Chapter 1: The Art of Being Indifferent

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 266
Comments: 1

The Art of Being Indifferent


____

Fill out your answer with the same dedication that you would a test. Remember that this paper will be helpful when you start writing your life cycle.

Name: Theresa Mallory Freeman

Age: 16

Height: 181 cm (although I have no clue why you find that information necessary, Miss T)

Weight: 84 96 103 kg (an even less necessary question if you ask me… and I’ve been meaning to lose some weight)

First memory? Hitting Thierry Cooper with my jump rope. He probably deserved it, knowing him. I bet he had been mocking me for always stumbling on my rope, or something. I can’t help that I don’t have a graceful bone in my body. But I guess he can’t help being brutally honest, either. Or wait, he can.

--

I glance up from the form we’ve been assigned to fill out. So far, I’m not impressed. Actually, I’m contemplating picking up my scissor and cutting it into millions of tiny pieces. It’s just such a waste of time. I won’t learn anything by answering Miss T’s stupid questions.

But when I look around the classroom, I notice to my disbelief that all my classmates seem pretty absorbed with their papers. Everyone is writing like they’re being held at gun point. Do they like writing down every stupid detail of their life? Goodness.

I turn my focus to the paper, eyeing the next question:

Traumatic experience?

Traumatic experience. Huh. I tap my pencil against my chin and glance up again. This time I notice I’m not the only one who’s not focused on the assignment. Thierry Cooper is looking at me, and when I meet his gaze he grins and makes a grimace.

I shake my head at him, and pretend to write something down on traumatic experiences. The truth is: I’ve had plenty of experiences that could count as traumatic. I just haven’t allowed myself to take them to heart. If I took everything that happened in my life personally, I would be at home wallowing in self-pity, not at school working on a stupid test.

When I was in the second grade, some of my classmates (read: Thierry and his friends) decided it’d be fun to mess with my chair. They unscrewed all the bolts, and the next time I sat down on the chair it broke. It didn’t help that up until eighth grade, I actually though the chair broke because of my weight. I’ve always been on the chubby side.

I settle for a story that, honestly, was a bit traumatic at the time. Like for most over-weight kids on the block, people were always there to point out I wasn’t the ideal size two. Especially in middle school. I was the last to be picked in gym, the butt of every joke, you know the drill. But I realized pretty early on that the best revenge was not to care. And yeah, in the beginning it was easier said than done, but I had plenty of time to perfect my feelings.

Now, the only people that can get to me are my best friends. Ironically, Thierry is one of them. This is despite of the insults he keeps throwing my way. He is actually quite awesome, if you strip him of his sarcasm and his tendency to say the first thing that comes to mind.

--

I realize that I’m getting nowhere with the test and force myself to look at the next question:

First crush?

I knew that question would be in there somewhere! Miss T is such a nosy person.

You know, curiosity killed the cat… But okay, my fist crush was Thomas White. I was four, and he was the toughest kid on the playground.

My pen pauses, and I hesitate before writing:

He was also the only kid that wanted to play with me.

Wow, don’t I sound whiny? Thank god no one will read this but Miss T. I’d die if Thierry got a hold of this. I swear I would.

First love comes next. Again I hesitate, but for different reasons. I decide not to be completely serious, even though I know Miss T wants the facts so we can compare our answers to the book’s theories. But the question makes me uneasy.

I’d have to say, my cat Benji. And I never fell out of love.

I feel a blush creep on my cheek and lift my gaze. Thierry is looking at me again. His dark eyes look intense, almost like he’s trying to figure me out.

“What?” I mouth, but he just stiffens up and returns to his papers.

Thierry has always confused me. Be it, when he was five years old and pushed all the girls but me into the pool, and I thought it was because he liked me, when really, he hadn’t pushed me because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to (I was a head taller and quite a few kilos heavier than him). Or when he was fifteen and beat up Parker Johnson for calling me things that I don’t care to mention and then proceeded to use the same words a couple of hours later.

I just can’t make him out. And that’s what makes me tense whenever we hang out. I can’t help but think he’ll pull some stupid stunt on me, just because he feels like it.

With a sigh, I turn back to the test, and pick up where I left off. I’m doing a half-ass job of answering, but I never was that interested in this psychology course. The only question I spend some time pondering is: “have you ever felt hate?”

