Black Magic - Chapter 1 (Revised)


by:  A. J. Odom



Chapter 1


            I had always been told the four years of high school was supposed to be the best years of my life.  I heard it so often I had started to get sick of hearing it.  Even with all that was said, my senior year was supposed to be the best.  It was supposed to be the one year all of the fantasies I had while in the lower grades were supposed to come true.  Those fantasies had mostly come from the books I had read or the movies I had seen, and after everything that I had been told, read, or fantasized, I had come to one conclusion.  All of them lied.  The best year of my life was not supposed to start this way, my first day in a brand new school.  I was apprehensive going to sleep the night before, and my first waking moments did nothing to inspire confidence.

            “Val,” my mom’s voice sounded from what seemed to be an eternity away. 

            Of course I didn’t move.  All I wanted was one more hour. 

            “Val.  Get your ass up.” 

            I lifted up my head, opened my eyes, and the first thing I saw was my mom standing in the door of my room.  God, did she have to look so hateful in the morning?    My mom was a very beautiful woman or a beautiful African American woman as she would have said.  I could only wish I looked as good as her when I get to be her age.  However, she was very much a no nonsense woman.  I guess she don’t get to be the first black female partner in a stuffy law firm being wishy-washy.  There she was standing in the doorway, looking at me like I was the scum of the earth.  She still looked great though.  How could she look that good getting out of the shower?  Not that I was about to get an answer.

            “It’s about time,” she started.  “Do you have to have that alarm so loud?   You slept through the damn thing anyway.  You’re as bad as your knucklehead brother.  This is not going to become routine every morning. You hear me?”  Leave it to my mom to be all professional when giving the standard black mom smack down.  She then broke into her trade mark grin while taking a look at the painting above my bed.  “Breakfast is in one hour.  I’ll see you then.”  She left then to finish her morning ritual of getting up my brother. 

            I turned to look at the painting above my bed that my mom seems always take a look at whenever she is in my room.  It was done by her best friend supposedly when she was pregnant with me.  It’s a pretty good painting, but I didn’t get it.  I mean it looked nice.  An African woman who had the ability to manipulate the elements, but she really didn’t look African.  Her skin wasn’t dark enough.  Sure that is stereotyping in its basic form, but caramelized brown skin is not how most people would say that an African woman would look like, myself included.  Then again she was supposed to look exactly like me, so maybe I’m a little too close to the subject to be giving any kind of opinion on the matter.

            I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the picture, however.  I had to make myself presentable for the first day of school.  Of course, I would spend the whole hour getting ready.  It would be so damn embarrassing to show up looking a hot mess when I work at Areopostale.  Well, to be truthful, I didn’t take the whole hour.  There was no way in hell that I was going to not be downstairs in an hour.  The day was already going to be trying enough. The one thing I did not need was Mom’s wrath for the entire morning.  I had seen enough with my brother. 

             I made my way downstairs in something simple: jeans, a black shirt, and sandals.  There was no need to go overboard.  I was sure that I looked good enough to turn heads, even though I had no idea what I was up against or whose head I could be turning.  Then again, I’ve heard that I filled out in all the right places.  Teenage boys can be so crass. 

            “Good morning, honey,” My dad greeted me.  “How is my angel?  Looking forward to today?”  Of course, he and my brother were already there.  God forbid if any of us showed up later than Mom. 

            “About as much as a root canal,” I replied while kissing him on the cheek.   That was not a regular occurrence.

            “Well, at least you look pretty,” he said.  I grinned in response.

            “Of course she does,” my brother quipped.  “It’s to hide how much of a spaz she really is.”

            “Spaz?  Did you just call me a spaz?  I’m sure you’ll have a promising career in hip-hop,” I retorted.  Sarcasm had always been my specialty.

            “Well, if that’s because of her grades, I’d rather her be a spaz,” Mom said as she entered the dining room. She always had this uncanny ability of being able to hear through thick walls.  She continued, “You have me wanting to call the Food and Commercial Workers Union.  I’m afraid my only son is going to be a long time dues paying member, since it looks like he’ll be working at Ralph’s for the next thirty years.”

              The look on my brother’s face was priceless.  If only black people could turn red.

            However, Mom was not done.  “Oh, and while you’re here, I don’t want any of those fast ass girls in this house.  I might have kids who are old enough to have kids of their own, but I’m way too young to be a grandmother.”  There was no indication that she was joking..

Again, here she is with the black mother smack down.    However, in her defense, my brother’s ambition to become a successful hip-hop artist had become quite tiring.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had any kind of talent.  I’d heard way too much and he sounded like someone from Laguna Beach trying gangster rap.  He sure tried to look the part.  The type of girls he had running around our old condo had the place looking like a Ludacris video, even though the girls looked like the girl in the one Destiny’s Child video where the girl was walking around scantily dressed while twirling a string of gum between her teeth and her fingers causing her to predictably fall on her face.  I had always thought Ludacris had a lot better taste in women, and I liked Ludacris.  I didn’t know how my brother can afford it since Mom refused to pay for any of it, but I took the tone of what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me.  Besides, not knowing anything would make it difficult to be issued a subpoena if he ever got charged with a felony.  

My brother had started to protest when a quick, “You heard your mom,” coming from Dad stopped him in his tracks.  This was the Robinson family morning ritual at it’s finest

It was the only time during the day when all four of us sat down to enjoy a meal together.  That must be the norm when your dad is a pediatrician and your mom is a high priced lawyer.  Mom had always been mindful to have at least one meal together.  I think that she had read somewhere that if we didn’t; my brother and I would grow up to be criminals.  Since she basically wore the pants in this family, no one argued.  It was actually a good thing.  No matter how much we joked around and kidded with each other, we always seemed to get along like a family.

We had moved to Spring Hill, some little northern San Diego County town that didn’t even show up on a map, at the end of the last school year, my junior year.  Denise Sharon Robinson, known as Dee to all of her girlfriends, had just made partner the past January.  Dr.  Benjamin Robinson had won the Head of Pediatrics position at La Jolla General the previous November.  My parents had always wanted a big house and to move away from the city, but were nice enough to let me and my brother finish out the school year at Roosevelt High instead of moving us in the middle of the year.  If I had my way, they would have waited another year all together, but that was beside the point.  Or was it?  My parents were never one to just give us anything.  My brother and I had done chores, and we rode the bus or trolley to school.  We didn’t live a big life of luxury, with the exception of the Downtown condo that we lived in, it was huge. Mom had always been adamant about us going to public school, and living like most black kids in San Diego.  I went to school with middle-class and lower class kids even though my brother and I were anything but.

