A Pair Of Not-So-Normal Teens
Eduardo looked up in surprise at the sound. It came from a girl who had just entered the classroom. She was deceptively short, considering the volume of her sneeze. Her waist-length raven hair was tied back in braids, and bright green eyes peered out from behind golden glasses with unusual square-shaped lenses.
"Uhn…Gesundheit!" he called, offering the rather plain, yet still pretty, girl a lopsided grin.
She sniffed, wiped her nose with the tissue in her hand, and said, "Thanks." Tossing the used Kleenex into a nearby trashcan, she joked, "I hate New York smog – L.A. smog is so much cleaner."
Eduardo obligingly chuckled. "And you get more sunshine on the west coast, too," he added.
The girl nodded, before looking around the almost empty room. Doing a double-take, she asked, "Where is everybody?"
Eduardo smirked and chuckled. "This class…ah, well, it's normally only me and three others. You're the first newbie to show up since I've been taking it."
Frowning, she walked over and swung her backpack to the floor at the side of the desk next to his. "You've taken this class more than once? Why? Is it so hard to pass?"
Eduardo shook his head. "No, no, chica, uh, Egon…er, Dr. Spengler teaches a different course each year. But it's always on Parapsychology, and it's always held in this classroom."
Looking around the obviously little-used, cramped, and dilapidated classroom, she said sardonically, "I can see why. If Dr. Spengler only gets four students each year, then they must not want to waste premium space on him. What I want to know is, if only four students take this class each year, why is it allowed to remain open?"
"He teaches it for free," a low contralto voice answered.
Turning, Eduardo saw Kylie and Roland just entering the room. "Hey, Kylie, Roland," he called.
The girl looked at the two curiously before turning to him and asked, "Two of the other three?"
"Uh-huh. Uh, this is Kylie and Roland. Guys, this is…" Eduardo looked at her abashedly. "I'm afraid I don't know your name."
She smiled and laughed brightly. "I wouldn't expect you to unless you were a mind reader. I'm Amarin Marks." Offering him her hand, her grin widened as he kissed her knuckles.
"My name is Eduardo Rivera," Eduardo said is his best rendition of 'suave' – which basically just consisted of him rolling his rs, and speaking in a lower tone of voice. Amarin seemed to appreciate the effort, however.
Kylie rolled her eyes, and Roland could tell she was just about to make some scathing commentary on Eduardo's flirtation skills when, thankfully, the group was interrupted.
"Now that you've all been introduced, you think someone could come unblock this door?" an irritated voice called from outside the Emergency Exit.
"Ah, and that would be Garrett, late as usual," Eduardo cracked. Amarin watched curiously as he got up and jumped nimbly over the seats behind him till he reached the barred door. Pulling something out of his pocket, he started to jimmy it open.
"Eddie, if Egon isn't there, then I'm not late. Besides, if I don't show up until after someone else is here, I have to wait to get in. And why is it, even after almost two years, they can't manage to leave this damn door open? This part of the school is so old the Equal Opportunity Act wasn't invented then – and isn't it illegal for them to use this part of the school if they don't make it accessible?"
"Accessible?" Amarin murmured in confusion. She paused for a moment, then blinked in dawning comprehension and nodded.
"Well, actually, I think it is," Kylie said, settling her books down at a desk one row ahead of Amarin and Eduardo. "But if we complain, they might close down the class."
"Right, you mentioned Dr. Spengler teaches it for free?" Amarin asked.
She nodded. "Yes, the University pays him to teach three other Psychology classes, but he teaches Paranormal Psychology – better known as Parapsychology – for free. It used to have more people signing up, but once they find out who Dr. Spengler is, they think the whole class is about ghosts."
"And it's a real shame, but no one is all that interested in what they think is a myth," Roland interjected.
A triumphant cry from Eduardo turned their attention to the back of classroom, where Eduardo was just opening the door to let Garret roll inside.
"So, what'd I miss?" the redhead asked breathlessly.
"We have a new student," Eduardo said, picking up a nearby brick and propping the door open with it. Amarin assumed that this was the norm on the first day of class, since an outline of the brick could be seen in the dust on the floor. She also noticed that no Emergency alarms had gone off with the door opening. This really was a seldom-used classroom.
