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Let's Play Ball
Jillian let her eyes trail from the steaming mug of coffee in her cold, bare hands to the loud, rowdy gang of boys just outside the school’s adjacent café. The foolish grins the boys wore irritated herâ€”they were rolling about in the wet, freezing, muddy grass, scrambling like idiots after a brown, pointed ball, and having the time of their lives. The merriment and mirth that shone out of their eyes told it all.
The jerseys that they were so proud of were now battered and stained with dirt, and the only real sensible use it hadâ€”keeping a normal person warm from this dang cold morningâ€”was disabled, the fabric completely drenched. The bold, black letters of the school’s name was a walking advertisement that these moronic boys were the face of the Academy’s finest, pure-bred varsity football team, attending this school not on their own brainpower, but from the loads of money allotted to the school’s library wing or dormitory.
At least seventy-five percent of the student body attended the school through either fame and power, or money.
She, on the other hand, attended this prestigious school through a scholarship. She was a senior, well on her way to graduating as her class’s valedictorian with numerous honors from the math and sciences department. She was studying to become a pediatrician; a respectable job that paid well. She was on the mathlete’s team at her school; she was one of those fifteen or so people that stayed after school to test out a new chemical-reaction theory in the science lab. She was a straight A student with an F in socializing class.
The high-pitched giggles of the blonde, scantily-clad cheerleaders reached Jillian’s ears even through the thick glass windows, and her eyes rose only to be met with the common sight of the girls wrapping their pale arms around the boys’ sweaty necks.
Jillian sank her chin deeper into her own white, wooly turtleneck, and turned her attention back to the open book on the lone occupied table in the café even as the store’s doorbell rang, bringing in a gust of cold air and the noisy drones of the jocks and cheerleaders.
Once again, her peaceful atmosphere was shattered by a bunch of mindless idiots. With a sigh, Jillian grabbed her black, year-old Jansport backpack and began stuffing the numerous textbooks that lay in a circle about her table. Unfortunately, a stray swish of her hand lead to her report on sarcomas (for the extra college courses she took in her spare time at the local college) falling to the floor in a flurried heap. She gritted her teeth as she heard the taunting giggles of the girls, the once faked cheer in their laughs gone, replaced with malicious jeer.
“Stupid, mindless, jerkwad imbeciles,” she muttered under her breath as she bent down to scoop up the papers.
Her hazel eyes widened in surprise when she heard a voice, deep and baritone, respond to her insult. “Hey, that wasn’t niceâ€”that hurts, miss.”
Jillian brought her head up to stare in shock at the boy who was now bending down to her level to help clean up the scattered mess of papers. Warm, clear blue eyes with crinkles at the edge from his amused grin, a smug grin, one of those muddy jerseys, slightly sweaty brow, and a defined jaw. The guy was one of them!
She bristled when howls erupted from the table where the rich idiots, as she liked to call them, sat. They were probably laughing at her while they watched one of their comrade pretend to help her. Ha.
“Well, sorry,” she snapped back, and grabbed her papers from the boy’s offering hands. “And thanks,” she added in a clipped tone as she remembered her manners, and stashed it into her open back with the rest of her things.
If these fools thought that she would actually fall for their trap and start acting like an idiot, sucking up to them like most of the other kids, then, well, they’d better be satisfied with disappointment when it slams in their faces!
She hoisted the bag’s strap over her right shoulder, skillfully maneuvering her arm so that her left hand dug into her jean’s pocket to grab three one dollar bills to leave as a tip. She let one last glare linger at the boy, who gave her a half-confused, half-friendly smile, before storming out of the store, trying to save at least a shred of her dignity.
Unfortunately, the boy didn’t get a hint that Jillian wanted some dignity left when she walked through the crowded halls to her locker the next morning.
She twisted in her combination on the dirty black dial, and lifted the latch to open the locker. She wasn’t blessed enough to receive one of those shiny new lockers in that shiny new wing that that shiny new student had donated to receive admission.
When she had grabbed her thick, full math binder and slammed the door shut, she found herself face to face with the grinning face of the boy from yesterday. She let her eyes grow wide in stupor before catching herself, and she let her eyes grow back to their lidded position. She began to walk back into the sea of students, which would have let the torrent sweep her down the hall and to her classroom door before the bell rang and she received a tardy mark to blemish her perfect record.
Of course, life never goes as planned, and hers certainly didn’t. This was proved when the guy’s hand shot out and grabbed her wrist, and Jillian yanked it back when she whirled around to face him.
“What,” she hissed, and glowered when the boy raised his hands as if to calm her down.
“Whoa, I’m not going to hurt you or anything,” he replied, amusement lacing his words.
Jillian bit back a growl as she stayed silent, allowing the boy to continue.
“You left this behind yesterday.”
The boy handed her a neat, hardcover book, its plastic cover having been trashed by Jillian who found it a bother to keep it on when the title was engraved on the spine. And Then There Were None. Oh.
“Oh,” she let out, her eyes losing their flame as she found the resentment in her system drown out. “Thanks,” she murmured as she accepted the book.
It was embarrassing, really, to be caught with her favorite mystery/horror book. But the fool had probably never read the book, so it wasn’t like it mattered-
“It’s a pretty good book, that one,” the boy stated, nodding towards the novel that Jillian clutched tightly to her chest.
She blinked; he read? Well, of course he read, but this?
“Well, yeah, the author’s a genius.” she blurted out, unable to contain her passion for the book. “I mean, I’ve read all her works and she’s been called the queen of crime and…er…” Jillian bit her lower lip. Oh gosh, she just sounded like a complete fool. The boy probably didn’t read it before, and was just trying to sound smartâ€”and if he had read it, he probably didn’t like it, and jus acted like he did.
This was stupid. “Well, thanks,” she muttered as quickly as she could, turning around to go again.
“Justice Wargrave’s pretty amazing, isn’t he?”
Jillian stopped in her tracks to crane her neck to stare at the boy. She then turned the rest of her body to stare at him. The bell rang, and Jillian ignored it; somehow, being late didn’t seem to matter that much anymore.
“Well, yeah, but I think that Vera is even more amazing; I mean, she was the only female left and she endured it till the endâ€”that shows her highly stable mentality, being able to last that long.”
The boy had actually read the book; how surprising! Jillian stared curiously at the boy when he grinned and stated, “I’m Alanâ€”nice to meet you.”
Alan’s grin grew wider. “That’s a pretty name.”
And Jillian’s brain went into a complete confused frenzy. Pretty? Her name had been complimented as â€˜sensible’ and â€˜suiting,’ but never pretty.
Alan grinned in responseâ€”did he ever stop grinning? The fool, his jaw will hurt if he doesn’t stop.
“So…wanna go play some catch, now that we’re late anyways?”
…Some fools were plain fools, clear as day. But some fools were the hardest ones to figure out.
San Francisco, California
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