"Walk a hundred miles, then walk a hundred more
Away from the place you used to know
Embrace all the change, find a way to rearrange
Your feelings inside-never let them show"
The bell rang with all the subtlety and soothing tone of a car alarm. I awoke with a sound akin to a hippopotamus about to charge, flipping my hair out of my eyes and swinging my bag haphazardly onto one shoulder. I swaggered up the aisle, tipping an imaginary hat at Mr. Hartfoot as I turned to go.
"Top o' the morning to ya, Gov," I farewelled in a Dick Van Dyke accent. I swung out the door, about to dive into the glorious mayhem of passing period, but my philosophy teacher stopped me.
"Diane," he growled, as if I were in trouble. On the inside, I punched the air in victory, ducking back in to stand in front of his desk. To my mild surprise, I found Artemis standing next to me, narrowing his eyes at me. Instead of getting annoyed like I usually do, I actually talked to him again. To Hartfoot it must've looked like I had spent a month in rehab and become nice to men while he wasn't looking.
"Hiya, Arty," I greeted. He mumbled something at me under his breath, but I pretended to ignore it. Anyone else would've gotten a black eye. "Whaddaya think of my Van Dyke? Little iffy, I know, but it could just be 'cause I'm a girl."
"Pristine," he grumbled. What the heck does that big word mean? "What is it, Mr. Hartfoot? We have classes to go to...or to nap through, in her case."
"He has a point," I conceded. "If you don't hurry up, this could cut into my sleep big-time. And trust me, you don't want to see me when I'm-"
"I'm well aware," interrupted Hartfoot. I inspected the steadily growing bald spot smack on top of his head that he had somehow ignored for years of student teasing. "In any case, I was instructed by Principal Guiney to tell you that there has been a schedule change. Rather than proceeding to Dr. Yueh's class for astrophysics, your third period class shall be spent with Dr. Po."
"The psychiatrist?" blurted Artemis. I cocked an eyebrow at him, although personally I wasn't too thrilled myself. Po was brighter than your average teacher-I would be lucky to catch half a wink in a whole hour-long session. At the thought, I gave my best difficult teenager sigh, with some guttural boar growl thrown in.
"What about astrophysics?" insisted Artemis. Why did he care? I was half glad to be missing the class. Yueh scared me a little, and A-physics always gave me migraines when I tried to sleep through that class.
"Your schedule will be adjusted accordingly," dismissed Hartfoot with a cursory wave of his hand. I almost swore at him, he was so calm about everything. Schedule was a huge part of school life to students, a part that teachers shredded as casually as old documents. How was I supposed to walk from Po's all the way to the gym in four minutes through a sea of kids? The temptation to start a fight would overwhelm me. In fact, it was starting to right at that minute.
"Can we go now?" I snapped, sounding a little cross. Cross? Ew, I'm going native. Hartfoot nodded, not even bothering to write us passes. I gave my boar-sigh again and stormed out the door, closely followed by Artemis. But once I was safely wrapped within the reassuring tide of school traffic, my mood significantly increased. I tend to suffer from off-putting mood swings, mostly due to a chronic case of short-term memory loss. I elbowed Arty, grinning at him.
"At least we don't have to sit through Hartfoot and Yueh in a row, huh?" I joked. He didn't seem amused, which kinda bugged me. "Can I be the first to say boooring!"
He didn't even respond, just carrying on. His face didn't even budge, which was just plain weird. I normally had an effect on people-a tangible one. A chuckle at a joke, an insult at something I did wrong, a bruise because somebody made me mad...something. He freaked me out a little, how he was so inexpressive.
Deciding not to make it worse, I shrugged and kept walking, pretending not to notice him. But we were walking along the same route, so it's not like we could pretend that each other didn't exist. But out of the corner of my concentration, I noticed the halls abnormally clear of students. I seized Artemis's hand, eyes wide in panic.
"RUN!" I belted.
Without warning, Diane snatched my hand and bolted. My feet flew out from under me, thrown off from the sudden change of speed that I didn't seem physically capable to warrant for. We were bolting towards Po's office, though it was less than two hundred feet down the hall from us and we could easily make it in time. From my time sense, we still had a whole minute to make it. I could only assume that the halls were empty because everyone else had somehow gotten to class early for once, all at the same time…
...okay, I must have miscounted. That's also a first.
