“Good Mooorning,” trilled Monica Simpson said walking up to a prone Jake, who was lying sprawled on one of the benches, a fedora hat over his eyes.
“Shh,” the rest of the band sitting around in the quad quieted her.
“He’s still sleeping,” Kendall whispered, holding a finger to his lips.
“Oh, um, I’m sorry,” Monica, said contritely softer.
Johnny shrugged, “Shouldn’t we wake him up anyway; class is gonna soon.”
Kris said, “No, let him sleep. You know how he is when you wake him up.”
“Are you talking to my girl, gay boy?” Adam sneered, walking up to the group.
Ted lounging on Kris, using his lap as a pillow, on a different bench looked at Adam with a raised eyebrow. He glanced up at Yu, standing behind the bench, and asked, “Is Monica Simpson going out with Adam MacGregor?”
“No! I’d never go out with him. You all know how much I love Jake,” Monica denied shrilly.
“Monica,” one of the cheerleaders in a group of them called as they came running over. “You need to come to the bathroom with me. You wouldn’t believe what the new girl has got.”
Monica looks over at her clique and inquired, “What? Who?”
They all converged on her and started pulling her away. “Just come with us.”
“Wait, I haven’t had a chance to say ‘good morning’ to Jake yet” she whined but let them drag her off towards the bathrooms.
Adam MacGregor stopped glaring Ted and followed the girls.
“That girl is annoying,” Jake grumbled sitting up, moving his hat to a jaunty angle on his head.
“Weren’t sleeping after all, huh?” questioned Kris.
Jake snapped grouchily, “How the hell can anyone sleep through that high-pitched voice.” He stretched with a yawned, looked up at the rest of the band and asked, “So. What’s the plan today? Should I go to class?
“Yeah you should before you fail,” Johnny quipped with a smile.
Jake threw his fedora hat at Johnny with a glare.
“Wait,” Kendall stepped between the two, “Don’t we have to go shoot our music video for ‘Wireless’ today?” He picked up Jake’s hat and gave it back to him.
“Yes,” Yu replied, “But it is not until this afternoon. Mr. Delphine has given us permission to leave after lunch.”
Kris looked after Monica’s group sitting on the bench with a pensive look. Noticing Kris looking after the gaggle of girls Ted asked, “What’s up?” hitting Kris lightly on the knee.
“I wonder who those girls are bullying now. And why.”
“Who cares,” Jake said callously. “Girls will be girls.”
“The only new girl I can think of though is the one that was with Mary last night,” Kris replied. “You know, what’s her name,” waving his hand around.
“Yo, you flirt with the girl all night attached to her hip and you can’t even remember her name,” asked Kendall incredulously. “Hey, I wonder if I can turn that into a rap lyric,” he danced around a bit.
Kendall started beating out a rhythm with his arm, “Flirted with a girl, her name don’t know…attached to my hip she was…”
Yu started beat boxing to give Kendall a rhythm.
“Dame, dame, it’s no good I can’t think of anything this early in the morning.”
Mary Tinsdale, walked up to the group, said, “Showing off again, Ken doll?”
Kendall, suddenly self-conscious, stopped, and looked abashed. He stood still and fingered his short newly bleached platinum blond hair as if trying to groom himself.
Ted sat up and crossed his legs, smiled at Mary as she weaved an arm through Yu’s. “Hey, where’s your little sister today?” he asked her as he stretched his arms out along the back of the bench.
“I don’t know, I just got here so I haven’t seen her yet,” Mary replied. “Why?”
“Oy,” Jake exclaimed interrupting, “Do you even know what a massage is?” to Johnny who was behind him trying to give Jake the massage he had asked for.
Johnny face fell and he sat down next to Jake bringing his knees up to under his chin, heels on the bench seat, and hugging them to his chest like a kid, said, “I was trying,” he sniffed pitifully.
“Well, try harder next time. You suck!”
“Who do you think you are?”
Jessica looked up apprehensively, “Are you talking to me?” she asked with a gulp, eyes shifting at the girls crowding the bathroom suddenly.
“I’m talking to the girl who thinks she can carry a Prada purse that looks like mine,” Monica sneered from the doorway, taking out her frustration of not being able to greet Jake out on Jessica. She walked over to bathroom counter and grabbed the purse the were offended at off it, throwing it at Jessica. Jessica caught it automatically but not before a few things fell out of it onto the floor.
“Yeah, who do you think you are,” one of the other girls repeated as she grabbed Jessica pushed her away from the bathroom counters towards the bathroom stalls.
Another girl followed and dug an index finger into Jessica’s temple. “How did a poor girl like you afford a Prada?” she asked as she grabbed Jessica’s arm and slammed her against a door of the bathroom stall.
“She probably stole it,” Monica said righteously, her armed crossed over her uniform, nose in air. The other girls laughed meanly nodding.
A toilet flushed and the girls all started in surprise. The stall door behind Jessica opened causing her to fall to the floor at a blonde girl’s feet.
“Good Morning, ladies,” Anne said as she casually stepped over Jessica as if she wasn’t there.
“Princess Anne,” squeaked one of the girls looking at her apprehensively.
The other girl jostled her and said, “shh, don’t call her princess to her face. Oh…er…”
Anne smiled and elegantly held a hand out as if for someone to kneel down and kiss, “That’s ok ladies, and I’m used to you all fawning over me. It’s… cute.” One of the girls knelt and kissed her hand. Anne let her and then wiped her hand on the girl’s uniform just as casually as she had stepped over Jessica earlier. She walked over to the bathroom sink and began washing her hands calmly with a lavender soup ball from the gold container on the sink.
