Life Hates Me
Life hated me. Why else would I have been in a classroom on a Saturday morning, staring blankly at a piece of lined notebook paper? I searched my mind for words that weren't there. Usually, I was an expert at coming up with bullshit, known to the academic world by its lovely initials, BS. BSing papers was my specialty. So why was my mind so empty?
Because it wasn't my fault, that's why. I shouldn't have been here, in the depressing classroom without windows. I should have been at Leslie's house. We all would have been sleeping on the floor, snuggled under our sleeping bags. My toes would not have been colorless like they were now. My fingers would have looked almost professionally done, not with polish all over the fingertip and not on the fingernail. I couldn't believe I missed Leslie's sweet sixteen birthday party because of a crime I did not commit. If you call it a crime, that is.
My mind drifted to events occurring yesterday, Fateful Friday as I now alliterated. I was in Geometry, learning about circles. Honestly, who cares about circles? My brain had ached, words like "arc" and equations like "πr2" floating about in my head like they had business being there. To escape the torturous work, I politely asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom. When she said yes, I snatched the bathroom pass and almost sprinted out the door.
I was not one to lie when it comes to excusing myself to the bathroom. True to my word, I meandered through the school, choosing the bathroom second nearest to my classroom. The first thing I thought of when I entered the bathroom was fire. Originally, I had no idea why a picture of fire immediately sprang into my mind.
But as I gulped down some air, I noticed the acrid smell of smoke suffocating the bathroom. Confused, I scanned the bathroom floor, spying a match near the trash can. Being the illogical person that I was, I picked up the match and studied it. I glanced down into the trashcan, only to see all of its contents in flames. For a few moments, I was too dumbfounded to do anything, like stop the fire. Instead, I curiously watched the flames as they grew, eventually licking the sides of the trashcan.
Cue complete stranger.
Just as I had the brilliant idea to pour water over the fire, a girl I had never seen in my life walked in. Her eyes went from the match in my hand to the fire, and back to the match. They widened in fear, and they drifted to my face.
"Fire!" she shrieked. "Fire in the bathroom!"
I opened my mouth to explain—I had simply found the match on the floor—but no words came out. In attempt to speak, I made a noise eerily similar to that of a dying frog. Before I had a chance to imitate any other dying animals, a teacher scurried in.
"Fire?" she asked, pushing thick rimmed glasses up her nose. Her gaze landed on me. "Bring me some paper towels," she demanded.
I reacted like a good little girl should.
"More!" she snapped when I handed her only two.
I pulled out a handful more and offered them to her. She wet them all over the sink, and then handed them back to me.
"Smother the fire with them!" she barked. I dropped the wet towels, one by one, onto the growing flames.
A few coughs and many paper towels later, the fire was out. I smelled horribly of smoke. The teacher seized the arms of the stranger and me and marched down the hallway to the principal's office. By then, the smoke had wafted to the nearby classrooms. A throng of students crowded the bathroom doorway, anxiously trying to get a glimpse of the stranger or me. The teacher maneuvered through the throng like no big deal. Ignoring the secretary, she barged right into the principal's office. Ms. Waters sat behind her desk, filling out paperwork. Her dark blonde hair was pulled half-back, and she wore long, dangly earrings that nearly touched the desk when she leaned over.
The teacher cleared her throat, and Ms. Waters looked up.
"Yes?" she said expectantly.
"There was a fire in the girl's bathroom. I suspect one of them started the fire, and the other witnessed it." The teacher roughly shoved the stranger and me into chairs.
"First of all, what are your names?" Ms. Waters asked.
"Tara Bryans," the stranger replied.
"Angela Wright," I mumbled.
"Now, Ms. Bryans, please tell me your story," Ms. Waters calmly asked of the stranger. Tara tucked a strand of raven colored hair behind her ear.
"Well, I was in Bio, and I was really bored," she began before catching her error. Ms. Waters raised her eyebrows, and Tara blushed.
"Anyway," she continued. "I went to the bathroom. When I went in, that girl was standing over the trashcan with a match, and there were flames coming out of it."
"Flames coming out of the trashcan?"
Ms. Waters turned towards me. "And what, Ms. Wright, do you have to say?"
"Well, I also was in class and decided to go to the bathroom. When I walked in, it smelled like smoke. I saw a match lying over by the trashcan, so I went over to get a closer look. When I got there, I noticed that the trashcan was on fire."
