Author's note: I didn't drop off the face of… fictionpress. Haha. So it's a new story, with new characters, and new problems. Stick around? ;)
The Classics of Love
It was silent except for the sound of clinking glass.
The kitchen curtains were pulled open, allowing the rising sun's rays peak into the little room, its golden beams promising a beautiful day. It was at said window where the sink was positioned inches below, half full from last night's forgotten dirty dishes. Usually the sink was clear since it was considered bad luck to leave your dirty dishes in the sink overnight – but people made mistakes. People forgot.
The table pushed up against the wall was big enough for a maximum of four people. It was brown and it gleamed under the kitchen light when it was open. The chairs were old and scratched, but it looked decent and cozy in this small kitchen. The flower vase that was once used to hold bouquets of all assortments of floras was empty and uninteresting, paling to how it had always looked. Then again, anything empty was usually not considered enchanting.
The table had the usual plates of scrambled eggs and crunchy bacon – just the way they both liked it. It was one of the many few things they shared, and it was strangely pleasing to know a seemingly insignificant fact; after all, it was hard to go from special bonding moments to silent breakfasts in a matter of weeks. It was harder when they became permanent.
The legs of the chair scraped against the floor starkly, causing her to lift her head. He already had his back turned, and she heard the contact of plates in the sink as he put his dishes away.
"I'll be home late," he said, adjusting his tie. He seemed to hesitate nervously before he settled with a little wave. "Do you need money for your lunch?" He was already checking his pockets so he missed the shake of her head.
"No, I'll make a lunch. It's okay."
He straightened. "Well, if you're sure…" There it was again, the odd little pause in their mornings that made her small smile freeze on her face. "I suppose I should go now."
"Yeah, you'll be late." She offered a smile, relieving him of the awkward cloud that always seemed to form around him whenever she as much as looked at him. "Bye, Dad."
"Bye, sweetheart. Take care."
"I will." She watched him hustle out the kitchen. She heard the door click open and shut close. The silence was suddenly loud. "I will…"
High school was not the four best years of her life. That statement was a lie – a lie orchestrated by the School Board to convince incoming students that they weren't doomed to the pressures and expectations of society – especially if you were a teenager at Weston High. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the stereotypes in this school.
She settled with something in between – a grimace was one step from either laughing or crying, anyway, so she counted it.
She never knew what to make of its monotony either. Was she supposed to feel comfortable with the pattern the school provided? Though in hindsight, she supposed ultimately it was her choice to step away from the monotony if she ever felt the need to… which, in hindsight again… she didn't want to. It was a love-hate relationship, she supposed, one she often questioned at the back of her mind.
Perhaps it was her fault she didn't consider high school the best years of her life. (Then again, has she lived a full life?)
Then, promptly shouldered to the side by a cluster of loud, tittering girls, she remembered, oh yeah, that was why high school wasn't a thrill for her. She most definitely knew she would not be looking back in her life exclaiming, "High school? Why, it was amazing! You meet the most amazing people in high school!" because you didn't. It was elementary and college where you meet friends you kept in your life… not high school, the epitome of deception.
But it was life, and life was reality… her life, anyway. There were exceptions, and she knew that those cruising through life with lack of inhibition were the ones at the top. They were unmarred by the wicked claws of reality, living happily, drinking their… mocha latte frappes… while they plotted for their best friend's demise. It was their two-faced world that kept them surviving… the irritation it made her feel.
The truth will set you free, her ass.
So like every day, at 8:20 AM – it was Monday today, if it mattered at all – she promptly made her way through the front doors of Weston High, skilfully dodging students huddled together in the hallway. She climbed the east end staircase, pushed the right double door open, and turned left. Her locker was located in the middle of the hallway on the third floor – the floor where most students chose to dawdle before classes began.
This floor required her to shove her away towards her destination – trust her, she had no qualms about it – but the fact that she had to deal with nasty glares and stink eyes always dampened her mornings for some reason.
It was 8:27 when she stepped into her first class of the day, with always four minutes to spare; she prepared herself for her Chemistry class.
It was at 8:29 when they walked in, always one minute before the bell. Late enough for the teacher to throw them disproving looks but early enough not to get called on. She always wondered how they timed themselves like that, every day, without fail.
