Chapter 9: Max and I set the table on fire with our chemistry
“All I can do is follow my instincts because I’ll never please everyone.”
- Emma Watson.
April Hawkins had taken a leave from the school regarding her ‘severe’ injuries, which were not severe at all.
The gravy had been lukewarm not scalding hot. Anyways, who was I to judge? The reason I mentioned the tidbit news? Well, apparently the rest of the week went bully-free for me.
Everything progressed just as it was supposed to. I and the girls enjoyed our time together. Meghan was loud, Beth was dirty and Violet was simply clumsy. We made a great group. Damon became overly sweet to me. And I continued irritating Max.
Everyone was happy.
Except, maybe, Max.
I was sitting in the chem lab beside Max on Friday. Mr. James had instructed us to carry out an experiment. Since our table was in the front row he had kept some chemicals in front of us. There was a petri dish with a paste of potassium permanganate and concentrated sulphuric acid.
I was about to perform the designated experiment when Max hesitantly spoke up, “Hey Crystal, can I ask you something?”
“Sure” I muttered distractedly cleaning the test tube.
“Uhhh” Max did not speak.
I looked up at him, brows furrowing,” You can ask me anything. I won’t get irritated.” I told him while adding some ethanol through a squeezy bottle into my test tube. He took a deep breath.
“Are you a lesbian?” he asked in a slow tone.
It took me a second to register his words, but when they did register I looked at him, my mouth agape.
“What?!” I asked in an incredulous tone.
Max looked sheepish. I had pressed the bottle too tight and ethanol was overflowing from the test tube. Naturally, it slipped from my hand and the ethanol spilled on the petri dish.
Before my shock addled brain could make any other decision, Max grabbed me by my waist and pulled me down far away from the table; the same table, which spontaneously burst into huge flames turning my notes into ash and the other lab chemicals into a fizzling mess
I was gaping; Max was covering my head and the flames burned brighter.
I could feel the immense heat emanating and the smell of burning chemicals singed my nose. The whole class erupted into chaos.
Mr. James gave out a war cry (I have no idea what to call it other than a war cry) and lunged towards the fire extinguisher. Heroically, he sprayed the contents of the fire extinguisher on the burning table simultaneously drenching me and Max in white foam.
The whole incident took place in seconds.
Some people were backed against the farthest point of the lab, gaping. Others had escaped the class altogether. Mr. James was huffing due to his exaggerated performance. Max was still holding me tight against his chest, his heart thundering through his white uniform shirt, his dark fringe covered in white foamy powder.
“Are you okay?” he asked with concern filled eyes. I looked at him.
Blinked. Looked at the destruction havocked on my books and my table. Looked back at him.
“No,” I said. His eyes started searching all over my face.
“NO, I AM NOT A LESBIAN.” I hissed pushing against him.
“You idiot!!! Are you quite mental?!” I whisper yelled at him.
“You are not hurt?” he asked a slight furrow to his eyebrows, altogether dismissing my rage.
“Hurt?! I am freaking mad!!!” I hissed at him
“Mr. Wester and Ms. Winget follow me to the principal’s chamber.” my tirade was thus interrupted by an enraged Mr. James.
I promptly closed my mouth and threw a deadly glare at Max who just raised his brows in question.
Mr. James stomped in front of us obviously expecting us to follow him, I scrambled to keep up. Seconds later, I was joined by Max striding beside me with his hands in his pockets as if he had done this a thousand times. I was still mad at him though.
“Why the hell did you ask me that question?”
He shrugged. The audacity!
“Answer me, you idiot!”
“Ms. Winget it would be better if you quietly followed me.” Mr. James frowned at me.
And just like a chided kid, I looked down at the floor and walked silently, embarrassment slowly filling my veins.
“Wait here.” Mr. James said with a hand on the door marking the Principal’s Office.
I stood against the wall looking down at the floor. Thoughts of mom being called to school chilled my spine. I had no intention of being a difficult child, but this accident would put me in deep trouble. Another thought entered my mind, what if they expel me?
Red lights started blaring in my head and a thousand more miserable thoughts came into my head. I wanted to cry, I would have too if Max was not sitting in one of the waiting chairs calmly going through his Instagram feed.
“You know you can sit here, right?” Max said.
“I don’t want to sit,” I replied in a timid voice.
I imagined my mom’s face filling up with disappointment. This was such a crap situation. Vaguely I registered the fact that Max’s head snapped up at my tone.
“Crystal? Are you okay?” he asked in a concerned voice.
I would have spat out the automated response but I was too depressed.
“Why did you ask if I was a lesbian?” I asked.
He did not respond.
I narrowed my eyes and asked the same question again but with much more hardness, “why did you ask if I was a lesbian?”
He sighed and responded, “Because I wanted to?”
“Why does it matter? Even if I was a lesbian, why does it matter to you? Wait, do you not want to work beside a lesbian? Are you a homophobe? Gods, if you are a homophobe then you are the most backward minded guy I have ever-"
“Fuck! I am not a homophobe, I just asked because you hardly...” he trailed off.
“Hardly what? Answer me, Max.” I used a stern voice.
He sighed again, “I just asked because you hardly pay attention to guys. I mean you don’t even give proper attention to Damon. And you practically irritate me, no girl does that. You were supposed to fall for me, not irritate me.” he finished.
“So wait a second. You thought I was a lesbian because I did not pay enough attention to you?”
He flinched, “well that came out wrong-”
“You expect me to squeal and giggle and blush every time you looked at me?” I said, my anger rising. Max had the audacity to nod.
“Why you filthy slimy bloodsucking leech-”
“No need to insult like that.”
