Mr. Warner’s art classroom was located in a corner space and was one of the bigger rooms King James High School. There was a regular sized class, where the students congregated on days that they would be taking notes, and there was a much larger room with three person desks that could be moved around and rearranged, but still stay in one piece. Students had to walk through the larger room to get to the classroom. The floors of the art room were uniform off-white school tile, and so were the walls. But unlike most other classrooms the walls and even the ceiling were decorated with different pieces of art. The ceiling tiles were the removable kind – so that maintenance could get into the electrical in the roof – and previous years’ students had taken them down and painted different things on them. On the walls and on shelves were different paintings, and sculptures; some finished others were works in progress.
After the first five minutes of class had passed with still no sign of their teacher the class began to talk amongst themselves, some discussing what they were going to do that weekend and others saying that if the teacher didn’t show up in the next five minutes they were leaving.
Aislinn rolled grey-rimmed green eyes and punched the arm of the young man sitting next to her, “You are not and you know it. Sometimes you’re all talk, Drake.”
“I mean it this time.” A strong chin rested in a turned palm as dark grey eyes, glared in annoyance as the seconds hand ticked along on the wall clock at the head of the class room. "We bust our butts trying to get here on time, nearly get trampled in the process and he has the nerve to be late! If he isn’t here in the next five minutes I am gone, and damn the consequences.” He slapped his palm down on to the table to emphasize his point.
“Oh for the love of…Diana, Drake’s talking nonsense again. Talk to me so I can drown him out.”
Diana laughed at her two friends, and watching as Aislinn shoved her sketchbook into Drake’s face and continued to ignore him, asking what her plans were for the upcoming weekend. Used to her two friend’s oddness she answered Aislinn’s question as if nothing was amiss.
Once Drake got the sketchbook out of his face he joined in on the girl’s conversation. Diana was hoping to get a painting done that she had been working on for the past month or so. Aislinn had no plans as of yet, she was thinking of just helping her mom out around the house, and Drake explained that he hoped to get the transmission installed and have his car back up and running by Sunday.
As the final seconds approached that would announce more than half of Mr. Warner’s Gr. 12 art class's self-dismissal, the door to the classroom swung open admitting the previously absent teacher, followed by a boy who looked about their age.
Diana looked at the student with an artist’s eye and thought he seemed shy, he kept his eyes firmly on the floor in front of him and refused to look at the rest of the students in the class. He was about the same size as her, between 5’ and 5’3 and didn’t look like he’d quite grown into his arms and legs yet. From where she was sitting Diana couldn’t make out what colour his eyes were, at least with his white-blonde hair spiked up the way it was she would be able to see the colour when he walked by.
Drake cursed his luck and let his head fall to the desk top with a thud. He left his head resting where it was and cast his gaze toward the front of the class and at the teacher and the new student.
“I apologize for my lateness class; I had to collect a new student from the office. Well, why don’t you introduce yourself and then class will begin.
The young man finally looked up at met the gazes of his curious new classmates. His gaze briefly met that of Drake and Aislinn and they both sat up straight, startled at the familiar feeling they got. They glanced at each other quickly then back at the new boy, who was now introducing himself.
James too had felt an odd tingling sensation run along his neck, but he shoved it aside as nerves. “Um…hi. My name is James Morgan, I moved to Canada from Spain when I was 10, and my father and I moved here about a week ago from Toronto. Yeah that’s about it, can I sit down now?” He looked over at the teacher pleadingly, wanting to be anywhere but in front of so many strangers.
“Yes, there’s a seat left behind Mr. Jordan and Ms.’ Carter and Williams.” He waved James in the general direction of his seat as he pulled out some things from a desk drawer. “Hmm, my notes for today’s class seem to be missing. Oh well. Today we are going to be studying still life. Send one person from each table up to grab an item. Your assignment is to draw the object as accurately as possible, the correct shadows and light sources, size, etcetera. I will give you the history on still life art tomorrow instead.”
Diana went up for their table and rooted through the box until she found something that she liked. While she was doing that Aislinn turned to Drake and in a whisper asked, “Did you feel that?”
