Biology is the New Chemistry

A short story that my friend asked me to write. Just as she oddly required, it is a romance that includes the random elements of ice cream, a turtle, and a grape.

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2. Group projects are the root of all evil

The rest of the week passed without further incident. My weekend was as exciting as it always was: video games during the day and computer all night. On Saturday night, a couple guys and I watched some Marvel movie, but that was the height of my social activity. It was all pretty comfortable. Even Monday morning was fairly decent. I should have figured it was just the calm before the storm. But it wasn't until I entered biology (of course it happened to be Miss Feany's class) that I heard the words that make every student groan internally forever: Group Project.

I know I'm not the first to say it, and I'm positive I won't be the last. Group projects suck. It's like, is the teacher really that lazy that they only want to grade half as much work as there are students? They say that it's to teach us to work together and compromise or whatever, but when has that ever happened. I have never heard of that being the case. It always ends up that one unfortunate soul has to shoulder all responsibility because either one, the other kid is an ass that won't put forth any effort whatsoever and just expects his partner to do everything, or two, the kid tries to help, but is so dumb that they screw everything up and are better off leaving the project alone. I am of the later mentioned sort. I suck at biology. Well actually, I pretty much suck at everything, but especially biology in particular. I didn't know who would get stuck with putting up with me, but I felt guilty already. Nobody deserved that kind of punishment.

Miss Feeny went on to describe our assignment, "In pairs of two, students must design and run a biological experiment. I expect that you complete all the steps of the scientific method and fully record each part." She handed direction worksheets to a couple kids next to her to pass out.

"You will have two weeks to complete the experiment, and you must turn in a completed lab report along with your results at the beginning of next Friday's class. No exceptions. Remember, you are almost college students. I expect the work to be equivalent."

She continued, "A biological experiment is..." Not going to lie, I totally zoned out. I was trying to figure out who I could ask to deal with me for a couple weeks. I was also trying to figure out who I could deal with for a couple weeks.

I didn't really have any friends in the class to pair up with, but luckily Miss Feany declared that she had to assign us our partners. And just like every single lazy, uncreative, unintelligent teacher ever, she paired us up with the student closest to us. She went around the room, pointing to our newly acquired burdens. She walked briskly. After all, we had more pressing matters in biology to get to.

"Rensworth," she spit my name. "You're with Rivera."

I glanced at Aria with an expectant grin on my face. She did not look pleased. With her arms crossed, she slid her eyes from me back to her notebook. My stupid grin vanished. That poor girl. I knew I would be the burden in our new partnership. It was apparent that she knew it too.

Miss Finny finished pairing people up and waddled back to the front of the room to move onto the next lesson. It's stupid that she was going to be teaching us something different than what she wanted us to do outside of class, but whatever. At least it was the beginning of a new section, so she didn't ask any questions. I kept quiet through the whole class. I tried to make eye contact with Aria a few times, but she never so much looked my way. I got a feeling that it was going to be a long two weeks.

When the bell rang, I couldn't take it anymore.

"Aria," I said, turning to her. "Hey, I'd just like to apologize in advance -"

She cut me off as she stood up and gathered her books, "Would you mind if we switched partners?"

"Um, wait, what?" I stuttered.

"It's just that Aubrey and I already picked out an experiment and started planning it." She motioned toward a tall girl with long, auburn hair who had suddenly appeared beside her. I mutely stared at them.

"So," Aria prompted. She flicked her hair behind her shoulder. "Is that okay?"

I shook my head. "Who will I work with then?"

"Aubrey's partner," Aria shrugged, as though it was obvious. Maybe it was. Maybe I was just slow.

"Who's that?" I asked cautiously.

Aria glanced at Aubrey. Aubrey pointed across the room. "Cameron McKiney."

"Oh," I muttered. I had no idea who that was. My eyes followed her pointed finger and settled on a large, blond kid who was still carefully placing books inside his backpack. He looked familiar. I probably saw him a pep rally or something. He looked like a jock. That probably meant he was an asshole. Awesome.

I looked back at the two cute girls in front of me. Crap, they were cute. Aria had pouted her lips, and her eyes were so big. She reminded me of a begging puppy. As though I would be the town hero just for switching partners. Maybe if I did switch, I thought, maybe then she'd give me a chance. She would realize how nice I was and we'd start talking. Before I'd know it, I could have a hot, smart girlfriend. It'd be a dream come true, right? Aubrey smiled at me expectantly.

I took a deep breath and smiled back. I swung out of my seat and pulled on my backpack, trying to act chill. "Sure, yeah, no problem," I said. I gave Aria my best smolder look.  

Aubrey did a little cheer and jumped in place. Aria's pout smoothed back into a confident, close-lipped smile. She stepped back from me and started walking away with her friend close behind.

Over her shoulder she said, "Okay, thanks Derek. Bye now!"

"Wait, shouldn't we tell Miss Finny or something..?" I stumbled after them into the hallway.

The girls just kept going down the hall. Aubrey laughed, but Aria didn't even bother to turn as she called out, "Oh don't worry about it! I'll shoot her an email or something." And just like that, they were lost in the crowd and out of sight.

People pushed passed me, but I remained stationary in the middle of the hall. I watched as Cameron McKiney staggered out of the classroom and onto his next class. He appeared clean, but God only knows what I was in for. I'd probably have to do this whole damn project singlehandedly. Well, hopefully this kid would be used to failing. He seemed a little dim, so I wouldn't be surprised.

The late bell went off. Aria Rivera was ruining my attendance record. Not that I cared, but I really could go without another detention. This better be worth it. She better realize what I'm going through for her. I hustled to my locker, replaying the last few minutes in my head. I thought about her shiny hair, her flawless skin, and her pouty lips. The way her lips stretched as she smiled. An epiphany hit me.

That smile. That damn smile. She knew exactly what she was doing, and I played right into it. She manipulated me. She and Aubrey probably hadn't planned anything. She'd just rather be with her friend than with me. I mean, I totally understood, and I'd do the same if I was in her position, but I admit that it sort of stung. Guess the girlfriend fantasy was out the window. Strike two.

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