They were the only two people in the library, but neither of them were there to study. Zoey sat near a window listening to music on her iPod and sketching in her notebook. While the rest of the year she was Joey, the student council president and host of the campus news, this week she was sort of an outcast. Sure she was pretty and could easily be part of the popular crowd. She had an amazing body that would drive all the boys crazy and was a lock to be head cheerleader or queen of the Swap Week dance, but none of that was what she wanted. Joey was popular and outgoing. He had countless girlfriends and had been Homecoming king all four years of high school. Sure she took the easy route her first few Swap Weeks and was the most popular girl in school. She dated athletes and walked around campus in short little skirts and dresses that showed off her long legs and big breasts, but this was her senior year and she was bored with that life.
When she showed up to school Monday morning, most of the students were shocked at what they saw. She was still pretty, but not in the traditional way. Her long blonde hair was partly shaven and had a purple streak in it, her ears had multiple piercings, and she had a small piercing in her nostril. She wore dark makeup and black nail polish and much of her body was covered up. In contrast to the mini-dress she had worn before, she was now dressed in a short pleated skirt with black tights and black leather boots. She had paired this with a black tank top and a purple flannel shirt which she left unbuttoned. On her head she wore a beanie and there were several rings on her fingers. Her friends were concerned, but she explained the situation and they seemed to understand.
As she continued sketching in her notebook, she noticed a smallish dark haired boy glancing up at her from the book he was reading. When she met his gaze, he would quickly look back down at his book. She looked at him more closely and recognized him as Pippa the exchange student from Australia. Pippa was normally quite popular and received quite a bit of attention from the guys on campus. Unfortunately, this popularity did not carry over into Swap Week. As a boy she was more of what you'd describe as cute than handsome and was a little short and skinny for a boy. He was dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and looked to be very shy and uncomfortable in his current situation. Zoey caught him watching her again and this time she'd had enough. She'd been putting up with everyone's shit all day and she wasn't going to take it anymore. She took out her earbuds and walked over to the table where he was sitting.
"I get it," she said a little annoyed, "I know I probably look like a freak with my shaved head and dark makeup. I don't care though, this is my decision. You can feel free to disagree, but it isn't polite to stare."
"I'm sorry," the boy said, "that isn't why I was staring. I was staring because I thought you look cute."
"Really?" Zoey replied in surprise.
All week long, Zoey had been kind of ignored. While she didn't want to be part of the popular crowd, that didn't mean she wanted to be a complete loner. She had begun having doubts about her style choice for the week and was thinking about switching back to the popular girl tomorrow.
"Yeah, I kind of like the whole bad girl style," the boy responded, "I'm Kip, by the way."
"I'm Zoey," she said and continued playfully, "I know this is your first Swap Week and you've probably never had a girlfriend before, but here's a word of advice. If you like a girl let her know. Staring at her will just creep her out."
"Thanks," Kip said.
Zoey went back to the window where she was sitting and resumed what she was doing. She looked up at Kip and this time he returned her gaze and smiled. She smiled back and quickly looked back down at her sketching. Kip got up and hesitantly walked over to her. She took out her earbuds and glanced up at him.
"Um, what are you drawing?" he asked shyly.
"Just birds and whatever I see outside," Zoey replied, "Come look."
"OK," Kip said as he sat down beside her.
Kip watched as Zoey pointed to things outside and showed her some sketches in her notebook. Being his first Swap Week he was still very shy around girls, despite the fact that he had been a girl his entire life. Sure it was one thing to meet girls as friends, it was something else entirely to approach a girl for a date. He knew he would never be able to date one of the popular girls. They all dated jocks. There was something about Zoey though that he found himself drawn to. Having been a popular girl in the past, Zoey exuded confidence and was quite experienced in dating. From the things he had heard around campus, he knew she wasn't a virgin and had had multiple boyfriends. Kip on the other hand was quite unexperienced when it came to the opposite sex. Sure Pippa had been with several guys and was definitely not a virgin, but as a boy he was shy and awkward around girls.
What drew Kip to Zoey, however, was her personality most of all. She had a certain toughness to her while at the same time showing a softer side. She could be both very kind and sarcastic and she didn't care what people thought of her. He had heard some students talking about her and saying she was crazy to change her style so drastically in her senior year. Kip didn't feel this way though. He thought it showed a certain courage that most of these other students lacked. A lot of these popular students were outcasts or loners the rest of the year, but they seemed to forget this during Swap Week. Sure, most of them were nice and remembered where they came from, but others became shallow and egotistical. He recalled one girl who as a boy was what one might describe as a stereotypical nerd. As Pippa she was nice to him, despite the fact that she was very popular. Pippa knew she was attractive and that everyone liked her, but that didn't stop her from showing kindness to everyone. When he tried to talk to this same boy during Swap Week, however, she shot him down and treated him like garbage.
"Your drawings are very nice," Kip said after a moment of silence.
"Thanks," Zoey responded.
They sat in silence again and Zoey glanced at Kip. She thought he was kind of cute and was unlike any of the other boys she'd ever dated. He seemed sweet and innocent and a little awkward. She could tell he liked her and although she wasn't above asking out a guy she liked, she was hoping for Kip to take the initiative. Admittedly, she was often the dominant one in her past relationships and considered herself a bit of a feminist. Sure she used to dress sexy, but even then she wasn't afraid to speak her mind. With Kip, however, she wanted to give Kip the chance to be in control. She could tell he needed a confidence boost and hoped to see him come out of his shell.
"So, um, have you heard about the dance?" Kip asked nervously.
"Yes, what about it?" Zoey replied.
"Well, uh, are you going?" Kip continued.
"I don't know," Zoey responded, "Nobody's asked me."
"Well, um, in that case, maybe if you aren't busy," Kip said stumbling through his words.
"Yes?" Zoey asked trying to force him to spit it out.
"Well, maybe you could go with me," Kip finally blurted out.
"Sure," Zoey answered coyly, "You seem like a nice enough guy."
"Really?" Kip said excitedly, "Wow, that's great. I mean, cool."
Zoey giggled a little. She clearly had this boy flustered. She could only imagine how he would act at the dance. She really hoped this boy knew how to dance.
"So, um, do you think we could do something after school?" Kip asked a little more confidently, "That is if you aren't doing anything."
"I'm not," Zoey replied.
"Great," Kip said excitedly, "I'll pick you up at 7. Oh wait, I don't have a car. Could you pick me up?"
Zoey laughed and they entered their phone numbers in each other's phones. A bell rang and they realized it was time to go to class. Zoey put her notebook in her backpack and they both got up.
"Well, I guess I'll see you tonight," Kip said nervously as they left the library, "It was cool meeting you."
"It was nice meeting you too," Zoey replied, "Oh, and a word of advice. Don't be so shy. Girls like guys who are confident."
"Thanks," Kip responded.
They began walking in opposite directions down the hall as they headed for their classes. Sure the other students didn't seem to get them, but they didn't care. They didn't need to be popular or try to fit somebody else's expectations. They had found each other and that was all that mattered. After all, popularity isn't everything.
A short vignette set during Swap Week about a guy and girl who meet in the library. This is just a brief introduction to the characters. You will learn more of their story in the Swap Week novel I am in the process of working on. There is no date set for when I plan to release it, I still am in the planning stages, but look out for more vignettes like this until then.