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The New Kid
Biology class was much too boring. The only thing interesting about the entire class was genetics, and the last thing I wanted to think about was how I was made and the genes involved. Far too complicated. I imagined any normal person trying to crack my genetic code. It made my stomach hurt. Luck to them…
“Are you okay?”
I looked up quickly. The unfamiliar voice seemed to trigger some sort of reflex buried deep inside me.
He gazed at me intently. The new kid. Night, was it? There was something in his eyes that caught my attention. I couldn’t place a finger on it, and it was so vague it was almost unnoticeable. Very well camouflaged. It wasn’t really a happy something, and not quite a sad something, either. Odd. Odd and somehow unnerving. I blinked.
He’d been following me more or less the entire day. I mean, our homeroom teacher assigned me as his “guide”, but I’d expected him to wander off on his own like every other new kid in the world. No one actually stuck to the program. I might have been creeped out a bit by his perseverance, especially since my stalker’s eyes were the color of a bloody massacre, but something about his presence pacified me. It was like some powerful overlord was following my every move when he looked at me. Watching. Observing. Taking notes. Seriously creeping me out. Yet, in a way, it didn’t bother me. In truth, that’s what did bother me.
“Y-yeah,” I replied, shooting him a questioning look, “Why wouldn’t I be?”
His crimson eyes dropped, his expression unreadable, “Can I borrow your notes? I’m… sorta behind.” He grinned sheepishly, almost fearful of my reaction.
I hesitated, struggling to absorb his unique way of being, “Oh. Yeah. Of course.” I reached across the aisle and handed him the packet. He took it cautiously and nodded in thanks.
I stared after him, mystified by his odd little mannerisms. I felt I was being rude by staring, but I couldn’t help it. It was like he’d never conversed with an actual person before.
I watched as he flopped it down onto his desk and flipped it open to a page somewhere in the middle. He held his pen still, pausing.
“I-I’ll give it back after…” he offered. His bangs fell over his face a bit, shrouding an expression that I knew by the sound of his voice was that of uncertainty.
I blinked and said nothing. Well, obviously, he’d give it back.
His deep and guarded gaze lingered, then he turned as if tearing his gaze away from something with three heads.
It made me more than a little self-conscious, but at the same time, I wanted to laugh. This kid was something else. Something told me he wasn’t known for being overly associative at his old school.
The rest of the class went by painfully slow, and I wanted nothing more than to break away and go to lunch. Shianne and Arai were in math, and I almost felt bad for them. Almost. I thought ahead to the rest of my day. English, then math, then computer. I hated Mondays.
A flutter tore my mind back to the present. Night was waving the packet in my direction, a bemused look on his face.
I took it and tucked it inside my notebook, writing a mental note to get more organized.
“Thanks.” He continued, the small smile looking odd on his face. For some reason I associated it with gloom.
“You’re welcome.” I returned. I wanted to ask him what the smirk was about, but didn’t. Quite obviously it was his own private discovery that I was not an a**hole who was going to stick his head in a toilet.
Did anybody do that anymore? It always sounded so stupid on T.V. I imagined Denvai committing such a deed. It made me laugh.
Night’s expression flashed from one extreme to the other unfathomably fast.
“What’s so funny?” He ventured.
“Nothing.” I chuckled, “You don’t know my brother.”
He looked obviously confused, and not afraid to show it, “You have a brother.” It was more of a statement than a fact or question.
“Denvai.” I nodded.
He responded with a look of incredulous accusation, “He’s your brother?!”
“Unfortunately.” I chortled, “You have any siblings?”
“No.” He said simply. I let the matter drop.
Lunch rolled around sluggishly but surely. I made my way to the usual table, setting my things aside. I hardly had the chance to sit when I was bombarded with the enthusiasm that is Arai.
“They have chicken today!!!” she shrieked, throwing her stuff down and dashing to the line.
“I’ll be there in a sec…” I blinked; she was already gone.
Arai and her chicken.
It looked as if she was having a very similar conversation with Shianne, who shot me a ‘help me’ look. I laughed.