That all changed once Mom made partner.  Maybe, it was as a reward to themselves for all of the years of hard work.  God knew they deserved it.  My mother was the first African American woman hired at her firm.  It was not a shock to anyone that she had a lot to prove.  Dad, being a pediatrician in La Jolla, had it a little worse off.  No one wanted a young black man to look after their kids.  Of course, no one would claim racial prejudice, but people were always different when it came to things that would affect their children.  Dad stuck with.  He loved kids and had decided not to go for the glamour, which I was always lead to believe was surgery.  My parents were all about hard work, and it certainly paid off.

This made it all the more surprising that they bought me a BMW after we moved.  Now I have to still pay for the gas and general upkeep of the car.  That was why I held my job, something most people my age and who share the same living conditions would balk at.  Gas was not cheap, and it was the one thing I was worrying about as I drove to school, brother in tow.   The drive was pretty much uneventful, but when in the high priced desert nothing can be expected except one hundred degree heat in September.  Springhill High was a lone building in the sand.  Believe it or not, I could still smell the ocean when I parked my car.  Then again, San Diego County is basically the coast and then desert.  Grass did last very long here.  Neither did people for that matter.  Springhill High was populated by about nine hundred students.  Not exactly what I was use to, but, I was not use to spending the first several minutes of my senior year trying to figure out where my locker was located either.  Getting out of the car, my first thought was how I did not know a single face in the parking lot, and that was seriously depressing.  None of my girls from the track team to laugh with.  None of the boys from the football or basketball team to fantasize about.  Only totally unknown faces and not a single one of them was black.   I must have missed them.  Hopefully I would run into some later.  Right then, it was just to time dive into deep waters.  My brother had long since taken off going for God only knew where.

I took my first step inside, and looked around trying to get some bearing on where my locker was supposed to be.  My mom had gotten my brother and me a map when we had registered, but I had long since thrown it in the trash.  I couldn’t understand it then, and that hadn’t changed.  Besides, the architect who designed this place must have been on some good crack.  No person in their right mind would slap buildings together like this.  However, the place did have the southern California suburban feel.  It was basically an outdoor mall with classrooms instead of ridiculously high priced clothing stores. 

I had no idea where I was supposed to be going.  I was just turning corners with no lockers in sight.  After about my fifth clueless turn, I heard a voice that I recognized.

“Val!” said the obviously female voice. 

I turned and instantly smiled when I saw Angelica Hernandez, my new best friend, at least for the next five minutes.  Angel and I first met at the store where we both work.  We became fast friends working those long daytime hours in the store when no one under the age of thirty-five seemed to make their way into the place unless they were looking for a job.  She’d been living in Spring Hill for a while, but was originally from Texas.  Her dad worked in upper management in some high-end, downtown hotel.  She was basically what people would call a sultry Mexican.  Many a time on our breaks at the mall would guys just drool over her.  Mexicans speaking Spanish in Southern California were a dime a dozen, but Angel? Well, not so much.  It was quite comical when older Hispanic ladies would come in the store, take a look at Angel, and would start to speak to her in Spanish.  Angel would look absolutely clueless.  I would have to step in, and the one question I was always asked was how can Angel claim to be a Mexican this close to the border and not speak Spanish.  I have never asked Angel that question, and since I put such a high value on my life, I figured I had better not ask.

“I bet you’re glad to see me,” she said walking towards me.  I was surprised I could even hear her; the hallway was so damn loud.  “I got tired of watching you walk in circles after the seventh time.  It’s good for you I persuaded Caleb to pick me up early.  I figured you could use my help.” 

“Where is Caleb?” I asked with thinly veiled suspicion.  For the record, Caleb was Angel’s boyfriend.  I’d heard enough about him, but had yet to meet him.  I was starting to think he didn’t exist.  Considering the stories she’s told of his staying power, my suspicions were warranted.

“Oh, he’s in his truck with the rest of his buds.  His first class is not until second period.”  My suspicion went unnoticed, or ignored, something she was good at.  “He’s looking forward to meeting you.”

“I can’t wait.”

“This is about you.  I’ve been here before.  Let’s find you locker.  I’m sure the secretary is sick of seeing you.”

“Very funny.”

We start walking down a hall that I had passed multiple times, while I take a look at the people.  The people were like I’ve seen on all of the shows.  Everyone is mostly well dressed, and they look like money.  On the other hand, it’s the same as any high school across America.  Freshman walking around looking lost, check.  Drummers from the school band beating on anything they could find, check.  Mean Girls standing around gossiping, big check.  The school was very clean, and walking around with Angel, I started to get a little more comfortable.  Of course, some of the stares I received were unnerving.  I couldn’t tell if the guys were checking me out, or if they had never seen a black person before.  Didn’t these people watch television?  We did exist outside hip-hop videos.

We found my locker rather quickly, and I said as much to Angel. 

She responded, “Be glad you’re a senior.  All of our lockers are centrally located.  If you were a freshman, I don’t even think I could’ve helped you find it.”

“Let me guess.  They are all trifling in comparison.”

“You said it not me.”

“Well, spare me the details.  I can only imagine.  Is there anything else that I need to know?”

“Well, what is your first class?”

“English.   The teacher is Ross.”

“Ouch.  Let’s head that way.  I’ve heard the rumors about her.  You’re in for a dozy of a first class.  We’ve only got a few minutes before class starts anyway.”

“What you mean no homeroom?”

“Homeroom?  Was your last school stuck in the stone ages?  I haven’t had a homeroom since fifth grade.”

“Sorry to be so behind the times.  I’ll remember that the next time you ask me for fashion advice.”  I finish fiddling around in my locker and we got going.  “Thanks for walking me to my class.  God knows where I would have ended up.”

“Don’t get use to it.  American Law is close by.  You’re on your own until lunch.  I can’t hold your hand all day.  Even though, I’m sure some of the freaks would love that.”

