[Continuing my entry for this week’s writing challenge from The Daily Post, Overheard]
A girl with hair nearly as black as The Bird’s (although styled in a way that said thank you very much for noticing) pointed at Teri from across the table and said, in a horrified tone that grew soft only when she reached the adjective, that she’d heard that tall Indian boy was on the fencing team.
“You mean that one who lives in that trailer, on the county road?” Teri’s plastic lips curled in disgust. “That family lives off the state — where’s he getting the money for fencing clothes, or uniform, or whatever they call it?”
The school owns our equipment, The Bird yelled silently from her perch at the end of the table. And we call them jackets, you dumb bitch.
“And that John Johnson creep? He still on the team?” It was only when Teri abruptly corrected the faceless voice — “They call him Double-J” — that The Bird recognized the name.
A few more names were bounced around the table — Ketterling, Micky, Juan, none of whom The Bird remembered hearing about at practice the night before. Teri seemed amused — “God, so what you’re telling me is that in addition to being stuck up, the fencers are a bunch of losers and freaks?” — then suddenly waved a hand across the table, and all talking stopped immediately. The Bird scanned Teri’s face, saw she was staring intently past their table, a bemused smirk on her face, then looked in the direction Teri was staring.
The greasy-haired boy she remembered being called Rune (yes, that was one of the names just thrown out) had been walking past the table, but slowed as he felt nearly a dozen eyes staring at him. A worried, annoyed look came over his face. “Wh — ” his voice caught in his throat, and Teri laughed loudly, soon joined by the rest of the table.
Rune frowned, shook his head, and walked past the table. The Bird looked up at the analog clock in the cafeteria — one minute before first bell.
The Bird stood quickly, felt many eyes on the table turning towards her now, but she ignored them with the same ease with which they had ignored her until this moment, her silent departure from her perch, certain never to return.
The boy called Rune had nearly settled into the bench seat at a table on the far end of the cafeteria, across from another boy, the fat one from practice last night, when The Bird approached their table. Excuse me, she asked, but Rune did not acknowledge her. She tapped his shoulder, and he turned his acne-scarred face in her direction.
“Yeah?” His look of agitation faded as recognition crept onto his face.
I would like to sit here, The Bird said.