Once upon a time, in a land “that is like, actually the worst place in the world”, a congealed mess of odors swept through the commons. The lunch ladies insisted this came from their passionate work in the kitchen. They also maintained that this ‘ungodly stench’, as the students called it, actually smelled good. The students only agreed with the lunch ladies on one of these points. The FDA agreed with neither, classifying the lunch ladies’ work as “Synthetic Nutrition Supplements”.
Black and orange signs hung throughout the room, hanging from the ceiling and walls. They informed students of tonight’s homecoming dance. Under one of these signs, sat three happy friends. The first, Robert, sat like a candy cane. The cafeteria smell failed to reach him. Instead he picked up the dusty aroma of The Definitive Guide to South-Asian Doorknobs, and Why At Least Somebody Should Care his nose stuck in. His clothing gave off the impression he had never heard the word fashion, which is of course an exaggeration, but a smaller one than you might think.
The second friend, Rachel, also sat like a candy cane, but only if you broke the curvy part off. She held her phone in front of her and smiled into it, for what seemed to Robert to be way too long. In her defense, every couple seconds another girl would interrupt her. They would stop by to say hey and ask where she got her nails done, or where she got that cute top,or if she wanted to skip the class she already planned to skip with someone else later.
The third friend, Paul, was of no notability.
Rachel frowned and set her phone face down on the lunch table.
“Do you own clothes that don’t look like a Best Buy uniform?”
Rob found the question rude, he saw no problem with his norm.
“What do you mean?” Replied the teen.
He lifted his head and his eyes started to water from the nasty air. His nose scrunched up as he caught his first glimpse of a poster advertising homecoming. He shoved his face back into his book.
“I’m serious, man,” She started again. Her hands put a scrunchie in her hair, “You have got to get something to wear,”
Rob kept reading. Rachel rolled her eyes. Paul probably did something too. The lunch ladies lied to themselves, and put their slop away for the day. One of the last receivers of said slop arrived at the table.
"What’s up guys," She wore clothes that weren't themselves red, but reminded people of the color red. Specifically the shade of red one could see dripping down from one’s eyes upon looking on at her clothes for too long. The clothes deterred sane people similar to how a fake pair of eyes on an insect’s backside deters predators. She preferred not to look down while wearing them.
"I didn’t expect you to be here by now Lynn," Rachel said as she put on an insincere grin.
"Don't get wise," Lynn replied, “Do you like my fit? I really love it.”
Rachel rolled her eyes again and picked up her phone. Lynn sat down next to her and started eating. Rob continued reading. Rachel leaned her head on her hand and then stopped because that causes acne. Paul spoke up
“” He said. He looked at Lynn as he said it. Although his words were silent, his glare conveyed his message.
“Paul is right,” Rachel sighed. She set her phone back on the table and looked at Lynn. A few more words escaped her airway, “How come you were late again today?”
Lynn responded as if she had read Rachel’s mind and foresaw the question days before.
“I was fighting a cyclops,” She stated. Lynn also foresaw the unamused look Rachel shot her. She also foresaw the correct amount of time (2.673 seconds) to wait before replying, “And I made a short few stops,”
“I’m gonna hang out with Chris,” Lynn didn’t foresee this. Rachel sighed and got up from the table. She jerked her pink backpack up from under Lynn’s seat and put it on her back. Her perfume lingered at the table as she disappeared around a corner.
Robert looked up from his book.
“I’ll see you,” Said Rob too.
Paul looked around for a minute, trying to avoid Lynn’s eyes. He played with his thumbs and kicked at the dirt on the ground. He coughed a little bit and caught Lynn’s eye. They stared at each other for a moment before Paul broke eye contact by turning around and leaving.
Lynn finished her lunch and wondered what she did wrong.
The bell rang and she went to history class. Robert sat across the room with a group who looked like they program for fun. Their laughter rose above the clamor of the classroom and their smiles seemed misplaced when not in front of a computer screen. Lynn sat by them.
“And I said, that’s not Legend of Zelda, that’s Super Mario Brothers,” Said one of the group members as he scanned the keen faces of the others. After he spoke, another round of laughter erupted from the group.
“Super Mario is my favorite game” Said Lynn, breaking into the conversation, “Mario is basically my middle name,”
The group turned to look at her. The buzz of the classroom took over until Rob interjected.
“What color is a mystery block,” Robert slowly started to talk. He paused between each word, drawing his eyes into a narrow gaze by the time he finished.
“Tan, man,” Replied Lynn. The look on the faces staring at her confirmed what she already knew. That wasn’t right.
The class’ energy died as Mr. Kolputz walked through the door. Lynn walked to another seat across the room. History class dragged on as every boring word Mr. Kolputz said went straight out of the opposite ear it came in. Her eyelids struggled to return after every blink throughout the duration of the class. The pencil in her hand danced around her notebook, drawing her mind instead of the lesson.