“When the new guy looked at us? Yeah. It’s the same feeling I got when I first met you. Kind of like a static shock.”
“Yeah same here, except I get it from you all the time, I can’t seem to tune you out.”
“Not my fault you know. Anyway I haven’t met him before. I haven’t seen him “up top” or anywhere else.”
“Maybe he doesn’t know he has an immortal parent.”
“Whose son do you think he is then?”
Aislinn stopped to think for a moment, “I’m pretty sure most of them would have claimed him if he was theirs…except for maybe one of the elder ones.”
Drake nodded, “I’ll ask Mom to ask around about him, if I remember. See if anybody knows anything.”
They quickly ended their conversation as Diana returned with the object they were going to draw for the rest of the period. It was an interestingly shaped vase, with a wide bottom that had its neck twisted into a loop, and it was a rainbow of colours.
Drake sighed and sarcastically said, “I love art class.” Diana and Aislinn smiled at him in sympathy. Drawing was definitely not his best subject; he much preferred shop.
“Just remember it’s the effort that counts. Plus it’s a slack class, turn in all of your assignments and you’re guaranteed at least a B-.” Aislinn told him comfortingly as she put pencil to paper beginning her attempt at a piece she had titled ‘Wonky Vase.’ She had even written it in the top right hand corner of her page.
“Aislinn’s right, Drake, just draw something and hand it in.” Diana already had a rough sketch of the outline of the vase drawn and was adding the details she could she etched onto the glass.
“Right,” Knowing that what ever he turned in would be utter crap Drake decided to take his usual route, clown it out. He scrunched one eye shut and stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and put on a face of total concentration as he stared at the vase.
Seeing his expression out of the corner of her eye Aislinn laughed and pushed his shoulder. “Stop goofing off Drake, you’re going to get us in trouble.”
He grinned at her, “Kill joy.” But he did stop. A few minutes of useless sketching later he looked up when someone stopped next to their table. Looking up he saw James standing there looking uncomfortable. “Yes?”
He cleared his throat, “Sorry, but I could I join you guys? My table isn’t very art friendly at the moment.” The four teens looked back to see the other two occupants of James’ table having a paper ball war. A glance up at the front of the room told them that the teacher was too busy looking for his notes to do anything about the disturbance.
Diana nodded and offered him a smile, “Sure, pull up a chair. I’m Diana Williams by the way.” The all shuffled their chairs down, making room for the chair James pulled over from his original table.
“Aislinn Carter, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Name’s Drake Jordan.”
“Thanks. I’d introduce myself but I already did it earlier.” He sat in his chair backwards so he could lean forward without having to lean on the table.
“So what other classes do you have James?” Diana asked as she resumed sketching. Her rendition of the vase was already starting to take shape. It looked like someone had taken a picture of it in black and white and pasted it into Diana’s sketchbook.
“Well after this I have Math, then Science, after lunch I have Physics, and then a free period in fifth.”
Drake sighed in envy, “I wish I had a free period.”
“Did you need someone to help you find your classes or did they remember to give you a map?” Aislinn asked turning her paper upside down to work on the bottom of the vase better.
“No I’m good. That’s why I was late; one of the Guidance Counsellors was giving me a tour of how to get to each of my classes.”
“Well that’s good, usually they just make people fend for themselves, remember that girl last year.”
“Oh yeah, poor kid,” Aislinn giggled and Diana smacked her arm saying it wasn’t funny.”
James was just finishing inking the outline of the vase, “What girl?”
Drake waved a hand, “Oh I can’t remember her name, but she was in two of my classes last year. Anyway she was in one, um I think it was English, and then we had History after that, but between the two classes she went missing.” He had to smother a laugh here; Aislinn was already holding her sides she was laughing so hard. “It turned out; she had gotten lost and ended up locking herself in one of the janitor’s closets. She was stuck in there for the whole day!”
Diana shook her head, but even she was having trouble not smiling. James snickered, “Well here’s hoping I have a better sense of direction.”
Drake patted his shoulder comfortingly; “We’ll be sure to check the closets periodically for you.”
“Hey!” All four of them laughed.
