Dean sat in the cafeteria of New Lincoln High School, poking at his mashed potatoes with a plastic fork while glaring across the room at his greatest enemy and most popular girl in school, Samantha Ferris. His brown eyes bored into her startling blues, hate practically dripping between them. She was not only his enemy, but also rival in the unspoken popularity contest that drove high school politics. Like most who have achieved alpha status, territory has been carved in the unlikely battlefield of the cafeteria.
Dean has his followers, mostly the athletes and oddly enough, the outcasts and nerds of NLHS. Fulfilling his role as star quarterback for the varsity football team as well as having edged out Samantha in a critical top spot as president of the senior class, Dean felt like he was winning. He frequently taunted Samantha in her position as President of Student Council, which he viewed as a consolation prize for losing to him in the senior election.
Samantha, meanwhile, as the head cheerleader, has the rest of the cheerleaders as well as the overachievers, a particularly strong card in her favor, Dean mused. Samantha is the controlling force behind the dances, fundraisers, and student council, as well as coordinating volunteer efforts such as the very popular “Thanksgiving Food Drive”. She was seen as a paragon of girl-ness with her seemingly altruistic nature, her undeniable charisma, and the intense beauty of a teenage goddess. Those icy blue eyes, long black hair, tanned-not-in-a-salon-but-on-a-tropical-island skin and of course, the hourglass figure…at first glance, most males would be drooling. And they do.
Dean prided himself on his immunity to her appearance and charms. Her goody-goodness in the public eye sickened Dean, because he knew what lay beneath that admittedly beautiful exterior. She was a cruel, cunning, venomous, manipulative, scheming, passive-aggressive, mask-wearing bitch, and very few people knew this about her. Their struggle has lasted four years, and with the school year winding down and the sunny and final school month of May upon him, he knows that he can finally escape the day-in and day-out grind that has been staying on top, so to speak, of the popularity race.
It is almost sad, he thinks, that he is really only strove to be popular because of the need to win in this struggle with Samantha. The football came naturally, sure, but Dean knew he wouldn’t have even run for class president if Samantha weren’t there to compete with him. He pondered, for a moment, that perhaps he is too vindictive of a person. And then he remembers what brought them to this struggle, and he again regains his focus. He had proven her wrong, after all these years, and she could stew in that realization. She couldn’t touch him now, and in a couple weeks, he would never have to see her again, his victory complete.
“Dude. You gonna eat those mashed?”
The question snapped Dean out of his thoughts and he focused on the source of the question: one of his two best friends, the bear of a linebacker, Ken Fenner. The six-foot-three, 250-pound man-beast never really stopped eating, and was a frequent raider of leftovers on his friends’ plates.
“Man, I don’t know where you put it. Oh wait, yeah I do.” Chimed in Leon Meadows, Dean’s other best friend, as he patted Ken on the stomach. He was the complete opposite of Ken, and as a successful wide receiver on the varsity team and the school’s star sprinter, he would have to be. While shorter than both Ken and Dean, neither could approach his speed in running the field or his mouth, which along with being one of the only African-Americans in the school has earned him the title “Black Lightning”, a moniker he wears with pride.
They were close, had been since the third grade when they joined peewee football together. They would be going their separate ways in college, with Ken and Leon playing football and different universities and Dean pursuing academics at a college on the east coast. They swore to keep close, but the separation would be difficult; they never went anywhere or did anything without the other two supporting and backing the other up. They have also been ardent supporters of Dean in his campaign against Samantha. They hated her nearly as much as Dean did, but they were less personally involved in the competition than Dean.
Pushing his plate toward an eager Ken, Dean sighed aloud. “We’re almost out of here. Almost done with the bullshit of high school. Almost done with the bullshit of…Samantha Ferris.”
“Man, just forget about her. That’s so over, am I right? She’s leaving here a loser, you’re leaving here a winner, ‘nuff said, right? She just glaring at you because she knows, she just knows that she is walking out of here as number two.” Countered Leon.
“Haha, number two.” Added Ken.
Dean nodded, but there was something about her today. They would normally glare at each other across the lunchroom as if mutually acknowledging that they still hated each other and oh yeah, fuck you, but today was different. The hate in her eyes was almost overwhelming, almost scary. She was probably just pissed that Dean was getting to speak at graduation due to his status as class president and she, as vice president, doesn’t. Shaking off the feeling, he just smiled at her and turned back to his friends.
“Like I said before, there is nothing she can do now. It’s done. My graduation speech is just going to be the final nail in the coffin.”
“You got that done already?” asked Leon.
“Yeah. I even got in a few subtle jabs at her during it, you know, bullshit about petty squabbling and being able to accept defeat. She’ll get it, she’s smart.” Dean laughed.
Looking back at Samantha, it was only then that Dean noticed her sitting with a girl he had never seen before. She had long, curly brown hair, green eyes, and was nearly as striking as Samantha herself. She seemed to be talking to Samantha, who although listening, never wavered her gaze from Dean. It’s not like his class was that big, who could this girl be that he has never seen before? She was kind of hot, in an exotic, Mediterranean kind of way. She was also wearing a ring on her left hand with a dark red gem Dean could make out from across the room. She isn’t part of Samantha’s normal “crowd”, if you could call it that. So how was it that…
The bell rang, interrupting Dean’s thoughts and signaling that he had to book to the third floor for Earth Systems. Unfortunately, he shared that class with Samantha, but he wasn’t going to let that bother him anymore. He decided he would just ignore her until the school year ended, if he could. She was a stress he didn’t need.“I’ll meet you guys after next period.” said Dean, sliding out of the cafeteria seat and heading for the exit.