Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chapter Eight



CHAPTER EIGHT


Bekah felt herself sinking and pushed her boot against the hard, tile floor so that she’d slide up with her back against the wooden seat. Outside, the trees waved and inside the chalk squeaked above the whispering that filled the spaces behind and diagonal from Bekah.  No doubt some of those whispers involved her, but she’d rather flush her head down the toilet than to look around to confirm her suspicions.

If she wanted to pull this off, then she’d have to look nonchalant about the whole thing. Even if she did feel like an idiot.

Shields cleared his throat, knocking lightly on his desk, but she also preferred not to exchange glances with Mr. GQ again. Instead, she grabbed her pen and began copying notes from the board- all the mumbo jumbo involving the boys from Lord of the Flies.

Somehow she messed up- she looked at Teacher, but he’d begun rolling his shirt sleeves up while his roaming glares silenced her chatty peers.

One thing she’d noticed over the past month- when he became stern, everyone listened. She doubted he’d been bribing everyone, so she’d no clue how he’d managed to gain so much respect in a short amount of time. Even Brian the Butthead seemed to ignore her while in Shields’ presence.

Shields peeked at her.

Her face caught on fire and she continued with wild scratches across her notebook paper. She’d seen his reaction earlier. He’d tried hard to hide it, but his red face and wide eyes had betrayed him- at least at first. Somehow he’d managed to brush both away but when he’d stepped between her and Kelly, she’d seen the warmth in his gaze. She may have spoken harshly to him, but she’d felt like melting and his tone may have been rough but there was no denying that he’d found her attractive.

Wasn’t the first time she’d detected it. The question remained if he wrote off his attraction because he was actually a good teacher…or if he was waiting for a good time to make a move.

How many other girls had he looked at that way? What had transpired between him and
Kelly before she’d walked in earlier?

Why the bleep did she care?

“Crème-filled.  Your favorite.”

What a freaking jerk.    

She released her pen and drooped in her seat again, arms folded across her roiling stomach. The wind picked up on the other side of the window to her right. Ghost fingers scratched the glass. Or maybe it was Freddy Kruger himself and she didn’t dare look that way to confirm her fears.

She shuddered.

What am I doing? I’m only showing vulnerability.

She scooted back up and wiped her palms against the cool material of her leather skirt.

The bell rang. Big whoop. How could she manage a full day dressed like this?

By the same token, how could she allow Brian Cruise to keep running around with whatever information had been passed to him? That is, if he hadn’t only been taunting her for the sake of being mean.  He had been drunk, after all.  Maybe he’d just spewed out whatever he’d felt like saying, but she needed to know the truth, dang it.
Her stomach knotting, she watched him slowly making his way down the far row in her periphery.  Looking directly at him would have been a no-no. If she appeared too eager to attract him, Alice’s scheme wouldn’t work.

Kevin’s desk screeched in front of her as he stood, and he slowly turned. “What gives?” he asked and she returned his frown.

“What do you mean?”

“What’s with the get-up?” he shrugged. “It’s not you.”

If ever he reminded me of Wally Cleaver, it’s now.  
Bekah fought more heat in her cheeks. “Who are you to say that? I can wear what I want, can’t I?”

His expression softened and he bobbed his head in a very nerd-like way, shoulders slouching and all.  “I guess, but…I don’t know…None of my business, I know, but I was curious.”

“You’re right, it’s not your business.” She leaned over to grab her borrowed purse and slung it over her shoulder.

Twisting his lips, Kevin appeared to be thinking and then he turned and headed for the door.  As Bekah watched him leave, she also noticed that none of Shields’ groupies appeared to be sticking around.

And Teacher, either completely oblivious to Bekah’s presence or pretending to be oblivious so he wouldn’t have to look at her, began digging in a file cabinet as he sat down.

Bekah slid out of her chair, gripping the desk while her legs regained their blood flow.  Her whole body trembled lightly and she considered calling everything off and running home like a little sissy. But dressing this way, like Kevin had said…it just wasn’t her. In fact, Kevin seemed to prefer her plain look, which spoke volumes for the kind of guy he was. Not enamored with all the hot looks and hype.

Maybe he wasn’t such a bad guy, but she could never imagine dating Wally Cleaver or any goody-goody who resembled him.

She took a step and her heel twisted. She cursed under her breath as she attempted to shove her foot more comfortably into the boot while clutching her books and making sure the purse sat neatly on her shoulder.

