It was Valentines day and Zee hated it. She sat alone in English (Jacob hadn’t arrived yet), doodling some ZORG obliterating happy, flying cupids when she was interrupted by a slightly, though not entirely, annoying voice.
“Hey, Elle,” it said. She noticed the red wannabe gangster shoes and skinny jeans and knew instantly it was Joshua, one of the kids who lived in her neighborhood.
“Not my name,” Zee said with an annoyed sigh. He’d known her name since they met like, ten years before. Was it really so hard just to use it?
“Zoelle,” he said, like he was negotiating. It was not a negotiation.
“Yes, that’s my name.” She would have pushed for Zee, but she knew where that would go. Joshua had decided the year before to try to get everyone to call him Josh instead of Joshua, but it hadn’t stuck, mostly because he was so obnoxious about it. So instead, she said, “What’s up?”, with just enough hostility to imply ‘What do you want?’
He slid into the empty seat next to her and flipped his Justin Bieber style hair out of his eyes (He was a major belieber. It was pathetic.) Zee paused her doodling to look at him, though she kept her body angled straight forward. He glanced down at her mildly gruesome drawings and blinked a few times.
“So, um, I’ve been thinking...” he said. Oh, no, Zee thought. That’s never a good sign. “...and I’ve kinda had a crush on your for a while now...soo would you be my Valentine this year?” He widened his brown eyes in anticipation. In fact, his entire boyish face displayed pure and unadulterated anticipation, like he thought he knew what was coming and was really, really excited about it.
Zee fought the urge to laugh. “Nope,” she said simply and unemotionally, going back to her doodling, even though inexplicable nerves were tickling her stomach.
Joshua’s entire face fell, like it did when his Halloween candy was stolen by the big kids at age seven (yes, seven).
“‘Kay,” he said, hanging his head before looking up over his “hipster” glasses with puppy-dog eyes. Zee raised her eyebrows at him. He got up to leave and took a few steps before spontaneously turning back and sitting back down. Zee gave him a ‘What do you want now?’ look.
Joshua opened his mouth and was about to say something when someone cleared their throat from behind him. Jacob stood there, holding his binder (or, more accurately, overflowing pile of crumpled papers). Joshua jumped out of the desk and gave Zee a look. Seeing her face, he scurried away, a slight blush creeping up his neck.
“What was that about?” Jacob asked Zee.
“He just asked me out,” Zee said, in a slight state of shock.
“Really,” Jacob said, face unreadable.
“I declined, obviously,” it was then that Zee felt her face get a little hot and looked down at her paper. A half-finished ZORG drone was lasering down a flaming cupid, which was about to fall from the sky and join it’s dead comrades.
“Nice,” Jacob said. Zee did not know what that meant, or if it meant anything at all.
“Not really,” she replied through the awkwardness, releasing her hair so it fell around her face, blocking Jacob’s view of it. This was her way of withdrawing into her own little shell, where she remained for the rest of the day.