Word from Fido: Welcome to Because I Said So! For the first chapter, every paragraph is in a different point of view. Normal font is Martin's thoughts, while italic represents Maddie's thoughts. If you ever see something in bold, it's because the both are thinking the same thing. Pleaes, enjoy. Avec tout mon amour,
She was jumping… again, her chair making an annoying squeak in time with her rise and fall. Why the gods had decided to punish me again, I would never know. But there I was, a stupid math test on my desk, and with Madeleine De-la-Tour sitting in front of me, nonetheless.
He was glaring at me… again. Martin Jones. I could feel him drilling a hole through my head. I tried not to smirk as I contemplated the idea of pointing out his staring. Boy, would that have embarrassed him or what? I knew that he was just burning to yell at me to stop bouncing on my chair. I knew that it annoyed him to no end. Which lead to the question: if it annoyed him so much, why on earth did he keep sitting behind me?
Her hair was blond and set in a high ponytail. Well, on that day at least. Personally, I preferred it black, but my opinion didn't matter. Not to her, anyways. You see, she had the habit of changing her appearance daily. Drastic changes. For example, that week's theme was summer (even if it was in the middle of fall). Bright, flashy colours and mini-skirts. It was a bit different than the previous week's freak Goth style, I admitted.
I considered turning around to ask him outright, but that would have been stupid. He would just have rolled those black eyes of his and snorted distastefully, asking "what the hell I was talking about". And then he would have run his hand through his light brown hair, to show his friends that he didn't care about what I was saying. And just to prove that unsaid statement, he would have pretended to dust a speck off of his blue soccer shirt. What I'm trying to say is that it would all be a waste of time.
"Why would she do that?" One might have wondered. When asked, she would smile, revealing her perfect teeth that would have made a dentist jealous, and answer cockily: "It makes the nosy ones talk." Obviously, that didn't satisfy the curious.
So what did they do? They came to me!
You see, I had the misfortune of living in the house across hers. I guess people thought that that made us close, almost like friends. There was just one tiny problem with that theory.
I didn't know why he did that to me. He was fairly decent to everyone in the school. He would talk to one, trade a joke with another. In short, he was okay with anyone, and anyone was okay with him. Apparently, "anyone" did not include me.
That problem being that Madeleine De-La-Tour hated me.
The reason being that Martin Jones hated me. Which was ironic, since he lived just across the street. All I had to do was look out my bedroom window, and I'd be looking at his. My point, if there is one to this whole thing, is that living close to him never did anything good to our relationship. In fact, it just brought along more spite and arguing.
I remember the first day we met. I had just moved in our new home, on an autumn afternoon eight years ago. Just as I was about to unpack my toys into my new room, the bell rang. Annoyed at having my important work disturbed, I opened the door to find a girl with a tray full of cookies (who the heck brings cookies out in a tray in the middle of autumn?). As you probably guessed, it was Madeleine, wearing the ugliest toque I had ever seen.
When I thought about it, if our houses hadn't been a few feet apart, Martin Jones and I probably could have become friends. But, as fate would have had it, the first time I was allowed out of my house to meet the new neighbours, eight years ago, didn't go all that well. I remember it vividly. It was autumn, and Grandma had just sent me a toque knit in neon pink and green yarn. So when I skipped over to his house with a tray full of warm cookies (I might admit that they didn't stay warm long in the autumn wind), I was in a fairly good mood. I rang the doorbell, and waited as hurried footsteps resounded on the other side.
At the time, I had thought that she didn't have another one and that she had to wear that thing to keep her ears warm. I mean, why else would she wear such an atrocity? It was neon pink and green, for Heaven's sake! Being the nice guy that I was, I offered her one that I had in one of the boxes. It was the gentleman thing to do, right? There was no way that I was going to let a poor girl walk away with that on her head.
