There’s a soft buzz just ahead. He’s early – Max is never late – but clearly some students had something to talk about ahead of class. That was always the case, there was always something to talk about; more precisely, someone to talk about. One thing was certain though. They never talked about Max. He just wasn’t an interesting enough topic to bring up. If only they knew. Max methodically pushed the half-closed door wide open and walked purposefully into the classroom. He knew his destination, his prized seat, two rows from the front and right in the middle. It was just close enough to hear the teacher whisper and yet just far enough not to be classified as a teacher’s pet. He’d worked all of that out because he cared about what people thought of him; not knowing that people didn’t care to think of him at all. Slowly placing his satchel under his desk he gathered himself and sat, rather stiffly on the stool. That’s how Max did everything, with an air of royalty and calculation. The few that spared a thought for him (if only for a second or two) found his behaviour awkward. They just never understood him, partially because they never tried. Funnily enough Max knew this but didn’t mind too much. He cared about what people thought of him but so long as there was no hostility directed towards him he could live. He slowly took out his books, (Geography was next) and exactly 3 seconds after inking his pen Mrs. Elston arrived. Just on time. Max gave himself a mental pat on the back. Everyone shuffled back to their seats, the buzz of conversation slowly died down, albeit reluctantly. The question they were all anticipating and dreading fast approaching.
“Good morning class! Did you all do the work I assigned you yesterday?”
Silence. This was going to be one long morning… or was it?
“You really are setting a poor example here. How will the new student know how to behave if not one of you knows how to behave?” she said angrily although bizarrely there was a smile on her face.
A new student? Max thought. At this time of the term? But we’re nearly through.
“Maximus.” she mock-pleaded. “You’ve done your homework, haven’t you?”
Before Max could even take a breath she answered her own question. It was rhetorical then. Why? Because in spite of his elaborate seating plan it was a well-known fact that Max was the teacher’s pet, known by everyone – everyone but him. He was rather oblivious for the genius he was.
“Of course you have. So she’ll be taking notes from you. Teach her well.” She shot him a glance. Max thought it was menacing but he was an oblivious genius. A dunce would have understood that look immediately. Mrs Elston was being rather naughty but she liked Max and felt he needed a win in his barren social life.
“But I’m getting ahead of myself!” she exclaimed. She loved ramping up the energy out of nowhere. “Class, say hello to your new classmate. Her name is Maxine.”
Maxine walked gracefully into the classroom. A sharp hush fell over the room. Max decided to take a glimpse at the new student. Glimpse turned to look… and then to gaping stare. For the next few seconds all Max could hear was his own heartbeat and all he could see was her.