"Hi," Amarin said, waving at Garrett. "I'm Amarin Marks."
"Garrett Miller," he said, tipping his head towards her. "Nice to see a new face in this class." He rolled over to the end of the row and put the brake on his wheelchair. Amarin noted there didn't seem to be space set aside for someone who was disabled. The classroom really was old.
"Speaking of which," Kylie spoke up, turning around in her seat. "Why did you decide to take this class?"
Amarin shrugged. "It looked…interesting. And since it is technically a Psychology course, I can use it for my extra credit hours."
"Extra credit hours?" Eduardo asked, jumping over the rows to get back to his seat.
"Mm-hm. I'm studying to become a Social Worker."
Garrett blinked. "That's a very…unusual job." He snorted. "Especially in NYC. What made you decide on that?"
She gave an enigmatic smile and shrugged. "Oh, well, I've always wanted to help people, you know…giving something back to the community, and all that."
Garrett's further interrogation of her was stopped by the entry of the teacher. Egon Spengler walked out onto the stage, his nose buried in a sheaf of papers. "Morning, everyone," he called absently.
"Morning," everyone called back.
Egon froze in mid-step, then place his forward foot on the ground and turned to look at them, eyeing Amarin in particular. "Ah, I see we have a new student. The University doesn't bother to actually give me a roll, so could you see your way clear to giving me your name, Miss…?"
"Marks," Amarin answered. "Amarin Marks."
"Miss Marks," Egon said making some notations on the papers he carried. "Well, it's nice to see a new face. Did everyone get a copy of the book?"
"I didn't," Garrett groused. "Apparently the fact there's only four of us made its way to the Accounting Department, because they only stocked four books."
Kylie shot a glance at Amarin, and the new girl blushed. "Sorry?" she offered.
Shaking his head, Egon said, "You can pick a copy up at Barnes & Noble, Garrett, don't worry. It's a good thing I always make extra copies of the syllabus, though." He picked up a stack of papers and descended the stairs from the stage, passing out copies. Once he was done, he made his way back to the stage. "All right, let's see if we can get through class without some extraneous spectral anomaly showing up to interrupt us."
"Knock on wood," Eduardo said lowly, tapping his knuckles gently on the seat arm. Amarin chuckled quietly and showed him her crossed fingers.
Clearing his throat, Dr. Egon Spengler launched into his lecture. "Now, in both ancient Egypt and ancient Rome, deceased Pharaohs and Emperors were said to become Gods upon their deaths. Casper Digan wrote that…"
An hour later class was over, and Amarin ended up walking out with the rest of the group. Paranormal Psychology was at the end of a long hall across campus from the Student Center, and since they all had a free period next they'd decided to eat lunch together.
"So, what did you think?" Eduardo asked her.
Amarin thought for a minute. "It was just as interesting as I thought it would be, but a lot more technical. Most people don't really associate science with the paranormal; I mean, ghosts seem to defy the laws of physics, right?"
Nodding, Eduardo said, "True, but they have their own kind of physics; like, the bigger they are in their natural form, the more power they have."
"Since when do you pay attention in class, Eddie?" Garrett joked as he rolled up behind them.
"Yeah, Eduardo, I distinctly recall you sleeping through your Intro Psychology class more than once," Kylie interjected.
"I've never slept through this one," Eduardo pointed out, though he blushed slightly.
"He's right; he hasn't," Roland agreed supportively.
Amarin gave Eduardo a commiserating look. "Don't feel bad about it; we've all done it. Once I was so tired from staying up all night to study for a test, that even though I made to school I almost slept through the test. And Intro Psychology is very basic. I remember when I took it, it was so boring and easy – the teacher simply regurgitated the stuff in the book – that I skipped out on half the classes and still made an A."
Shooting her a look of thanks, Eduardo said, "Well, we must've had a different teacher. I think mine never even read the book. I spent more time tracking stuff down in the text that showed that I did give the right answers on the test, than anything else. I mean, seriously – everyone knows Freud was the one who came up with the theory of the Id, Ego and Superego, right?"
