"With screams of anguish and some form of rage."

From: M.

You’re in for a surprise in English.

I narrowed my eyes at the text I had recieved, yet again, as I trecked from the music hall and past the baseball field (where the team was packing up) towards the cafeteria for lunch. What the hell did that mean? I had sent as much to Matt only a minute or so after I had gotten the message, but that had been thirty minutes ago and he still hadn’t replied. That ass.

“Hey, man!” I jumped as a hand slapped me on the shoulder and I turned to glare at the culprit. The green eyed scoundrel grinned at me as he slung his backpack over his shoulder, the end of his bat sticking out of the zipper. “What’s up with you?”

“You’re a fucking ass, Zachary,” I sighed. I then handed him my phone, pointing out the text. “Any idea what he’s talking about?”

“No idea. Mrs. Brooks’s email didn’t mention anything but us starting a new book and project as usual,” Zack remarked after skimming the few words.

“Jesus. All of you gave your email, didn’t you?”

“I told you to give it to her, but nooo,” Zack scolded. He suddenly squinted, read something, and turned to raise an eyebrow at me. “Any specific reason Matt called you a ‘good for nothing, cocksucking cunt’?”

“Johnny and Jimmy finally got Matt to agree to try out Minecraft and I joined from home on McKenna’s copy long enough to fill his house with lava,” I explained with a small chuckle.

“You are a cunt,” Zack agreed with a laugh of surprise as he handed me back my phone. Johnny was the first to get obsessed with the game, quickly followed by Zack. Anyone who screwed someone else over on that game was practically dead to Zack. He never let me play with him since I just enjoyed destroying things. I just didn’t care for the game and only played when someone wanted me to. Doesn’t happen too often anymore.

“Doesn’t Gena ever get tired of your stupid dependency on that game?” I questioned, truly curious. Gena and Zack had only been dating for a couple of months and I honestly don’t know how their relationship could be so successful since all Zack seemed to do in his spare time was hangout with our group, practice baseball, and play Minecraft. I wasn’t even sure he ever slept.

“Actually, she plays it too, for the record. We played together all the time,” Zack scoffed, hiking his bag further over on his shoulder as we entered the back door to the cafeteria hall.

“I have a feeling things could be a lot more interesting if you played something else.” Zack rolled his eyes at me as we both grabbed a tray and began to follow the lunch line. Luckily today was nachos and not some bullshit, inedible stuff they called ‘food’.

“Just because I’m not a manwhore like you doesn’t mean I don’t have a good relationship. Actually, it’s better if you don’t sleep with a girl you just met,” Zack scoffed as he rolled his eyes at me.

“Meh. Long term relationships are not my thing,” I reminded him as I waved my hand as if ridding the world of the idea. I grabbed a bottle of Coke from the ice cooler next to the milk and squinted at him. “When did you even decide you wanted a long term thing? Last I heard you were just friends with benefits. Did she brainwash you?”

“Oh, haha,” Zack said dryly as we both paid for our separate lunches. On the way to our usual table he explained, “We both liked each other more than that. Half of a bottle of whiskey as we hung out was all we needed to admit it.”

“God, you’re such a chick flick,” I scoffed as I dropped into my seat and unceremoniously dumped my backpack at my feet. Zack didn’t reply, but his bitchface and eye roll was all I needed to hear. (I swear, you can hear that shit.) He was annoyed with me and knew there was no point in mentioning it because I would just be a little shit the rest of the day. If we didn’t have a project we were starting next period, it would be fine, but since we would have to work together, he just wasn’t feeling like dealing with that.

“Damn, Bri. Only five minutes into lunch and you pissed him off,” a voice spoke as they walked up from behind us. I turned slightly to nod my greeting to the blonde who took the seat next to Zack. On his other side was another freshman with dark brown hair and a scowl. “What’d you do this time?”

“Told him he’s a total chick flick with Gena,” I informed before opening my Coke and taking a deep swig.

“Be happy you don’t have to deal with them all the time. It’s sickening,” the other kid muttered, pulling out his usual bag of Hot Cheetos. If he ever brought anything else to eat, the world would probably implode.

“Oh, shut up Mattie. You’re just angry because you got rejected by Savannah,” Zack spoke. He said it in a matter of fact tone and with a small smile, but his eyes suggested that his younger brother should fuck off or there’d be hell to pay. Probably involving the baseball ball still sticking out of the bag between his lower legs. Mattie returned a glare and the two brothers had a standoff for a couple of beats. Mattie suddenly turned his head and muttered something along the lines of ‘older brothers are fucking babies’, his way of admitting defeat.

“And boom, the Bakers are in a treaty for the time being. Let the president know that there were no weapons of mass destruction used this time,” the blond laughed as he pulled a Subway sandwich from his messenger bag.