We made our way along a route that would be very easy for me to remember.  True to form, Angel was very cordial with everyone.  At first, I was kind of surprised at how well known she was.  I would even to say popular, even though that’s a dangerous thing to say in a high school setting.  Despite what dictionaries said, being popular did not always translate to being liked.  Then, I remembered that she was a cheerleader, and that had its benefits.    She spoke to everyone who spoke to her, basically playing everyone perfectly.  Everyone seemed to like her.  However, I can’t say that she felt the same about everyone else.  As a matter of fact, she let me know the dirt on everyone who mattered. She spared no punches especially for, surprising enough, her fellow rah-rahs.  By her telling, they were even worse then what one would expect of cheerleaders.  She introduced me to people who she felt that I should know, but I got the feeling that she was trying really hard not to go too far.  I got the feeling that she didn’t want to have much competition.  I had no idea why.  She had a man already.  It wasn’t not like I was going to steal him away.  I didn’t even know who he was and just wanted to get through the day without embarrassing myself too much.  We got to Mrs. Ross’ class with about a minute to spare. 

“Well, good luck,” Angel said with an evil grin.  She was having way too much fun with this, and that was going to have to change at the first available opportunity.  It had not escaped me that she never expanded on those supposed rumors about Mrs. Ross.  She changed the subject.  “I’ll see you at lunch.  I’m eating with Caleb.  You might as well join us.  We can go to Calculus afterwards.”

“Oh, yes!  Being the third wheel was always a lifelong dream of mine.”

“Well, do you want to eat by yourself? You don’t exactly have a lot of choices here.”

“Solitude is very healthy at times. You should try it.”

“Solitude is only healthy when my man isn’t around.  It forces me to find other ways to stay occupied.”

“God, are you sure you’re not a dude?  Did I miss noticing your Adam’s apple or did you have it surgically removed?”

“What? I have needs.”  She paused.  “You might want to move or are you going to start charging admission to be allowed into class.”

“I could use the money.  It will soon be four dollars a gallon for gas.”  However, I did move.  My timing was just in time to let a very fine guy pass, a damn good looking one for a white guy.  I mean tall, dark brown hair which was a little too long, green eyed, and very well built.  He could not have been student because he looked about twenty.  Maybe he was, and he had failed some classes.  He even dressed well.  Who would have thought that wearing jeans that actually fit would make a guy look so damn good?  Maybe he even bought them at my store, but I wasn’t stupid enough to try to look and find out.  I knew where the logos were on jeans and was not about to be caught staring at his butt.

Even though, I had moved, he stopped right in his tracks.  Now he was a big dude, but he had plenty of room to get by.  He glanced at me and then turned to Angel.  “If the two of you were charging, I’d gladly pay full price every day.” 

Angel totally turned to mush in front of this guy.  “Oh, you’re so sweet.”  This had better not be the infamous Caleb.  I was going to be so impressed and maybe even a little jealous. She continued, “Be careful what you wish for you just might get it, and gas is pretty expensive.”

“And you really need gas money,” I retorted. “Or you would if you actually had a car.” Oh, if looks could kill, all of my body parts would have been severed.

 This guy, who Angel obviously knew and rudely decided not to introduce us, smiled wickedly.  “Well, since it’s not gas money, I guess you’re just whoring yourself out.  I hope Caleb doesn’t find out.”

I smiled at this for more than one reason.  However, if there was one thing I could say about Angel was that she always recovered well and quickly.  “Well if he did, he’d probably start hounding me for sixty percent.  He’d pimp his own girl out if it made good money.”  The bell rang as Angel continued.  “I’ll see you guys later.”  She then left and neither one of us stood around to watch her leave.    

  As I entered the room and took the only seat that was left to take, I did notice that this guy watched every move I made with a great smile on his face.  He had perfectly straight, white teeth.  At least he didn’t smoke, or he used a really good teeth whitening regimen.  Of course, I wouldn’t get to spend much time looking at those.  I got to spend the whole year staring at the back of his head.  Actually, it was more like his left ear.  That was totally okay.  He had great hair. 

“Well, now, that you’ve all taken you seats,” said the voice of the rumored Mrs. Ross.  “School rule says that the first week of the semester, I’m not allowed to recorded unexcused tardiness.  That is very fortunate for about ninety percent of you, since that ninety percent would have been late.”  Now I couldn’t see every one, but the two sitting next to me were looking at this lady like she was bat shit crazy.  However, she didn’t seem to notice and kept right on talking.  “Now when you come to my class, I expect you to be on time.  Being on time means sitting in your seat when the bell rings ready for class to start. Not being in your seat when the bell rings and not having a pass is considered to being late unexcused in my class, even if you are already in the room.  Now with this being a class full of seniors, I sure you know what happens when you are late too many times.”

 Oh, she was going to be one of those types. These types of teachers were so much fun.  If even a quarter of the time she was actually ready to start teaching when the bell rang, I could kind of understand where she is coming from, but these types of teachers usually spend more time writing detention slips than actually grading papers or even teaching for that matter, wallowing in their self importance.  Basically we end up picking up detentions or worse, not for actually interrupting class by being late-which I would admit was inconsiderate, but for not being seated at the exact time the bell rang all to sit and wait for the teacher to decide when to actually start teaching. That was usually somewhere between five and fifteen minutes after class was usually supposed to start, and usually because they were not prepared.   Now, I was not saying that Mrs. Ross was going to be one of those types.  She might be one of the few who actually like to start class when the bell rings.  It’s just that prior precedent didn’t exactly work in her favor. 

Prior precedent didn’t seem to matter, however, because after a really quick roll call, she got right down to business.  “Now we are going to do a little exercise.  Each one of you has a letter taped to your desk.  Each letter was placed at random and matches the letter placed on someone else’s desk.  You will have one minute to find who that person is.  Then you’ll have another five minutes to learn as much about that person as you can.  You should listen well because you each will spend one minute telling the class about that person.  This is a graded exercise, so you will have to tell me your name before you start.  Now I might be old, but it is really unreasonable to expect me to put names with faces after one roll call.”

I didn’t really understand this.  Didn’t all these people know one another?  I was sure that some of these people have known each other since the first grade, but most of what they knew was pretty superficial, so we might actually learn something we didn’t know.   However I still didn’t see the point of it, especially since she didn’t give us much of a guidance of things that she actually wanted to know.  Most of these people will only tell things that most of us knew anyway.  I needed all the help I could get, but I don’t know a single person who liked these getting to know you type of exercises.  No one liked being forced to talk in front of a lot of people period, let alone being forced to talk about someone who they did not really give a damn about.  I could really speak for the entire class when I say that we weren’t really too excited about this assignment, which is basically what it was since it was being graded.  Besides the fact we had no idea how we were being scored.  Mrs. Ross had already decided to keep us guessing.

“Time starts now.” 

