chapter 2 - arrogant!

1K 48 4
                                    

ELLE

I step into the classroom, straighten up my spine, and put on a brave front, feeling determined not to let them see how much their scrutiny affects me. My smile, however, feels thin and unconvincing, even to myself. As I take a seat in the first row, I can feel the weight of everyone's gaze on me, whispering behind my back as if I'm not there.

"I'd transfer schools if I were her," a girl sneers as the corners of her mouth turn down and her nostrils flare. She sits atop a desk with her legs dangling off the edge, looming over her friend with the same air of superiority as everyone else. Her friend, sitting below her in the chair, nods in agreement while rummaging through her classic black Chanel purse to take out a small bottle of perfume.

I ignore their taunts, reaching into my schoolbag and setting everything I need on the top of my desk. Then, a boy saunters by and, with a flick of his hand, knocks all my things to the ground with a smirk.  The whole class starts cracking up while I just feel defeated, trying to keep my emotions in control.

"Excuse me?" A kind voice catches me off guard.

"What?" My tone comes across as a touch too harsh as I look up to see a friendly-faced girl holding my notebook, concern etched on her features. The girl flinches at my tone but still offers to help me collect the rest of my scattered writing tools. I feel a twinge of guilt and glance at her apologetically as she takes a seat at the desk to my right. The girl offers me a friendly smile, but I am too guarded to return it.

Mrs. Florence, a veteran teacher with streaks of silvering hair pulled back in a bun, bustles into the classroom. Her smile, as familiar as the worn math textbooks lining the shelves, crinkles the corners of her eyes. A bright floral scarf peeks out from the collar of her tweed blazer, adding a touch of whimsy to her no-nonsense demeanor. Despite the tension in the air, her cheerful voice cuts through it like a ray of sunshine. "Settle down, class. Let's get started. First things first, please pass your completed homework from last night to the front of your rows."

Mrs. Florence grabs a black dry-erase marker before writing our next lesson of mathematical formulas on the board. Since I already know the material, I drown her out as she enthusiastically explains each concept.

When Mrs. Florence merrily calls on me, I am lost in my own world, scribbling aimlessly in the margins of my notebook. A face, vaguely humanoid, is taking shape. The skin is stitched together with a raggedly sewn smile, stretches across its face. One large, button eye gazes out with a surprising innocence. Wispy, dandelion-fluff hair drifts around its head, and a tiny, floppy ear flops to the side. This isn't the grotesque monster that Guillermo del Toro's horror stories describes—it's...cute? I come to realize I've been drawing a zombie, and not just any zombie, a downright adorable one. The scratching of my pen against paper fills the silence of the classroom, matching the beat of my tormenting thoughts.

"Elle?" Mrs. Florence calls my name once more, her expression expectant and slightly challenging.

"Uhm." I mumble, struggling to find my voice with the pressure of all the attention on me.

"I know you know this. You're the top student in this school," she says with a hint of pride.

With a sigh, I give in, knowing she won't let it go until I answer. Slowly but surely, I explain the solution and answer correctly.

"Very good!" Mrs. Florence praises me when I finish. "I knew I could count on you!"

"Teacher's pet," a guy whispers slyly from a couple of seats behind me, just loud enough for everyone to hear except Mrs. Florence, who's busy writing on the whiteboard. A ripple of snickers erupts from some of the students, while others watch me with pity.

Dating Mr. ArrogantWhere stories live. Discover now