The rest of class passed with the four students sharing stories about themselves, mostly funny, odd, or embarrassing stories. Just as Drake was about to tell the story where Aislinn had tripped during a basketball game in her frosh year the bell rang, signalling that the first class was over and they had five minutes to get to their second. Drake quickly gathered up his stuff and bolted from the room with Aislinn hot on his trail, “Get back here Jordan, I’m going to kill you!”
“No killing on school grounds Ms. Carter.” The frazzled art teacher called distractedly, he was still looking for his magically vanished notes.
“Yes Mr. Warner,” Aislinn ran passed him out the door following the sound of Drakes laughter. “Get back here!”
James turned a confused look onto a patiently smiling Diana, “I take it they’re always like this.” They exited the classroom and started heading up the hall getting swept up into the wave of students.
“Sadly, yes. You get used to it after awhile.” Diana walked with one hand on the wall to keep from being knocked over while James fought to keep his footing.
“Are they related or something?”
“No, they’ve just been friends for forever.” They paused as two 12th graders cut through the line cutting off a dozen or more people, and the already noisy hallway got louder as students yelled at the two boys. They didn’t even stop to apologize to the 10th grader they’d knocked over.
They’d reached the end of the hall where it split into two separate directions, “I see. Well see you around Diana,”
“Later James, good luck with all your classes.” She tightened the straps of her pack preparing to make for the opposite wall where the line of students was heading in the direction that she needed to go.
“Thanks, bye.” James waved as he went left down the hall and Diana went right.
James cursed his luck as he ran down the deserted hallways. His second period teacher was one of those “look out for the good of the student” types. She’d kept him back after class to ask how he was adjusting to the move and the new school. While he appreciated the gesture, it couldn’t have waited until after school? Nope, she’d had to do it right then. It wasn’t until he had reminded Mrs. Wolfe that he had a third period class to get to, and if he didn’t get a move on he was going to be late, but thanks for caring, that she had finally let him go.
She apologized and quickly scribbled him a note excusing his lateness and set him on his way. As it was James walked into class three minutes late. The Science teacher, Mrs. Aven looked at him over the tops of her glasses sternly. “Is there a reason you are late Mr.…?”
“James Morgan. Yeah, I have a note.” He handed her the note and waited. He heard a “pssst,” come from behind him and turned his head to see who it was. There at the back of the class were Diana, Aislinn, and Drake waving and trying not to laugh at him in his hour of misfortune, though Drake wasn’t trying very hard.
The Biology classroom looked like any other Science orientated classroom that James had been in, except that the colours were different. The floor was a green-black mixed linoleum tile matched to the walls avocado green. There were five rows of table desks, all connected and divided into three sections. Each row held nine students, three students to each divided section. The tops of the desk were a dark laminated wood and the sides of the three sides of the desks were painted the same colour as the walls. One wall was ceiling high windows, the opposite wall was cupboards above counters, with plants along the top of the cupboards. The back wall had shelves along the bottom quarter of the wall, above that was a large fogged window looking into a terrarium in a back room.
“All right Mr. Morgan, you may take a seat.”
James nodded and made his way to the back of the room and took the open seat that was next to Diana, at the end of the long desks.
“So,” Drake drawled quietly, a smirk on his face, “Did you get lost?”
James shot him an exasperated look, “No. Mrs. Wolfe kept me after class to ask me a few questions. I hate teachers that care that much.” He grumbled as he pulled out his notebook for the class, Ms. Aven was handing out some papers to each student.
Before he could ask if there were any other teachers like that that he should watch out for Mrs. Aven started speaking, “Your assignment today, class, is to label the two cells that I have given you. One is a Plant Cell and the other is an Animal Cell. You will find the answers you need in your textbooks. You may talk while doing this assignment by try to keep noise level to a minimum. These are to be handed in at the end of the class. That is all, you may begin.” She walked back to the front of the class and started grading the first period’s assignments.
“Wow, is she always this strict?”
“Yup, just stay on her good side and you’ll be fine.”
He tossed an annoyed look to the other end of the table at Drake, “Gee thanks, big help. Anyway I was going to ask if there are any other teachers like Mrs. Wolfe I should watch out for.” James put pen to paper and started to label the plant cell with what he could remember learning about them in his old School.
