Chapter 2: Shenanigans
“Excuse me, dearie! What’s the hurry? You’re going to be here for a whole day.”
Marianne paused in her marching toward the gym to look at the lady with short, frizzy, red hair, who also was wearing a flower chain in her hair. She was so short, and yet her loud voice more than made up for the lack of height. The big smile on her face made it clear to Marianne that the mother meant no harm.
“I need to go to the pool. I want to get there before everyone else does.”
It was a true statement, even if her true reason to go was something else entirely. But she did not want to worry anyone unnecessarily, especially the adults. She would take care of it on her own. She was alone and free, so she was going to do it her way.
“No point now, dear, oh Marianne,” said the mother looking at Marianne’s name tag, “that’s such a pretty name. I’m Griselda King, by the way, but you can call me Griselda. You might know my son, Bog.”
Marianne cleared her throat out of uncertainty about what to say about him, seeing as he was the cause of all her recent problems.
“Yes, but he and I don’t talk much. I’m not overly fond of him.”
“Sure, he’s a little rough at first, but inside, he’s the sweetest guy you ever met, and so loyal! You just can’t find that anymore. I can say that because I know he’s just like his father, and his father, God rest his soul, was the most loyal guy you could find.”
“That’s very nice and all, but why should I not hurry to the pool?” asked Marianne with impatience.
“Because there’s already been a stream of people who passed this way. Get it? Stream? Pool?”
Marianne then understood where Bog got his sense of humor and love of the ridiculous from. She had already seen large insects crawling about the hallway, and she had no doubt that Bog was behind it.
“Thank you for letting me know, Griselda. But anyways, I still want to get in there and-“
“Who are you meeting there?” asked Griselda suddenly.
“Me? No one. Just going by myself.”
“It’s better that way, honestly. I’m not on the best of terms right now with many people.”
“Well, I hope you can reconcile soon. It’s awful being on your own like that. It gets kinda lonely, and this is me talking from experience, dearie. You think it’s fun now, but it’s not. Now look at me droning on and keeping you from having fun. See you around!”
Griselda wandered off (her mind busy and happily engaged), leaving Marianne to stare at her. The brunette shook her head at the idea of being alone. She already knew what it was like being alone, and she would much rather have that over the silliness of being in love.
Love is not safe.
Even as Marianne repeated the mantra while walking toward the pool, her mind was already beginning to doubt. She had known loneliness since breaking away from Roland, but it was better to remove such people from her life, anyway. She needed to find true friends, but not a boyfriend. She could have moved on easily, as her heart was not bothered by Roland anymore, but she simply did not want it.
Sure, she still wondered about what Roland was doing and when things had changed, how it had all turned to lies between them, but the truth was that she did not want to ask why, for fear of being hurt more than she already had been. He did not matter, nor did any kind of relationship like that.
Even with those thoughts, though, some part of her looked at the couple who were hidden away in a corner with longing, seeing the guy with blond, spiky (yet fluffy) hair and tight pants happily kiss his brunette girlfriend. She had no doubt that those two would share a magic dance on the dance floor before the night was over, and part of her wished that she had that security, that companionship….
No. Love was painful. It made her do stupid things. It was funny how her heart could deceive her more than just a couple times about Roland, but now she knew. Never would she fall in love again.
Marianne walked into the pool area and gaped. No one was in the water, as it had been dyed purple and had lily pads inside of it, just like a real pond. Instead, people just sat around and talked. Then, one of the triplet guys that hung around with Roland swaggered up to Marianne.
“It looks like The Princess has finally flipped her lid and did something besides hit her ex, even if he loves you and just wants to get back with you.”
“Go jump in the pool, Pretty Boy.”
“You first. You ought to try out your creation.”
“I did not-“
“Don’t try to deny it, Marianne. You knew all the plans from the start since your sister planned all this. I bet you did this on purpose. We all know it was you. The similarity in color is enough to seal your fate. Will your father and Roland approve? You should go to them now and tell them. I’m sure Roland will still take you back.”
Marianne could feel everyone’s eyes on her, and they were all laughing at her. She truly was in a kingdom of isolation now. She had considered some of them her friends at one point of time, but now she could see that they only liked her because of Roland the Neanderthal. It stung, but it was a lesson she needed to learn. Still, if she had Dawn there, or maybe Sunny, then she could smile and laugh at them….
No. That was not productive. Dawn had her own life to live and would not want to be weighed down by her problems and views of people, especially men. She was alone, and she would stay like that.
“I’m never going back to Roland. That I can promise you. As for the pool, it wasn’t me. I’d never wreck all of Dawn’s plans like that. You could always just lift a finger and actually take out all of the lily pads and swim in the pool water that has had purple food dye added. Anyone with eyes can see that.”
Marianne then shoved the triplet into the pool amidst loud peals of laughter. Then she stomped out of the pool area. Fine, if they were going to laugh at her, then she would not help them. She would just take out her anger on the cause of all this.
