April NaNo 2016
Oh, good God, there were more of them.
Claudia couldn’t believe the handful of new students that had appeared at the high school in the past month. There was that little chatterbox of a freshman who seemed to believe that everyone in the world was her friend and rainbows sprouted from wherever she walked. Claudia had the misfortune to have home economics with the girl. Her parents must have been hippies to name her Willow. Who names their child after a tree?
As if Willow wasn’t loud enough, there was Eddie, a literal dancing fool. The kid couldn’t walk straight, always doing some sort of jazz square or waltz or foxtrot, and Claudia vaguely wondered if he would be able to pass a sobriety test. She could always tell when Eddie was coming down the hallway. If his dancing steps weren’t loud enough, his voice certainly was. He was almost always humming, at the very least, if not belting out some lyric from a Broadway show.
Nathan didn’t seem too bad, but he was a bit terrifying. He was a looker, that much Claudia and the rest of the high school’s straight gals and gay guys noticed right off the bat. Tall, broad-shouldered, recruited to the football team the moment he set foot into the school, Nathan was the epitome of the strong, silent type of guy that starred in all the good romance novels. Add in sandy-brown hair and steel-blue eyes, and Nathan would never have trouble finding a date on Saturday nights.
He was always just staring, though, at almost nothing in particular if he wasn’t listening in on the other Exception School’s freaks’ conversations. He stuck close to the others, barely speaking, but being an intimidating bodyguard all the same. Claudia would love a chance to talk to him just one-on-one, but she wasn’t sure how to get his attention or drag him away from the others.
Perhaps Heather would know something…
Heather, for the most part, seemed to be the most normal of the lot. In fact, Claudia would have almost felt threatened by her if Heather didn’t hang around such obvious social outcasts. Heather spoke when she needed to, kept her head high as she sauntered through the hallways, and seemed to hang out with Roy and the others just out of loyalty to the Exceptional School. If there was a link in that chain that could be weakened and broken, it may very well be Heather.
Maybe Heather was the key to figuring out what exactly went behind the walls of the Exceptional School for Exceptional Students. At the very least, maybe Claudia could get Nathan’s cell phone number.
Claudia watched through her locker mirror as Heather, with Willow yakking the older girl’s ear off, gathered her belongings from her own locker across the hall. Claudia willed for Willow to take off and find someone else to talk about some birds that were hanging around the school yards – seriously, the little freshman must think she’s Snow White or something – so Claudia could talk to Heather alone.
Someone from up above must have been watching out for Claudia, although even she didn’t know why, for Eddie soon appeared and offered to walk with Willow to her next class. Claudia raised an eyebrow at seeing the pair nearly skip down the hallway. Were the freaks from the Exceptional School dating? How snobby can you be? Was no one at the regular high school good enough for either of them?
Claudia shook her head. Those thoughts weren’t important right now. Instead, she needed to focus on what she was going to say to Heather. Claudia, after being sure her makeup was touched up, slammed her locker in time to see Heather finish up her own business.
With her fake bright smile, Claudia said, “Hi, Heather! Not sure if you remember my name—”
“Claudia Henderson,” Heather said with a nod. “We’re in the same math class.”
“Right.” Claudia kept her smile plastered on her face. “Not sure if you would have known my name. We haven’t really gotten a chance to get acquainted yet.”
“Can’t really talk while math goes on,” Heather said with a shrug. “What’s up?”
“I was thinking of how cheerleader tryouts are coming up soon,” Claudia said. “I’m one of the captains of the squad, and you look to be in the perfect shape to help us out this year. Thought I’d extend the invite.”
“Hm.” Heather didn’t seem too thrilled, which Claudia took as a personal insult. Most of the girls in the high school were ecstatic for cheerleader tryouts. Besides helping the school keep its spirit and whatever, it beat going to the gym to stay in shape.
“Or even the dance team,” Claudia added, hoping that one of the programs she was on would appeal to Heather.
“Not a dancer.” Heather shook her head. “Eddie may be glad to hear that, though. He was the guy who just danced down the hallway with Willow, the girl I was speaking to before you introduced yourself.”
Claudia gave a thoughtful hum to Heather’s words. “Yeah, I’ve definitely seen them around.” She half-hoped that Eddie wouldn’t try out for the dance team and was honestly regretting saying anything. Heather may tell the guy, and Claudia may be stuck seeing him after school twice a week. The dance team could always use more guys, but with the way he moved, Eddie may outshine the rest of them.
“I don’t know,” Heather said. “Maybe I’ll check out the cheerleader tryouts.”
“Perfect!” Claudia said. “They’re after school on Friday right in the gymnasium. You don’t need to do a routine or anything, just show up and show us what you can do.”
Heather nodded and gave Claudia a crooked smile. “Alright then. Thanks.”
“No problem!” Claudia faked a glance at the clock in the hallway and said, “Ah, we better run to our classes. It was great talking to you!”
She dashed off and gave Heather a backwards wave, planning on slipping her number into the other girl’s locker before the end of the day. Going around the corner, Claudia ran smack into someone’s arms.
“Whoa, hey…! I know I’m charming, but you don’t have to literally fall for me,” was the cheeky, and somewhat cute, line from the guy.
Claudia straightened herself out of his arms and smoothed her outfit. “Ugh, sorry Andrew. Mr. Peterson will have a field day if I’m late to his class again.”
“I’ll walk with ya.” Andrew fell in step beside Claudia, his hands casually folded behind his head. Every two steps Claudia took was only one for him.
“And your class?” Claudia asked rhetorically.
He shrugged. “It’s Davidson’s class and she loves me. She doesn’t care when I’m late.”
Claudia rolled her eyes and laughed. “How a little nerd like you manages to get everyone wrapped around his finger is beyond me.”
“Not exactly everyone.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her, and she shook her head. “Besides you, there is another who has resisted my charms so far and it’s quite perplexing. Maybe you can give me some insight as to the female mind…?”
“Stop with the theatrics,” Claudia said. “Any girl who doesn’t want to go out with you is one smart cookie.”
“That’s the thing,” Andrew said. “She hasn’t said no, per se. She just… hasn’t gotten back in touch with me. I thought things were going great when we were first talking. I was flirting, she was receptive, I was charming, she was falling—”
“Is there a point to this?” Claudia asked.
“Yes,” Andrew said. “This is the first time I’m going after a girl from the Exceptional School, so give me some pointers—”
“Heather?” Claudia stopped short and Andrew almost tripped over his own feet to stop with her.
“No, not Heather, although she is a damn fine-lookin—”
“You’re going after the freshman?” Claudia deadpanned.
“They’re usually easier.” Andrew shrugged. “Besides, Willow’s cute, both in looks and in eagerness. Almost like a puppy. But she hasn’t contacted me since I gave her my number.”
“Well, I’m going to see Heather later,” Claudia said. “Trying to convince her to join the cheerleaders, maybe get a little inside on the Exceptional School, you know? I’ll see if she can put in a word for you.”
“Aw, Claudia, that’s so nice of you.” Andrew grinned. “What do you want?”
Claudia dug a chemistry worksheet out of her bag as she paused outside of Mr. Peterson’s door. “It’s due last period. Give it to me at lunch?”
Andrew snatched the sheet with a salute. “Got it. See ya later!”