Not Just Penelope
Not Just Penelope
Author: msbellamy
Her Dream - His Need

PENELOPE

Hi I'm Penelope Gabrielle Avery, 17 years old. 

Yes, I'm the famous, gorgeous, and rich heir of Avery Corporation, but I don't really know much about dad's business. I lost my mom when I was 8, car accident. So, I'm living with my dad who only comes home once or twice a month. 

It isn't a big deal though since he buys me gifts from his business trips abroad. And yes, I'm the only child so he spoils me. I can have everything I want to have. 

Mainstream line for girls like me but what's there not to like?

I HAVE EVERYTHING, except for one thing.

The Campus Queen Crown.

Anyways, right now, I'm walking towards the Cafeteria with my two best friends, Vanessa Evans and Trixie Cortes. They are cousins and I met them when I was 12 during dad's business conference in Australia. 

It was summer break so he decided to take me with him. No, actually I decided. Not him

 So much for that, my best friends decided to go to the same school with me for Junior High, Steinfield University. And we're currently Grade 10 students now.

"Penelope?" Trixie called. "Are you joining the pageant right? I actually registered you in."

I stopped walking and faced her. She's holding a small mirror in one hand and a pink lipstick on the other. Vanessa crossed her arms and faced Trixie, too.

"Pageant?" I asked. "You mean the Campus Queen Pageant?" I made sure I emphasized the "campus queen" right.

Trixie studied her face to check for any "makeup errors". She always use that term. Then, she faced me.

"What else?" She raised both her shoulders like she's saying Hey, bitch. We both know you've been waiting for this ever since.

So the Campus Queen pageant, huh? But it's not a typical beauty pageant because in this pageant, you win through the votes of the people.

FINALLY, after years of waiting! It's time. This pageant happens every year and is open for all grade 10 students only. Meaning, it only happens once in every student's life. 

It's now or never. If I can't win it now, I will not be able to win it forever.

"You're spacing out." Trixie commented.

I just rolled my eyes at her and started walking. They both followed me behind. Vanessa on my left. Trixie on my right. 

Typical Mean Girls Formation. And obviously, I am the leader.

"Hey girl, you know what? A thank you is enough." Trixie said, sarcasm all over her voice.

"Well, thank you. Happy?" I can feel Trixie rolling her eyes behind me. 

Truth is, I'm really thankful. I honestly forgot about it since we were given with so many Performance Tasks this past few weeks and the exam is fast approaching.

When we reached the Cafeteria, all eyes were on us as always. I gave them fake smiles and even winked at a cute guy wearing a red shirt that says Ride On. Well, he's cute but his shirt suck.

Campaign period hasn't started yet, but I have no choice, I should make them love me now. If not, they won't probably vote for me as soon as they find out that I'm joining the pageant and I'm not treating them well.

I scanned the room and found our favorite spot near a window, overlooking the whole campus. It was the most secluded area in the cafeteria and the most peaceful, away from all these people. 

As much as I love it when people are looking at me, I really hate it when they come close.

As we walked towards our spot, it seems like there is a boundary between all the students. You can classify them from the way they dress, the things they do, food they eat and etc. If I am going to classify them myself, it will be under 3 classifications - Class A, B, and C.

A goes for people like me and those children of powerful and influential persons in the society. That includes me, of course.

B goes for average people who are good enough but not that good enough to be considered a Class A, you know? They're... ordinary.

C for those people who does not care at all-about the world and reality and all other stuff that's happening around them. Maybe they call themselves nerds? Introverts? I really don't care.

"Babe?" I heard a familiar voice and turned my heels to see where the voice was coming from. I didn't realize that we are already in our table. Trixie, retouching her make up, and Vanessa, finding a perfect angle for her selfie, were already seated.

"Hey babe." It's Jared Montezano. My boyfriend for almost 2 years now. 

He's a grade 11 student, son of my dad's business partner. He leaned over me and kissed my cheeks. Both his hands found their way to my waist.

"Hey." I was lost in my own thoughts so that was all I could manage to say.

"Are you okay?" he asked and I simply nodded. "Well, I came here to tell you that I can't eat with you right now. Coach Alex wants to see me." He held me closer to him until we were only inches away from each other. "And also, I can't pick you up later. Training starts this afternoon." He explained.

"When's your game?" I asked. I ran my fingers to his hair like I always do. Jared is a football player by the way. He's not just a player, he's the team captain.

How lucky can I get? I'm the daughter of a rich businessman and a girlfriend of the hottest boy in school.

"That, I don't know yet. That's why I'm meeting with him right know. I got to go." He gave me a smack and left.

I sat down near the window beside Vanessa and across Trixie. I just played with my phone. I opened the Photos and scanned through them without really looking at them. It is lunch time but I didn't feel like eating.

I feel tired? Nervous? Excited? I really don't know, but I'm sure this is about the pageant. 

What if I don't win it? What if I lose? 

My Gosh, Penelope. STOP! Don't think about losing. You never lose.

