Pandemonium

Pandemonia pauses in the hallway when the boy who had been sitting next to her in class waves and smiles at her. She glances around but doesn’t see the teacher or any of the other children.

The boy noticing answers the unasked question showing on her face. “They ran down the hall and around a corner with the wasps following. I can’t hear them screaming anymore. They probably ran downstairs. My name is Eric, by the way.

“Hi,” she says shyly without making direct eye contact, and she startles and flinches when he suddenly reaches toward her, pulling a struggling wasp out of her hair. He shows it to her with a smile and then releases it, rather than killing it, and he asks her, “How come you didn’t run out with everyone else?”

Pandemonia shrugs, “I’m not afraid of wasps. Wasps only swarm when they’re looking for a new nesting site, and they only turn aggressive if the swarm is disrupted. It was all the screaming and flailing that got them worked up.”

“Good to know. ,” Eric says. “I doubled back when the rest of the class turned the corner with the swarm following them. I didn’t see you in the group and was wondering if you were hurt. I know some people are allergic. I’m glad to see that you’re okay, Pan.”

“Thank you,” she says in the same shy manner, still not meeting the boy’s eyes.

Eric notices her discomfort. “I know it feels awkward starting a new school a month before summer vacation. I transferred here a month ago myself but after about it week, it started to feel normal. What other classes do you have? Maybe some are the same as mine and you’ll know at least one person.”

Pandemonia takes her schedule out of a pocket on her backpack and Eric takes it from her hand before she can even unfold it, and after giving it a glance he points to the classes they share. “Looks like we have all the same core classes and lunch period. But you got study hall when I have Computer Lab and vice versa, and I’m taking Spanish while you have Advanced Drawing, and you’re taking Spanish while I have Photography.”

Eric didn’t mention physical education because the males and females were always in different classes.

“Oh,” Pandemonia says, not sure what else to say. He laughs and hands her schedule back. “You’re a woman of few words I see.”

She briefly glances up at him with an almost imperceptible smile, but he notices.

“Am I making you uncomfortable?” He asks.

“A little,” she says. “I’m not very good with conversation.”

Eric smiles. “That’s okay. I don’t mind doing the talking. Let’s head to the cafeteria. The bell is about to ring.”

As if on cue, the bell rings making Pandemonia jump.

Eric laughs in response.

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