At School

          It was another warm day for many students as they made their way towards Oswald High School. The very small town of Kiscolo rang with the usual morning excitement as residents awoke to a bright day and began their commutes to the few workplaces in town. The weather was hardly ever anything but warm, yet each morning, people found themselves pleasantly surprised to see the sun shining. No matter what the situation, the people of Kiscolo remained in high spirits and geared up to take on any task that might befall them in their daily routine.

The sun shone brightly in the sky, illuminating the stained glass assignments of the few windows that were left whole at Oswald High School. Five buses could be seen pulling up to the parking lot, students pouring out from within, trekking to the front doors. Many more students could be seen walking, and some even being dropped off by parents in vehicles. The school itself looked slightly rundown, but there was a sign informing of a government program instituted to maintain the school better.

"Hey, Keller, parents still can't afford a car?" called one junior girl, stepping out of a limousine, to another who was walking through the front gates. "What a surprise! Well no, actually it's not. I mean, why would anyone need a car if they were going to spend their whole lives living in the slums and projects? They're one in the same, you know. You'll never be better than garbage, Keller. That explains why your parents don't buy a car. For themselves, let alone for you." Her green eyes shone as she laughed menacingly and glared at the other girl. Allison Beecher was always this way to anyone of a lesser social status than her, especially Katherine Keller.

"Leave me be, Beecher," snarled Katherine, picking up her pace slightly to put a larger distance between herself and Allison. "I don't need to hear from you today." Although Katherine tried to act tougher than she actually was, Allison knew she had achieved her goal when Katherine's dark brown eyes filled with heavy tears, longing to fall. Normally the torture didn't have much of an effect on Katherine, because she had sustained it for so long. But there were some times when she was especially vulnerable, or weak, and certain topics threw her over the edge. I hate you, Allison Beecher. You are the worst person to ever live, she thought to herself. She refused to say it out loud, because she knew there would be only more torture as a result.

The sound of dying laughter was easily heard as Katherine walked quickly into the school. As she looked back briefly, Allison remained laughing, and her boyfriend Andrew Schillinger did as well. Something about Andrew's façade made him look rather uncomfortable, but before Katherine had a chance to decide what it was, she was standing inside the school. She made her way towards her locker, trying hard not to think back to the torment strewn just a bit earlier.

Through homeroom, the upcoming junior class trip to a museum in the next state was discussed. No, of course I'm not going. Hence, it costs money. If I had money, then yeah, I'd be going, thought Katherine when the teacher passed around the forms to be filled out. She knew in her heart that everyone was right, that she was poor. But she also knew that it wasn't going to be something to change anytime soon, and for that, she easily accepted it most of the time. But whenever Allison would instigate her, a feeling inside of her own heart always rose and made her hate herself and her financial status. Katherine didn't even bother to take one of the forms, but instead passed the large stack on to the boy next to her, apparently being the only one in the class to let the stack go by without taking one. Though she didn't look up, it was apparent that many pairs of eyes were boring into the back of her head.

The first half of the day went by particularly smoothly, and for that reason, Katherine was feeling wary by the time lunch came about. She knew that not a day, especially this day, would go by without torment and agony from Allison and her whole crew. She walked briskly into the cafeteria and took a seat at the first open table, pulling out her Algebra II book, not bothering to think about lunch, as was normal routine. Even quicker than was expected, a high-pitched voice came careening through the cafeteria to Katherine's table.

"Well, well, Keller," Allison began, her green eyes shining mischievously. She put down her small bag and took a seat at the table next to Katherine's. Her bleach blonde hair bobbed slightly as she moved her head, and it fell into neatly placed parts against her olive colored skin. "Look at what you're wearing today!" This time, her voice was mock-repulsed, as though the very sight of Katherine's clothes sickened her. She straightened her own white designer tank top, almost to show that nobody else could own clothes better than hers, and she flashed a pearly white smile to the people who had turned around to watch the lunchtime entertainment of the day.

"I told you to leave me alone," Katherine said in a whisper so soft that it almost sounded like a warning. "You've already had your fun today, just go away." After a moment of eerie silence, she had to add, "What is it about me that you have to agonize me every day anyway?"

At this question, Allison smiled wickedly. "You mean you haven't figured that out yet? Why, Katherine, it's you. Everything about you. But I suppose we can just blame that on your no good parents now, can't we?" She raised an eyebrow when Katherine stood up suddenly.

