...

To say that my life was uneventful would've been a huge understatement. Routine was my middle name. I got up at the crack of dawn, did my chores, walked the mile to school and then spent the next seven hours waiting. I didn't exactly know what I was waiting for, certainly not that last bell's chime that released me for the day.

...

"Well since you're clearly paying attention to today's lesson, why don't you solve the problem for us, Miss Crelle?" Her teacher's monotonous voice was grating on her nerves.

Tameka barely spared the board a quick glance. "Negative eighteen x."

"Hah!" He crowed, getting excited. "That's wrong!"

She slowly dragged her piercing gaze to his. "Is it?" She enunciated carefully. Tameka didn't possess much patience and what little she did have was currently stretched very thin.

That got him thinking. He frowned and turned back to study the blackboard. While most schools nowadays had fancy machines, her school was so run down and broke that they had to resort back to chalkboards and extremely outdated textbooks.

She heard the near silent curse that slipped from his mouth, but she showed no outward reaction to it. He turned to shoot her an accusing glare, full of hatred.

Tameka's expression was blank as she met his stare.

"There's no place in my class for smartasses like you." He snarled, spittle gathering at the corners of his mouth. His face was glistening with perspiration as one student let out a loud guffaw of laughter.

"She's right!" He exclaimed, finally coming to the correct conclusion. The class murmured and giggled as the balding man went red. They were basking in their teacher's embarrassment and the target the man had placed on Tameka's back grew.

She wanted to sigh, but she held it back. Tameka was the worst person to calm other people's rage, or ease their embarrassment. Her blunt and abrupt manner just seemed to make everything worse, so she kept her face expressionless with the hopes that he would burn himself out.

That wasn't going to happen. He was ready to drag it out as long as he could.

"You just love making a mockery of me, don't you? And don't lie to me, Crelle, I see that look in your eyes!" He spat furiously.

Tameka wondered why a person who clearly hated teenagers would become a high school teacher. She internally shrugged the thought off. His reasons were none of her business. Holding her gaze steady, she wanted to remain present and avoid showing how disinterested she really was. The class would be over in a matter of seconds.

The moment the tone sounded, Tameka wanted to be up from her seat and out of the door before anyone could blink. Unfortunately, she simply didn't have the reflexes necessary. It took her a few beats too long to realize what the bell signaled and by the time she gathered herself out of her seat, she was one of the last students left.

"I think we should talk, Crelle." His voice was so strained it sounded like it was about to snap in two.

"Another time, perhaps." She said evenly, flicking her eyes in his direction as she headed for the exit. "When you're calm."

Tameka had only a faint understanding that what she said would make him angrier, but she brushed it off. She'd catch his wrath next day, but at that particular moment, it didn't bother her in the least.

After the little incident in math class, Tameka decided to end her school day early. She had little trouble weaving in and out of bodies as she headed for her locker; Tameka's school was the only secondary school of a fairly small backwards town in the middle of nowhere and very few people attended. Tameka carelessly dropped her books at the bottom of her locker. She quietly slipped the lock back on and, coat in hand, turned towards the nearest exit.

She barely had her hand on the door when a voice called her name. "Tameka!" It was the principal.
Tameka grimaced and let out a tiny exasperated sigh. She visualized her free time evaporating like droplets of water on a hot day. She slowly turned. "Yes, ma'am?"

"Where are you going? There's still another class." Her deep brown eyes were twinkling in the light. Friendly and polite, the head of the school always seemed to be in a good mood. The intuitive (and usually ignored) part of Tameka knew that her cheerful disposition was forced, even though the woman played the part exceptionally well.

"Must have slipped my mind." Tameka said each word slowly, softly.

Principal Cordston shook her head, her permanent smile never fading. "Good thing I reminded you then, eh?"

She managed a nod. Tameka's eyes narrowed slightly; Cordston usually started her rounds on the other side of the school at this time. Her getaway should have been clean.

The principal waited until Tameka retrieved her books before personally guiding her to her next class, pausing outside the door. Tameka waited expectantly for the near daily lecture. It started out differently than normal.

Cordston stared at Tameka for a long moment, studying her. Any other student would have felt small and intimidated by the woman's knowing look as she seemingly peered into the youth's soul, but Tameka simply stared right back. Not much fazed her.

"Your attendance is slipping." Was all Cordston said.

Tameka acknowledged the statement but didn't try to explain herself.

Cordston was forced to press. "Is everything alright at home?"

One eyebrow lifted a couple millimeters. "Yes." She replied stoically. Tameka hadn't lied. Everything was exactly as it always had been. That was the problem.

"You're a smart girl, Tameka." The principal was disappointed that her student refused to confide in her.

Tameka bobbed her head once in response to the compliment, but she knew there was more coming.

"You know attendance is crucial to getting good grades." Cordston was just running through the motions now. They both knew that Tameka was the kind of girl who needed very little, if any, instruction and could ace the test without effort. Tameka refused to do any more than read the textbook and listen in class. Homework and notes were completely foreign to her. But her school's grading system placed all importance on exams so it suited her just fine.

The bell to begin the next class had rung several minutes ago. Tameka cast a longing glance towards the classroom. She wondered how much longer she'd have to listen to Cordston ramble.

Cordston sighed and dismissed the teenager with a nod to the door. "You're free to go. Have a pleasant day."

"You too." Tameka politely replied before disappearing into the room.

"Glad you could join us." Her languages teacher said sarcastically; she couldn't stand students being late. The class was perfect for Tameka because the teacher didn't care what you did during her class, as long as your grades stayed up.

Tameka didn't respond to the barb and found a secluded seat on the edge of the classroom. She laid her head down on the cool desk and closed her eyes. It wasn't even two o'clock and she was worn out. As she drifted off, she hoped the rest of her day wouldn't be quite so trying.