Damn it. Damn it. Damn it! Kathy screamed in her head. She lifted her protective goggles off her face and glared at the drill in her hand. Another stripped screw in her wood project. She tore off the goggles and threw them behind her. Who needed them? They smelled funny anyway.
"Ow! You hit me!" a kid in the class whined.
"Walk it off," she said, not looking at the kid, but her miserable wood project. She was supposed to be making a shelf, but it looked more like a…well there wasn't a resemblance really.
The only reason Kathy liked the class was because she got to use power tools.
"Kathy, you dropped your goggles," DJ held them out. He knew she didn't 'drop' them. In fact, they hit the guy across from him at his worktable in the back of the head.
Kathy groaned. DJ was only in the class to annoy her, or so she presumed. DJ in fact, had a passion for whittling.
"Why don't you mind your own business, dumb jerk?" she snatched them back but didn't put them on again.
"Having trouble with your project?" He looked over her shoulder.
"You must be deaf," Kathy pushed his head out of her way. "Just go do your own ugly thing."
"I'm done," he smiled. He had a big, friendly smile.
Kathy saw his project, an actual shelf, and glared. She had a big, angry glare.
"Quit bragging," was all she could come up with.
She was the only girl in the whole class. That wasn't a big deal. Kathy was not a big deal as far as girls went, within the high school.
Allison was the biggest deal, as far as anyone went, within the high school.
"I could help you get those out," DJ nodded at the stripped screws. The screws were considered 'stripped' if their point was grinded down enough that they couldn't be used.
"Be my guest," Kathy growled and tossed him the drill. She liked it when she had less work to do, so she grabbed a power tool magazine to flip through.
DJ caught the drill and wasn't phased at her rudeness. She had always treated people that way. Disrespect. Kathy did not respect anyone unless they were as mean and ruthless as her or worse. DJ could only think of the dead rat, Sammy, which disguised itself in a raincoat and infiltrated the classroom at Wayside as a student. That was the only other living…no, not even living, it was the only thing ever that Kathy respected.
He concentrated on reverse drilling; every so often he would rub the stubble on his chin to look thoughtful. Not many kids could pull of rubbing their chin and looking thoughtful. Benjamin Nushmutt was a pro at it…that, and looking dark and broody.
"You done yet?" Kathy barked impatiently, like he was wasting her time.
"Almost," He replied cheerfully, even though he knew she wouldn't thank him.
"Hurry up, will ya? Class is almost over."
He got the last drill out and the wooden panels of the shelves fell apart.
Kathy threw the magazine at him and shouted, "Now look at what you did!"
DJ apologized even though she knew that would happen when he took out all the stripped screws. The last bell of the day rang and they all could go home.
DJ liked to whittle. He had just finished one of a skunk, and it was his favorite because he put a lot of detail into it. He was looking at it while it was in his backpack.
Kathy marched passed him with an unpleasant growl. She was thinking about how much more work she had to do the next day because of the dumb jerk who took out all her screws. A hand landed on her shoulder.
"Get your grease paws off me!" she shouted automatically and jumped to turn around.
"I just wanted to make up for what I did earlier," DJ said sincerely.
"Oh yeah? What are you going to do?" Kathy sniffed and tossed her hair.
"Here," he held out his whittled skunk to her, "I worked a long time on it, and it's my favorite. I remembered you had a pet skunk so I thought I'd give it to you."
Kathy looked at with a blank expression. She snatched it out of his hand and examined it.
DJ smiled big, hoping she liked it.
She did like it. Then she saw his huge smile and eyes of hope. There was something she liked more though.
"Why would I want a stinky ol' skunk?" she frowned and tossed it into the bushes.
She loved to crush people's hopes and happiness, more than anything.
DJ usually never let Kathy, of all people to get him down. He told himself that she would grow out of it someday. He reasoned that if someone were nice to her, then maybe she would be nice too. Everyone from Wayside had given up being nice to Kathy long ago, and it didn't matter if Todd came back because Kathy would never change for the better. That day, DJ snapped.
His smile fell, which was Kathy's goal as resident happiness-Nazi. Instead of being sad, which was another goal Kathy aimed for when she stomped out people's hopes, D.J's mood changed to something else.
He grabbed her backpack, despite her calling him 'grease paws', and threw it into the bushes as well. He stomped off and not without calling her some colorful words. At least now, according to his theory, she would respect him.
Kathy was shocked. DJ was never rude, had never been rude in his life. His parents taught him well. She was starting to respect him, as she crawled through the bushes to find her backpack and thinking: Ugh, extra work to do.
She came upon the little wooden skunk that DJ had whittled. It did remind her of 'Gross', the pet skunk she used to have. He ran away like her first cat though not too long after Mrs. Jewel's 'bring your pet day'. Although Sharie thought the day was exclusively for her pet turtle, 'Yorpet' as 'bring Yorpet day.'
A feeling crept up on Kathy then. Sadness. Why? Was she feeling sympathetic? No, Kathy Wilkins was never sympathetic. Yet, she felt a sort of regret when she looked at the wooden skunk. It was for her. He made it for her, and she tossed it aside as if it didn't matter.
So she picked it up and put it in her jacket pocket, then considered for the first time in her life to ease up on Donald Jacob Strong.