“You laugh to yourself a lot.”
I spun around, and sure enough, New Kid was right there, like an eerily loyal guardian angel, breathing down my neck.
“Could I sit with you?” he pleaded, somehow accomplishing an innocent look, “Just for today?”
He was like a stray dog. If I follow you home, will you keep me?
If he was thankful, you couldn’t see it through the jubilance on his face. I found that odd. I wondered what his reaction would be if I handed him a million dollars. He’d probably look bored. Or confused. Like he didn’t know what money was.
I mean, he wasn’t stupid, just a little… lost.
I slid himself into his seat slowly, like it was a throne he was unworthy of. Or a throne that was secretly an electric chair. Yeah, that one. Scary chair.
I glanced back at the lunch line, watching it slowly advance. Shianne looked at my new companion with an openly inquisitive expression, then, as if donning it all irrelevant, gestured for me to join them in line.
“I… I gotta go get in line.” I told him, feeling kinda guilty. I mean, how would he handle sitting in a chair all by himself?
“Okay.” He stated simply, now clearly content in his place. He’d tamed the beastly chair.
“…The line?” Obviously.
“Oh…” he mused, “… Line for what?”
“The… lunch line.” I didn’t hide my confusion as I probably should have. Polite was just the last thing on my mind.
“Lunch? They give you food?” He looked like a kid at Christmas.
“That’s the idea…” This was getting weird.
“So…” he mused, ‘I could do up there, get in line, and they’ll give me food?”
“Duh.” I couldn’t help myself. Maybe he thought he was being a smartass and that it would make him look cool or something. He sounded like a retard.
“And it’s… free?”
I shrugged, “For some people, I guess.”
He rested his face in his hand as he pondered, “Who gets free lunch?”
“I don’t know, some people.” I rolled my eyes as my stomach reminded my mind how hungry I was.
“And these people… how do they get it?”
I sighed, “They fill out a form. You should have gotten one in your mailbox.” I paused, having forgotten he was enrolling at a time when most new kids don’t. The forms would have been sent before school even started, “Er, it will be in your mailbox.”
“I don’t have a mailbox.” He stated.
“That’s odd.” I blinked.
“Not really, considering…”
“Okay, that’s nice and all, but I gotta go get in line.”
“Oh. Right. Of course.”
I spun around without another word. Shianne moved back so that I could cut them in line.
“We’ve got a tag-along today.” I informed them.
They glanced back at him. I didn’t.
“New kid.” Arai observed.
“Yeah.” I nodded.
“What’s he like?” Shianne urged.
We didn’t really speak of him the rest of the time we were in line, which was ages, by the way. The girls followed me to our table, and even before we neared him, I knew he hadn’t gotten any brighter.
He was fiddling around with a pencil, and in doing so, it flipped itself onto the floor. He stooped down to retrieve it, apparently oblivious to our return.
If he was looking up Shi’s skirt, I’d kill him.
We slid into our seats, and all was quiet for a moment.
Arai broke the silence, “So, do you like chicken?” she asked enthusiastically, lifting up a drumstick as she spoke.
He shrugged, “Sure.”
“Then why don’t you go get some? It’s really good!”
Shianne made a face.
“I don’t have a mailbox…” he muttered.
Shianne gazed at him long and hard, “I’m sorry?”
He said nothing, looking down at his books in front of him.
There was a bit of an awkward silence. It irked me, so I spoke.
“So… what do you have next on your schedule?”
“English,” he recited quietly.
“We’re doing grammar.” I offered.
He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped.
I answered his unspoken question, “Stuff like punctuation, and sentence types and word types. Simple stuff that no one seems to know anymore.”
“Oh.” He nodded.
“So, where are you from?” Shianne piped up.
“Um…” he paused, “North… Dakota.”
“Wow. How different is it from Oregon?”
He said nothing for a moment, “…Very.”
“Do you miss it?”
“Didn’t you have friends there?”
“Oh, please. Everybody back home was either really old or spoke Spanish.” He answered with a straight face. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not.