Stupid female gear. Why most girls enjoyed torturing themselves with this stuff, she’d never know. Give her a pair of tennis shoes and jeans any day. This girly stuff deflated her to the nth degree, especially the purse.  She never carried a purse, but Alice had insisted that she needed it to keep her comb and extra make-up.  For “brush-ups” throughout the day.

With her shoes clopping against the floor and loud conversations and laughter flooding the room, Bekah made her way across the front of Shields’ desk. She only advanced halfway, however, before she stopped. And he ceased sorting through his files to plant his brown eyes on her.

Only slightly did his gaze waver toward her body and the familiar lines appeared at the bridge of his nose. “Are you doing OK?” he asked.

Doing OK? Sure, peachy keen, Teach, what else do you want to know?

“Define ‘OK’.” Did she really just say that? She pursed her lips and glanced at the clock on the wall, guessing the wisest thing to do would be to sprint out of here like a little doggy with its tail between its legs.

But she couldn’t. For the first time since she’d met him, she felt like sliding a chair up beside his desk and pouring her heart out. Brian knew something and she and Alice had concocted a plan to get him to spill. Immature, yes. But she needed to know what he knew.

Nobody else knew, except for Alice and…Bekah’s heart sank.


What was she really worried about? Thoughts of her father, thoughts of Towers and Brian…they all seemed to be wrapped up in this complex ball inside of her head. They all seemed related and she thought maybe Shields could help her unravel it. He seemed…wise. Maybe even beyond his years?

“Rose?” Shields prompted and it did not escape her that he’d called her by her last name.

Looking at him, she felt drawn to his roughly shaven face and the curl of hair peeking out from behind his ear. The sincerity in his eyes, the softness of his tone.

She shook her head. You’ve got to be on drugs.

“Do you need something?” He closed the file drawer and stood with his hands resting on his lower hips. A stream of kids from his next period arrived, some of them ogling Bekah like she was the largest Hershey Bar in the world.

“I’m OK,” she said finally but the tilt of his head and the darkening of his eyes told her he doubted it.

“I feel a little too showy today is all,” she lied. Sure, that was partial truth, but partial truths were full lies.

He nodded. “I can see why.” Then, peeking at his arriving students, he asked, “Do you
need a pass for your next class?”

Can’t I just stay here
?

This was bad. Out in the hall awaited the target of her charade and in this room stood someone with a magic touch. How had he managed things so quickly? The orderly class and all? What had he meant about saying little to have a big effect? If he knew the whole truth about her, would he try to take advantage or wave his wand? How much bribery had he used that she didn’t know about?

“Listen,” she heard him say as he snapped out a writing pad and began scribbling something down. “You’re going to be late, but if you need to see the nurse, go for it.”

He handed the slip across the desk and blinked when she looked directly at him. In a flash, she snatched the paper and started away. Last thing they needed was prying eyes.

Once in the quickly clearing hallway, she glanced down at the pass he’d written and froze. Her stomach flipped. There, in red, were the words, “Mom’s bowling alley tonight. See you there.”

What the-? She almost turned to plaster him with a scowl but decided it was best not to put on a show. What, did he want a meeting with Mommy now?

What a geek! She shoved the note into her purse and stomped away.

OOOO
Having finally changed into her jeans and tennis shoes, Bekah slammed the dryer door and cursed. 

“What the heck was the matter with me?” she asked the wood-tiled wall in the utility room, only to be answered by a feminine sigh and, “What the heck are you talking about?”

Either she was hearing things or she was dreaming, which would have been a good thing because that would mean she’d remained perfectly intact today.  No depressive feelings, no wobbly knees, no warm fuzzies and no admiring of big, brown eyes.  What had come over her? 

Even as she asked herself that question, Alice’s voice finally registered and she turned to find her friend standing just inside the door, wearing her blue “bum” jeans.  Her long hair puffed up inside the collar of her purple and grey school jacket, she imitated Bugs Bunny as she nibbled a carrot and waited with curious, round eyes for Bekah’s reply.

“You sure are red-faced, Beckless.”

“How did you get in here?” Bekah flicked off the light and reached for the carrot, which Alice had most likely snatched from their refrigerator. Alice pulled the bunny treat back as she grinned and shrugged.

“Did you forget about the key your mom keeps on the porch?”

