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The bell rings and I spring from my desk, stopping only at my locker before I rush for the doors. The weekend is waiting, a crisp fall weekend none the less.
“No.” I respond curtly and keep moving, brushing past the pimply boy with disgust. The idiots at my school will take the slightest pause as interest in their pitiful cause.
“Maddie, I was wondering-”
“Nope.” Don’t talk to anyone, they’ll take it as weakness. Don’t make eye contact. They’ll sense a malleable spirit and rush in for the kill.
“Hey! Wait up!” Before I can respond, a perfectly manicured hand reaches out and grabs my arm, twisting me back to face my attacker. I curse silently, mentally gauging the distance to the door. If I hadn’t stopped at my locker I’d be out the door right now.
“Maddie.” The voice sneers, gum snaps and the scent of sickening vanilla perfume slaps me in the face. I fix my gaze on a faded poster promoting “Alexis for President!”, determined not to look at the idiot holding me here.
“I know you can hear me, Maddie.” I slowly lower my gaze until I’m staring into Laney P. Warner’s sky blue eyes. She smiles prettily. “I need to know when to meet you.” I see her perfectly plump lips move and hear the sound of her voice, but I don’t understand a word she says. I don’t speak stupid.
“For the history project,” she continues after an awkward silence. “Mrs. Payne made us partners, remember?”
I frown, but then I do remember- our names being called, us exchanging phone numbers, me grabbing a prompt from Mrs. Payne’s folder. “No thanks. I can do it perfectly well on my own. You won’t have to worry about a thing.” I yank my arm free and walk as fast as I can to the door, ignoring her pitiful protests.
Idiots. The school’s full of them but Laney Warner is the head of the pack. Cheerleader? Check. Blonde hair and a makeup obsession? Check. Boy crazy? Oh yeah. Honestly, it’s a wonder Monroe High gets the test scores it does, with so many idiots running around. It’s so much simpler for us all if I do the project on my own. She’ll get a good grade, I’ll get a good grade, and Mrs. Payne will have the pleasure of reading a well written, well researched report. There’s nothing like a certified genius’s take on American History.
I walk home silently, admiring the leaves’ glorious hues and composing poetry inspired by the brilliance of autumn. Around me, idiots trudge home with their heads bent over their frivolous gadgets, frantically typing. I can only imagine their conversations.
“Plns 4 wknd?”
I arrive home, ignoring my sister’s plea to watch “Hannah Montana”, or “iCarly”, or whatever nonsense she has herself hooked on now, and head straight for my room. It’s white. Minimalist. Tidy. Sleek. Bare. Whatever you want to call it. The bedroom is a serious place, meant for homework and sleeping, and there is no need for distractions.
I pull out my history assignment, closing my eyes and fantasizing about the plethora of topics available to me. Benedict Arnold, Valley Forge, the Albany Plan. It’s no wonder a sigh of pure pleasure escapes me. But then I look at my prompt. I look again. And again, staring at that tiny slip of white paper.
“Prompt # 7: Compare colonial communication to social media today. How would the American Revolution been impacted by the use of modern communication?”
Oh. Oh my. I think frantically, mentally flipping through every book I’ve ever read, every newspaper I’ve ever glanced at. I know enough about social media, certainly. I could chart the rise and fall of Apple stock since the introduction of the iPod. I could provide a complete biography of Mark Zuckerburg. I could describe, in minute detail, the inner workings of a cell phone. But it’s the wrong knowledge and I’m not going to deny it. Mrs. Payne wants the social, active side of communication, not the technology aspect. But no genius could possibly be expected to know anything about Facebook or Twitter. That’s an idiot’s field. Only an idiot could possibly know about any of that, people like Anna, or Katie, or Josh, or… Laney.
It’s with trembling fingers that I punch in her number. She’s still an idiot; she’s still an idiot I chant silently to myself. Just because I need her help doesn’t make her smarter than me. She’s still an idiot, after all, from her bleached blond roots to her pedicured toes.
“Hey Laney. It’s Maddie. Listen- I really need some help on this report.”
That’s all it takes. And as she talks on and on about Facebook, Twitter, blogs, iPads, iPods, and Instagram, I listen with grudging respect.
She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.