"Well, everyone except you, or so I thought," Garrett put in.
"Be nice, Garrett," Roland chided him.
Amarin hid a chuckle at the foursome's banter. "You guys must have been friends for a long time," she observed.
"We've all been taking Egon's classes for over two years now," Eduardo said.
"He lets you call him by his first name?" Amarin's brow furrowed.
Shooting each other a series of looks, the others finally nodded and Eduardo said, "We're the, ah, new generation of Ghostbusters."
Amarin still looked confused. "But I thought Dr. Spengler, along with Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, and Winston Zedmore had captured all the ghosts in New York City by 1985."
Kylie blinked. "You know that just off the top of your head?" she asked suspiciously.
Amarin shrugged. "I read it somewhere several years ago, and I guess it just stuck with me because I was born in 1985."
Eduardo frowned. "But that would make you only twenty."
"Nineteen, actually; my birthday isn't until June."
"But Parapsych is an upper level course," Kylie said, eyes narrowing slightly.
"I know; I skipped two grades in elementary school; graduated at sixteen. I'm actually a Junior this year," Amarin said.
"Wow, you must be really smart to have done that," Eduardo said, no hint of envy in his voice, though it was clear he was impressed.
Blushing, Amarin said, "Not especially; most people could skip at least one elementary grade, it's just that no one thinks of it until you're in Junior High. But since my mother was the principal it was kinda hard for her not to notice; especially since she taught some of the classes."
"Didn't you find it hard to go to college at such a young age?" Roland asked.
Pulling open the door at the end of the hall and stepping out into the crisp fall sunshine, Amarin shook her head. "Not really; I mean, I lived at home for the first two years. You can get people in New York City to rent you an apartment if you're not eighteen, but the apartments are crappy. This is actually the first year I've been on my own. So I got the chance to get used to college before I left the nest."
"Where do you live?" Kylie asked curiously, as they headed across campus to the Student Union.
"The Daybrook Apartment buildings, down near Willow Road," Amarin replied.
"That's only a few blocks from where I live," Eduardo put in. "I live over in the Briarwood Building."
Smiling, Amarin said, "Cool! We're neighbors. Now I know who to go to if I need to borrow a cup of sugar."
"What exactly would you need a whole cup of sugar for?" Roland asked.
"Oh, lots of things, Roland," Garrett said excitedly. "There's all sorts of tasty treats you could make with that. Cookies, donuts, creampuffs…"
"Or eight ounces of fruitcake," Amarin put in. Everyone shuddered on cue.
"Fruitcake. Wasting perfectly good ingredients on that…that's just wrong, man," Eduardo said and everyone agreed.
"Yeah, a perfect waste of good sugar," Garrett said.
"Maybe, but eight ounces of fruitcake does use a whole cup of sugar," Amarin pointed out.
"And speaking of food, we're here," Roland said with relief, gesturing to the building in front of them.
"Great! Hopefully all this talk of fruitcake hasn't made me lose my appetite," Garrett said, as he did a wheelie and barreled through the double doors.
"Nothing could make you lose your appetite, G," Eduardo snarked.
Amarin just shook her head at their antics and followed the four inside.
Half an hour later, Amarin was just finishing off the last piece of the two pizzas they'd ordered while the others looked on in shock.
"You ate six pieces of pizza; how'd you manage that?" Garrett asked, astonished that she's managed to eat more than him.
"I was hungry?" Amarin offered, confused.
Eduardo smirked. "I think Garrett is just a little upset that he now has a rival for his title of 'Bottomless Pit,' chica."
Snorting, Amarin said, "Now that's funny. Everyone at my high school used to call me that."
"How do you managed to eat that much and stay so thin?" Kylie asked.
Amarin shrugged. "Oh, exercise, I guess. Speaking of which–" she flipped her left wrist over to look at her watch "–I have to go pick up my uniform from the Athletics Office before my next class."
"Uniform?" Garrett asked.
Amarin nodded as she put on her backpack and got ready to head out. "I'm on the track team. See you guys in class on Wednesday?"