The group dispersed into their respective seats, and she blatantly observed the three of them. There were two more people in their 'group' but they weren't in this class… and to be honest, she was rather (okay, completely) surprised when she saw them the first day in front of the chemistry room – she briefly thought they were lost… until they walked right in when the door swung open.
The shockers of life… at least, in high school life – she supposed she was prejudice against those who were attractive, athletic and took academic classes. It wasn't possible! No!
She nearly snorted aloud at her thoughts. Okay, so maybe she was contaminated with the stereotypes of high school. She vaguely told herself that her New Year's Resolution would be to… stop… being partial. Yes.
"I trust you're all prepared for the quiz?" The chemistry teacher was a tall woman, and if she was being honest, she was a little… weird. If the glasses perched on her nose without lenses were any indication for her strange ways then… well, she was. Her bangles clinked against each other as she raised her hands in a flourish. "Alright, students, everything away – you will have ten minutes!"
The teacher said it as if they haven't been having quizzes for the past week. With practiced ease, she accepted the paper and automatically wrote the date before her name.
And if she was being completely honest with herself, routine was excellent. She liked that she knew where she was going, what to expect, and how to handle it. She liked knowing which hallways to avoid and which hallways led her to her class in a short amount of time. She liked it. It was safe and comfortable.
She supposed routine was her sanctuary, if she was going to personify safety.
And like with every quiz, four minutes later, she raised her head and put her pen down. One minute later, she was on her feet towards the front of the classroom, smiling slightly at the expectant look on her teacher – Ms Browning – as she handed her the completed quiz.
"I suppose it was quite easy?" Browning's eyes squinted behind the lens-less frames. Her eyebrows were thick and untrimmed, her eyes a beautiful emerald green. It was the teacher's brown hair that made her stare – its unruliness was gape-worthy… but despite everything, her smile was lovely.
"It was fine," she said as she always did.
Browning patted her hand as she always did. "Excellent. Take your seat and we'll begin in five minutes."
She took her seat.
He watched her from the corner of his eye. All he could think was… how the hell did she always finish before him? He frowned at his paper – all he had to do was write the final value. He was proud of himself – until he looked up four minutes into the quiz to see her staring thoughtfully at her sheet clearly finished. She was checking her work, he noted in incredulity. He knew it was just a quiz, but damn. She could have been writing the alphabets with the ease she went through the quizzes and tests.
He would know. He watched her.
But only because he wanted to know who owned the only average higher than his… by three percent. God, it pissed him off just thinking about it.
It had to be her, he decided, when he noticed the pattern of her behaviour. She always finished first; she always knew the answer when the teacher called on her – even when she seemed to not be paying attention. The teacher always smiled brightly at her when she was handing their tests back – a clear sign of a ridiculously excellent mark… compared to everyone else's anyway.
But without the comparison, she was still smart. He had her in his other classes, and she was always kicking his ass… academically, anyway. It was annoying.
Ms Browning jostled around the classroom, gathering the paper. He leaned back, his dark blue eyes boring holes into her skull.
He looked at the girl next to him and relaxed. She was grinning, her heart-shaped face calling out to him… he reached forward and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, grinning at the blush on her face.
"Why are you staring at Artemis?" Maya Justice asked. Her eyes were darting back and forth between said girl and him.
Her simplicity – the way he asked just because she was simply curious, and not only jealous – provoked feelings in him he always found himself quelling. He smiled easily. "I wasn't," he said.
Her eyebrow raised as a small amused smile appeared on her face. "Yes, you were."
"Nope." He grinned widely at the incredulity clear in her eyes… before she shook her head, used to his antics. "You're hallucinating. Did you take your pills today, Maya?"
She laughed. "You ass."
He couldn't help but duck and give her a kiss smack on her mouth.
In his opinion, the teacher's lecture on PDA in front of the whole class was completely worth her reaction.
She bored holes at Xavier Cohen's head as they exited chemistry class. She swore he enjoyed wasting her – er, people's time. Would it kill him to keep his libido to himself, at least for the remainder of the class? Or unleash it when she wasn't within the vicinity? Maybe she was peeved for a stupid reason, but she absolutely despised it when the class lesson was delayed for such stupidity that could have been avoided. Other students would find amusement in the shrill sound of Ms Browning's words and the red creeping up her neck… but not her.
