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"Resurfacing" chapter 4

“Hey, Bill, ever think about joining any school clubs?”

Bill looked down at Erica, surprised. “Hmm... not really. I’m not really a school club kind of guy, you know?” he answered simply, focusing on making his way with Erica down the hallway in time for Art.

“Hm, really? I’m on the dance team, and debate club!” she continued, face beaming in pride.

Bill laughed. “You like to debate? That’s kind of surprising,” he said jokingly.

Erica playfully punched him. “Well, I admit, I don’t really like it, and I’m probably not that good, either. But my mom says it looks good on college transcripts,” she answered, shrugging.

“Hmm,” Bill murmured. “The only thing I’d be interested in joining is a music club... but good music, not a jazz band or anything,” he said.

Erica frowned thoughtfully. “Well, there is a music club, but they aren’t very popular or sponsored or anything.”

“Well, whatever, I’m too busy keeping up with homework as it is... I shouldn’t take even more time away from me, or my mom will get upset,” he said, a little sadly. He didn’t care about grades that much, as long as he wasn’t failing, but his mom did, and he didn’t want to disappoint her.

“Aw, yeah, that’s true,” Erica agreed, frowning to herself. “My Math grade has been slipping lately...”

Bill sighed. “School sucks.”

Erica nodded in agreement. The two solemnly continued their walk down the crowded hallway.

In the corner of his eye, Bill saw someone familiar. Greasy black hair... huge glasses...

“Hey, Adam!” Bill called. The boy, Adam, immediatly stopped and turned around. His features were surprised as Bill waved to him, but they broke into a wide grin as he waved back.

“Bill, you’re so weird,” Erica said, shaking her head. “Why bother saying hi to someone like that?”

“Because it doesn’t take much just to say hi, but it’s enough to make their day a little bit better,” Bill explained, a sincere smile forming on his lips.

“Hm,” Erica said. “That’s kinda of nice.”

“Thanks.”

The two entered Art together. Bill was a little excited. This was his second time in the Art classroom, but the rest of the class had been finishing up a project, so he didn’t get much to do. But Bill liked art, and was looking forward to the class.

“Let’s sit over here,” Erica said, pulling Bill over to two chairs near the window.

Bill smiled and sat down beside her. Art had also become ‘Erica and Bill’ time, just like during English he was with Rosalie.

Drawing paper was being passed out, and the art teacher, an old woman with a scratchy voice, instructed the students to draw portraits of someone else in the room.

“Aw, I hate portrait drawing...” Erica complained. “I’m so bad at it.”

Bill chuckled. “I’m kind of good.”

“Well, geez, aren’t you amazing.”

“Be quiet and sit still, Erica.”

They stopped talking for a few minutes, Bill concentrating on copying Erica’s face onto paper. Erica had an angular face, much like his own, but with big green eyes. They were the hardest to draw.

“So, are you coming with us to lunch again?” Erica asked. Bill had sat with her and her friends, who were slowly becoming his own friends as well, a few times already in the past week.

“Hmm...” Bill started. He shook his head. “Sorry, I can’t. I should be with Rosalie and them today,” he explained. “I feel bad ditching them.”

“Aw, that’s okay,” Erica answered. “You should still hang out with us, though. Afterschool?” she asked with a smile.

Bill grinned. “Sure.”

And so the art period passed, Erica chattering like usual, until the teacher passed by to collect everyone’s work, eyebrows raised as she spotted Bill’s. He hoped that meant it was good.

They left the classroom and said goodbye until later. Bill made his way to Biology, knowing Rosalie would be there. He slid into the seat next to her when he entered.

“Hey,” he greeted.

“Hi,” she said back.

Bill tried to start up a conversation, but she seemed quieter than usual. He wanted to ask her if anything was wrong, but class was already starting, and he wasn’t even sure how to ask.

As the teacher started talking and drawing things on the board, Rosalie diligently copied her notes down, while Bill just doodled. He felt a prod as a folded piece of paper fell onto his unfinished drawing of a guitar.

Surprised, Bill glanced at Rosalie, but she was still immersed in the lesson. He opened the paper and read the single sentence that was written:

‘Are you actually coming with us to lunch today?’

Bill looked at it sadly. He could tell Rosalie was becoming slightly suspicious of him, hanging with Erica and her friends a lot. He couldn’t blame her. It had only been a little over two weeks since he came to the school, but they had clicked, and she wanted them to be good friends.

He scribbled underneath the original sentence, his messy handwriting contrasting greatly with Rosalie’s nice, even letters.

‘Yeah, I am. I’m sorry I’ve been ditching you guys lately, it won’t happen again.’

He pushed the note back onto her notebook, hoping everything would be fine. The teacher suddenly walked up behind them, and Rosalie slipped the note under her desk. Bill sighed, anxious for her answer. But when he looked at her, Rosalie was smiling, so he took that as an acceptance.

His guess was confirmed at lunch, where everyone was acting like normal, Rosalie in particular. Bill was glad to see that she was talkative and happy, like the first day he met her.

He hated the fact that he was “ditching” her for Erica and her other friends. It felt so wrong, and Bill had seen people do that to him plenty of times before.

‘I can’t be like that...’ Bill told himself. ‘I won’t inflict any pain on another person, ever.’

After lunch, Bill walked up the four flights of stairs to his once-a-week computer class, where no one that he knew would be. For the first time in a while, he chose a computer at random, and sat alone, waiting for the empty spaces to fill up around him.

He wasn’t even too sure who exactly was in this class. All he knew was that it wasn’t any of his friends. When the teacher started talking, he put on his headphones, not caring about whatever the assignment was.

