It’s amazing the way scent can invoke emotion. As Nicole pulled the sweatshirt out of her locker she was immediately awash in its odor… a pleasant mix of lavender, patchouli and a little stale smoke. Quickly she felt the familiar tight tingle in her stomach, reaching lower and waking her. She felt heat rise to her cheeks and surrendered to the urge to put her face into the sweatshirt and inhale deeply… as if it would infect her with some of the older girl’s coolness.

She knew it wouldn’t.

Standing on her toes, leaning over the sink, she looked at her face in the mirror and practiced the various facial expressions she knew she’d need in her repertoire. Cool indifference, the disdainful eye roll, slit eyes seething anger… she wanted to be the cool high school kid on the back of the bus but she knew she’d always remain in the shadow of Julia. And that was fine… she had no problem playing the role of understudy.

The bell rang; she headed outside the hallway her practice ground for a new walk…

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