What happened next was interesting.  It seemed everyone knew who they wanted to be paired with, and all of the girls, except one not including me, wanted to pair with one particular guy, and the identity of that person was not surprising.  It seemed the guy Angel had spoken to just a little bit ago was apparently the heartthrob of this place, and that must have meant he also must have been single, judging by everyone’s reaction.  That was even more interesting.  However, the guys were a little less obvious about who they would rather have been paired with.  They didn’t go to any one person.  Of course, I stayed seated, not wanting to seem too eager, and just watched everyone.  It was quite comical to watch all the girls walk away a little bummed when they were turned away from the heartthrob.   It was just a little five minute assignment, and they acted as if they were bummed that he wasn’t going to be their Chemistry Lab partner.  They then went to some other guy, actually ganging up on him.  Lather, rinse, and repeat, but he was pretty cute too.  This school had some fine white boys, but it made it too easy to find out who was in the in-crowd and who wasn’t, at least as far as this class is concerned.  Of course, the heartthrob just sat in his seat letting all the girls approach him, apparently knowing this would happen.  It was not attractive, but he couldn’t just push them all out of the way when they ganged up on him.  He really did not have a lot of other options, so maybe I was being a little too tough on him.   Now I still had yet to move, and about thirty seconds in some of the guys had finally seemed to notice that I was alive. None of them shared my letter, but I did enjoy the attention.  They seemed nice enough, and a few actually introduced themselves.   Then, after all the girls had finally decided to leave Mr. Heartthrob alone, he stood, looked around, and then looked directly at me.  I just shrugged.  What else could I do? 

He walked over to me and asked, “So what letter did she stick you with?”

            “The lovely letter F,” I said.  “I hope that isn’t a sign of future grades I’ll be getting.”

            “I feel the same way.  An F would really hurt my chances of getting into Harvard.”

            “So you got stuck with an F too, huh?”

            “Lucky us.  I guess that means we’re partners.”

            “Lucky for whom?”  I didn’t plan that, and immediately regretted that it came out of my mouth.  There wasn’t a very good answer to that question.  If he said I was lucky, I’d think he was a jackass.  If he said he was lucky, he’d come off as kind of creepy in addition to being full of it.  He obviously realized this because he had started to answer and stopped short to think it over a little more.  It was encouraging,  but I was curious as to what his answer was originally.

            “Lucky for both of us.”  That was unexpected.  This guy was no dummy. “It could have been worse.  It’s good that we are paired together.”

            “We don’t even know each other.”

            “That’s kind of the point.  Isn’t it?  This silliness is supposed to be about getting to know each other.”

              I couldn’t really argue that point and not come off as a moron.  It was even worse that I didn’t have any witty or smart response.  I guessed that was just fine, since he didn’t wait for one.

            “So, what is your name, anyway?” he asked.

            “You know, most people usually tell their name first before they ask for someone else’s.”

            “If you haven’t noticed, I’m not most people.”

            “Oh. I noticed even as I was trying to avoid it.  It was hard not to.  Valerie Robinson, but you can call me Val.”

            “Bret Spencer,” he said as we shook hands.  “It’s very nice to meet you.”

            “A real pleasure,” I said quickly trying to move things along.  “So Bret, you’re trying to get in to Harvard.  That’s quite impressive.”

            “Why is that impressive?”

            “You don’t seem to be the type that would want to go to Harvard.”

            He laughed and wasn’t the least bit offended.  That said a lot more about him than I thought he realized..

            “I’m not?”

“No, you seem a little more down to earth, for lack of a better description.”

“Basically, I don’t seem like a jackass.”

“Pretty much.”

“Well, I’m not really trying to get into Harvard.”  I didn’t react to this in anyway, so he continued.  “I wouldn’t have thought you would have been a friend of Angel’s either.”

I was predictably surprised, but not for the reasons he thought I would be.  I heard this all the time at the mall.  It was more of how he said it, as if he knew more than he should.  I bit anyway.

 “Why is that?”

“From what she told me about you, and now after meeting you in person, you seem a little too nice.”

“Don’t get use to it. You don’t know me, or how mean I can be.”

“I’d like to find out. Give me your best shot.”

“Maybe, some other time.”

“Damn. You’re turning me down already?”

 “If that’s how you want to take it.  Now, stop that.  We’ve got work to do.”  I wasn’t the least bit annoyed, but I didn’t think he was serious either.  He was such a flirt, and I had to admit he was good at it.  I got us back on point.  “So, why not Harvard?’

 “But I’m having fun, and there’s plenty of time.”

             “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

            “Oh, all right.”  He flashed this really hurt face which was crap, but still cute.  “Actually, they’re not known as a really good baseball school.  I just can’t see playing baseball for Harvard.”

            “Oh, you play baseball.  That’s, um, interesting.”

            His smile fell after that, a genuine reaction this time.  “Thanks for sounding so impressed.”

            “Sorry, I’m not a big fan of baseball.  It bores me.”

            “Oh so you’ve seen it?”

            “Do I look like I live in a cave?  My dad was a Braves fan.  He used to watch them on cable even back when they were horrible back in the eighties.”

            “You weren’t alive in the eighties.”

            “I’ve heard the stories.   Besides, we’re talking about you and not me,” I said with just a trace of being smug.   He smiled, and he was doing that a little too much.  I continued, “I guess you are pretty good.”

            “I’m the starting third baseman.”

            “Well, that would mean you are pretty good.”

            “I do my best.”

            “I bet you do.”

            “You have no idea.”

            “Well, let’s keep it that way for now.”

            That got a smile.  “I’ll take that.”  I wasn’t giving him any other choice but to take it.  “What about you?”

            “I’m a track runner.  Hopefully, I get to run for UCLA.”

            “I use to like Track, but there is too much cheating.”

            “I could say the same about baseball these days.”

            “And here I thought you weren’t a fan of baseball.”

            “What does that have to do with knowing that baseball players cheat?  Roger Clemens was all over the news, even CNN, as was Marion Jones and company.”

“OK. I know now not to get into arguments with you.”

            “My mom’s a lawyer.  It must be in my blood.”

            “No kidding.  That’s a life’s dream of mine.”

            “You should meet her. She could give you tips.”

            “Oh I plan to.  I promise you that.”

            “Don’t write checks your butt can’t cash.”

            “We’ll see. I have a pretty hefty bank account.”

              This guy really had a lot of nerve.  However, he wasn’t a bad guy.  I could see how he was a friend of Angel’s, but, man, he did not quit.  The flirting didn’t stop for the rest of those five minutes.  We did find out a lot about each other, and he had an intriguing personality.  He was quite intelligent, which when combined with being quite easy on the eyes, was a deadly combination.  Of course, I didn’t stop his flirting.  That only seemed to encourage him, and I was glad when Mrs. Ross called time.

