It was the third fight that had broken out this week. It seemed like everyone was trying to jump at each other's throats in this place. So far I'd avoided the worst of it. I mean, I still got shoved into lockers daily, and my stuff was still mysteriously disappearing and reappearing all the time, but I hadn't taken a punch in ages. Ok, so that sounded pretty sad, but then again I wasn't exactly the most popular guy here. The weird kid that wears eyeliner and sits at the back of the class, drawing little cartoon monsters everywhere? I tended to get beat up a lot for that.
But I wasn't the only one. Everyone got a beat up at some point, for whatever reason it may be. The jocks practically owned the highschool, same goes for the cheerleaders and who ever else had climbed high enough on the social ladder. They bossed the rest of us around, acted all superior. When I first started highschool it bothered me a lot, but you learn to keep your head down and your mouth closed in order to survive. Being invisible was the easiest option. But sometimes, it was unavoidable. Sometimes… They were just looking for trouble.
That's what appeared to have happened today. Some other kid in my class—I'm not sure what his name is—was just minding his own business, walking down the hallway, when he knocked into this other guy in my class, Frank. Frank's… Not exactly a bully, but he's not the friendliest type either. He's quiet enough, doesn't really talk to people much, put he has a sort of sour, negative attitude. He's pretty new to the school too, only started here a few months ago. And, ok, he's cute. He's short, he has a lip ring and I swear I could see a tattoo on his arm peeking out from under his hoodie. Need I say more? It almost made me forget how irritating he was. Almost.
Anyway, it was a complete accident. Frank was moping about with his head down, the other guy was texting and wasn't really paying attention to where he was going… And they ran into each other. I mean if it was anyone else, it probably wouldn't have mattered, but it just had to be Frank. The guy tried apologizing to him but Frank was having none of it. Just as he was storming off, a couple of jocks came by and shoved him into the lockers. Frank was pretty worked up by now, so he confronted the group. Which inevitably resulted in him getting punched, and I swear I could hear his jaw crack. Oh yeah, I was walking not too far behind Frank when this happened. And being the complete and utter brainless idiot that I am, I decided it would be a wonderful idea if I got involved. Yeah, not your brightest move Gerard.
I told the head jock (who turned out to be the head of the football team, James) to back off, that he'd knocked into Frank first. Then Frank, the pretentious douchebag, started yelling at me saying he didn't need my help. When he swung in to punch me I ducked, so he ended up punching one of James' cohorts in the chest (he's pretty short and they're freakishly tall, so that's as far as he reached). Complete mayhem broke out after that, fists were flying, insults were thrown… The whole school seemed to be at war. Until finally, our dim-witted principal Mr. Johnson decided he simply couldn't finish his morning coffee in peace with all the screaming. Which also explains why me, James, his cohort, and Frank were all standing in the principal's office.
"Stay right where you are!" his voice had thankfully climbed down an octave or two. "Don't think for a minute that we're done here!" He then turned around, straightened his tie, and proceeded to open the door, calm and collected as if he hadn't been screaming himself hoarse just moments before. "Ah, Mr. Urie! So glad you could make it. And just in time too." Ooh, he'd resorted to just glaring daggers at us now that there was a witness present.
The man, who I assumed was Mr. Urie, had big, soft brown eyes, plump lips, and appeared to be quite young. He shook Mr. Johnson's hand, glancing at us wearily.
"Am I… Interrupting anything?"
"Oh, not at all! Just disciplining a few trouble-makers." The old, greying principal smiled. I thought I might throw up. The look really didn't suit his face. Frank made gagging noises. "Boys, meet your new English professor, Mr. Brendon Urie."
We each shook the professor's hand. He seemed nice enough, it was certainly an improvement from the old bat we'd had before. She was shrivelled up like a prune and her breath smelt like onions, it was about time she retired.
