Snark and Circumstance (Novella) - By Stephanie Wardrop Page 0,1

sit there for a few seconds, feeling like I have just been slapped. He’s obviously a major snobhole, but that just makes him like all the other prepbots in this town that looks like a set for Abercrombie: The Movie. I figure I’ll ignore him as easily as I ignore the rest of the cast.

Two hours later, when he walks into Ms. Ehrman’s AP English class, I feel my stomach sort of curl up on the sides. But then I think that maybe my mom had a point when she told me last night that I am too hard on people. I was a little harsh on him. At least that magical center seat, second row is still open so Michael doesn’t lapse into a psychotic episode. I sort of smile at him and point to the favored seat, but he doesn’t seem to recognize me.

When I get to bio class and see that the only open seat shares a lab table with Michael, I only stop in my tracks for a nanosecond of dread. Then I decide that karma has given me another chance to be a little decent to the new kid. After all, I know what that’s like. We’ve moved a lot for my dad’s work, and it sucks. And when you move to a new school and you’re in any grade above third, it really sucks, because everyone already has their friends all set and they don’t need you. It can be really lonely. I know.

I hover next to the open seat.

“Is it okay if I sit here?”

Michael indicates with a lordly wave of his hand that I am worthy of the battered plastic seat next to him. He then opens up a notebook and proceeds to ignore me. Which I guess I deserve.

The bio teacher, Miss Grogan, is older than dirt. Everyone says she could have been a brilliant scientist when she was younger—like a Nobel Prize winner or something—but ended up teaching instead. She’s still really smart, I guess, but people say she’s slipping because last year she occasionally wore her cardigans inside out and once wore one blue pump and one brown one and spent the whole day glaring at anybody who noticed it. I sneak a couple peeks at Michael as she explains the curriculum for the year. For such a stiff-looking guy, he has kind of crazy hair; all these dark curls are threatening to riot all over his skull and seem to be mounting an attack on his ears. I’m contemplating the contrast between the boho hair and the starchy polo shirt when Miss Grogan begins explaining the dissections, and my attention snaps back to her. When she mentions the fetal pig, I gulp audibly.

“What?” Michael asks.

I keep my eyes on the whiteboard. “Look, I don’t want to be unfair—and this won’t affect your grade at all, I promise—but I really can’t do the dissection. I’m not going to cut up an animal.”

He keeps his eyes on Miss Grogan, too, and groans. I sneak a peek at him and see his jaw clenches for a second before he says, “Well, if you’re not going to do your half of the labs, then that is going to affect me. You’re responsible for half.”

“And I will do as much as I can without actually cutting into some innocent creature.”

He shakes his head and his mouth is quirked at one corner. I can’t tell if he thinks I am sort of amusing or truly pathetic. It’s especially hard to tell because we are both looking resolutely at the teacher so she can’t accuse us of not paying attention. We talk out of the sides of our mouths, like gangsters in those old movies my dad likes to watch.

Miss Grogan is trying to explain to someone that she does not offer extra credit and it is a little too early in the year to be worried about that anyway as Michael says, “The animal is already dead, you know. It’s not like you have to stalk it through the woods and kill it with your bare hands.”

“You’d prefer that?”

He narrows his eyes slightly and sits back in his chair. “Our first lab is a worm. A worm.”

“Which is a living creature. Or was a living creature, until it was killed so a bunch of high-school kids can poke around its vital organs. That’s sick, isn’t it?”

“It’s a worm.” He’s studying me carefully now, the way you would look at someone you’re trapped in an