"And when you got a closer look at the match, you picked it up."
I felt like a witness in a court, with Ms. Waters as the lawyer. My story was so weak and so unbelievable. What sane person picked up a match?
And so on. Ms. Waters questioned the teacher and found a couple of other students who heard Tara cry out. Eventually I was punished, but not nearly as harshly as I imagined. After that situation, I expected expulsion. However, there wasn't enough evidence to prove I actually started the fire. Of course, there wasn't enough evidence to prove I didn't start the fire either. And I also helped put it out, and I obeyed the teacher like a good little girl should. That earned me some brownie points. The end result was a Saturday detention for the next ten Saturdays. Number one, Ms. Waters was lax, and they couldn't prove for sure that I had started the fire. Number two, my parents threatened to sue Crescent Hill if they expelled me. And, let me tell you, Crescent Hill did not want to get on the bad side of my parents.
Sure, it was nice that I didn't have to endure either expulsion or suspension, but that's not to say I wasn't angry. I was absolutely livid. I hadn't done anything wrong! But all the evidence pointed to me. I would have to suffer for my foul luck and nonexistant common sense.
So that was why I sat in this chair in this boring classroom in my uniform at 8:06 in the morning, missing out on my best friend's only sixteenth birthday party she would ever have in her life. The essay question scribbled on the chalkboard hadn't helped any. I had the entire time I was in detention to complete it. That angered me doubly. No one had told me about an essay.
Our school requires a student to have obtained sixty hours of community service by the time he/she graduates. Why do you think we require this? How do you think community service benefits an individual? Should these sixty hours be required statewide? Nationwide? Explain your answers in a thoughtful essay numbering at least five hundred words.
My pen was poised over the paper, my hand ready to write the words that my brain wouldn't provide. This question in particular was easy to BS. So why wouldn't my brain function? I sighed angrily. The proctor at the front of the room glanced up from his newspaper. The normal looking kid three rows in front of me turned around. The girl with green spiky hair and a nose ring shot me a look of disgust. The black-clad kid in the corner, who looked like a druggie, shifted in his seat, but that was all. Wasn't he supposed to be wearing his uniform? Whatever. When they all noticed that the noise was simply me sighing, they returned to their lives.
And all of a sudden—inspiration! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I madly scratched away at my paper, writing a glorious opening sentence in a pen that wrote with breaking black ink. The inspiration wasn't supposed to end there. I had tons of ideas suddenly crammed into my head. But a distraction entered the room in the form of a person.
He certainly made an entrance. Not only was he fashionably late, but he swung the door open with a loud flourish. He appeared to be either my age or a year older, with dark hair that looked black sweeping across his face. His jaw was strong and square. I squinted to get a look at his eyes, but he was too far away.
The proctor seemed all too bored.
"How nice of you to join us, Mr. McFadden," he said.
The newcomer grinned. "I thought so, too. Wouldn't wanna miss your detention, eh Mr. Cleveland?" "
The proctor grunted his assent.
"And this time, I'm only ten minutes late." The newcomer was either oblivious to the somberness of detention or simply did not care. He was obviously not new to the whole detention experience. No one who wasn't would come into detention with that much cheer. Especially this early in the morning.
"Eleven on my watch."
I looked up at the clock hanging on the classroom wall. Eight according to the school's watch. I was tempted to blurt it out, but decided against it. Unlike this Mr. McFadden, I was not accustomed to the whole "detention" thing. I did not get detention. Well, until now. But it still wasn't my fault.
"Sit down and write your essay, McFadden."
With a smile, McFadden winked and grabbed a heap of papers. He definitely did not need that many to write a five hundred word essay. What a waste of trees. He snatched a pen from the pile on Mr. Cleveland's desk and took the seat two rows over from mine.
Now that my distraction was gone, I could concentrate again. I reread my opening sentence. Community service hours are one of the core pieces of a well balanced student. It sucked. Why did I think it was so wonderful? Not to mention the fact that McFadden's interruption forced my inspiration out of my brain. I mourned its loss. Hopefully, though, the next inspiration I had would be better than the first.