And then the door opened to reveal a boy. "A playmate!" I had thought then. How wrong I was. He smiled at me, before staring pointedly at my beloved hat and saying: "That has to be the ugliest toque I have ever seen. We have a bunch of them in one of the boxes, wanna take one?" Grandma's toque? Ugly? Couldn't this jerk feel the love behind every stitch? Apparently not, because he just proposed that I take one, probably bought from the store. Who did this kid think he was? Calling my beautiful hat ugly!
Apparently, Madeleine wasn't of the same mind, because she crashed her tray on my head. I still have the scar, I swear! And then she called me a jerk (me, a jerk?) and ran off. So, it would be an understatement to say that we got off on a rough start.
I remember telling to myself: "Mommy said to breathe deeply, look them in the eye and make the other understand you by being calm and diplomatic." So I took a deep breath, looked the boy in the eye, and I calmly whacked him with my tray, sending cookies flying everywhere. So maybe that wasn't what Mommy meant when she said 'diplomatic', but who was I to know?
Maybe the hat had sentimental value, and it might have offended her… but she didn't have to go and try to murder me with a freakin' cookie tray!
Anyhow, you get the idea. Martin Jones didn't like me very much since. And I couldn't exactly say that I was helplessly in love with him, could I?
You definitely couldn't judge her by her cover. For one, appearance was constantly changing. Glasses or lenses; black or blond hair; girly or tomboy; bottom line being that you definitely couldn't judge her for her appearance. I thought that was why she was constantly changing. That way, she knew who her real friends were.
Another thing that created animosity between us would be my fashion sense. One day, I would be all pink and fluff, the next I would have a banner around my neck saying "DEATH!" And with Martin Jones being Martin Jones, he was sure I did it just to piss him off. Which was false (although watching his reactions was a big upside).
Or she had some freak personality disorder; I wasn't sure. Or she did it to annoy the rest of the world. Mainly, me. She was sweet like that.
So the rest of the school population came up with their own conclusion. Which was that I had personality disorder. Which was also false. My mom was the one with the personality disorder. And I had learned long ago that matching my style with her mood was the best way to ride out the wave. Adaptation is the key to survival, a wise man once said.
It was kind of sad, really. I oftened try to just sit down and figure her out (right then, in that classroom, would have been the best example). I was unhappy to say that I failed miserably every time.
At first, I hated his gut (still do). But then I realized something very important: Martin Jones needed help. What you must know is that he was a brilliant actor. One of the best. In fact, he was good enough to act trough his entire day, without anyone knowing how he really felt. He was sad, and like Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, he had no idea why. I didn't even think he knew that he was sad! And so, as the good girl that I was, I decided to help him.
I said right, she said left. I said white, she said black, I protested, she called me a racist.
He said right, but I knew he was left-handed, and when I pointed this out to him, he got angry. And he was so racist! Against other cultures, other styles, even hair colours!
I'm not exaggerating. I remember when I had found this Internet site with awesome blonde jokes. Of course, the day I decided to tell this really funny one, guess who heard it? And guess who decided to prove me wrong? I tried to explain that it was just a joke, but she said that she was going to erase all "stereotyping thoughts from my mind" (what…the…hell…)
You should have seen him, making fun of blondes! He didn't give a second thought to Rebecca, sitting right next to him! Needless to say, I could not let this opportunity to teach him a valuable lesson pass.
The next day, she came to school, her normally black hair dyed blond. As things turned out, it also happened to be test day. And guess who was top of the class? Madeleine, of course! You can't imagine the humiliation I went through after that blonde head of hers skipped (literally, she skipped everywhere) to the front of the class to get her A. And when I got my C, guess who was flashing me the smuggest grin ever to appear on the face of a girl. You've guessed it, Madeleine! In fact, ever since that day, she would dye her hair blond every time she had a test.
Next day, I dyed my hair blond; to prove to him that it was stupid to think that all blondes were total bimbos. His reaction? He got angry! I tried to help him, and he got angry!
That was just the start! It would take a lifetime to depict all the things that girl made me go through!
Now, what you must understand is that from then on, it became personal. No way was I going to let him have the last word!
I commented on how poetry sucks and she learned Shakespeare by heart. Evidently, it then became her top priority to quote him whenever she talked to me.
