Once again, Beatrice must have said something fascinatingly amusing. Well, amusing to her and her throng of admirers. They seemed to swarm around her at all hours of the day, or at least that's how I viewed things. A moment ago I had been able to quietly ponder when lunch was going to end and conquer the devastating monotony that seemed to be consuming my time. Now, with a few words from the Princess Herself, a pack of three boys was chortling loud enough for even my grandfather to hear—no small feat, mind you. Beatrice's golden laugh soured high above the sounds of their laughter, though.

There she sat, in the seat directly across from me: ebony hair elaborately curled about a pretty face that was sprinkled lightly with freckles. Her emerald eyes twinkled flirtatiously on both sides of her delicately pointed nose, below which lay a miniature mouth curved into a delicate smile. She was the last to stop laughing as whatever comment she had made lost its charm.

"You're so funny, Beatrice!" Larry exclaimed. His best friend, Paul, mumbled something in agreement with him, causing me to wonder yet again if he ever thought on his own.

Beatrice's mouth went into a pout. "Annie didn't laugh. You're so quiet today! Anybody home?" She tapped me on the forehead, immediately evicting a chorus of laughter from her suitors. Not wanting to deign that comment worthy of a reply, I shrugged a little and forced my lips to show some trace of a smile. This seemed to satisfy Beatrice as she continued speaking. "We just have to find a date for you, Annie! I mean, you're a senior and you still haven't gone on a date!" She paused to look at me thoughtfully. "Do you have your eyes on someone special? Is that why?"

It took almost all of my self-control not to pick up my close-at-hand math book and beat her senseless with it. Since that wasn't an option in polite society, I let my mind fabricate a scene in which I gleefully defenestrated Beatrice from the English room. I tossed the happy thought aside and returned the exciting world of the cafeteria. "Ummm… No, thanks… It'll make an interesting entry for a world record, won't it?"

The only reactions I received to confirm that I had spoken the words out loud were the blank looks on the faces of Beatrice and her toy-boy. It was the same reaction I usually received when I said something in their presence. With a flip of her hair, Beatrice's attention turned from me to Richard as she asked him whom he was planning to take to the next dance.

My mind wandered again and I found my thoughts moving to the past. Beatrice and I had been the best of friends for more years than I could count on my hands. Well, that only applied if you included the last two years in that calculation. Her attentions had shifted from having a fun time with friends to dating, boys, or just her newer friend, Sue. Sue…it seemed the world revolved around that girl. Before, it had been me that Beatrice would call if she had gotten a new job, a speeding ticket, or just talk to avoid the impending homework. Sue now received those insights into the Princess's life, leaving poor little me as unknowing as a distant and unwanted relative living in another country. I felt like an old teddy bear that was cherished for many years, fell apart, and was carelessly tossed aside for the cuddly new puppy dog. I guessed that was just a hazard of growing up, though. Interests alter to more "adult" things, like boys. And, on the topic of boys…who'd want cooties, anyway? But it wasn't just that Beatrice was growing up; she felt shallow to me, now. She no longer seemed to be ambitious, let alone an interesting person to talk to.

I yawned widely and glanced towards the clock for, most likely, the hundredth time in the last minute…still ten minutes left. As my eyes wandered back towards whatever enchanting discussion Beatrice was partaking in, I saw Emma. She had plain, straight hair done up into a ponytail, accompanied by a somewhat tanned complexion. I saw her almost every day during lunch, sitting quietly by herself, eating a small lunch, then inserting her nose into a novel. She had always shown that tendency in classes I had with her in the past, and I had always noticed that I did the same thing. If Beatrice wasn't in my lunch, I knew I would make the same doleful appearance. Half the time I felt like I was even more alone than Emma was. Sure, I was sitting with others and occasionally joining in on the conversations, but I honestly didn't feel a part of the group. I rather felt like I didn't belong; that I was more suited to be sitting by myself, or at least with someone like myself. I thought it was ironic, really, that Emma was the one who looked like she enjoyed herself but I, surrounded by laughing students, felt alone.

I glanced back towards Beatrice and made a face. Why should it matter what she thought? I made a decision—one I had been considering for the last month. I pulled my backpack on, picked my math book up, and promptly left the Princess's company. I smirked a little to myself when I heard a protest spring from her mouth, but I didn't turn around. Instead, I walked to the far end of the table and plopped myself into the seat across from Emma.

The novel lowered and a set of eyes like the sky of summer, full of intelligence and a hint of surprise, stared at me. I knew what she saw: chocolate eyes, straight cherry hair that lay loosely at my shoulders, and a milky complexion.

I smiled as winningly as I could muster and motioned towards the forgotten novel. "Are you a fan of her novels?"

Emma blinked and, as she realized I wasn't going to bite her, let a pleasant smile play across her face. "Oh, yes! I've read everything she's ever written!" she exclaimed, most of the wariness draining away to leave plenty of eagerness.

I've managed to forget the rest of the conversation, but I do remember that we talked about a wide variety of things and filled up many a lunch period with our chatting. I knew that I had chosen the right road; sure, it wasn't one that I would have normally even considered taking, but it was probably one of the best decisions I made during high school. A new friendship wasn't all that hard to form, and, well, it delighted me endlessly to see the Princess thrown off guard.