“Oh Blimey, Ribbon is headed this way,” Carter hissed, receiving groans from most of the table.
Curious about who could have such an effect on a table of guys he asked, a bit louder than he should have, “Sorry, who is Ribbon?”
A girl, with a yellow ribbon in her pony tail looked up at the question. She momentarily glanced over at the group of boys, her gray eyes catching his green ones. She quickly broke the connection, altering her route through the cafeteria. Instead of taking a seat at the open table past the boys, she headed out the doors to the courtyard. Through the vast windows he could see snow beginning to fall, being tossed about as the wind picked up. The storm the students had been waiting for all day was fast approaching.
“Jeeze mate, why don’t ya yell it next time,” Carter chuckled.
The boy’s eyebrows knit together has he repeated the question, “Who is she?”
“That’s Enola Robbins,” Peter answered, glaring at Carter. “Some people call her Ribbon.”
“Because of the -”
“Why don’t ya find out for yourself Mick?” Carter asked, cutting Peter off mid-sentence. “You’ve got Spanish next, right?”
“I think so,” he replied, pulling his backpack up to check.
The new schedule the secretary had given him just that morning had aged twenty years in the short time it had been in Mickey’s possession. Already riddled with creases from crumpling it into his pack or jamming it into his pockets. Smoothing it out the best he could he read the afternoon schedule. Spanish followed by trigonometry, physical education and eastern civilization. Nodding his confirmation to Carter they all let the topic drop as they finished eating.
They turned their attention back to filling Mickey on all the dos and don’ts of his new school. He was careful to be polite, but took it all as a grain of salt. He was hard pressed to not roll his eyes at most of what Carter had to contribute. He would do whatever he chose, but it was at least nice to know the social rules so if he did break them he’d know the consequences. For instance, the rather barbaric junior class jocks had a habit of hanging out near the freshmen lockers during seventh period. They would require tolls from the boys who wished to use the bathroom, even going so far as to swirly someone who couldn’t pay. Utter crap, but good to know how stupid some students were.
The bell signaled that lunch was over, and after sorting his recycling and garbage in the bins Mickey headed off towards the language hall. It had been nice of Peter to invite him along to eat with his friends, but Carter was a bit much. His mouth would get him in trouble one day, Mickey could just feel it. He just wasn’t sure if he would be the one that gave him the trouble. He was definitely the sort of guy that could make his life difficult at this school. He seemed oddly connected to most of the groups in the school.
Bemused how some kids got power in schools he entered the Spanish room and gave the mangled paper to the teacher. The teacher, unimpressed by the sheet, held it an arms length away to read it. Nodding, confirming Mickey was indeed in the right room, he picked up the book he had waiting for his new student. Gesturing to an open stool Mickey crossed to his table. Students milled in, each taking their long appointed seats. The tables slowly began to fill and the din in the room grew as they all stated talking.
As soon as the bell rang the conversations instantly switched from English to Spanish. Mickey noted that the conversations now were much more jagged and labored, each student taking their time to really think about their words and interpret what was being said around them. Maybe people should do that all the time, really think and listen. So engrossed by the other students he hadn’t noticed he was partner-less. Not sure what to do he looked up towards the teacher. The teacher was carefully watching the clock. At five minutes into the period he called the class to order.
“Buenas tardes,” he began.
“Hola Senor Berg,” everyone called in unison.
“Si, si si, hola, hola. Hoy tenemos un nuevo estudiante, su nombre Mickey Travers.”
“Bene. Ahora, Senorita Robbins, por favor, pasar una y unirse a Senor Travers en su mesa. ¿Entiendes?”
Nodding the girl from lunch rose from her seat, giving the two girls a quick smile before she left. She joined Mickey at his table without comment It had made sense for her to move, she was the closest and the only group of three, but he still felt awkward. Why couldn’t it have been one of the other girls? One of the ones who hadn’t hastily left the room when they made eye contact.
“Perfecto, gracias Senorita Robbins. Ahora, abran sus libros en la pagina 394 y empezaremos la lession de hoy…”
The teacher continued talking but Mickey wasn’t paying attention. He was staring at the girl’s wrist. On it, peeking out from her sleeve, was a tattoo. How was that possible? She couldn’t be eighteen yet. Confused he just stared at it. Her sleeve continued to occasional work its way up her arm as she scribbled her notes. Eventually he saw what it was, a ribbon, tied around her wrist.
