The bell above the door chimed as I bumped the door open with my overweight school bag. Mrs. Luna, the director of the school paper and English teacher, was already seated behind her desk grading her class homework beside a cup of steaming coffee.
"Ms. Smith." She greeted, looking up from her grading. "Shouldn't you be at the cafeteria? I heard they have soup, it's a nice night for it."
I laughed; they had had soup in the cafeteria every Tuesday night this winter and early spring.
"Clam chowder just doesn't make my heart sing like it used to." then again that would happen to anything if you had it as consistently as they were serving Clam Chowder. I sighed, pulling off my bag and resting it by the door.
"You really should eat something." She said taking a sip of her coffee. My stomach agreed with her but having become an introvert over the past few years I would brave starvation before I would go into a crowded cafeteria.
"I'll wait till I'm actually hungry." I lied. "What about you?"
"Bless your soul, you know I'm on a diet."
I nodded absently, I had never seen her off a diet nor had I seen her lose any weight.
"What kind of stories do we have tonight hon?" I asked sitting cowboy style in an extra chair.
"There is an interesting one waiting for you in your office." She said, gesturing to the printer closet that I had commandeered as my office.
"Lovely." I said, swinging myself on to my feet.
I pushed open my office door and hit the light switch.
Several glass orbs hovering in midair, trapped there by magnetic force, flickered to life illuminating the shabby windowless office.
"You took longer than I expected." The voice sounded like that of a demon suffering from throat cancer.
"Aaah!" I cried jumping back, almost knocking myself out by slamming into the wall and almost knocking the wall in.
"You okay sweetie?" Mrs. Luna called worriedly
I regained my footing and turned to look at the owner of the voice. It was the Goth from the cafeteria.
"Ye-yeah." I stuttered trying to calm my racing heart.
"I guess I should've left the light on." The Goth said still reclining easily in the corner next to the water cooler.
"That might help but you should try not lurking in dark corners." I said, trying to sound casual, which was nearly impossible while gasping in shaky breaths.
“My name is Titanic.” She said rising out of her corner like some demon forming out of black smoke. This time she wore the ill fitting school uniform her sleeves were rolled up. The 'innocent school girl' effect the uniform normally had on it's wearers was somewhat hampered by Titanic’s oversized boys leather jacket which she'd draped over her shoulder and the collection of odd symbol tattoos, that marred her tanned arms, visible beneath her pushed up sleeves. Around her neck she still wore her amulets which clinked every time she moved.
“That’s nice.” I said, I’m pretty sure that was not the proper response but I wasn’t about to give her my name.
I could feel the minutes drag by as we stood there awkwardly, Titanic staring placidly around the room and me staring fixedly at her.
“Want to get something to eat?” She asked at last.
“Um.” Was all I could manage trying to wrack my brain for some possible excuse. But my hunger and trembling was prohibiting that.
“I’ll buy.” She offered.
“It’s free.” I reminded, well it came with the enrollment fee so my aunt had already paid that.
“Then what the hell? Right.” Titanic said bumping my arm as she left my offices.
“Yeah.” was my meek response.
I would like to say, I hadn’t followed her but that would be a lie. I had to admit there was just something very fascinating about that Goth, maybe it was nice to meet someone more mentally disturbed than I was. Whatever the reason, I followed her switching off my offices light, regretting the loss of an opportunity to be hidden away in some stuffy windowless closet.
“G’night Mrs. Luna.” I said as I walked back across the outer office to the door.
“See you in class tomorrow Ms. Smith.” Mrs. Luna replied watching me over her reading glasses. “Try not to crash into too many doors before then.” She said trying very hard not to laugh.
“You know I had nothing to do with that.” I said in a dark frustrated undertone.
She was waiting for me in the dimly lit hall and we walked to the cafeteria together. Together only in the sense that we traveled in the same direction but there was a good three feet between us, and we didn't speak to each other. As far as any conversation got between us, was Titanic breathing out "so" but she never went any further. After ten times of that it started to sound like some chant. If I were as brave as I was annoyed I would’ve asked her to stop, as it were I simply vented silently in my mind.
"So." She said yet again as we neared the single wood door that marked the entrance to the cafeteria. It was open and the smell of sea food soup, heated rubber, and roasted garlic wafted out through the open doors along with the mingled bits of the cheerful conversation of teenagers oblivious to reality. I had been like them once but now I stood an outcast in myself next to an outcast to everyone else.
I looked over at Titanic, she looked just as disturbed as I felt, I think the only real difference between us was she wore her dysfunction and I ran from it.
"So..." I mutter awkwardly.
"So." she replied grabbing two lunch trays and handing one to me.
"Yeah." I wondered how long this one word correspondence would continue. I decided to break the cycle, think of something that might strike up a real conversation or at least show that I tried. But all I could think of was, 'twelve earrings on one ear, that must get annoying'.
"The Clam Chowder is good here." I said trying to smile at her.
Titanic nodded her eyes scanning the cafeteria.
"Don't they like only serve Clam Chowder?" she asked finally returning her gaze to me.
"But it's good." I said giggling nervously as I placed a bowl of the one and only soup on my tray.
"Since you recommended it, how could I resist." Titanic said either sarcastically or she really just didn't care what she ate; be it clam chowder, chicken noodle or little bunnies souls.
Great start of the evening and it just kept getting better.
“Come on.” Titanic said when we’d finished assembling our food. She headed back to the cafeteria door. I gave her a questioning look.
“I don’t like crowded places.” She explained.
I didn’t either—well normally, but now I felt they were safer.
“There are too many of them.” She added stepping out into the hall.
I followed her out of the cafeteria and was soon following her far past many of the places in the school that I knew, and found myself lead to the one place I'd never gone but had always wanted to; the school roof.