As I walked through the corridor to my fourth period Spanish class a fluttering anxiety tickled the depths of my stomach and an anticipant smile spread across my face. I slipped into the class and along the side of the room before sliding into my desk.
Even though I was actively avoiding looking at anyone or anything, I was aware of my surroundings. Small groups of people standing around, all chatting in low voices about something that seemed to be important to them. There was probably some drama somewhere. Meanwhile, a few overachievers readied their supplies for class while some underachievers anxiously scribbled homework answers down on slightly rumpled pieces of lined paper.
I set my notebooks down on the plastic, fake, wood grain surface of the fourth desk from the front in the far left row. My desk. Pulling my own phone out of my pocket, I fiddled with it for a few seconds as my gut was clenched in a way that made me wonder if it was going to implode. Just as I was starting to wonder if something was wrong I heard the thump of books on the table next to me and jumped. My cheeks started to glow warm and as I wondered if my face was a cherry red, I glanced in the mirror hanging by the door with the inspirational “The Face of a Champion” sign labeling it. Nope. My skin was the same pale yellowish shade it always was.
“Hey Asha,” said a familiar voice. I pushed my heavy, dark hair out of my face to look to my right.
“Hi Braden,” I replied, an involuntary smile tugging at the corners of my mouth as I took in the brown-haired, hazel-eyed boy beside me.
“How’s life?” he asked, matching my expression.
“Life’s good,” I said, and it was true. With him looking at me like he was, I couldn’t have thought anything else.
“Good,” he said and turned to the front of the room. I quietly let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Class began as Miss Sevlin, a young, energetic teacher with chin-length blonde curls, walked in with a “¡Bienvenidos!”. Taking attendance and turning the projector on, she explained to us that we were going to watch a documentary on Spanish cultures across the world, and that we could spread about the room if we wished. Amidst the scuffling chaos that ensued as everybody in the room got comfortable, I walked to the front of the room and plopped down on the floor in front of the first desk in my row, near the door of the classroom. Braden sat down three feet away, leaning up against a wall in his grey and burgundy uniform.
After starting the video and turning off the lights, Miss Sevlin sat at her desk and seemed to be grading papers submitted online, though, based on how much she was smiling, she also may have been shopping online. It wouldn’t be the first time- Miss Selvin had a thing for style. Every day she came to school well dressed, unlike plenty of other teachers that showed up in sweaters with worn elbows and scuffed shoes. For example, that day Miss Selvin was wearing a white pencil skirt and an intense sky blue blouse. With this she wore perfectly matching blue heels and accenting silver jewelry. As a comparison, the teacher next door, Mrs. Leyds, was wearing a cardigan that appeared to have a mustard stain dead center. Funny how the teachers can dress like crap and us students are scolded if our ties aren’t tied properly.
The documentary was hopelessly boring with its cliché camera shots and monotone narration. Apparently, Braden found it just as painful. I noticed he kept glancing at me and smiling when I rolled my eyes at the movie or made a funny face, and vice versa. After about twenty minutes of this my back hurt from sitting on the floor, so I scooted back a foot or so so that I was underneath the first desk in my row, resting against it’s chair. This was just random enough to throw Braden over the edge into intensely breathless, silent laughter which made me giggle a little too. By some miracle, the teacher didn’t notice this, which only made us laugh harder.
He slid over slowly, inch by inch, until he was beside me, only a skinny metal leg of the desk separating us. I swallowed.
“Did you see?” he whispered out of the corner of his mouth. His eyes never left the projection screen displaying the documentary.
“This website that started popping up everywhere last night. I’ll send you a link- I want to hear what you have to say,” Braden said.
“Okay,” I said, wondering why he’d want my opinion. A second later, my phone buzzed.
The heading of the website said, Elkridge Academy Students - Join the Defiance! Become a part of the team that is working to bring down injustice and oppression in our private school today!
“Is this a joke?” I asked Braden in a low whisper. “Teens fighting the ‘injustice’ of school? Come on.”
“I don’t know,” Braden said before rambling, “but it’s worth investigating, don’t you think? Everyone’s talking about it behind the teachers’ backs. In case it’s real nobody wants to snitch, you know.”
“What’re you suggesting?” I raised an eyebrow as a flicker of hope lit inside my chest.
“I think we should find out if this is real or not together,” he said simply. “You know you want to...” he gave me a puppy-dog face that I’m ashamed to admit worked brilliantly.
“Okay, sure. Why not?”