"At the rate you're going, everybody's gonna ask you to do their homework before the day ends." Louise turned her locker combination, stuffed her Calculus book in and started changing into her P.E. shoes. "Seriously Al, you're too kind. Somebody's bound to take advantage." She lost her balance as a bunch of freshmen geeks hurrying to their next class bumped into her. "Hey! Get a life!"
"Thanks, Lou. Maybe when I die, you'll get to ask them to petition for my sainthood," Allyson Schommer, the school's perpetual saint, replied with an amused smile. Louise Winters was ever the eternal realist. The first time they met in grade school, Lou broke all her illusions of Santa Claus. It's amazing how they ever became best of friends. Lou was realistic all right, which is probably the reason why she never keeps a relationship for more than a month. Allyson, on the other hand, was a pathetic romantic, which is probably the reason why she's never had a boyfriend, which, according to Lou was completely unforgivable when you're 17 with raging hormones.
Al knew though, that what Lou said wasn't far from the truth. She has always been known for lending a helping hand. She never picked on the lower years and tried her best to befriend everybody. Some people actually called her Mary, good-naturedly though. True, some people may take advantage, but it never bothered Al whose only concern is helping out.
"Hurry up, or Barnhart's gonna get our asses for being late again."
"Ha! Tell me," Lou started rambling as they headed off to gym class. "When was the last time you ever turned down anyone for anything?"
"Hmm…let me think. I didn't do that 7-page History essay you asked me to do."
"And only because you chose to attend that stupid bake sale instead of helping out your one true friend who's in the brink of desperation." With her eyes in slits, Al knew she was still grumpy about it.
Only two weeks had passed since the start of classes. Most of the teachers have taken it easy on them to let them get into rhythm as they start their senior year. Yes, two more semesters to go and all of them will be off to God knows where. Their History teacher though, did not seem to buy into the system and chose to give them a 7-page History essay about the Boston Tea Party. Al being Al, she finished her report ahead of time. Louise, on the other hand, chose to slack off and wait until the last minute to do hers. By the time she called Al in desperation, Al was already heading out for the bake sale to help raise money for hurricane victims.
"Come on. You know I couldn't back out from that one."
"Ugh. Never mind. Who the hell cares about some stupid tea spill anyway?" Lou shrugged. "Let me see. What would you do if a waiter spilled coffee on your favorite dress?"
"I'd clean it up and ask him to be more careful next time." Allyson knew her reply would rank low in Lou's rudeness chart.
"See! You wouldn't even ask him to clean it up! If I were you, I'd—"
"Scream to clean it quickly and demand to report the incident to the manager," I finished with a grin. "But only after you've finished telling him how stupid he was, of course."
"Not funny. Well, uh, I guess that's pretty much what I'd do," Lou nodded thoughtfully. Then as if a light bulb went off in her mind, she squared Lou with a stare. "You know, if you just keep thinking that way, I think there's still hope for you. It wouldn't be hard Al. I'm here," she said with a naughty smile.
Their conversation was cut short as Barnhart whistled for them to fall in line. He shot them a disapproving look, disappointed that they arrived just in time. "Maybe if you could walk faster and talk less, then maybe you could come on time."
"Well, sir, maybe if you didn't have to line us up so far from the entrance, maybe we wouldn't be late. Which we aren't, by the way." Lou added as an afterthought. She said it with so much sweetness that one could almost see sarcasm dripping down her mouth. When Lou winked at Al, she had to look away to keep herself from laughing.
"Ms. Winters, your insolence tries me." He left it at that, knowing another remark would only set off Lou's biting retorts. That's another thing Lou had that Al didn't. Guts. Al could never chalk up an excuse without stammering. Heck, she couldn't even curse properly to save her life.
"We're doing passing drills today. Everybody pair up and practice! Ms. Winters, you won't be pairing with Ms. Schommer today." Al shot her an apologetic look. Somehow, Barnhart just had it in for the two of then. Luckily for Al, she was doing the drills with Anita, her seatmate in Calc. Lou, though, was stuck with the class outcast.
Gym was finished in a jiffy and Al and Lou split for their next class. Lou was taking Spanish class and she was doing Social Work. They finally met up for lunch and squeezed in at their usual table which they shared with their other friends.
Kirsten, the school's gossip, was already talking to Mandy, who looked totally bored. "Have you seen the new guy?" Kirsten eyed Al. "His name is Jacob Strauss. He's a mysterious one. The only thing anybody knows about him is that he's from Philadelphia. Nobody knows his background or anything."
