood. In a lot of ways, Regan almost felt as if she was the only other person who he might be able to relate to. Because she was pretty and her dad was rich, she had no doubt been overlooked for her personality too.
“That routine that Mr. Black puts you through is kinda tough, huh?” he asked.
“Yeah, but I like a challenge. It might put you through a sweat, but you feel pretty great afterwards.”
“No kidding. Mr. Ross is stretching me through a pretty rigorous routine. It’s nuts.”
“Well, I hope you survive to graduate.”
Regan laughed. “I’m sure I will.” He glanced down at his watch. “Speaking of, I should get going. I feel like I get it even worse when I’m late.”
“Right, you’d better go. See ya later.”
“Later.” Regan gathered his stuff and headed out.
Shutting the door behind him, he hurried down the hall. He didn’t want to be late, but he was probably pushing it as is. Not watching where he was going, he suddenly felt something bump into his arm, and then he heard the stomach-sinking sound of books and papers scattering all over the floor.
“Oh!” He heard a surprised voice say. Immediately feeling terrible, Regan turned around quickly to see a girl standing in the middle of the hall, books and papers scattered around her.
“I’m so sorry!” Regan began to apologize. “I didn’t look where I was going. I’m sorry.” The girl laughed and shook her head, turning to face Regan.
“It’s alright. Are you late for your class?”
“Probably, but it’s ok,” He replied, already crouched down to the ground gathering up the books and papers. The girl smiled at him as he stood up and handed them to her. It was then that he recognized her.
“Thank you, Regan,” Nina smiled. “I’m sorry if I’ve made you late.” Nina Gordon was one of the sweetest girls in school. Regan didn’t know her that well, but he’d heard about her from her friend and mutual acquaintances. He’d seen her around, and although she seemed very nice, there was something that just seemed odd about her. He could never put a finger on what it was. Still, she was a pretty girl, with dark brown hair, and the lightest blue eyes that Regan had ever seen. They were fascinating. All in all, she was a mysterious girl, and he wasn’t the only one who thought so. He knew lots of other students, including other girls, who thought she was a bit queer too.
“No problem, don’t worry about it. It was my fault anyway. Wait, how do you know who I am?”
Nina laughed softly. “Oh, how could I not! I hear about you all the time. My roommate won’t shut up about you.” She laughed again.
Regan blushed. “I’m not that amazing…”
“Oh don’t say that. I’m sure you underestimate yourself.
“No… it’s not like that at all. Hey, I gotta go to class. Sorry about running into you. See you later.”
“Oh, okay. Bye, Regan.”
Momentarily pushing the odd brunette out of his thoughts, Regan hurried to class.