Some Would Call This "Higher Learning"

The Mail Arrives

"Hmmm…anyone wanna watch TRL?" Nanette Ellard asked the circle of friends around her. She was holding up the remote, pointing it at the large flat screen TV, and waited patiently for her friends to answer.

Heristottle Hanapol groaned from his seat on the couch. "Augh, I hate TRL, it's so…stupid."

"It took you that long to think of the word 'stupid'?" Byvette Vargas sneered munching on some popcorn.

"Everyone can't be as smart as you," Yerin Pasayan said as she rolled her eyes at Byvette and laid her head on Heristottle's shoulder.

"Calm down, guys. Just an honest joke," Godge Zealand said running a hand through his soft brown hair.

Only Viro Oliver seemed to keep his head on the subject as he calmly suggested Comedy Central. "They usually have MadTV on around now. I think we all need a laugh."

Nanette nodded in approval as she started surfing through the channels (occasionally catching a glimpse of some soap opera or golf show) until she found it. Everyone fell quiet immediately and kept their eyes glued to the screen forgetting all about their minor bickering before.

The six of them had been close friends ever since first grade at Clairsfield Grammar school. That was back when they were six. Now they were well into the eighth grade year, the last step towards high school. Oh, they couldn't wait. This was the year to chillax, hang out, and goof around until next September rolled around and the real hard work would begin. They had all agreed early on, that they'd be attending Clairsfield High, that way they wouldn't be separated or stress out as much as a few other kids they knew who considered going to a private school. They had been public school kids all their lives, why change now?

So after unanimously deciding to procrastinate on their homework until Sunday (Byvette wasn't too fond of this idea, but she eventually gave in), they were hanging out at Nanette's house all Saturday afternoon, gulping down tons of soda, pigging out on mountains of junk food, and just being lazy slobs.

Nanette Ellard's house was always the house they chose to go over. It was, quite honestly, one of the prettiest, biggest, and grandest houses in Plescious County and Nanette made sure everyone knew it. She threw parties all the time and people were so anxious to get in, they'd do anything the month before the date to catch an invite. Needless to say, she was proud of her house and her money but kept the bragging on the minimum since she knew how much people hated it. She was born a natural athlete, being able to do just about anything from the moment her parents enrolled her in soccer camp when she was five and from there, her success grew. She was captain of the soccer, basketball, and softball teams at school and no one dared challenge her for her position. It was an accepted fact that she'd be the head of the team just because she was the best. She knew it, the coach knew it, and everyone else knew it. She was also pretty reckless, but she made up for her stupid stunts by her openness to new things. It wasn't hard to like Nanette because she was always there to help out whenever a teammate needed extra practice and she always had so much energy that it was always a good time with her. But on the other hand, a ton of people hated her guts and her huge ego whenever it came to a competition. The one thing about Nanette, she would not back down. Her dirty blonde hair was always pulled back into a ponytail or a braid because she hated it getting into her face. She had striking grayish blue eyes that were used for intimidation on the field. And from all the hours she spent working out outside, she had a nice natural tan. Her friends usually called her "Nette" because her name and Byvette's were too much alike.

Heristottle Hanapol was the other big jock in the group. He played it cool most of the time, which for some mysterious reason unknown to the rest of them, made the ladies swoon. He was big on the basketball thing even though he wasn't that tall. He worked out all the time and so he was incredibly hot, but he wasn't in your face about it. Sometimes it seemed like he didn't even appear to notice. He usually wore large t-shirts that didn't show off his body, but if he got really pumped and into a game, he'd strip it off and go for his wifebeater instead. The girls that usually stalked him always hung around extra long just to see if he'd get hot enough to take his shirt off. Because he focused so much on athletics, he wasn't exactly the smartest kid around, but he wasn't butt stupid either. He got okay grades in school, nothing too incredible, but he passed. Most people expected him to join the army or be a professional sports player or something like that, but only his close friends knew that he wanted a better career path. Sure anything else wouldn't be that glamorous, but he knew and accepted that fact. He had always insisted that sports were just a hobby and that he wanted to get places in life. He had always envied Byvette who was the genius of the group. He usually paired up with her during projects so he'd could take notes on her study habits and try to figure out the mystery of her intellect. He had short black hair and naturally tanned skin and the most amazing brown eyes. He didn't like his name that much—it made him sound like a dork—so they sometimes called him "Heris".

