Read The Wrong Side Of The Tracks (Leighton) Online
Authors: Amanda Austin
The Wrong Side of the Tracks
BY AMANDA AUSTIN
Alexandra sat rigid on the bleachers at her brother
’s pee-wee football practice, staring forward. Her mother Keri Raker and one of the other parents sat next to her, their meaningless chatter drifting in and out of her thoughts.
Donovan was averaging two interceptions a game last season,” Mrs. Raker bragged. Alexandra rolled her eyes behind her dark aviators. He was eleven. In seven years when he is filling out college applications not one of them is going to say, ‘How many yards did you run in pee-wee football?’
I’m going to go wait in the car.” Alexandra started the up-hill jaunt to the parking lot. There were only a handful of cars left, since Leighton Prep had released their students almost two hours ago. She spotted her mom’s gleaming Mercedes towards the center of the lot, the back window decorated with a VOTE RAKER cling. Her father, the distinguished Davis Raker was already starting his campaign for his second term as the Mayor of Leighton. She could feel the sun beating down on her shiny dark black hair as she crossed the open lot.
She climbed into the passenger seat, kicked off her moccasins, and reclined back. The air fresheners hanging from the rear-view mirror were so strong she could feel the “
Mountain Breeze” sticking to the roof of her mouth when she inhaled. Her mother must hang a new one every week.
She glanced in the mirror at her faded eyeliner and tired pale blue eyes. She just wanted to go home, today was the first time she woke up before eight in two
months and she was exhausted. She could see a few stragglers behind her that hadn’t been picked up yet, sitting on the benches in front of the cafeteria. They looked like sophomores from the English class she was placed in this semester. In an attempt to “secure her future” her mother had her take placement exams for some tenth grade classes this year, simultaneously destroying her social life. She only saw her best friend Camryn Rollins twice all day. Her phone had been dead since sixth period, and it was killing her not being able to discuss every detail of their first day of high school.
A loud grinding noise stole her attention, and she looked forward. Leighton Prep
’s parking lot ended at the railroad tracks. A puff of black smoke escaped from the first car as the train that had been sitting there all day started rolling forward in slow motion. As the train departed a line of small trees and brush started appearing, and on the other side of the tree line you could see the tops of “The Boxes.” The Boxes were all identical gray two story box shaped houses in four perfect rows of five. Each box had two apartments in it, one on the first floor and one on the second floor. Leighton was originally an old railroad town, and the boxes were built in the early 1900’s for the families of the railroad workers. Leighton Prep was built at the same time as The Boxes and used to be the only school in town until the public school was built in the sixties. No kids from The Boxes went to Leighton Prep though; the ones that did go to school rode the bus across town to the public school.
Donavan flopped into the back seat and flung his shoulder pads onto the floor. “
Mom’s on her way up from the fields.”
Can I see your phone? I want to call Dad and tell him about practice. Coach said I’m going to start this year.”
It’s dead,” she grumbled.
After ten more excruciating minutes Mrs. Raker climbed into the car. She navigated out of the park
ing lot and onto Main Street, over the tracks, past The Boxes, and through downtown towards their street.
The streets are so pretty this time of year.”
For once Alexandra couldn
’t disagree with her. Walking through Leighton during the fall was like walking through an L.L. Bean catalogue. The air was still faintly warm from the hot sun beating down, but a perfect crisp breeze passed through the big orange and yellow spotted trees. It was too warm for coats and too cool for tees.
A standard ringtone chi
rped through the Mercedes’s speakers and Mrs. Raker pressed the talk button on her steering wheel and answered.
’s high-pitched voice filled the car, “Is Alex with you? I can’t reach her on her cell..”
You’re on speaker Cam,” Alexandra quickly interrupted.
Her mother shot her a disapproving look. “
Yes, ALEXANDRA is here. She’ll call you when we get home.” She pressed talk again and disconnected the phone before Camryn could say anything else. She turned into the Rakers’ long paved driveway and parked behind Davis Raker’s newer SUV with an identical sticker in the back window.
Don’t even turn your phone on until you do your assignments. I know Camryn wasn’t calling to share notes, she takes Freshman English.”
Alex rolled her eyes as she slammed
the passenger door and headed towards the house. She could hear Donavan rambling behind her to their mother about what the coach said to him. Mrs. Raker shared his obnoxious enthusiasm.
On her way through the kitchen she grabbed the house phone off the
counter, her mom said not to turn on her cell. She never said anything about the house phone. She took the stairs up to her room two at a time and threw herself across her pillow top mattress.
Hey bestie!” Camryn shrieked into her ear.
Oh my god, I’ve been waiting all day to talk to you.”
I know! I was lost without you in English or history. Are you even still a freshman?”
Alexandra laughed, “
Yeah, I still take freshman biology and math. And I switched to Latin Club instead of taking Spanish because supposedly it looks better on college applications.”
