Zee was positive that things were not looking up for her. In fact, everything seemed to be going downhill simultaneously, as if someone had take the the string that represented good in her life and given it a dramatic downward tug. Rumors accelerated like reckless motorcycle drivers. Her self-esteem decreased as steadily as her eyeliner increased, and she found herself spending a lot of her time hiding under her black hoodie, softly singing to herself. She felt like she was dying a little bit inside, but nobody noticed a thing. I mean, sure, her friends and family were sympathetic to her Tara situation, but they didn’t really understand how it affected her; nobody did (probably due to the convincing “happy face” mask she usually tried to wear). Nobody stood up for her either, and how could she possibly be expected stand up for herself alone when what felt like the entire world was talking behind her back?
So basically, she was screwed. Or she felt like it, at least.
Every day up until Math, which wasn’t so bad. It was after that that Zee’s day always took a turn for the worse in the dreaded walk of shame to band. She’d tried taking different routes to the music wing, but no alternative that got her to class on time was any better.
By this time of day, Zee was already physically and emotionally tired, a mess of annoyance, anger, boredom, and hopelessness that made her think she might do anything to be anywhere but the rectangular, brick prison she found herself trapped in.
Fortunately, she had the first half of English class to look forward to. And look forward to it she did. English became her safe haven, even though it was hopelessly boring as Zee knew everything they were learning already. When she came in and collapsed into her seat next to Jacob it was like she’d forgotten all but the faintest traces of her problems. They must’ve gotten lost in the debates, the ironic comments, her ZORG drawings, his dragon drawings, their inside jokes, their impossible scenarios...
This is not to say that Zee felt one hundred percent all the time in English, she didn’t, but she did feel better. And better was something. Even on the days she had had an especially rough morning, or had come back to English from Lunch in a particularly bad mood and she felt herself withdrawing, by the time English was done and it was time for History Zee’s mood could almost pass for good.
One day, Zee felt particularly horrible. She’d run into not just one, but two jerkfaces and heard multiple comments before English. Not to mention that she’d also gotten next to no sleep the night before thanks to some just fantastic nightmares about cars and death threats and loneliness, and been late to school that morning as a result.
Her day (and her mood, for that matter) pretty much sucked.
Not wanting to have to deal with people, she pulled up her hood and put her head down on her desk, enclosing herself in a warm pocket of darkness. She felt Jacob’s presence beside her, but she ignored it. He didn’t say anything either, maybe picking up Zee’s “Stay away, humans not welcome” vibes. Eventually, though, she had to sit up to listen to the teacher. Then, she had to work with Jacob to complete a worksheet on subjects and predicates. They naturally finished quickly, and sat quietly, Jacob working on a dragon’s scales while Zee doodled ZORG drones frying things in a much more destructive way than one would generally fry.
They were both listening around them as well, so when two girls across the aisle started a conversation about Zee, they heard.
“Apparently she puts death threats in Tara’s locker.”
“That’s so weird. She does kind of look like she could be a serial killer or something though...”
As it stood, Zee had never really discussed her, um, situation with Jacob. She didn’t even know if he was aware of it, really. I mean, he must have heard something at some point (it seemed like everyone had) but as far as how he treated Zee went, it was as if he had no idea, which was, of course, perfectly fine by her.
Anyway, these two girls were going on about how Zee totally looked like she could be a serial killer and Jacob turned to Zee and, grinning widely, said, “Serial killer? More like one-time murderess for a cause.”
Zee thought that that was possibly the most beautiful and touching thing anyone had ever said to her.
“Thanks,” she said sincerely, though it very well may have come across as sarcastic. Most things she said did. Jacob simply nodded and returned to his dragon. Zee turned her paper of thoroughly fried things over and drew a happy drone, waving at another, and another, and another... She smiled and looked over at Jacob, his dark, even brows concentrated on his drawing, and a thought occurred to her. Maybe English wasn’t her safe haven. Maybe Jacob was.