“Remember to ditch your phone after lunch. I heard Mr. Albanus is on the warpath again.”
With that Victor was off to another class. Aside from Language Arts and History, Leo wasn’t exactly a slouch in academics, but Victor was some kind of genius or something. He was one of the few students who could send messages like his stick figure theater through the school system. Only the principal and teachers were supposed to be able to do that. No matter how many times the school firewall got reset, Victor always found a way around it.
After dumping his books in his locker, Leo pulled out his phone as he walked to the lunchroom. Thumbing the screen open, he tapped a few keys and left himself a note to put his phone in his locker after he ate. Mr. Albanus was not ready for the approaching new millennium. He didn’t allow cell phones in his classroom. Once, when a student had left his ringer on and gotten a text in the middle of class, Albanus had threatened to set off an EMP.
Despite the fact that Mr. Albanus didn’t have any reason to hate cell phones—they’d been around since Mr. Martin was a kid, which meant they were older than Albanus was—he was still a fun teacher. All his physics lessons were about something real. Well most of them anyway. Sometimes you had to learn formulas and equations, but that was the kind of thing that Leo was good at.
As the familiar roar of the cafeteria settled onto his eardrums, Leo looked around for an empty seat. Unfortunately there wasn’t anyone else from the basketball team in his lunch. Victor would’ve had lunch this period, but he’d talked a guidance counselor into letting him take advanced chemistry instead. Colleges love advanced chemistry apparently.
Leo was a starting point guard on the school team. He wasn’t the tallest or the best player, but he tried to hustle every second he was on the court, so he felt like he was contributing. The football team got all the glory though, even though most of the time their record was worse.
All this meant he didn’t have a safety zone table to sit at. As he dropped his milk into the last available spot on his tray, he noticed that more than a few people were looking at him and giggling. That was when he saw Claudia making the rounds, no doubt filling everyone in about his humiliation in Mr. Martin’s class. He was forced to endure the walk of shame for the whole length of the cafeteria, since the only completely empty table was there, stuck in a corner with no windows.
Leo mechanically shoveled food into his mouth. Not only did the whole school know how he felt at this point, but Julia must think he was a total idiot. Of course she would be interested in history, since her dad was in politics. He might as well have held up a big sign that said ‘Not Interesting.’ The cloud of his thoughts was so dark that he didn’t notice someone approach.
“Mind if I sit here?”
Looking up, surprised that anyone would want to be seen near him in his current state of social toxicity, he began choking when he saw it was Julia standing over him. She started to back away, taking his reaction to mean that he didn’t want her there, but he managed to choke out a couple words.