“Anne,” said Monica simpering. “We are so sorry. We didn’t realize you were in here. We didn’t mean to disturb you.”
The other girl grabbed Jessica dragging her up, causing the of the purse’s contents to spill out all over the floor. “It’s just that this girl needed a lesson taught to her.”
Anne raised an eyebrow and looked at Jessica, “She looks familiar for some reason.”
“I…we… have English together,” Jessica whispered looking down at the floor with tears streaming down her face. “I said hi to you...yesterday.”
Monica and her girls gasped, “Without being introduced?” One of the girls slapped Jessica across the face. “How dare you? Some nerve…”
“Now, girls,” Anne said calmly, turning to dry her hands with a hand towel. “Please. We are all ladies here, aren’t we? Ladies do not act like bullying busybodies in St. Joseph High’s bathrooms over a simple purse,” she said tossing the used towel down on the bathroom counter next to barely used soap ball she had dropped there earlier. Everyone knew there would be someone to pick up after her shortly.
The girls all looked contrite and apologized to Anne. The girl holding Jessica let her go and Jessica slid back down to the bathroom floor. The girls came to stand, looking down ashamed, in a row in front of Anne.
Clapping her hands together, Anne said no longer even looking at Jessica, “Good girls. I think it’s almost time for class to start. Perhaps you should all run along now.”
“Oh, shit! Oops, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to swear in front of you,” Monica apologized. “Come on ladies,” she said trying to imitate Anne’s slight English accent and failing, “we have to go.”
“Monica?” Anne stopped her. “I hate to say this, but it looks like the purse you’re carrying is,’ Anne looked down at the purse on Monica’s arm and whispered, “a fake.”
“What?” Monica exclaimed. “No, it can’t be! I just got this at Horizon’s the other day. Oh. My. God,” Monica looked at her purse and wailed. She ran out of the bathroom in tears.
Adam MacGregor, who had been waiting patiently outside the ladies room, followed her asking, “What’s wrong Monica? Did someone do something to you?”
The other two girls looked at each other and smirked. Anne looked at them and said, “Be sure to let Monica know that I saw the real Prada bag in Paris a couple of months ago. I do have to say though that the New York fashion shows are much better nowadays than Paris or Milan.” Anne turned and sat in one of the plush armchair scattered opposite the bathroom counters looking at her image in the large mirror above the sinks. “London is getting much better too.” Her posture was immaculate and chin high as she sat there like a queen advising her court.
Two of the other girls looked at each other whispered, “London? Paris?”
“You may want to go after Monica, I’m sure she’s feeling bad now about carrying a Prada knockoff at our school,” said Anne kindly.
The girls apologized, said their goodbyes, and left. Anne laughed quietly to herself knowing that the purse hadn’t been a fake but wanting to mess with Monica who thought of herself as being up on the latest fashions.
Anne looked over at Jessica who was crumpled on the bathroom floor, crying and trying to gather the contents of her purse together. She got up and walked over to her, her movements always graceful since she had taken ballet from a young age.
“Don’t cry,” Anne said gently down at Jessica’s bowed head. Kneeling down she handed Jessica a pressed handkerchief with the letters ‘AEB’ embroidered intertwined on the corner. “Here, use this. Your eyes are going to get puffy if you don’t stop soon. Maybe we should wet this with some cold water,” Anne turned and did so at the sink. Turning back to Jessica she said, “Don’t let those girls get to you. You have to stand up to them or they will bully you the entire school year.”
Jessica sniffed and said, “thank you,” in a quiet voice head trying to hide her face while wiping away the tears.
“Next time something like this happens, let me know,” Anne said with a kind voice, “I know how to deal with those girls. Or maybe let your big sister know? You should have one. The teachers assign all the new students a big sister or big brother for the first semester when they start here.”
“Yes. Mary Tinsdale is my big sister,” stammered Jessica, holding the cold wet handkerchief to her eyes after wiping her face. She sniffled pitifully.
Anne sighed and stood up, “Well she’s doing a lousy job of it, probably off hanging around those musician friends of hers, as always she always done. I’ll have a talk with her.”
“Please,” Jessica removed the handkerchief from her eyes and said looking up at Anne. “It’s ok. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.”
“Alright, if that’s the way you want it, have it your way I guess,” Anne said, sighed again with a slight shrug. “I won’t say anything this time. Let’s hope Mary Tinsdale pays more attention to you so this doesn’t happen again.”
Anne turned to leave, paused and said, “That really is a cute Prada. I almost got that same bag last year.” Anne smiled at Jessica and walked out.
Jessica scrambled to grab the rest of the stuff that had spilled out of her bag and got up. She ran after Anne finally managed to reach her as they entered the covered walkway next to the quad.
“Um, excuse me,” Jessica said timidly. Anne turned and looked at Jessica with her head tilted a bit. Anne gave her a small smile of encouragement.
“I just wanted to say thank you for saving me.” Jessica looked at the dirty, wet, crumpled handkerchief in her hand and said, “oh, and I’ll wash this and return it to you.”
Anne looked at Jessica with puzzled look, “Why? It’s dirty. Just throw it away.”
Anne looked around and saw some of the students had stopped to gawk. “Who are you again?” She spoke disdainfully, “Don’t think that because I helped you a little in the bathroom that that gives you the right to speak to me in public. Just be more careful next time.”
She spun around gracefully leaving a hurt Jessica standing alone.
Jessica gulped and looked around at the some of the other students who were staring at her. Some of the girls who had stopped to watch the spectacle were laughing behind their hands while they pointed at her. Another group of girls were giggling and saying, “oh my god, who does she think she is. Just wait until we tell the others. It’s like the new girl thinks Princess Anne is her friend or something.”
Jessica looked down, dejected.