I was even helping him in English! I found sad that he really couldn't see the true beauty and art that is Shakespeare. He said something about "it's too old" or another. Wiping from my memory his last reaction to one of my helpful plans, I tried to show him just how easily Shakespearian talk could be integrated into modern conversation. He got angry, again! I learned on that day that Martin Jones did not play fair.
I declared musicals (you know, like Sound of Music) were horrible and she proceeded to sing all the songs from Grease. I mean, she had been doing that since 7th grade! You'd think that after three years, she would have stopped. But no! Not Madeleine. In fact, I could hear her humming "grease lightning" right then, in the classroom, during a test.
He once complained about musicals. I would like to say that singing Grease for three years of my life was another attempt at aiding this poor soul in need. But to be entirely truthful, I just wanted to get him back for making fun of my glasses (they weren't that big). I mean, how dared he make fun of my appearance? He wasn't an Orlando Bloom himself!
Well, I guess I could even have gone as to say that she was pretty…
Although I had to admit that all the soccer he had been doing had really started to show…
But I would have scraped road-kill off with my tongue before I admitted that.
What was even more frustrating, was that I seemed to be the only one to whom she openly expressed her dislike.
What was more, he absolutely insisted on showing his dislike for me to the whole school.
What started off as just a few jibs turned into a full-blown verbal war. Just like that, in the middle of the hallway.
Just there, in the middle of the hallway, he would make a remark. Being the rebel that I was, I couldn't let that pass, now could I? He reposted, I retorted, and you had the Third World War right there in Little Block's High School.
People had stopped trying to intervene years ago. Mostly, they just sat back and watched the encounter, making comments and cheering us on. Pathetic, I know. What could I say? We just…hated each other.
The worst part of the whole situation would definitely be the lack of shelters. Nowhere was safe from her! I thought that I'd be safe in the soccer team. Except that she joined the soccer team too.
And I wondered: if he hated me so much, why did he persist on following me everywhere? I took the decision that more time apart would probably help him think things over. Solution: I joined the soccer team to stay longer at school. Problem: he joined the freakin' soccer team too! I was not one to complain, but he was just being mean!
I had hoped that I would find solace in my sleep. But of course, she sat at her window and stared right at me. Have you ever tried sleeping when you know someone is watching your every move? It was impossible! I tried to close the binds, but it only made it worse. So every night, I fell asleep facing my window, Madeleine's unblinking eyes locked on me.
I used to be insomniac. Do you have any idea how boring it can be to spend eight hours locked up in your room? In those horrible times of immobility, I foundd diverse hobbies: making faces in the holes on the ceiling, digging a hole in the wall under my bed to hide food. And then I noticed that he slept with his binds drawn. Oh, the opportunity! It was a simple equation, really: intense staring + amazing unblinking ability = one freaked out Martin Jones. At first, he tried to close his binds. I guess he missed my wonderful eyes, because it didn't take long before he opened them again. And next thing I knew, it became a habit to watch him sleep. You could almost say that I was watching over him, but that'd be silly.
M. Traveault passed next to my desk and I tore my gaze away from the annoying, bouncing head in front of me to hurriedly scramble, trying to look occupied. I started to fill out some of the problems with confidence and ease... Okay, so I admit that I had no idea what I was scribbling down.
M. Traveault walked by my desk and I unhurriedly scribbled down answers after answers. There was no way that anyone could have guessed that my thoughts weren't at all on algebra at the moment. Unless you considered Martin Jones as algebra…
I smirked when I heard him scrambling around with his calculator. I couldn't help but snort and giggle when I heard him mumble. Didn't he know that he talked to himself?
I heard a light snort and I looked up accusingly at Madeleine's shaking shoulders, a sure sign that she was laughing. I decided to ignore her and turned back to my question:
a0x3 + a1x2 + a2x + a3 = …
I began to scribble down the steps to solving the problem on a small piece of paper. Thinking hard, I realized that he would probably get number 6 wrong. Discreetly writing all of this down, a thought crossed my mind: my bike was broken (yes, going off-road with an eight year old bike was quite dangerous). I was about as good with repairing stuff than a blind sheep. Martin Jones, on the other hand, was very good…
I was screwed! That had to be university stuff! I fumbled around with my calculator, desperate. Wait, desperate was an understatement.
