I was busy in the kitchen…… slash living room. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, ok? Our place was small. My older brother, Spencer, was busying working on one of his “artistic expressions” in the living room half of the floor. While he was uh, busy with that, I cooked us dinner.
“Macaroni! Makin’ macaroni!” I sang as I opened the Kraft Dinner boxes. “Wait, don’t tell me; let me guess!” Spencer called over. “We’re havin’ macaroni for dinner?” “With Kentucky Fried Chicken.” “Excellent! I always said you’re the classy one in the family, sis’.” I smiled, going over to the phone to text for a home delivery of extra-greasy chicken; cause we want to live to a hundred. I had just finished when Spencer shouted over to me again. “Hey, baby sis’?” “Yes, big bro’?” “I got an email from Grandpa today.” “Oh! And how’s he doing?” “Oh fine, haven’ a good time in Yakima.” “I don’t know how anyone can have a good time in Yakima.” “Yeah, me either. Anyways, he asked about you starting school next week.” “Uh huh?” “Annnnnnnnd he wanted to know if you’d consider switching schools.” “I am not going to Plinker High! I don’t care if it’s in a closer district; that place creeps me out.” “Not Plinker High. Um……. but maybe Ouran Academy?”
I literally dropped the packet of powder cheese I was holding onto the floor. My head turned to face an awkward-looking older brother. His hands were buried deep inside his pockets and his shoulders shrugged. “Ouran Academy? We can’t afford that! We can’t even afford to buy the uniform.” “I know, but Grandpa heard about this scholarship their offering to someone of…… our class.” My eyes goggled on him for a second before I reached over to grab the kitchen sink cloth. “Even if I did qualify, they would never give it to me. There are way better students out there than me and besides, I don’t go to the worst public school in the world.” “Yeah but……. you’re not like…… attached to it, are you?” “Why?” My eyebrow rose.
Spencer took in a deep breath and ran his fingers through his long hair. “Grandpa sent in the application last spring and you…… apparently got it.” I now dropped the damp cloth I was holding as my eyes grew super large. I just blinked, several times. “What?” That was all my flustered brain could manage. “Don’t freak out!” His arms shot up. “I didn’t know either! Grandpa sent in the forms without telling us. He said it’s for your own good and something about better education; I don’t know.” “No,” both hands came up to either side of my head. “No, no, no, no; this can’t be happening.” “Charlie……..” “I can’t go to Ouran! Those preppy rich will eat me alive! Plus they’ll have like no personality. I’ll stick out like a sore thumb! I’ll be the only one whose poor and cool! And this is when being cool is a bad thing!”
“I-I know you’re scared, but this is a huge opportunity for you, sis’. There’s no better high school in the city than Ouran.” “Easy for you to say. You’re not the one going to teen-version Wall Street. I’m poor; no one wants me there.” “No one wants you? Come on; who wouldn’t want to be friends with the world’s coolest girl?” This made me grin up at him. “Thanks, Spencer. But I still don’t know……..” “How about this?” He started to make his way over to me at the kitchen island. “You go for one year; if you don’t like it, you can transfer back to your old school.” “Hmmmmmm, well I guess I could do that.” “That’s my baby sis’!” Spencer’s long arms suddenly wrapped tight around me. “Who knows? Maybe rich people can be fun.” “Haha, no,” I laughed, hugging him back.
I wasn’t lying when I said we couldn’t afford the uniform. The pants alone were over five hundred bucks. After the brother called the school to explain- or cry about- our situation, administration finally relented saying that I could wear what I already owned until we came up with the money for the uniform. Ha! Like that was ever gonna happen. Spencer gave me five bucks for Subway for lunch, cause we can’t afford the cafeteria food either. Since we didn’t have much money, I wore a lot of his old hand-me-downs. That meant tons of cargo shorts, skater-boy t-shirts, and flipflops. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be mistaken for a boy due to my short hair, male-style clothes, and lack of breasts. And this was totally fine by me! Why not? It wasn’t hurting me.
For my first day of school, I wore board shorts- which were pretty long on me- along with a green t-shirt and dark blue sandals. I knew I was gonna stick out like a sore thumb but seeing what the uniform was like, I’d rather wear this anyways; was way more comfortable. Lots of girls like form-fitting clothes but I was the total opposite. I loved the feeling of being swallowed up in my clothes, which was lucky because Spencer’s old clothes were huge on me. I thought I looked good in loose guy clothes! All my friends thought they suited me. In other words, I was no girly-girl; although I did pink- that was the one exception.
