Zoelle, returning to class for the second half of English from lunch, sat in her desk, fuming. Her poorly curled, blonde hair was beginning to frizz and little charcoal dots of mascara smudged her rectangular glasses. Her turkey, cheese, and Cheeto sandwich turned in her stomach and she gulped some of her leftover water, gritting her teeth when a drop dripped down her chin and some of her makeup (applied with skill to be expected of a seventh grader) smeared onto the sleeve of her small, black hoodie when she wiped it away.
It had not been a good day. Well, half of the day. She slouched in her window seat and ignored the laughs of her jubilant (and irritating) classmates.
Rumors of her alleged conquests flew through the halls of the middle school. Apparently, many of the occupants of the second story of the building seemed to be under the impression that she had [pushed, shoved, pulled, kicked, shot] a [poor, innocent, victimized] girl in the [deadly, deathly, terrifying] path of a [car, bus], resulting in the [head injury, twisted ankle, sprained wrist] of the [poor, innocent, victimized] girl.
None of it was really true. You could thank the [poor, innocent, victimized] liar of a girl for that. Therefore, Zoelle was, understandably, quite ticked.
It wasn’t too long before her teacher, Mrs. S., sashayed into the classroom applying shiny, red gloss to her lips. The teacher moved a few things around her desk and smoothed her animal printed, oddly reflective jacket before picking up a green binder and perching herself upon a director’s style chair at the front of the classroom. She smiled and the class settled down into their desks, only to all stand up and resume their chattering when she announced that new seating assignments were in order.
Zoelle stood up dutifully, rather glad to be moving seats. She had a theory that unintelligence was contagious, and the girl she sat next to was obviously infected. Or the girl was constantly high on the amount of cheap perfume she always wore. It was kind of hard to tell which.
She dropped her relatively organized purple binder on her new desk, which was the second in a two-desk row placed in the very back of the windowed classroom. Zoelle hunched over and started to doodle on the back of her completed pre-Algebra homework. Circles and squares. Squares and circles.
She completely ignored the teacher beginning class. Also, the boy sitting next to her, who she had not met.
Sharp corners and perfect circles sprouted antennae and eyes. Fangs were added, claws and lasers outfitted. Minor details obsessed over and replicated, until an army began to form.
An army of whimsical robots. Alien robots from another world. A world where Zoelle was strong enough to crush her enemies. Fortunate fiction. Yes.
She felt a light tap on her shoulder, and flinched. “What?” She asked, in a rather hostile manner.
“We’re supposed to be doing questions one through five with our new partners.” It was the boy. Zoelle glanced at the green worksheet lying on her desk and rolled her eyes.
“Simile, metaphor, simile, simile, metaphor.” She said, without writing the answers down or looking at the boy, who randomly nodded.
“What are you doing, anyway?” He asked. She held up a finger, telling him to wait before asking,
“What do you think is the most painful way to die?” He didn’t look taken aback at all, just thought about it for a second.
“Burning or drowning. Intense pain and or lack of oxygen.” He said, like he was talking about the weather.
“Good answer.” Zoelle replied, adding a robot engulfing a darkened figure in flames, and another forcing a faceless foe into a stormy ocean to her graphite-ridden paper while the teacher began to talk again.
“You didn’t answer my question,” the boy pointed out the next time they were instructed to share answers. Zoelle noted that his were all correct, and that he was almost as far ahead as she was.
“I’m drawing myself an army.”
“An army of what?” Zoelle thought about it for a minute.
“ZORG.” She said, still maintaining an enigmatic curtain of blonde between her face and the boy.
“Zorg? Really?” He laughed a little.
“You think acronyms are funny? Why?”
“If it were an acronym you sould have pronounced each letter individually.”
“I, unlike you, pronounced them entirely as capital letters, which are typically accepted in written form equivalent to as if they were separated by periods. And if something is acceptable in writing, it’s acceptable in spoken form too.”
“Fine. What does. Z.O.R.G. stand for?”
“ZORG.” Zoelle corrected, buying time to come up with a reasonable answer.
“Yes, that. What does it stand for? Zany Orange Robot Gorillas?”
Zoelle looked up at him for the first time. “Z’s Outstanding Robot Guys.” He was ordinary looking in every way.
He raised an ordinary eyebrow. “What is the Z short for?”
“The Almighty Z.”
“Almighty?” His other ordinary eyebrow lifted. “Really, dude?”
“Just call me Zee.” She sighed. Zee was her standard nickname. It was a long story.
“Dude. I’m Jacob.”
“I’m aware.” said Zee.
“It’s in terrible handwriting on nearly every paper spilling from that mess of a binder of yours.”
“Fair enough.” He smiled, showing braces banded with blue.
Zoelle’s face stayed entirely unamused with a hint of a scowl, though she was holding back a laugh, many traces of anger gone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s entirely fair.”
His grin only widened.
And thus, a new army was born into this world out of the imagination of one pathetic seventh grader.