There’s a Latin club at Leighton?”
Yes. You should join! Then we would have a class together and we could ...”
Camryn cut her off, “
Alex it’s the first day of school and I think I’m already failing English. I doubt I’m ready to take on Latin. Anyway! You should have seen what Taylor Watts wore in first period. They called her mom and made her bring her a change of clothes. She looked like a Bratz doll!”
What boys are in your classes?”
You mean is Nathaniel in any of my classes? Actually he sits between me and Chloe in Bio Lab.”
Did you talk to him?”
Yeah, he asked me where you were.”
No,” laughed Camryn.
Ughh you’re a bitch!”
Yeah a popular bitch, I gotta go someone is on the other line. Love you!”
Alexandra pulled off her tight sweater and threw on an old lacrosse jersey. She could hear her mom downstairs hustling through the kitchen, getting dinner started. She plugged her cell into the charger and held down the power butto
n till the screen flicked on. She stared at the screen waiting for new texts to come in but … nothing. Alexandra frowned at her phone and dropped it onto a basket of laundry. It was the first day of high-school and she was already being iced out, all because her mom thought she needed to “secure her future.” Her stack of books sat on her nightstand where she dropped them when she walked into her room. She rolled over and shut her eyes. What’s the worst thing that could happen if she flunks out of sophomore classes? They’ll just put her back into freshman classes with her friends where she belongs...
Alexandra clunked down the stairs and tried to rush past her mom towards the door. Keri Raker sat at the kitchen counter clicking through cnn.com while
the coffee pot gurgled next to her.
I’m gonna go to Cam’s after school and study with her so I don’t have to sit at Donavon’s practice all night.”
Keri stood and intercepted her, “
I’ll call Mrs. Rollins and make sure it’s okay with her.”
d her eyes, “Mom, I’m fourteen years old. I’m in high-school now, you don’t have to schedule play dates for me.”
Her mom stared at her long and hard, and Alex stared right back. After an intense silent battle Keri broke the silence. “
Fine, but call me when you get there.” Alexandra sighed and hustled out the door.
Classes dragged by in slow motion. Since she had fourth period with the sophomores she had to eat lunch with them. She bought a granola bar and chocolate milk and wandered outside to sit o
n the benches and eat by herself. It seemed like every person that walked past her noticed she was eating by herself. She tried to go for the whole ‘I’m so mature and confident I don’t care what anyone thinks of my eating habits look,’ but had a sneaking suspicion she wasn’t pulling it off.
Someone came up behind her and covered her eyes with their tiny palms.
Alexandra shrieked and spun around, Camryn was standing there giggling with Chloe a few feet behind her.
“You scared the hell outta me! What are you guys doing out here?”
Well we were in study hall and I came down with a horrible fever so Chloe had to walk me to the nurse. We were hoping you were in the cafeteria. We wanted to sneak in so you could introduce us to some sophomores.”
Ohh,” Alexandra stammered. “I-I actually just came out here to make a quick phone call. Maybe tomorrow?”
Okay, I’ll just have to get a fever two days in a row at miraculously the same time.” Camryn and Chloe giggled sneakily.
’t she the one that was supposed to sneak around with Camryn and hatch up silly schemes with her? The bell rang and interrupted their laughter. The three of them walked towards the side door back into the cafeteria.
Hey, I’m gonna come over after school for a few hours. Wait for me at your locker after eighth period.”
Yay! Best friend time!” Cam squealed sarcastically and jumped up and down. Her brown curly ponytail bounced up and down like the over-enthusiastic pee-wee cheerleaders at Donavon’s football games.
d her arm playfully, “Stop it! I need to know what’s going on in the freshman world; you’re my eyes and ears now.”
Okay, I’m on it boss, I’ll have a full report. See you after school.” Cam mockingly saluted and disappeared into the crowded hallway.
this wouldn’t be half bad. She was so busy stressing over what she was missing in ninth grade, she hadn’t even realized that she was her friends’ gateway to the older kids. Camryn and Chloe wouldn’t let her out of their sight if she was hanging with sophomores.
THE BOY IN THE WOODS
Alexandra sat in her eighth period English class oblivious to the
lecture on “living off the grid.” Leave it to Kerouac to glorify being smelly and homeless. She looked around at the sophomores in her class and imagined herself eating or walking to the diner on Main St. after school with each girl, trying to determine who she was going to befriend. The girl in front of her was WAY too tall; she didn’t want to be her short friend. The two girls in the back talking louder than the teacher were too self-centered, she had a feeling she’d be their gopher not their friend. She was leaning towards Maria Schefler. Or was it Schifford? Regardless of her last name, she recognized her and knew she was the same Maria that had infamous parties last summer at her parents’ rental property. The party-girls were always a sure bet to instant popularity. And, they both were wearing the exact same lace pattern Uggs Alex begged her Mom to order last month, it was definitely a sign.