“Shut up, Johnny,” both brothers spoke in unison, Mattie in a sulky manner while Zack had a light hearted laugh lacing with his words. I have no idea what was with Baker boys, but Zack was pretty moppy his freshman year, too. Maybe it was a curse dating back generations ever since their great, great, great, great grandfather killed his slave in Italy for scrubbing the dishes wrong.

“Damn. I missed the Baker Battle, didn’t I?” Jimmy groaned as he sat in the seat next to me and leaned across the table to steal a bite from Johnny’s sandwich. Johnny grimaced as Jimmy chewed widely in his face and shoved him away. He hesitated before shrugging and taking a bite anyway.

“Okay. One, that’s fucking gross Johnny. You don’t know where he’s been or what he’s been doing,” Zack began with his own scrunched up nose look.

“Or who,” Jimmy added and we silently fist bumped each other. Zack rolled his eyes and shook his head silently.

“Oh, fuck it. You’re uncontrollable.”

I can’t be tamed! I can’t be changed!” Jimmy sang loudly and terribly off key. We all cringed and leaned away from him when he was suddenly thumped in the back of the head. He buried his face in his arms and let out a long, continuous whine. Matt rolled his eyes as he plopped down next to him. He placed a large bag of McDonalds on the table and began to dig through it, producing a large size of fries.

“No fuckin’ Miley Cyrus or I’m keeping your burger. You should be happy I even bought you anything after the shit this morning,” Matt remarked. Matt had found out pretty quickly about his shirt (since Jimmy’s a moron and left the button up shirt open) when he met us at school this morning and quite literally beat the ever living fuck out of him before yanking the shirt off his body, leaving him half naked and moaning about his ribs being sore on the parking lot’s asphalt. With, at least, thirty other students watching.

“Y’know, my ribs still hurt. You owe me,” Jimmy said as he popped up and reached into the bag, retracting his arm with a Big Mac box clenched in his hand. Matt raised an eyebrow at him and he froze momentarily. He laughed nervously, scooting his chair ever so slightly closer to me. “I’m just kidding, man! You’re the best.”

“That’s what I thought I heard,” Matt huffed.

“Hey, by the way,” I spoke before popping a chip into my mouth. After I swallowed I asked, “What was up with that text earlier? What’s going on in English?”

“Oh, I don’t wanna ruin the surprise,” Matt laughed, a wide grin on his face. I narrowed my eyes at him as I tried to measure how much of a chance I stood. It didn’t seem like I had one if I gave him a new car. I decided to turn to Jimmy instead.

“Dude, what happened? You have it with him.”

“Oh, fuck you, dude. If I tell you he’s gonna break my ribs,” Jimmy argued. “It’s next period. Just fuckin’ wait.”

“Wuss,” I muttered. After that it was mostly idle chat and chewing of food for about twenty minutes. And then the infamous bell rang, signalling the end of the bit of peace the student’s got to themselves and it was time to go back to the torture the faculty referred to as ‘our classes’.

“I will never get tired of this view,” Johnny sighed happily as we moved as a unit to dump our trays and head down the main hall since all the other halls branched off from there (well, besides the music hall, metal shop, and the field houses). I followed his eyes to see the group of girls that most nineties films would refer to as the In Crowd. They were talking and giggling obnoxious about who knows what, their heels clicking on the linoleum. I rolled my eyes and shook my head as I hiked my backpack further up my shoulder.

“You really need to stop that, Johnny. One, they’re juniors and you’re just a freshman. Two, they are so far out of your league, you’re practically on Mars,” I laughed.

“I didn’t say I wanted to try to ask them out or something. I’m just admiring the view,” Johnny repeated. I shrugged a little to myself. I couldn’t blame him. Half of them always parade around here in miniskirts - so close to breaking dress code rules, but the teachers just didn’t care enough to correct - that everyone could easily get a view of their asses.

Especially Felicia Davis’s.

I couldn’t help the smirk growing on my face. She was such the dorky looking kid when she came to our school freshman year, but she was attractive, dumb, and rich enough to fit in perfectly with the snot nose brats that composed the popular kids after only two weeks of disaster. We still joked about the original Felicia we knew though. She’s kind of come to hate our entire group and I, at least, was proud of that.

“Bri!” I snapped out of my daze to see Zack standing next to me with a raised eyebrow. I instantly noticed that we were at the entrance to the English hall and people were swarming around us, none of them being our friends. “Jesus. What the hell were you thinking about?”