Aislinn shook her head as she leafed through her textbook looking for the appropriate section. “No, Mrs. Wolfe is the worst one; the others will only want to talk to you if they see that you’re struggling.”
After they had all been working for a few minutes Drake tapped Aislinn on the shoulder and asked, “What page are we looking for, I see nothing but…”
“If you utter any words that involve the male reproductive organs, I will murder you.”
Diana sighed for the fifth time that morning; she leaned around Aislinn and took Drake’s book from him, turning it to the correct section. “There,”
“You’re welcome, now stop tormenting Aislinn. I don’t feel like helping her hide bodies today.”
James coughed into his hand, trying to hide his laughter. He had never met a group of people with such an odd dynamic before. Well he had but they never showed that they were this odd right away, they usually waited until he knew them better before acting like total idiots. These three didn’t seem to care what any one thought of them, and he found it a refreshing change of pace.
They worked in silence for 15 minutes, each working on their assignment, though James thought he noticed Drake and Aislinn writing on a piece of paper between them, which he guessed probably had nothing to do with cells. When he looked again though, there was no paper, so he thought he must have imagined it.
Aislinn stretched in her seat, cracking her back. As she leaned forward and around her friends, so she could see James, her feet started tapping an erratic beat, a sudden surge of energy hitting her system. “Hey James, what are you doing at lunch?”
“I was planning on eating.”
“Ha-ha. You know what I meant. Want to come to the mall with us? It’s just across the street.”
“Sure, why not. Not like I have anything better to do.”
“That’s the spirit!” Aislinn punched the air grinning.
The other three just looked at her with looks of confusion on their face until Drake looked at Aislinn reproachfully, “You made some sort of sugary thing in Home Ec. today didn’t you?”
She giggled sheepishly and ducked her head, “Maybe,” she giggled some more.
Drake let his face drop into his palm, a world weary sigh escaping him. “Great, let’s hope this wears off before lunch. What did you guys make and how much of it did you eat?”
“We made Sugar Cookies! And I only had 3.”
Diana grinned comfortingly, though it looked a little strained. “Well it should wear off soon then.”
“Good, I hate dealing with her when she’s hyper.”
“Does she get like this often?”
“No, she actually doesn’t eat sugar a lot, unless it’s ice cream, and then that’s only during summer vacation. It’s why it affects her so much. But if she only had three it should wear off around lunch time.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the stern tones of Ms. Aven, “Is there a problem back there?”
“No Ms. Aven, Aislinn just got a muscle cramp.” Drake lied smoothly. Ms. Aven nodded and went back to helping the student she had been before she interrupted herself.
“What is there to do at the mall?” James question was quiet, not wanting to bring the teachers attention back to them.
“What do you usually do at a mall?” Drake shrugged and continued, “It’s mostly just to get out of the school for a while, a break, ya know? That and there are more tables at the mall for people to sit and eat than there are here.”
“Besides I need to pick up a gift for my dad,” Diana interjected as she moved on from labelling the Animal Cell to the Plant Cell. “It’s his birthday in two weeks, and if I don’t get him something and mail it soon, it won’t get to him on time.”
“You’re dad work over seas or something?”
Diana smiled a little sadly, “No my parents got divorced when I was 4.”
“Don’t worry about it, you didn’t know. No harm no foul.”
The conversations were a much lighter tone after that and they talked companionably until the noon bell rang. They made their way out of the classroom and once again into the crowded hallways. They dropped all their books off at Aislinn’s locker since it was the closest one to the room and the doors they were exiting from.
As they exited the building through the main doors Drake and Aislinn looked over to where Drake had glued a Loonie to the ground earlier that morning, and there, looking like he hadn’t moved all morning, was the same 9th grader trying desperately to free the dollar from the cement. Aislinn cursed and dug ten dollars out of her wallet, slapping it into a grinning Drake’s hand.
James turned to Diana and asked, “Do I want to know what that was about?”
“I like him, he doesn’t ask questions.” Aislinn was practically bouncing as they walked down the side walk towards the cross-walk.
