The seat behind me in school has been abandoned. Not unoccupied. Just abandoned.
For me to be 5'2, and half my class be the same height and taller, does it make sense for people not to sit behind me? Well, there's a reason why. I know why. I hear them talking. And they always talk. And the talk is usually about me.
"Yeah, Sarai? I can't…"
"Isn't that weird?"
I'm Sarai, and they claim that they can't see behind me. That, for some reason, their vision is blurred beyond belief. It's as if some invisible force is standing at my back, a wall of displaced air that causes ripples in scenery. A swirl of people, of desks, or chalkboard, just a complete disarray of vision. The tales are miserably annoying and always in my ear, but despite the silly stories, gossip has its way of becoming a false truth. That's why I sit, alone for all my life here at Wrice High. This rumor however, is not the full reason for my outcast position…I was a transfer student here last year. Wrice is a prestigious and rich school, however, I came from a lesser district, Rolland Elms is the name. In short, Rolland is a neglected, rundown school with a sorry educational system. Coming here, my dad couldn't afford the intuition pay, but because I was a charity case they gave me an entrance exam anyway. The material was college leveled, maybe even on a more advanced level than that if possible. Well, whatever it was, the superintendent didn't expect me to ace it with flying colors. With my high score, they couldn't refuse me at the doors my freshman year. This acceptance didn't make me happy, but it didn't upset me either. When I heard that there was a dress code, I immediately thought about my outdated attire, which unfortunately is filled with my mom's and dad's old clothes. At WriceHigh, students are required to wear earth toned polo's, the boys bottoms are slacks, and the girls have to wear skirts that come just an inch above their knees. My white polo bags out around my waist, and my faded navy skirt comes a few inches below my knees. My dad said I'd grow into my clothes, but I'm starting to doubt his words. Yes, I'm neglected because of my social status, but I'm not the only outcast here at Wrice.
Elise, a burgundy haired girl, timid and pale skinned, sits far away in a rickety blue chair in my Art II class. Her eyes are a deep emerald gray, shaky and always searching. She has this awkward habit of wringing her sweaty hands in the lunch line and facing her toes to meet each other. Every time someone gets too close to Elise, her shoulders jump. Despite her questionable behavior, I thought it was strange for her to be neglected. She comes from wealth and has obviously been in this fancy school district all her life. It took only for the second week of my freshman year to see why people avoided her. In Speech class we had to give a three minute lecture on any issue we thought expressed the freedom of religion, but when it was Elise's turn, I couldn't help but feel the waves of nausea roaming around in my own gut. Her nervousness made me nervous. At the start of her speech, her voice wobbled and fell below a whisper. Not even two minutes in, her voice cracked and her eyes glazed over like glass. Clear tears ran down her cheeks as her lip crumbled. When the teacher saw this she made Elise sit back down. From that point on, her classmates refused to acknowledge her existence. I myself strayed away. I mean, just because we're outcast doesn't mean we automatically have to band together. In fact, we are wary of the other and stay away, hoping that no one comes along. If someone does approach, it's usually a dare, or a cruel trick.
It's just best to ignore each other.
As far as I was concerned, this year would be no different from the previous. Same students. Same teachers. Same everything. My treatment this year would not improve, in fact, it will probably worsen. I shrug the thought off and begin to scribble the notes my Physics teacher is sketching across the glossy white board. The equipment must be new this year too. After one use, they pass an item down to a lesser school district as a charity gift to the community.
The whole system is degrading to me.
During the lesson, a pause in activity happens. I hear the Physics teacher call for everyone's attention and I glance up. I'm half asleep, half awake, but suddenly I'm alert when I see what's going on. The kids in my class have cut off their conversations to stare at the object strolling down the aisles of desks. The strangest thing I have ever seen so far has got to be this character. He waltzes in the classroom, shirt untucked, buttons unattended, and black pants cuffed at the ankles. A brown skin boy, the same complexion of creamed coffee as me, but more mocha, is in my classroom. His nose is fine and straight, not pointy, but seemingly delicate. His mouth is firm and thin, but his eyes…they're sapphire gems, blue and gleaming. His hair is an array of silver spikes.
I always found myself an oddity, but this guy?
He was a whole other type of weird.
He sits down right behind me. He doesn't squint, shift his weight, or inch his head out from behind my shoulders. He doesn't even complain about blurry vision. Judging by his demeanor, I wonder if he even cares if he can see or not. No matter. In this square mix of a classroom, he is the only circle. The teacher asks the new student his name, so as to add it to the role sheet.
"Trent ." He says coolly. His voice has a hard undertone, but nonetheless, is very young and appropriate.
