Trish sat in her homeroom after the opening bell. She watched almost mechanically as Doris read from the Bible and they all stood for the pledge to the flag.
She hated most of her classmates. They were from the rich school district and stuck on themselves. When school had started for the year they quickly fell into their own clicks, practically ignoring the ‘country kids,’ as though they were to be tolerated, but not included. She had only one way of getting back at them, and that was by keeping her marks up. She may be one of the country bumpkins, but she was above average and at least could give them some competition, staying on honor role. She could hardly wait for the next bell to get with some of her friends.
“Hey, you misfit,” the gangly boy next to her repeated the insult in case she hadn’t heard it the first time. He was skinny and had an unruly head of hair that gave him a gawkish appearance, but he was one of them. She pretended to ignore him but he got under her skin anyway.
“Hey, I’m talking to you, misfit. Why don’t you stay on the bus and land somewhere else.” He snickered and several students nearby joined in.
“Why don’t you mind your own business,” she stared him down.
“Oooo. I think I hit a nerve,” he laughed and punched her arm.
She turned her back and picked up her books, ready to make a run when the bell sounded. She hated confrontations. She had enough of them at home.
From the opposite seat the neat freak took his turn. “One, two three, there goes the bell and you can run like hell.”
“Why are you taking his side. I always thought you were better than jerks like him.” Trish was near tears now, and trying not to show it. She sniffed. “Stop being a jerk. I thought you were better than his crowd.”
Moonie looked surprised and made no further comment. Luckily for them both, the bell rang and for a moment she hesitated to stand up. She swallowed hard. Classmates took off around her and she got up slowly, wishing she didn’t have to spend the whole day defending herself. In the crowded hallway she looked for her best friend, Gwen Meyers. Maybe the day would get better.
At lunch break, Ben was waiting in the annex as always. Trish caught her breath at his good looks, and they exchanged a quick kiss. He put his arm around her possessively. “Can you get out tonight?”
She shook her head. “Tomorrow is Saturday. Maybe I can meet you at Pete’s Soda Shop. Mom knows I like to hang out there with Gwen.”
“Great. My old man said I could have the car in the afternoon. We could take a little spin. Okay?”
“Sure, I guess. Sounds like fun.” She wasn’t so sure she like the idea of being in a car alone with Ben, though he seemed to care for her, she didn’t quite trust him. At the school dances he promised to wait for her if she didn’t want to fool around. It was no big deal. Now she wasn’t so sure.
“Come on, you two, break it up.” Gwen called from the doorway, pushing her round glasses up on her nose. “Trish, we’ll be late for Chem. You don’t want old ‘eagle eye’ to send you for detention, do you?”
Trish pulled herself lose from Ben and hurried after Gwen. She envied her friend, who had made her peace with the locals by joining everything that could be joined, even though she wasn’t into sports. That was more than Trish could say about herself. She never joined anything.
At that moment Moonie ran past them on the steps, paused a moment and started to say something. When he saw Gwen he changed his mind and continued on his way.