I was mere inches away from my next inspiration when something light hit me on the side of the head. My focus was gone—again! I glared around the room, searching for the paper-thrower. All I could see of the normal kid was his hunched back. The girl with green hair had fallen asleep with her hand propping up her head. As for the black-clad kid, I couldn't tell. His face was half hidden. Finally, I looked at McFadden. He winked and threw me another waded up piece of paper. I opened it up.
Hello. Welcome to Boredom.
Rolling my eyes, I re-crumpled the paper and pushed it to the corner of my desk. Just as I bent over my essay once more, another piece of paper hit me on the head. I glared daggers at McFadden, but he appeared undaunted as he waved at me. I turned my eyes back to my paper, tugging at my brain to eke out another four hundred eighty-six words. The fourth piece of paper that was hurtled at me was the final straw. Drawing upon every muscle in my body, I chucked the paper at McFadden as hard as I could.
I missed him by about a foot.
While he silently broke down laughing, I fumed. I could feel the steam shooting out of my ears. Here I was, a good student trying to write an essay. Speaking of the essay, why wasn't anyone else writing it? I couldn't tell about the normal looking kid, but none of the other people were writing their essays. All except for McFadden were sleeping. He was too busy laughing at me to go to sleep.
When the fifth wad hit me on the head, I knew I might as well give in. He would probably continue hitting me with paper wads until detention ended if I didn't reply.
Nice aim, the paper said. Great. I chose to answer the taunting wad.
Shut up, I wrote back. I looked up at McFadden, who was grinning, and tossed the paper at him. It landed neatly in the center of his desk. He silently laughed at my reply, and then wrote his own before tossing it back.
No I'm serious. I don't know anyone else who could miss their target by a foot.
I bet you do. Now that I answered you will you stop bothering me? I have to write my essay.
McFadden glanced up at me with a devious smirk and shook his head. He took a while to write his reply, a time which I took advantage of to finish my introduction paragraph. The quality was immensely worse than what my skills were, but this was just an essay for detention. I didn't care like I normally would.
The paper wad landed on my desk and skidded off the end. I bent to pick it up.
Nah, bothering people is too much fun. Wanna hear my essay? It goes like this:
Community service is good. It helps people and makes you feel good inside. Our school requires sixty hours of it because it shows you have more priorities than schoolwork. I think community service helps individuals by making them feel good about themselves. When they help other people, they are really helping themselves feel better, especially if they have the disease called Depression. It should be required statewide and nationwide because it's good.
That's not five hundred words. And you used the word good four times.
The reply came swiftly.
Nobody cares about the essays.
Well I do. Go away.
McFadden pretended to look severely offended when he read my note. Once he was sure I was looking at him, he turned his nose up snootily and rested his head on his desk. Fine with me. I turned my attention back to my poorly written essay. After a couple lines of the first paragraph, my brain finally returned to its ordinary BSing track. By 9:03, I was finished writing a weak five hundred sixty-nine word essay. I tried to read through it, but whenever I did I was disgusted by the horrendous quality, so I was forced to stop.
With a loud sigh, I settled back in my chair. Mr. Cleveland appeared to be in the land between awake and asleep. Normal looking kid had started snoring. Green haired girl had not moved at all, except for her face having slid down her hand a little. The right side of her mouth was pulled upward by the heel of her hand. I could see black-clad kid's face now. His eyes were heavily lined in eyeliner, and his face looked deathly pale. He, too, was asleep.
The last person I checked on was McFadden. His arms were on his desk, with the right side of his face pressed against his arms. His eyes were closed, and his mouth was parted slightly. His peacefulness could only assure one thing: he was asleep. Who was I to break this sleeping trend? I buried my face under my arms to block out the light. One instant, I was thinking about how uncomfortable desks were for sleeping. The next instant, I was gone.
Someone was prodding my arm. It was getting quite annoying. Would they mind stopping?
"Wake up!" The someone gave my arm a gentle shove.
I opened my eyes. Everything was dark, and the air smelled dirty. As my mind woke up too, I realized it was because my face was still buried under my arms: that was how I had gone to sleep. I lifted my head up drowsily, instantly meeting a pair of emerald green eyes I didn't recognize. I had never seen eyes that color before, so I studied them. You could easily get lost in those eyes.
Suddenly, the eyes backed up. I flushed in embarrassment at having been caught staring. McFadden didn't seem to notice though.
"Detention's over, hon'," he practically sang, flashing me a megawatt grin.