Who happened to run into her just then, as he had been staring at the ground while speed-walking. And who then proceeded to gulp upon impact before looking up to see who it was. At first, Marianne would swear that Bog had blushed, but it had to be a trick of the light. He was giving her a menacing look now, and she intended to stare back at him until he understood that she was not about to back down.
Bog did want to keep up the frightening look, but it was hard to do so after talking to Dawn and his mother. He had gone to the cafeteria to see how the gummy worms and other unexpected food items had been received. Most people looked horrified, but Dawn was still smiling, just standing behind the table, ready to give out food to all the seniors.
Bog went over to the edge of the table to find some oreos, as he had instructed Brutus to cover the cookies with a slimy green goo that his mother used to fill her pastries with. The goo was sugary goodness, and actually made the oreos taste even better, so he got all the oreos to himself.
“Marianne likes oreos, too. You lick the insides off just like she does. That’s so weird!”
Bog turned an annoyed face upon Dawn, who had somehow managed to sneak up behind him while he enjoyed his oreos. Why was she talking to him?
“Don’t you have other seniors you have to serve right now?”
“I could be, but I’ve already done so much. Sunny also wants me to have a break, so I am. Now I’m talking to you. How does the green stuff taste? I’ve never seen it before.”
“Terrible,” he replied on instinct.
Dawn tittered before grabbing an oreo and saying, “Marianne also says that when she wants it all to herself. Now I’m going to try one. Mmm, this is amazing!”
Bog cursed inwardly because now she knew his secret. It was time to get away before he said anything he would regret.
“That’s great, Dawn, but you should go away now.”
“Why? What if I want to talk to you?”
“Dawn, go away; I’m no good for you and your reputation. Being seen talking to me is bad. I’m the big, bad, Bog King. You should go back where you belong.”
“Don’t you like talking to me, Bog?” asked Dawn, her eyes starting to look glassy.
Bog started to panic. He did not like weepy girls, and had no idea how to handle tears. He had to do something fast!
“No, of course I like talking to you, Dawn, but you, er, that’s why you shouldn’t talk to me. I’m doing you a favor. People will judge, and I’m not that interesting or worth it.”
He had been told that by other girls; she would be no exception if she tried to really talk to him.
“Bog, don’t you like yourself? Are you afraid to love?”
Bog did not know where that last question had come from, but he had no intention of answering it. Of course he was not afraid to love! It just was not worth it. But no one needed to know that. Dawn’s glassy look had gone away, and instead she looked curious. That was very bad. Now he had to go, as clearly she was not afraid of him. It must be a family trait.
“I have to go talk to my friends,” he said, pointing to Stuff and Thang who stood staring at him from outside the cafeteria. He was walking away when he realized that he had left abruptly, so he turned toward Dawn and gave her an awkward smile and wave before rushing to catch up to his friends.
Once he was outside, he asked them about their plans.
“So how does the pool look?”
“Well, BK, I don’t think we added enough purple, but it looks dark at least,” replied Thang with enthusiasm.
“The water’s supposed to look murky, not dark. Let me see it.”
Bog began grumbling and headed toward the pool, only to run into his mother.
“Bog! There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Are you having fun?”
“I was, Mother.”
“You silly boy! Well, I was just talking to the most amazing girl, and I think you should talk to her. She seems nice, and I think she needs a friend right now. She looks lonely. Your lonely heart just might connect with hers, and who knows what could happen? Maybe you’ll finally date again! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?”
Bog wanted to face-palm, but he did not feel right doing that in front of his mother.
“Mother, voice level. Don’t say such embarrassing things out loud! How many times have I told you that I don’t want to date again? I’m against love. It’s stupid and painful.”
Bog spread out his hands widely to emphasize his point, but Griselda still shook her head and raised her voice more.
“Nonsense! I am not going to see my only son die alone. You’re going to be happy, even if I have to set you up on more blind dates-“
“No thanks, Mother,” he said, putting his hand on hers.
“But you should at least consider it, Bog. You should try. You don’t have to be alone. Just because you got burned once by a girl doesn’t mean that every girl will feel that way about. It’s bound to happen sometimes. Love is like a flame sometimes; you’ll get burned because you have to be vulnerable to love. But you haven’t died yet, have you? You still have friends and a heart.”
“The rest of the student body doubts that last part,” mumbled Bog.
“What was that, Sweetie?”
“Nothing Mother. I’m just going to go toward the pool.”
Griselda’s ears perked up at hearing that.
“Then have fun there! And say hi to Marianne if you bump into her!”
He had no intention of saying hi to her, but bump into her he did as he considered all that his mother had said to him about Marianne. Perhaps his friends were right about him being distracted around her.
But having a staring contest with her was becoming hard. They had been standing there for what seemed like ten minutes, and his eyes were becoming itchy. At least he could take comfort in the fact that Marianne’s were responding similarly.
“Had enough yet, Bog?”
