The school bell rings eerily, the same as any other day. The loud bustling of students erupts as everyone takes their seats. In the center of the room, and in the center of everyone’s attention, sits Alina Wind. She’s probably the most uplifting extrovert in the entire school. She is the top of her class, she’s the best trumpet player in the school band, captain of all the sports teams, and she is even the leader of her school’s creative writing club.
The teacher, Mr. Smith clears his throat, “Goodmorning all of my amazing students!”
“Goodmorning, Mr. Smith!” All of the students say in unison. Mr. Smith smiles happily. Mr. Smith has long hair that looks like it’s from a rock star wannabe from 2011, he has welcoming hazel eyes and wears a pure black suit to school every day.
“Knox, how are you today?” Mr. Smith asks a boy in the back of the class. He’s staring out of the window, completely zoned out and in a different world. The boy doesn’t react, so Mr. Smith repeats himself, “Knox Akins!” Knox jumps and looks around in shock. “Welcome back to Earth, how are you today?”
Knox mumbles and shrugs dully, “I don’t know, you?”
Mr. Smith chuckles, “I’m fine, thank you.” Without missing a beat, Knox looks back towards the window and goes back to daydreaming. Mr. Smith shifts his attention over to Alina who is helping her classmates beside her with their math homework, “Alina Wind, how are you today?”
Alina jumps to her feet, energy bursting at the seams, “I am doing amazingly today, thank you so much for asking!” Her smile is as bright as the sun, her every action leaves people in awe, “And I hope that you all have an amazing day as well!” Clapping and cheers erupt from the class.
Mr. Smith laughs, “I always enjoy your energy, Alina.” Alina sits back down and continues to help her classmates. “Now, today will be a group project day, sorry for any independent workers, but you will have to collaborate today.”
Knox perks up, finally paying attention. He looks around the room for anyone else that may be just as against that idea as him. As he searches around the room, he can see that people are already making their groups. Some girls whisper and point at him and his loneliness. Alina raises her hand and speaks up, “Excuse me, Mr. Smith, but it’s only the third week of school, not everybody is comfortable yet.”
“Yeah, like Knox,” squeals one of the girls. The girl is pretty much the colour pink, pink shoes, pink socks, pink shorts that are way too short for a nine-year-old, a pink crop-top and a pink buret. Last year she even said in front of the entire class that her spirit animal was the colour pink, granted, she was eight, but still. If Alina wasn’t here then this school would have definitely been something out of mean girls. It has only been three weeks and Alina is already the most popular girl in school, not because of her looks, but because of how kind and helpful she is. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him talk to anyone, he’s such a nobody, and those anime clothes, only losers like anime!”
Alina stands up and walks confidently to Knox’s side, “And I don’t think I’ve ever seen you respect a person.” The class, including the teacher ooh in favour of Alina.
“Alright class, that’s enough,” Mr. Smith attempts to settle everyone down while also hiding his amusement from Alina’s comeback. “Alina, you can work with Knox, and Breckin, I will be calling your parents.” The class laughs and Breckin stomps her feet in anger.
Alina smiles sweetly at Knox and pulls up a seat next to him. He musters up a decent smile, trying to be nice. Knox is wearing a ‘Game Over’ hoodie, a long-sleeve shirt with the words ‘Death Note’ written on it and some Dragon Ball headphones. His pants are baggy with the Naruto logo written all over them. His shoes are black and red Nike running shoes and his socks are plain black and low cut. He’s skinny, a common contrast to Alina’s athletic build. His skin is dark bronze, his hair is a freshly styled dark brown afro, and he has dark brown eyes.
Mr. Smith gets their attention back with a simple cough, “The first activity will be building a tower using marshmallows and spaghetti.” Half of the class smiles from excitement and the other half roll their eyes, everyone in this room has done this already. Mr. Smith starts walking around the room handing out papers and supplies, “You all have one hour.”
Alina turns back to Knox with a warm and upbeat smile on her face, so warm it can even make snowmelt. She is wearing a McGill University sweater around her waist, a camo t-shirt and black and red headphones. She’s wearing plain black basketball shorts that would normally be seen on a high school boy, black and red Nike basketball shoes and plain black mid-crew length socks. Her accessories are quite extraordinary as well, a Galaxy Watch Active, a black and silver skull brooch, a necklace with a knife pendant, some hair ties and the most sparkly of it all, a princess crown ring. Her outfit may be boring, but her jewelry is ahead of her class.
“I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve talked,” Alina smiled brightly. Knox isn’t phased by her energy, but she has still managed to make him smile. “Sorry about Breckin, you seem pretty cool.” Knox smiles and nods but doesn’t respond. Alina lowers her voice a bit and speaks in a more calming tone, “I’m sorry if I’m being annoying, I know that my energy can be a little much for people sometimes. If there’s ever a time that you want me to quiet down, don’t be afraid to speak up.”
