"How was your morning?"
Herbert snapped away from a tiny day-dream as Robin asked him a question and the lunch line progressively moved forward. "Sorry, what?"
"I asked, how was your morning? I didn't get to talk to you in gym last period."
"Good," Herbert muttered, digging his hands deeper into the pockets of his sweatshirt. "I have Maynard for second period and he seems like he is a pretty good History teacher, but he has a tenancy to ramble on and not get to the point," Herbert said, recalling his second-period class.
The corner of Robin`s lips turned into a smile. "Thanks for letting me know. I remember that last year our-" However, he was cut off as three other people joined the line.
Robin's friends from musical and marching band.
"Hey Robin!" They seemed to call in unison. One girl, Lucy, with long coffee brown hair wrapped her arms around Robin and squeezed him with much happy squealing. Robin looked at her awkwardly. Herbert suppressed a giggle, knowing how much his friend detested really close contact when he was sweaty.
"Hi guys." He broke the hug with Lucy. "So how`s your first day back in the slammer?"
."It`s been good."
A girl with short blonde hair, Johanna, smiled brightly at Robin. "I`m glad we have Drama together," she told him.
"Yeah," Robin approved, excitement bubbling inside him that was ready to burst. "I`m so excited for the school musical coming up! I wonder what it will be this year."
A boy, Neil,s poke up. "I hope it`s something Lloyd Webber, like Cats maybe. Or Phantom."
Robin smile was undeniable as he agreed. "I sincerely hope we do Phantom of the Opera. Or have the budget for it, at least. It must be crazy expensive to get the rights and the sets and the costumes and everything but it would be the best production Avalon has seen in years!"
Herbert, from his exclusion from the conversations, expelled air and leaned against the white washed wall. It wasn`t that he hated Robin`s musical theatre oriented friends. Not at all. He was fond of them and even considered them his own friends. It was just that he never had been allowed to participate in theatre or music because of his father disapproval of a male in such things. Perhaps Herbert was a bit envious.
The line inched forward, and Herbert was herded straight into a jock`s back. "Watch it, fruit cake!" The jock hissed at poor Herbert, giving his shoulder a sharp push backwards, causing Herbert to almost lose his balance.
"Sorry," Herbert mumbled thickly. He had received so many comments like that since at least junior high. The violence, however, was new to when he enter high school. Heat filled his eyes from past remarks and harassments, but he sucked it back it.
"Here you go hon." The middle-aged lunch lady said, passing Gwen a tray piled with food over the severing table. "Thanks." Gwen grabbed the tray and departed the lunch line.
She balanced the tray of overly crispy looking fried chicken, weak-yellow corn, mashed potatoes that retained the ball like shape from when it was scoped onto the plate, and a small iced brownie on one hand to pick up a bottle of water. She moved to the cash register, where she placed the tray beside her and pulled a few crinkled dollar bills out of her front pocket and presented it to the worker. She offered her a smile as she gave her the change.
A bit unsure of herself, she stepped out into the main hall and looked around. The deafening sound of talking and forks clinking against trays was overwhelming. People swarmed around gigantic round tables, all laughing, gabbing, and eating. Gwen could barely hear herself think.
"GWEN!" A voice called.
Gwen blinked and saw that in the left direction of the cafeteria was Lucky standing up at her table, waving her arm in the air to get her attention. "OVER HERE!"
Obediently, Gwen walked over to the table and took the already scooted out chair across from Lucky. There where the girls from the previous period, still giggling away over their sandwiches. They all had packed their lunches rather than purchase one from the school. However, another person unfamiliar person was sitting beside Gwen. His appearance nearly frightened her.
Instead of a regular color, this boy had deep blue colored hair that feel to his shoulders. At the tip of his chin, the scuff of a newly forming goatee had sported. And he was wearing a rather eccentrically designed tee for a band Gwen had never heard off.
As she took her seat and clanked the tray onto the table, four pairs of eyes fell onto her and awkwardness filled the air. "This is Gwen Ramirez," Lucky introduced to the rest of the table. "She`s new to Avalon, so I thought I`d let her sit out our table."
"Gwen this is Tristan," She motioned to one girl with springy curls and freckles that darted over her face. "Aggie." The girl with long reddish brown hair and a bit of a hooked nose waved. "And of course Roger." The azul haired boy nodded at his name, taking a bit of his chicken sandwich. "Oh hey, did you get my e-mail on the community peace garden this Saturday?" He leaned over to Gwen. "I`m head of the gardening club for Avalon."
"Can`t make it," Lucky said, shaking her head. "The family and I are attending some other charity event at the country club." She took a large bit of what appeared to be a peanut butter and banana sandwich and swallowed quickly. "It`s good for his reputation with the voters." She turned her direction to Gwen and explained "My father is running for mayor again this year."