Oh, geez.  “How could I forget that?” Bekah groaned. How could her mom be such a dimwit?  Obviously, no one in this neighborhood should be dumb enough to leave a flipping key anywhere on their porch!

Alice snickered. “So, either you’re beating yourself over a guy or things didn’t go too well today, right?”

“What?” Bekah lifted a white basket full of folded jeans and shoved past Alice.

“You know what.  Brian didn’t bite?” Alice said behind her as they made their way across the hall to Bekah’s barfingly pink bedroom.  Her mother seemed to think she was still eight and wouldn’t cough up the change to paint the walls white and hang some burgundy curtains in place of the fluffy drapes with the lace and pink roses.

“No, he didn’t.” Bekah replied.  “He completely ignored me, which I find really weird.” And agitating, because she’d literally made a fool out of herself, trying to sucker him.  She’d been dreaming for the past two weeks how to corner this jerk and he’d wasted all of her practice. 

However, she wouldn’t complain about the others ignoring her. After the initial reactions of the day, most of the kids had forgotten about Cheap Rose’s new “get-up.”  A few of the girls had given her the ole snarling snob look and some of the guys whistled as she’d passed, but other than that- nothing.  She guessed that might have been her luck on the first day, but if she kept dressing in short skirts and caking on the make-up, she could only guess more harassment would find her.  Especially from nits like Kelly McBride.

“We’ll have to turn up the volume somehow,” Alice said. 

“Or…I could just slam Brian against the wall and make him talk!”    That sounded perfect, Bekah thought while gritting her teeth.  Beating up Brian would be a dream come true.  She could imagine-

“Yeah, right.” Alice blurted. “Did you at least get any prospects for homecoming?”

Sending her friend a leer, Bekah opened a glossy, white drawer sprinkled with more little roses and tossed some jeans inside. “Why the heck is that your next question, with everything going on?”

“Everything? All I know is that we’re trying to snow Brian.”  Her friend plopped down on the bed as she unzipped her jacket.  Flinging the school colors onto the headboard- when they should have actually gone soaring out the window because who cared to be a school patriot- she began nibbling on the carrot like a little mousie.

“Never mind.  Right now, I’m in a rush because my mom plastered me with the old guilt trip.  You know, about how she works all the time and needs me to clean up the house tonight?” Not to mention that she was supposed to meet Mommy and Shields at the bowling alley.  She glanced at the clock on her nightstand and wondered exactly what time English Teacher Extraordinaire planned on showing up there. And did Bekah dare to give in and go? 

Jumping in bed, pulling the covers over her head and forgetting all about today sounded much better.  But then, her curiosity wouldn’t be satisfied. She felt as though she were stuck with a foot on either side of a spreading fault. If she didn’t move fast, the earth would eat her for dinner.

“So, who is he?” Alice wiggled what was left of her carrot like a cigar.  Her smirk seemed a bit condescending. 

“What?”

“There you go with more ‘what’s’.  I can tell when a guy’s gotten to you.”

“Al! I’m only ticked about Brian.” Bzzt, wrong answer.

Alice narrowed her eyes. “Uh-huh.”

“What the heck makes you think I’m all upset over a guy…in that way?”

“Well, it is a guy, isn’t it?”

Bekah screwed up her brows.  “Huh?”

“I mean…you do like guys, right?”

Moaning loudly, Bekah unfolded her arms and turned to lift the emptied, white basket and slide it across the hard floor toward the door.  “If you’re insinuating that I might like girls, you’re crazier than I thought.”  Though she understood why Alice would suspect otherwise.  Bekah had been shunning guys like green slime on the bottom of her shoes.

“OK…then it must be a guy.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because you looked all embarrassed when you were cussing yourself out and you put your jeans in the top drawer. You always put them in the bottom.”

Bekah looked down at the closed dresser drawers and resisted the urge to inspect her work. It didn’t really matter which drawer the dumb clothes went in, as long as they went, but Alice was right- for some reason, she always dumped the jeans in the bottom drawer. 

“So what?” Bekah swallowed, the gnawing in her stomach becoming more profuse by the second.  “How does that translate into being upset over a guy?”

“No girl kicks herself like you were unless there’s a guy involved- especially you. No one gets to you like that. Not usually, anyway.”

“I wasn’t exactly kicking myself. All I said was…” Bekah strained to remember what she’d supposedly said. 