She wanted to get the lesson done and over with – now she was late for her next class because Ms Browning insisted that an extra five or seven minutes to finish her lesson wouldn't hurt – and if any of the other teachers had complaints, they could come back to her room so she could write them a note.
It was unlike her to run, but she couldn't risk missing any lessons in calculus. She liked to hear the teacher explain the proof – it helped her understand everything more quickly. Besides, she didn't really have friends in that class – so copying their notes was out.
"Ugh!" She slammed against something hard as she turned the corner, her hand reaching to clutch her throbbing nose. Stumbling backwards, she opened her eyes to see Xavier Cohen looking at her in surprise from over his shoulder… to Maya Justice quickly stepping away from his personal space.
Clearly she interrupted something.
Oh, my god, she wanted to pulverize him. Red droplets splattered to the floor, and with a forlorn sigh, she acknowledged the blood running down her nose and… on her shirt.
Yes. He would be dead within the hour.
"Oh God!" Maya blurted, extricating herself from Xavier and frantically searching her bags. "Are you okay? Here, sorry it's not soft enough – I only have napkins." Maya practically shoved the rough napkins into Artemis's hands, and she took it without complaint. It was better than using her shirt… her white shirt – which was currently stained in blood.
"Oh shit." Xavier was facing her, eyebrow furrowed together, hand through his black hair. He looked the picture of guilt. "My bad… I –" He stopped then, his eyes running over her face. She could practically see the realization dawning behind his eyes. "Wait, weren't you the one that crashed into me?"
"Xavier!" Maya exclaimed.
Artemis, however, only managed a strained smile. Perhaps it was true… she shouldn't have been running down the – empty – hallway. Then again, she wouldn't be running in the first place if he didn't cause the delay in chemistry. She wouldn't even be here, at the corner of the hallway, with a bloodied napkin shoved up her nose, and her face throbbing like she ran into a wall instead.
"What?" Xavier gave her a look. "Technically it was her fault. We were just minding our own business."
Artemis could barely stop herself from narrowing her eyes. Asshole.
"He doesn't mean it – I'm sorry," Maya said, her face red with embarrassment.
She flapped her free hand at Maya, pointedly turning her eyes away from the asshole that had his eyebrow furrowed at her, as if he were deep in thought.
"It's fine. It wasn't your fault, it was –" his, "mine. It was mine. I have to go," she said with a slight smile, which of course, was more of a grimace. Now she had to go to the washroom to get the blood to stop… she was officially late.
Artemis pretended not to hear Maya scolding Xavier who sounded like he couldn't give two shits about what happened – she tried not to turn around and launch herself at his pretty face (how would he feel with his face throbbing?) but she figured the level of her maturity exponentially exceeded his… obviously… but even so…
"Asshole – cockroach – swine – filthy, disease-infested rat." She muttered viciously under her breath as she shoved a small piece of tissue in her nose. Without a second thought, she pivoted to glance at herself in the mirror – and winced.
She looked like a pig with all that tissue up her nose. She looked… inhuman.
"… and she told me to tell you about the dinner at –" Voices abruptly stopped just as Artemis realized she wasn't alone anymore. Caught off guard, she whirled around – and then realized that was a stupid idea with bloodied tissue-from-the-stalls sticking out of her nose… and she was pretty sure she died inside when she automatically smiled a little, only to remember she looked inhuman, and the two girls looked like they were about to burst out laughing.
She flounced into a stall without another word, cursing everything. She cursed the day for being so beautiful; for the quiz that took the ten minutes in class that could have been used for the lesson; Maya for sitting next to Xavier who couldn't keep it in his pants; Ms Browning for being so stingy and lecturing him unnecessarily long; Xavier for causing everything… and especially the fact that the girls in the washroom were stupid enough to think she couldn't hear them laughing.
They were gasping for air. Artemis wanted to die.
She supposed if she looked back, it would be today that changed her life – for the second time, at least. She still didn't know if it was worth it.