Chapter Twelve

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I really hate technology.

            Because, if we didn’t live in the time where a single event can be captured and forever documented inside a small cell phone, my life would be so much better right now. Oh, what I would give to exist in the age of indestructible bulky Nokia bricks that are incapable of displaying more than four pixels.

            I’d be a lot less subjected to total humiliation that way.

            Of course, Charlotte grabbed the opportunity with both hands and snapped a picture of me almost immediately, trapping me and my embarrassing clown alter ego inside her iPhone memory card. And then the inevitable happened – within minutes it had spread virally through the entirety of her social circle, and voila! Before I know it, I’m the laughing stock of the school.

            Which is part of the reason why, when I enter the breeding ground more widely known as the cafeteria, I also enter my personal hell.

            Ignoring the whispers and stifled sniggers that follow me, I keep my head down and stay safely by Ava as the two of us head towards the busy lunch line. The only thing that can marginally brighten my mood right now is food, but, judging by the usual standard of the menu items, I’m not holding out much hope.

            “What’s the chances they’re actually serving something edible today?”

            Ava shrugs. “Judging by the smell? I’d say close to zero.”

            I tune into the odor wafting from the hot food hatch and resist the urge to wrinkle my nose. It’s not exactly one you’d find floating about in a five star restaurant, to say the least.

            The queue moves forward and we approach the hatch, eyeing up today’s options. None of them look tempting – apparently, our only choice is a discolored looking meat loaf, sloppy chili or a soup that I could swear I saw moving. Hmm… appetizing. After a brief moment of consideration – in which I decide they’re all equally likely to give me food poisoning – I opt for the chili.

            I’m heading towards the pay line with my tray when I notice Connor pondering by the salad bar. Oh, crap. We haven’t had any more encounters since the incident earlier in the week, and I want to keep it that way. Making a conscious attempt to act like I haven’t noticed him, I scoot round the bar and head for the opposite cash register.

            That jerk is not what I want to deal with right now.

            Especially the day after the whole of the school saw the photos of me looking like a complete imbecile dressed up as a clown.

            Now would probably be a good time to transfer schools, I think.

            I pay for my unappetizing lunch and head for our usual seats, only a couple of tables away. Ava follows, sliding into the seat beside me and making herself comfortable.

            “What did you get?” I ask her.

            “Uh… whatever this is.” She gestures aimlessly to her plate, which contains what I think is the discolored meat loaf I had been scrutinizing earlier. “Although the chili probably would’ve been a safer option.”

            “You know, we should really start bringing our lunch from home,” I comment, my eyes flickering from her plate back to mine.

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