Sometimes good things come out of nowhere

Let's be clear, I'm only doing this because of my guidance counselor.

Nothing more, nothing less. I am certainly not one of those kids who needs to write out their feelings in a stupid journal regularly to deal with their useless teenage angst, because A) I don't have any teenage angst and B) I don't do feelings (although the second point is kind of called into question throughout the length of this story by a variety of people). It's just that Harold is kind of beginning to grow on me, and before you start harping on me about hero-worship and looking up to him or any other phrases that in any way imply that I care about whether he lives or dies, I'd like to clarify that he's okay. Over a long period of time that I've spent sitting with him in his office with thousands of books littering the dusty shelves, I've sort of been observing and analyzing the guy, and I've come to the conclusion that he's actually pretty cool, despite his owl impression and nerdy glasses. So yeah, he's growing on me, and I tolerate him (which, by the way, is more than what I can say for the rest of the idiots at our school), and that is the only reason I'm writing down everything that happened to me this year.

My senior year. Or, as Reese likes to call it, the year everything changed. I suppose that is one way of putting it.

I like to call it the year everything went to hell. The year life sucked me in, and spit me out on my ass. The year everything in my carefully sculpted world, with people and places set in a perfected routine disrupted in utter chaos, and took me along for the ride.

You know the worst part? In retrospect, I don't think I hated it all that much.

You know how in cheesy high school movies, to make it seem like an authentic school or whatever, they always start or conclude a scene with the ringing of the class bell? Yeah, I'm not going to do that.

Because it's stupid. And overused. And clichéd.

But mostly because the bell shows people either going to class, or coming out of class, and class is not something I'm interested in recording (although some moments in a classroom might be featured here). Class is just an interlude. A break from real life. It is what happens before and after it that makes up the actual story.

My story begins with a bang. Or, more specifically, banging Lambert's head against the surface of the nearest wall.

"Ouch!"

"Did you just say 'Ouch'? Or has the pleasure of beating you up finally made my organs go haywire? Because, let me tell you, hearing an 'ouch', whimpered out in your pretentious accent is the best thing to happen to me all morning."

"Let me go, Shaw," he said, all gritted teeth and prissy attitude, even with the right half of his face smushed against the bricks.

"Why?"

"Because I haven't done anything to you."

He was telling the truth. He hadn't done anything to me, yet.

"Or planning to do anything to me? Like spray-painting my car?"

He stiffened "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"No? I suppose the can of spray paint lying at the bottom of your locker doesn't ring a bell, then, or….."

"That doesn't have anything to do with….."

"The two goons of your gang I saw loitering around the area of the parking lot I park my car in….."

"So what…."

"Or", I sighed, releasing my tight grip on him, and turning him around so he could face me "Maybe you don't remember bragging about what you were going to do in front of Martine."

"How the hell did you even hear us?"

"See, Jeremy, that's the thing. I hadn't."

And then, assured that what I was doing was in fact justified, I proceeded to beat the crap out of him.

I mean, not actually. What with being in school and all. I gave him a chance to fight back, and the idiot couldn't even swing a punch right. So I knocked him around a bit, and left him propped up against the trash can, clutching his stomach and groaning. Wimp.

The kids in our school can be roughly divided in two groups- the ones who matter, and the ones who don't. It might seem callous to some people, my dismissing somebody like that, but it's true. Some people exist, some don't. In my life, anyway. And that's okay, I guess, because I probably don't interfere in somebody's life too, and I'm fine with that. There are going to be people who know you breathe in their world. And if they are worth it, someday you will more than exist to them. You will matter. You will belong.

"Can I just mention how interesting and profound this last observation was, Miss Shaw? It seems that retrospection is bringing out quite the philosopher in you. I'm glad….."

I smirk inwardly, thinking of all the hours I spent thinking of something really corny to write, that would impress Harold enough to make him believe that I could actually be capable of emotional stuff.

"That your creative writing skills have improved enough to the point of writing fiction and almost getting away with passing it off as the truth," he completes, peering at me sternly over his glasses.

Right. Crap.

Mustering up all the defiance inside me, I face him head on "So, what you don't think I believe all that I wrote there?"

"Oh, I do think you believe all that you wrote back there. I just don't think you know it yet."

Back to the point, the people who mattered could further be demarcated into The Totally horrible Guys and the Not Totally Horrible Guys. The not completely horrible guys were John Reese and his gang of good people, namely Joss Carter, Kara Stanton and Lionel Fusco. Among those three, John and Carter were the ones who could actually take care of themselves, so it was scrawny and nosy little Fusco who almost regularly got dumpster'ed and had to wait for the rest of his friends to fish him out. I should know, seeing as I was one of the people who had put him there more than once for asking me stupid questions.

John was, well, John. There was no other way to put it. He was the guy who, when we were kids, used to assist me while shooting pebbles at people's kneecaps with our catapults (although he constantly insisted it was the other way around; that I was the one assisting him), and who grew up to become one of the best quarterbacks ever in the history of Aberford High. We move in different circles in school, and while I must have punched almost every jock, he was the one guy I've never touched, maybe because a part of me recognized him as a kindred spirit (again, he says it's because I was scared of him, which, yeah, right). Kara and Carter had a reputation as female badasses, Kara being the more violent of the two, while Joss preferred a diplomatic approach. Lionel was an idiot. He'd always been an idiot and would always be an idiot, at least to me. Okay, he had some redeeming qualities, like his absolute loyalty to his friends and an almost uncanny ability to get out of serious scrapes, but even a year of actually knowing him later, I still have trouble seeing him as anything but a dork.

