Week of Trials
Note: The setting of the entire story is one classroom. I realize that it's strange, considering they're in high school, but I'm experimenting with a different style that involves the interaction of two characters in one place over a span of time.
"I like you. Will you go out with me?"
The boy glanced up at the girl, who was blushing in embarrassment while still meeting his gaze boldly. He blinked, gave her a once-over, and turned back to what he had originally been doing.
Her embarrassment now forgotten, the girl slammed her hand on his desk and lowered her face to meet his, which was currently focused on a book. "Did you hear me?" she asked, irritated.
He waved his hand at her as if she were a bug, flying around him. "Obviously. It'd be hard not to."
She gaped at him, noticing how the other students were staring at her. "And?"
His gaze lifted to meet hers. "And what?"
Her face turned an interesting shade of red as she tried to control her anger. "You're supposed to answer when you've been confessed to."
With a sigh, he looked back toward his book, only to find it being snatched away. Again, he was faced with the girl, who had a cruel grin on her face. "I'll go out with you when hell freezes over," he said with an equally cruel grin. His gaze turned expectant. "My book?"
Snarling, she threw it at him and stalked to her own seat. It was just as well because class was beginning.
A picture, printed off the computer, was thrust under his nose. He glanced from it to the girl who was grinning, proud of her achievement. "What is this?"
The smile fell from her face. "You said yesterday that you'd go out with me when hell froze over."
He looked back at the picture. "And…?" An eyebrow lifted.
With a groan, she pointed at the center of the picture, a welcome sign with icicles hanging from it. "It's Hell."
Eyes widening, he turned his own gaze back to the picture, squinted, and declared, "You doctored it with Photoshop."
She snatched the picture back, crumpled it into a ball and threw it at him, feeling a slight amount of satisfaction when it bounced off his head. "Listen! There is a real place called Hell, Michigan. And it freezes over! I looked it up on the internet, and I found the picture as proof."
A sigh of exasperation left her lips. "If you didn't want to go out to begin with, why didn't you just say so?"
He was silent for a moment, then… "I thought the whole "hell freezes over" thing was a dead giveaway."
For the first time since bothering him yesterday, she had a dejected expression on her face. And, although common sense told him not to, he called to her as she walked toward her seat on the other side of the classroom.
"I never said that I didn't want to go out with you."
As soon as the words left his mouth, he mentally cursed himself. Instantly, as if she was a balloon brought in from the cold, she inflated back to her happy disposition. "Really?"
He nodded. "As soon as you tell me who you are."
The happy expression disappeared again, replaced by a wary one. "You do understand that we're in the same class—that we've been in the same class for the last three years?"
"That long?" he asked, awed.
She crossed her arms, annoyed. "Ashley Tripp."
He gave a curt not. "And I'm-"
"Zach Wagner. I know. Everyone knows."
His eyes widened in surprise. "Everyone? Aren't you over exaggerating? I highly doubt that everyone would know-"
"Just because you don't pay attention to other people doesn't mean the same toward you," she replied. "You always say the vaguest things when people talk to you, so you're pretty popular, believe it or not."
He gave her the same surprised expression for a few more moments before shrugging and returning his attention back to the book.
"What?" His eyes never left the page.
"We're going out now, right?"
"I suppose." He turned the page.
Ashley took a deep breath to calm herself. "Can I sit by you, then?"
His head jerked up. "What?"
Irritation evident on her face, she pointed to herself. "Me…sit…here." She pointed to the desk beside him.
"Do what you want."
She looked as if she wanted to hit him, but, instead, transferred her belongings to the seat beside him. With a sigh, she glanced back at her friends, who were staring at her as if she'd gone insane. They didn't understand her, but she never expected them to. Exasperated with her thoughts, she turned her attention to Zach.
"What are you reading?"
He slammed the book down. "Are you going to continue to bother me?"
Her mouth fell open in shock. "I was just-"
"Stop kicking my desk," he ordered to the guy sitting behind him. When that proved fruitless, he turned his attention to her. "This is your fault, you know."
Her brow furrowed in annoyance. "How is it my fault?"
"Isn't it obvious? You're popular, aren't you?"
Affronted, she argued, "You don't even know who I am, so how would you know if I'm popular?"
"I'm not blind, and I'm not deaf." He gave her another once-over. "Why don't you go back to your own kind?"
A crestfallen expression crossed her face, and he had to force himself to keep from apologizing. But, as soon as it appeared, it was gone, replaced by an expression that could freeze water. "My own kind?" she repeated. "You say it like I'm a different species than you, like I'm some kind of freak." Gathering her belongings, she stood. "I changed my mind. I'm not sitting by you anymore."
"I never asked you to," he replied, returning his attention to the book. He flipped the pages, searching for the page he was on.
"We're going on a date Friday," she added.
He nodded, froze, and dropped the book. It fell from his desk to the floor as he turned to give her an incredulous look.
An impish grin played on her lips. "That's right, a date."
"When pigs fly," he replied, his eye twitching in irritation.
"What is this?" he demanded, staring down at the paper taped to his desk. His eye was twitching again, and he hastily read the headline of what appeared to be a newspaper article. "Farmer brings pigs on airplane to pork convention?" he asked, confused.
Ashley laughed from beside him, and he glared down at her. She was sitting in the seat she had vacated yesterday. He thought she had given up. Apparently, he was wrong. "That's right." She crossed her legs and lounged in her seat.
Catching himself, he turned his attention back to the paper on his desk. He was not just admiring Ashley Tripp's endless legs. To do such a thing was utter foolishness.
"Like what you see?" she drawled, stretching for good measure.
When had he returned his gaze to her? He ducked his head, trying to hide the blush that crossed it. But a glance toward her and her knowing smile proved that he was already found out.