Seriously? That was why Carter called her Ribbon? Because of a tattoo? Rolling his eyes, again, at the idiocy of people, he flipped open his own notebook and looked up at the screen to see if he could catch up. Nope. It was hopeless. He was already five slides behind.
Without really acknowledging anything, the girl shifted in her seat towards him so her notebook was within inches of his. She continued to write furiously, completely ignoring her new partner. With a slight smile he looked over what she had written. He felt his jaw drop as he perused the sheet. The girl was intense. On the half of the sheet closest to him she had her notes. She also seemed to be working on something else though. There were sketches up and down the right side as well as random letters. Not sure what that was all about, he stuck to the teacher’s notes.
They finished ‘Listen and Repeat’ with about five minutes left in class. Senor Berg released the students to have free talk in Spanish again. However, this time, they were suppose to use today’s vocabulary, to start with at least. For the first few minutes she sat there, waiting for him to finish catching up on notes. As soon as Mickey dropped his pencil she started.
“Me gustan los zapatos azules,” she droned.
He quirked an eyebrow at that, “Oh really?”
She glanced over, “Well, maybe not, but it could be cool to have some. A decir verdad, yo compro zapatos negros.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“If it is in Spanish.”
“Oh, come on, just today, yeah?”
She glanced around for Senor Berg. She found him engrossed in a conversation about soccer with two of the varsity players. Shrugging, she agreed.
“What is the deal with Carter? He’s a bit of a jerk, right? Yet, somehow, people listen to him. Why? Follow up, if I may, why does he call you Ribbon? Obviously that,” he gestured to her wrist, ” has something to do with it, right? It is, without a doubt, one of the lamest nick names I’ve ever heard.
“Well, new guy, you certainly don’t hold back, do ya?”
“What’s the point? After today I can’t use my ‘new guy’ excuse. Also, I’m pretty terrible at Spanish. I wager we’ll be spending most of our time in silence.”
She looked down at her notes, thinking through her answer. She held up here wrists to show matching bow tattoos on either wrist, “I’ve had these ever since I can remember. No clue when I got them. My parents don’t know either. Before you ask ‘why’ or ‘how that can be’, I was adopted. I’m relatively new here too, not like most of the kids who all went to elementary school together. My family moved here least year. At first I was super uptight about the marks. I would always where cuff bracelets or shirts with thumb holes in them to ensure no one would see them. Towards the end of last year, Carter and I gave dating a go. We dated for most of the summer. When he isn’t around our classmates he is actually nice, or seems that way anyway. He ended up seeing them and started calling me his Little Ribbon. I thought it was sweet and I truly began to forget about how he was during the year. Then school started back up again. And, as you have so quickly deducted, he began being ‘awesome’ again. I broke it off with him. Then he ‘accidentally’ ripped my bracelet showing everyone my marks and called me Ribbon. It doesn’t matter how lame the name is, since I can’t explain them or anything. Not like I feel the need to defend them. In an odd way though, he did me a favor. Everyone knows now, so I don’t worry about people seeing. So whatever. I do what I want to do. People have gotten use to it. He’s just kicking a dead horse. I think it’s wearing on his friends.
“That was honest.”
“What’s the point? Either I could tell you the true story or you could hear some seriously messed up version from someone else. Which could make things awkward.”
“It would be better if things weren’t awkward between us. Don’t ya think? Us being partners and all.”
“Si. No awkwardo? That can’t be right. Can it? Well, whatever the word is.”
“You really are terrible.”
“It’s a gift.”
“So, how about you? What’s your overly honest, yet very brief, story Senor Travers?”
“Oh, we do not have enough time for that.”
“I stress ‘very’.”
“Still not enough time.”
“That is so not fair.”
“Well, let’s just call that lesson one. Life isn’t fair.”
“How many lessons are there?”
As the bell rang he turned to her, mouth quirked in a smile, “Ah, you’ll just have to wait and see wont you?”
She shook her head as he made his way to the door. He had almost made a clean get away, ensuring a cool exit, until he caught his bag on the file cabinet. Crashing into it rather than falling, the remaining students snickered at the noise.
“Lesson two. Walking. Watch and repeat,” Enola mocked, as she smoothly passed him and got lost in the waves of students.
“This just might be an interesting school year after all,” he mused. He made a hasty apology to Senor Berg for the cabinet incident and booked it down the hall. Trying, and failing, to make it to Trig before the tardy bell rang.
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Prompt: What is the story behind this photo