Okay, Tessa, you can do this, breathe.
The death warrant sat in front of me like an omen of horrific luck. I could not look away because, if I did, it might just swallow me whole. There was a fine line between strategic bravery and chaotic idiocy, and I, for one, was leaning towards the latter.
My eye twitched in trepidation, and for one moment, I questioned whether I was making a correct decision or not. However, the very nature of the situation demanded that I decide on a path and stick to it--so that is what I did. Taking a deep breath, I slowly lowered my hand, touching the tip of my weapon of war to the paper before me.
Writing down my answer, I moved on to the next question on the geometry quiz.
Geometry and I have had a hate-love relationship for many, many months. No matter how hard I try, how much I struggle, or how often I visit the textbook from hell, there is no chance I would ever graduate Geometry with a grade higher than a B. With the luck that seemed to follow me since birth, it was most likely that the day I received a phenomenal grade in mathematics would be the same day that the world ends.
With every question that was answered, the ticking of the clock became louder in my hearing. The knowledge that there were mere minutes left before the resounding bell would echo throughout the classrooms of the school’s main building, thus signaling the end of the quiz was foreboding, to say the least. I knew there was no way I could ace this quiz--much like all the other quizzes in this class--so I elected to guess on the multiple-choice and taking my chances. My battle with plane shapes and measurements continued for the next ten minutes. I wrote answers, erased them, and wrote them again. This process went on for quite a while, might I say.
Write down the answer.
Erase said answer in anxiousness.
Give yourself a little, pathetic pep talk that maybe, somehow, your answer that wasn’t even one of the four answers could possibly be correct.
Write the (most likely, incorrect) answer again.
Repeat this process once more on the next question.
This meticulous method of failure continued until Mr. Gregory slammed his hand down on his desk as he stood up, making almost everyone in the classroom jump.
While there were the people who were finished and waiting for the noise, and then those who were sleeping, there were also many who were still focused on the quiz. I was one of those sad, forgotten souls still focused on the quiz.
“Miss Hale!” Mr. Gregory exclaimed, slamming his palm on my desk and drawing a surprised yelp from within me. Had anyone asked me how I felt in that moment, I would have told them that I could have sworn a little bit of my soul left my body.
“Oh my god!” I gasped as I leaned back in my seat as far as I could and placed a hand over my ever-panicking heart.
“I said...” Mr. Gregory leaned down, invading my personal bubble and totally sticking his butt in the face of the kid who sat next to me. Rest in peace, fallen brethren. “Put your pencils down and hand in your quiz,” he gritted out, looking at me as if I was some random moth that was caught gnawing a hole in his favorite jacket.
Understanding that this man could very well doom whatever mediocre grades were within my possession, I audibly gulped and nodded, staring at my lap and clenching my hands together tightly. “I-I’m sorry sir, I didn’t hear you,” I mumbled softly, hoping he would get out of my personal space as quickly as possible.
“You better hope that was the issue!” He asserted with a firm nod of his head. “If this happens during the next quiz, Miss Hale, you will be guaranteed a spot in detention. Understood?”
I only nodded my head once more, whispering a small ‘of course, Sir’ as I wanted nothing more than to find a herd of stampeding bison under which I could throw myself.
“Glad we are on the same page, then,” Mr. Gregory finished as he began the short walk back to the front of the square classroom.
“Mr. Gregory, you really should stop picking on girls and getting in their face like that, people will think you’re a pedophile,” a deep voice chirped from the back of the class.
All eyes in the room turned to gaze at the raven-haired boy with azure eyes that had dared to quip at our temper-driven teacher. Will Chantry lounged comfortably at his desk with his legs perched up on top of it and his hands extended to hold the back of his head.
“What did you just say?” Mr. Gregory demanded, marching down the aisle as he stared down the unafraid looking teenager.
Will yawned after the teacher’s question, and a low sigh followed the tired motion. His head tilted to the side in a rather mischievous way as his eyes narrowed slightly.
“I said you should stop getting so comfortable with teenage girls,” the young man contended, slouching even further in his seat as his unwavering gaze focused solely on Mr. Gregory.
Mr. Gregory scoffed as he scowled at Will. “Mr. Chantry, such accusations are not only obscene and outrageous but are very dangerous if so frivolously thrown around. Please be aware of your location and the words that you use.” The teacher’s voice was cold and sharp, almost as if he was expecting Will to lash out at any moment.
Will’s eyes flickered to me before looking up at the strangely and uncharacteristically calm Mr. Gregory. “I’m pretty sure we were all taught not to live by double-standards. I should be aware of my place? I am not the middle-aged high school teacher who is invading the personal space of a teenage girl who obviously was uncomfortable with your actions.”
If life were a cartoon, there would be steam blowing out of Mr. Gregory’s ears right now.
“How dare you make such claims about me. I would never do anything to harm one of my students. You’re just doing this for attention--”
Will got to his feet, standing four inches taller than the five-foot-eleven old man.
“You need to get this through your stubborn, thick-headed skull, Mr. Gregory. My father is a prosecution attorney who would have no issues putting a dirty-minded teacher away for a few years. I’m not saying you are a pedophile, Sir, I am just warning you how things may look to your superiors if they ever saw such behavior.”
Before much else could be said, the bell rang that signaled the end of class. I quickly packed my belongings in my bag and hurried out the door, wanting to get out of that terrible-awful room.
I went to my locker a few halls down and spun the dial to unlock it. After shoving my Geometry notes in the metal box, I pulled out the text for my next class--English 11. I shut the door, only to let out a small shriek and jump back in surprise.