So you see? I gave him the answers and saved his butt on the test, and he repaid the debt by fixing my bike. I was helping him now to get my bike fixed later. I wasn't helping him because I didn't want him to fail. That's what friends did. And him and I were far from being friends.
God had it against me, it was official. Why else would he have tormented with a mathematical incompetence. I mean, someone out there had to want to help me! The whole world knew that I sucked at math. Hell, I didn't even know what I was doing in advanced class… usually Charlie helped me cheat, but he was being very unhelpful right then.
Taking a deep breath, I prepared myself for the mission ahead. I was a pretty good actor myself. Now, if he reacted like he always did, things would go smoothly. I flipped around and smacked my hands on his desk. Hard. That was going to hurt later.
I looked up, surprised, into the face of Madeleine. She was turned around, her hands on my desk where she slammed them down. She looked pretty pissed off.
"Would you stop making so much noise, lunkhead?"
Anger boiled quickly inside of me.
"Says the freak singing 'Barbie Girl'!" I retorted with a sneer.
Okay, that stung. But at least I got him pissed at me. I had to hold my laughter in as the others in the room just kept on with their activities. Instead, I played the part of the outrageously angry girl. I narrowed my eyes, pressed my lips together and sucked in my cheeks. I should have gotten an award for it.
Madeleine's blue eyes flared dangerously and her lips tightened to a thin line. I was not ashame to admit it: she looked pretty intimidating. Her high cheek bones were prometing and her eyebrows frowned, proving her outrage.
"Mister Jones, Miss De-la-Tour, please calm yourselves!" M. Traveault intervened, effectively interupting another routine argument.
So soon? Oh well, wasn't about to push my luck. I turned slightly towards my desk again, but my eyes didn't leave his. He glared back just as hard. The standoff went on until everyone returned to ignoring us.
Then, when I was sure the whole class wasn't watching, my gaze dropped down to the slip of paper she left on my desk. I discreetly unfolded it and read the neat handwriting:
"If a4 = 0, then one of the roots is x = 0, and the other roots can be found by dividing by x. Duh! C'mon lunkhead, you're smarter than this…okay, so maybe you're not, but can't you at least pretend to be!
By the way, the answer to number 6 is –13, not –22! Where in the world did you learn your math?
I would wish you luck, but I know you're hopeless.
Try not to screw up too much!
P.S. My bike is down, HELP! I can't fix it!"
I could have laughed at his discreet mannerism as he read it secretely.
Unable to stop myself, I felt my false anger melting away from my face and my gaze softened. I don't mean "soften" in the romantic way. I mean "soften" in the way that meant that my face was getting tired and I had to relax…
I raised my head slightly, as to not give myself away. Madeleine was still staring at me, but she wasn't glaring anymore. Instead, her eyebrows were raised in question and she was biting her lip in nervousness. Have I mentioned how good of an actor she was? It made it easier for her to get out of sticky situations and leave me to the wrath of the teachers.
Was he going to laugh? Scream at me? He swept the room with a calculating look.
And then he smiled at me. Ah, the unforgivable temptation!
She smiled back shyly, not the confident smiles she put on when she strutted down the hallway. I'm talking about a genuine smile. My grin widened and she reacted in kind, before winking at me and turning to her paper, her mouth already forming the words to another one of her stupid songs. But my smile remained, and I let myself whisper a line with her. That is until I remembered that she had incredibly good hearing and I clamped my mouth shut.
Woah! Martin Jones, singing? I resisted the temptation to spin around and stare. If it was him, then he had stopped himself, probably praying to whatever God that I hadn't herd him.
Still, my smile remained.
So maybe I didn't exactly despise her all that much…
Maybe I didn't hate his gut half as much as I pretend to…
But that's our little secret.