"Now, if I'm not mistaken… You all have English next period, don't you?" Mr. Johnson continued. "Mr. Urie, why don't you take this lot into the classroom with you now? The bell should be going in a few minutes." As we all turned to leave, the principal seemed to suddenly remember why we were all there in the first place. "But boys, be back here by the end of the day." After that, we all scampered out from fear that he'd start turning blue again.
James and tweedle dumb had mysteriously vanished before we could even reach the English classroom. Good riddance. Mr. Urie chose to ignore it, instead ushering the remaining two of us into the room. Me and Frank were just escaping to the back when he called us up to the front again. Frank rolled his eyes.
"So," he said, facing the two of us, "what are your names?"
"I'm Gerard." I said. Frankly simply glared. "This is Frank." Another glare.
"So Gerard, Frank… Why were you in the principal's office this morning?"
I knew Frank wasn't going to say anything, so I might as well. "Those other two that were in the office with us pushed Frank into some lockers, and since he was already in a bad mood he punched them." Glare number three.
"Everything would have been fine after that if you hadn't tried to stand up for me." he pointed out.
I shrugged. "You would have just gotten punched again." As much as I hate to admit this, he does have a nice face. It'd be a shame if it was ruined.
"I can take a punch." Frank grumbled.
Meanwhile, Mr. Urie was nodding in contemplation.
"Does this kind of thing happen often? All this punching and fighting?"
Ok, now he was starting to sound like a therapist. Not that I've ever had one.
"Yeah, all the time." I said. "None of the students really get along, I guess… It's all about being popular." Sadly. Mr. Urie looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Hmm… Maybe there's something we can do about that."
Fuck no. That would take a bloody miracle. Thankfully, the bell rang at that moment and I was free to go hide in the back of the classroom again. Frank followed, sitting at a desk next to mine. Funny, I thought he was mad at me.
Students started flooding in after that, the boys eyeing Mr. Urie suspiciously, the girls giggling and flipping their hair as they flounced by. James, much to my dismay, sat close to me and Frank, his eyes narrowing threateningly as if daring us to say a word to him. Great, now I was going to be harassed for a whole hour. I sunk down lower in my chair, wishing the ground would just open up and swallow me so I could escape from this hell-hole. Frank scowled at the back of James' head. Then he started pulling faces, and I couldn't help but giggle (yes ok I giggle shut up), and I tried my best to hide my smile from Frank. Ok, so maybe he's not so bad.
I shook myself mentally, trying to focus on what was happening in front of me instead of dorky, pretentious little punks with lip rings. Did I mention Frank had a lip ring? It suited him quite well actually…
I realised I was staring again, and quickly looked away.
Mr. Urie stood rather awkwardly at the front, pushing his large black glasses further up his nose as he surveyed the class calmly.
"My name's Mr. Urie." he began, and I started mentally preparing myself for the whole speech thing new teacher's usually gave. "Your principal called me in mainly because he was in need of a new English teacher, but also because he thinks you're all insufferable and uncooperative brats that need a good disciplining, and he thought I'd be the man for the job."
No one dared interrupt him. It was so quiet I swear you could've heard a fly fart. Even Frank seemed to be paying attention.
"Honestly, I think it’s a load of bullshit." He leaned forward over his desk, letting his words sink in. "None of you look like insufferable brats to me. I think you just haven’t learned how to respect each other, if the fight that broke out this morning is anything to go by. You don't all really get along well, so I've been told."
It wasn't a question, but people nodded anyway. I just tried to remain as invisible as possible.
"Mr. Johnson was right about one thing though. I might just be able to help you." He stood up straight again, unfazed by the students' snickering. They all thought he was full of it. "So I'm going to put in place a project that was established in the last school I taught at. First, I'm going to pair everyone together. None of you will know who you're with, except me." Snickering quickly turned to loud noises of protest. Mr. Urie waited until the noise had died down before continuing. "This project set up was actually a website. Kind of like a school chat room website. Each pair of students was assigned a code to enter the website, and they'd have to go on it and chat to each other anonymously every day for as long as the teacher set. There's a specific aspect of the website that allows teachers to monitor whether students are actually using it or not. The point of this project was to bring people closer together so that they'd be able to respect each other, and often the pairs would be unusual, two people who would usually never get along often get paired together."
