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Who? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Of course, she knew of him. Nearlyeverybody in a class - maybe everyone in a school - knew of someone like that.And there's at least one in every grade: the notorious ne'er-do-well, headedstraight for the streets, goin' nowhere, hated by teachers - yes, everyone knewJoe Farone. And it figured, Amy thought to herself resentfully, it figured shewould end up working with him. Just her luck.

Health class was mandatoryfor seniors, and there were no levels like honors or standard groups for health,otherwise she would never have come into contact with him. He, of course, knew ofAmy too. Everyone knew a girl like Amy: high class rank, captain of the fieldhockey team, president of the National Honors Society, band captain, president ofthe drama club, friendly, pretty, popular, smart, involved, she had it all. Andthough she was overworked and always busy, she even had time to go to parties andsocialize. Naturally, she would never come into contact with Joe.

When Ms.Grant, the health teacher, called out Amy's and Joe's names to work together onthe biography project, Amy thought she detected a hint of amusement in Ms.Grant's voice. She had a right to be amused, Amy thought bitterly, as she glanceddistastefully across the room at Joe. His hair was disheveled, his clothes rippedand dirty. He tipped his chair back, his sneakers propped up on the desk, atoothpick in the corner of his mouth, ostensibly in lieu of a cigarette. Amy,sitting almost primly in her chair, her carefully styled hair and clothes theepitome of fashion and neatness, was a total contrast.

"The biographieswill be due in three days," Ms. Grant said, "and I want them in detail! Interviewyour partner, talk on the phone, really get to know him or her. Be thepsychiatrist: don't be scared to analyze, dig deep. He or she doesn't have toread the report. It doesn't have to be well-written, but it does have to bein-depth. Ask questions and take notes ..."

Ms. Grant rambled on. Amydidn't listen, she was already scribbling down questions to ask Joe. Age?Parents? Siblings? Childhood? How did you get that scar on your face? No, shecouldn't ask that last one. Too embarrassing, she thought, crossing it out. Thiswouldn't be as easy as she thought, but she would do well. No matter how hard theassignment, she usually got an "A" almost effortlessly.

The bell rangabruptly, and Amy started collecting her books. Joe sauntered by her, alreadypulling out a pack of cigarettes to smoke outside. Amy pretended she didn't seethem and tried to be friendly.

"Hey Joe, after school today in theResource Center, okay?" she called after him with an almost ingratiatingsmile.

"Yeah, sure," he sneered sarcastically, neither stopping norturning around. Amy gripped her books, controlling her annoyance, and headedtoward her next class.

Amy knew that he wouldn't be in the Resource Centerafter school, but she passed through anyway, on her way to Ms. Grant's room totell her she wanted a different partner for the project. But, surprisinglyenough, Joe was waiting for her at one of the tables in the corner, smokingunobtrusively. Trying rather unsuccessfully to conceal her disgust, Amy sat downacross from him.

"Hi," she said, once again attempting to be friendly. Joegrunted.

"Well, I guess we better get to work," she said brightly, settingdown her books and pulling out a sheet of paper. She stared, then, openlyrepulsed that he was not even responding to her and hadn't yet put out his...

"Oh, is this bothering you?" he moaned, motioning to his cigarette inmock concern.

"Smoking isn't allowed -"

"I'm so sorry, I'll put itout," he continued sarcastically, stubbing it out under his boot, burning a holein the rug.

She decided to let it go and get this over with as quickly aspossible. "Can I ask the questions first?"

Joe shrugged. Amy began withsome of the basic questions she had jotted down earlier: name, age, parents,family ... he cut her off short.

"Why are you bothering with that?" heinterrupted rudely.

"What?"

"That's not important."

"Who'swriting this, me or you?" Amy, who didn't like being told what to do, was losingpatience.

"Well, it's my biography. She wants it in-depth."

"AndI'm asking you about -"

"My family and other stupid stuff."

"Look,Joe, if you're going to be uncooperative -"

"I didn't saythat."

They glared at each other, in a standoff.

"Fine, then," Amysaid quietly, "if you're so smart, you ask the questions." She crumpled up herblank sheet of paper. "Go ahead."

Joe took his feet off the desk, leanedforward across the table, and looked Amy straight in the eye. "Who are you?" heasked simply. Amy drew back involuntarily.

"What do youmean?"

"It's a simple question, Miss Priss. Who are you?"

"AmyKimball." "That's your name."

"Age 18."

"That's yourage."

"Born April 5, 1975, Aries."

Joe spat contemptuously."Birthday and sign."

"Well, what do you want?"

"Who are you?" Joeintoned again.

She sat back. "Captain of the field hockey team, bandcaptain, president of National Honors Society, actress -"

"No, those areyour activities, stupid."

"Daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend."

"Very clever. Your relationships."

"Well, I don't know whatyou're asking for!" she nearly shouted.

"Who are you?" Joe asked simplyfor the fourth time.

Amy stared at him, shook her head, and finallyshrugged, defeated. "I don't know," she said meekly.

"You don't know.Well, that's all I need." Joe stood up and turned to leave.

"Wait!" Amycried. "You don't know anything about me! I mean, I know nothing of you."

"Well, hurry up and ask me, I have a bus to catch."

Frantically,Amy searched for a good question. He wouldn't wait around, she knew, nor would heagree to another interview. He had answered all her previous questions inriddles, or just ignored them.     

She had no choice butto use the only question available: his own. "Who are you?" she asked indesperation.

He laughed, bitterly.

"Nobody," he said, "nobody atall." And with that, he left.

Amy didn't bother chasing afterhim, or even calling his name; it would be useless. She figured that, since hewouldn't be reading the report, she could easily make up a biography about him: she would throw in realistic details about problems at home with his parents,drinking, or not having enough money. As long as she spiced it up but didn'toverdo it, she thought she could pull off a good grade.

Joe, sitting onthe bus, was doing just that. In his one-page, two-paragraph essay, he gave asynopsis of the tragic story of Amy Kimball, typical overachieving teenager,working so hard doing things she didn't like so her friends would accept her andso she would get into an Ivy League school. He wrote about her inner turmoil,resulting in the fact that although she came from a happy, secure home and had atrauma-free history, her life consisted of school, socializing and after-schoolactivities, and she didn't know who she really was. His 15-minute paper was aninadvertent masterpiece.

Amy, on the other hand, was having a harder time.He was just a worthless nobody, like he said, headed for nowhere, wasn't he? Whatcould she write, she wondered, about someone who didn't do anything but smoke anddrink and get in trouble? Amy wrote her phony paper, passed it in, and received a"C-", probably the worst grade she had ever gotten. Joe, on the other hand,passed in his paper, complete with grammatical and spelling errors, and got an"A-", the best grade he had ever gotten. Amy shrugged it off, knowing it wasJoe's fault, she would make up for it, and hey, it was only health class. ButJoe, even after he dropped out of school to work a month later, never forgot theoverachiever who didn't know who she was.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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