6. Why am I like this?
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It was Tuesday morning, and Nikki was getting ready to drive Randy and her to the second of their ten detentions. They had gotten along well yesterday, to Nikki's surprise - she figured Randy felt bad about punching her, or something, and that's why he was quick to play nice. Hopefully that lasted... and hopefully she didn't fuck it up.

Alright, just, be nice. Nice, nice, nice. Don't pick on him, even if you really really want to.

Staring herself in the mirror, she ran a brush through her long, curly hair. Nikki wasn't one to brush her hair a lot, or shampoo a lot, or... well, she skimped out on a lot of hygiene stuff.

"Ow, ow, ow!"

Her brush snagged on a knot, and she winced as she pulled it through, forcibly straightening it out. Ooh, that hurt!

"Fuck this." she tossed the brush on her bed, grabbing her stick of deodorant and rolling on a layer under each armpit. She used the boy's athletic kind, she liked the smell of it. But when she thought about it, she wondered if she should buy something more... feminine, next time.

Why am I like this?

She tossed away the deodorant too, then gave herself a look over. The bruise Randy had left on her face had finally faded away mostly, but there was still a ghost of an outline on her cheek. She hadn't gotten dressed yet, so she was just in her bra and sweatpants. Frowning, she cupped her chest, squeezing them together... she wondered if there was a way to make them look bigger. Well, besides stuffing in bunched-up napkins or investing in a push-up bra.

Her bedroom looked like a tornado had gone through it. A layer of strewn-about clothes covered the floor, her little trash bin overflowed with junk, and her bed was unmade, the sheets drooping over the side. Wading over to it, she laid back down for a bit and grabbed her phone.

"You up?" though she had called last time, she decided just to text him. Randy quickly responded.

"Yes, I just need to take a shower."

"Pics pics pics." she snorted to herself as she sent that, then laid her phone back down.

Getting back up, she pulled on a shirt - just a cheap tee they handed out at one basketball game - and her favorite maroon hoodie. It was warm out, so she'd be wearing some loose black sport shorts, but first she had to change her underwear. She might've used her shower time for something other than getting clean, but she wasn't gross enough to wear the same panties three days in a row.

Slipping them down, Nikki sifted through her drawers. She wanted to wear something frilly today... she needed the confidence boost.


Detention passed by fast, much like the last one. It was fun to spend time with Randy, but this time instead of the phone substitute, they had one of the school's few actually strict teachers watching them, so they weren't able to talk much and were separated from the beginning. Nikki hoped they'd get someone different next time.

The school had three lunch blocks, and as it happened, Nikki and Randy shared the second one. They sat pretty far across from one another, Randy at the nerd table and Nikki with some of the other athletic girls. Sitting down with her tray of food, Nikki scanned the cafeteria for Randy, but she couldn't make him out.

Along the table, the other girls were chatting about some super hard test they'd taken. Usually the topic of conversation was sports, but since soccer and basketball seasons had both ended - it was April now - the only ones going on at the moment were lacrosse, softball, and track, none of which were too popular at Lower Griffith. Well, track was, but that was the sport for people whose parents made them do one.

"So, what do you guys think of Randy?"

Nikki almost didn't notice herself say it. She just blurted it out without thinking. Normally the quietest person at her table, she was unused to all the eyes turning towards her.

"Randy who?" one girl from the lacrosse team asked.

"Randy Martin." said Nikki, masking her nervousness. She took a bite of her pizza to calm her nerves. "Um, he's on the school news sometimes?"

Another lacrosse girl piped in. "You mean the guy who punched you in the face?"

"Yeah, him."

"What about him?"

Nikki scratched her nose. "I don't know. What do you think of him?"

"Isn't he just kind of a loser?" the first girl to answer asked. All the others had gone back to their own individual conversations. "Whenever I see him he's with like, the band kids."

"I don't know. I think he's cute." the second girl said, sipping from a bottle of Gatorade as she tried to pick her next words. Nikki perked up, turning her way. "But like... cute like one of those K-pop guys. Y'know? Like, he looks a little bit like a girl?"

"Yeah. Yeah!" Nikki nodded happily. Finally, someone else who got it! "Like he's all soft, and you kinda just want to grab him and squeeze him and kiss him?"

The other girls just stared at her with blank expressions.

"I'm... I'm messing around." she said, turning back to her pizza. The other girls were quiet a bit longer, but eventually joined the crowd in another conversation. Nikki's cheeks were still burning red.

Why am I like this?

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