Byvette Vargas was the smart aleck, sassy, and curvy Latina girl. Her soul ambition in life was to become a lawyer and then after that, a college professor. Ever since seventh grade, she'd been planning her whole life out. Retirement was the last thing on the girl's mind, preferring to keep her nose down hard on the grind stone, insisting that she worked her best under pressure. Truthfully, she did her best no matter what condition she was in. She was always the first to hand in projects, not daring to procrastinate; she never skipped out on homework because she didn't want her already perfect grades to lower one bit; and she'd never been in detention ever. She worked her best to be the perfect student and in turn, her teachers adored her. She would always be the first to contribute in a discussion, to raise her hand after a question, and volunteer herself for absolutely anything. Other people called her a teacher's pet, but her friends knew she was the way she was because she had true ambition. She kept her mind on her goal and would do absolutely anything to achieve it. Her dedication was amazing and people usually disliked her for her snide remarks and quick brain. In a Yo Mamma competition, she'd sweep the floor. She wasn't afraid to voice her opinion even if everyone thought she was wrong (but for the most part, she was always right). She was the kinda student whose work teachers held up and used as an example. But because all her energy was forced into studying, studying, and more studying, she sucked at physical activities. She was always the last person in line when doing laps in gym, she had no muscles whatsoever, and whenever she had free time, she'd exercise her brain instead of her body. So yes, Byvette had weight issues, and this was her only flaw. She was definitely a beautiful girl, but from the neck down, not so much. It was the sole issue she couldn't overcome, and it tore her up. She hated looking the way she did, and even though she didn't tell anyone, the rest of her friends knew. They tried their best to cheer Byvette up, eating less around her and offering to play a friendly game whenever they were together. Byvette appreciated their efforts, but she still couldn't help feel sorry for herself no matter how many A's she got. Byvette had naturally curly brown hair that frizzed if she didn't fix it properly. She had a bad habit of biting her fingernails ever so often, but no one seemed to notice.

Yerin Pasayan wasn't the smartest girl, or the most athletic, nor was she the prettiest. She was average but that's only if you just saw her walking down the street. If you actually got to know her, it was a completely different situation. Yerin was the most high maintenance person in the whole entire grade. She exfoliated her skin to sheer softness, she straightened her hair so well that a needle would be jealous, her skin was so clean and clear that a zit wouldn't dare start territory on it, her teeth so white that when she smiled it blinded everyone in the surrounding area, and she wore outfits that made professional models crawl away in disgrace. Yerin lived in a middle class family, meaning that her parents made okay money and that she lived well off. She wasn't rich but she was definitely not poor. But for some reason, she always got the designer labels on the majority of the clothing she wore. Right now she was carrying around her Juicy Couture handbag and was wearing her crisp white Lacoste polo. Her favorite store was Bloomingdale's and she lived for the mall. She was unmistakably the fashion icon of the school and she pitied the fools she'd be leaving behind when she moved onto high school. Where would they get their fashion advice? What would they do without their muse? Yerin was the typical cheerleader, the popular girl whom everyone loved to hate. Everyone expected her and Heristottle to hook up, but they were too good of friends for that. Besides, she had always crushed on Viro, but that was a secret that no one was meant to find out. She loved her gossip and was always an overflowing fountain of information from who broke up with whom to who had the latest meltdown. She was the first to find anything out. She wasn't that smart either, but like Heristottle, she passed. She was kinda slow at times too, being the last to laugh at jokes and understand complicated ideas. Her mind eventually clicked and she'd finally grasp the concept, but that would be long afterwards when everyone else was onto the next subject. She was moody as hell and she didn't hesitate to take out her anger on any unsuspecting victims. People couldn't understand why her friends hung out with her. She was too much of a handful, they figured. Yes, that was true, but Yerin seemed to tone it down (only a bit) when she was around them. Besides, they had known her to long to give up on her now. Yerin had shoulder length black hair which went nice with her tanned skin and pouty mouth.

