When I walked into my history class, almost every seat was taken. Fortunately, this was the only class I shared with Savannah, Eddie and his jock friends—future frat boys in training Mason Sutherland and Vance Segars. Both boys wore letterman jackets and smug grins. Vance was Dixon High’s wide receiver and Mason’s token Samoan. If this were a horror movie, Vance would likely be the first character to get killed off. He moved to Dixon from Hawaii freshman year. Mason, on the other hand, was your typical snot-nosed rich kid who loved to flaunt his parents’ money. Both of which were lawyers.
“Open your books to chapter ten!” Mr. Harris instructed the class. “We will be discussing Y2K: The Arrival of the Angels.”
The students groaned disapprovingly. While some refused to open their books, I began to flip through the chapter slowly, curiously reading and eyeing the images.
“Can we skip this chapter, Mr. Harris? I think we can all agree that this goes against everything this town stands for,” Mason argued.
Ignorance? I asked myself.
“No one in Dixon cares about the angels,” a kid in the back added.
“That’s because you listen to all the propaganda Mayor Dixon spews around town,” a girl with orange hair said shooting daggers at Savannah. “You’ve been brainwashed just like everyone in this town.”
“You’re a quill lover, ain’t ya?” Mason sneered at the girl.
“I’m not a—quill lover,” the girl said in defense.
“Then you’re an angel sympathizer.” Mason retorted.
“I’m an equal opportunist,” the girl replied with a humorless smile. “I think any creature—human or non-human—who steps on this planet has a right to live here.”
Mason scoffed then furrowed his eyebrows. “And let them take over? I don’t think so. We were here first. I ain’t about to let no spawn of Satan take over my home. We need to get rid of those monsters. Y’all know what I’m saying?”
The class broke out in applause and cheers as Mason stood up to take a bow.
“Mason’s right,” Vance added. “What’s next? Human-Angel marriages?”
“The law for human-angel marriages passed a long time ago, nimrod,” the girl with orange hair said, but Vance didn’t catch the insult.
“I thought this chapter was banned?” Savannah’s grating voice pierced through my ears like nails on a chalkboard. “My momma said I can’t read any books about angels. She says anyone who refuses Jesus Christ as their lord and savior is a devil worshipper.”
I turned around and narrowed my eyes at Savannah who was sitting at the back of the room. She was such a hypocrite. She moved her body nervously when she caught me staring, then flicked her eyes away from mine.
“They’re aliens from outer space!” Vance exclaimed. “I saw it on Wake Up!”
“The conspiracy theory channel?” the orange-haired girl frowned.
“Yeah,” Vance replied. “The government is hiding their real identity. They’re working together with the Illuminati.”
As the conversation escalated, I focused my attention back to the book. There were many pictures of the asteroid before it was named Stone Mountain and an image from the Atlanta Newspaper with a headline that read ANGELS EXIST! Underneath it, there were various photographs of people watching the White House announcement at bars, churches, and schools confirming the creatures who arrived on Y2K were in fact angels.
Shortly after arrival day, the angels were integrated into our society. They were given jobs, social security cards, houses. When questioned about religion, the angels refused to acknowledge the existence of God or Lucifer. They argued the bible was a self-help book Man created to control the human population. The angels and demons described in the book were supposed to serve as metaphors for the good and bad thoughts that floated inside the human mind. Adam and Eve represented the conscious and subconscious mind. And Lucifer our ego.
So you could imagine the chaos, the protests. The hard-core religionists refused to take the angels’ word standing firm with their beliefs. They weren’t thrilled about a supernatural being moving in next door. Especially in the South. To this day, people’s reactions were mixed, and many of the religious theories were still up for debate.
I didn’t know what to believe. I was raised a God-fearing Catholic, I seriously thought I was damned to go to hell for every sin I committed. Talk about childhood trauma. My mother always told me the angels were liars and shouldn’t be trusted. But there were times I questioned everything. What if the angels were telling the truth? What if everything I grew up believing was a lie?
“She’s a quill-lovin’ angel sympathizer. I’m tellin’ ya.” Mason exclaimed as he continued to attack the girl with the orange hair. “I vote to kick her out of class.”
“Mason, I think that’s enough lip from you today,” Mr. Harris warned.
“Cut it out,” Eddie told Mason. “Let’s pay attention and learn something for a change.”
