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Pen Your Pride

Maybe Marissa's right

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Maybe Marissa's right. Maybe I have been self-focused, and though I don't get why those things are important to her, they obviously are. She's stood by me for the last three years of struggling with school. The least I can do is be here for her now. It's what every good A.P. would do. Besides, somewhere along the way she's become more than just an A.P. – she really has become a good friend.

'Riss?' I call after her. 'Riss, wait up.'

As I enter the classroom behind her I cringe. Because seated quietly on a bench at the front of class, where they've been told to wait since yesterday, are the three missing boys from the news report this morning. Though unlike their serious headshot images, they have giant smiles now. Forced. False. But smiles nonetheless.

They wave and perk up when they see their girls. Paisley approaches her victim, a boy with the same shade of red hair as my father. He nearly stumbles getting off the bench to greet her.

'How was your night?' she asks. 'Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?' At least she cares about his wellbeing, in a way.

'Making you happy makes me comfortable,' he says with a giant smile.

I roll my eyes and turn my back so I don't have to see the rest of their exchange.

Marissa's already spread her things over my usual spot next to her. I ignore the message and plop down in the chair. She gives me one of her dramatic glares.

I force a smile. 'You got Marilyn, that's awesome. What are you going to do for your presentation?'

She crosses her arms and leans into the desk. 'Like you care.'

The bell rings before I can reply, and Sister Hannah Marie enters.

'Good morning, ladies. I trust you've come prepared to learn.' Her voice is all sing-song which means we're most likely having a pop quiz or a live demonstration. I hope to the gods this isn't either, but if it has to be one, I'm praying for the quiz. 'Why don't you push your tables back, grab some floor mats and make a circle at the front.'

I groan – floor mats mean demonstrations. After this morning, this is the last thing I want to do. I debate excusing myself to the restroom or the sickroom. But of all the Sisters, Hannah Marie loves her job the most. Her eagerness to teach often results in me with a detention. If I don't want to be sent to Mother Superior's office early, I'll have to at least look interested in the lesson.

'How did your assignments from last class go?' Sister Hannah Marie asks, surveying the room and taking a mental attendance as we get to work setting up our mats.

Marissa's first to raise her hand. She kicks off her heels and stands on the edge of the squishy foam waiting to be called.

'Miss Bale.' The Sister acknowledges with a nod.

Marissa's head jerks up and she flashes one of her pageant-winning grins. 'I turned a boy this morning. A cute one.'

The class bursts into a fit of giggles and Sister Hannah Marie claps her hands in joy at the news. I force a smile so as not to look too out of place.

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