I surveyed the room. Mr. Cleveland was standing behind the desk, watching the clock impatiently. Normal looking kid stood in the corner by the door. After I looked at him, I realized he was watching me. Creepy. Green haired girl was gone, and black-clad kid was lumbering towards the door.
"Don't call me hon'," I corrected, glancing down at my watch. 10:04. Detention ended four minutes ago.
I snatched my essay and extra papers from the desk. McFadden picked up my pen and raised his eyebrows at me.
"What's that?" he asked, nodding his head towards my essay.
"My essay." Before McFadden had time to remark snidely, I pushed past him and approached Mr. Cleveland.
"Where should I put my essay?" I asked, confusedly searching the desk for other essays that weren't there.
Mr. Cleveland furrowed his eyebrows. "Essay?"
"The one we had to write about community service?" I pointed to the blackboard. I set my extra papers in the pile of empty papers as he turned around to check the blackboard.
"Oh, that. You keep it."
"What?" No. That wasn't allowed. I spent a precious fifty minutes of my time writing the crappiest essay of my life.
"It's for, uh, self-improvement. You get to keep it."
I glowered at McFadden, who was quietly sniggering in the doorway. When I caught his eye, he shrugged nonchalantly; but the snickering gave it all away.
Mr. Cleveland shrugged and hastened out the door. I stomped up to McFadden, wadding up my essay and throwing it into the trash can. As soon as I reached him, we began walking towards the school exit.
"Why didn't you tell me that we didn't have to write that essay?!" I demanded.
"I figured you needed to learn some 'self-improvement.'" He laughed. "What were you there for anyway?"
"Nothing." I bristled. He thought I was a bad person. He thought I had done something wrong. I had done nothing wrong! It wasn't my fault. I just didn't have common sense.
"So you were just there for kicks?" He raised his eyebrows. Why was I having this conversation with him? I didn't know him. Today was the first day in my life I had ever seen him. And I already hated him.
"Well, no. They think I tried to set fire to the girl's bathroom. But it wasn't me."
"That was you?" There was actually a tone of admiration in his voice.
"I just said it wasn't me."
McFadden scrutinized me, a feeling which I did not enjoy. So I turned my face ahead and refused to meet his eyes.
"Yeah. You're too innocent and normal."
"You're innocent and normal. Those types of people don't show up in detention."
I wasn't sure whether to take his words as a compliment. Well the normal part was, since I was a non-normal girl. But I couldn't decide whether I wanted to look innocent because I was, or if wanted to look somewhere between innocent and badass because those people get picked on less.
"What about the kid in front of me? He was pretty normal looking."
"But he wasn't innocent. At the end didn't you see how he looked at you like he was hungry?"
"Looked at me like he was hungry?" This was an interesting conversation to be having with a stranger. It was definitely not normal to be talking about how people looked at me hungrily. Actually, that was quite scary.
"Yeah . . . y'know?"
McFadden sighed with a trace of embarrassment, ran his fingers through his dark hair, and shook his head like a dog. "He molests people." He furtively checked to make sure no one was around to hear him. "That's why he was in detention."
"You could tell that just by looking at him?"
"Basically, yeah. . . . Well, and some prior knowledge. Like that girl with green hair? She was caught skipping school to stand in line for concert tickets. And Ryan—that was the kid in the black . . . well, I'm not really sure why he was there. But I'll find out eventually."
I shook my head in amazement and pushed open the doors to outside. The day was relatively warm for the middle of March, although a strong breeze every now and then made it seem colder than it really was. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and turned it on. It beeped a few times, informing me that it was turning on. I took a seat on one of the benches in the front. McFadden, much to my surprise, sat right next to me.
"What do you want?" I asked him with a tone more accusatory than I meant for it to be.
He grinned. That wasn't supposed to be funny.
"I'm keeping you company."
I raised my eyebrows. "What if I don't want company?"
"Then I'm bothering you. I'll leave when you leave."
So he could drive. For the most part, that ruled out the possibility of him being a sophomore. He could have been one of those sophomores who were held back, but I didn't think he was. It was at this moment I realized I did not know McFadden. I decided to ask a question that any normal person would have asked at the beginning of their conversation with a stranger.
"Who are you?" I blurted.
"My name is Alex F. McFadden," he answered in a humorous tone, sticking out his right hand. "And what is your name?"
I grasped his hand and gave it a weak shake. "Angela."