Spencer walked me to school on my first day. We both stood in front of the entrance in awe. The place was massive! This wasn’t a school; it a castle! And immediately we stuck out like sore thumbs, with some students in those god-awful uniforms stopping to gaze at me uncomfortably. The bailiff who was minded the front gate also noticed us, getting out of his dock and coming straight over to us. “Can I help you boys?” He said in an intimidating voice. “Yeah, this is my first day. Where am I supposed to go?” I asked him, making him flinch in surprise. “Who are you?” “Uh, Charlie Shay?” “And you’re a student at this heh, academy?” “She sure is!” Spencer pulled out some forms, holding them out. The guard snatched them from his hand with a glare, then quickly scanning them over. His face went from annoyed to surprised. “You are a student……..” He said more to himself than me. “And I assume you have permission to wear those street clothes?” “Sure do!” Spencer took another sheet of paper. The guard gave them a once over and turned to face me. “Well, what do you know? Welcome to Ouran High, Miss Shay. You’re gonna have to go to administration on the second floor of the main building.” “Which one’s that? There’s like a hundred,” Spencer noted gazing back at the campus. “The front one,” the guard cleared his throat. He gave me one last look, this time with a smile, before taking off back to the dock at the left side.
“Will you alright from here?” Spencer turned to me. “I think so. Thanks, big bro’.” “Anything for you, baby sis’. Don’t hesitate to text if you need anything.” We gave each other a hug and I went to cross the gate’s threshold. Spencer waved at me enthusiastically. “Have a good day!” “I will!” “Have fun! Don’t let wealth kill your spirit!” “I definitely won’t!” “I love you, Charlie!” “I love you too, bro’! See you at home after school!” With one last wave, I took off down the expansive front yard to the main building’s doors. They were huge and were as heavy to move as they looked. And so, with the push of some very massive wooden doors, I had entered Ouran Academy and officially began my time there as a student.
School was nothing like I thought it would be. Yes, I did stick out like……. undeniably, but to my surprise no one even attempted to bully me; at least not yet. The guys ignored me completely while the girls……. well they didn’t talk to me but I did catch them looking at me. Not like an evil or angry look; more just a curious glance. I felt both relieved and confused at the same time. Ah, but who cares about that? You should see this place! It was gigantic- both inside and out. Conservatories, swimming pools, countless gyms and libraries, colossal lecture halls, and the most integrate, extensive garden outside. From the moment I saw it, I wanted to go out into it; finding the door however, was another thing.
When I had some free time after my cheap commoner’s sandwich lunch, I took the opportunity to do some exploring around the main building’s east and west wings. I mean, there was nothing and no one who said I couldn’t; there were no teachers or staff patrolling the halls. I used this to my advantage, sneaking into quieter, seemingly abandoned places around the area. I thought I reached what appeared to be a music room; I had a habit of peering into all big rooms I crossed. They were each so different and lovely in their own unique way. This room however……. Opening the door, I was beyond startled to find six men inside- six extremely hot men. Yep! Wrong room; oops! Without a word, I immediately closed the door; like I was going to go inside there. I failed to notice it reopen as I turned to walk away in the other direction.
“Who is that? A commoner?” “Hikaru, Kaoru, I believe that young man is in your homeroom, is he not?” “Yeah, but we don’t know anything about him; other than he dresses like some surfer dude.” “I wonder what he was doing here? Maybe he doesn’t know this is a host club?” Luckily for me, I didn’t hear a word of any of that. I just kept making my way down the hall until a small, almost-squeaky voice caught my attention. Pausing to glance over, I saw one of the girls from my math class standing near me. She looked rather shy and was blushing for some reason. “C-Charlie, I didn’t know you were……. are you?” “What? A student here? Yeah, I am.” “N-no! I meant a……. a………” “A what?” She blinked from the door I had just shut and back to me; I don’t know what she was thinking in that moment. “Oh, I see,” her eyes widened in apparent realization; of what, I have no idea. “You didn’t know what room that was?” “No,” I grinned, trying to seem polite. “I didn’t. Looks like I interrupted a club or something.” This made her giggle…… for some reason.
“I-I know I shouldn’t be talking to you,” the girl then took a few steps closer; her hand was raised up shyly to her mouth. “You shouldn’t?” I was needlessly confused by this. “I-it’s not right. You’re poor and I’m……. we’re from different worlds, you and I.” “Uh…….” Or the same world; one of the two. Peering to the side, her cheeks sizzled a hot red, and again, I have no clue why. This was……. really bizarre from where I was standing. “I know we shouldn’t but…… if you need anyone to show you around or help you, I…….. I’ll be here,” I could have sworn I heard her cheeks start to burn by how hard she was blushing. “Uh, thanks? This place is like a maze, I’ve already gotten lost like a billion times.” And she smiled- just genuinely smiled at me. What’s with these girls? It’s like they’ve never seen a poor person before. Nodding gently, she then shifted her stance so to move forward down the hall. She paused before leaving to send me one last smile. Kyoya’s eyes widened in realization at this. “I see. So he has “that” allure, does he?”
Of course I didn’t hear or see this, just staring off where the girl disappeared to. What the hell was that? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was trying to flirt with me. And what did she mean by “I shouldn’t be talking to you. It’s not right”? Was it really that taboo that I was poor? So what? More people were like me than them in the world. Maybe that’s what she meant by “we’re from different worlds”. Ah, who knows? Certainly not me. I had no clue why all the girls here acted so……. swoony around me. It made no sense! At least not to me. But all that was about to change very, very soon.