Beth was having a bad day.
She'd had a bad day for a solid fifty nine days. It had to be some kind of world record. Like someone who kept hiccuping for two months straight. It had to do with the fact that it was senior year. Beth was just two months in and already it had felt like a year had passed by.
Between the massive workload and the pressure of applying to college, Beth could barely fall asleep before two in the morning.
But there was a tiny part to Beth's days that she loved. It was a small reprieve from the shitstorm of senior year. It came in the form of her tenth bell class, AP Lit.
A lot of seniors skipped their tenth bell, because why not? It was senior year and there was nothing administration could really do to stop them. But no one ever skipped AP Lit tenth bell, because it was taught by Mr. Daryl Dixon.
Daryl Dixon was a new teacher this year. He'd only been there two months but he was already a popular teacher. Not to mention the senior girls had decided he was the most "fuckable" teacher in the entire school.
AP Lit had a far more relaxed atmosphere than other classes, where the kids could choose their seats. Dixon cussed in class and let them cuss, too. Before a huge exam they would push the desks against the wall, throw down a huge blanket, and have an indoor picnic review session.
Dixon wasn't in class when Beth arrived. She took a seat by her friends and listened to their chatter. The bell rang but Dixon still did not show up. He did this sometimes.
Everyone was talking loudly when suddenly the door slammed shut in Dixon's wake. He had a stack of papers spilling out of his hands.
"About time you showed up, Dixon!" crowed one of the athletes.
"Watch your mouth, Porter, or I'll mark you absent for today," Mr. Dixon threatened good naturedly. There came laughter from around Beth.
Mr. Dixon was dressed today in a long sleeved button up that matched the blue of his eyes. A skinny black tie fell crookedly down his chest. His black pants had chalk dust on them. Dixon was one of the last teachers in the school who still used chalk. He said it preserved the nuance of English, whatever that meant.
"I hope you all brought your A-game today," Dixon barked as he threw the papers down on his cluttered desk. "Because we're taking a pop quiz over Macbeth."
In a normal class, a collected groan would have met Dixon's words.
But because everything about his class was different, everyone sat up straighter and looked excited. A pop quiz could mean they were going on the roof or something eccentric.
"Grab a partner, we're going outside," Dixon said with a crooked smile. Everyone broke into excitement as they partnered up and went out into the hallway.
Beth's hand was grabbed by her friend Erin. "Dixon looks hot today," she sighed after him as he swept by, leading them outside. Beth felt herself stiffen. Her eyes flicked to Daryl, who was rolling up the sleeves of his shirt and revealing his tanned forearms. Her cheeks warmed.
"I guess so," she managed.
Erin threw her a disbelieving look. "There's no guessing about it, you moron. Look at him! I would ride that pony all the way to Amsterdam and back," she said dreamily.
"Stop making references to Fault in our Stars," Beth said, exasperated. "And don't talk about him like that, he's... our teacher."
The conversation ended the moment they stepped out into the burning afternoon light. They had fallen behind a bit, and were the last to join everyone outside in the grass behind the school.
"Thank you for joining us, ladies," Dixon said to them wryly, but he only had eyes for Beth. His blue eyes sent a thrill through her. She ducked her head.
"Your pop quiz is to find something out here that symbolically relates to Macbeth. If it's creative enough you'll pass. Fleterson put your hand down, the clouds don't count."
Everyone trilled with laughter before Dixon sent them off. Students were milling around everywhere, looking like little kids on an Easter egg hunt.
The back of their school was surrounded by grass and a small thicket that was more filled with thorns than trees. Erin wanted to go towards the trees where everyone else was, but Beth had something else in mind.
She let Erin go and ambled towards the small road that stretched alongside the school. Her eyes fell on a small pile of torn flesh in the middle of the street. It might have once been a squirrel, judging from the bushy tail. Beth crinkled her nose, thinking. She felt sorry for the little guy. Hopefully she could give his death purpose and connect him to Macbeth.
She felt strangely nervous as she called Dixon over. He'd been in the middle of breaking up a stick fight between two boys.
"Where's your partner?" he smiled when he drew closer.
Beth rolled her eyes and nodded towards Erin. Her friend was too busy flirting with one of the soccer boys to focus on Macbeth. Dixon snorted, shaking his head.
"Alright, Beth. Dazzle me." Dixon folded his arms, giving her a crooked smile. Beth's chest tightened every time he looked at her like that.
She flipped her hair, trying to act like she never swooned over him, and pointed out the dead squirrel. She made a connection about the blood staining the road to the way blood had stained Lady Macbeth's floor. Despite himself, Dixon looked impressed. He shifted from foot to foot, staying a safe distance from her. Beth felt jittery and her armpits were beginning to feel sweaty. Damn nerves.
"Well done, Beth. You definitely get points for thinking outside of the box," he told her, smirking.
"Thanks," she said, suddenly sheepish.
Something abruptly landed on Beth's arm. A small, emerald green grasshopper that chosen her as its landing spot. Before she could react, Dixon reached out and quickly swept the insect off of her arm. Bolts of electricity ran through her, exciting the butterflies in her stomach. Beth was taken aback by her sudden impulse to touch him.
"Well you got the grade you wanted," Dixon said, pressing his mouth into a false smile. As he walked back towards the others, Beth was left with a hollow feeling in her stomach.
You silly man, she inwardly sighed. What do you know about want?
Whoever had made advanced calculus a high school course deserved to be beaten up.
Beth was in her room, staring at her calc book as the numbers and words slid off the page. Maggie was home from college this weekend, and had brought back with her an acquired taste for bad country music. She was blasting it upstairs. Beth groaned, running her hands through her hair.
Her concentration officially shattered, Beth closed her books. She rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palm, exhausted. The red numbers on her alarm clock glowed at 8:47.
"It's not even nine," she muttered to herself. "I'm tired and it's not even nine." She felt like a grumpy eighty two year old woman trapped in an eighteen year old's body.
Her phone started buzzing wildly on her bed. Grateful for the distraction, she swiped it expecting the call to be from one of her friends. When she saw the number, she stopped. It was an unknown number. Her finger hovered above the ignore button before she decided to answer.
"Hello?" she asked uncertainly.
It was Mr. Dixon.
A snake was sliding through her intestines, wrapping itself tightly around her wind pipe so she couldn't breath.
"...Yes?" She did her best to not sound shaky. He had never called her before.
"Beth," he said again, his voice urgent and muffled. "I- I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm at a bar and Erin is here. I think she got someone to buy her beers."
Beth's awkwardness was immediately replaced by concern for her friend. "Is she okay?"
"Yeah, she's right here-"
"BETH!" came Erin's voice in the background. She sounded drunk. "MR. DIXON IS BEING A BUZZKILL."
Beth sighed. She couldn't call Erin's parents to pick her up because they'd be furious. As much as Erin deserved it, Beth couldn't do that to her friend. She also wasn't comfortable with calling one of their friends to pick Erin up, since they probably wouldn't see anything wrong with Erin being drunk.
"Okay where are you?"
Dixon hesitated. "Um, Preston's."
Beth's voice caught in her throat. Preston's. Of course, it had to be that bar, didn't it? She hadn't been to Preston's since July, since... well, all of this started. She violently shook her head to clear her thoughts. She wasn't going to think about herself right now. Her friend needed help.
"I'll be there in ten minutes," she said, and hung up before Dixon could reply.
A/N: Tried typing the majority of this on my phone... will not be making that mistake again!