Love/Hate relationships

Mom & School

"Come on, Mom. Please, pretty please?" I clutched my hands behind my back and looked at Mom as sweetly as I could.

She sighed and looked up from the newspaper, "Isabella. For the last time, you are too young for a cell phone." She went to the fridge and grabbed out a brown paper bag. "Here's your lunch, don't miss the bus, my Bella"

“Fiiiiine.” I grabbed the lunch and dodged her as she tried to kiss the top of my head.

I heard the bus coming down the street as I ran outside away from kisses. Stupid. Unfair. Rotten. Everyone has a cell I thought as I made it to the stop, the bus waiting. All my friends have cells. It's like she wants me to not have any friends. I quickly scanned the seats as I walked on slowly, but it didn't look promising. There were good and bad things about being the last stop. I was on the bus the least amount of time, which his great. Last to get picked up and first to leave, but sometimes I was forced to sit next to someone I'd rather not.

"Izza!" I looked up to see Abigail waving to me from the very back and I made my way over with greater speed.

"Hi Abby, thanks for saving me a seat" I plopped down dejectedly next to her, my backpack on my lap, and the bus continued on its way.

"So? Did it work, did your mom say ok?" Abby pulled out her cellphone and looked at me eagerly.

"No," I frowned. "She didn't care. I did all my chores and my homework without her asking and all she did was smile at me and Dad said 'good job'. This morning Mom said I was too young again! It's their fault! They keep babying me!"

"Oh," her face fell and she put away her phone. "Well did you at least finish the math assignment? Could I maybe check my answers with yours?"

I pulled out my math homework and gave it to Abby. As I knew it would, the pretense of checking answers was immediately gone as she furiously copied for the rest of the bus ride.

"Thanks Izza! I had a few wrong, just needed to see how you did them." I don't know why she felt the need to pretend, but whatever. She handed me back my paper and I stuffed it into a folder as the bus stopped at school and I trudged inside.

I went through the motions. Turn in homework, have yesterday's returned and explained, take a quiz, sit through a lecture, get new homework, go to the next class and repeat. Only one more to go until I get to leave.

I sat down at my desk in Science like all the other classes. Thunked my books and myself down, feeling the weight of the world. Unlike the other classes, though, I surreptitiously glanced at Mark who has a seat at my four-person table. Just so cute, how could I not look?! He normally faced me because of how the desks are arranged but, right now, he made it easier for me to sneak looks because he was leaning over to a near table, ignoring mine, chatting with his friends.

"Your attention! At your seats, please." Mrs. Nurio strode in, her arms loaded down with various papers. "Eh, eh, eh, quiet!" She dumped them down on her desk punctuating her last word by a slam so the entire class looked at her. "I have exciting news! The regional Science fair is coming up for this year and this time there's a reward for each student in the winning group!" she looked around at us, a huge smile on her face.

Mark groaned and lowered his head to his desk. I, and everyone near me, snickered.

"Mark!" She put her hands on her hips and smiled at him. "Get ready for another groan because, this year, unlike last year, we are requiring all eighth graders to participate. It will be an important part of your grade this year so at least try to get into the spirit of it!"

Just as Mrs. Nurio said, Mark groaned louder and I couldn't hold back from laughing. Oh my. He had looked up from his head-desk position for a moment and winked at me! I could almost die happy right now!

"Enough. I understand that Mr. DiMarco is absolutely hilarious but we have work to do. Compose yourselves! You too Mark! Now, up, up, up. Everyone, form a line. I don’t care how you line up, just make it a line and then stop moving."

I just stood and slowly walked over the blob or classmates. Everyone else seemed to scrambling to stand next to friends, but I didn’t have any in Science class so I just stood where I was. I did have to smile and, at the same time, frown, internally over noting that it appeared people were jockeying to be on either side of me. It’s great to be wanted and noticed for being smart but I was NOT going to do all the work again. Maybe my grade would suffer but I don't care.

