High School Freak, p.1Aaron Grunn
High School Freak
By Aaron Grunn
Copyright 2012 Aaron Grunn
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead or otherwise, is purely coincidental.
"What're you looking at?"
"Nothin'," John said and stared at his shoes. He hadn't meant to look up at Smitty, but he did, and now the upperclassman was in his face.
"Yeah," Smitty said, pushing John. "You were mean-muggin' me."
"I... I..." John couldn't think of anything to say. They were in the hallway leading to his class, and if Smitty kept pushing, he would be late. It wasn't like John could push Smitty back. The upperclassman played on the varsity football team, and more importantly, he was a foot taller than John, and weighed twice as much.
"Smitty." Mr. Cox peeked his head out of the classroom. "Don't you have class to go to?"
Smitty looked at the teacher, then back at John. He leaned forward. "All right, wimp. Next time you won't be so lucky."
John kept his eyes on his shoes as Smitty brushed by him, knocking his notepad out of his hands.
"Come on John, you're late for class," Mr. Cox said in a tone that sounded disgusted.
John shuffled into class, wondering why Mr. Cox was angry with him, and sat down in his chair. He was in the back, where he liked it. In the front sat the students trying to kiss up, as well as the ones that proved too troublesome in the back. John pulled out his binder, and Mr. Cox started to drone on about biology. They were learning about insects and the process of metamorphosis. John'd already learned about this in a book he read at home, so he started to draw circles, then ovals, then lines, then a large man, then a smaller man beating the large man. He scribbled over that and turned the page.
Bored with drawing, John tilted his head and strained his eyes to look over. Sitting two seats to his right and one up was Jessica. From his seat he could see the side profile of her lips, and the tight shirt she was wearing today. This was the main reason he liked sitting in the back. He went back to drawing circles, ovals, small circles in ovals, then hair and lips and legs.
John looked up. Mr. Cox was staring right at him. Everyone else turned and gave him weird looks. In his periphery, he could sense Jessica glancing at him. She was looking at him! Did she even know that he existed?
"Yes?" John asked, though the words only came out in a whisper. He never liked talking out loud. His heart started to beat fast.
"Speak up John," Mr. Cox said, again with a look of disgust.
"What?" John said, or almost shouted. His voice cracked. The other students jumped back, then giggled.
"Class, silence. Were you even paying attention, John?"
"I was," John said, though he knew it was a lie.
"Then answer the question."
"I couldn't... hear you... back here," John said, and gulped. He could feel himself turning red. Why did Mr. Cox always do this? Why did he want to make John look like a fool in front of the class, in front of Jessica? The class laughed again. John didn't know if it was with or at him.
"I asked if you knew the last classification of animals that undergoes metamorphosis in its lifetime."
John stared at the board. Why did any of this matter? Sometimes he wished he could undergo a metamorphosis and not be such a loser. He could feel everyone's eyes on him, most of them filled with contempt, only a few with concern. He swallowed and hoped that he wasn't beet red yet.
The board had a list. Insects and amphibians were already taken. John knew the answer, and he knew why no one else had said it yet. But did he want to say it? The eyes of his classmates and Mr. Cox burned, into him. If he said the right answer, he would only be picked on even more by the other kids in class. He looked at Mr. Cox. Mr. Cox had helped him in the hallway and John didn't want to let him down. Mr. Cox's forehead furrowed, and John realized that the teacher had a very sharp face, like a knife, with matching eyes. John also realized that Mr. Cox scared him on some level.
"Echinoderms," John said, his voice suddenly low, and he looked back down at his desk hoping that the attention would be taken away from him.
"That's correct, John. Very good," Mr. Cox said and turned to write the word on the board. John waited until he was sure he heard everyone else shuffle their bodies, and lifted up his head. Jessica's eyes were on him.
John's heart dropped. He froze and stared at her. She had brown hair down to her shoulders, green eyes, and lips that were almost too big. She smiled and John held his breath, he was sure it was directed at him, but he could feel himself turning red again, so he turned his head back down to his desk. He glanced up a few minutes later, and she was writing on her notepad. Could it be that she was looking at him? No way, he thought, she probably didn't know that he existed. Maybe she thought he was a weirdo after the exchange with Mr. Cox.
He went back to his notebook and wrote a few random words, shaded them in, and turned them into people. Girls. Or more like replicas of Jessica.
John took a look at the clock. They had ten more minutes. He tilted his head again and strained his eyes to look at Jessica.
He flinched. She was looking right at him. But she wasn't straining her eyes like him. Instead, she had twisted her body half way, as if she didn't care that she was looking at him. John glanced at his desk then back at her. She was still looking, and she smiled again. John couldn't help but smile back.
"Jessica, perhaps you would like to name the book?" Mr. Cox said.
Jessica snapped her head back to the front of the class.
John looked at the board. The topic seemed to be metamorphosis in popular culture. One of the topics was novels. Mr. Cox was always trying to tie a subject to something in the greater world.
Jessica was turning red. For some reason, John felt protective of her, yet he didn't dare say anything.
"Well?" Mr. Cox said, as if he didn't care how much he tortured his students with these questions of his.
John felt a surge of anger at the teacher and leaned forward, almost out of his desk.
"Kafka," John whispered.
"Say Kafka," John said in a louder voice.
"Kafka," Jessica blurted.
"Very good Jessica, thank you," Mr. Cox said and flashed John a smirk, before he turned to the board. "And thanks to your friend."
John swallowed hard. The smirk, almost smile, on Mr. Cox's face wasn't something he'd seen before. Mr. Cox was always serious and never smiled, he only liked to torture students with his questions, or stern stares. Did the teacher hear John giving the answer to Jessica? He usually punished such 'cheating'. Why did he smile this time?
The bell rang and John could barely hear what the assignment was over the rush of his classmates heading out. He packed his books and almost bumped into Jessica who stood right in front of him.
"Thank you, John."
John didn't know what to say. He was surprised that she even knew his name. She smelled like fruits. Her eyes sparkled and gave off a magical effect that sapped all the air out of John's lungs.
"Oh, it was nothing," John said, glad that his voice didn't crack. He was sweating, and could feel the dampness of his t-shirt. Why did his body have to react this way? Suddenly he felt blood rushing and pushed his notebook down to waist level. His mother'd warned him about all these changes, but she made them sound dangerous, like something he should hide from others. She never said a
"No, it was something. I mean, who knows who Kafka is?"
John felt himself twitch. Was she making fun of him? Maybe she just thought he was a nerd who read too much.
"I do," he said and walked past her and out of the room. He wanted to go home, but there was one more class before school was over. He spent it coming up with equations on how to get a girl in his notebook. The bell rang, and he felt the release of tension as he walked away from the school building. He thought he saw Jessica in the parking lot, but he made sure to walk the other way. She was with a group of upperclassmen. He heard them laughing, and felt that they must've been talking about him.
He headed back home, his backpack slung over his back, staring at the cracks in the sidewalk. Spring was cutting into winter, and the day was exceptionally warm. The sweater he wore in the morning hung over his shoulders, and he could smell the flowers blooming. It was only March here in Michigan.
John liked walking through this neighborhood. It was next to where he lived, but the houses here were nice, big, and the lawns were always clean. It used to be that he'd see Jessica walking through here to her house too, but now that she'd
High School Freak by Aaron Grunn / Actions & Adventure / Thrillers & Crime have rating 3.3 out of 5 / Based on36 votes