Gwen eyes widen with surprise. "Mayor, really? That's impressive."
"Lucky, isn`t that a new necklace?" Aggie asked. She was obviously referring to the tiny golden four-leaf clover charm that was fascinated by a chain around Lucky`s thick neck. "I've never seen you wear it."
"It is," Lucky replied, touching the clover delicately with her French-manicured stubby fingers. "My grandmother bought it for me while she was in Ireland this summer."
Gwen starred admiringly at the necklace, wishing she could afford thing like that. All her jewelry was bought at craft festivals or at discount stores.
Tristan looked at Gwen asking "So where did you move to from?"
"Uhh…" Gwen looked around, praying that she wasn`t in the presence of die-hard Knights. "Lakeview," she said at least.
"She's on our side now," Lucky said with a laugh.
"My father`s been moved all over the country for work," Gwen explained. "It finally seemed like we were settled down, but he had to move thirty miles west to here. My mother isn`t around much, she always on international business so it`s just me and my father for the most part."
Lucky nodded apprehensively. "My dad and I are close. I don`t get talk much with my mother, she`s always 'busy' with her business." She made quotations marks with her fingers. "Always."
"Who are you staring at?" Lance Cockburn asked to Arthur Pendragon, who had his head in one hand, eyes dazed into the distance. Patsy Weinstein bended himself a bit to see what girl his friend had his eyes on. "What? Lucky Conell?" Patsy shrugged. He didn`t think Lucky was all that pretty nor Arthur`s type.
"The only thing that`s how about that girl is her "tracts of land" "Dennis said, making a woman shaped motion with his hands. "Any guy to date her is fortunate to have 36 Hs to–"
"God!" Connor Bedivere squealed with disgust, dropping his slice of pizza onto the greasy paper plate. "The less I know about Lucky Conell's boobs- the better!"
"I was looking at the new girl who I played dodge ball with last period." Arthur explained. "She`s cute, butI don`t know her name. . ."
"Oh, that's Gwen Roberts," Pasty said. "She's new here. Do you want to talk to her?"
Arthur drew something with the excess water that had melted off his chilly water-bottle. "I don`t know what to say! If you noticed I`m not exactly all that smooth with ladies-"
"That`s apparent, "Dennis jested, and Lance punched him in the arm. "Ask her where she went to school before," Pasty suggested. "What she likes about Avalon. How her day is going. Anything, really. Just strike up some conversation and don`t chicken out on this…"
Simultaneous groans came from all five boys upon hearing this. Arthur turned in his chair to see the source of the greeting. At the table behind where three goofy looking boys , each clad in dark denim skinny jeans, button-down shirts, and outrageously loud and colorful socks with Birkenstocks – the French Foreign Exchange students back for another year.
"I see you silly American Sewage Cleaners passed to the eleventh grade- FINALLY!" The ring-leader, Jacques, taunted. He had the slightest bit of a moustache creeping onto his face.
The two others, sitting directly beside him gave celebratory high fives and chuckles. The one to the direct right said, "It`s amazing you second-rate opossum nose wipers even found the cafeteria!"
"Just ignore them," Patsy advised to Arthur, forcing him to look the other way. But just at that second he felt something thud against his back. "What the-?!"
Patsy peered down to the floor; see that a hamburger was not sitting there. He pointed to the sandwich "Did you just throw this at me?!" One took two straws and stuck them up his nose, then poked out his tongue and wiggled his fingers in a "Nananana!" –motion. The other blew raspberries.
"Will you morons stop harassing us?!" Lance hissed.
The exchange students laughed and laughed until their sides ached. "We throw your greasy high-fat American fast food products at you!" Jacques managed to say through burst of laughter, tossing a basket of fries at them. They hit Arthur directly in the back, and he was clearly fuming mad.
"Let`s just leave this table," Patsy said, with a roll of his eyes. They all took their trays and hopped over to a relatively empty table, which was next to Robin from gym class, a few marching band nerds, and Robin`s curly head friend. They were talking about something pretty funny, because everyone was laughing. "You don`t mind if we take these seats?" Arthur asked pointing to four extra seats. "We were being viciously harassed by foreign exchange students."
"No problem," Robin assured, motioning to the seats. Lance set his tray next to the curly head boy and gave a small wave as he pulled the seat from next beside him. "Hi," was the only utterance from him. The boy took a long look at Lance, smiled meekly saying "Hi" back, and then turned back to Robin. But no one noticed he was flushing violently as the group gather around the other table.
"You should just go for it," Bedivere said, now looking in the direction of the new girl. He took a swig of his chocolate milk and whipped the moustache off his lips with his napkin.
