Antoinette: AbsenceMature

"Look at his bald head," Gandhi says to me. "Do you reckon he polishes it?"

I giggle loudly. Professor Jackson's bald head glistens comically in the light. It really is a funny head, I think. A really funny head.

Gandhi takes a small, scrunched up piece of paper and puts it on the edge of a ruler. He draws the ruler over the side of the table and bends it back with his finger. "I'm going to ping it," he threatens, and I giggle and cover my mouth with my hands (smudging, I notice to my irritation later, my lipstick).

"No! Don't!" I try to push his hand off, but he's got hold of the catapult.

"I'm going to..."

"Marie!" yells Prof. Jackson. The other Marie looks up from avidly taking notes. "I'm trying to give a General History class here! Can you just sit and listen?"

"Sorry, sir," I mutter. Five minutes into the lesson and he's already boring. Napoleon raises his hand.

"Excuse me, sir," he says in that voice Salvador loves to mock, "May I go to the bathroom, please?"

I don't know why Gandhi's snickering, but I giggle too. We're in a silly mood today and nothing can stop us. The Professor consents, and he gets up. Something small and white hits the back of his head, and he turns around.

I really tried to hide the gales of laughter that come this time. Gandhi gasps lets out a blasphemy, and I laugh all the louder as Napoleon gives us a very dark look. When he's gone, I turn to Gandhi again: "Did you see him give us the evils?" We both laugh, to the annoyance of Prof. Jackson.

At that moment Salvador appears, apologises proudly to the Professor for being late, throws his bag on the floor and joins us. "Where was he going?" he asked, jerking a thumb at the swinging door.

"Bathroom, apparently," I say.

"Interestingly, Hitler isn't here," Gandhi adds. "I think they've gone to do some delegating." And he nudges me to check I know what he's implying, and the inward squirm I feel manifests itself as laughter.

The Professor gets us to take out our notepaper and take some notes on a video of the Tudors. I twirl my pen and Gandhi and I make lewd jokes about King Henry. You always get lewd jokes with Gandhi - and he's so funny. But the Professor tells us to shut up, and so we try to take notes. But I've never liked being in total silence, so I turn to look at Salvador.

My heart flutters a little when I look at him. Even taking notes in the semi-dark, he retains a quiet kind of charm and composure that at times stops me from my own work just to look at him, slouched in unforced perfection. He could never know, of course; he would never return my affection, and this I'm almost certain.

The Professor draws me away from these thoughts. "Where's Napoleon?" he said, as if this has suddenly occurred to him.

"Delegating," whispers Gandhi, and the disgusting joke makes me giggle again. At once, the Professor picks on me.

"Marie," he says, making other Marie look up again, "Could you go and see if you can find Napoleon, please."

I shrug, make my way past Salvador, and leave the room. I'm down the corridor and heading for the nearest bathrooms. I don't know how I'm going to get him out of there.

I pass a window in the corridor, and catch sight of a tall, blonde girl staring back at me. Her makeup's quite heavy and her skin is pale. Her blue eyes are rimmed with black eyeliner, and oh God - she's fat. Her stomach really sticks out and her cheeks are round. She has flab on her arms and no thigh gap.

"Fat," I say to her. "I bet you're regretting that yoghurt now, aren't you? Fat."

I tear my eyes away from my reflection, but it's mesmerising. It wants to be analysed, to be hated, to be stared at until the fat starts to grow and grow until she becomes a ball, a human ball, rolling down the corridor, leaving a trail of grease behind it...

I hear footsteps, and its Napoleon. The surprise shows on my face, and his. "Where have you been?" I asked him. "The Prof wants you back."

"It's Adolf," he says, face ashen. "I - well, I..."

"You what?" I asked him kindly. He looks even more surprised.

"I probably shouldn't be telling you this," he stutters, "But Adolf's gone."

"Where?" I asked him, confused.

Napoleon looks up and down the corridor, and then takes me aside slightly. "That's a long story," he says. "I'm not sure if I can tell you now, but basically I left class to find him."


"That was the plan."

"What plan?"

"The, er..." He looks left and right. "Let's just go back to class."

Salvador once made this rather mean joke about me being easy to confuse. I agree with Napoleon, but I add, "What's the plan?"

"I'll tell you later. Also, I'd rather you didn't spread this around to your friends. It's a secret plan," he confirms slowly, "so don't go telling other people. All right?" He must think I'm simple, I thought, and wondered what I'd done to come across like that.

"Well, sure."

He begins to walk off. Unexpectedly, he then turns, and in a spontaneous burst of decency, says: "By the way, you're not fat."

The End

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