I laughed, “Spanish? That close to Canada? They speak French there. How close were you to the border?”
“Closer than you think.” he replied, eyes distant.
I was quiet, “Okay…”
“Let’s talk about something else.” Shianne suggested.
“Yeah, like food!” Arai agreed happily.
“Let’s not.” He interjected.
“Okay… school. That’s easy enough.” I decided.
He looked up at me with sorrowful eyes.
“It’s hard to adjust.” I sympathized.
He shifted in his seat uneasily, “You’re telling me…”
“Aw, it’s not so bad once you get to know people here.” Shianne stepped in, “See, you already know three people.”
“Do I?” he raised a brow.
She blushed, “Oh, sorry. How rude of us. I’m Shianne; you can call me Shi. You probably know Zeke.” She gestured to me, “And this is Arai. She likes chicken.”
“I do.” Arai grinned.
A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. He seemed to be trying not to smile.
“She’s obsessed.” I sneered.
“So is Shi.” Arai added.
Shianne reddened, “Shut. Up.” She whispered.
“Obsessed with what?” he ventured, surprising us all by coming back out of his shell a bit.
“Nothing. I’m not obsessed with anything like this lunatic.” She said quickly, nudging Arai.
“I’m not allowed to speak of it.” Arai smirked.
“Because there’s nothing to tell.” Shi said, turning redder.
I looked at Shi in confusion, then at Arai.
“Like I said,” she shrugged, “I’m not allowed to tell.”
Shianne dropped her head onto the table, pushing her tray aside. I knew she was blushing, and I knew Arai would be teasing her about it later.
I laughed, “C’mon, Shi, we all have secrets.”
“Yeah.” Arai urged.
Night moaned, “Okay, changing the conversation now…”
“Let’s talk more about you.” Arai replied.
“Do we have to?” He looked so pitiful, it was kinda funny.
“Yes.” She insisted, “To start with, what’s your name?”
“Yeah. Everyone has one.”
“Oh, come on. It can’t be worse than Dick.”
“It’s a joke. Mr.Dick, the teacher…” he paused, “You wouldn’t know him…” she realized.
“That’s my name.”
Arai raised a brow, “Really?”
“I’ve heard weirder.” I volunteered, “Debatably.”
“Gee, thanks.” He glared.
“No, really. Like…” I racked my brain, “Like… Baby Girl. Honestly. Lazy.”
“They named their baby girl Baby Girl?”
“Wow. That’s… dumb.” He admitted.
“My name is still horrid.” He groaned.
“It’s not so bad.” Shianne spoke now.
“Easy for you to say. You don’t have to introduce yourself in every class.” He grumbled.
Shi made a face.
“Try being Denvai’s brother. I can just imagine what he says about me.” I grimaced.
Night laughed. It surprised me.
“Why, what do you do that you don’t want anyone to know?” He had a look of mischief about him.
I hesitated, “I have so much dirt on him, he wouldn’t dare.”
“Aren’t you nosy.” Shi teased.
“Like…” I paused, “He’s a mama’s boy.”
“Oh, and you’re not?” Arai smirked.
“I never said that.” I smiled.
Night was quiet for a long time, “So he’s the spoiled one?”
“No, I’m pretty sure Mom likes me best.” I laughed, not all at once sure I was joking. Where did the rivalry come from? When Dad was with us…
Night’s voiced trailed in, sounding a bit detached, “…What if it was a boy?”
“Baby Girl.” He clarified.
“Oh.” I chuckled, “That would be… wrong. Just wrong.”
“I like my name.” Arai piped in, “I think it’s pretty.”
“Better than Ezekiel, anyway…”
“You’re a boy.” She stated, “It’s not supposed to be pretty.”
“What are you talking about? I’m very pretty. I take after my mother.” I sneered.
She stared at me, “…No you don’t.”
I frowned. I took after my father, and I hated it.
When I looked up, Night was giving me that creepy I-know-what-you-did-last-night-look.
“Hmm?” he blinked.
“What?” Shi added.
Arai pressed her eyebrows together, “Huh?”
I shook my head, “Never mind.”