“So you’re saying your mother wasn’t worried? Not even after she heard you drank alcohol?”
“She trusts me.” I shrug. “And she knew it was an accident.”
Somehow, Marlein had found out about the study night at the pub. I knew it couldn’t have been Maxton’s doing.
“Huh.” Marlein crosses her arms. “You’re not just telling me that are you?”
“No. I swear. Why, are your parents not like that?”
“I don’t know. I don’t see much of my parents. I’ve always been in boarding schools, and summers were filled with camps.”
I glance up at each statue we pass. I’m certain they each have cameras in the eyes, and I don’t want to seem afraid of them.
“That’s really sad.”
“Actually… well, maybe a little. I never think of it that way though, which is why I’m so good at making friends.”
She isn’t wrong. Somehow Marlein befriended me. I do what I can to avoid human contact, but if Marlein doesn’t find someone else, she comes and finds me. She seems so ditzy, but all of these normals are so carefree.
“I always assumed that parents who kept their kids at home and dropped them off and stuff were really strict, but your mom sounds cool.”
I watch one particular statue. It almost resembles the Minister of the Capital, but this statue depicted him as some kind of creature with wings.
It’s so loud in the halls before the first class. It reminds me of my old school. Kids laughing too loudly, walking too slowly, slackers frantically finishing homework, ignorant lovers gazing into each other’s eyes, athletes blocking the halls with their little elite group. In one such group we see Alexander, and he waves to us.
“He is so cute,” Marlein whispers to me. “I think he likes you.”
My heart drops to my stomach. “No, I don’t think so,” I say quickly.
“Really? You don’t like him? Is it okay if I talk to him then?”
I look at her. Was she serious?
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
“Great!” Marlein beams. “I wanted to make sure because you had first call with him being in your group and all, but Maxton is cute too. He suits you more. You’re both so quiet.”
Before I can correct her, she waves bye and runs off to be with Alexander and his friends. I notice Jareth make a face at Marlein then look at me, but I turn away.
Did people really think that I liked Maxton? I just wanted to survive. Finding a boyfriend was the farthest thing from my mind, especially a Locksey. I slowly inhale. I am definitely ready for the presentation and to get it over with. I hated having to memorize false information. The Capital teaches the history it wants the people to believe. My mom tried to stay positive, saying that I needed to learn the false history to better understand why so many people don’t believe the truth. Maybe I can find a secluded place to look at this origin book.
Someone grabs my arm, and my heart rises to my throat as I whirl around.
“We need to – are you okay?” Maxton looks over me with that deadened stare.
“Sorry, I just… don’t like to be touched.”
Why did I apologize for that? Why would I be the one to apologize!
“Oh. Well Jareth and Marah were wanting to practice the presentation. I don’t think Alexander cares much, but for this to be the first big grade, I think we should do a good job.”
“Oh yeah, we’re the preeminent group. Do you know what it’s weighted?”
“Of our final grade!”
“Yes?” Maxton narrows his arms. “Classes are only three months long. That’s why we only take three at a time.”
“Oh.” I sigh.
“Yeah, I’m not thrilled about being stuck with pretty boy, wannabe, and that ditzy girl either, so I guess it’s up to us to carry this group. I figured we could go salvage what we could.”
Just then the bells sound. All the students look up for a moment in silence then begin rushing to their first class.
“Will we still have time?”
“Yeah, it’s eight minutes until we’re considered late. Even if we are, I think I can come up with an excuse to get Mrs. Crowley to let us off.”
I sigh. “Okay, I learned Marah’s parts just to be on the safe side. I really hope this history covers the rubric.”
“Good. I have the other two’s parts. Let’s go get them before they wander off.”
(Photo: Mona Miller)
The previous chapter can be found here.