“Not if you haven’t, Tough Girl. You getting tired?”
“Never. I just thought I would take it easy on you now before the big fight.”
Nope. He was not going to be able to scratch his right eye yet, he thought sullenly to himself as he growled at Marianne for her smack talk.
“That’s some big talk coming from a small, wee girl like you.”
Marianne bristled and leaned in closer to Bog.
“I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much. At least I don’t need a posse to do all of my dirty work.”
“So the little kitty has claws, does it? Careful, Marianne. You shouldn’t pick a fight with someone who has a lot more in store for tonight’s festivities.”
Marianne’s eyes narrowed, but Bog was unsure if it was because he had managed to scare her, or because she wanted to blink. Either way, he was close to victory.
“Besides,” he continued, “you’re probably just smarting after seeing my idea happen, and you have no way of fixing it. Fear not, you can still have fun in the pool.”
“Sure, Bog, because I’ve been dreaming of going swimming merrily with a lily pad on top of my head.”
For several moments, they stared, and then the full impact of the image of Marianne splashing about while wearing a lily pad was just too much for both. Full-bodied, heaving laughs were shared, both leaning on the other for support.
Once both stopped laughing, they realized how close they were to one another and took large steps to put more distance between them. The awkward silence could have lasted a long time were it not for Thang and his sense of timing.
“Do you need some help over there?”
With the silence thus broken, Marianne spoke as Bog waved the question away.
“As much as I would like to smile, I can’t. I’m not fond of you. First you try to mess up my sister’s plans, and now I’m being blamed for your trouble-“
“What?” roared Bog.
“The people inside blame me because the color of the water matches my clothes.”
“That’s preposterous! Stuff, Thang, I thought you had said it was dark.”
“It was really dark when we first put it in.”
Bog then face-palmed. It seemed he really did need to do everything himself.
“No one takes credit for my genius. Come on, you two. Let’s go set the record straight and take our proper credit.”
The three left Marianne standing there in open-mouthed shock. Was he really going to take credit for it? Marianne followed and came just in time to hear him ask a question.
“And all of you. How are you enjoying my first prank for the night?”
Marianne stood and watched for several more moments until she watched Stuff and Thang push in the other two triplets. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, and they had each other to stand up for them. That was nice, to have someone to depend on. Then she went to the gym where the go-carts were being used.
Marianne was annoyed when she saw that people were once again just standing around and talking, lounging in the go-carts. She went to one of the go-carts and tried to figure out how to turn it on. When she realized there was no crank to turn it on, she left the gym in search of Sunny. Sunny was good with tools and had access to all of the keys in the school for tonight since all the teachers and custodians trusted him more than the flighty Dawn.
“Marianne! Why do you look so upset?”
Dawn ran up to Marianne, with the shorter Sunny huffing close behind.
“That arrogant, overbearing, menacing, overgrown-“
“What did Bog King do?”
“Wait, Dawn, how did you know I was talking about him?”
“Just call it a hunch, okay, Sis? And where did all this come from? Why didn’t you show this to me yet? You look amazing!”
Marianne opened and closed her mouth. Leave it to her sister to put her at ease despite all the problems.
“I needed a change, Dawn. I’m glad you like it.”
“Like it? I love it!” said Dawn, hugging her sister. “I always thought you looked great in purple. But what’s going on with Bog?”
“He’s destroying your plans! I’m so sorry, Dawn. I’m trying to fix it, but I don’t know how. That’s why I came here. I need Sunny’s help.”
“What has he done?” asked Dawn with surprise.
“He had put food dye and lily pads in the pool. He also removed the crank off of the go-carts, so those don’t work. I don’t know what else he’s done, but he has lots more in mind.”
“He’s probably the one who put all that weird stuff in the food, Dawn,” added Sunny helpfully.
“Weird stuff? What weird stuff? Did it touch the oreos?”
Dawn laughed before answering, “Yes, it did touch the oreos, but they actually taste even better now. Come over here and try one. See?”
Marianne grimaced at seeing the odd green color on her oreos, but she tried it upon seeing the earnest look on her sister’s face. Then she smiled.
“Wow, this is actually really good! I’m taking some with me. Sunny, can you grab the keys and your tools and help me?”
“Dawn, is it okay if I go? If you need to help, then I can-“
“Go ahead, Sunny. I got this. Marianne needs you more than I do right now. You’ve already done lots. Go save the world and help get those go-carts running.”
The two headed for the door and almost left. Then, Dawn said, “Marianne, don’t be mad at Bog. While I’m surprised he did that, the big thing is that I want people tonight to have fun. As long as everyone enjoys themselves, then I’m okay with it. Maybe this is his idea of fun. Did others like it?”
Marianne stopped to think about it. No, they had no hated it, but still!
“They didn’t hate it, but they didn’t say they liked it either. They just kept on talking.”
“That’s what matters. Just fix the go-carts and have some fun. You deserve it.”