Because I don’t know how I can only leave it with the answer “no”. I haven’t felt hate. Because it’s pointless. I’m indifferent to the people that try to hurt me. They don’t deserve any emotion from me. Still, writing that as an answer would be too personal. So I settle for a simple:

“Life’s too short to hate people.”

I hand in my test way before anyone else in my class. I glance at my friend Lorraine’s test before I leave the room, and she is writing a smaller novel. I wonder, not for the first time, how she can find so much to write about.

But then again, she can hold a one-sided dialogue without any effort. Writing shouldn’t be all that different.

I make it three meters away from the classroom before someone calls my name.

“Tess, wait up”. It’s Thierry, and he is jogging in my direction. Of course, because he is the one asking, I keep right on walking. He catches up with me a few seconds later.

“What part of ‘wait up’ didn’t you understand?” he asks me and pretends to be angry. He is only a few inches taller me though, so I don’t feel intimidated by the scowl on his face.

“The part that requires me to pause”, I tell him dryly and he laughs.

“So how did the test go? Did you have enough room to write about how amazing I am?” He places an arm on my shoulder.

That’s another thing about Thierry. He’s cocky, and loves to break my personal bubble. Most of the time I don’t mind, but after reliving what he has put me through over the years, his close presence makes me uneasy.

“It went just fine, and keep that stinky arm to yourself”, I tell him. He laughs again, and adds more pressure to my shoulder.

“Nah, I like leaning on you”, he says, “there’s a lot of space”.

The insult almost passes me unnoticed, I’m so used to them. I know I’m overweight, but I know it’s not all just fat. I’m tall and have curves. It’s our messed up society that make people think being a stick, is ideal. I have curves, and I’m damn proud of them.

“I’m serious”, I eye him sternly and when his arm’s finally off my shoulder I ask: “did you have enough room for all the traumatic experiences, were I beat your sorry ass?”

“When have you ever beaten me?” he looks insulted.

“You want me to remind you? Because it could take awhile”, I smile brightly. This makes him pause in his stride and just look at me.

“You seriously think you’ve beaten me?” he finally asks, and his eyes are just as intense as they were in the classroom.

“Hell yes”, I say, and make my voice sound bored. It always riles him up when I act indifferent. Now is no exception.

“Theresa Mallory Freeman”, he says in low voice that does strange things to my stomach, “you will regret those words”. Before I can react, he has circled his arms around me. To onlookers it looks like a hug, to me it’s pure torture. He’s so damn close again!

I open my mouth to tell him to let go, but before I can he continues:

“Tonight, my place, NHL game”. There’s a playful note to his voice, even if he tries to sound dangerous. A giggle escapes me, and I hope he doesn’t notice how my breathing has become uneven. I am indifferent, damn it.

“You’re on”, I tell him, “but what’s the prize? I don’t want to just waste my day, if I don’t get anything out of it”.

“A bit presumptuous, are we?” he breathes into my ear. I try not to squirm.

“No, just confident. Let go of me, will you?”

“But what if I like holding you?” he asks playfully. I glare at him, and he sighs, releasing me. “Okay, a prize. How about, if I win, you have to kiss me?”

Before I can hit him, he has moved well out of reach. He looks incredibly smug.

“How about not?” I say.

“Okay, okay, I wouldn’t want to kiss you anyway”, he scrunches his face up and gives me the most degrading once-over. It’s like he focuses on the areas that aren’t exactly, how shall I put it? firm. Not that I care. I don’t. I am indifferent.

“Okay”, I say and am relieved when my voice sounds normal. So maybe I’m not indifferent. But that’s only because it’s Thierry. Anyone else giving me a look like the one he just gave me, and I wouldn’t think twice about it.

He looks at me like he expects me to add something to that okay. And when I don’t, he looks almost disappointed.

“If I win”, he finally says, “you have to bake me your delicious cake. The one with the mint”. He’s referring to a wonderful recipe that a lot of chocolate. I thought I was in heaven, when I first ate it, and it’s been a safe card for birthday parties ever since. Thierry practically has an orgasm when he eats it, so I’m not surprised he wants it as a prize.

“Fine, but then you have to teach me how you shadow skin”, I agree. Thierry and I bonded over our mutual love for art. He is amazing at capturing real life, while I prefer manga. But we can talk about colors, shadows and highlights for ages. And just recently Thierry showed me a sketch he had done of his little sister Tanya that was so realistic I would’ve thought it was a photo, if I hadn’t known the artist.

