Arnold sat quietly in his seat, and carefully analyzed the situation. To his left was Steph. To his right was Don. The seat in front of him was empty.
After Mr. Brandt had finished grouping everyone, he had assigned tables for each group. As it happened, Arnold’s table was assigned for group two, and he did not have to move.
Arnold looked back and forth, from the girl who made him lick her shoe, to the guy who looked like he could snap Arnold in half.
It was Don who broke the ice first. “So let’s get started-” The bearded high-school student was interrupted when a familiar figure took the empty seat between Don and Steph.
Don turned to the figure. His face was serious. “Carl, why are you late? You know that’s an insult to the educational system?”
“I hit my head,” Carl glanced at Arnold for a split second before looking back at Don. “I was at the nurse’s office until now.”
Don’ stern face turned instantly into one of remorse. “I was mistaken as to the reason for your lateness. I apologize. It is a good thing that our wonderful educational system has the resources to take care of its students.”
“It’s alright,” Carl smiled and waved Don off. “The teacher briefed me on the class when I walked in. So I guess we’re doing introductions, then?”
Don nodded. “Let’s pair off, and we’ll introduce each other in two’s. Carl, I would like to get to know you better. You seem to be someone who I believe respects the educational system.”
Steph turned to Arnold. “I guess that leaves us two?”
“…I guess,” said Arnold, who had not the slightest interest in getting to know the short girl sitting next to him.
Steph pouted. “Why are you so cold?”
Maybe it has to do with the fact you made me
lick your damn shoe?
“…I wonder?” said Arnold, who couldn’t mention the ordeal, because Carl and Don could hear them.
“Are you that worked up about happened earlier?” Steph sighed, and bowed her head. “I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable. I've never done something like that before."
Arnold looked at Steph in surprise, as she seemed to be genuinely sorry. He was about to accept her apology when she blurted out, “I should’ve worn high heels, huh? I’m sorry, I should’ve prepared for it.”
That’s not it!
Arnold got up.
“What’s wrong?” said Don, noticing his group member stand up.
“I’m done,” said Arnold. “I’m switching groups. I can’t deal with this.”
“Now hold on,” Don said, grabbing Arnold’s wrist. Arnold gasped; it felt like Don was about to crush his wrist into tiny pieces. “The educational system placed you in this class with this teacher, and this teacher assigned you this group. If you quit, you’re insulting the educational system.”
That doesn't even make any sense!
Arnold winced, and said, through gritted teeth, “I was joking. Just joking."
Don’s grip loosened, and Arnold sat back down.
Rubbing his sore wrist, Arnold let out a forced laugh. “Of course, I would never do something like that...Hahaha…” Fuck my life…
Don smiled. “Good. Now I know you’re joking, but let’s not make a joke out of the educational system, alright?”
You and your educational system can go to hell.
Don turned back to Carl. “Now, where were we?”
Arnold slumped down into his seat, and felt his eyes well up with tears.
“…Are you alright, Arnold?” said Steph. “Did…. did me not wearing the right shoe really make you that sad? You know…we can redo it if you want?”
Arnold couldn’t even muster the energy to offer a retort.
“…Lets just get this introduction stuff over with,” he muttered.
Surprisingly, the introductions went smoothly. There really isn’t much to write about there, and the author is lazy as hell, so let’s just move on to the next chapter.