When Diane came to the door and tried to throw it open, the knob clicked and held. The blasted idiot had left his door locked. But that didn't stop Diane. She rolled up her sleeves, shoving her backpack at me.
"Back up, jack!" she brassed. Then she leaned back and kicked the door down flat. No joke.
I stood there for a couple seconds with my jaw dropped. I'd only seen Butler do that, and he was three or four times her size. Grunting as if satisfied, Diane led me in, taking her backpack back and swinging it over one shoulder as was customary with her. It was all I could do to dumbly follow her in, seating myself in front of Po's desk with what must've been a ghastly expression on my face. The bell rang, its brisk sound inviting me to take a deep breath in order to right myself. When I opened my eyes, I beheld Diane with her feet up on Po's desk and Po glaring at us from over steepled fingers.
"Was that really necessary?" he demanded, glaring at Diane. She shrugged, waving her hand offhandedly as if she didn't know herself.
"You're the one who locked the door," she reminded. I couldn't help but chime in.
"You could've knocked," I pointed out. She looked at me blankly, as if she didn't know what I was talking about.
"Forget it," I sighed, resting my elbow on the armrest and kneading my temples. Why on earth had Po subjected us not only to one of his ridiculously unhelpful therapy sessions, but at the same time? As polar opposites, putting us in the same room together to talk about our emotions was like mixing sodium and water. Everything will go up in flames.
"Miss Sullivan," rumbled Po. I stifled a sigh, mentally preparing myself for the assault; by his tone of voice, he was about to begin a lecture. "Do you remember why you were permitted at St. Bartleby's School for Young Gentlemen?"
"Because my mom's the richest broad this side of the Atlantic?" she drawled automatically. Her quote even sounded rehearsed. Certainly Po hadn't been expecting an answer like that. In any case, I was paying attention-the opportunity to see the school counselor this red in the face was too good a one to pass up.
"Because your mother is an important woman," he corrected icily. Diane blinked at him. "And an old friend of the Principal's. Nonetheless, you are walking on a precarious limb here, one that it would not do you well to fall from."
"So what if I fall?" asked Diane, furrowing her brow as if Po's jab at her position was idiotic. "I'll just get up again and try another limb. Boo hoo, ya know?"
Po cleared his throat. No doubt he was imagining his desk being occupied by some other poor soul, soon to be retired by me just as his predecessor.
"In any case," he began. "I decided to have your counseling sessions in the same period because I feel that it could be beneficial. I believe you have much to learn from each other."
"Such as how to be a grade A cleverclogs?" murmured Diane, eyeing me from the chair beside me.
"Or how to be American?" I retorted. Boy, she scowled at that.
"How not to style a mullet?" she snapped back. I narrowed my eyes at her.
"It's not a mullet," I growled. "It's...unique."
"The way a Chinese Crested's do is unique?" She was good at her retorts...a little too good for my liking. Po cleared his throat yet again.
"Leave each other alone, would you?" he grumbled. "We have more important business to attend to. Now, why don't we start with your life stories?" Here he turned to beam at Diane, apparently attempting to switch from stingy teacher to warmhearted grandpa. It seemed to work on Diane, only proving the extent of her cranial capacity.
"Well, I'm Euro-American," she began, hands on her knees as she began her ramble. Brilliant...English and American. "My dad was a famous actor slash pop star, my mom is the filthy-rich ex-duchess of Czechoslovakia, but I've lived with my dad all my life. Then he got addicted to crack and alcohol, so Mom sued to get me back and land Dad in rehab. She was successful, because like I said, richest broad on the planet. Then she landed me in a school with no other girls and whenever I'm not in a fight my life is a pain."
Wow. That was a lot to take into. That kind of backstory fit that of a Dickens-style orphan, not an apparently bouncy teenager. Po and Diane looked expectantly at me. I returned Diane's gaze coolly.
"Not much to tell," I lied. "I'm rich as well, easily more so than your 'royal broad,' and I too have no liking for school."
"Come now, Artemis, there's more to you than that, surely," goaded Po, obviously feeling that it wasn't fair that I got all the dirt on Diane and she barely heard a peep from me.
"So what if there isn't?" interrogated Diane, looking shadily at Po. I was mildly surprised that she was rising to my defense when she barely knew me. But why look a gift horse in the mouth, albeit a temporary one? Po sighed a little, straightening some papers. This is going to be a long period.
"Home" is copyright MandoPony