April NaNo 2016
There was another one.
Claudia stared at the new sophomore, a gangly guy who looked as if he hadn’t yet grown into his skinny limbs. His hair was blue of all things and she almost dismissed him for being a hippie wannabe. He kept his eyes downcast when he wasn’t focused on his own belongings, always just going his own way without glancing at anyone else.
That was what made her seek him out. It wasn’t often at all that a boy didn’t look her way, and she felt slighted. Fortunately for her, maybe not so for him, the pair had the same lunch and she freely took a seat across from him at his table in the corner of the cafeteria.
With a bright smile, she introduced herself. “Hello there! I’m Claudia Henderson. And you?”
He faltered, his roast beef sandwich halfway to his open mouth, one eyebrow arched in confusion. After a second, he composed himself and simply said, “Roy Kingsley.”
“It’s a pleasure.” Claudia made sure to smile again before stabbing a chicken nugget with her fork. She allowed the silence to overtake the pair for a few minutes, letting Roy fall into a sense of security, before asking, “How long have you been here? I don’t remember seeing you around often.”
“Just got here this week,” Roy said.
She waited for him to elaborate, but when he didn’t, she had no problem prompting him. “Where are you from?”
“Ohio,” was the stilted response.
“Wow.” Claudia feigned interest. “What brought you over here to the east coast?”
“The schools, really,” Roy said after a moment. This time Claudia stared at him until he fidgeted in his seat, drained a quarter of his water bottle, and continued speaking. “I’m, uh, enrolled in the Exceptional School for Exceptional Students.”
Color her surprised. Roy didn’t seem particularly gifted in anything, least of all social skills.
“My parents tried to get me in there,” Claudia said, doing her best not to show how annoyed she was at being declined admission. At that point, she hadn’t known exactly what the school was about, but the idea of not being good enough for their precious student body was enough to make her blood boil. At least she could fish for information from Roy. “What do you do at that school?”
His pause was long enough to make her think he either hadn’t heard her or was ignoring her on purpose. Before she could berate him for either reason, Roy said, “It’s weird to explain.”
“We go to a public high school,” she drawled with a quirked smile. “What could be weirder?”
He finally held her gaze, his blue eyes steely enough to startle her, before he cleaned up his tray and capped his water bottle. “Plenty of things. Excuse me.”
Roy dumped his trash and disappeared from the cafeteria before Claudia blinked. After a moment, she stood up herself and did her best not to scowl at anyone who so much as glanced her way. How embarrassing to be left alone, ditched, at the lunch table! Roy would definitely get a piece of her mind the next time she saw him.
Maybe she wasn’t being entirely fair to him. Roy was a new guy, after all. Claudia took a deep breath and tried to be reasonable. Perhaps he was just shy, which was understandable – most boys were shy in her presence. It was just the effect she had on them, and Roy had seemed to be sweating near his hairline. Maybe he really needed the bathroom. He had chugged a whole water bottle, after all. She could give him another chance.
With her head held high, she cleaned up her own lunch, fully intending on pretending that Roy’s and her conversation had mutually ended, and left the cafeteria to wander the halls until her next class.