"You've bullied me, made fun of me, and caused me pain for as long as I can remember. One day, someone else is going to do the same to you." I hope it's going to be me. It's my lifelong dream, Beecher. I'm going to live my dream someday soon…

"Is that a threat?" Allison asked nonchalantly. "Because if it was," she mused, "it wasn't a very good one."

Katherine took a step forward, brushing a few stray strands of her long, black hair from her face. Her face grew redder by the moment, her hands clenching into loosely held fists. "I don't care what you think. I could take you down right here, right now. And all of these witnesses… to see the poor girl take out the snob. Wouldn't that be great to remember on graduation day?"

Allison's eyes seemed to flicker worry for a moment, but she quickly covered it with a sardonic smile. "Do that Keller, and there won't be a graduation day… not for you at least." She swung her head back and forth rapidly once, then paused in mid swing. "My father practically owns this whole town… I can do anything I want. But if you do anything to me, your… life, would you call it? Your life here is over."

She stopped talking for a moment, allowing the infuriating truth to sink in enough. "Or… you know, I could always say that you did something anyway. But I guess it all depends on your behavior." Continuing to smile cynically, Allison turned around to leave, running a hand through her hair. She reached out her arm and took hold of Andrew's, both of them walking away. It was only then that Katherine even noticed that Andrew had been present at all. His gaze lingered on her one moment longer, and then he turned to walk with Allison.

The rest of lunch passed rather awkwardly, for although Katherine had turned and managed not to cry, acting as though nothing had happened, she felt the stares of all the students. It was as though she was a spectacle in a display case. She continued to just do her homework, though incorrectly as she very well knew, because the answer to any Algebra problem is not 'verbally like-minded.'

Even as she walked through the hallway towards her next class, she felt impending trouble coming her way. The class she was approaching was History, her only class with Andrew Schillinger. Something told her to just skip the class, to avoid any confrontation, which she knew was going to lead her towards difficulty. Yet she entered the classroom and took her seat in the back corner, a smile plastered on her features, which was only a bland attempt at showing that nothing at lunch hurt her.

"Katherine?" said a quiet voice in her ear after a few minutes of a trancelike state.

She turned to look, and found herself facing a rather pale boy with bright, watery blue eyes. "What do you want, Andrew?" Katherine asked placidly. Here to torture me as well?

Almost as though reading her mind, Andrew responded, "I just wanted to tell you something. And no, I'm not going to make fun of you. I haven't ever, if you've bothered to notice," he added coolly.

"Not like you've ever tried to stop your dear girlfriend," snorted Katherine quietly.

Ignoring the comment, Andrew decided to plow on with his little spiel. "I'm sorry for the way Allison treats you, really." Deciding to not give Katherine a chance to intervene, he continued on hurriedly. "I'm aware that I've never said anything either way before, but… well, I can't. I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry, and apologize for her actions. Today, she really hurt you, Katherine. I could tell. It was more than any other day. I guess that's why I'm back here talking to you like this.

"Also, I wanted to warn you… you really should be careful around her. You know as well as I that if you tick her off enough, she'll tell her father and he'll do something to make your life hell. You know he will, I know he will, everyone knows he will. That's why nobody does anything about her. In all honesty, I love her, but she's out of control sometimes. I wanted to just warn you." He finished talking, and closed his eyes momentarily. When he reopened them, he found Katherine staring up at him, a wide grin spreading across her face.

"You want me to forgive her?" she grunted, covering her mouth to make it seem like a casual cough. Katherine looked up once more, searching Andrew's face, as though expecting him to yell 'April Fools!' or something of the like at any moment. After all, why was he sitting in the back corner with her, talking to her like an equal? Her eyes fell on a piece of dark hair sticking out from under his hat, and she chose to rest them there as she spoke. "I'm sorry, I don't see the joke yet, but I'm sure I will soon. I'd like to actually pay attention now. Goodbye, Andrew." She turned her attention back to the front of the room, where the teacher was standing, reciting something.

"Fine, have it your way then. I'm just telling you: watch out." He stood up and snuck back to his regular seat, looking almost a bit upset that she didn't take him seriously.

How can I take you seriously, Andrew? All that you do every day is sit there while Allison dishes out abuse to me, you never stop her, yet you expect me to believe that you have some kind of compassion for me? I can't. And now I can't even pay attention… She threw her pencil down on the notebook and massaged her temples lightly, making the class go by a bit quicker, so that she could just sit through the rest of the day, and head home.