“My name is Miss Wilkes and I will be your substitute teacher on this fine Thursday morning.” A petite woman with thick wire-framed glasses and mousy blonde hair stood at the front of my chemistry class. “Now, it doesn’t look like your teacher left a lesson plan for January fourteenth… So I’ll just let you guys work on any homework you have for other classes. You can talk as long you keep the volume down.”
Cassidy giggled. “She knows that this is first period right? We don’t have any homework yet…” A wry smiled snaked across my face as I held up a single finger in front of my lips—the universal sign for “Shh!” Cassidy seemed like such a cool girl, but I couldn’t help but think about all of the nasty shit Brielle had written online.
I adjusted my position on the cold metal stool to face her. I inhaled and managed to screw up the courage to ask her about the comments Brielle had posted online the previous week. “So, I was on Facebook the other day…” I didn’t even have to finish; she knew what I was talking about. “None of it’s true. Well, I did kiss Jason… but that’s it! Like seriously, all lips no tongue.”
The sadness in her wide brown eyes told me she was telling the truth. “And Bri knows that I’ve had a crush on him since middle school.” She bit down on her lower lip. “Wanna know the worst part? It was my first kiss ever.” My eyebrows shot upwards towards my braided hippie-headband. What? How on earth could one of the most popular girls at John Quincy Adams who was currently being painted as a ginormous slut by her peers be a kissing virgin?
I honestly didn’t know what to say. How do you console someone who’s had their best friend turn on them? “That’s fucked up.” As soon as the words tumbled out of my mouth I was amazed at my own lack of grace. Seriously Farrah? That was the best you could come up with? The rest of the period passed in total silence—at least on our part, Mike DeLavaggio and Darryl Preston were loudly discussing the color of Tiffani Lessers panties.
Throughout the rest of my morning classes there was a dark cloud floating above my head. I had failed tremendously at consoling Cassidy, I was painfully jealous of my best friend on the planet, and I had been caught making out with my maybe-boyfriend the bitchiest teacher at John Quincy Adams. I always seemed to manage to make a mess out of everything. I was almost too emotionally drained to even handle lunch. Alas, as a human being I required calories and conversation.
Zooey and I went through our usual routine in the lunch line. I ended up picking some spaghetti drenched in suspicious looking sauce; she chose a chicken ceasar salad. “Ooh! That looks…” She trailed off. “Like it might give me Salmonella?” I giggled. Once we had fallen back into rhythm of witty banter I felt like an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Zo was still Zo, the bubbly fashion-junkie with a heart of gold and an obsession with old Hollywood black and white film noire. She hadn’t somehow morphed into a charm bracelet wearing bitchbot overnight. I sighed with relief and she shot me an inquisitive look.
Our table was munching away on the cafeteria’s various delicacies, making smalltalk and joking about our teacher’s sex lives. Just as we broke into a fit of thundering laughter the crunchy speakers fizzled to life. “Hello students! Principal Havender here, the nominations for Freshman Formal Court have been counted and I’m pleased to inform you that this year’s court will consist of Jason Rhyse, Brielle McKenzie, Ryan Teaver, Ashlynn Jenks, Michael DeLavaggio, Molly Bradshaw, Hayden Bristoff, Cassidy English, Nicolas Esperañzo, and Zooey Abrams.
The look on Liam’s face was priceless; it was as if someone had just told him that the Earth was indeed flat.