"So, where are we going?" she asked, taking out a planner and flipping it to the day she had decided on. "It'll be after school, of course. And I'd prefer it if we went someplace interesting." A pretty pink pen poised in her hand, she turned her attention to him. "Zach?"
He gaped at her. "What makes you think that I'm going on a date with you?"
Shooting him a look of disdain, she sighed and placed her pen down on the desk. "The pigs flew," she said slowly, as if speaking to a child. "You're the one who made the proposition."
"It's a figure of speech!" he cried out. "I never expected you to find proof of these things occurring."
"Then you've obviously underestimated my resourcefulness," she replied, sniffing and retrieving her pen. "Now then, where are we going?"
The sound of paper ripping stole her attention from her planner. She groaned as he tore the paper into pieces. When he turned his attention back to her, she gave him a slight, impatient smile, obviously waiting for him to reply. "Neverland," he said darkly. "Why don't you find a fairy while you're at it, since you're so resourceful?"
A frown marred her pleasant features as she watched him try to pry the tape from his desk. "I was only trying to have an amiable conversation. There's no need for you to act so…immature. If you don't want to go out with me, then just say so!"
The room became deathly quiet as all eyes were on him. Zach sat at his desk, pointedly ignoring them. "Why me?" The question was asked so softly, she almost didn't catch it.
"Why you?" she repeated.
His expression was one of rage. "I don't interact with people, and you're a social butterfly. It's like…those stories where the popular chick chases after the nerdy dweeb."
She glared at him, affronted. "Firstly, you are not a dweeb. You ignore people, and I find that…interesting. When somebody gets too close to you, you say cryptic things, and they get confused. I like that. Normally, I'm surrounded by people who want to do my every bidding just because I'm pretty and smart."
"So…I'm a challenge to you?"
She pursed her lips. "You could say that."
He didn't speak to her for the rest of the day.
"Do you think that they've broken up?" a girl whispered to another as Ashley walked into the classroom.
When she sat in her original spot, the other one answered, "It looks like it."
Ashley turned in her seat and regarded the two girls with a vicious glare. "It's not nice to talk about other people. Gossiping is so juvenile."
Outwardly, she exuded the image of calm, so nobody thought that it affected her. They didn't know that she had spent hours crying the night before. A self-derisive smirk was affixed to her face, and her eyes were melancholic.
When the class fell silent, she didn't notice. It wasn't until the shadow fell over her desk, and she felt eyes boring into her that she looked up and gasped.
"I don't believe you," Zach said, an expression of pure malice on his face.
She shrank back. "W-what?"
A tape recorder clattered as it hit her desk. Then, he strode across the room to his own desk. Confused, she pushed the play button.
"So, she's never had a boyfriend?" a child's voice asked.
"Nope, never," the cheerful voice of her best friend, Jessica, echoed through the classroom. "But…she's like this guy for ages, since we were in junior high. She's so adorable."
"What's the guy's name?" the kid asked.
Jessica laughed. "I don't know if I should tell you. Promise not to tell anyone…?" After a slight pause, she continued, "Zach Wagner. But it's sad because she never had the guts to tell him until yesterday, and he just brushed her off."
"That isn't very nice," the child remarked.
"No, no it isn't. And she worked so hard, too. She was reciting it in the bathroom. It's hilarious, seeing the most popular girl in school reduced to babbling in front of a mirror-"
With a click, she pushed the stop button on the recorder and looked across the room, to where Zach was staring at her. She managed a weak smile, but found that she couldn't keep eye contact.
When class got out, she raced out of the room, too self-conscious to speak with him. It would crush her if he ridiculed her.
The stares she endured yesterday made her feel queasy. She avoided everyone and entered the classroom well before school started and was shocked to find somebody already there. Hastily backing up to make her retreat, she saw him glance toward the door—toward her.
"Ashley, wait," he called.
She fell still, doing as he requested. He had never called her by her name. Holding her breath, she waited for his cruel words.
"You're not the only resourceful person," he remarked, glancing out the window.
She frowned. That hadn't been what she was expecting. Taking it as a sign that he wasn't going to make fun of her, she made her way across the room and sat down in the seat beside him.
"Your friend tutors my cousin. She doesn't know that Rachel's related to me. If she did, I'm sure that she'd never say those things."
When she didn't answer, he turned his head and let out a cry of surprise. "Jesus, Ashley!"
She grinned. "Should we start over again?"
A frown darkened his face momentarily before he nodded. "Okay."
She held out her hand. "I'm Ashley Tripp."
Raising his eyebrows he regarded her proffered appendage like it had a disease before sighing and grasping it with his own hand. "Zach Wagner. I like you, Ashley. Will you go out with me?"
The smile on her face froze, and her mouth fell open in shock. "That was…my line."
He cocked his head, a taunting grin on his face. "Really?"
She frowned. "You stole my line, Zach. That was mine. Do you know how long it took me to get the courage to say it? And you said it so casually, too!"
He looked past her, toward the other students gradually filtering into the classroom. "You never answered my question."
Again, she fell silent, but it was only a moment's hesitation before she pulled her hand out of his. Regarding him thoughtfully, she said, "I don't know. You have this habit of trying to deter me."
"I thought that you liked a challenge."
"Oh, I do," she replied, still watching him contemplatively. But it was the quivering of her lips that gave her away. Within moments, a smile had found its way onto her face. She laughed and wrapped her arms around him, startling him. "Yes, I'll go out with you."
A relieved smile crossed his face. "Good, because I don't know what would've happened had you said no."
Pulling back, she looked at him. "So, when are we going on a date?"
"When you give me the moon," he replied cheekily.
And thus began the strangest couple in school.