"Girls, seriously?" Trixie stood, breaking the silence. 

We only gave her the 'what is it this time bitch?'  look.

"If you're not eating, then I am!" She raised her voice a bit so there were people who turned their heads towards our direction. 

Trixie eyed them like she's telling them 'Do you wanna die?' 

The people turned their heads back to their food and Trixie proceeded to the counter. 

So, what the hell was that?

"Mood swings" Vanessa answered as if she's reading my mind, her eyes still on her phone. "Adrian broke up with her last night." She added.

I was in a complete shock. Seriously? No one every did that to any of us. It's always us breaking up with them. Not the other way around! 

Well, count me out because Jared is my first boyfriend.

"Is Trixie, okay?" I asked. Vanessa shrugged, still making faces in front of her phone. "Wait, how come nobody told me earlier?"

"It's nothing. It's not like it's a big deal, you know. We all now Trixie, she'll get over it easily. After a day or two, she'll be introducing us to someone new."

Well, I agree but I still can't believe somebody broke up with her. 

If that happens to me, I don't think I can handle it well, but Jared is different. 

He's steady. I believe

I mean, we've been together for almost two years. There's no reason for him to cheat or break up with me.

"So, do you have plans already for your campaign?" Vanessa asked, finally looking at me.

"That, I don't know yet." I buried my face in my hands and all I can think about is how I will win the pageant.

So, what now?

***

ZACH

"What? Why not?" I asked for the nth time. 

I'm here in our Journalist Guild office right now and I can't believe Mr. Gabato, our Students Publication Adviser (SPA) will not accept my article. 

I spent endless nights to finish it just to meet the deadline! There's no way I'm letting this happen.

"Mr. Austin, I like your article. You played with your words well." He commented.

"Thank you, Sir. But I can't understand why-" I was about to protest but he cut me off.

"However, it is not an article everyone wants to read. It should be an article for everyone. You, as a journalist should know better."

"I don't understand sir. You told me to make an article that will make a change." I insisted.

"Yes, I did. To make a change. But waste disposal? Isn't it a bit too literal?" he asked. 

He is already getting into my nerves but I played cool. 

Don't risk your Scholarship, Zach. Stay cool.

"Then what do you mean by that change sir?" I slightly raised my voice and I regretted it afterwards. 

I thought he will be sending me out but his face looked amused? Interested? 

Wait, is he playing around here? Because I know for sure that I am not.

"Mr. Austin, only you can answer your question. Hmm, let's see." He paused and gently rubbed his chin. "Okay, let's have it this way. I'll give you another chance." He said and smiled like he's challenging me. But if this is the only way, I'll risk everything for this.

"What is it sir?" I asked eagerly.

"I want you to make a new article. You can choose your own subject. As long as," he paused. "It will be an article for everyone." He really emphasized the word everyone. "If I'll love it, I might include your article for the year-end tabloid. Deadline will be on February. I'll just call you for more updates. For now, you may leave."

"Thank you, Sir. I'll do my best." Then I left the room. It's October so I have 5 months to make this article.  All I should think about for the next 5 months is how to come up with a good article that is 'publish-worthy' (if that's even a word).

I grabbed my phone and checked the time. It's already 5 pm, dismissal time. 

By the way, I'm Zachary Hestrone Austin, 18 years old. Grade 11 student of Steinfield University. 

I am an orphan. I lost both my parents when I was young and my Aunt, who is my Mother's sister, took care of me.

I used to live with my Aunt and 3 cousins before but I decided to have my own dorm near the Campus. 

I just want to live independently and support my own tuition and needs. My Aunt agreed but she asked me to come over every weekends, if possible, and visit the house.

Anyways, right now I'm heading towards a mall which is a walking distance from the Campus. I'm a part-timer at Starbucks. My friend helped me in. My Aunt didn't allow me at first but I managed to convince her later.

"Zach, you don't have to do that. We can provide you with anything. Just focus on your studies. I don't want my sister saying that I'm giving you a hard time." My aunt would always say.

She always pretended like she's not having a hard time raising three kids plus me, alone. She divorced her husband 4 years ago.

And I would always answer back, "But I want to help, Auntie. Besides, earning your own money feels great, too. And remember, you have 3 children to support. Just trust me."

"Hey, Zach! Bro." It's Clark Timothy Williams. My roommate. He's the one who let me in Starbucks and he's also working part-time there.

"Hey," I smiled at him and we started walking together towards our workplace. 

He is talking about something, but my mind was somewhere thinking about the possible subjects I can feature.

What does everyone want to read? I think I may have to google that later. As what they always say, google has everything.

"Earth to Zach!" Clark yelled and I was back to reality.

"Oh, sorry." I apologized. "I have this school stuff and I-"

I started to explain but he cut me off: "Let's talk about that later, bro. It's Work Time."

I didn't even realize that we're inside Starbucks now. I have to focus on my work first.

"Nice to see you, sir." I greeted a regular customer and smiled. He smiled back. 

I can't lose this scholarship,

but for now, it's time to get this bag.

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