“Ok. Good, stop moving! Now we will do this a little differently,” Mrs. Nurio said with a gleam in her eyes. “We have twenty-five students so… I want you to count to five for me. When I point at you, you will announce the next number starting with you, Philip, at one” She pointed at Brad who was standing next to Philip. “Next!”

“Aw… but Miz Nurio,” Brad whined.

“This is a serious undertaking! I want no more slacking which is what happens if all friends are in the same group,” she replied. He continued looking at her stone-faced and tight-lipped. “Oh? Is it just that you can’t count past one? I’ll get it for you then! Two.” Some few of us tittered weakly at her lame joke and she pointed to the next person in line, Mark.

I was near the end and zoned out a bit as the rest said their numbers out loud.

“Isabella. Isabella.”

“Huh? Oh! Four!” Oops. I shook myself out of the zone. I think the last person said three. Wait, I think the next person should say three. “Er… I meant three.” I looked at the floor in shame.

“I think I may have to move your seat Isabella. Proximity to Mark has worn off unfavorably on you. Joking in my class,” she ended with a tsk-tsk before the counting continued.

“Ok, everyone is divided up. I want you to split into your groups, ones over here and twos here and so on,” she gestured to right and left sides of the front of the classroom and started playing with a stack of papers on the desk. “I will be passing out a list of experiments you may use. You do not need to decide today which experiment you will do but I want you to think about them, sleep on them, make sure you’re interested in the one you must pick tomorrow. However, you do need to decide who the leader of your group is today. The leader will be the presenter of the finished experiment and will be held ultimately responsible for the success of the group as a whole. Alright. That was my speech. Break!” she clapped her hands together once and reached for the papers.

I moved to the wall, out of the way, as everyone wandered around yelling their numbers out. My eyes immediately latched on to Mark as he made some dance move on finding a partner. Oh yeah, he was a three. A warm, happy tingle shot through me knowing we’d be working together.

“Group four is out in the hallway,” Mark said when he saw me approach and I froze.

“Shut up, Mark. She’s smart, she’ll get us an A. Come on, ignore him,” Sarah, sitting next to Mark, waved me back into moving closer.

He sighed, “Whatever. This sucks.”

I sighed myself as I grabbed a chair across from Sarah while Dominique and Chloe took the remaining places at the table. My warm, happy feeling was quickly forgotten when I saw that the group I’m assigned to is comprised of all populars except for me. The bickering started immediately as the three girls all fought over who should be the leader. Both Mark and I stayed quiet; I don’t know why he was silent, but I didn’t want it. Not after what Mrs. Nurio said about being responsible for the group. They would never listen to me. I ignored the arguing as best I could while looking through the list of experiments.

“What’s this? You can’t decide on a team lead?” I guess they were getting a bit loud and that sparked the teacher to stop by. “Why not Isabella? Hmm?” No, no, no! Not me! Even for Mark, I will not do all the work. All three turned to glare at me.

“Uh, um… Mark! Mark should be the leader.” I pointed at him as he woke up on hearing his name. The glares switched focus off of me onto him.

“Yeah, I should be.” He preened under the attention of the glares which had turned to looks of adoration after switching off of me and onto him. I smiled at my quick-thinking success until I looked at Mrs. Nurio. I caught her frowning before she walked over to another group.

“Alright then, which is the easiest one here?” Mark quickly took charge and grabbed the list. “Volcano baking soda, burning colored candles, shape of ice cubes, laundry, plants reacting to other plants…” he mumbled, reading some of the experiments aloud. “This one sounds easy: How does magnetism affect the growth of plants. We can just plant some stuff, put magnets around them and let them grow. I like it. As leader, I have decided this will be our experiment. You two pick out the plant we’ll use,” He gestured to Dominique and Chloe who fawned over his decision-making while Sarah looked annoyed and I just sat there. Such a boring choice and why was I grouped with them, anyway? Why wasn’t it just a group of two? I daydreamed through the rest of the class, the bus ride home, my dinner, while completing my homework and finally, while I slept.