Once class finished she looked back down at her notebook. She had drawn a dark room. In the room, Robert, Rachel and herself danced to the sound of music being played from the gym’s loudspeakers, hidden by the lack of light. In other words, she drew a black square.
Robert had almost made his way out the door when Lynn grabbed his shoulder “Are you going to homecoming?” She paused. Robert turned, “And is anyone else coming?”
“I don’t think so,” What does he know? Thought Lynn in response. As she went to collect her things, Robert vanished into the mob of students in the hallway.
Lynn went to her next class, chemistry. She loved chemistry more than any other subject, which allowed her to pass the class with flying colors (a C+). Rachel however, did not like chemistry. She was what they called “normal”. Unfortunately for her, the school required her to take the subject.
Rachel spent most of her time in chemistry class texting her friends, chatting with classmates, and just otherwise letting the teacher know she didn’t care. She sat in the back corner with a few others who cared equally as little. They all stared down at their phones as Lynn walked in the room.
Lynn walked over to the corner and sat down.
“How are you?” Rachel looked at her and returned to her phone. The rest of the crowd seemed not to notice Lynn.
Mr. Sdog started class by turning off the lights and starting a video on the molecular structure of acids. The class groaned as the lesson started. Lynn’s eyes fixed to the TV screen. As she watched the video, she could feel the unwelcoming eyes of the other students in the back corner occasionally peering at her. Whispers broke her focus on the lesson.
“Do any of you know this person?” Said a voice, not knowing Lynn heard him.
“I don’t. Look at her clothes,” Hearing this talk, Lynn froze. Even in the dark room, Lynn’s clothes weren’t hard to see, “I bet she can’t even tell Old Navy from Gucci,”
“I can too,” Lynn protested. Rachel noticed the commotion and looked up. Mr. Sdog concentrated on a riveting game of solitaire on his phone.
“Then what brand is Rachel’s jacket,” He whispered to avoid a racket. Lynn and Rachel met eyes. Rachel shifted in her seat.
“I know that one, Loui Vuitton." Said Lynn. The boy replied by chuckling and returning to his phone.
Lynn knew the group wouldn’t welcome her into their ranks and so she moved to the front of the class and watched the rest of the video. When class finished she caught Rachel at the door.
"Are you going to homecoming?” She asked. Rachel turned, “And is anyone else coming?”
"Probably not," Aloud she thought. Rachel walked out in a mass of students.
Lynn had one class left in the day, English. As she walked through the hallway to class she passed posters, signs, fliers and other various notifications announcing homecoming. The colors black and orange crawled through every inch of wall and ceiling, filling the school with pep.
By the time she had arrived at English class she had forgotten to pay attention to where she was going. All the decoration demanded her attention much more than the boy in front of her, so when she got to him she nearly ran him over. Paul stared at her as she looked back stunned to see someone standing in a crowded hallway.
Paul’s look conveyed his message: Greetings dear Lynn, I you seem to have forgotten to look where you intended to go. A common mistake, an easily forgivable one. I see however, that this is not your only reason for seeing me today. I know we have English class together, but that doesn’t seem to be it either. If I had to guess I would presume that you have something on your mind today. I would like to inquire further, but class starts in about a minute and I would think it dreadful for either of us to be late. Please come in and let us chat.
Lynn and Paul sat next to each other in time for class to begin. Paul remained engaged in the lesson, waiting for it to end before the two could talk. Halfway through the lesson Paul passed a note.
Lynn my colleague, I seem to have run into a bit of a conundrum, allow me to explain. As I’m sure you’re aware, our worksheet requests us to identify various classes of words. This in and of itself is no problem. For the first half or so of the worksheet I seem to be doing just splendid, but on question number six I run into the issue. You see the worksheet, starting then, challenges us to identify conjunctions in each sentence. My question is as follows: What the hell is a modal verb.
After reading the note Lynn whispered to Paul.
“I’m really amazing at grammar,” she began, “a modal verb is an or/and word.”
Paul smiled at her and finished working on his paper. Once he finished, he walked to the teachers desk to turn it in. Once class finished the teacher called Paul back to her desk. Lynn watched them talk and waited for Paul.
"Are you going to homecoming?” She asked as Paul walked towards her. Paul didn’t blink, “And is anyone else coming?”
His eyes gave an answer too vulgar to put in writing.
Despite receiving no’s from all her friends, on her way home Lynn decided she would go to the homecoming dance. When she got home she rifled through her clothes trying to find the perfect dress. She tried on every piece of clothing she had until she was finally satisfied with her choice.
When she arrived at the dance, she saw Robert, Rachel and Paul all together. She stopped in her tracks as they saw her. Her mouth fumbled about trying to find the words to say when Robert answered the question she struggled to form.
“We can’t count on you,” Which was very true.
“Also it's kinda weird how you always try to rhyme.” Said Rachel.