Godge Zealand was the best kinda friend a person could have. He stands up for his beliefs even if he's alone, he relates well to people because he takes the time to look at the situation through their perspective, and he is the most patriotic person around. But despite all his good qualities, people still overlook him because he isn't the most attractive person you see. In the shallow world known as middle school, looks, popularity, and athletics usually rank first when looking for a friend or when thinking about joining a clique. A winning personality and good intentions are still on the list, but are leveled towards the bottom. Godge didn't mind this all that much. He didn't need other people's approval; he already had five good friends to lean on and hang out with. Who needs the rest of the student body anyway? Godge had a positive mindset on life. He was an eternal optimist, which made people feel happy and light hearted when around him, but on the other hand, could come off as annoying. Even if he were in the worst possible situation, he'd always find a reason to smile. The rest of his friends were used to his enthusiasm, but others weren't, which was another point against his status on the social ladder. But don't mistake his cheerfulness and brave attitude as signs of someone easily manipulated. No, Godge was a street smart guy and he knew when someone was taking advantage of him. Then, and only then, would he drop his constant smile and release a word throwing monster that would not back down until his point was firmly across. And he made sure you knew it. The kid had floppy brown hair that was the closest thing to "soft" than kitten's fur.

Viro Oliver was the last of the group, though certainly not the least. He was a soft spoken kind of guy who didn't say anything more than he had to. Most people mistakenly took his quiet as rudeness, but that was not the case at all. Viro was the nicest person possible and that was saying something. He'd be the first to offer his help and the last person on line because he'd accept all requests of cutting. But being as kind a person as Viro was had its downfalls. He was a pushover and everyone knew it; well, almost everyone. He seemed to be the only one oblivious to this fact. His close knit group of friends made sure to protect him from all possible forms of attack from people who wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of the guy. He definitely looked the innocent part. Though the tallest person in his class, his face was notably round and cherubic giving strangers the impression of naivety, which was partly true. Viro's parents kept him on lock down for the most part, only allowing him to go out if it was to Nette's house or if an adult was present. This kept poor Viro from a lot of things which was typical social suicide. But Viro didn't seem to mind at all. He was loving guy who did what he was told. He had the typical skater hair cut with the piercing blue eyes and some would say that he highly resembled Zac Efron, though he always denied this.

A sudden thwap! interrupted the calm quiet, jolting the six out of their TV daze.

"Mom!" Nette called loudly, her voice echoing throughout the entire house. "The mail's here!"

Godge grunted as he covered his left ear. "Would you mind?" he muttered, pushing Nette farther from him. Being the closest to Nette, he had suffered the most harm from her abrupt shout.

"My bad, Godge," Nette apologized quickly before returning her attention to the TV.

Nette's mother, Anna Maria, heeded her daughter's scream and immediately made her way to the front door. She worked as a realtor, but due to the economy's current slump, she had found herself with more free time at home. This new scenario was bizarre to her since she had spent most of her adult life working hard to support her family and most importantly her only child. Now that the stress of a job was lifted off her shoulders, she didn't know what to do with herself. So she stayed at home, usually wasting the day away watching Martha Stewart or cooking meals that no sane person would ever dare try.

Her three inch heels click-clacked across the polished tiled floor as she zoned in on the pile of mail. Despite her lack of work recently, she hadn't given up on her heels, nor she decided, will she ever. She leaned down and picked the letters up, shifting through them nonchalantly. Bill, bill, non-profit charity, bill, bill, coupons, bill, letter from a school, bill—wait. She back tracked a bit to the mysterious letter that was not part of the familiar group she typically received. It was from "Professor H. S. C's School of Higher Learning".

She gasped.

It had finally happened.

The time had come.

The last thing she needed.

The rest of the crisp white letters fell to the floor, slipping out of her paralyzed hands.

The one thing she feared had confronted her at last.