After that, the two left. After going through five closets, they found the missing cranks and began screwing the cranks back into place. As they finished up the last one (without help from anyone else), Bog came in from instilling fear into the hearts of all who saw him inside the pool area. He had been whistling and seemed cheerful until he saw that all the cars were lined up and fixed.
Then Bog marched over to Marianne, who proceeded to push Sunny away and motioned for him to run back to Dawn. Sunny did so with the knowledge that Marianne was capable of taking care of herself. He watched the two shout a little, and when it was clear that she was not going to cower to Bog’s bark, he went and joined Dawn.
“What. Have. You. Done?” asked Bog as he poked Marianne in the shoulder.
Marianne stood tall with her chin up, and she folded her arms in defiance.
“What does it look like I did, Bog? Fix your trouble.”
“My trouble? I didn’t ask for you to do so. They should’ve been allowed to sit and not use them if they didn’t have the slightest clue how to fix the problem.”
Bog kept his eyes on Marianne even as he waved away Thang and Stuff. He would win this battle of wits.
“And what if I wanted to use them? Did you think of that, O High and Mighty Bog King?”
“I’ve seen the little Beetle you drive, Tough Girl. This isn’t anything new and exciting for you.”
Several people made “o” noises, while others laughed at his scorching remark. The noise doubled when they heard her response.
“At least I drive better than you.”
“Doubtful, Tough Girl. Let’s take a little drive around the track, and I’ll show you exactly how well I drive.”
“Deal,” she said, reaching out and shaking his hand.
Everyone immediately spread out against the wall to watch the two race on the obstacle course set up. They were about to start their cars when Roland ambled in.
“Well, if it isn’t my Marianne. Are we going for a drive? I’ll join. C’mon Marianne, we can beat the Goblin King easy.”
“Go away, Roland. You aren’t wanted here.”
“Too late now, Buttercup.”
Roland was about to get on the inside, but Marianne moved a little, motioning for him to go between her and Bog.
“Would you please go there, Roland, if you must drive?”
Bog had to cough to hide the laugh he was having at seeing the fake, smug grin on Marianne’s face. Clearly, she had a plan for Roland. Never let it be said that he did not do as the lady asked.
Roland considered protesting, but decided not to since Marianne was not trying to hit him. The three started their engines, and while Roland waved to his admiring fans, Marianne motioned to Bog to look at the wooden block in the middle of the lane at the end of the course.
Bog smiled and nodded. The true race would begin after the first lap.
At first, all three were about even, with Marianne slightly ahead because Roland was such a nice guy. Then, about halfway through, she slowed down and got right up next to Roland’s car. Bog followed suit. Roland took it good at first, and then he saw the wooden block.
“Hey, Buttercup, I think you should move-“
“Sorry, no can do, Roland. It seems my car is stuck right here. How about yours, Bog?”
“But, Sweet Pea, I’m going to, AHH! My hair!”
Roland did not even attempt to brake, so he rammed into the wooden block. Of course his first concern was his appearance, not that he could destroy a car like that. He sat there trying to smooth out his good looks until his cronies came and pushed him off the track so that neither one crashed into him later. Then, he got out of his seat and left for the bathroom. He had failed again to impress Marianne.
Meanwhile, Bog and Marianne slapped hands.
“Ready to have a proper race and lose, Bog?”
“I don’t even have to try to win against you, Tough Girl. Two laps will determine the winner.”
The two sped off, weaving around one another until the very end. No one was sure who would win, but bets were placed. Many were disappointed when the race ended in a tie, but at least Stuff made good money from it. Thang had refused to bet.
“I guess you’re not that good of a driver, then, Bog. Looks like you tied with me.”
“We’re just evenly matched is all,” said Bog in a huff.
“So you should be driving a Beetle, too,” she said as she smirked and ran away from the incoming remark she was sure to receive for suggesting the tall Bog drive such a small vehicle. As it was, Bog’s knees had been almost at his head’s level when they had raced.
Bog had been about to make some careless remark in response, but then he saw her run off to the other side of the gym, where he had taken the time to put a fresh coat of wax on the floor. Sure enough, he walked and watched as Marianne went through the doorway and took a couple steps on the floor before falling onto it.
He would have smiled at that little twist in their situations, but he heard all of the people start to laugh at her. He wanted to yell at them. It was not right! She had only tried to help them, and there they were, laughing at her. No one tried to help. He would not stand for it.
Marianne thought that the people had gotten tired of the dancing and music, only to find out that they were not on the floor because it was too slippery to move. She tried to get up and failed. She tried again. At that moment, she could not remember the last time she had felt so alone.
She had done nothing wrong before at the pool, but this was so much worse. She had truly fallen and was making a fool of herself as she tried to get up. No one cared. No one was there for her, and she was doing so on purpose, trying to continue it. Why? She was in so much pain, and if she had someone, then she could share it with someone. Anyone. Even her dad had had her mother. Why was she alone after all this time, and how could she fix this? Building these walls was not worth it since she had no one to trust (besides her sister), which was sad. She was not going to let this continue anymore.