The totally horrible guys included Jeremy Lambert, the asshole I introduced you to at the beginning of this story, and Martine Rousseau. They are the couple every teenage movie has, the one perfectly compatible, good-looking couple that is destined to win Prom King and Queen before the actual protagonist couple arrives on the scene. All except for the fact that they aren't actually a couple, just partners in pissing me off and lording over the school.

It's hard to say when our rivalry began; could be back when we were three and he'd peed all over Cole's sandcastle, and I'd punched his stupid face so hard he'd gone crying to his mother about it, which had then resulted in my being carted off the sandbox by my embarrassed mother, or maybe even before that. All I know is, I've always hated both of them with a vengeance, and the feeling is reciprocated. Our fights will probably go down in the annals of history, and the walls around our school are probably imprinted with our blood, from various parts of our bodies being slammed into them regularly.

Then there's Michael. If I believed in the institution of making friends, I suppose Michael Cole would be one. Our mothers were best friends, and we went to karate classes together. As it is, I think of him more as an ally. An ally who happens to be almost as smart as I am, and probably a comparable enough fighter. Which was one of the reasons I kind of liked him.

That brings us to Root. Wait, you know what, that does not bring us to Root. I'd like to have at least one chapter of my life not infected by the virus that happens to go by the name Root. Besides, it's not like she's not going to be making an appearance later on. In a way, this story of mine is basically a story about that asshole. My story ends with her, I'd rather it didn't begin with her, too.

"And it doesn't even look like you have any qualms, any regrets about what you did to Mr. Lambert….."

Regrets? The only regret I was having right now was that I hadn't hit him hard enough. If I was going to go down, I would have preferred to go down after making a pulp out of his bones.

The principal of Aberford High was an old bastard named John Greer, and I'm not just throwing abuses around. That guy deserved it. He still deserves it. I have never in my life seen a guy like him, one who could sound super polite while charring you into dust with the flames of his words. Face full of so many wrinkles you'd half expect it to fall out, and voice so old he was practically ancient history, still he kept himself alive by feeding on the dreams and hopes of students. That was part of the reason we hated each other.

The rest of it was that he was Jeremy's uncle.

"This is the third time you've been involved in an act of acute violence in the premises of this school. Have you anything to say in defense of your actions, Miss Shaw?"

I pondered for a while, then let it go. It's not like 'He started it' could be considered as adequate justification, anyway. Besides Greer had been out for my blood ever since he became the administrator of this fine establishment, so I didn't think anything I could say would make a whole lot of difference, except for an added number in the amount of detentions I was going to get.

"I suppose we'll have to consider suspension or recording this in your permanent school records….."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. Permanent records? No, you can't do this. I have had good grades and a 3.25 grade average up till now. I'm going to college next year, you can't jeopardize my chances of….."

Med school was the only thing I had going for me, to be honest. I had been working my ass off the past three years, and something like this could influence the way colleges saw my application. Who the hell would consider my application, if they found out my hands could hurt as well as they could heal.

He smiled, enjoying this "But if this seems to be the only way to keep you from hurting your fellow innocent students", he trailed off into silence.

At the same time I thought "Innocent students?", there was a knock on the door, and both Greer and I turned our heads to see the school counselor, Harold Finch standing in the doorway.

"Sir, if I may interject?" he says.

"Mr. Finch, I'm with a student right now. Didn't my assistant inform you of this before you barged in here?"

"Actually, she isn't at her desk right now, and it's actually about the student that I wanted to talk to you about. I think what you are planning to do may be taking things a little too far. Miss Shaw has been a perfect student, in all her classes, and this may ruin her chances of getting into a good college."

"I'm afraid I can't see how this is any of your business, Mr. Finch."

"It is, actually. Miss Shaw happens to be a regular student of mine."

Okay, backing up a bit. I had seen Mr. Finch around school a few times, hobbling along the corridors, but so far the only interaction I'd ever had with him was a 'Good morning', and even that he initiated. I literally had no idea why he was standing up for me. But far be it from me to question a free gift from the heavens.

"Is she, now?" Greer stared suspiciously at Mr. Finch "Well, even if she happens to be coming regularly to you for counseling sessions, we can hardly ignore the fact that other students have complained about her methods of violence."

"Other students like Jeremy Lambert, for example? Because I hardly think Miss Shaw is the only one at fault. I have accounts of other students who have seen Mr. Lambert attack Miss Shaw almost as much as Miss Shaw has been caught fighting. If Miss Shaw has to be punished, I am sure justice only dictates that the same punishment be meted out to the other student involved in this situation."

Greer scowled, and I mentally cheered. Now he either had to punish Lambert too, along with me, or let me go, else word would spread about his nepotism.

"But if I could suggest an alternative solution, it would be appropriate to have Miss Shaw continue her sessions with me, and then you could hand out a minor suspension and as many detentions as you think would suffice, to both her and Mr. Lambert," Mr. Finch said, in that awkward way of his,with his stance saying he was aware of what predicament he had landed Greer in.

Greer, knowing he was defeated, pretended to think about Mr. Finch's offer for all of five minutes, then with a sigh and a wave of his hand, agreed grumpily.

Mr. Finch was surprised to see me waiting outside Greer's office when he came out, fifteen minutes later.

"Miss Shaw," he greeted me.

"Why did you do that back there?" I questioned him right off the bat "Lie for me like that. I don't even know you personally."

He smiled "That may be so, but everyone deserves a second chance. Besides, what he was doing was, if not entirely wrong, a tad bit unjust, seeing as Mr. Lambert was not being reprimanded the same way."

"Oh," I said, still a little suspicious of his motives "I owe you one, I guess."

He'd started walking away by then but on hearing my words, stopped, turned around and regarded me for a while.

"You certainly do, Miss Shaw," he finally told me "Next Tuesday after school, in my office. I'll be expecting you."