"Sure," Roland and Kylie said as they grabbed their stuff and headed off in opposite directions.
"I'll go with you," Eduardo offered. "I have Physics next period and the Chem building is right next to the Athletics Department."
Amarin's green eyes lit up. "Cool."
As it turned out, Physics for Eduardo and Child Psychology for Amarin were the only classes they didn't have together. After they split up by the Chem building to go to their respective classes, they met up outside their second to last class of the day: Abnormal Psychology.
"You're taking Abnormal Psych, too?" Amarin asked as she pushed open the door and took a seat near the back.
"Yeah," Eduardo said, dropping down into the seat next to her, his feet propped up on the desk in front of him. "It looked…interesting." He grinned as he repeated her words from that morning.
"And you can use it for your extra credit hours?" she asked, smiling back.
Eduardo shrugged uncomfortably.
Understanding dawned on her, and Amarin asked softly, "You haven't chosen a Major, yet, have you?"
Eduardo shook his head. "No. I don't know what I want to do, really." His eyes skated away uncomfortably, focusing on some point to the left of the middle distance.
"You don't even have some idea?" Amarin coaxed, sensing there was more to his words.
He shifted awkwardly in his seat, blushing. "Actually…I was thinking about becoming a teacher. Little kids, not the University level. I, uh…I have a nephew; he's eight, and I just…" He made a vague gesture to encompass everything he couldn't say.
Amarin smiled. "That's a very noble profession. Teachers are very important role models in the lives of young children; I think you'd make a good one," she said reassuringly.
"You think so?" Eduardo asked, unsure.
"Is there any reason to think you wouldn't make a good teacher?" Amarin countered.
He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it after a few moments of silence. "No," he admitted. "I guess not."
She smiled. "Well then…"
He smiled back.
Abnormal Psych was followed by Social Psychology, which was yet another class both Amarin and Eduardo were taking. Since they lived near each other they decided to head home together.
"Would you like a ride?" Amarin asked as they walked towards the parking lot.
"Sure, that would be great. It's only two miles away, so I normally don't bother with the bus, but autumn came early this year," Eduardo griped, tightening his scarf around his neck as a chill gust of wind blew past him.
"Yeah, well, I don't think you'll get any warmer on the ride home; quite the opposite, in fact," Amarin chuckled, turning down one aisle of traffic.
Raising one eyebrow, Eduardo asked, "What, your heater go out? I'm actually a pretty fair mechanic; I might be able to fix it."
"No, thanks anyway, though." Shaking her head, Amarin pointed to a nearby Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was slightly battered, and rather dusty, but in good shape despite that. "Actually that's my ride."
Eduardo blinked, blue eyes lighting up. "Cool, man."
Chuckling, Amarin grabbed a helmet off the back of her bike and tossed it to him. "Here, put this on, while I try and get my hair out of the way." Amarin's waist-length black braids would definitely be an encumbrance during the ride. Pulling several bobby pins out of her jeans pocket, she set about pinning her braids up, affixing them in a coronet on her head. Grabbing a second helmet off the back of her motorcycle, she put it on and climbed into the bike, closely followed by Eduardo. Starting the engine, she turned to him and said, "Ready?"
Eduardo nodded and wrapped his arms around her waist snugly. "Go for it," he said, voice muffled by the plastic of his helmet.
Amarin grinned. "You got it," she said, and they roared off down the road.
Ten minutes of Amarin's expert weaving through traffic brought them to the street between their two apartment complexes, and Amarin pulled to a stop near the curb. Pulling off his borrowed helmet, Eduardo handed it to her and said, "Thanks for the ride."
Pushing up her visor so she could look at him, Amarin attached the helmet back to the side of her motorcycle. "No problem." She gave him a shy smile as she offered, "I, uh, I have the same class schedule on Wednesday, if you'd like a ride in? I have track practice afterwards, so you'd have to find your own way home, though."
"That'd be great, chica, thanks," Eduardo said gratefully.
"No problem. See you on Wednesday," she said before driving off.
"See you!" Eduardo called before jogging up the driveway to his apartment building. This semester looked like it would be really interesting.