And then there was a hand. Then a foot, and another one.
Finally, two hands reaching out for hers. She looked up, and she saw the bluest eyes she had ever seen, coming from an unexpected face.
“Will you let me help you, Marianne?”
Bog was uncertain, truly not sure if she would take his hand. He knew it was his fault, so he must have felt guilty. But he still walked up and offered to help, and not in a condescending fashion at all. Somehow, he knew that she did not like asking for help. Perhaps he felt similarly.
Those thoughts and more (mostly about how blue his eyes were in the dark of the gym) crisscrossed about until she made up her mind. Marianne was surprised, but she accepted the help. Just because she was strong and independent did not mean that she could not accept help when she could not handle it on her own.
Marianne put her hands in his, pushing her feet against his. Then, he proceeded to pull her up until they were both standing. For the second time that night, they shared a smile, borne out of them working together. Marianne began to realize that perhaps Griselda was right, and Bog found himself at a loss for words because while a triumphant or aggressive Marianne was fun to fight, this newer, softer side of her made him yearn to help her. She was alone, and he knew the feeling well. But when she smiled like that at him, as though he had just given her wings to fly, he felt his heart skip a beat, and part of him wanted to make her smile like that at him again.
The two stared for several moments until a grin appeared on Marianne’s face, and Bog realized too late that she was going to push him in retaliation, so he did the next best thing, bring her down with him.
With a loud “oof”, the two did not hear the others’ laughter, instead concentrating only on the other.
“So, Tough Girl, how do you propose that we get out of this trouble that you’ve gotten us into yet again?”
“Me? You’re the one who did this! It should be you. We’re just sitting here making fools of ourselves. How is this even fun?”
“Of course this is fun,” said Bog in annoyance, “I planned it; therefore this is the most fun possible in an awkward environment like this.”
“I don’t see any fun here,” said Marianne as she put her hands on her hips.
“Clearly you’re not doing it right, then. Now, hold onto your skirt.”
“Wait, Bog, what are you….. Eeii!”
Marianne had taken hold of her skirt as she spoke, only for Bog to put his hands on her shoulders and push her, making her slide across the floor with ease. Soon, Bog caught up after pushing himself toward her.
“How about that, Tough Girl? Was that fun?”
Bog looked pleased with himself, so Marianne decided to return the favor.
“Nowhere near enough, almighty King. Hold on.”
Soon, the two were chasing after one another, sliding to and from opposite walls on the floor, even racing as they tried to use their arms to go faster. The two would have done it longer had they not realized that other people had decided to join them on the floor, getting in their racing path. Even Stuff and Thang had joined in, each taking turns to push the other.
Once the two saw that they were not going to be able to do as much with so many people on the floor already, they headed for the edge of the slippery floor. Twice they attempted to get up, but both times they sat down the moment they saw that the other was trying to get up.
Finally, Stuff yelled, “Hey, BK! It’s about time for that little fight of yours. You ready to go?”
When they saw that it was almost nine, they got up at once and put some distance between them. They walked in silence to the makeshift boxing ring, where they put on the helmets and gloves and stepped onto the blow-up ring that could not be blown up, courtesy of Bog.
“Prepare to lose, Bog.”
“Not after I’m done with you, Tough Girl. You’ll be begging for mercy.”
The parent volunteer reminded them that they had fifteen minutes in the ring before they had to leave. Both waved off the reminder as unnecessary before turning and seeing that there were sticks with cylindrical cushions on the ends. Both picked one up, and then they began to fight.
“Anyone want to bet on the winner?” asked Stuff as innocently as possible.
Soon, Stuff had people on both sides, while she bet on a tie between the two. Both were evenly matched, with the wills and intelligence. Both had some experience with martial arts, but neither had practiced it recently, so she figured that they would have to stop after fifteen minutes.
Marianne took the offensive right away. She took two swings, and Bog blocked them both.
“You’re going to have to try harder than that to defeat me, Tough Girl.”
“I’m just warming up, Bog. Prepare to have that behind of yours be soundly kicked out of this ring.”
“Only by the authorities. Certainly not by those tennis shoes. If you were wearing boots, maybe.”
Marianne took another swing and then twirled into him, only for him to try hitting her from above. For several moves, he tried hitting, only for her to almost hit him from below in places no man should ever be hit.
“Are we playing dirty, Tough Girl?”
“Only if you want to allow it.”
“Fair and square,” said the adult.
Both rolled their eyes, and then Marianne faked a move right, only to strike left. The problem was that Bog’s weapon caught hold of hers on her weak side and sent the stick into the air behind him, leaving her defenseless. Bog charged, and Marianne slid between Bog’s legs to pick up her weapon, almost getting hit in the process.
“Five minutes,” said the adult.
At that point, the two looked at one another with the same thought: time to ditch the large, clumsy weapons. Faces, meet fists.