McFadden, or Alex as we can now call him, glanced down at our interlocked hands and refused to let go.
"You shake hands like a sissy," he informed me. He gripped my hand tightly. "Hold my hand like this."
I futilely attempted to wrench my hand free. McFadden smirked.
"Just do it," he said.
"Just do it."
Heaving an enormous and frustrated sigh, I gripped his hand more tightly.
"You call that tight?" he scorned.
I squeezed his hand tighter, trying to squeeze it to pieces. If it did he wouldn't be able to try to teach me the "right" way of shaking hands. A handshake was a handshake. Who cared how strong it was?
"Not that tight!" he laughed, flexing his hand in mine. Reluctantly, I lessened the intensity of my grip. "Right. Like that. Now actually move your whole arm up and down. Don't just flap your wrist around like you did before."
Obeying his directions literally to bother him, I moved my entire arm up and down, upper arm and all. He only smirked knowingly.
"If you're trying to annoy me, it's not gonna work. I'm more annoying than you'll ever hope to be; I know all the tricks of the trade." His eyes alighted with light-hearted mockery. I rolled my eyes.
"Now move your forearm up and down. Subtly. Not in huge motions. Yeah like that." We shook hands in the special McFadden way. "Congratulations! You've just learned the only handshake for people who want to make it!"
"What?" I asked confused. "The only handshake for people who want to make it? What the heck is that supposed to mean?
McFadden laughed. I decided that he laughed way too much to be a normal person.
"Y'know, make it? In life? No one's gonna hire you if you shake hands like a sissy. It makes you seem timid."
Timid? Nobody ever used the word timid in daily conversation. Ever.
"And you would know because . . .?"
He chuckled. I wanted to yell at him to stop laughing! Okay, so maybe chuckling wasn't full-fledged laughing, but it was close. Too close for comfort. Maybe he was an alien from a planet where they laughed inhumanly much because they were inhuman. That would make sense.
"I just know. Don't question the master."
"The master?" I echoed with derision. Who did this guy think he was?
He grinned devilishly. "That's right. I know everything."
"Oh, do you?"
I sighed in exasperation. I would have liked to question him on, well, everything, but I realized those comments could be taken flirtatiously. I definitely did not want McFadden, or anyone for that matter, to be under the impression that I was flirting with him. In fact, I was far from it. Everything about McFadden irked me, down to those sexy, emerald eyes that observed me humorously. Dammit, I had just admitted to the sexiness of his eyes. They were sexy, but I didn't want those thoughts running through my head.
"Like right now I know what you're thinking."
I raised my eyebrows haughtily and said nothing.
"You're thinking about how full of myself I am."
I pursed my lips and turned my moody glare to the street. I wondered what Leslie and the others were doing right now. Were they awake yet? It was only ten-fifteen in the morning. Chances were that they were still snoring away, unless Leslie's mom had woken them up for some delicious, fresh, hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts. My mouth watered just thinking about them. This was so unfair. I should have been there. I should have been devouring those doughnuts like there was no tomorrow. I certainly should not have been here, sitting on a bench outside the school wearing my uniform while some random guy vexed me endlessly. Why was he bothering me anyway? It wasn't like I had done anything to him. I had never even seen him before.
"I'm pissing you off majorly, aren't I?" There was a tone of amusement in his voice that I didn't like. What was so amusing about making me want to slap him?
"Yes," I growled threateningly. "Can't you take a hint?"
Where the heck was my mom? She was about twenty minutes late—not that that was unusual. She was always late; work was too important for her only daughter. Under normal circumstances I would have been able to deal with it. However, having McFadden here annoying me was not considered a normal circumstance.
He shrugged. "No," he replied casually.
A car pulled into the front of the school, stopping in front of me. Finally! My mom, on her cell phone, watched impatiently as I leaped off the bench.
"Bye!" McFadden called out. Not returning the farewell, I hopped into the car.
"Who was that?" my mom asked distractedly, shifting gears and pressing lightly on the accelerator.
"I told you, not today!" she shrieked into the phone.
I sighed and continued to glower at the road. "No one," I retorted even though she wasn't listening.
I turned around, sparing one last glance at McFadden. He was walking to his car at a slow amble. I faced the front again, hoping that I'd never have to talk to him ever again.
There you have! Chapter numero uno! ;) Review and tell me what you think!