There, leaning on the locker next to mine, was Will Chantry. I stared at him for a moment, my eyes wide in shock at the fact that one of the few actually popular people in my school was talking to me. It wasn’t that he was a “plastic” per se, rather, he was an athletic, smart, good-looking guy. That combination of characteristics was apparently enough to make someone popular. The fact that he was talking to me, a person who has had a total of two friends her entire life, was a little bit of a shock.
I even rubbed my eyes to see if I was somehow hallucinating in a post-stress panic attack.
Magically, I was not hallucinating, and Will Chantry was standing before me, casually smiling at me as if we had always been good friends.
“Hey,” he greeted calmly, his arms crossed against his chest.
I opened my mouth to speak, but couldn’t find the words. All that came out was this pathetic excuse of a sentence...
“Uh... I... Uh... Um...” I struggled to say.
Smooth, Tessa, real smooth indeed.
His lips quirked up in a slight smirk at my pathetic reaction, and I caught the tiny moment in which his eyes glanced downward, below my neck. The annoyance rose in my throat before anything else, and I couldn’t help the sneer that grew on my lips.
Looks like no one is really that good.
With a roll of my eyes, I scoffed at his blatant checking out of my breasts and turned around, ready to walk away and never think about the boy again.
What a douche. He had so much going for him up until that point, I thought in disappointment and disgust, wishing that there was some way I could meet a boy who didn’t think mainly with his dick.
I stopped in my steps when I felt his hand on my arm.
“Where do you think you’re going?” He inquired in an entitled manner, pulling my shoulder and spinning me back around to face him.
“Um... class,” I said in a ’duh’ tone, raising my eyebrows at him and tilting my head as I waited for whatever it was that he would have to say. Judging by how smart he acted with the teacher, I knew that he thought his words were gold and a blessing to whoever listened.
I really should walk away while I can, I thought in consideration, pursing my lips as the tempting idea crossed my mind.
He rolled his eyes as if what I replied with was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. “I mean,” Will clarified, “where do you think you’re going without making sure I was done with you.”
I looked at him, speechless, only blinking my eyes as I tried to figure out if I had just heard him correctly. It was as if he had spoken a language that I was barely fluent in, and the words were just taking a terrifically long time to process.
He’s joking, right?
“I’m probably going to regret asking this,” I replied slowly, “but why should I care if you’re done or not?” It was so tempting to flip my hair and walk away, to ignore his existence and pray I never had to talk to him again. However, that would be rude, and my mother raised a kind person—for the most part.
“You should care because I defended you back there,” he informed, crossing his arms as I looked at me expectantly. Despite the fact that he had just become, potentially, the most annoying person I had ever met in public school, I breathed deeply to avoid saying something that against the faith my mother passed onto me.
Be nice, Tessa, I told myself firmly, trying to hold back the snapping comment that he quite obviously deserved.
“Fine,” I conceded as I adjusted the backpack strap on my shoulder, “you’re right. It was rude of me to walk away like that.” Will nodded his head at what I was saying but appeared to be caught off-guard at my following words and actions. “So thanks for the defense.”
Before he could respond to what I said, I shouldered past him and began to walk away, hoping he would just accept the words of gratefulness and leave me alone. Unfortunately, we don’t all get what we want, so before I could get too far, I heard his footsteps before I heard his words.
“Hey! Wait!” He exclaimed from behind me. I knew I shouldn’t have looked—after all, the best way to get rid of annoying people is to ignore them until they get the message. However, I must have drunk too much idiot-juice when I woke up that morning, so I slowed my walk to glance over my shoulder. Just as I did so, Will scurried up to walk beside me.
“Wow,” I muttered sarcastically as disappointment filled my emotions. “I’m really touched. The Will Chantry has graced me with his presence today.”
I could have jumped onto a moving freeway, I was so fricken overjoyed.
He barked out a laugh that was not only loud but also right next to my fricken ear. “Princess, please,” Will teased as if we were somehow friends, “we both know you love every minute in which you get to talk to me.”
I blinked as I stared forward, trying to process the words that were spoken to me.
Princess? Love? He must be mistaking me for someone else, I reasoned, not believing that a boy could be this forward with a girl that he just met. There is just no way that he thinks it’s okay to talk to me like this.
Taking one quick glance at the black-haired boy beside me, I realized that yes, William Chantry actually meant the words that he said.
To say I was shook would be the understatement of the century.
Deciding to stop hesitating and speak my mind was perhaps the best decision I could have made. This is mainly because if I didn’t speak up at that moment, I would hate myself later for remaining pliant.
“Two things here Prince Charming. One,” I held up one finger before poking his chest roughly, “don’t call me princess. I’m not some pampered poodle and even if I were, you don’t know me enough to give me any nickname. Two: I couldn’t care less if you wanted to talk to me or not, so, don’t get your hopes up, buddy.”
Despite the obvious rejection that was directed towards him, it all apparently went right over his dense head. “Yea, whatever you say, Princess.”
I huffed and stomped my foot, glaring up into Will’s bright blue eyes. “Don’t call me that,” I snapped vehemently, sneering at him as I waited for him to use the name one more time.
Somehow, he caught on to the fact that I was at my limit. This was apparent when Will lifted his hands into the air as if he was somehow declaring his own innocence. I narrowed my eyes at him as he slowly backed away, never losing eye contact with me.
“Alright, alright,” he conceded calmly. I huffed once more before standing straight and brushing back the small pieces of hair that had escaped my ponytail. As I turned around, I thought it was all over.
I should have known better.
“I’ll see you later, Princess,” calls after me, and although I spun around as quickly as possible, Will was nowhere to be seen. I growled underneath my breath, wishing I could just launch my shoe across the hallway and magically smack the smug boy in the face.
With a shake of my head and a sigh, I adjusted the strap on my shoulder once more as I walked the other direction, hoping I would be able to explain to my teacher why I was more than likely late—again.