Several girls screamed as the large sticks came flying at them, while Bog and Marianne began circling one another, trying to get in a punch. Both made several attempts, and then the one minute mark was announced. Both felt tired at that point, but they were determined to have a winner that time, so they gave it one last push.
Marianne gave several elbows and kicks, while Bog blocked. Then he tried to tackle her, only to fall onto the ground and get up before she could jump on top. As he got up, time was called. Another tie.
“Pay up, suckers,” said Stuff with pride.
“It seems we’re evenly matched in more than one way, Bog.”
“So it seems, Tough Girl. It was a good fight.”
“Yes. I haven’t had that much fun in years! No one ever just lets loose like that with me. They just go easy on me because I’m a girl or some other nonsense.”
“Believe me, Tough Girl, I know better.”
“There’s my little Buttercup,” said Roland with a freshly pampered face and body.
“Go away, Roland. I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Marianne, I just want to talk. Is that so bad?”
“Considering you lie the moment you open your mouth? Yes. Leave me alone.”
Roland normally would have walked on up to her to try something, but then he saw Bog, Brutus, Stuff, and Thang all move to stand behind her, with Bog directly behind. Bog gave his best “Run, or I’ll give you a reason to cry” face, and Roland decided it best to wait until Marianne had no one around. He was doing a terrible job of getting close to her tonight.
“Alright, Sweet Pea, I’ll go, but if you need me, you know how to find me. Ta ta!”
Marianne saw the look of fear enter Roland’s eyes as he ran out, almost falling in the process, and she was surprised. Had she done it all by herself?
Then she turned around and saw all four standing behind her. They were why she was safe. They had helped, even though they did not know her well. Marianne knew she was smiling.
“Thanks, you guys. You didn’t have to do it, but I appreciate it all the same. I would’ve just punched him.”
Three of the four just smiled and shrugged their shoulders, pointing at Bog. Bog was smiling, but he could not speak. Finally, he said, “You’re welcome, Tough Girl. Now as for all of you, get ready for the show. To your positions.”
“But what about-“
“She’s good, Stuff. Just go.”
The three scrambled out, and Bog walked up to Marianne with a smile on his face. His eyes looked afraid, but everything else seemed confident.
“So, Tough Girl, after all this saving, you ready to show some appreciation for all the help you’ve received?”
Bog leaned in close, and Marianne saw that no one else was in the room besides them. Had she put her trust in the wrong person?
Before she could think further, Marianne followed her instincts. When Bog was less than a foot from her face, she leaned back and slapped him. Next, she tried to punch him. Bog caught her punch with a tut.
“I knew that was coming, Tough Girl. I also know that-“
He would have continued, but Marianne tried to punch him with her other hand. It was then that Thang brought in an adult, who saw Marianne throw the punch, and Bog with a hand at the ready.
“Stop this at once! Both of you come with me right now.”
Both stopped, but Marianne was confused why Bog was smiling so much. Why did he seem so glad to be caught?
The adult led the pair to a set of doors that led to a portion of the school closed off to the lock-in. They were shown into a classroom.
“You two will sit here to think about what you were doing. Both of you should be ashamed. I’ll come by later to check on you both, and I expect you to have made up by then.”
Marianne wanted to scream, but then she saw Bog smiling even more.
“What is with you, Bog? Why are you smiling so much? Did you want to be caught?”
“As a matter of fact, yes, I did. The only way the next part of my plan works is if I had access to this portion of the school, so thank you.”
At that, two soft knocks came at the door. Bog tapped his desk twice in response. Thang walked in.
“Are you ready to start preparations?”
“Sure am. Marianne, would you like to join us?”
Bog extended a hand out to her, and Marianne took it. For a brief second, she considered not doing so just to spite him after tricking her like that. If he had wanted that, then he should have asked her. But did he trust her? Maybe not. Either way, she wanted to go, for curiosity and to make sure they did not cause any serious trouble.
Once Thang started to run off, Bog started talking.
“I’m sorry I had to surprise you like that. I wasn’t sure if you were ready to join my band of misfits. Really, you should join the dark side. We have cookies, specifically oreos. They’re quite amazing.”
Both reached into a side pocket and pulled out a baggie full of oreos. Marianne eyed him.
“How did you know I like oreos?”
“Your sister told me,” said Bog with a grin.
Figures. No wonder she was so willing to talk about him. But why was she talking about me?
“Fine, give me the bag, Bog.”
“But are you joining us? Will you commit yourself to our side?”
“Honestly, Bog? I don’t know. Are we fighting for the same thing? And are we doing it the right way?”
“We both want to give Roland exactly what he deserves, public humiliation. You choose to punch him and get suspended, while I prefer to do it in more than one way. If I get suspended, then it will be in style.”
“Drama king,” said Marianne.
“I like an audience. What can I say? But, seriously, you can join us. Let me know by the time the talent show ends.”