            We got right to our presentations, and they started just as I expected.  Except for learning, most of the people’s names, I didn’t really learn anything of any substance about any of them.  You could tell who was really wrapped up in their parents’ money and status because they tried to impress us with their parent’s connections.  Not really impressive to me.  I mean I knew nothing about these people, except for one, and I’m sure the things that were revealed had to have been known by everyone else.  It was totally a waste of my time, and probably everyone else’s time as well.

       When it was my turn, I basically did the same thing, so I really shouldn’t have complained.  However, I did make an appeal to Mrs. Ross to not give Bret any F’s so that it wouldn’t ruin his chances to get into Harvard.  They both got a kick out of that, and it was the first time I had seen her smile since class had started.  It wasn’t the goal I had in mind, but I definitely wasn’t complaining.  It was good, if I could say so myself, and not embarrassing in the least, but as it turned out, embarrassing myself was the least of my worries.  Someone else was determined to do that for me.

            “I’d like to introduce you to my future wife, Valerie Robinson.” Bret started.

            He was so going to get it.  However, the class ate it up.   He looked at me with a smile.  I could do nothing but just smile back, and I’m sure that Bret could see the evil that was behind it.  He didn’t care.

            “She is an avid baseball fan, which is good for me, but I’m going to have to convert her into being a Padre fan because right now she loves Chipper Jones and those Braves.”  The class laughed at this, and I couldn’t help but join them.  “Actually, I’m just kidding, and she’s probably going to kill me after this.  I’ve asked her out three times and she’s turned me down.”  He was so full of it.  It was six times.   “She’s actually a very good track runner.  As a matter of fact, she’s the reigning state champ in the four hundred meters and was the anchor of San Diego High’s state championship sixteen hundred meter relay team.” 

I never told him that.  He was starting to scare me a little bit.  At least, he didn’t say anything else that would surprise me.  When he was done, he strutted back towards his desk like the big man on campus that he apparently was, looking quite smug in the process.  I spent about a second dreaming of about fifty different ways to slap that look off his face.  I thought better of it, but it would have been a great way to make a name for myself.  It also would have been a great way to get myself suspended on the first day of school.  That would have been even more embarrassing than what I just went through.  I was not sure that he was trying to be mean with what he did.  However, if he actually thought that this was funny, then I could see why he was single.  He would deserve it if I didn’t speak to him again for the rest of the year, but I couldn’t stay mad at him.  It was just impossible.  That didn’t mean that I was going to let him know that.  I had other ideas.

I wasn’t going to put those ideas in motion in the near future.  It seemed Mrs. Ross had other ideas also.  Those ideas basically constituted one main goal:  to make our lives miserable for the next eight months.  She started out by telling us how dreadful our presentations were.  I didn’t know what this lady expected from what little guidelines she actually gave us, but she had no business being pissed off about the content of a one minute presentation with only five minutes to prepare.  It turned out, however, that her main gripe was our horrible grammar.  She had the opinion that ninety percent of people write in exactly the same way they speak.   If we didn’t use proper grammar when we talk, we really could not expect to all of a sudden write perfectly.  I wasn’t surprised by this.  I had heard it many times.  It was one of Mom’s favorite speeches.  Yet, Mrs. Ross wasn’t going to have this problem corrected by having us make more presentations.  No, that would have made too much sense.  She planned on giving us written punctuation tests.  Three for every different punctuation mark.  She did not divulge into specifics about which punctuation marks we would be responsible for, but the basic goal was for us to ace the first test, resulting in us not having to take the other two.  If we didn’t ace the first, but aced the second, then we didn’t have to take the third.  If we didn’t ace any of the three, the three scores would be averaged out.  In simple terms, get a perfect score the first time to end the agony.  We would also have a test every Friday, in addition to the punctuation tests.  Anything that she mentioned in class was fair game on these tests, and she wasn’t talking about just that present week either.  The tests were all cumulative, or anything that she went over in class starting now was testable on any given Friday from now until June.  That included punctuation, lecture points, vocabulary, and literature that were assigned reading.  It was all fair game.  This Friday’s test was going to be the only test that was going have a chance of not being difficult.  I couldn’t see the entire class’ reaction to this, but it was easy to imagine what it would be. 

“I don’t know why you’re all looking so shocked,” she said.  “This is a college-preparatory senior English class.  How do you think it’s going to be after you have graduated? It’s not going to get any easier.”  She probably said that every year.

Maybe that F I got earlier actually was an omen of future grades, and I wouldn’t have to worry about college.  It got even worse.  She then handed out these Vocabulary Workshop books by Jerome Shostak, and I almost died.  I thought I had escaped those god awful Shostak books when we had moved.  Those books caused effigy in students everywhere.  Well, at least we didn’t have to do all the exercises inside the books, or at least she wasn’t grading them, which was different then saying we didn’t have to do them.  We just had to make sure we knew what the words meant, and it sounded a little too good to be true.  Those Shostak books were like math and can’t be memorized without practice.  That didn’t mean that we were all going to actually do the work because I was sure some of these people didn’t get the fact that this was a trap designed to snare laziness.  It wasn’t genius, but it did make me like her a little. 

The rest of the class was uneventful and when it ended, I couldn’t get out of the room fast enough.  Literally, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, because Mr. Spencer decided to corner me at the door. 

“Well, I had heard the rumors,” he started.  “But I didn’t think it would be this bad.”

“You’re preaching to the choir here.  I knew even less than you.”  We walked into the hall, and he made no attempt to go in any other direction than wherever I was heading.  I wasn’t sure that made any logical sense, since I didn’t have a clue of where I was supposed to be going.   I continued. “I’m sure you can handle it, with you trying to get into Harvard and all.”    

“Too bad I’m not going to Harvard.”

“Yeah, just like I’m not your future wife, or your future anything for that matter.”

            “Ok, I’m sorry, but it was damn funny.”  That was an interesting way for this jackass to justify bad behavior.  He then switched gears.  “Where are we going anyway?”

            “I’m going to my locker.  I don’t know where you’re going.”

            “Can you even find it? I’ll go with you.”

            “I appreciate your confidence in my sense of direction.  However, I’ve been to it once.  I’m sure I can find it again.”

            “What about after that?”

            He was still smiling, the jerk. 

            “I’m not going to get rid of you am I?” I asked defeated.