“That secret will follow me to my grave”, Thierry says, but when I elbow him he laughs and agrees, “alright. But prepare to get beaten”.

“Why? Is Tanya playing too?” I smirk. He glares at me, and ruffles my hair.

“Cute. But seriously, I will kick your ass”. I huff and open my mouth to retort, when another voice interrupts me:

“Who’s ass are you gonna kick, Ther?” It’s Jeanne, one of our mutual friends. She appears on my right with an amused smile on her face.

Jeanne is my opposite. Where I’m tall and heavy, she’s short and light. Where I’m collected and calm she is energetic and emotional.

You get the picture.

“No one’s”, I answer before Thierry can. “Unless Brian plans to join us, and that’s a pretty even match”. Brian is Thierry’s baby brother of eighteen months. He’s not all that thrilled with NHL, but Thierry and I are trying our bests to corrupt him.

“Hey, I take offense to that”, Thierry says indignantly.

“Oh, are you playing NHL again?” Jeanne rolls her eyes like she thinks our matches are childish (which they absolutely aren’t). “Then my money’s on Tess”.

I laugh out loud at the grimace Thierry makes. “Thank you, Jeanne”, I say, but my eyes are on Thierry. Who looks really insulted.

“Jeanne”, he says in a deadly voice, “I would invite you to join us so that you could see me kick Tess’ ass, if I wasn’t so injured by that comment”.

Jeanne rolls her eyes again. “You don’t want me to come because you want to be alone with Tess”, she then says, as if stating a fact. I hope she doesn’t notice how my breath hitches at her words. I look over at Thierry to see how he reacts to her statement, but he’s laughing like it’s a good joke. Somehow, I wish he’d have taken it seriously and protested, because then he’d actually have considered the idea.

“Anyway”, Jeanne continues, “how did the test go? You both left pretty early”.

“It was just describing your feelings, and since Tess don’t have any, she finished quickly”, Thierry says.

Now, if I wasn’t indifferent to him that comment would’ve hurt.

“That’s not nice”, Jeanne sticks up for me. But he’s not paying her any attention. His eyes are on me. And he appears sort of frustrated.

“Well, look at her. My comment doesn’t even bother her”, he says and points at me, even though I’m standing less than an arm’s length away from him.

I shrug my shoulder, and my smile isn’t even forced. I’m used to acting like I’m okay. Especially around Thierry. He can act so hot and cold sometimes. One minute he’ll make you laugh so much your stomach hurts, the next he criticizes and insults you so you feel nauseous. That’s why I shouldn’t let him get close to me. Because then he’ll hurt me.

“How did your test go, Jeanne?” I ask, because I don’t want to hear him.

“It went fine-“ Jeanne starts saying, but Thierry cuts her off.

“And now she’s changing the subject”, his tone is mocking.

“Are you trying to pick a fight?” Jeanne turns to him in frustration. “Did my comment bother you that much? Jesus, you’ll never get her if you keep insulting her!”

That’s the second time her words make my heart flutter. Of course, what she’s saying is ridiculous, but I can’t help but take it to heart. I shouldn’t, I really shouldn’t.

“I’m not picking a fight”, Thierry says, but he’s glaring at her. Or is he glaring at me? Actually, I’m not sure which one of us he’s glaring at. Safe to say, he’s pissed. “I’m just stating a fact. She’s bloody indifferent, and you know it”.

I grind my teeth to refrain myself from saying something stupid.

“Just because she doesn’t like you, doesn’t make her indifferent!” Jeanne is glaring right back.

I can’t help but wonder how an innocent question like: “how did the test go?” could turn into a quarrel. And how come they are the ones arguing, when the subject of the argument is, well, me? Have I no backbone?

“Just me?” Thierry snaps, and for some reason he starts rummaging through his backpack. When he fishes out a paper a few seconds later my façade falls for the first time in eight years.

“That’s my test!”

*

*

*


Submitted: April 04, 2012

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Comments

haniya99

Please please pretty please c0ntinue writing it!! Awes0me pl0t n m truly l0ving it missy. Lo0king 4ward 2 it s0o much!! Kmu!

Wed, April 11th, 2012 4:38am

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I'm so happy you like it!^^ I completely forgot I hadn't added the last part, but it's up now! Hope you're not disappointed!

Wed, April 11th, 2012 11:30am

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