“Oh right. Why should I insult the leech? You are a conceited little brat who obviously thinks of himself as some ...some god...who should be worshipped by us the LESSER HUMANS and-”
“Stop it. Enough. I did not mean it like that.” He raised his hands in a placating motion.
“Mr. Wester and Ms. Winget, come in.” Mr. James peeped out of the office. I clamped my lips shut and lingered back so max would go first.
“You go first.” I nudged Max towards the office.
“So obviously that means you first,” I told Max pushing him towards the door. He threw me a ferocious glare that I shrugged off.
“No, you first.”
“Ms. Winget! Get in.” Mr. James told me tersely, holding the door open.
I quietly slipped in, all the while my eyes glued to the floor. Ice cold air and the faint smell of leather dominated the room. Behind the neat mahogany desk, the principal looked at us. Our principal was a woman with motherly features. We went and stood in front of her and Mr. James left us.
“Crystal Winget and Maxwell Wester. I think you know the reason why you are called here?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I choked out in a timid voice, my eyes trained on the paperweight on her desk.
“We accidentally burned our chemistry lab. Ma’am.” Max spoke in a firm voice.
“Are you sure it was an accident?” the principal fixed us with her laser eyes and I was again reminded that she had the power to expel me from school. My feet became unnaturally cold through the socks.
“Yes ma’am,” Max spoke.
“Tell me what happened. According to you.”
The ‘you’ in her sentence made it very clear that if I made some bull reason, then she would definitely kick me out. Closing my eyes tightly I exhaled once.
“ma’am? It was my fault.” I muttered in a soft voice, cutting her off from the glaring competition she had set up with Max.
They both obviously did not like each other.
“Oh?” she said cutting another glance towards Max.
“Yes, ma’am. Maxwell asked me which chemical I was using and I got startled, so I accidentally poured more chemicals into the test tube which then slipped off my hand and fell on the table. But some of the liquid fell on the petri dish Mr. James had prepared. And...uhm...it exploded.” I ended my explanation.
The principal was glaring daggers at max and then she looked at me.
A wave of disappointment flooding over her face, “I did not expect such carelessness from you, Ms. Winget.”
Expect...I clamped my lips on the sob that tried to wrestle out of me. “I’m sorry ma’am. I promise I will never repeat it.” I replied in a watery voice.
“It was all Mr. James’ fault. He should not have left an explosive chemical mixture on our table. We are students and accidents are bound to happen.” Max said in a bored tone.
The principal slowly turned her gaze towards him.
“Now it is Mr. James’ fault?” she asked him with sarcasm dripping in her tone.
“Yes ma’am.” Max spat out.
“We are sorry ma’am. This mistake will never be repeated in the future. We won’t give you a chance to complain.” I quickly inserted before Max ended up in a fight with the principal.
The principal cut a glance towards me and then slowly leaned back on her chair.
“Both of you will serve detention for a week...An hour before school starts.” She added the last part when Max opened his mouth ready to retort.
“And Ms. Winget since you have been responsible for the accident, you will have to pay a fine.” She said filling two slips with green ink. A fine? I started counting all the money I saved this month. I cannot ask mom to pay, because she will obviously be withdrawing money from Brad’s pocket.
“Pay a fine of 500 dollars by Monday morning.” She said in a dismissive tone.
“500?!” I gasped and then covered my mouth with both my hands as max looked at me in question. Of course, it wouldn’t matter to him, he probably used 500 just on his shoes!
“Mr. Wester you may leave. Ms. Winget, we need to talk.” A bone-chilling tremble passed through me at the principal’s word. Max exited the room quickly.
“Ms. Winget, I know you are an excellent student. You have even applied to some of the best colleges, right?”
“Yes, ma’am. ”
“Ms. Winget, I highly recommend you to stay away from Mr. Wester. I have had enough of seeing some of my best girls becoming a mess. Please do not get involved with him. Boys like him spell trouble. It’s advice, Ms. Winget. You are in no manner forced to obey it.”
“Yes ma’am.” The principal smiled her motherly smile at me and I quickly got out of the office.
The warmth of the hallway was consoling. My brain had shut off after I heard 500 dollars. How the hell will I explain this to my mom?! That’s when I saw Max leaning casually against the wall and looking at me.
“We are dismissed for the rest of the day,” Max muttered and started walking out.
“You are going to pay half of this fine,” I tell him.
He raised a brow, “the principal said that?”
“No. but it’s partially your fault. So you are paying half the amount.” I crossed my arms in front of my chest.
He just stared at me, “no I won’t.”
He started striding towards the corridor leading to the parking lot. Miraculously someone had dropped our bags out. So I picked my bag up and scrambled behind him.
“Yes, you are going to pay the money,” I said slowly and firmly.
“It’s partially my fault.” He said quoting me, “but entirely your fault.” He said bounding on the stairs that lead to the student’s parking.
“If you hadn’t asked me such a stupid question, I would not have spilled ethanol and none of this would have occurred.”
“so it’s your fault.” Max retorted reaching a sleek black BMW and opening its door. I closed the door quickly. He glared at me. I glared back at him.
“Don’t irritate me crystal.” He said exasperatedly running a hand through his dark locks.
“Pay half the fine and I won’t irritate you, Max” I said sweetly. He narrowed his eyes infinitesimally.
“No” and then he yanked the door open, slid into the white leather in one fluid motion, and revved the engine.
“Max. You are paying half the sum.” I said rapping my knuckles on the window of his car.
He looked at me and then drove off. I gaped at his retreating car and raised my hands. What an impossible jerk! He left while I was talking.
I stomped my foot and then trudged towards the gate to walk back home.
Please continue reading the story and liking it.