Jackie didn’t come to school the next day. We had first period art together—we had made sure of that when we picked our classes during the summer—and she wasn’t there. Art is probably the easiest elective, other than study hall. Neither of us wanted to take anything too challenging first thing in the morning. I couldn’t imagine running around the gym that early in the day.
I told our friend Lauren about the party the night before, and she said Jackie probably just had a hangover. I felt lucky. Other than my head throbbing every so often and my parched throat, I felt okay.
“You said she was throwing up last night, right?” Lauren asked, laying out the paper mache supplies on our table.
“She definitely smelled like it,” I said, cutting a square off a white sheet of paper. “She didn’t look good at all.” I added the paper to my mold, then brushed some paste onto it. We were making masks, like those pretty porcelain ones you see hanging up on people’s walls.
“So she’s probably sleeping it off. No big deal. My sister comes home like that all the time,” Lauren said. She liked to tell us about how her older sister was a bartender and got to drink for free all night.
I shrugged. “I know. She just didn’t look too good. Plus I’m grounded and I can’t even tell her we have to cancel girls’ night because my moms took away my phone.”
Lauren flipped her long, brown hair over her shoulder, and turned her dark eyes to her own mask. I always got the feeling she wanted to be invited, but girls’ night was Jackie’s and my thing since forever. Inviting someone new would be weird.
Art went by pretty quickly, and then I had biology. I didn’t really mind bio. We got to do a lot of labs and things, rather than just read out of the book. When I got to bio, there was someone else sitting in Jackie’s seat—someone wearing a green football jersey and blue jeans. A hat that matched the jersey sat on the table in front of him. Mrs. M probably told him to take it off. He kept pushing his hair out of his coffee colored eyes, and I knew right away why he wore the hat, even though they’re against the rules.
I put my books on the table and slid onto the stool next to him. I smiled—just a little one because I didn’t want him to think I was some slutty flirt—and opened my biology notebook.
“I’m not in your seat, am I?” he asked.
I finished writing the date and looked up at him. “Huh? Oh. No.” When our eyes met, I could feel heat spread across my cheeks.
“Okay, good. I just can’t see the board from the back, and didn’t want to sit too far up front.” His warm eyes stared into mine, and my heart beat a little faster in my chest. I suddenly wished I’d bothered to do my hair that morning.
I nodded. “Yeah, I don’t blame you. Which class did you drop?” I didn’t think I’d ever seen him before. Even though Clarington is a small town, the school is huge. It’d be impossible to remember every single person.
“I’m new,” he said. “This was the only sophomore science class open.”
“Oh!” I glanced at his hat. “Where did you transfer from?”
“Okay, everyone,” Mrs. M said. “I’m passing out a list of the supplies you’ll need for the dissection tomorrow, and a handout of the frog’s anatomy. Today I’m going to demonstrate the dissection. It’s probably a good idea for you to take notes on the handout, because tomorrow’s dissections will be graded.”
“Shit,” the boy next to me whispered. “I was taking physics at my old school.”
“Now,” Mrs. M said, “as soon as you get your goggles and gloves, come on up.”
I dug into my bag and pulled out my goggles: black with hot pink glitter and feathers glued onto them. Jackie and I had jazzed up our goggles in middle school with Mama’s box of stuff she uses to mockup stage designs, and they became an inside joke. I put them on and the boy raised an eyebrow at me.
“There are extras in the back of the room,” I said.
He nodded and smirked. “Any extra glitter?” Before I could reply, he got up and went to the back shelf.
I went to the head table, where Mrs. M had a frog laid out, its little green hands and feet pinned to the piece of cardboard. It kind of reminded me of Jesus on the cross. I wrinkled my nose and placed my papers and notebook on a clean area of the table. I felt the boy standing next to me, but stared hard at the frog in front of us.
“First, you’re going to make a butterfly cut,” Mrs. M said. She cut across the chest, just under the frog’s neck, then down from that cut, making a T. I didn’t get why she’d called it a butterfly cut until she pulled back the skin and pinned it to the frog’s sides.
“Ew,” I said, and leaned forward to see the guts.
“Your frog’s organs will not be dyed like these are. This,” she pointed with the tip of a pen, “is the heart.” Some sicko had dyed it bright pink before sending it to the school. The rest of the organs were dyed a barf green and yellow—bright and yet somehow pale colors that made me feel bad for the poor frog. I hoped he’d lived a happy life.
“This is the stomach,” she continued. “You get five bonus points if there’s anything inside of your frog’s stomach.” Everyone started chatting, betting each other they would get the extra points. “This,” Mrs. M rose her voice above the chatter, “is the egg sack.”
“Little bitty babies!” a big kid named Ron said. “Can I touch one?” He made a pinching motion with his fingers. His eyes gleamed.
“Civilized,” the new boy next to me muttered. I smirked, glad that I wasn’t the only one who thought Ron needed some help.
“If your frog is carrying eggs, you will receive ten extra points,” Mrs. M said, ignoring Ron.
“Sweet!” Ron yelled.
The boy next to me snorted.
Mrs. M showed us the rest of the frog’s parts, then glanced at her watch. “You have a few minutes to pack up and ask questions.” She smiled and stripped off her gloves with a snap.
I went back to my table, stripped off my own gloves with the same snap, and took the goggles off.
“So,” the boy said, putting his hat back on. The logo on the hat said Jets. I suddenly wished I’d paid attention to everything Corey and Jackie had told me about football.
“So,” I said.
“If you’re not doing anything after school, I work at Jay’s Comics in the mall.” He pointed to my open backpack. “I saw the Batman comics in your bag.” He blushed. “I get a twenty percent discount,” he said quickly.
“Oh,” I said. “I’d love to, but I’m kind of grounded right now.” I made a mental note to ask Corey for more of his Batman comics.
“Oh,” the boy said.
I scrambled to save the opportunity, but no words came to mind. I swallowed hard, frantically glancing at the clock. If nothing else, I needed to know his name. “So what’s your name?” I asked, keeping my face casual. Inside, though, my heart did flips, fluttering in my chest.
The bell rang, drowning out his answer. Afraid to ask again, I picked up my backpack and slung one strap over my shoulder.
“What do you have next?” he asked, following me into the hall.
“English, with Mr. T,” I replied automatically. My heart slammed against my chest. There had to be another way I could get his name.
He pulled out a creased sheet of paper from his back pocket. “I have French. There weren’t too many classes still open when I transferred,” he said, as if French was the lamest class ever.
I leaned over, scanning his schedule. Before I could find his name in the tiny print, he folded it up and pocketed it. ”French is cool,” I said. “I took it last year, but this year I wanted to take a break and take art instead.”
“Well, I guess I’ll see you later or something, then,” the boy said. “I’m down this way.” He waved and then walked in the other direction toward the foreign languages wing. I sighed and went to English, wishing I’d taken French again instead of letting Jackie talk me into art. I was rapidly running out of things to talk to him about. Oh well, I decided with a little flutter in my chest. At least bio will be even more interesting now.
To Be Continued…
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