"I'm sorry, professor." I said, clutching the strap of my bag on my shoulder nervously as I became aware of several eyes on me.
She gave me a look through her thick red rimmed glasses, pushing them further up her nose. "Do you realise that you are almost twenty five minutes late to the class?"
"I know, but someone-"
"I don't want excuses. You must not be late to class. Either be on time or don't come at all."
I dropped my gaze from her to the floor. Mrs. Brown was a bit hot headed lady. She was kind and good but she can be scary if she wants. And no one dared to be late to her class. But I was. It just so happened that a girl accidentally spilled her drink all over me before class and I had gone to clean up. And I didn't even hear the bell signalling that Mrs. Brown's class had started.
"If you were a mere five minutes late, it would have been okay, Ms. James but do you realise that you are twenty five minutes late? Twenty five is a lot."
"I-I'm sorry," I stammered, a result of being the centre of attention of many people.
"Well I'm sorry too for I'll have to take one point from your academic performance."
"No!" I burst out. "I mean, Mrs. Brown please no, don't do this. It won't happen again. Please."
"Give me one reason why I shouldn't, Ms. James. Do you realise how worse you performed in the last test?" She asked.
I remained silent. I had done pretty bad in the last test. The concepts weren't easy and I rarely had time to study because of my hectic schedule.
"Do you even remember what is Centimorgan, Aneuploidy, Monosomy and Trisomy? I'm pretty sure you learned it in your AP Biology class in your high school."
I looked at her with a sheepish smile plastered on my face. "Uh, Centimorgan is a...genetic disorder in which a person has four-no, um three copies of a chromosome instead of two," I said unsurely, looking at her hopefully.
"That is Trisomy. Not Centimorgan."
"Oh, um...sorry." I said quickly. Her stare intimidated me and I looked down again at the suddenly interesting patterns on the tiles, hoping she would disappear into thin air.
"You don't know what that is? Two points will be taken away." She said calmly. "Get out of my class."
I looked down at my feet. They were outside the class. "Uh...I am out."
She was glaring at me now and I just stared at her.
"Get out of here." She almost raised her voice. I sighed quietly.
I pulled at the strap of the bag on my shoulder. I looked down at my watch, it is almost one in the afternoon. What was I going to do now?
As if on cue, my stomach growled. I guess I would eat something. As I was too busy cleaning myself up earlier, I hadn't notice that lunch break was over and I needed to get to Mrs. Brown's class. In haste, I decided to skip lunch.
I made my way to the café nearest to my college and bought a sandwich. The café was fancy but whenever I needed to eat I usually just stuck to a small sandwich because all the other dishes on the menu, which looked quite delicious were way too expensive for my liking and I was already struggling to save money and pay off my bills and rent.
As I took a bite of my sandwich, I began typing a message to Olivia out of boredom.
Hey, are you in class?
I set my phone on the table and looked around. The café was almost empty other than a few hungry boys who bunked class. I focussed on my sandwich.
My phone vibrated on the table and I looked at the text Olivia sent me.
Oh. I thought you might've skipped. Sorry, I won't disturb
I'm bored :/ This professor is teaching us something totally alien to me. What are these symbols?
How am I supposed to know? Won't you get caught though?
Like I care. I'd be happy if I get caught actually. I'll be able to escape the class.
And have your points taken off like me?
Oh you got in trouble?
What did you do?
I was twenty five minutes late to class. Someone accidentally spilt their drink on me.
How'd you know?
She's the only one who takes off points for something like this.
I know. Oh, and I want the book you borrowed from me last time.
She didn't reply back for a long time so I assumed that she got caught.
I shoved my phone in my jeans pockets. As I finished my sandwich the bell rang. I walked to my next class.
The professor was not there yet when I entered the class. I walked up to my seat which was at a far corner, away from the lecturer's sight.
There were a lot of students in the class. They were all chatting with their friends. I looked away from their happy faces and took out my book. I was not exactly smart but I got fairly good marks in all the subjects except for Bio cluster/Genetics.
I opened my book and stared at the pages. I was not reading but I didn't want to look at the people around me who were with their friends.
I didn't have any friends except for Olivia, or family. Except for my uncle and aunt, but I didn't live with them.
I had a best friend, Olivia who worked at a café with me. She was like family to me. And then there was Mrs. Odin. She was a kind lady who owned the café I worked at. She treated me like her own daughter and I really loved her. She lost her daughter in a car accident a few years ago. It was something horrible that she recounted to me when I started working at her café a little less than a year ago. She was understanding and I was sure she wouldn't be mad at me for being late today. I considered Olivia and Mrs. Odin my family.
Soon enough the professor entered the class. I paid attention to what she was teaching and took notes.
I watched as she scolded a guy in the class. He talked rudely to her. I hated my classmates. They were all filthy rich unlike me. But that's not why I hated them. It was the way they talked to the others, the way they behaved that angered me. Most of the people didn't talk with me because my status was not as high as their and I was not rich. But it's not like I was poor and starving. Mrs. Odin paid me well. Some of the people were nice enough to be my friends but I could see that they behaved friendly with me because they pitied me. And I didn't want their sympathy, I wanted real friends. I wasn't good at reading people so I couldn't be sure. Maybe my inferiority complex was to be blamed.
