Tolerance, Nalin decided one day, is what it takes to get through life. Not the kind of tolerance where you happily accept each other’s difference, but something more like perseverance. All you have to do is put up with people’s shit and realize that there is nothing you can do to change them. Then, be the kind of person that people don’t necessarily tolerate, but ignore.
Unfortunately, Nalin also decided, I am not a tolerant individual, and the latter technique was better in theory than in practice. As far as he could tell, he’d never done anything to attract any sort of attention to himself, and yet, he went through the same exact shit every day. Certainly not shit worth tolerating.
"Soul-less, I’m talkin’ to you!"
Come on, the door is right there, I can make it— Suddenly, the path of escape is blocked by a frustratingly familiar figure.
"Didn’t your parents ever teach you it’s rude to ignore people who are talking to you? One might think they were never around."
"Kyle, I’m going to be late to class." Fuck, why won’t you just fucking die already?
"Nah, man, we’ve got time! Let’s catch up," Kyle Hunter says, grabbing Nalin by the shoulder and turning him away from the safety of a room full of witnesses. "Y’know, like the old days!" His grip tightens as the halls empty.
"We really should get to first period," Nalin tries, "Both of us are at tardy limit, and I can’t do detention today. I promised Katrina that I was going to help her take her science project home—"
"Hand over the backpack," the bully orders as they turn the corner and out of sight.
"Kyle, please—" Nalin is met with a shove against the wall as a response. He loosens his grip on the bag and it’s snatched away from him. He stands there, helpless, as his tormentor fumbles through his things, tossing notebooks and papers in no particular direction.
"You should clean this thing out more often, buddy." Kyle looks at a paper and crumples it. Nalin suppresses a cry of protest as he watches that stupid essay he spent hours last night finishing become an unacceptable mess. Soon, the entire bag is emptied and dropped, a disemboweled corpse lying atop what was once inside. "Oh, man, this sucks! I’d help you pick it up, but I’m gonna be late to class," Kyle shrugs and walks away. As Nalin bends over to start shoving his stuff back into his backpack, he hears someone else approach.
"Crap, Nalin, you’re gonna be late," that someone starts, sliding to her knees and scooping up pens and papers. "Kyle is such an asshole.” Nalin looks up to see his best friend, Lyric, assisting in his efforts.
"Good morning, Captain Obvious, out to get yourself a tardy, too?" He picks up his essay and attempts to straighten it. "Think Cooper will take this?"
"No, but that’s why you e-mail things to me to read over. I’ve got an extra copy with my stuff. It might not have all of your corrections, but at least she’ll grade it. And," she says as she pulls a slip out of her pocket, "I’ve got a hall pass."
"You crazy, calculative—" Second bell. There go his chances of avoiding detention. "Fuck."
"Ugh, sorry I didn’t get out here sooner." Lyric closes the last notebook and hands it to her friend. Both teenagers straighten themselves out, and begin to walk back to class.
"Whatever. Could you pick up Katrina today? She’s gotta take this project home and I was supposed to help—"
"Sure," Lyric agrees, then takes Nalin’s backpack from his shoulder and shoves a paper into his hand.
"Hey!" Nalin starts, hushing his voice quickly as they enter the classroom.
"Mister Soul," their teacher states coldly, "Miss Aldrich. You are late."
"Sorry Ms. Cooper," Lyric says. "It won’t happen again. Nalin has a pass, though!" She gestures toward the scrap she’d exchanged for his backpack. Nalin glares at her before handing the pass to the teacher.
"Very well, take your seats." The two make their way to the back of the class, where Lyric returns Nalin’s things and removes her own bag from under her desk.
"You are ridiculous," he whispers. She smirks.
"I’m awesome.” She takes two essays out of her folder and hands him one as Ms. Cooper tells the class to pass them forward. Nalin can’t argue with this, so he scowls instead to show his frustration with her menial sacrifice.