Cheryl, head down, walks briskly toward the Classics section, her hands clenching and unclenching at her sides.

“Am I missing something?” I ask. “When did classical literature get so popular?”

It just didn’t make any sense. The Classics section used to be the most deserted part of the library, but students have been popping in and out of there the entire break.

“Good question. Maybe Mrs Felder keeps a stash of erotica there.”

“You don’t sound very convinced,” I say, standing up. “But I’ll go check with Cheryl if she’s seen some ‘50 Shades’ type shit lying around.”

Cheryl is preoccupied, flipping through the book in her hands. She finally lifts her head and jumps back in shock upon seeing me. A gasp escapes her mouth as Wuthering Heights slips from her hands and falls to the carpeted floor with a ‘putt’.

I reach down for it, but she grabs the book as if it might disintegrate if left on the floor a second longer.

Odd. I could have sworn I saw something in the book. Maybe just a laminated bookmark, or something like that, jutting out.

“Jazz!” Cheryl hurriedly shoves the book back onto the shelf.

“I had no idea you liked Emily Bronte,” I say.

“What are you talking about?” Cheryl asks, a blank look on her face.

“The author of Wuthering Heights? You had the book in your hands.”

“Oh, yes!” She smacks her hand against her forehead. “I’m such a blonde! I … thought I should read it. Be – uh, Mr Langley said it was really good.”

“So, what did he say to you and Naledi after class?” I prod.

“He told Naledi,” Cheryl says, almost spitting her name, “that there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. Then he told me to ‘pull up my socks’ and ‘show more initiative’, as if Naledi is putting in all this effort just for charity. We all know she’s just dying to see the Black Rosettes.”

To be fair, we were all dying to see them. Raising money for charity, in itself, is fulfilling. But throw in an added incentive like concert tickets – no, concert tickets that sold out within 15 minutes – and the work ethic is bound to shoot up 50%.

“Don’t take it to heart, Cherry. You know how Naledi is.”

Naledi liked winning at everything. And she usually did.

While I have to work my butt off to keep my scholarship at Paxton-Wood, Naledi breezes through everything as if she has some special chromosome that makes her a success magnet.

To top it off, she looks like a model, with cheekbones that could cut glass and legs that seem to go on forever. Urgh.

“It would be great if she looked like an ogre or had like, bad breath or something,” Cheryl says. “She’s even got Mr Langley wrapped around her pinkie.”

“Maybe she does have bad breath,” I joke, nudging Cheryl with my shoulder. “That could be the reason why she and Nate broke up.”

Cheryl giggles and it almost feels like I have the old Cheryl back. I want to ask if we can hang out after school, but the bell rings, and lunch is over.

Cheryl rushes off without waiting for me.

As Nate hands me my backpack, asking if I found any ‘50 Shades type shit’, I shake my head, my thoughts centred on Cheryl and the distance between us. It felt like we were doing this weird dance: one step forward, two steps back.

When I look back at the Classics section, I see a boy with mussy hair holding Wuthering Heights.


Tell us: How do you like being forced to pair with someone on a project; someone who is not a friend?