Bill was excited when the last bell finally rang, and he dashed out of class. He knew he should start paying more attention to his schoolwork, but he’d worry about that later. He walked down the stairs, which were the same cream color as the rest of the building.

His previous school had been more modern looking, but this building was much older and looked like a typical high school from the movies.

“Hey, Bill!” Erica called as he stepped through the double doors. He waved and walked over to her group. They exchanged greetings and moved aside from the crowd to a quieter spot, away from the stairs.

“So, what’re we doing today?” Bill asked.

“Hmm, we’re thinking of going to Brent’s house,” Erica answered, taking out a small mirror and inspecting herself.

“He lives the closest, and has the biggest TV!” Anne added, popping up beside Bill. He laughed as Brent playfully ruffled her hair.

“Anne, do you want to come with me to the bathroom really quick? I want to fix my makeup,” Erica asked, gently pulling at Anne’s arm.

“Sure,” she answered. “We’ll be right back, guys!” they said as they disappeared inside the school once again.

Some of the guys were laughing. “Girls, girls, I’m so glad I’m not one of them,” Brent said jokingly. Bill chuckled with him.

The joke soon subsided, and the guys broke off into chatter. One of them checked their watch, and after a while, Bill noticed that quite some time had passed since the girls left. The guys became quiet, leaning against the walls.

Bill coughed. This was awkward.

After a few more seconds of silence, a door could be heard slamming open and feet walking out of it.

“Oh, goody, I was getting bored,” Brent muttered, a smirk on his face as he got up and gestured for the boys to follow him.

Bill looked a bit confused, but followed them nonetheless. They turned the corner to see several Juniors walking out of a classroom, most in a hurry, annoyed that their teacher had released them so late. Bill looked at Brent, who seemed to be searching the crowd for something, a smirk still on his face.

“What’s going on?” Bill asked the boy standing next to him.

The boy shook his head. “It’s just something stupid Brent likes to do... don’t worry, it won’t take long,” he answered. Bill was still confused, but let it go.

“Hey, there, did you miss me?” Brent said in an odd voice.

The guys all chuckled, as well as some of the students who had just walked out. Bill craned his neck to get a closer look.

Brent seemed to have to two boys pined against a wall, their shirt collars in his fists. Bill instantly recognized one of them as Adam. The other one he didn’t know.

“H-h-hey, leave them alone...!” a small voice said from the sidelines of the small crowd that had gathered. It was a girl, very small in size, with her head down and her knees together.

“Aw, isn’t that cute?” Brent said, laughing meanly. He turned to his friends, the girl forgotten, and shouted, “Hey, guys! I got two of ‘em this time!”

His whole group laughed, except for Bill.

‘I think I know what’s going on...’ he thought in horror.

One of the boys noticed his pained face and reassured him, “Don’t worry about it, Brent never does anything too bad. He’s just being an idiot,” he said.

Bill nodded, but kept his eyes glued to Brent and the two boys.

Brent had released the boys’ shirts, but they were still trapped by the large crowd. He grabbed Adam’s glasses and laughed as he dangled them above his head. The other boy didn’t even try to escape, looking helplessly away.

“Give those to me!” Adam cried in a squeaky voice, jumping up and missing by several inches. The crowd cheered as Adam’s ears turned red.

Brent was so busy roaring with laughter he was caught by surprise when Adam finally managed to snatch the glasses out of his hand. Brent looked at his empty hand, confusion on his face, before it turned to annoyance. He pushed Adam roughly into the stone wall behind him, and Adam’s knees nearly gave out. Brent seemed to notice the other boy also needed to be punished, and slammed him, too.

‘Never does anything too bad?!’ Bill thought as he remembered what the boy told him. He ran forward and grabbed Brent’s arm.

“Stop it!” he said loudly. His voice was firm, but he was trembling.

Brent looked at him with surprise. “What? Why?” he asked.

“It’s... it’s just too much, okay?” Bill answered, stumbling over his own words. He looked back at the two boys, who were trembling at the wall. Adam was looking at his glasses, worriedly checking for scratches.

“Alright... whatever,” Brent said, eyebrow raised at Bill as he stepped back and walked back to his friends. Bill heard a few people groan in the crowd, but they soon left, and the hall was empty again.

For the first time, Bill had noticed the other boy, standing next to Adam. He was surprised he hadn’t noticed him before, he looked different from the other students. He had noticed Bill’s stare, and turned his head quickly, but not too quick that Bill hadn’t gotten a good look.

His dreadlocks were long and blonde, tied in a ponytail. There was a piercing on his lower lip, extenuating the fullness of them. His clothes were baggy and figure-concealing,

‘This guy... he doesn’t seem like the type to get bullied. He could probably beat me up if he wanted to, or at least, put up a fight,’ Bill thought, noticing the soft muscles underneath the smooth skin of his arms.

“Brent! Bill! We’re back,” Erica’s voice sounded from nearby. “Where is everyone?”

One of the guys tugged on Bill’s black shirt. “Let’s go,” he said. His voice was friendly, but his eyes were looking at him questionably.

“Oh.. ok,” Bill responded, turning to follow everyone. He gave one last look back at the two boys, but the dreadlocked one was already gone.

He mouthed the words “are you okay?” to Adam, and was responded by a nod and solemn expression, almost embarrassed.

Bill felt good that he had stopped the teasing at some point, but his muscles tightened at even the idea of bullying. What Brent had done may not have seemed “that bad” to outsiders, but the pain that the victims’ must have felt was just as bad as if they had gotten seriously injured.

Being bullied sucked, and Bill knew that all too well.

‘If I see that ever again, I’m going to put a stop to it,’ Bill thought seriously to himself. ‘I promise’.

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