Issue 69 Feb 2019
It was a perfectly normal Tuesday, up until one of Bessie’s toes dropped into Miss Karkie’s coffee mug.
Wait, one of Bessie’s metatarsals, I should say. Or hoof?
Our teacher screeched and slammed the cup down on the her desk, effectively ending her monotone drawl about cellular membranes mid-PowerPoint slide. I swear that I saw her wig, erm, hair, shift on her head, the stringy brown hairs lurching back and forth like a hippie at a rock concert.
Somehow, Josiah slept through the whole event, ratty-sweatshirt-hooded-head laid down on his textbook like always. The rest of us, however, enjoyed this pleasant distraction from physiological stuff or whatever. Everett leaned over me to make eye contact with Connor and let out an exaggerated guffaw, slapping his hands on his neon athletic shorts. I couldn’t help but giggle: partly at our teacher, partly at my goofy lab partner. Even Melanie, normally all business in class, and, well, every other time, quirked her lips upwards. It wasn’t every day that a skeletal cow lost a body part with such excellent aim.
Bessie was Miss Karkie’s favorite possession. The story went that she found the carcass of the cow when she was planting tulips in her garden way back when. Then, she recruited a whole class of poor, unfortunate students to dig it up and wire it together to hang front and center in her classroom. She even had the SmartBoard installed off-center so that she wouldn’t have to move Bessie— that’s how much she loved that cow. She told me the story in elaborate detail my very first day of AP Anatomy, her usual drone shrill with excitement. What a way to start my time at Pleasant View High. I could tell by Melanie’s rat-tat-tat of her pencil on the desk that she was not happy with precious class time being wasted by our inept teacher telling stories to the new girl from Florida. I swear, she’s hated me since.
As soon as I get to school, it begins.
“Slut,” someone cough-says.
I run past my locker to jeers from people who don’t even bother coughing their insults. I swing into a bathroom, hoping to find a quiet place, but who am I kidding? This is high school. In the stall, I can still hear the other girls giggling and gossiping about Spence and his slut freshman. I sit, waiting for the bell to ring so I can finally be alone, but suddenly the girls fall silent as someone else comes in. I know by the rainbow converse peeking under the door that Britt has come in.
“Mick?” she says. I curl my fingers into my palms, needing the pain to stop the hate from leaving my mouth. When I don’t respond, Britt asks the other girls, “She’s here, right?”
“Yeah,” one says.
“Mick,” Britt says louder.
I take a deep breath, knowing she’ll keep trying until I answer. I force myself to respond calmly. “Go away.”
“Oh, suh-nap!” one of the girls says.
The bell rings and I hear the other girls groan, whispering about “Drams” as they leave the bathroom. Britt, I notice, stays.
“Mick, talk to me.”