She locked eyes with me and opened her mouth to breathe the word, tongue curling around and reveling in the flavor of sweet loathing. Her lips spread in a sneer, and I could hear a million voices whispering along with her in disjointed hate as she glared at me.


I was shaking, and I broke eye contact with her to watch as my pencil rolled gently off of the edge of my desk in a pattern of taptaptap's and fell to the tile floor where it snapped in two ("Cheap pencil," someone said).

She knew. I could see it in her eyes, those feminine eyes, dark and hateful. It was all over. God, it's over.

The pencil still lay patiently upon the floor, and my gaze didn't lift from it until a hand, a well-known hand, tanned from warm summer dates that melted into warmer nights, picked the pieces up and replace them to my desk. It was broken, now. My throat was dry as I raised my eyes to stare at him (his eyes were even darker than hers, dark as coal), and I knew he could sense my fear, taste it. But he smiled in his reassuring "it's fine, love" kind of way that always managed to convince me to believe the words (silly childhood stories; heartfelt confessions in fresh rainfall) and nodded back towards her. Slowly, I turned to watch the girl, his girl, as she whispered animatedly to another angry Barbie who sat on my other side, hair falling elegantly across faces as they hissed at one another. I sighed in overwhelming relief and waited out the exchange of vulgar names as I sat between them and watched the teacher mark on the whiteboard.

The hour ticked by this way, and her sneer eventually faded as the fight grew dull; her expression changed to a smile, a smile for him. He smiled back and whispered "love you" to her, but his eyes lingered on me before they turned away.

Angels were still singing my joy when he passed me the note and mouthed, "From yours," near the end of that period. From mine?

His eyebrows were raised in amusement, and I noted that he looked, as always, comically tall and absurdly out of place, cramped in the student's desk. Behind him I saw what was supposedly "mine", as the girl who sat behind him (she was always one of the nicer ones) gave me a dimpled grin, eyelashes fluttering like cautious butterflies. I waved as discreetly as possible.

He smiled a secret smile that I returned briefly before opening the note from her ("Hey, boyfriend! ILU!"), and we both winced.