Ch. 2A Chapter by Ardeth Lane
Fifteen Years later.
“This is like, two pages of notes.” Her teacher said, flipping through the stapled pages. “Yeah.” She said to no one in particular. “You’re going to need to redo this. You should paraphrase this.” She pointed her finger at one paragraph. “Summarize this.” She slid her finger down the page. “And then paraphrase this one.” Her nail tapped against the paper. “Do that to the whole paper and then let’s see where you are.” She said handing the notes back to the girl who, at this point, didn’t care for the paper she had to write anymore. So she clenched her jaw and nodded once before storming back to her cubicle to dispose of the faulty notes.
She dropped into the red computer chair and leaned over, tossing the papers into the garbage bin beneath the desk.
“That bad?” She turned and looked at who was speaking. It was Megan. A bitter smile displayed itself on her face and shook her head. “Not that bad?” Megan’s voice seemed to lift a bit. Trying to be happy for her sake.
“No it’s just-ugh, I’ve been working on those notes for six weeks and now they’re nothing.” She gave her hands a little toss of exasperation. “They’re just-” She sighed. “crap. I don’t know.”
“Well don’t let it get to you.” She said, carefully unwrapping a cherry sucker. “It’s just Mrs. Groves. She’s always like that.” Megan was whispering now, afraid that she’d be heard. The girl watched her friend try to sneakily open the treat.
“Miss Gray put the sucker away.” They both jumped at the teachers’ sudden urge to speak. Megan sighed and tossed it in her backpack.
When they both had sat in silence trying to work (and failing to do so) Megan leaned over and said, “What if I was diabetic? Or had some kind of sugary cancerous problem-like-thing? Whatever it is that makes you need sugary substances-what then?” She was mad, the girl could tell but, it was hard not to smile at the situation. “I see that.” She whispered. “This is not funny Tobi.” She grimaced remorsefully at her empty palms. “I love cherry flavored suckers.” She pouted.
“You love cherry flavored anything.” Tobi said matter-of-factly. “I bet you’d even eat a cherry flavored-“
“Having fun ladies?” They froze. Mrs. Groves was standing behind them. Such a stalker. Neither of them turned around but Megan responded with something about homework not being fun. The teacher snorted and spun on her heels to clickity-clack away on the linoleum floor, muttering something about kids these days and how they never listen and if I were principal I’d-something. She couldn’t hear the rest, nor did she want to.
In most schools, teachers wouldn’t talk to a student in a rude manner. But, in an alternative school things are different. The students for example, tend to be more opinionated and artsy. Like the Super Senior that just walked passed Tobi and Megan. On his backpack were two clip-on stuffed animals. One, a pig with a long neck and its tongue sticking out in a strangled fashion. The other was a white chick with a shocked expression. The teachers, like the students, were more opinionated, and showed their full personality. In Mrs. Groves’ classroom, you’re not allowed to take Gods name in vain. In Ms. Nelsons’ room you aren’t allowed to say ‘sucks’ because she thinks it’s too degrading of a word. With Mr. Jones, he’s always making references to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Pokémon even though he’s over thirty and has a daughter. To which both Megan and Tobi deemed him their favorite teacher.
The school itself? Well, if you looked at it while driving by you’d probably think it was a really big shed. Or maybe even a place to sell hardware supplies. If you went inside you’d see a massive painting of Einstein on the wall, and quotes about love, respect, and responsibility lining the hallways. In any given classroom there are either long rectangular or circular tables as desks, and computer chairs to sit on. Old textbooks are piled on abandoned filing cabinets, and three-year-old overdue homework is stuffed in corners. Most of the classrooms surround the main Advisory, forming a square doughnut shape. Within the Advisory, are four mini advisories. Emerson, Cicero, Newton, and Socrates. Each has the name of their advisory painted on the wall for everyone to see. Emerson has a massive tree with an apple hanging from a branch and elegant print, Cicero has a cutout of brick wall and graffiti print, Newton’s was made in Woodshop class and each letter is carved of wood. The O is a clock. In Socrates it looks like a bunch of second graders took primary and secondary colored paints and went nuts trying to print the name. When the year begins, each student is assigned an advisory where their cubicle and filing cabinet (replacement for a locker) are located.
Megan opened the top drawer to her cabinet and shuffled through a multitude of sucker wrappers in search of something.
“Whatcha doing?” Tobi sang, not looking away from her laptop screen.
“Looking for my phone.” She had both hands digging through the drawer. Something beeped behind her and she pulled a long black cord out from under a textbook. “Need this?” She asked, holding it awkwardly behind her back. Tobi, who was about to open her drawer to search for it nodded, and took it.
“Thanks. Check your pockets.” She began untangling the tangled computer charger. Megan patted her pocket.