“It’s called plausible deniability. This way if anyone asks where you two hid the bodies I can honestly say ‘I don’t know, I never asked.’”
The other three laughed loudly, causing people around them to look at them strangely. But they couldn’t help it. It wasn’t everyday that someone understood their special brand of humour. James had gotten it figured out in less than two hours; needless to say they were impressed.
“I like him, I say we keep him.” Aislinn continued to bounce along beside Diana, the sugar rush not having worn off quite yet. By this time they’d reached the corner nearest the mall and were waiting for the light to change so they could cross the street.
“How long do these sugar induced fits of insanity usually last?” James asked eyeing Aislinn warily, as if she were an animal that could go from cute and friendly one second, to a death inducing pile of fur and fangs the next. Like a cat.
The light changed and Diana watched her friend bouncing along next to her as she answered, “Depends. But she should be calmed down by the time we sit down to eat, and mid-way through 4th period she’ll either return to normal or crash.”
“As long as it isn’t permanent, she was high-strung to begin with. This,” he waved his hand at Aislinn as she proceeded to cartwheel from the street to the sidewalk. “This is just scary.”
Drake snickered as Aislinn miss landed her second cartwheel and ended up falling over. “You should see her the day after Halloween.”
“I’d really rather not, if that’s all the same to you. This is enough to turn me off candy or anything containing more that one spoonful of sugar for at least a century.”
Aislinn pushed herself into a sitting position, and it was at that point that she started humming the chorus from A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down, before breaking down into a fit of uncontrollable giggles.
Diana and Drake hauled the hyper girl to her feet and dragged her to the doors that James had just pushed open. The doors were located at the south side of the mall and opened onto the food court. They walked down the red hued tiled steps and towards the nearest empty table with four chairs. They dropped Aislinn into the closest seat and Diana took the seat next to her. James took a seat opposite to Aislinn, and Drake wondered off in the vague direction of Taco Time, A&W, and Subway to track himself down some lunch, using the bet money he’d gotten from Aislinn.
Aislinn was slumped forward in her chair, arms crossed on the table, creating a cushy place to set her pounding head. “Oh, ow. Sugar headache.”
“Finally. Decided to rejoin the land of the sane, Aislinn?” Diana asked as she pulled out her lunch that consisted of a chicken, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, an orange, and some fresh garden veggies from her mother’s garden. James too was pulling out his lunch of a hastily thrown together PB&J sandwich, an apple, and some kind of fruit snack.
“Ugh. Remind me to tell my mom to write a note telling my Home Ec. Teacher I am no longer allowed to eat the sugary confections we make in class. Ever again!”
“Did she just use the word confections in a sentence?” James looked confused.
“Yes. I sometimes start using annoyingly big words when I come down from a sugar high…we have yet to come up with a satisfactory reason as to why.”
Drake wandered back to the table just as Aislinn was finishing her sentence, “Using big words already, huh Nike?”
She raised her head up enough so she could glare at her so called friend, “Yes, and if you don’t stop pestering me about it, I’m going to shove that noxious assortment of food you’re calling lunch down your throat and pray to the gods that you choke. And then when you die I will laugh and laugh, and laugh. Even as the police are carting me off for your murder, I will laugh.”
James looked at her sceptically then looked at Diana and Drake, “She’s not getting a second wind is she? Nike?”
“No, she just starts using big words, then she gets grumpy, then she’ll level off for a little while before either calming down or crashing.” Drake took the only remaining seat at the table, the on across from Diana and opened the tinfoil bag that his Papa Burger came in. “And Nike is a play on her middle name, Nicole.”
Diana nudged Aislinn’s elbow with her own as she took a bite of her sandwich. “Come on Aislinn, eat. If you eat you probably won’t crash later.”
“Kay,” She pulled open her bag and pulled out her own lunch, turkey sandwich’s, made with leftovers from the dinner she’d had on Saturday, an orange, and a container of veggies and dip.
They ate in silence, no one wanting to intrude on the sacred ritual of High School lunching with inane babble. That and everyone was to busy stuffing their faces and people watching to want to make conversation.
