"Okay kids, it's time for us to get into partners and start our new project! Your partner will be the person you sit next to. Natasha and Lydia, Grant and Jake, Thomas and Leigh, Brent and Aubrianne…"
Aubrianne quit listening as soon as she heard that she would be partners with the boy who had been sitting next to her for the past two weeks. She had wanted to yell, "But he's a boy!" to the teacher, but she didn't have the courage. Not only was she going to be partnered with a boy, but he was a scary boy! His hair was spiky, and he never smiled!
Mrs. Johnson finished explaining the project and handed out the materials for the kids to get to work. Brent awkwardly scooted his chair closer to Aubrianne's, unsure of what to say. He had noticed over the past few weeks that she didn't seem to get things like the other kids did. For instance, when Mrs. Johnson would ask them to get out their glue, she always took out a pencil. When told to draw a picture of their family, she drew a picture of cats and dogs. Why wasn't this girl in the class for the special kids? And how did he get stuck partnered with her?
"Here, you can cut these out," Brent said, handing her a sheet of paper with circles, triangles, and squares on it. Aubrianne stared at the piece of paper strangely, as if she didn't know what to do with it. Hesitantly, she took the paper and laid it on her desk. What was it he had told her to do with the paper? Well, it was black and white, so maybe she was supposed to color it. She reached for her crayons, but Brent stopped her.
"No, don't color them yet. Cut them out," he reminded her. Aubrianne nodded. Cut them out. How was she supposed to do that again? Maybe she could use her hands.
"Here, use these." Brent handed her an odd looking thing with holes in it. Sighing, he realized that she was going to need some help. He reached for her hand, but she quickly pulled it away. "It's okay. I'm helping you." He looked at her bright blue eyes, and even at the age of five, he understood the fear in them. Slowly, he reached for her hand again, and this time she didn't pull away. He placed her fingers in the holes of the scissors and led them to the paper with the shapes on it. They slowly began to cut the triangle out together.
"Do you understand?" he questioned. She nodded as he pulled his hand away. Put fingers in holes of scissors. Move them along the black lines. This is easy.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Johnson had been watching the pair intently with her assistant Ms. Sanchez.
"I think you're on to something there," Ms. Sanchez admitted. Initially, she didn't think that Brent and Aubrianne would be a good match for partners.
"Well, he's way ahead of the other kids when it comes to understanding projects and putting things together. Hopefully he'll help her get up to par."
"My fear is that your plan will work too well."
"What do you mean?" Mrs. Johnson questioned, now confused.
"Hopefully she won't learn to depend on him too much," Ms. Sanchez pointed out. Mrs. Johnson nodded but pushed the thought away. That would never happen.
"Can you help me with this?"
"Sure." Brent and Aubrianne sat on the grass outside their high school, doing everything during lunch time except for actually eating lunch. He strummed on his guitar, once in a while stopping to write something in his notebook. She stared at her English packed quizzically, completely at a loss for what she was supposed to do.
"What's the difference between a smile and a metaphor?"
"That's what it says here."
"You mean a simile?"
"Sure," Aubrianne shrugged. She had no idea what her best friend was talking about.
"Well first you have to understand what they both have in common. They both compare something abstract with something concrete."
"Something not real with something real."
"Love with a red rose."
"Okay. Let me start over."
"I think that's a good idea."
To newcomers at Grant High School, the sight of Aubrianne and Brent together may have seemed strange, but the students there had become used to the pair; they had been inseparable since kindergarten. Most of the students considered Aubrianne to be the beautiful ditz. She understood how to apply make-up perfectly, and she excelled when it came to accessorizing her outfits, but that was the end of her foreseen talents. However, everyone loved her, and she loved everyone- most likely because she wasn't smart enough to understand that her social standing was higher than others. After all, if she understood the way the social hierarchy worked at Grant High, she most definitely would not hang out with Brent Worthington. It wasn't as if he was strange or anything, he just didn't do school spirit and cliques; for the popular students at the school, that wasn't acceptable. That day on the grass, she wore her cheerleading uniform. Her blonde hair was pulled into a high ponytail and tied together with bright red ribbons.
Brent wore a black t-shirt with the name of a local band on it and a pair of green cargo shorts. He didn't care enough to style his brown hair into spikes like he did when was little, and instead it sat messily on his head. He worked for his father in his landscaping business, so he was usually very dirty, very tan, and very smelly. However, the muscles that he had gained from this career did not go unnoticed by the girls at Grant High, who most likely would have pursued him if it had not been for his attitude; he just didn't seem to care about any of them. If he wasn't with Aubrianne for some reason, then he usually sat on the grass with his guitar, not noticing anyone around him. And everyone, even the teachers, knew that if Aubrianne was sick and couldn't come to school, then there was no way Brent would be there. He hated school and probably wouldn't ever have come if it wasn't for her.
"You see this flower?" Brent asked, picking a flower from a nearby garden.
"Yes," Aubrianne replied, focusing intently on the flower. Brent almost laughed at the intensity in her eyes to understand this.
"This flower is real. It's concrete."
"Now how do you feel when you look at this flower?"
"Confused," Aubrianne sighed, having no idea what this flower had to do with her English packet.
"No, I mean if you were passing by this flower on a normal day, what kind of emotion would you feel looking at the flower?"
"I don't know. Happy, I guess."
"Okay. So we're going to compare this flower with happiness. Happiness is the white flower."
"But what does that have to do with smiles-similes-and metaphors?"
"Just be patient! I'm getting there." Brent smiled. He had no doubt that Annie would get this soon enough. It would just take the remaining twenty minutes of lunch to help her get there.
"You see this shape?"
"Now it has three sides. One, two, three. And it has three points. One, two, three."
"It's a triangle."
"But how am I going to remember that?"
"Well it was the first shape we cut out together today. So I guess just remember that we cut out the triangle first. Can you remember that?"
"I think so. We cut out the triangle first. It has three sides and three points."
"I think I get it!" Aubrianne exclaimed, looking up at the boy who she had resented at the beginning of the day. Well, maybe this boy wasn't so bad- spiky hair and all.