"Maybe because he's only been here for less than 4 hours?" Al quipped. It irked her when people talked about other people they have no business talking about. Mandy gave Al a thumbs-up. Only half a day in school and the guy's already in Kirsten's lunch topic? What crime has he done?
Kirsten looked a bit miffed but went on talking, "I haven't met him but Anne says he's got a basketball player physique and killer biceps! He's got black waivy hair and Anne says his eyes are simply to-die-for! But she said his nose is kind of crooked though." Lou only rolled her eyes. All of them knew Kirsten was going to spend the better half of the lunch period looking out for the new guy.
As Al and Lou was walking to their Physics class, someone hollered, "Hey, Schommer! Fuller wants you in his office right now!"
Lou turned to Al, "Are you telling me you've finally decided to violate some school rules?" she asked with a wishful face. Milton Fuller was the high school principal. He always kept a tight rein on student decorum and gave severe punishments to offenders. For students, a note from Fuller is as bad an omen as possible.
Al rolled her eyes. "Sorry to burst your bubble but I have no idea what this is about. Go ahead, I'll meet up with you after class." With that, Al rushed to the principal's office. She was wondering why Fuller wanted to see her. She could not remember any school rule she violated during the past week, nor the last time she failed to follow one.
Much to her surprise, Fuller greeted her with a smile. Al wondered though, why the smile seemed a bit strained. "Good afternoon, Ms. Schommer! Come in, come in! I'm sorry to impose on you like this but there's a favor I want to ask you." With his tone, Al knew it was an order rather than a favor. But she was also curious to know what Fuller wanted her to do.
"Have a seat. Allyson, I'd like you to meet Jacob Strauss. Jacob, this is Allyson Schommer." It was only then that Al realized there was one other person in the room.
She wasn't quite what Jacob expected—a school nerd with thick-framed eyeglasses, braces, and long and frizzy hair that would cover half of her face. She would quiver in his presence and only look at him at the side of her eyes. No, the girl in front him was smiling brightly at him with no braces in sight. She had clear emerald eyes and her long soft brown hair framed her face perfectly. It took every bit of Jacob's self-control to keep himself from glaring at her contemptuously. How dare she defy his preconceived picture of his 'school guide'?
Allyson was sure she had her brightest smile on, which is why she couldn't understand why Jacob Strauss was looking at her with veiled contempt. Wait, was that right? Surely, he doesn't hate me. She decided then that it was distrust she was seeing in his coffee-colored eyes.
Not one to be deterred, she offered her hand for a handshake. "Hi. It's nice to meet you!"
Jacob only stared at her. Maybe he can still discourage this sprightly girl. He was sure he knew what she was thinking. And it could only be one thing. Jacob Strauss was bad news.
Embarrassed though she was, Allyson could not help staring back. She didn't understand this guy. Although she refused to believe that first impressions last, she also found it hard to believe that his disposition will change in the near future. The stubborn scowl in his face also didn't give much promise of disappearing soon.
Fuller found it appropriate then to clear his throat. Jacob was disappointed. He was beginning to enjoy their staring contest. He was sure that the girl was already studying him, analyzing him. He should have hated her right that instant for he hated it when people try to figure him out too much. Instead, he found her amusing. He would have smiled except that he never smiled, or laughed for that matter.
Then Fuller dropped the bomb. "Allyson, I would like you to show Jacob around the school. Jacob here just moved in from Philadelphia. I'm sure he has the list of his classes and schedule so you can point out to him his classrooms. I've already informed your teachers of your absence and they will excuse you from any work or assignment you miss. Jacob, feel free to ask for help. I'm sure Allyson would be glad to help you get acquainted."
Jacob was surprised to see Allyson's reaction. So she didn't know she's supposed to guide me, eh? Again, he almost smiled when he saw her mouth drop the slightest bit.
Allyson could almost hear Lou's voice in her head. This is what you get for being too kind. She usually enjoyed showing some of the new students around, but this one…she knew it was going to be difficult. He hasn't even uttered a single word to me! Then she looked at him again. You're one tough cookie, eh? We'll see about that. Somehow, she had to get this guy talking if she was to show him around the school. Oh boy, it's going to be one long afternoon!
Hi, everyone! This is my first shot at writing quite a long short story. I hope you liked the first installment. I'll be updating really soon. Please send me your reviews!