It was a white t-shirt, which went perfectly with her dark skin, but she was afraid she was going to stain it any moment. It was her first day of high school and she didn't want to go there with a ruined shirt.
Carol sat down at a random desk in the middle row. Her first class was English literature; her favourite subject. That calmed her down a bit, but she winced when she felt a hand touch her shoulder. Carol looked up and encountered the anxious smile of a tan girl wearing a flower printed hijab. She had hazel eyes and seemed very scared.
"Is that seat taken?" the girl pointed at the desk next to Carol, who just shook her head. The girl sighed, smiled, and sat down.
"I really like your hijab." Carol heard herself say. She hadn't planned it, she just wanted the other girl to feel better. She knew she had succeeded when she smiled.
"Thank you so much. My name's Natalie, by the way."
"Carol." she responded.
At lunch they sat together and Carol gave all her carrots to Natalie; she hated them.
After that day Natalie and Carol became inseparable. They'd spend a lot of time at each other's house, doing homework, singing along to their favourite movie soundtracks, watching films... Carol helped Natalie with English literature, and Natalie helped her with math.
It was the middle of their first year and Carol got sick. After school Natalie ran to her house, bringing tissues, her DVD of Mulan (their favourite movie) and a bar of Carol's favourite chocolate.
It was the end of their first year and they stayed up the entire night before the last day, thinking about how fast time had passed.
It was the homecoming formal at the beginning of their second year and Carol helped Natalie choose a cool dress that made her feel comfortable. It was winter and they played with snow all afternoons for a week, then caught a cold.
It was the end of their second year and Carol got her first boyfriend. They broke up at the end of the summer and Natalie brought her chocolate and hugged her tight.
It was their third year and Natalie's grades were dropping. They spent all their afternoons and some nights studying together and laughing about their teachers. When they aced their next tests they danced in the rain and screamed.
It was the beginning of their last year and they began thinking about college.
"So, you want to go to Berkley, right?" asked Natalie to Carol. She nodded.
"And you to NYU?" She nodded too.
"California and New York." said Natalie. Carol hugged her arms; she always did it when she was anxious.
"They're pretty far..."
To be continued...
Illustrations by Sofia