The teacher resumed her teaching and after an hour, the class was over.
I made my way out of the class and that was when someone shoved me away from their path. The books in my hand fell down and I turned around to glare at the person who pushed me.
Ashley Johnson walked past me. She didn't notice me glaring at her.
"Can't you walk properly?" I spit out. She turned around.
"You were in my way," She sneered at me. "And oh my God! Did you just touch me?!" She made a horrified face at me.
"I don't touch shitty things. I'm pretty sure you pushed me." I was not like them, but that didn't mean I'll keep my mouth shut when such things happened to me.
"What did you call me?!" She took a step closer and grasped my arm. Her perfectly manicured nails dug into my skin.
"You are a piece of crap. Get your claws off of me." I said and wriggled my hand out of her tight grasp. Her nails were like claws. They hurt my skin where they dug.
"Shut up, you...you bitch!" She released my hand and glared at me. "You deserve what you got."
"What do you mean?"
"I said you deserved what you got. Your parents are dead, you work at a café. I bet my purse costs more than your last paycheck. So keep a distance from me, you little bitch."
I didn't understand what her problem was. She never acted this way with others, even the people who were close to my level in terms of wealth. She was always sweet to everyone else but me. It was like she intentionally wanted to rile me up.
That was enough to crush my self control. My hands balled up into a fist and before I knew, my hand was deposited on her artificially pink and soft cheek. She stumbled back and her minions caught her.
"Don't you dare say anything about my life. You are no one to comment on it." I snapped at her as I saw her struggle to get up without flashing anything. I dashed out of the class without waiting for her reply.
I didn't care what anyone said about me. But things like that hurt. I lost my parents when I was thirteen and then I was adopted by my uncle and aunt. They were really sweet to me and raised me well. But I knew that I was a burden to them. They were poor but they never made me feel like I was short of something. So once I turned eighteen, I rented a small room for myself a bit far away from them and got a job as a waitress at a café. That was where I met Olivia and Mrs. Odin. That was almost an year and ten months ago when I was a freshman in college and had just recently turned eighteen. My uncle and aunt moved back to countryside house.
And how could Ashley talk to me like that? What did I ever do to her? She didn't know how it felt to be without one's parents and I hoped she wouldn't have to experience that. It was the most painful thing for me, losing my parents. But I wouldn't let her get to me. I was strong, I knew I was.
Now that college was over, I had to go to the café. My school was not that far away from the café, it was just a twenty minute walk. I reached the café at around 4:16 in the afternoon. I saw Olivia behind the counter, taking a customer's order. I opened the door of the cafe, hearing the bell chime above it and walked towards her.
"Hey, took you quite some time," Olivia said, smiling at me as I came and stood next to her.
"Did you get caught using your phone?"
"Yeah, and got kicked out of the class because of it."
"Good for you."
"It was. I swear one more minute into the class and I would have thrown a chair at that professor."
I chuckled and shook my head.
"Anyways I'll do the cleaning today. You do the registers. Don't make any mistakes."
I nodded at her and got to work. There weren't many customers. By the end of the day, I was done with the records and even got some time to study.
That was the good part of having this part time job, I got loads of free time even when I was at work. And also I was paid quite well. But the timings were so long. I worked at the café from four in the afternoon to nine in the night.
"Julie," Olivia called from behind me.
I turned around. She was done with her work too and was leaning against the counter, a coffee cup in her hand. She took a sip, her tongue sliding over her lips as she wiped the coffee off of her lips.
"You know my friend, Wilma. Her birthday is this Saturday. She is throwing a big party for it and she invited me. You should come too."
Olivia was a party animal. She loved parties. However, I didn't. I hated parties because it made me feel uncomfortable and out of place, and all that I saw at parties was loud music, people dancing like there was no tomorrow and alcohol. It was really not my choice of fun.
"I can't, Liv. I don't like parties. You know that. But don't worry, you can go with your other friends," I said and saw her face fall.
"No one else is free for the night. Don't worry, its not a high school type party. Please, come on. We won't be there for long, just a couple of hours. Please, for me." She gave me the puppy eyes.
"No. I have to study. Why don't you go alone?"
"It would be very awkward for me. I don't know anyone but her in her entire family! I won't leave your side ever. I'll stick with you all the time. You'll be completely okay. Don't worry. Please." She pleaded.
Why was she so desperate to go to that party? Didn't she ever go to one?
I knew how Olivia was. She didn't give up unless she got what she wanted. She was a headache for me sometimes.
"Please. Just for a few hours. We'll be back before eleven. You won't regret going. Please!"
I sighed. No matter how much I hated parties, no matter how much I would say no to her, I knew she'd get her way around me eventually.
"Fine. But like you promised, just for a few hours, we should be back before eleven. You'll stick by my side all the time. Got it?"
She nodded her head excitedly. "Yes, yes!"
"Good," I said and she turned back to leave when I suddenly remembered the most important thing that I should tell her.
"Liv!" I called out. She turned around with curious eyes.
"And no, I mean absolutely no drinking."
"What? No way. I'm gonna drink a bit. Who says no to free drinks?" She whined after me as I turned to leave. No way in hell would I allow her to drink.
"Nope." I said.
She kept on whining but I ignored her and walked towards my apartment.