She had this intense presence about her. Like one day, she might just pin you against a wall, knife to your throat, just to hear you beg her for mercy. Elaine had always had a sharpness to her, and as she spoke to Dr. Goodell, her eyes sized him up like she was ready to pounce. I couldn’t help but read her lips from across the hall. He was chastising her for humiliating a boy in our bio class. Told him his gonads clearly hadn’t dropped enough to know what he was talking about. In her defense, he had just asked why she was constantly trying to procreate. Dr. Goodell hadn’t cared about what he said, instead he focused on Elaine. Maybe he knew how tightly wound the muscles in her back had been, ready to swing on the boy and take him down no matter what.
Now she sat there smacking her gum and blowing bubbles just to get a rise out of old Goodell. The swirls of pen marks on her pant leg hadn’t gone unnoticed; she had been in the office for at least half an hour and must have spent it designing her new pants. She winked at me when she saw me, flashing a brilliant smile of cat-like canines as the principal (upon hearing the rest of the story from the other students in class) let her slink out into the hallway stalking toward me. I was a deer in headlights for her and she knew it.
“So what happened?”
I already knew but hearing it from her made it all the more satisfying.
“Eh, same shit, different day. Look, I gotta go meet up with Angel, will you sign me into lab today?” Lab was my favorite class. I got to watch her play the field like the champion she was. She knew she wouldn’t have to worry about notes. Bryan would send them to her. Which didn’t even matter when Ben did all her homework. He had snuck her all last year’s tests too. Perks of being a senior, I guess. Either way, she shared them with me.
We had always duked it out for valedictorian until sophomore year came around, and she dropped the braces and zits for lip-gloss and push-up bras. One day of low-cut tops was all it took as senior boys flocked to her, and freshmen did their best to stay out of her way. They had no idea she was only into women. But I knew.
I ducked in the engineering lab, signing in on the spreadsheet left on the table. I could see Ben across the lecture hall scanning for her. His eyes searching for her perfect hair and shining eyes sauntering through the crowd of unkempt highschoolers. Instead they found mine.
“Where is she?” He was in front of me for a second. Nostrils slightly flared as he stared down at me. He took a step closer when I didn’t answer. His tall figure shadowed over mine. I was silent again. I simply looked down toward my seat and settled in.
He raised his arms as though to grab me by my shoulders and shake the answer out of me. Until his eyes met Goodell’s and even in his fury had no choice but to back down. The lecture droned on. Until Ben went to the bathroom. I followed behind him.
I knew where she and Angel met. Over by the service entrance where the air conditioners were fenced in. The fence was loose and easy to slip into. I could only see them through the third-floor window in the women’s restroom when I stepped onto the toilet lid and leaned over the wall at just the right angle. This wasn’t my first time here. I had watched them before.
Seen how Elaine’s hand slipped under the hem of Angel’s shirt when things got serious. Imagined how Angel’s hand would glide down Elaine’s back and find a perfect place to rest where her back dipped into her hips.
This time they sat on the gravel. Hand in hand. I could see Elaine’s finger tracing the intricate wrinkles in Angel’s hand reading them like I had taught her to. Until they both went still. I could only make out Ben’s hair as I shifted my weight a little higher up on my toes.
The lid of the toilet slipped, snapped off its hinges and my weight was pulled out from beneath me. My fingers gripped the lip where the wall met the windowsill as I steadied myself, pulling my foot out of the toilet bowl and setting myself on the ground. I could hear them shouting.
I pulled myself up on the edge of the toilet bowl, this time removing the lid entirely and shifting to see through the window again. The shouting had stopped. Angel’s blonde hair was splayed out on the pavement, little red speckles around her mouth and splattered through her hair as she tried to pull herself back up.
Ben had his hand around Elaine’s throat. I watched as her eyes rolled to the back of her head and her hands stopped scratching at his. Her legs stopped kicking out from beneath her, and he leaned in close, whispering something in her ear until he finally let her fall. Her chest started to rise as she heaved air back into her lungs. I watched as he pulled out the pocketknife he had always kept with him. I watched as he grabbed hold of Elaine’s perfect face. Angel tried to stop him. I could hear her from here. I watched as he carved a small B into the side of her cheek.
Elaine and Angel had been too weak to stop him, but I watched.