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Chapter 3: Getting Along
So, she’s not called Ekaterina; she’s called Abigail. Ekaterina Abigail Chadwick. I can see why she’s so old-fashioned, her name is old-fashioned. I mean, good grief, who are her parents?
I look over at her out of the corner of my eye. Her eyes scan the page and she sighs and looks up and out the window.
She feels trapped. I can tell that from her posture and the way she gazes through the glass.
I shake my head. Women.
The bell rings, bringing both of us out of our separate trances. She gathers up her stuff and carefully clips in back in her pink binder. Then she stows it in a leather shoulder bag, and looks over at me.
I throw my things back in my binder and stuff it inside my backpack. She looks at me. I just shrug.
“I’m not very organized.”
“I see that.” Her voice has calmed down some. She’s lost the tremor in her voice.
“Anyway, do you want to meet sometime and work on this?” I offer.
“Sure, what about my house, say Saturday at 3?”
I smile. “Great.”
We walk out the door side by side, but not really together. I head off to my locker and am throwing my backpack inside, ready to head for lunch, when I hear talking. I turn.
Abigail is circled by cheerleaders. The cheerleaders have their hands on their hips and one foot placed forward and have sneers on their faces. Abigail has a look of calmness, but I can see the faint fear in her eyes.
“So, EKate, what’s the deal with you and Daniel? Kinda odd for Mr. Toolbox to pair you two up. I mean, you’re both just the same. Hated, ignored, have a whacked out life…” The cheerleaders laugh, a high pitched giggle from the back of their throat.
Even I know that a true laugh comes from the belly. These girls are laughing scornfully.
Abigail’s eyes fill with tears, but her chin tilts upward and her face remains stone. “Grow up, girls.” She strides through them.
I turn, smiling, thinking she is out of the danger. Then I hear louder talking, in deep male voices. I turn again, this time closing my locker with my shoulder blade.
The football players, I’m guessing those cheerleaders’ boyfriends, are circled around her now. The fear is plain on her face now.
“What do you want?” She stammers, struggling to keep her voice strong.
“If you think you can blow them off, you’re probably right. If you think you can blow us off, you’re obviously wrong.”
The leader sneers. He nods to one of the guys. He steps forward and faces her down. She plants her hands on her hips and attempts to stare him down. Suddenly he lifts his hand and smacks her clear across the face.
That damn dirty scoundrel. Abigail falls down from the force of it and when she looks back, I can see tears flooding her face like a waterfall. She lifts her hand away from the place where he smacked her, and blood begins to ooze.
Her face twists from the pain but she looks up at the football player in contempt. The football players laugh and jeer then amble off down the stairs to lunch.
I approach her carefully. She is sitting up now, staring around in disbelief. She looks at the blood on her fingers, then places her blood free hand on her forehead gently and rubs her temples.
I reach down and offer my hand. Startled, she looks up. Her gray eyes are clouded and troubled. She reaches up with her hand and grasps mine. I pull her up gently.
“Do you need to go to the nurse’s office?” I say quietly.
She nods once, and picks up her bag.
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
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