Oh my god. Oh crap. This sounds like a terrible, terrible idea. It was practically doomed to fail before it even began. I glanced at Frank, who seemed to be just as unconvinced as I was.
Mr. Urie ignored the students' comments; instead, he asked each student for their name and started pairing them together. This went on for practically the whole lesson, and I was convinced by the end that Mr. Urie had intended doing this all along, he even had all the codes already for Christ's sake. I bet he just hopped around schools forcing every class to do this.
I was so relieved when I left the classroom. I just had the rest of the day to worry about now, and then I could finally go home.
"Mom, I'm home!" I called as I walked through the front door that evening. When I entered the living room though, it wasn't my mom waiting there, but my little brother Mikey. Ok, so he's only like two years younger than me, but still. He's fifteen.
"Where's mom?" I asked.
"She has to work a bit later tonight down at the store." said Mikey, looking up from the television screen.
Great. Another late Thursday. See, my mom owned this music store down in the town. She always said she'd be home early on a Friday evening, but she never really meant it. So I just sighed and started walking away from the front door, ruffling Mikey's hair as I passed the couch on my way towards the stairs.
"I'll be up in my room Mikes. You need anything?" He shook his head, eyes still glued to the television screen.
"No thanks Gee, I'm good. I'll call you down when she gets back; she said we can order pizza tonight."
"Awesome, thanks!" I called, already halfway up the stairs.
When I got into my room and closed the door behind me, I dumped my bag next to my desk, grabbed my laptop, and then climbed up onto my bed, switching the laptop on. Might as well get this stupid chat thing done and over with.
I opened up the website, entered my code, and then I had to choose I username. It couldn't be anything obvious though. I chose the name "Batman". Shut up, you can judge me later.
Soon enough, it showed another person logged in.
Frankenstein: please don't tell me ur a chick
Hmm, interesting opening line. No comment on the username.
Batman: with a username like batman?
Frankenstein: ok not a chick then. any chance u'll tell me who u r?
Batman: no way
Frankenstein: fine. this project is stupid anyway.
Batman: who knws it might work
Frankenstein: don’t think so, that Urie guy is fucked in the head. there's no hope 4 this scool
Batman: haha. agreed. so I take it ur not some popular douche?
Frankenstein: ugh no, can't stand populars
Batman: I can relate
Just then, my brother called up.
"Gerard, mom's home!"
Wow, she was actually slightly early.
Batman: I gotta go eat now, uh… talk 2 u later?
Frankenstein: sure, nothin better 2 do
Batman has left the conversation.
Ok, so this Frankenstein dude, whoever he was, didn't seem so bad. Sure, that wasn't a proper conversation but… Maybe Mr. Urie was right, maybe this could work.
I closed my laptop and pushed it to the side, clambering off the bed and rushing downstairs. Hell, I was starving
"Hey mom." I leaned up to hug her. "How was work?"
She smiled, setting her purse down by the door. "Not too bad, a bit slow going, but nothing I can't handle. Actually, I'm going to need you and Mikey to come work at the shop this week-end for a few hours."
I sighed inwardly. I thought I could finally have a week-end off. Obviously I was wrong. "Sure mom. Mikey said we're ordering pizza tonight?"
"No need, I stopped off on my way back from work." She lifted another bag she'd been carrying and placed it on the kitchen counter. "Eat up!"
Mikey appeared at the doorway just then as we all dived in to grab one of the pizza boxes. Then we went to sit in the living room, mom flicking through the channels to find a movie for us to watch. Me and Mikey traded half of our pizzas with each other, as usual.
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