Chapter I: The Headless Cross, page 5Mature

She heard someone call her name as she got in the bus, and turned to face the first sunshine of her day, a smiling, skinny green-eyed girl with long red hair worn in braids and freckles all over her face. Sally O'Flaherty, her best friend.

"Hi Becca!" she called out with that high upbeat tone that could be at the same time adorable and irritating. That was the reason Rebecca liked her so much: even though they had different tastes, the redhead's cheerfulness would always brighten up her mood in no time. That, and the fact that they had known each others since they were babies, for their fathers worked for the same company. "How are you doing?"

"Oh, fine... for another boring day."

"Come on, that won't be so bad! A field trip always makes it seem shorter."

"A field trip? What field trip?"

"Don't tell me you forgot again! This afternoon we're visiting the LBPS archaeological dig!"

"Oh, yes, sure, I remember! Well, tripping on rocks and brushing dust... I don't know if that's much better than sitting in class."

Sally sighed: "You know, sometimes it just feels like you really want to bore yourself to death..."

When the bus stopped and they entered the school, the girls walked along the hallways, raising their heads like prairie dogs to try to see over the bustling crowd of pupils and spot their friend Raj. Rebecca thought she had seen him when someone bumped into her brutally enough to make her trip.

"Hey," she shouted, "watch it!"

She stood back on her feet and looked to come face to face with a tall fiery redhead, with extraordinarily long legs, a perfect tan, a chest that was a bit too developped for a girl her age... in a nutshell, a girl who looked like a magazine cover come to life, looking down at her with a bitchy look. And her posse behind looked just as unfriendly.

"It's you who should watch it," Donnie Manilow sneered, "trash like you shouldn't stand in the way of people like us."

"Always so nice and sweet, Donnie, it's so cute," Rebecca replied on the same tone, refusing to let herself be impressed.

"And you talk back, but you got gall, you tramp! Oh, by the way, I heard sweet little Rebecca has a crush on Matthew, now isn't that cute! Don't even think about it, he's mine!" She let out a cruel laugh. "But I don't know why I should worry, not that he has any chance of being interested in you. You don't have what it takes, Iron Smile, I am the queen here, and you should just be happy to breathe the same air as me!"

Rebecca stood confused for a moment, until the perfect retort popped in her head: "If blowing jobs in the boys' room makes you popular," she said, "then yes, you are the queen." And she punctuated her words with a curtsey.

Donnie's face changed from utter arrogance to raw anger, and it seemed like she could set someone on fire just by looking at them. She wanted so hard to slap that little tramp, to pull her hair, to make her cry... but her dad, a Member of Parliament, could not afford to have a troublesome daughter, and she certainly didn't want to get locked in a boarding school in Switzerland until she turned 18. So she took a deep breath and composed a cold smile as if she didn't care.

"Well," she said, "resorting to insults is so lower class. I'll just leave you in your filth."

"Get lost, Nun," she said to Sally as she passed beside her and walked away, still visibly mad, and her posse followed without a word. Nun was Sally's nickname in the school, because being the second child in a four-children Irish Catholic family, she had a pretty traditional upbringing and seemed extremely uptight compared to her schoolmates. That, and the fact that she was spotted blessing her food at lunch, one day.

"What just happened?" someone asked behind them, and they turned to their friend Raj, an Indian boy with glasses and his hair parted neatly on the right.

"You just missed something awesome!" Sally answered with excitement. "Becca completely owned Donnie, that was fantastic!"

"Really?" he asked, dumbfounded. "Becca, you're not afraid of Donnie coming back at you for this? After all, it's Donnie Manilow we're talking about, here."

"Whatever," Rebecca said, although she knew it was just bravado and now the perspectives of a possible revenge were making her legs shake. Donnie loved to humiliate people, and when it came to that, she would turn from dumb model to evil genius. "She's only showing off because her dad's rich and famous," she added. "Really, she doesn't scare me at all."

Between Raj and her, the boy was always the voice of reason. He may be considered wimpy, but he was often right when it came to avoiding conflict. The three of them had been in the same class for as long as they could remember, and if Becca and Sally had been friends since they were babies, Becca and Raj had come to talk to each others through their mutual interest in Stephen King, although the boy's passions went way over her head, for he was also a major comic-book nerd and was really into those fantasy games full of trolls and wizards and stuff. Though she didn't really dig his geekiness, they had common grounds and they soon became friends.

"So, Raj," Sally said. "Ready for the field trip?"

"Can't come," he sighed. "Advanced chemistry, remember? Well, just tell me if you found anything cool."

The End

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