            “Not if I can help it.  Besides, I help you; you help me.”

            “And how am I supposed to do that?”

            “I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”  He paused, and then a female voice called his name.  It was a voice he apparently recognized because his facial cringe was noticeable.  I actually enjoyed it for a split second, but I recognized the voice, and I felt his pain.  It was kind of sad, since I’d only heard the voice for a total of one minute in class. 

            “Well, I don’t think that I’ll have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to help you,” I said.  He didn’t react except to sigh, but we didn’t stop walking.  As a matter of fact, we moved right to my locker talking about what we just went through in class.  I’m pretty sure he was hoping that if he just ignored her, she would go way.  It was also apparent that he had dealt with this girl enough to know that wasn’t happening, but for the sake of his own sanity, he had to try anyway.  He leaned on the lockers to my immediate right not really saying anything of any significance. 

            This girl, whose name was actually Kendra Malloy, just walked up, stood between the two of us, and totally interrupted our conservation.  Properly excusing herself must not have been taught as proper etiquette.  To make matters even worse, she didn’t even acknowledge my presence.  This was a whole different level of taking yourself too seriously.  She was cute, I guess, and on looks alone she would have been the type I would have expected Bret to like.  He wanted no part of her.  The look of pure hate on his face couldn’t go unnoticed.  However, she didn’t notice, or she didn’t care-which was probably more accurate-because her next course of action was seriously unwise.  I guess her dad was having some get together, or something, and her dad, not her, wanted him to come.  I must have just met the first person who was stupid enough to believe that, and it wasn’t Bret.  His responses were priceless.

            “No.  I’m busy.”

            “Come on, Bret.  What could you possibly be doing that would be more important?”

            “I don’t know.  I haven’t figured it out yet.   When I do, you can just hold your breath and wait for me to call.” 

Telling someone that you are too busy washing your hair usually did the trick.  This just seemed overly mean, yet totally justified, considering who he was dealing with.  How does she get a guy, who clearly hates her, to do what she wants?  Just insult him.  That was such a great plan, and it worked out really well for her.   I mean, the bitch still hadn’t acknowledged my presence, and she wasn’t going to take a simple no, or a really mean one, for an answer.  I, of course, had yet to say a word.

            “Look, Bret,” she continued.  “Just hear me out. The reason-“

            “What for?” he interrupted.  “I just said no.”

            “You’re not going to be my date or anything.  I just want you to take a friend of mine.  You haven’t met her yet, but I’m sure you’ll like her.”  That was real reason she was bringing up this nonsense, and I didn’t understand why she would ask, or more like demand, him to do anything of the sort.  It was beyond clear that he couldn’t stand her.  His body language said it all, and from the little bit that I’ve talked to him; he didn’t exactly hold back any punches.  There wasn’t any way in the world he would do anything that she wanted him to do.  People aren’t usually going to do favors for people they can’t stand, and they definitely were not going to let someone they hate set them up with anyone.  It’s common sense, and at first, I didn’t think she was as dumb as she initially came off.  I was starting to reassess that conclusion, especially when she continued down the same path.  “Come with me and I’ll introduce you.”  She started to grab his arm and pull him away, but he quickly moved out of the way.

            “If you hadn’t noticed, I was in the middle talking to someone.”  Oh, I was sure that she noticed.

            “I’m disappointed in you, Bret.  Being nice to the new girl is so overrated.”

            “Apparently, so is having manners,” I retorted.  Staying quiet was no longer an option.  I couldn’t help myself, and it was not as if she didn’t deserve it. Besides, doesn’t being disappointed mean that there was some kind of expectation?  What could she possibly expect of Bret when he’d made perfectly clear his hatred of her?   She looked at me like she was wiping me off the bottom of her shoe.   

            “Oh, Please.  You went to Roosevelt.  What do you know about manners?” 

            “I know enough to know that it’s rude for you to interrupt two people having a conversation without excusing yourself.”  I wasn’t at all impressed by this harpy.  “My parents taught me that at home when I was two.  That’s why it’s called Home Training, which, after this performance, it’s obviously clear that you don’t possess any.”

Bret couldn’t do anything but snicker.  I never took my eyes off her and kept a smile on my face, while she stood there fuming.  I quietly waited for her next response, not that I cared.  However, I knew she did care, and I immediately gained the upper hand by default.   As a matter of fact, I automatically won.  It didn’t matter what she said, I still won.  Smart people never got into arguments when they cared and the other person didn’t.  The one who cared always lost.   The person who cared always took it too personally.  Kendra could say whatever she wanted.  She could insult me as much as she wanted, but the insults didn’t have any effect if I didn’t care.  However, there was only so much that I was going to be able to take, and I had come close to having quite enough.  When that happened I would probably just take her head and slam it into the lockers.  That would show her how Roosevelt High girls were. 

However, Bret had other ideas, and since this was basically his decision anyway, he could do whatever he wanted.  He put his left arm around my shoulders, and then he look me in the eye with a look that basically said to go with it.  I was more than happy go whatever way he wanted me to, even though I really wanted to slam this bitch’s head into the locker.  In a very nice, but forceful, way he told her to find someone else.  It was a lot better than she deserved.  Then he rather smoothly led me away from her.  Oh, he was definitely a ladies’ man, even though he was snickering when we turned away.  It wasn’t that funny.

“Home training?” he asked when we were safely out of earshot. 

“You don’t know what that is?”

“Humor me and help a white brother out.”  Understandably, I groaned at this, and he just laughed.    “Is she still back there?”

            I turned, looked and then said, “She’s gone, so you can move your arm now.” 

            He complied and actually did it without making any kind of wisecracks, which was welcome.  We actually had a pretty nice conversation afterwards.  There wasn’t any of his ridiculous flirting.  He wasn’t trying any of his outrageous tricks to prove that he’s funny, even though he was more successful at being funny when he wasn’t trying.  The more he talked, the more I was starting to get the feeling that his whole macho player vibe he was giving off earlier was all just an act, kind of like he was playing the part that he was expected to play.  Now that he wasn’t playing that part, he was a lot more likable, not that he wasn’t likeable before.  This was just considerably more preferable. 

We got to my next class easily enough, and it turned out that his class was actually close by.  For a place that seemed so confusing, it was funny how close everything seemed to be.   When we got to the door, however, he took a horrible step back.

“So,” he started.  “When am I going to get your number?”  I couldn’t tell whether he was joking or serious.  