“So generous you are,” said Marianne with sarcasm. In truth, she was surprised that she was not being forced to make a decision then and now. But perhaps he expected her to join and was willing to wait.
“What can I say? I’m a King. So, shall we split the oreos?”
While the two ate their oreos and Bog tried not to look at Marianne as she ate it the same way as him, the rest of the group from the science club was hard at work. Stuff gave orders while Thang was on door duty to check that no one got close enough to see what they were doing. Marianne watched the long chain of normally quiet and law-abiding science club members take buckets full of a sparkly liquid and various articles of clothing from one end of the school to another in order to prepare a full-scale assault upon those that had made fun of them for too long. It was empowering to watch.
Once all of the stuff was gathered in a central place, Bog gave out lists to each group so that they could assemble what was needed. With much talking and chaos in place, some made kits with silly string, whipped cheez whiz in a can, and permanent markers, while others separated clothing into labelled bags. Bog walked around to inspect everything, encouraging them when they did a good job.
At some point, Stuff led Bog and Marianne over to a corner while Thang watched.
“BK, I know we helped her, but should she really be here? What if she compromises our cause? What if she spills the beans? No offense to you, Marianne, but I hardly know you.”
Marianne smiled to show that she was not offended. It was Bog’s response that surprised her.
“We may not know her well, but we know people like her, ourselves. She’s a thinking member of society, albeit more inclined toward lawful good than any of us. I trust her.”
Stuff shrugged her shoulders before saying, “Alright, so long as you do, I guess that’s what matters. I don’t see why you got so mad at us before-”
“That was before I saw the possibilities, Stuff. Your loose mouths actually worked in your favor for once.”
After that, all went back to guiding work until Brutus came running down the hall.
Marianne knew what that meant, that they were finally being allowed out of their classroom. She quickly grabbed Bog’s hand and dragged him down the hall to where they belonged so that they would not get caught.
In her haste, she did not see the shocked faces of Bog and the rest of the science club at her willingness to take his hand, or even just touch him. Bog was not a hugger, or a touchy-feely kind of person by anyone’s standards that anyone felt comfortable doing so, so the fact that Marianne did it now was a first.
Once Bog got over his surprise at Marianne taking his hand, he caught up to her. He almost wanted to make it a race, but that singular sensation of holding hands was new and almost welcome if he was being honest with himself. When they made it inside the door, he leaned on his knees while she leaned against the door, all in attempts to catch their breath.
“Wow, that was close. Next time, Bog, we need to move our punishment door, or else move the operations closer.”
Bog nodded and tried to hold back his smile. The fact that she was willing to say that meant that he had convinced her, or at least she was close. That, and the exercise did wonders to her, brightening her eyes and giving her some color. When she smiled back at him, Bog knew he was in trouble. His heart should not beat so erratically when she smiled at him like that, nor should he want to draw closer to her.
A teacher came in, Ms. Plum, and she led the two troublemakers back to the rest of the festivities. She just smiled mysteriously and said she was glad that the two seemed to be having fun.
The pair continued to share knowing grins, even if Bog’s mind was in turmoil. He knew how his heart felt in that moment, that he was falling in love with Marianne. There was no other explanation for why he wanted to stay close to her and keep making her smile.
Why did he fall in love so easily, even when it was not right, time-wise and in general? This would prevent him from making clear decisions about her and her ability to help. He needed to get away for a while, so it was a good thing the talent show was fast approaching.
“Well, Tough Girl, this is where I leave you. I have some last minute things to take care of before the talent show. I, uh, I look forward to hearing you sing.”
Bog ran off, not wanting to show his true feelings to her if he could help it. Those would not help right now, only complicating things between them. Still, his mother brought up a good point, that if he ever did want to get closer to her, he would have to make himself more vulnerable and try. He could do it, but he would not until her actions showed that she wanted that, that she wanted to know about him.
Marianne wandered to the cafeteria to find Dawn, who immediately ran over to her.
“You look confused. Why?”
“Bog knows that I was planning to sing at the talent show tonight.”
“Of course you were, silly; you were going to, oh I see. No more Roland, so you can’t sing that song together. So what are you singing instead?”
“Certainly nothing romantic. Love is strange, stupid, and painful.”
Dawn tsked before she said, “Love is all those things, but it’s still worth it in the end. You wouldn’t have me otherwise, right? We share a sisterly bond of love.”
“Not that kind of love, Dawn. Romantic love. I don’t want that.”
“It’s still love, Marianne. Love always makes you do crazy things. But as for romantic love, you just need to find a guy who doesn’t lie and cheat. You got all of college and beyond to find one.”
“I don’t want it. End of story.”
“You’ve been hurt once, Marianne. You can’t stop now! You have to keep trying, trying to make yourself vulnerable in small ways until you trust a person, the same way I trust Sunny over there. And who says you have to date right away? Why not be friends first? You can try doing that, right?”
Marianne considered her sister’s words carefully before speaking.
“I guess I could do that, Dawn. I do want to have the kind of friendship you have with Sunny. But everyone here is so fake.”
