Flash: Be Ninja Part Two – First Attempt

Photo by Chris Moore on Unsplash

Stuck between brainiac money boy Able Bykowski and druggie Cooper don’t-call-me-by-my-first-name-or-I’ll-hit-you did not promise a good start to this assembly, but what are you going to do during Ms. Niederhauser’s and her OCD everything in alphabetical order English class when your name is Carnegie? At least the freshman and sophomores had finished sitting. We would be next loading into the all-purpose room bleachers; I saw the Seniors start forming ranks on the other set of doors into the large area. They would be last in and first out.

Vice Principal Hargraves managed to get the first two classes properly loaded into the seating section across where the freshman sat neatly at attention. Then chaos started as the jocks, money, brains, and all the other cliques started self-sorting. When I got in, I walked up the metal seats to the top where theatre grabbed space. We are really bad at being in audiences, especially for the bi-annual Be Swell and Tell assemblies. The announcement had only been to report to assembly, but it’s the first week back from winter holidays, and only the BSAT assemblies aren’t announced in advanced.

Once firmly ensconced at the highest spot with my techies pals, I surveyed the large room, watching as the sophomores finally got the clue that the teachers were not in charge and started shifting around. One or two tried to keep order, but for the most part they just made sure mayhem remained at low levels. I noticed Cooper slipping through the seats to the open area underneath to join his group. He really needed to be more careful, at some point he will be too noticeable not to report.

I kicked myself for like the millionth time for pulling that Ninja trick while working pizza during break. If someone noticed and reported, but it didn’t happen, but it could have. I gripped the metal seat either side of me, then relaxed my fingers before I dented something. I breathed in and out.

Romeo dropped down beside me as the Seniors came up. His real name is Liam, but he is the best actor in the school. Grabbed the Romeo role as a freshman, transferring in from homeschooling. Brains, money, jock, and theatre. He was the whole package. Actors do hang with the tech, but they are the row under us, not beside. I raise an eyebrow.

“Hey Aster, right?” His voice could paint the walls in layers when on stage.

I nodded, well past the crushing stage with him, unlike everyone else in the school. My job has been for the last two and a half years to keep him in the light, and the boy likes to chew scenery. He moved constantly. Too many nights getting mark after mark straight. He’s easy to look at, but when you have to come back to school after working delivery, the awe factor wears away.

“You know Sophia, right?”

I glanced across at the sophomore area, where the theatre group managed to tuck themselves into the ledge beside the (score light area – need word). Sophia’s black hair was wrapped into two braids around her head like a crown. “Yeah, she does sound.”

“Do you know if she is, like, dating anyone?”

I did a double-take. Romeo didn’t date, not with his schedule. On top of being in the top five students, and lettering in three different sports, and being in theatre, he also had at least two service gigs to look good on his college forms. “Um, I think her parents are very religious and not letting her date yet. I think I remember her complaining about that.”

His shoulders fell.

“You interested? I mean, tech finds a way.” It’s a saying we have, props, sets, lights, sound, costume. If the play or musical needs it, we will find it.

“Well, maybe, not really.” He looked to where the principal and vice principals were gathering by one door. The assembly would be starting soon. “Mom said I need to go to the prom and I should go with someone I won’t be embarrassed to be in a picture with. Someone that has a future.”

Someone not a cheerleader, which would be the first option, or an actress, the second option, of Senior girls he would be rubbing elbows with. His parents were pieces of work.

Sophia’s father was Representative Ricci, and her mother was the chair of the City Council. Her grandparents had a park and a downtown building named after them. Her future was wrapped and bow-tied. Thing is she is also a nice girl and a hard worker. I wanted to hate her a little, my future including questions like if the parents will make rent this month, but I couldn’t. Luck of the draw, you know?

(words 796 – first published 9/18/2022)