            “Have you lost your damn mind?”  My shock was totally evident, as was my annoyance.  “You had to have because otherwise asking me that question was just stupid.”  

            “Oh come on.  You know you want to.”

            “‘You know you want to.’  What is this, some kind of porno movie?  Even if I wanted to give you my number, you are seriously deluded if you thought I would actually give it to you after that what you pulled in class.”

            “But wait –“

            “Stop.”  My interruption was as dramatic as it was quick and hard.  I even brought out the “talk to the hand” bit minus the neck weaving.  No. Just no.”  I then turned and walked off, leaving him standing there.  It had to be done.  I didn’t know what I would have said to him had I stayed.   I went into class and quickly took a seat in the row closet to the door, near the back of the room.  I did that on purpose so I didn’t have to look at him because I was still fuming.  When the bell warning bell rang, I finally looked up and he was gone, even though from where I was sitting I was sure that he couldn’t see me from the angle where he would have been standing if he was actually still there.  I instantly tried to buckle down.  I was sure that he was going to be the least of my worries. 




            The other three classes before lunch went as expected.  I didn’t get anymore unexpected, but needed, help.  The results were that I ended up being late to the last two classes, both of which had me traveling from one side of campus to the other and then back again.  I could still smell that ocean breeze while walking through the courtyard.  Well, they just called it a courtyard.  There wasn’t any grass that would constitute it to actually be a yard.    It was all concrete.  It was still great to actually be able to walk outside without actually being accused of cutting class.  It was a whole new experience that I welcomed, even though I knew no one.  I was more than happy to stay out of the spotlight, and the last few classes made that easy, since there wasn’t anyone that I knew in those classes. 

After that fourth class, Advance Biology, Angel was waiting for me to go to lunch.  As we started to walk, I filled her in on the details of what happened in English Class.  Her response was not encouraging.  She immediately started laughing.  Some friend she was supposed to be, and I let her know as much.

“What?” she asked.  “It’s funny.  The only reason you don’t find it funny is because he did to you.”

“But why would he?”  I protested.  “It’s not like he knew…”  I trailed off when a thought suddenly occurred to me.  “Angel, what exactly did you tell him?”

“Not a whole lot.  I basically told him that I had met you and that you had went to Roosevelt High before here.  I didn’t tell him anything important.”

“He knew about the state medals that I won last spring.  That doesn’t classify as not information.”

“That information didn’t come from me.  I only told him your name and where you went to school. I didn’t know you had actually won stuff.  You never told me,  which isn’t your fault.   We never talked about it in detail, but it’s not surprising he was able to figure out the rest.  His sister, Brianne, graduated last year and ran track for us.   She was a pretty good distance runner from what I understood.  Figuring that out would have been pretty easy from him.  He was probably at the meet himself, since his dad is good about making the two of them support each other.”

She sure had a real quick explanation as to how he could have known.  However, it did make sense, so I just dropped it.  I actually knew his sister, and had talked to her many times this past spring at meets and the like.  As I recalled, she was better than pretty good.  I went on telling her about the whole with Kendra, and Bret and I last moment talking to each other.  She cringed at the latter, and, for once, she didn’t have a witty comeback or an explanation for his bad behavior.

“Yeah that was pretty odious.”  She seemed genuinely confused.  “That doesn’t seem at all like him.”  Then she changed the subject back to Kendra.  “It’s good to see that he’s still holding his ground when it comes to her.”

Holding his ground was kind of an understatement, considering that he clearly couldn’t stand her.  I told Angel as much.  Her basic response was that considering that Kendra was his ex, they broke up last spring, holding his ground was all Angel really expected of Bret when it came to Kendra.  Basically the history of those two basically consisted of Kendra treating him like a trophy while they were dating, and she very much treated him like an object to his face.  It seemed that there was no love lost between Angel and Kendra either and, with Caleb and Bret being best friends and Angel and Bret, having known each other since the fifth grade, being good friends also, I correctly guessed there wasn’t a lot of double dating going on.  According to Angel, Bret had really liked Kendra, at least at first.  Then, in the later stages of their relationship-if you could call it a relationship, he really couldn’t stand her, but stayed with her anyway to keep up pretenses.  Did people actually do that in real life?  It seemed her dad really liked him, and saw Bret as the perfect companion for his not so darling daughter.  That wasn’t fair to a guy who hadn’t even finished his junior year of high school.  Soon, Bret just hated her too much to even keep up pretenses. 

“I thought that they were the most lopsided couple yet,” Angel finished.  “They have two totally different personalities”

I wasn’t so sure their personalities were all that different, just that Kendra was a lot more evil.  “They both are full of themselves.  That’s one thing that they have in common,” I said.

“But isn’t everyone a little full of themselves.  Some are just more full of themselves than others.

“There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance.”

“Good point.  I’d take Bret’s brand of being full of himself over the wannabe Mean Girl’s any day.”

            “What is with that anyway?  It’s like she’s trying to be that person, but can’t quite pull it off.”

            “It’s simple really.  She has the looks and the bad attitude to pull it off.  The problem is that she just too damn stupid to pull off Mean Girls type machinations.  I think her problem is that she assumes everyone else is stupider than she is.  It’s very easy to put her in her place, as you have found out.”

            “It was a little too easy, which takes all of the fun out of it.”  We had made our way to the cafeteria, and it was as one would expect.  Everyone was sitting in their respective groups.  We took a table near the window, and talked a little more about nothing in particular.

            After about five minutes, I finally got to meet Caleb.  It was about time, and it only took all of about three months.    He looked as I might have expected him to look.  He was the total stereotypical jock.  That would be big, built, and well, that was basically it, big and built.  There wasn’t anything really to set him apart from any other guy in school.  He wasn’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination.  He just didn’t have sexy oozing out him like say Bret.  Well at least he didn’t for me.  Angel seemed to think so, which was all that really mattered.  However, something was missing for me.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.   It didn’t get any better once he kissed Angel once he got to the table. The kissing didn’t seem romantic at all.  It was like he, or both of them, was going through the motions.  I found it quite weird that those two had been dating for about three years, and not once did he stop in to the mall to see her.  He never stopped by the store, or even came to the mall during her lunch break.   Still, what the hell did I know?   I was still single.   Oh, and he had brought company.

            “You must be Val,” Caleb said.  “You’re even prettier than Bret said.  I had to drag him here to apologize for acting like a jackass earlier.”  Ha!  I liked him already, even though he was speaking with a fake southern accent.  Prettier came out as “purtier”. Wasn’t he born here?  Maybe he was auditioning for some role in a movie.  Why else would he want to purposely sound like a redneck?  He was still going to have to work on that.