“Are Bog and his friends all like that? He seems nice and considerate. You could be friends, especially since you think so much alike.”
Bog was nice? Considerate she could see, but nice? Well, that was Dawn for you. But she did bring up a point. He trusted her. Could they be friends?
“The talent show is about to begin! Everyone get into your seats!”
Marianne went to sit in the front row, curious to see what Bog had in mind.
The first group up was an acapella group of seniors, dancing and clapping as they sang, “Dance your cares away. Worries for another day. Let the music play.”
Once that group was done, other seniors came up and took their turn to perform onstage. While another group of acapella singers came up and sang some gibberish about “Mah Nah Mah Nah” and alternated between fanning out on stage and hiding behind the three main singers, the stage crew began setting up for the football team’s skit.
Marianne knew that Roland was not singing in this skit originally, but she was unsure if that would change since they had broken up. As it turned out, Roland was not there, nor were his three pretty-boy goons.
But the rest of the team came out to sing “The Boys are Back in Town”. They did their dancing skit and flexed their muscles until the end, where they had planned to ride their bicycles off the stage in style. The bikes were in a corner with a cover on, all lying flat, so when the boys finally threw off the cover, a swirl of pink glitter enveloped them all, and that was when Marianne realized that all of the bikes had been replaced with pink tricycles. Then she laughed with the rest of the student body, but with far more gusto.
The football team was unsure what to do, so they just sat down on the bikes and attempted to ride them, only for their knees to get stuck when trying to push the pedals. At that point, they just ignored the bikes and made the fastest exit they could.
Amidst all that laughter, the triplets came on stage, hushing the laughter so that the “big event” could come onstage. Marianne was almost tempted to boo.
In the end, Marianne was glad she refrained, as she was laughing up a storm by the end of Roland’s failed performance. Originally, Roland had planned to sing a medley of songs to Marianne to convince her to come back to him, starting with “Baby Come Back”. It would have been laughable to Marianne to start with, but when mops and brooms began to be lowered from the ceiling so that they could dangle and mime the movements of Roland’s body, Marianne had to remind herself to breathe as all four danced, not realizing that they had a backup dance group.
Roland then began singing “I Want You to Want Me”, but it was at that moment that another song started to get inserted in its place, Haddaway’s “What is Love”. Roland was confused by that addition, but the triplets seemed to not realize that that was not supposed to be in there, so they were bopping their heads and pretending to hit one another. Marianne wanted to go on stage and punch Roland, so that he would have a reason to sing those words.
Finally, Roland went into the final song, “Don’t You Want Me Baby”, but Roland did not get very far before he felt something hit him. Then again. And again. They were small and round, but Roland kept looking behind, not at the ground. Then, the small items flew into the audience, and one of the students caught it and yelled how someone was throwing Chips Ahoy cookies at them. At that point, everyone started talking and getting out of their seats to try to get the cookies, much to Roland’s consternation.
But, that was not all that was planned. Just as Roland sang the last notes, another song came on, “Barbie Girl”. At that point, long, blonde wigs came from the ceiling and dropped onto the four guys’ heads. Marianne lost it after that.
After a few more acts, the science club came on stage in varying states of tattered clothes, all of them looking like zombies. Bog dressed as a werewolf, taking center stage as all danced and sang along to “Thriller”, with Bog being the main singer as he warned everyone of the thriller night that awaited them all.
If Marianne had any doubts that she would join the group, they were all quelled after that performance. She enjoyed watching Bog instill fear within everyone as he promised them that no one was safe, thanks to his friends.
Toward the end, Marianne’s turn finally came to sing. Few had actually heard her sing besides Sunny, Dawn, and Roland, so it was weird doing it now. But, it was expected that everyone perform something and contribute toward the event. Those who did not had to be on crew.
Marianne stood in a corner, singing low at first, but slowly getting louder with each new line. She had told the head of the talent show what her song would be earlier in the day, after much debating. She had only made her decision after hearing Stuff and Thang speak, and that was when she decided to sing “Trouble”.
As Marianne got louder, she flew across the stage, stomping and doing cartwheels. When she got to the other end, she saw that a pink tricycle had been pushed toward her, and that gave her an idea. As she sang the bridge before the final refrains, Marianne hopped onto the tricycle and used it like a skateboard, sailing across the stage and pointing at the crowd with an evil grin on her face. She used a curtain to stop her motion at the end and jumped off the tricycle.
When she finished singing, all of the student body was quiet for a moment, stunned, and then they clapped enthusiastically.
The talent show ended soon after her performance, and everyone went off to find the school area transformed with the new activities to do.
Marianne received a hug from Dawn for her performance, and then she went to look for Bog. Sure enough, he stood at the back, leaning against the wall without his costume.
“I like your idea of fun, Bog.”
He smiled at her and held out a hand, which she took.
“Welcome to the Dark Side, Marianne. You won’t regret this.”