“Nothing. C’mon, we’re gonna be late,” I grumbled, shoving my hands in my pockets and charging forward through the thinning crowd. I led us to our normal desks, the two next to each other in the back by the windows, (which already had a pretty minimal rubric for our project on them) and we sat just as the final bell rang. At the front of the room Mrs. Brooks stood smiling in front of her desk in a black dress that hugged her curves, which is all the guys in our grade focused on half the time. She was gorgeous, everyone knew that. I personally think she just used form fitting clothing to laugh at us. Hell, I’d need the amusement too if I was a teacher.

“Hello class! As most of you know, we are beginning a new book today.” She lifted one of the purple books from the small mountain on her desk and showed us the cover. To Kill A Mockingbird were the words plastered across the cover. We all gave our collective groans and Mrs. Brooks clicked her tongue at us. “Harper Lee’s book is a masterpiece. You guys will enjoy it, I promise.”

“Which kind of ‘enjoy it’?” The quiet, yet enjoyably snarky, kid named Allen in the middle of the room asked. “The enjoy it like when we read “Antigone”, which we all hated, or like when he read Of Mice And Men and you made almost everyone cry?”

“I’m hoping more towards Mice, but with screams of anguish and some form of rage,” Mrs. Brooks admitted, making everyone chuckle. “Okay, so let’s go ahead and read the first chapter and talk about some of the important things. After that we’ll talk about your project.”

I half paid attention to everyone who was forced to read out loud today. I half heartedly tried to participate in the small debate already arising if the Boo Radley character was creepy or cool. It was weird how we barely heard anything about him yet, nor has any bit of the story actually had real plot yet, and everyone was already trying to decide what kind of person he was. And some of the loud mouth girls that talked when no one cared what they were saying were pretty strongly believing he was going to eat Jem and/or Scout.

“Okay, okay. We’ll find out more about them later, right? Now it’s onto the project!” I sat a little straighter in my chair which Zack shot me a look out the corner of his eye. This had to be where Matt’s ‘surprise’ came in. Everything else had been the same as every other time we started a book. I heard a collective group of people sigh which caused my eyebrow to shoot up. Usually everyone was frantically trying to make sure they knew who was going to be who’s partner. Where was that? Mrs. Brooks noticed too and her lips pursed together. “So, I see some of you know what’s going on already. Your classmates have no self control, do they?”

“C’mon, Miss. Don’t do this to us,” Tiffany, one of the popular girls, whined. She tried out her puppy eyes and looked desperately to the girl next to her who just happened to be Felicia Davis. “I can’t do that.”

“Well I’m sorry you don’t have the opportunity to gossip all period with Felicia, TIffany. But I’m not giving this class any special treatment. You guys are going to have to learn to deal with people who are outside your group of friends.”

“Whoa, wait,” I started, the clogs finally falling into place. “Are you deciding partners?”

“Ah, thank you, Brian. You are one of the few people in this room who don’t know what’s going on,” Mrs. Brooks beamed, clapping her hands together. “For those of you who don’t know, you will not be allowed to pick your groups this time. As rules to the school board, once a year you are randomly placed into groups without your consent. This one is the one for your year.”

I could barely remember those projects per year. I think my mind purposely blocks them out just for the simple fact that they were so atrocious every year. I sunk back into my seat and grumbled out, “Fuck me sideways.”

“Alright. Let’s go over the project and then we’ll go through the process of getting your partner. Then you will talk for a few minutes before the bell rings.”

And that she did. I paid attention to most of it before I began to get anxious on who the hell I could get paired with. We were only reading in class and the project wasn’t due for a month. A few people wondered how the heck we were going to make the book last a month, but Mrs. Brooks told us to ‘not worry about it’ and that ‘it will make sense later’. We get to choose what to do exactly for the project from a wide range of things that Mrs. Brooks gave us to in a list, but she wanted us to wait for a full class day before we decided what to do. Some of our work would be done near the end of the month while the rest would be at home on our own time.

“Well then.” Mrs. Brooks peers at the small, silver watch on her wrist before looking back up at us. “With fifteen minutes to spare, let’s dive into your partner assignments, okay?”

Everyone let out collective groans again as she stood from where she had perched herself on the edge of her desk. She reached an arm behind her desk and pulled out a baseball cap. She shook it and the sound of paper sliding against one another was heard. “In this hat are slips of paper that hold everyone’s name. I will be pulling two pieces at random and whoever is on those slips will be partners.”

“So there’s a chance we can get someone we want to work with?” Selena asked hopefully. Mrs. Brooks smiled in return.

“I haven’t had many people get that lucky today. But by all means, keep being optimistic.”

Slowly people got paired off. Zack got partnered with Allen, both seeming pretty happy they didn’t get screwed over with some person who drove them insane. I was nervous tapping my fingers on my knee, playing out the chords to Smoke On The Water, my comfort song. I had such a bad feeling about this. It seemed like there were only two or three people left that wouldn’t drive me into a vast wasteland of hopelessness. And I really had no luck left.

