“Well, it looks like it’s going to be you and me.” Shelby said. She put her books down on the desk and put her tote bag on the ground next to her chair. She sat down and smiled at the boy next to her.
His name was Hank. He was the new kid in school. A lot of rumors were spreading around about Hank, but none that Shelby believed. She didn’t know Hank personally. All she knew was that he was a boy her age who was just starting this new school. She didn’t know anything else about him, yet some people were saying outrageous things.
Some said he was a vampire on account he was so pale. People were thinking that this was his first time outside. Others were saying that he was such a bully at his old school that he must have been expelled. Others still thought he had flunked out of his old school. Or, some thought, maybe his parents were divorced. His mother couldn’t handle him so he had to move to live with his father. Shelby didn’t know if any of these accusations were true. As far as she knew, he was just a normal kid like her, trying to get through high school.
It was in the middle of the school year, yet there were new classes beginning at the start of the second and final semester. Shelby was already a bit nervous because she wasn’t good at science class and she had heard rumors about this teacher. But again, she tried not to listen to them. It still rocked her nerves a bit though.
“I’m Shelby,” she said turning to Hank with her hand sticking out for a shake.
Hank didn’t pay her any attention though. He didn’t flinch at her words or her hand coming into his face. He didn’t turn his head to look at her, he didn’t blink. It was as though he didn’t even know that she was sitting right beside him.
Shelby cleared her throat and brought her hand back down by her side. She looked all around the room. A group of kids sitting on the other side of the room stared and snickered. Sure enough they were now making fun of her for attempting to talk to the newbie. She tried not to let that bother her, though. If she was going to be stuck being lab partners with the new kid, she was going to be friendly towards him. Maybe they could even become friends and she could help him get to know his way around the school.
Shelby looked back at him and titled her head to the side trying to get a good look at his face. His blue eyes looked dull and he had dark bags under his eyes. His red, curly hair was unkempt and she could hear his nose whistle as he breathed. Maybe he just had a cold and wasn’t feeling too well. Yeah, that must have been it.
“Okay, well, if you have any questions about anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask.” Shelby said trying to sound as cheerful and friendly as she could. “I’m sure it’s difficult to start a new school.”
She cleared her throat again suddenly embarrassed. The other group of kids were still staring and laughing. Hank clearly didn’t care one way or the other so she just slouched in her chair and opened her textbook.
“So,” Hank broke the silence though he never took his eyes off the white board. “Which rumor do you believe?”
Shelby looked up at him in surprise. “Um… What?”
“Do you think my parents were killed in a car crash and now I’m living with my estranged grandmother?” he asked in a monotone. He slowly turned his head to look at her, his eyes seeming to be half closed.
Shelby sat up in her chair staring at him. He was either sleeping with his eyes open, he was on drugs, or that was just how his face looked.
“Huh. I haven’t heard that one yet.” She muttered.
Hank snorted and turned the other way.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that…” Shelby quickly defended herself. “I don’t believe in any of the rumors.”
“Right,” he grunted.
“I mean it. I don’t know you.” She said. Then she glared at him. “And you don’t know me either so don’t assume I’m part of that rumor nonsense.”
He turned to look at her again; his eyes open wider this time. “Touché,”
“Yeah… So there.” Shelby sneered.
Hank cracked a smile. “That’s the best you’ve got?”
Shelby shrugged. “Well, it’s not like I want to be rude.”
“Well, then.” Hank turned his body to face her and stuck out his hand. “It’s nice to meet you then, Shelby. You’re the first person to not be rude to me… Intentionally, I mean. I’m Hank.”
Shelby hesitated, but then she smiled and shook his head. “See, was that so hard?”
“Yes,” Hank said dully again taking his hand back.
“Alright, are we ready to start?” their teacher asked entering the classroom. Everyone immediately walked over to their seats.
“This is why people spread rumors about you, you know.” Shelby whispered flipping through her textbook again.
“No, people spread rumors because they’re bored. Because they spy fresh meat and find pleasure in putting other people down.” Hank replied quietly while opening his own textbook.
“Or,” Shelby said leaning back in her chair. “Maybe they’re intimated by you. They can’t be bothered to know the real you in case you’re better than them.”
“Oh, please. It’s my first day.” Hank snorted.
Before Shelby could respond, their teacher began to speak and officially started the class. The next 45 minutes went smoothly. They worked out of the textbook for most of it and listened to the lecture. Shelby and Hank didn’t have to do anything together, but there would be plenty of labs where they would have to share a grade.
When the bell rang, Hank packed up his things and smiled at Shelby. “Well, it was nice meeting you. I look forward to working with you. I hope you’re good at science because I’m not.”
Shelby laughed. “I’m not either.”
Hank nodded. “We’ll figure it out together then.”
“That’d be great.”
With another small nod, Hank stood up and walked across the class to leave. Shelby sat in her seat mesmerized as he walked away. He was a giant. He had to duck his head as he went through the door.
People thought he was a vampire? He was most definitely an alien.
I hope you enjoyed the story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around. Also, check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!