            “Oh, I’m over that.” I said. “Thank you anyway though.”

            “Yeah, when did you get over it?”  Caleb asked.

            “Right after you said I was pretty.”

            “Good,” Bret piped in.  “That must mean I’m in the clear.”

            “Not so fast pretty boy,” I said.  “You still haven’t apologized.”

            “I thought you were over it,” Bret protested.

            “I am,” I said clearly having fun with this.  “That still doesn’t excuse you from actually apologizing.  It just means that I’m more likely to accept it.”

            “Oh, she’s a feisty one.  Isn’t she, buddy?” Caleb asked Bret.

            “Why are you talking like that?” That was the first words Angel said since the boys showed up, and she was clearly irritated.  “The last time I checked, Beverly Hillbillies’ Day was not a part of Spirit Week.  Even if it was, that’s over a month away, so stop it.  You sound like a moron.”  Caleb looked like chastised kid in that instance.

            “Yeah.  She’s feisty,” Bret said to Caleb.  “That is one of the things like about her.” Bret said.

            “Shove it, mister,” I said.  “And I’m still waiting for that apology.”

            It was hilarious watching these two jocks look like scolded grade school kids.  I crossed my arms and looked at Bret.  I can play the “Shanay-nay” role, also known as the Shaniqua-Laquita role, when it was appropriate.  It was rare and really not attractive, but it sometimes works.  The problem was in this particular instance I couldn’t do it without laughing.  The whole table cracked up, but at least he did apologize, and it appeared to be sincere.  He still wasn’t getting my number. 

            The rest of lunch went mostly as that conversation between the four of us, and it would have been a lot more enjoyable if Bret wasn’t smiling at me all the time.  He was like a little kid or he would have been if there was any indication that his flirting was not some kind of sick joke.  It was the only thing that annoyed me about it all.  He was doing it to be funny, and he didn’t know me well enough to do that.  Of course, if he really wasn’t serious than it really shouldn’t matter.  However, he was in my head, and that was probably what bothered me the most.  Maybe, that was his intention.  It was definitely something that I was going to have to do something about. 

            When lunch was over, Angel and I made our way to Calculus, which was my last class of the day.  Aw, the good part of being a senior was getting most of the required classes out of the way the last three years.  

            “I think he likes you,” she said.

            “What? Who?”

            “Who else would be I be talking about?” Angel asked.  Two guys were there.  Of course if she was talking about Caleb, then she would have problems.

            “Don’t be stupid.  He was just joking around.”

            “I’m sure he wasn’t.”

            “Really?  It sounded like joking to me.  He was laughing too much, and it made it difficult to take him seriously.”

            “Believe me.  I’ve known him a longer than you,” she said.  “He acted the same when he was first with Kendra.”

            “Well now I can understand why she treated him like she did.  It is irritating.  I continued, “But look how that turned out.  He hates her now.”  Why did I even care?

            “Kendra and you are no where nearly the same person.”

            “I would hope not.  I couldn’t fathom being as stupid as she is.”  Angel laughed at that.  “I don’t even think that I would be the type of girl that he likes.”

            “Oh, now I see,” Angel answered.  “It’s not that you don’t think he actually likes you, which by the way is wrong.  It’s that you don’t think he would like a person like you.”

            “What is the difference?”

            “Well if he did like you, you would kind of be missing out.  You’re not giving him a chance because you don’t think he would like you.”

            “You know.  You never asked me how I feel about him.

            “Does it matter?” she asked.  “You don’t think you’re his type so why does it matter if you like him or not.”  She paused.  “Do you?”

            “Do I what?”

            “Oh quit stalling,” she said.  “You know what I’m talking about.”


            “Oh you do.  That is so awesome.”

            “I wouldn’t say that.  He does have potential though.  If he stopped acting like a jackass, then, who knows?”

            “You’re full of it.”  She stopped and looked directly at me.  “If you didn’t like him, you wouldn’t be worried about it so much.”

            “Maybe, it could just be that it’s annoying.”

            “I’m still not buying it.”
            “Okay,” I said defeated.  Angel can be really stubborn when she wants to be.  “Even if I did like him, can you imagine what my mom would say if I brought him home?”
            “What would she be so mad about?” Angel asked.

            “Isn’t it obvious?” 


            “Oh please, you’re not that stupid,” I said.  “How about bringing a white boy home?”

            “You don’t have a lot of choices in the quality black guy department to choose from here, or any black guys at all for that matter.”

            “I don’t think that is going to make much of a difference,” I said.  “She would probably rather I didn’t date at all.”

            “Why would she be so upset?  She works in a place full of white people, and this isn’t exactly the nineteen sixties.  It’s the twenty-first century.”

            “Things are all ways different when a person’s kids are involved.  She might not mind interracial dating when other people do it.  Me?  Not so much.”

            “That would mean that she actually does mind it.”

            “Whatever.”  I changed the subject.  “What is with this school and the baseball team?”

            “What do you mean?”

            “Well,” I started.  “Why are guys on the baseball team the studs of the school?  I mean it’s usually the football and basketball teams that are supposed to be the cool guys.”

            “You obviously haven’t seen our basketball team,” Angel pointed out.  “They are just dreadful.  They make Woody Harrelson look like Kobe Bryant.”   

            “Dreadful?  Channeling Simon Cowell, are we?”  I quipped.  “What kind of cheerleader are you supposed to be?”

            “Don’t change the subject.”  Angel was really good at keeping the conversation where she wanted it.  We entered class together and sat next each other in the center of the room.  “We’re talking about you and Bret.”

            “I don’t think the words ‘you and Bret’ belong together in the same sentence.”

            Angel was not impressed.  “Whatever.  Try and resist all you want.  You won’t last past a week.  He likes you, and he’s not going to give up easily.”

            “He doesn’t like me.  Stop it,” I said as the bell rang starting class.

            “Deny it all you want.  He likes you, and at a minimum, you are intrigued by him.”

            I didn’t get a chance to answer that.  The teacher came in and started class.  Angel was right.  He did intrigue me.  Then again, a lot of people intrigued me, so it really didn’t matter.  I had other things to worry about at that moment, and the last thing I wanted to worry about was some crazy white boy chasing me around school while I was in arguably my hardest class.  We both ended our conversation and dug in to advanced math.

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Novel / Novella
writing ajodom
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A Revised version of the first chapter. Hopefully, it's better.