After they’d all finished eating Diana decided it would be fun to play her version of “20 Questions”. You could throw in a few ridiculous questions but most had to be at least semi-serious, questions that helped you learn something about the other person. So it was James asking all of them questions, and the other three all asking James questions.
By the end of the game they had learned that James had never met his mother. He knew he had one but that was as far as their relationship went, all his father really knew about her was that her name was Selene, but that didn’t really help as it was a popular name in the Mediterranean region. He also liked to read classics, and didn’t believe that any genre of music held a higher place than any other, except rap, rap could burn and die in hell.
And James had learned – among other things – that like him Aislinn had never really known a parent, but in her case it was her father, she loved basketball, and walking around in the rain. Drake loved to fix old Junkers, his current project being a ’67 Mustang GT500. Diana lived for art, she would like nothing better than to sit all day in front of her easel and paint or draw.
After their impromptu game they decided to wander around the mall for the last half-hour of lunch and visit a few stores before heading back to school.
They popped into a local game store, where Drake and James debated over which was the better racing game Need for Speed: Underground or Grand Turismo, while Aislinn perused the sport games, and Diana just wandered around.
After the game store they walked further down the mall to Coles, James and Diana ducked in there while Drake and Aislinn walked across the way to the music store. James headed down the classics aisle and picked up a few books for the weekend and Diana went over to the art section to look at what books were there and if any were new.
Over in HMV, Drake and Aislinn were just wandering around looking through the CD’s of their favourite artists and browsing through the movie selection. Drake walked by Aislinn with two CD’s in his hand. “Ahem, I thought you were, and I quote, ‘strapped for cash this week’? What gives?”
“Nike, I’m immortal remember, when am I ever strapped for cash?”
“Yes I know that. But if you come out of the store with CD’s Di is going to wonder where you got the money.” She said the next bit in a hissing whisper, “We can’t tell her we’re not normal remember? Forget the fact that you’re not even human. I’m not sure what your parents would do to you, but I have a pretty good idea of what dad will do to me. I’d rather avoid that fate, thank you very much.”
Drake seemed to be contemplating this, wondering if he would be able to hide the fact that he bought the CD’s. After a few moments of deliberation, he decided not to get them; he could always come back by himself another time and get them. The deciding factor was that he would have to lie to Diana. He was already doing enough of that. “All right you win. I won’t get the CD’s.”
“Good. Thank you. Now let’s go grab the bookworms. We only have about ten minutes until the first tone sounds and we still have to get our books.” She turned and headed out of the store. Drake tossed the CD’s back onto the rack as he followed his friend out of the store.
They joined back up with Diana and James just as they were leaving the bookstore, James with a bag dangling from his hands.
Aislinn peered into the bag, “What did ya get?”
“The Odyssey, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Frankenstein. I already owned Frankenstein but it got lost in the move from Toronto.”
A few minutes later saw the four friends at the corner, waiting once again to cross the street. Drake’s gazed followed a sleek blue '85 corvette as it drove by. It turned into the mall’s back parking lot, and as he was moving his gaze back to the walk signs on the opposite end of the street Drake saw something that made him pause. There just on the other side of the Mall drive way was a Greek warrior, and not just any Greek warrior either. The Greek hero Achilles, in full battle armour, the black horsehair crest shining in the afternoon sun. Drake blinked and shook his head and looked again, but he was gone. He raked a hand through his hair in confusion. ’Man I must be homesick or something. There’s no way a Shade would show up on earth.’ He turned his gaze back to the signs and saw that it was now flashing the little man that signalled it was safe to cross the street.
What Drake didn’t notice was that James had seen the apparition as well, and had been just as confused by it as he had. But he too passed it off as just a hallucination ’Okay that’s the last time I pull an all nighter to read a book. No matter how good the Iliad was, it is not worth having crazy visions of mythical warriors that could rip my throat out in an instant…it’s also time to turn off my imagination.’ He shook his head and followed his new friends across the street to finish the last few hours of school.
Little did they know that Achilles wasn’t an illusion or hallucination. He was just as confused as to why he was there, as they were that they had seen him. The one responsible for it all watched on in glee as his plan started to unfold exactly as it was supposed to, with no one the wiser.