For a brief moment, Arthur paused to think. Then he took a deep, calming breathe and said. "I`m going to talk to her," He said at last. Words of encouragement where audible as Arthur left the table and strutted over to the new girl confidently.
"And that is why you never want to forget to bring a washcloth in your carry-on bag – "
Lucky was babbling on about her summer vacation to Paris, when Arthur reached the table. "Hey, uh Lucky, Roger…" The three other girls he couldn`t think of names so, he simply said "Other occupants of this table."
"Oh hi!" Lucky said bashfully, tucking a hair behind her ear. "What brings you to our table?"
Arthur shrugged, and took the available seat on the right of the new girl. "I didn`t catch your name in gym-class," He told the new girl. "What is yours? You know, for future reference."
"My name is Guinevere Ramirez," She said, blush creeping back onto her checks. "But it can be just Gwen."
"Well just Gwen," Arthur said as the girls face turned a deep shade of red. "Where are you from?"
"Well, I`m from Lake-"
A sudden scream came from another table. The rest of the room (who was before extremely loud) fell deathly quiet, seeing that is was in fact Robin who belted out the cry. He arose out of his seat and you could see that there was a visible wet spot against the crotch of his jeans, making look like he solid his pants.
Arthur could see the entire scene. Water was all over the table and everyone sitting there was frozen inaction. "I`m sorry!" One of the boys at the table was apologizing, trying to gather napkins. "Clumsy me!"
"I TOLD YOU HE WAS A BED-WETTING TYPE!" Jacques yelled, so the entire room could hear. Most found this amusing and busted into a hoot of laughter. Robin looked both mortified and ready to cry. He pushed aside his seat and ran away through the doors. "Robin!" The curly head boy called after him, and following his lead.
"Robin!" Herbert exclaimed as he followed Robin's trail towards the bathroom. Robin! Where are you?"
A sneakered foot was under the handicapped stall of the boy's bathroom. He rapped on the door. "You okay, honey?"
"No," Robin's weak voice called. "Can I just hide out here till graduation?"
"I don't think they'd let you," Herbert shook his head with a small laugh. "You actually have to pass your classes –"
"How about transferring? Can I do that?"
"I'd never let you," Herbert said quietly. "Hey, Robin, don`t take those French guys seriously. They`re all empty headed and have no fashion sense. I mean, have you seen those socks?"
Robin laughed. Herbert's tactic was working. "And cheer up! The day isn`t over. Things might get better. So, c'mon out."
The sound of the bell could be heard .
"That`s the bell," Herbert said, looking to the door.
"I-I know." Robin stepped out and then looked down at his still soaked jeans. "But what the hell am I going to do about these?"
"You could use your gym-shorts," Herbert suggested about the soiled pants, although he knew his friend would be unhappy about using his sweaty clothing, but it seemed like the only option. "I`ll cover you to the locker room." He pulled off his sweatshirt and handed it to Robin. "Here, you can tie this around your waist till we get there."
"Herbert, I really appreciate this," Robin said, walking straight for the door behind his friend.
"Oh you`ve done practically the same for me," Herbert held open the door to the school, ushering Robin in. "You know, with the secret and all."
They stayed silent for a brief moment, before Robin piped up. "You`d keep a secret for me, right?" Herbert stopped in his tracks and pivoted to face him. "What is it?" He asked, clearly excited by having his trust returned.
Robin peered around, checking to see if anyone was close by. He instructed Herbert to come close. The boy obeyed, waiting to hear.
"I`ve always liked Jo," Robin confessed.
"More than a friend?"
"More than a friend," Robin assured. "I don`t know. I`ve just had this crush on her ever since I met her that one day at Music class back in third grade when she and I we`re partnered up for that Beethoven project."
A smile grew on Herbert's face. "Oh you`d be cute together! I think you should ask her to the Masquerade dance.
"The Masquerade Dance," Robin scoffed, his lips furrowing into a frown. "Can`t. I`m too chicken, remember? I can`t even ride Cyclone at Coney Island! How do you think I could ask a girl out?"
"I`ll help you," Herbert cracked his knuckles like matchmaking was an easy job.
"And may I remind you that you`ve haven`t dated a soul," Robin added.
"I`m waiting for the one who has that certain special something," Herbert informed his friend, as they began their trek back to the gym for the shorts. "Ohhh… look who stayed up all night and read romance novels on end," Robin joked, his eyebrow furrowing into mock-question. Herbert giggled and replied, "No, it`s something I`ve always dream. That the person I share my first kiss with be nice, loving, and …" He sighed heavily, eyelids hazed with dreaminess. "Absolutely wonderful."
"Riiiggght," Robin pulled away from Herbert, chuckled, and walked closer. "But if you`re that hopelessly romantic, I guess it`s worth a shot."