“It’s not exactly what you said, but the way you said it and the way you looked.  And Brian Cruise never makes you absent minded like that.” She motioned toward the dresser. “He just ticks you off.”

“You’re nuts, Alice.  Now just forget it, OK?  There are no guys making my heart go pitter-pit.”

But Alice continued, “It’s not going to kill you to talk about a boy, you know?  Seriously, you’re not going to keel over from a heart attack if you admit there’s actually a guy in this world who managed to entice your girly desires.”

“Shut up.  Go home.”

Alice flung her head back in brief laughter, allowing her hair to touch the top of Bekah’s pink bedspread.

“Geez,” Bekah lamented as she sank onto her desk chair. “Don’t start with the giggly, school girl stuff, OK?”

“You know…” Alice took a breath as she bent over her lap. “For such a tough girl, you’re scared of the lamest things. So what if you act like a school girl once in a while?  Technically, you are still a school girl, you know?”

“Look.” Bekah perched her hand on a hip, but Alice only appeared more amused by this display. “Nothing is going on!”

Her brows perked. “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

“Shut up and go fetch us some vodka, and for crap’s sake, please don’t quote any English literature.”

Honestly, what the heck was the matter with Alice?  OK, so they were like sisters and knew just about everything there was to know about one another. But there were certain lines neither of them had crossed. Alice mostly remained tight-lipped about her mother’s boyfriends- which often worried Bekah- and Bekah rarely revealed her true feelings for the men in her life. Mainly because discussing it made her feel like a ball on the basketball court, with her head getting knocked all over the place.

Men were weird.  She didn’t need ‘em or need to talk about ‘em.  Except when emergencies arose, and feeling a little bit drawn to geeky Mr. GQ did not constitute an emergency.

Are you sure about that?

She stopped herself from shaking her head, because that would only pique Alice’s curiosity further.  All of this was far too complicated to sort out, and so it was best to shelve all of the nuttiness and move on.  Stand firm. 

“Oh…my…gosh,” Alice practically whispered and her carrot rolled onto the floor. 
More melodrama she didn’t need.

“What now, Al?” Bekah winced when Alice’s lips twitched in an obvious attempt to stop her laughter.

“It’s Shields, isn’t it?” she asked and Bekah’s stomach lurched again. 

Her face must have gone completely pale, because Alice’s wide open mouth could have swallowed the whole room. 

“It totally is!” Her friend’s blue eyes sparkled with glee.  “Shields got to you, didn’t he?”

How the heck did she figure that out?  Bekah tried to keep her voice firm but heard the little quivers that could have sent Alice into an all out giggling frenzy. “What makes you think that, you nerd?”

“Because…” Alice stomped her foot as she pointed.  “You got awfully upset over that Shakespeare quote.”

“So?  Maybe I’m just annoyed with anything that reminds me of Shields.” She shrugged, knowing how lame she sounded.

“Uh-huh.  And that would be because you don’t like the way he makes you feel.”

“Alice?”

Her friend blinked in reply, her chin sticking out rather proudly.

Bekah sighed heavily. Time to get out of here…no vodka and no nagging.

“Go home, Alice.”

5 comments:

  1. Hahahaaha! Alice is a psychic for sure!
    I can't wait to see how the bowling alley thing goes... Poor dan and poor Bekkah! Awww... I feel so much for both of them!

    It'll be 108F for the rest of the week in Greece... please, feel sorry for me and update soon, so I can get fresh and cool! Pathetic attempt at emotionally blackmailing you... I know... :)))

    Suzie

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  2. LOL, well you can cool off, because I've posted chapter nine, part one, and will hopefully post part two by the end of the day. :)

    Didn't know you're in Greece. Awesome. :)

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  3. I started reading this story yesterday and I should be caught up pretty quickly. I really like it so far. Is it bad that I want Bekah and Dan to end up together even though he's her teacher? Ah well, I guess I'll just have to keep reading to find out what happens. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Hey, Ash, thanks for the comments. Hope you're still reading. I've been a bit nervous about chapter seventeen, though I know where I'm heading with it. :)

    Have a great one! (and no, I don't think it's bad that you want Dan and Bekah together. It's a societal thing, frowning upon relationships like that. IMO- as long as they behave themselves while he's the teacher and they wait until she graduates to get serious, nothing wrong with it. Although the bigger the age gap, the bigger the "ew" factor.)

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  5. I don´t like Alice.... i don´t know why.....=(

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