“Hi Molly!” a perky Cindy Winchester chimed abruptly. Molly looked up, startled. The two girls had been sitting in Mr Sansky’s extra credit mathematics class for a full 10 minutes before Cindy offered her morning greeting. “How have you been?”
“Umm we can’t really talk right now,” Molly whispered, diligently copying out the equations on the board. Molly wondered why she was so diligent. She often watched movies of teenagers who lived such exciting lives. They were never diligent. They were bad and had good things happen to them. Nothing ever happened to Molly.
“I have something I need to talk about, Molly, I need to tell someone”
“Why me? This is the longest conversation we have ever had. I didn’t even know you were in this class.”
“Yeah I just took it to get away from my parents and spend extra time with my boyfriend. Usually I go to his house, but I come every so often to make sure the Sansker doesn’t tell my parents I’m away.”
“You take the square root of x and apply it to the…” droned Mr Sansky, raising his voice in an attempt to passively stem the conversation that sparked up while his back was turned. Molly heeded the warning and leaned closer to her page to passively illustrate her devotion to the work at hand; both to her teacher and to Cindy.
Cindy leaned closer as well, craning her neck in an attempt to re-enter Molly’s line of sight and regain her attention. “So anyway, last night I was with Wilfred and we were about to have sex and the weirdest thing happened. He-”
“Wait,” Molly whispered, unable to resist the confused logic of the story, “You take this class to wag and see Wilfred? You see him everyday.”
“No, I take it to see my boyfriend Johnny Aitch. Last night I was with Wilfred after he wrote those poems for me,” she looked admiringly at the ceiling and presumably beyond it to some world of teen angst. Molly didn’t bother following the vague glance. She stared dully thinking that no one would ever write her a poem. Not Wilfred. Not Darren...
The murmurs had grown behind Mr Sansky. More than one conversation now. He was still unwilling to turn and confront the perpetrators, “…and the y-axis represents – can we please cut out the chat chit- the chit chit-” he paused and cleared his throat. “Can we please cut out the chit chat please.” The children snickered.
“Molly.” Cindy insisted, “Molly. Molly!”
“Why are talking to me? I just want to study,” Molly hissed.
“Molly Bingwall!” The class hushed. Surprised at his own outburst as much as everybody else, Sansky needed to finish his threat to reassert his authority. “If I hear one more peep there’s going to be big trouble!” to the delight of all the students - except Molly - his voice turned to a squeal when he said ‘big’. The snickering was now smothered laughter. Red faced, Sansky turned back to his board and immediately a bunch of conversations spawned out of the lingering laughs.
“Yeah well I’m telling you because you don’t have any friends and you’re nice so you’re not going to tell anyone any secrets, right?” Cindy at this point was talking at a normal vocal level, along with half the class.
“Students please!” Sansky whined, losing complete control.
“So it turns out,” Cindy continued, not paying any respect to the teacher’s pleads and threats, “that Wilfred is…” she paused and looked warily to each side and slowly and obviously mouthed the word ‘Gay’. She realised that Molly’s eyes - though wide with fright - weren’t actually looking at Cindy. She tapped Molly on the shoulder urgently and at least 20 times before she gave in and turned. ‘Gay’ she mouthed again.
“What!” Molly exclaimed.
“THAT’S IT! MOLLY BINGWALL. DETENTION!”
“Hi Molly!” a perky Wilfred Petterson chimed abruptly. Molly was sitting quietly in the library during her free period, trying to study but still too preoccupied about receiving her first detention. How could she ever get her father to sign the permission slip? “How have you been?”
“I’ve been looking for you everywhere!” He perched himself on her desk and looked down at her with a warm smile. Molly stared at him blankly, unable to process why the two most popular kids in school were vying for her time. “So I heard you spoke with Cindy this morning,” he probed with an amiable, bountiful, charming, delightfully earnest fakeness.
Still unable to reply, Molly began to study his character instead. “Speaking of Cindy,” Wilfred continued, “she told you all that stuff in confidence you know?” He maintained his cool, but was starting to look perplexed by Molly’s unresponsive but attentive nature. “Did she tell you anything else…like about our agreement?” He raised his eyebrows and tilted his head playfully. “Our agreement?” he quizzed again, raising and tilting further. He lifted his hand and waved it in front of his nose in a poo-ey gesture. He accentuated his point by darting his eyes down to his crotch and back to her gaze, up and down, up and down while maintaining the ridiculous altitudes and angles of his scrunched up facial features.
Molly remained unflinching and to her surprise she began to enjoy seeing her actions completely disarm the smoothest boy in school. She could see him becoming vulnerable and her temporary power trip was overcome by a wave of empathy. Wilfred didn't know how to act.
“Look. I’m a fag and Cindy has a stinky vag, alright!” he exclaimed. “You can’t tell anybody!” he stressed, his voice tightening into a Sanskesque squeal. He searched pleadingly for solace in Molly's eyes.
“You know it’s OK to be yourself,” Molly said calmly. Wilfred’s breath shortened and his eyes glistened. He nodded and turned, walking away briskly and, Molly noted, rather gayly.
***“Hi Molly!” Darren exclaimed, trying to give the impression that he was perky. Molly was tired of trying to mind her own business. She sat in the bus bay waiting patiently for the 249. “How have you been?”
It was funny for Molly to discover that just a simple conversation with someone is enough to encounter their every fraud and fear. She also enjoyed, with a faint edge of guilt, playing her part in learning and exposing the weaknesses. She was not a bad person but thought it could be a handy tool in avoiding three more years of peer inflicted pain. Never again would anything the likes of Cindy or Wilfred say or do to her have any weight or bearing on her happiness.
But Darren was different to them. “I saw you speaking with Wilfred. Why were you talking with that idiot?” he asked rather crassly. “I can’t believe the hide of him. Him and his shitty fucking poems. Talentless hack.” Darren was different to them…wasn’t he?
She had spent years admiring Darren, she knew he had a special talent and had read one or two of his poems. She kept them in her heart, reciting them line by line to herself when she felt alone. “I think you would be interested in what he had to say,” she said, her reserved tone disguising her shyness at being around him– she began to doubt the logic behind this tone.
“Why would I care? That faggot went and fucked my dream girl last night!” Molly struggled not to laugh about the precision of that statement.
“Don’t get too worked up Darren, I spoke to Cindy as well actually. You know she isn’t such a great person…just because she has big tits and-”
“Oh yeah?! You would say that, wouldn’t you?” Darren had lost his elegance and began to rant. “I know you got the hots for me but that’s just not gonna happen, alright? Cindy is perfect. She likes my poetry, and, and I know she likes me. The other day I was this close to winning her heart,” he gestured a small distance with his thumb and index finger, his hand shaking a little “then that fuckface stole her away. But you would have been happy, right?” he had a crazed look in his eye but it weakened when he saw the unflinching attention in Molly’s. He was getting desperate, “Cindy looks better than you, sounds better than you...she even smells better than you.”
At this Cindy could no longer maintain her poise. Her face scrunched up. Darren, thinking he had delivered the killer blow, was shocked when she burst out in laughter. It was comforting to have humour on her side as she learned her dream boy was as immature as the rest of them – perhaps even worse so for wanting to be them. But even her new found perspective on life couldn’t quell the disappointment of the day.
“Why are you laughing?” Darren demanded childishly.
As the 249 pulled into the bus bay Molly stood up. Shedding all her reservations she turned to Darren and said with a natural confidence, “Look Darren, best of luck with your dream girl…maybe one day you will wake up and smell the roses.” She laughed again and walked off.