Chapter 35. I'm So Excited!

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I was out sick for a few days - a nasty cold as attributed by hypothermic sleuthing, and Sam was left to himself during Economics. I didn't put much thought into what was happening when I was gone, mostly because I couldn't dare envision a scenario even close to what happened.

Mr. Holland, complete with his tight, white shirt and clip-on tie, had just introduced the class to the final project: presenting an arbitrary country's GDP. Partners were optional, yet, there was nothing random about who tracked down Sam in the library to claim him as their partner.

"Pakistan," Mia said, grabbing the empty seat next to Sam at the table by the window, "wanna partner up?"

Sam's primary reflex at the mention of said country was a slight cringe, followed by draining his face for any emotion beyond confusion.

"I don't know anything about Pakistan." He answered.

"Why would you?" Mia scoffed, having already written half a page of notes in her spiral notebook, "doesn't matter, though. You're the best guy here, and I want an A."

What kind of flattery. It had been some time since Sam received some classic, shameless praise. He liked it but remained wary of Mia's latest antics.

"Sure," he agreed, "granted you're not looking for more dirt to tell my friends."

Mia's short hair and bubbly cheeks made her look like a guilty little boy in a suburban sitcom, it was the 'oh, well! Guess I done did it!' face.

"So, Marcia tattled about that," Mia said, "don't take it personally. I just didn't want her getting the wrong ideas about you."

"I'll take care of my own image, thanks."

Sam sighed, with his hand on his chin as he looked outside to the courtyard. He was wasting so much energy on sounding tough when he should have been using it on studying; he had a lot to do.

"You look tired," Mia pointed out, quite unnecessarily. Sam didn't think it through when he answered so honestly.

"I've been helping Marcia with this... thing," He revealed, "it's enough to lose sleep over."

"That's your problem," Mia concluded.

"That I'm tired?"

"No, silly," she giggled, going as far as to whack his shoulder lightly, "your problem is you're wasting time being a good friend - or whatever, to someone who's clearly not giving you anything in return."

Well, now Sam was really uncomfortable, especially given all the sense it made. Why should he give so much to someone who never gave back? At least not in the way he wanted he wanted.

"Tell you what," Mia continued, "my parents are in Salem overnight, and I'm having a little get together at my house. You should come, and maybe... find some new people to hang out with."

Finally, Sam thought. Finally, someone to give him insight into his situation. He hadn't been told what to do in days.

"What kind of people?" He asked. Mia's round cheeks were puffed up by her smile once more. Finally, someone wanted to b helpful.

"I think you'll find there are a lot of people that want... more of the same thing you want from life," Mia concluded, grabbing her bag and notebook as the clock struck lunchtime, "you should think about it."

Think about it he did, though it was up against some tough competition. He had gotten four hours of sleep at best every night this week, his big chemistry midterm was tomorrow, and the only thing to occupy his mind was distorted memories of recent events.

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