Beautiful Broken Rules(6)

By: Kimberly Lauren

“Uh, excuse me, Jaxon, you should be my partner seeing as I don’t have anyone on the other side of me, Em can be her partner,” Tobias said, gesturing at the girl on my left, who clearly was already in a deep conversation with the guy in front of her.

“Nope, sorry man. I’m definitely going to sit here and enjoy getting to know Em here.” He said my name as if he was unsure that’s how to pronounce it. My real name is Emerson, but no one calls me that. Quinn said that it sounds like a guy’s name. I’ve never really cared, just thankful I didn’t end up an Ashley or a Sarah… blech.

Tobias was clearly getting upset that he couldn’t get his “assignment” started. “Dude, if you want to get into her pants, it’s not hard. You don’t need to sit here and ‘get to know her.’ She’ll give it up without the twenty questions.”

He started to stand up to walk around and find a partner when Jaxon put his arm around Tobias’ shoulders to stop his ascent. “Tobias, man, chill out, this isn’t even a graded assignment.” Jaxon’s hand clasped onto his shoulder looked totally innocent until I noticed Tobias grimacing, and realized that maybe Jaxon was squeezing him a bit hard. Jaxon didn’t appear to be angry; the only thing I could see that would give away his ire at Tobias’ words was the tension in his jaw and the steely gaze he gave him. “Now, apologize to Em,” he stated calmly.

What? Was he sticking up for me? I should probably stop him because it’s not like Tobias spoke an untruth. To be honest, his comment didn’t even faze me. I learned to block out any irritation toward the “slut remarks” back in freshman year. The only people ever to stick up for me were Quinn and Cole, a complete stranger. It’s not like he knows that I actually am a slut and that his defense is purely unnecessary. “It’s fine, Jaxon. Don’t worry about it. Tob, no hard feelings, but go find another partner,” I whispered to both of them, trying not to pull any other attention toward us. Jaxon continued glaring at him.

Exasperated, Tobias let out an annoyed sigh before he spoke. “Sorry, Emerson, I shouldn’t have said that.” Then he turned to face Jaxon and shrugged off his now white knuckled grip on his bony shoulder. “Chill out, dude, you don’t even know who she is,” he said under his breath as he walked away quickly. I don’t know if he meant for me not to hear that, but I did.

Jaxon turned back toward me in his chair and looked me in the eyes for a couple of seconds. I’m not sure what he was looking for, maybe to see if I was upset over what Tob said. “Thanks for defending me, but it really wasn’t necessary,” I stressed, while he was still staring at me.

“It’s not okay for any guy to talk to a girl like that. I don’t care if what he said was true or false.”

“What he said was true. I’m sure since you’re talking to me, half of these girls will crowd you after class just to let you know my reputation,” I said to him.

“I don’t care what your reputation is; most of us don’t have good ones anyways. That’s what makes them reputations,” he said looking at his notebook instead of to me. Then he shook his head slightly as if he were clearing it and turned to look at me again. “So, Emerson, huh?”

“Yeah, but no one calls me that though. Tobias only uses it occasionally and the only reason he knows my name is because we studied for finals last year together and saw it on my papers. Quinn only calls me that when she’s really pissed at me.” I leaned forward onto my desk, rolling my pen between my fingers, and laughing at the image in my head of Quinn being mad.

“Be silly, be honest, and be kind,” he quoted in a raspy voice.

I gasped. My heart sunk to the floor and I started to feel the ambush of tears to my eyes. Emerson, please don’t do this here, you will look like a fool. I quietly calmed myself with a deep breath. I could tell that Jaxon was watching my reaction carefully. “You know Ralph Waldo Emerson?” I asked.

“Yeah, he’s a great poet. We had to study one last year in American lit and I chose his name out of the bag. Sorry if that made you upset or anything. I’ve just always enjoyed that quote. Your name made me think of it,” he added.