I scoffed when Eddie said it.
Mason turned to me with hostility in his eyes. “You got something to say, Alexis?”
I looked up from my history book and narrowed my eyes at Mason. “No. I think we’ve heard enough stupidity for one day.”
The snorts and giggles from the class echoed throughout the room as they oohed at my comment. Mason shot me a murderous glare, I thought he was going to get up and punch me.
His lip curled into an evil smile. “Why don’t you kiss my ass?”
“I think that’s Vance’s job.” I smiled.
Eddie shot up from his seat so fast I didn’t have time to blink.
“Come on, man,” he told Mason. “That’s not cool.”
“What? You’re gonna fight me, bro?” Mason said peering up at Eddie. “Over this skank?”
Skank. That’s what Mason called any girl who’s refused him. Mason was the type of boy who was so good-looking, he could get any girl he wanted. He’s been with almost every girl in our class including Dawn.
So he’s made sure I felt his wrath on a daily basis.
“Everyone settle down!” Mr. Harris ordered. “You two”—Mr. Harris pointed at Eddie and Mason—“Principal’s office, now. And you too young lady.”
Mr. Harris looked at me with a no-nonsense glare.
“Wha—what did I do?” I protested.
“You interrupted my class. Now get!” He snapped his fingers.
Way to stay out of trouble, Alexis.
I grabbed my backpack and left the room dragging my feet down the hallway. On my walk to the principal’s office, I sensed a knot in my throat I couldn’t swallow. I’d never gotten in trouble before, not really. That was Priscilla’s job, she was the troubled child in the family, not me. What if I got detention? Or my mother was called into the school? Or worse, held me back a year? There was no way in hell I was getting stuck in this podunk town.
I slumped against the bench across from Mason and focused my attention on the bulletin board full of school club flyers. I realized Mason was staring at me.
Without looking at him, I asked, “What?”
“Just admit it, you want me,” he said with a Southern accent. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be so mean to me all the time.”
“Wow. So you think I’m mean because I like you?” I scoffed. Where did Mason get the outdated information? A fifth grader off the elementary school playground?
I snorted. “When pigs fly.”
“Done. They already do.”
I squirmed in my seat. “You know, you’re right. I can barely restrain myself when I’m around you.”
“I knew it,” Mason said with a big grin. “How about we go back to my place after school so I can show you a good time?”
The door to the principal’s office opened. Eddie walked out as I jumped up to go inside. I turned around to face Mason then blew him a kiss that turned into the middle finger. “Not even in your wildest dreams.”
I slid in the chair sitting in front of the desk while I stared at the back of the principal’s balding head. He flipped through the file cabinet in search of my school record. After a few seconds, he grabbed a thick manila folder and dropped it on his desk. Principal Abraham sunk into his chair, then leafed through the pages.
“Your file is impressive, Miss Minerva,” he said as he began to read the details on the page out loud as if he were reading a to-do list. “In-school-suspension for fighting, class disruption, skipping class.”
I furrowed my eyebrows confused. I was pretty sure it wasn’t my file. The only time I’d ever gotten detention was freshman year after raking up so many unexcused tardies because Paul wouldn’t let my mother drive me to school after I’d missed the bus. Luckily, my mother had a spare key.
“It says right here you got expelled for half the semester for bringing alcohol to school. And it looks like you have twenty-eight unexcused absences—”
“You must be reading the wrong file, Mr. Abraham,” I said cutting him off.
He scanned the file and pulled his eyebrows together. “Your name is not Priscilla Minerva?”
“No, sir. I’m Alexis Minerva. Priscilla is my sister,” I corrected.
“My apologies.” Mr. Abraham rose and walked back to the file cabinet. This time, he came back with a much thinner folder. “Wow, quite the contrast. Mr. Harris tells me you were disrupting his class,“ he said as he looked up at me. “Is that true?”
“I wasn’t disrupting his class, I was only defending myself,” I answered.
After briefly scanning the correct file, Mr. Harris closed it. “Alexis, you’re a good student. Good grades, no behavioral issues. And because of that, I’m going to let you off with a warning this time.”
I let out a huge sigh of relief.
“I don’t want to see you in here again. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir.” I quickly shot out of my seat and left the room. As much as I hated kissing ass, it was the only thing keeping me out of trouble.