As curious and anxious as I am to ask him the many questions roaming around my mind, I will my body into stone, and aim my eyes like daggers on my Physics teacher's frame. I keep my back to the transfer guy. I ignore Trent.
As soon as the bell dismisses me, I'm the first one out the door, down the waxed tile flooring, and into the glass paneled cafeteria. Lunch. It only takes the woman at the register a mere second to pass me through the line because I get my lunch free. "Go on." She says under her breath. Her eyes are glazed over, looking past me, but when I walk away from her and head toward my seat, I can feel her eyes studying my back, sneering at me.
Never have I been more relieved to sit at my table. My table. No one would be caught dead sitting next to the poor Rolland Elms transfer freshman year. I suppose my peers thought me contagious back then, and I guess they still do now. The black leather of my oval seat is stiff, but I feel it give just the slightest bit under my weight.
Did they refurnish the materials of these seats too? All this new stuff is becoming ridiculous.
The moment I begin poking at my piping hot chicken-pot pie, a laughing chorus erupts behind me. A trio of girls in their stylish earth-toned skirts and frilly no-sleeve blouses skip pass me. They're giggling and gossiping loudly, but upon seeing me they begin exchanging short whispers with each another, trying hard not to break into another laughing fit.
Oh, that's that girl!
Shhh! That's mean.
The words used to sting me last year. Sometimes the words would burn me so bad that when I got home I'd drag myself to my room, drop all my tablets and textbooks onto the floor, and just face plant onto my bed and think. I would just think for what seemed like days when only minutes ticked by. How could such small rumors hurt worse than fire ant bites? How could such weightless sentences bring me down harder than an avalanche of boulders? I vaguely remember wondering if words could kill...
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me...
Shouldn't that have been the other way around?
I would bury my face into my floral comforter, just letting it suck me up into it's old fabric. It reminded me of the way my mother used to pull me to her soft bosom. She would let me cry if I had a boo-boo, or if I thought that there were monsters lurking in the shadows of my bedroom walls at night. But that day when I had been so miserable, so angry, I couldn't cry. Today, I can't even fake, or produce a tear to save my life. No more soft bosom to bawl in, no more hands to soothe my hair as I hiccup. That comfortable feeling of being squeezed back with love has been gone for two years now. What's the point of crying when there's nothing to cry on? The teases that fly from my peers mouths seem slow this year, like thrown paper planes that crunch against my shoulder when they fall. The sensation is hardly felt. No sting. No pressure. I'm too hollow now. I'm just too numb to care anymore.
I let the thoughts drop from my mind, but just when I think my troubles are behind me, I hear leather stretch out of place. A weight is settling right across from me. My loose hairs dance around my cheeks as I flip my head up to see the intruder.
Trent. Bent over his pizza with his elbows cocked out on either side of his plate.
Sapphire pierces my glance.
"What?" He says it so lowly I mistake it for a growl. "I can't sit here or something?" I resist the urge to give a jumpy reaction, but my left eyebrow twitches just the slightest bit in annoyance.
"No." I mumble. He stabs at his pizza with a fork and lifts it to his lips. Opening his mouth, he doesn't take a bite of his pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom flatbread.
"Yeah?" He says distastefully, pointing the end of his pizza at me. "Then what's that face for?" I lower my eyes and pick at my food, crossed now.
"I always sit here by myself. This is my table. My peace. So Leave!" I say this in my mind, knowing that the words have fallen across my features. I know he doesn't believe me when I shrug to him and begin to neatly eat my pot pie. The peas are cooked perfectly, not too mushy, but slightly sweet. The chewing at the opposite end of me sounds foreign and intruding. Lunch has never felt so long and drawn out before. He finishes before me, and as the custodian, who is in neat trimmed attire, strolls the trash can and dish bin by us, Trent tosses his plate into mid-air. The crumbs flutter down the plate as it spins like a flicked dime. The crumbs peck the piled food heap, and before the gape mouthed custodian can reach out and save the plate, Trent simply pinches the rim of it with three fingers and a thumb. It's face-side up and the silverware rattles on its surface when it lands. Trent politely hands the utensils to the stunned custodian, gets up, and strolls out of the cafeteria's double doors before the dismissal bell rings. The custodian blinks at Trent's departure, and then suddenly glares at his retreating figure, grumbling as he rolls the trash and dish bin along the tile with Trent's dish in the crook of his armpit. I only have the sense to slightly drop my jaw before the bell goes off and makes the body of second years rise from their conversations and exit the cafeteria robotically. Hesitantly, I follow the small mass of students with my thoughts swirling.
I can't help but think that Trent is going to flip this school upside down, just like his plate.