“You’re not annoying,” Knox mumbles. “Sorry if I’m being rude, I’m just not a big fan of group work is all.”
“Yeah, I’m not really either,” Alina adds, looking over the assigned work. “I always feel like I can always do much better on my own, and finish faster too.”
“I never end up getting work done,” Knox mutters, picking up pieces of spaghetti and stabbing some marshmallows with them. “I’d rather just eat the marshmallows and watch some anime or read some manga.”
“What’s your favourite anime?” Alina asks with a tone that shows she genuinely cares.
Knox sits back and lets out a breath, “I can’t think right now, there’s just so much. Probably, maybe, The Seven Deadly Sins or Hunter X Hunter.” Energy causes Knox’s voice to raise and a smile shows on his face, this time it isn’t forced. “Do you watch anime?”
“No, I can’t read subtitles and I’d rather actually watch the show,” Alina responds as she builds a base to the tower. She faces Knox, smirks, then shoves a handful of marshmallows into her mouth, and then tosses the bag at Knox.
Knox laughs, “There are dubbed animes, though they don’t get as much respect from weebs.” Knox takes a handful of marshmallows and shoves them in his mouth.
“What does dubbed mean?” Alina starts building the tower upwards.
“It means that it’s voiced in a different language, like English,” Knox smiles. “Want some recommendations?”
“I only have Netflix,” Alina mentions, stabbing a few more noodles into some marshmallows to keep the tower stable. “So if they’re on Netflix then sure.”
“Sweet,” Knox turns to Alina, full of excitement. “I have like twenty ideas.”
“Do you have Instagram?” Alina asks him, finishing up the walls to the tower.
“No, but I can set one up later,” Knox says in an upbeat tone. “Hang on, I’ll make a list of animes you should watch.”
Alina perks up like she just had an idea, “Maybe we can watch them together sometime, where do you live?”
“Just down the street,” Knox points out the window, not even looking away from his paper as he scribbles down the names to animes.
“Same, just the other way,” Alina smiles. “Are you busy after school today?”
“I have some stuff to do first, but maybe at like 4 or 5?”
“Sounds good to me,” Alina beams. “I have band practice after school today, so that time sounds perfect. We can meet outside the school at 4:30.”
“Ooh, Knox is hitting on Alina,” Breckin calls from the other side of the room. Everyone looks over and it appears that Knox has closed himself off again. “She’s way out of your league, you might as well just date one of your imaginary girlfriends. Though, even they won’t like you back.”
Alina’s lip twitches and she rises to her feet, in a fierce, furious tone she yells, “Breckin, you fucking bitch! Stop acting like you’re better than everyone else!”
“Woah, Woah, Woah, calm down, girls,” Mr. Smith attempts to ease the situation.
“And if we’re bringing feelings into this, why don’t you tell Hope about all of the conversations you’ve had with her brother, or even Caitlin’s boyfriend?” Alina ratted out Breckin. The boys are avoiding eye contact with the girls, Breckins jaw is dropped and her brow is furrowed. Hope is silently staring at her brother, looking sad. Caitlin is nagging at her boyfriend and demanding that he shows her his phone.
“You cow!” Breckin cried out, tears and snot causing her to look like a toad. “You’re just a filthy jock! I bet you wish you were a man!”
“At least I’m not a hoe, and at least I’m not scared of a basketball that’s not even moving,” Alina clapped back, her face looking like a snarling wolf. Breckin ran out crying, everyone except for Caitlin and her boyfriend were quiet. For a second it looked like he was going to run after but Caitlin pushed him back into his seat.
Alina sits back down and lets out a heavy sigh. Knox nudges Alina’s shoulder and whispers, “That was badass, see you at 4:30.”
It’s been a good two minutes with Mr. Smith completely frozen in place. Caitlin is still nagging her boyfriend, with all of his friends hiding their laughter. Hope’s brother murmurs an apology, and she forgives him.
“Alright, class, um,” Mr. Smith struggles to figure out what to say. “I’m going to make some calls, everyone stay here and continue building, I guess.”
“What’s the big deal with Breckin and Hope’s brother being together?” Knox asks Alina in a whisper. “Also, what’s his name?”
Alina leans over and answers, “Breckin and Hope used to be best friends, but then Breckin ditched hope because Breckin wanted to be popular. So Aaron, Hope’s brother, spent months cheering her up. Eventually, he promised her that he will only start dating once she’s gotten over it, and he also promised that Breckin will never be an option.”
Knox nods in understanding, “So a broken promise then?”
“Precisely,” Alina responds.
Mr. Smith comes marching into the room with the principal following. The principal points at Alina and orders in a demanding tone, “Alina, my office, now!”
“See you later,” both Alina and Knox say in unison as Alina leaves the room. A few silent nods of respect are directed at Alina as she’s taken out of the room and to the office.