“Brian will be partners will....Felicia.”

“What?!” I exclaimed, making people laugh at my misfortune. It was no secret Felicia and I didn’t see eye to eye. Half the time we were the only two debating. We had strong opinions and kept to it, but she was just so...wrong most the time. I would like to have a lovely debate on the asshole that claimed that ‘there is no such thing as a wrong opinion’. Felicia didn’t react much, simply leaned her chin forward onto her hand and muttered something to Tiffany who rubbed her back comfortingly.

Soon enough Mrs. Brooks was telling us to sit with our partners and talk it over for a few minutes. Zack instantly retreated from his seat and went to take the seat next to Allen that he had already scooted over. I glared at his back for a little before I felt a presence slip into his vacated seat. I glanced over to see Felicia placing binder squarely in the middle of the desk, the project papers and jer paperback copy of the book on top. She placed her purse above it and cross her legs at the knees. Felicia had a neutral look and she turned her upper body slightly to face me.

“Alright, Haner. I really don’t plan on doing this outside of school unless we have to,” Felicia sighed, pushing her hair away from her face with her hand. “I have a reputation to uphold and I can’t have it ruined by being seen in public with you. No offense, I guess.”

“Well that wasn’t believable at all,” I grumbled. Why did Mrs. Brooks have to have a vendetta against our class? Our entire grade. She must just like watching us all suffer. I looked at her desk to see her quietly arguing with Trevor who was obviously trying to find a way to not have to be partners with Olivia. I can’t blame him, the girl never talked in this class, just drew scribbles of people getting murdered. Has the counselor stepped in on this yet?

“Brian.” I turned back to Felicia to see her lips pursed like she was trying to hold back from either yelling at me or hitting me with the book. “Are you even listening to me?”

“No. I kind of zoned out after your half assed apology of the thought of being seen with me in public,” I explained with a mocking smile on my face. She slowly breathed out her nose before speaking again.

“I was saying that we should just meet in the library after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays since those are days that I’m never busy.”

“No can do. One, I’m banned from the library. Two, I’m busy those days.”

“How can you get banned from the library?”

“Getting caught with my pants down and a girl on my dick,” I informed with an air of smugness around me. I know there was and I don’t care. Getting caught being sucked off by Lindsay Mendez gets you some pretty good perks in the social circle. Well, at least my social circle. Felicia made a face that looked like she had just tried to eat a mouth full of Lemonheads.

“Classy. Fine, we’ll meet at the Public Li - ”

“Banned there too.”

“For another blowjob?”

“No. My friends and I ended up starting a fight with some asshole and shit happens.”

“Then where do you suggest?” Felicia demanded, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned back in her seat.

I shrugged in reply. “Beats me. I just know that my house isn’t an option. When my sister isn’t having her girl scout meetings slash choir practice, my dad’s trying to get everyone out of the house so he can ‘work in peace’.”

By this point, Felicia looks exhausted and we hadn’t even done anything yet, just decided where we can’t work on the project. She looked out the window and the look on her face suggested she was having a huge mental battle between herself. Finally she turned back to me and frowned. “I guess our only option is my house then. Mondays and Wednesdays. We’ll go right after school and call it quits at five.”

“Your house, huh?”

“Sadly, since you’ve narrowed down all other possibilities,” Felicia scoffed. "And now I'll have to cancel plans because you're so busy. You sure you're not lying about having a life? You don't seem the kind."

"Positive," I scoffed. That was when the bell went off to signal the end of the class period.

She picked up her binder and tossed her purse over her shoulder. “We’ll start Wednesday since I have no plans to deal with this yet. And no skipping class. I’m not going to give you a play by play of what you miss on the book.”

With that she left the room arm in arm with Tiffany, the two laughing. Probably about who they got matched up as partners with. Well, fuck her. I grabbed my own bag (book and papers hurriedly shoved in the biggest pocket) and left the room. Outside in the hall, Zack was already waiting for me. He had a smirk on his face that I really wanted to punch off.

“So, Felicia, huh?”

“Fuck off, Zachary.”
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I was gonna be that good writer that's like 'hell yeah. I'm gonna update once a week and it's gonna be great'. Well, I didn't add in being dead tired from work, video games, and YouTube on the equation so that didn't really happen. I want to tell you I'm going to get my updates on a schedule, but I don't feel right lying to you guys and getting your hopes up. Just know I'm getting my updates out as soon as I can.

Fun fact: The conversation that was at the end between Felicia and Brian was something I wrote when this story was still just a fun idea. I didn't know names of the people or what was happening in the story, but that conversation had to be in there.