Thursday 13th February 2014
It… ruined her Thursday. No… perhaps she was being melodramatic. It didn’t ruin her Thursday. But the way the girl glared at her certainly made her feel… inadequate.
Actually, Bonnie wasn’t sure that was the right word either. She mulled that over for a moment, trying to force aside the realisation that her safe haven in the back corner of the chemistry classroom was being unceremoniously violated. She continued to mull even as the glaring violator in question sank balefully into the spot beside her.
Unworthy? The words danced through her mind, trying to put a label on the way she was feeling under that electric stare. Lowly? Pathetic? Fraudulent? Incompetent? Filthy? Yes, that last one. She settled with filthy. The girl made her feel all of those things, but the way she was scowling made Bonnie wonder whether she’d actually had a shower recently.
Doctor Welsh, their chemistry teacher, scuttled over in a manner reminiscent of rodents. “Sorry to do this to you, Bonnibel,” he said in soft, clipped tones. “Marceline was transferred and she needs a partner. I know you’re perfectly capable on your own, but rules are rules.”
Bonnie sighed, shooting her new lab partner a quick glance and… yup, still glaring. “That’s fine, really,” she exhaled heavily. Welsh smiled at her before scurrying back to his desk.
“I don’t like you.”
The words came from nowhere and Bonnie spared the agitated girl a surprised look. “Great.”
Marceline blinked. “No really. I don’t want to be your friend, princess. And I don’t want your charity.”
She snorted. “What charity?”
The other girl bristled. “Well, clearly Welsh put me with you because he thinks I suck at science right? I don’t like you.”
Bonnie had the strangest feeling that the reasons behind Marceline’s dislike were something completely unrelated to school. She didn’t say that though. Instead, the words that fell out of her mouth were, “Sure, yeah. Because what you do with an unintelligent student is pair them with one of the brightest ones. That wouldn’t result in coat-tail riding at all would it? No I don’t think so.” Bonnie chuckled. “He probably paired us together because he’s sure you’ll do your work.” She looked away as she said that last.
The insufferable idiot didn’t want charity? Fine. Bonnie wouldn’t give her so much as a kind word. She could be cold and distant if that’s how it had to be.
“And I don’t like you either,” Bonnie added. It got a strange expression to flash across Marceline’s face, as if she hadn’t anticipated that reaction. “So just do your work and we can pretend to get along in class.”
Marceline blinked again, the fingers of one hand drumming across the table. Then she smiled thinly. “Awesome. I like that plan.”
And for the most part, they were civil to each other in class. Well… if she ignored the blatant glares Marceline was constantly firing at her. If she disregarded the clipped tones, the frosty undercurrents and the way she kept at least a metre of space between them at all times… then yes, Bonnie could pretend they were being civil. What it was really like, was that Bonnie had a supremely contagious air-borne disease and Marceline had to keep her distance lest she become infected.
Chemistry was an absurdly long hour that day.
When the bell rang, Marceline scooped her books into her bags, glared once more at Bonnie, and dashed out the door without another word. Bonnibel decided then and there that it was going to be an equally long semester. After the mid-year break, she’d request another partner, a less hostile one.
“So how was your day?” Pippa pressed on their walk home. Penelope’s family lived past Peter, further outside of town, but within walking distance (even if another mode of transport might be more comfortable in this ungodly heat). They often made the trek together. Pippa often made a point of getting Bonnie to talk.
Bonnie sighed. “It was long, Pippa. What about yours?”
“Can’t complain,” her friend replied with a shrug. “You know, you’ve been here for a while now, you should open up a little. No one will hate you for having input in conversations you do realise.”
Turning her gaze to the school fence as they walked, Bonnie ignored the silent question. Part of her really did want to just… give in to these people. The other part of her knew that would be bad. So she kept her mouth shut.
“I do contribute to conversations,” she said carefully, hoping that didn’t venture too far into uncomfortable territory.
“Not a lot,” Pippa huffed. “Listen, we’re going out to the ditch after lunch on Saturday. You should come with. Jake and I will pick you up. It’ll be fun.”
“Bonnibel,” Pippa pleaded, grabbing her elbow. “Come on. Please? For me? Just try to relax for me.” She smiled, trying to instil in Bonnie a desire to do this, and she tried to do it using just her eyes. “Pretty please?”
“I don’t want to make a regular habit of skipping study time,” Bonnie muttered.
“Oh pthh,” Pippa said, sticking her tongue out. “It won’t hurt your academic brilliance to take a weekend off now and then. It’s not like I’m suggesting anything silly. Just come hang out with us.”
It was a bad idea. Terrible, in fact. She should decline. She should sit in her little flat with the air conditioner humming pleasantly in the background and work on her history paper. That’s what sensible Bonnibel would’ve done back in Ormeau. New Bonnibel didn’t think like that. No. New Bonnibel wanted to make friends here, wanted to start again, to forget. Guilt snagged at her stomach at the thought of starting again… of moving on. It didn’t seem fair.
She shouldn’t go.
But she felt herself nodding anyway. Pippa squealed with delight, hugged her tightly.
“Oh good, you won’t regret it,” Penelope assured her. “I promise you’ll have a blast.” She winked. “We know how to have fun out here in the country.”
That didn’t bode well.