“Not there.” She closed her top drawer and opened the bottom one. This one was clouded with candy wrappers from Halloween.
“Other pocket.” Tobi stretched out the cord and plugged the circle end into the computer and pulled up the other end. It was another plug in the shape of a square. “Do you have the other half of this?” She turned and looked at her friend. “Wow, eat enough?” She asked sarcastically. Megan had unearthed every wrapper in the cabinet and scattered them over the floor.
“No, it’s in your cubby.” Megan pointed at Tobi’s drawers and gave her wrist a little flick. She had ignored the second question, Tobi noticed.
“Cabinet.” She corrected, spinning around in her chair to face the drawers. Behind her Megan was making a rude comment about somebody’s mother. “How do you know?” She opened the top drawer and stared at the other half of the computer charger sitting innocently on top of all her stuff. “Never mind. Did you find your phone?” Her pocket vibrated.
“Not yet-ugh-this sucks.” A loud crash sounded behind Tobi’s back but she didn’t look, or flinch. It was just Megan throwing a fit, she knew. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a light blue phone.
“Found it.” She declared and tossed it over her shoulder. It landed with a light thud. She connected the two cords and bent over to plug it into the outlet beneath her cubicle. “It was in my pocket. I think from when I was texting Grandpa, my bad.”
“You suck.” Megan sighed. “Can you help me clean this up?” Tobi sat up and huffed.
“Sure thing.” She checked to make sure her computer was taking the charge. Then she hit her knees and began to scrape wrappers off the floor. Megan was texting someone.
“You gonna make me clean this up by myself or…”
“Just gimme a sec. Gotta make sure Emily has her keys. If he doesn’t, then I’ll have to let him in the house.”
“Thus delaying our adventure.”
“Exactly. And I plan to make a real kickass fort this time.”
Two hours later they were boarding a bus to get to the High School. Neither of them spoke to one another, there’d be plenty of time for chatter later, for now they listened to their music players. Megan was drumming off key on the seat in front of them while Tobi listened to something slower. A little more indie maybe, she wasn’t sure.
She stared at her reflection in the window and sighed. Dark skin, big eyes, and red hair. A ginger Blasian. That’s what she called herself. When people gave her the funny look she’d explain: half black, half Asian. Then they’d make one big nodding motion as if they understood and say something like got it.
She stared at herself from the time they left the school, to when they drove past the grocery store. Four blocks from the High School. She blinked. Her eyes were a mixture of violet and blue and caused everyone she ever met to ask her, “Are those contacts?” The answers is no. They’re real, unfortunately. She looked at her mouth, then at Megan’s’, then at her own again. Megan had one of those cute little mouths every girl wants. Hers was too puffy. A ‘proud black woman’s mouth Darlin’’ her Aunt had said with her deep southern accent. Tobi sighed. She wasn’t very proud of it. The only part of her that wasn’t black or Asian was her nose, which seemed to be more of a white girls’ nose. Except, maybe a little larger near the nostrils.
The reflection of Tobi reached up and touched her hair. Corkscrew curls that snaked like vines near the bottom. Tobi stared at her reflection in confusion and then looked down at her hands, resting peacefully in her lap. When she looked up at the window again, her reflection was still stroking her hair. The Reflection-Tobi winked and the bus lurched to a stop, throwing everyone forward. When she regained balance and checked the window again, she wasn’t even there. She stood up and began pushing an unprepared Megan to the isle before anyone might see-or better yet, not see-what was supposed to be in the window.
Things like this happen a lot, Tobi told herself. It’s nothing to worry about. Nothing to think on. Nothing at all.
“Tobi.” Megan said calmly. “Why do you keep doing that?” They were walking down a dirt road alley between a few houses and a local church. Tobi, knowing what she meant, dropped the hem of her shirt. She’d been brushing her fingers over it religiously.
“No reason. Just bored.” She replied casually with a shrug.
“That’s not a self-esteem booster or anything.” She kicked a rock and shoved her hands in her pockets.
“What isn’t? Me saying I’m bored?” All she got in response was a shrug. “Well, then fine. Be like that.” They continued the next three seconds of the walk in silence before Megan asked what was wrong. “What do you mean?” Tobi returned her fingers to the hem and resumed her fidgeting. Megan sighed.
“Nothing.” She took out her phone and slid it open to text someone. After a minute or so, she slid it shut. “She why’d you try to kill me on the bus today? See someone cute or something?”
Tobi laughed once nervously. “Yeah, that’s it. Couldn’t let you steal my moment you know? Just had’ta-” She curled her fingers like claws in front of her. “Pounce.” She bit at the air and stared seductively in front of her. A smile played at her mouth. Megan was laughing.Good, she thought. That’s what she’d wanted.
© 2012 Ardeth Lane
Added on January 2, 2012
Last Updated on January 2, 2012
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