If you've read this story and there was a boy named Austin, it is important to note that his name has changed to Scott. If you've read this story and there was no boy named Austin, please ignore this message :D
As luck went, my next class was Literature. This had always been my favorite class I could forget myself and every other stupid thing I dealt with daily.
Though I was assigned a locker, a red locker, I never used it. As always, the sooner I was seated in class, the better. I walked through the door and took a quick survey of the seating arrangements. The desks were divided down the middle and faced each other. My best option would be the opposite corner of the room from the door. There was only one problem with that. The seat was already taken.
Scott looked up when he felt my eyes on him. His gaze narrowed and he gave a very subtle shake of the head. I was to sit nowhere near him. I opted for a different corner, and waited to see what other surprises the class would bring. Not surprisingly, they weren’t pleasant.
The dark haired boy walked in with some of his posse tailing nosily along behind him. They didn’t see me at first as I wasn’t in direct sight from the door. Scott, however, was.
When the dark haired boy opened his mouth, his friends shut up. “Well, well, well, if it ain’t high and mighty Mr. Crim. Long time no see, crim boy. Did you have a nice summer? You were doing an internship at the dump, right?”
Scott didn’t lift his head to acknowledge him. He was drawing something. He finished some shading with one of his red colored pencils, and closed the cover of his notebook. He met the dark haired boy’s eyes steadily. “It’s sad that you really don’t have anything better to do with your time, Newman.”
Newman’s eyebrows drew closer together. “Shut your mouth, Crimson!”
Scott smiled challengingly at him. “Surely that’s not the best you can do?”
Newman sought for anything to say. “I met your girlfriend this morning. She’s a pretty little thing.”
Scott leaned back in his chair. “I’m afraid you’ll have to try harder than that. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“I’m sure you do.” Newman warmed to his theme. “I invited her over to my house tonight to spend some time with a real man.”
My cheeks flushed. I knew exactly who he was talking about.
“She seemed interested. I didn’t have a chance to catch her first name, but I do believe her last name was . . .” He paused for dramatic effect. My breath hitched in my throat. Where was the stupid teacher?! “. . . Crimson.”
My face flushed a violent shade of red. Why did he pull me into this boy ego thing? I didn’t even know these people. A sudden thought struck me. How many conversations was I in in that I wasn’t aware of? I watched Scott to see how he reacted to Newman.
His eyes didn’t even flick to me. “The new crimy doesn’t have any association with me. You can have her to your heart’s content.”
My jaw dropped open. I knew that he wasn’t fond of me for whatever reason. But how could sell me out like that? Weren’t we on the same side?!
The sound of my complete disbelief must have been audible. Newman’s head turned in my direction. His words were directed at Scott, but his eyes were trained on me. “Oh, don’t worry. I will.”
The teacher entered the classroom from her adjoining office. “Alright class, please take your seats!”
There was a smattering of empty seats all around me for the usual reasons. Newman took the spot next to me with a wide grin that made me cold. His cronies filled the empty desks around us. Newman was way too close for personal comfort.
The teacher looked young, probably only a few years beyond higher education. She had to be exceptional or the government wouldn’t have allowed her to teach at senior high. “My name is Ms. Mason, and you will address me as such.”
Mason, that name sounded familiar.
She proceeded to do some beginning-of-class business. I wanted to listen. I really did. There was only one problem: Newman. He didn’t look at Ms. Mason. He stared directly at me. He leaned closer to me.
“So,” he started, “what’s your name sweetheart.”
My cheeks burned. I was completely out of my element. I didn’t know what I needed to say to get him to leave me alone. I didn’t say anything.
“Ah, don’t be like that.” A smug look was splattered across his face. “Here, I’ll start. My name is Ethan Newman. I’m the current backup quarterback for the football team, though that little mistake will be remedied any day now. I’m an all-around heartthrob, and my dad owns half the city. And you are . . .?”
In my mind, his word had processed as, I’m Ethan. I’m a self-conceited pompous jerk with a rich daddy. I hated people. They were overall very predictable. My impression of the mysterious race known as boy was not very good. They could go fall in a pit for all I cared. In fact, that seemed like a very good solution to my problem. Yes, they should definitely go fall in a pit, especially Scott . . .
Ethan’s eyes were still riveted on my face. Did he really expect me to answer?
“This is the part where you tell me about you.”
Apparently, that’s exactly what he expected.
“If you didn’t want me to talk to you, why is my note sticking out of your pocket?”
My head jerked to look at my pocket. Sure enough, the tip of the paper was poking out of the top. I’d forgotten about it in the flood of first-day-of-school madness. I ripped it out of my pocket and tore it to pieces. The shredded flakes littered my desk. My face burned. A mantra roiled on in my head. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry . . .
“Ah, that wasn’t very nice, sweetheart. Now I’ll have to write it for you again and that’ll waste paper. Think about the poor trees.”
“Mister Newman!” Ms. Mason’s voice shocked him out of his tormenting. She continued. Every eye in the room was trained on us. I will not cry. “Since you find it too difficult to pay attention to me while sitting next to Miss Crimson, I’m going to have to ask you to move to the empty seat in the front.” She tapped her fingers lightly on the indicated desk.
Ethan grumbled something under his breath. For a moment I thought he would refuse, but he slung his backpack over his shoulder and made his way to the front.
Ms. Mason continued talking and I felt the tension ease out of my body. The students eyes eventually returned to her. I still felt one pair drilling into me, and I looked up. The instant my eyes met his, Scott looked away. His body must have acted like a sponge, sucking up all my tension from the floor. A rock would have bounced off of him quite nicely.
I made myself pay attention to Ms. Mason.
“As I was saying, Crime and Punishment, while lending one small idea to how we deal with crime, is nothing like our society. Because of the effectiveness of that one small idea, people have come to view the book as what made us us. This, however, is a completely inaccurate statement. You can always tell if someone has read the book or not by how they use it in context. For example, if you hear someone praising Raskolnikov’s character, you know that they have not even opened the book.”
A girl on the other side of the room raised her hand. “Isn’t Raskolnikov a great man? It was his idea of extraordinary and ordinary that gave life to the idea of Crimsons.”
Ms. Mason smiled at her. “You have not read the book, have you Miss Ashcraft?”
The girl looked down and shook her head.
“Raskolnikov was not a good man. He killed an old woman because he believed that he was one of the extraordinary. He believed that he had a right to do it because he was above the laws of society. If he lived in The Society, he would have been named Crimson. If you remember correctly from your Modern History lessons, Porfiry is the one who comes up with the idea.” For a second, I think she wanted to say more, but she moved on.
“Crime and Punishment will be our first read of the year. As class is almost over, I will distribute your books next time. I will not allow you to make inaccurate references anymore.”
The bell rang, signaling the start of lunch. The class rose to their feet as a single body.
“You will have a seating chart next time,” Ms. Mason called as my classmates disappeared out the door. There was an audible groan. My groan was silent.
I stayed seated while the students filed out. I would be able to gather my things with peace of mind that they weren’t going to be stolen as soon as there was nobody around me. No luck. Ethan sauntered over to me.
“Anyway, like I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted―”
“Mister Newman, you have my permission to go to lunch. I have no idea why else you would be loitering in my classroom after class is over.”
He scowled and left the room. I hurried to gather my things to do the same.
“No, Miss Crimson. If you could stay, I’d like to speak with you.”
Great now I was going to hear it. Teachers did that sometimes. I was a red shirt, therefore I was a bad child and they did not want me causing problems in their class. I noticed Scott was still sitting in his seat. She’s probably asked him to stay as well.
Ms. Mason turned and saw Scott. “Is there something you wished to ask me, Scott?”
His eyes flicked to me for a moment. Then he stood and left the room.
So the Crimson disturbance thing wasn’t what she wanted to talk about. She probably wanted to reprimand me for helping Ethan cause a disruption. “Follow me.”
She closed the door to her room and walked into her office.
I followed apprehensively.
Her office wasn’t large, but it had a small desk and a mini-fridge. She took a seat behind the desk and indicated for me to sit in the opposite chair.
I poised on the very edge.
She gave me a knowing look. It made me feel uncomfortable.
She spoke suddenly. “You don’t remember me do you?”
Was I supposed to? I shook my head.
“Let me give you a hint. I used to spend every Friday night at your house.”
Memories slammed into me. My parents had a traditional date night every Friday. The Carters who lived down the street had a daughter who would always come babysit me.
Her smile widened.
I didn’t know what to say
She walked around the desk and wrapped me in her arms. My vision blurred. I hadn’t seen anyone from my past in so long.
She held my head in her hand. When she pulled back, I could see that her eyes were glistening as well. “Oh Kya, you look so beautiful! You’ve grown so much!”
I was still in shock. “Sam?”
I pushed her away. “Why don’t you hate me? I disappointed everyone when I failed.’
“I never hated you Kya.” She reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a picture. She turned it so it was away from me. “Do you remember that I got married?”
I nodded. I remembered that vaguely. “Didn’t you have a little boy?”
She flipped the picture over so I could see.
It was a picture of her small family. She and her husband were hugging and laughing. Their son was laughing between them. He was dressed from head to toe in red.