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Tough Girl

Francine chose a seat towards the back of the room, but not the very last row, she didn’t want to come off as a total slacker. She tried to shift back onto the back two feet of her chair but discovered that the chair and desk were attached as one piece.

“So this is high school” she thought as she watched more students file in.

“Hey, Francine!” called Muffy as she sat down in the desk to Francine’s left. “How was your summer! I can’t wait to show you my photos from Paris! Oh that reminds me, I got you this!”

Francine took the little package from Muffy and opened it, inside lay a tiny model of the Eiffel Tower.

“It lights up too!” said Muffy, reaching over and flicking a switch on the bottom of the model.

“Wow Muffy, thanks! My summer was alright, I missed you! I had a good time at soccer camp with Jenna. Other than that I mostly hung around with Arthur and Buster.” said Francine.

“Neat!” said Muffy. “Oh my gosh, I hope that isn’t our homeroom teach-”

But before she could finish, a loud grunt silenced the room.

“I’m Mr. Donald, I’ll be your ah, homeroom teacher” growled the man. He must’ve been eight feet tall thought Francine. His heavy brow seemed to put his expression at a permanent angry frown. “I teach U.S. History, and, ahh, I coach the ah, football teams. I’ll be taking attendance and handing out your schedules, so ah, sorry if I mispronounce your names.”

He seemed friendly enough despite his gruff exterior. As soon as Francine got hers she turned to compare with Muffy.

“Shit it looks like we only have history together, oh well at least we’ve got project partners for one class” said Francine.

“Well it figures seeing as I’m taking mostly honors classes” said Muffy, with the slightest hint of superiority.

“Yeah alright I get it” said Francine. Francine was a smart girl but keeping up with school work had become more and more of a struggle for her. Standard classes were best, the lighter workload would give her more time to do what she really liked, that being sports and playing drums.

The bell rang and Francine waved goodbye to Muffy as she made her way to class. First geometry, which was dull as the first day of math class is, and then to art. She had planned to try and be in the school band, which would excuse her arts requirement, but she wouldn’t have time alongside her rigorous sports obligations.

Francine sat down at a paint-stained table and scanned the room for anyone she knew. There seemed to be a mix of freshmen and sophomores in the class, maybe some upperclassmen too, though they could just be unusually large underclassmen.

“Oh shit it’s Francine!” came a shout from behind.

Francine twisted around in her chair to find herself looking up at Molly MacDonald.

“Oh, uh, hey Molly” said Francine, a little shaken. The Tough Customers weren’t the biggest bullies in middle school, but they still managed to be an intimidating bunch.

“Hey man relax I ain’t gonna hurt ya, you’re the only person I know in this class, can I sit with ya?” said Molly.

Francine was surprised, she hadn’t had much direct contact with Molly or the rest of the Tough Customers since elementary school, as the grades were fairly segregated in middle school. She had heard plenty of things about them though, about how they were a bunch of druggies and vandals and generally bad news. Over the summer the school had been broken into and a bunch of things stolen and everyone knew it was them. Molly especially was known for risky behavior.

“So how ya liking high school so far? Pretty lame huh?” said Molly, putting her feet up on the table.

“Oh, its alright. I’ve only had one class, geometry with Mrs. Duncan” said Francine.

“No shit Mrs. Duncan? I had her last year. What a fuckin ditz she is, always trailin’ off n’ mumblin’ n’ shit. It’s an easy class though. I hate math and I ace’d it” said Molly.

“Haha good to know!” said Francene. She was harsh but Molly was surprisingly friendly.

“Aight class I’m Dave!” called a gangly man from the front of the room, “I gotta take attendance to get paid so listen up!”

“Aye Davey!” called Molly.

“Ah Moll’, back in my class again?” said Dave.

“Aye aye cap’!” said Molly.

“An I thought I was finally rid a’ you. Now I need to take attendance, if you’ll allow it” said Dave.

Molly nodded and leaned back further in her chair. “I was in this class last year too, it was such a good time I thought I’d take it again” she said aside to Francine.

Francine looked puzzled.

“And by that I mean that this school doesn’t put enough money into the art program for there to be a separate class for second year art. That’s why there’s so many upperclassmen, Dave’s gotta teach both classes at the same time” Molly explained.

“Geez that sucks” said Francine.

“He handles it alright, I think he kinda likes the chaos” said Molly.

After attendance Dave gave a quick overview of the class, both first and second year, and passed out small stacks of newsprint to each table.

“I am morally against giving real work on the first day of class, so think of this as sorta a free period. Only rule is y’all gotta draw. Y’all can chat n’ get to know your neighbors or be antisocial an’ listen to music or whatever, just make sure you’re puttin shit down on the paper while you do it. I don’t care if you’ve been an artist since you were three or never drawn anything in your life, this is low pressure, just have fun with it!” said Dave.

Francine certainly didn’t consider herself an artist but she set to work drawing as best she could. She wanted to draw a cool soccer player but it just wouldn't look right. She glanced over at Molly’s page and was surprised to see a very convincing rendition of the boy sitting across the table.

“Hey that’s really good! I didn’t know you could draw” said Francine.

“Yeah I draw all the time, don’t you remember Agent XX? That’s pretty good too, you wanna see a cool trick for foreshortening?” said Molly.

“Foreshortening?” said Francine.

“Like makin’ it look like something’s comin’ towards ya or goin away into the distance, perspective sorta” said Molly.

“Oh yea sure!” said Francine.

“So say you want the arm to be coming out sort of toward you, you can I guess sort of make a coil around like where the outside of the arm would be, then outline it and erase the coils. It’s hard to explain I’ll just show you” said Molly. Molly quickly sketched a torso and head facing to the side. From the shoulder she lightly sketched a series of loops forming an almost three dimensional rendering of the arm. “See this way you can sort of layer what you want on top of itself to see how it would look, rather than just going right for it.”

“I guess I understand” said Francine. “That sure looks better than I could do.”

“Hey ya just gotta practice if ya wanna get good!” said Molly. “Try drawing from what you see around you sometime, that’s what I do.”

“Alright I’ll give it a try” said Francine, and with that she set to work, sketching away and chatting with Molly.

Before they knew it class had ended. Francine stood up and hoisting up her bag turned to Molly.

“Y’know I do remember Agent XX, that was the girl in that little movie we made back in third grade! I’m surprised I forgot. That was a lot of fun!” said Francine.

“Yeah! It was cool hangin’ out with you again” said Molly. “What class you got next?”

“Physics” said Francine.

“I got Chemistry, we’re heading the same direction. Wanna walk together?” said Molly.

“Yeah sure!” said Francine.

“So what music are you into?” asked Molly.

“Oh, uh, just random stuff I guess. I like old rock, I’ve been really into Led Zeppelin lately, but I guess I got a soft spot for sorta silly 80s music too, like Bowie an’ shit” said Francine. She always felt sort of nervous talking about the music she liked, but she didn’t know why.

“Hey man Bowie’s not cheesy, that’s classic! I’m mostly into metal and punk rock, but a little new wave never hurt anyone” said Molly.

“Haha yeah” said Francine.

“Well I guess this is goodbye then, later!” said Molly, turning abruptly into a classroom.

“Oh, uh yeah, later!” said Francine looking up and finding herself in the science wing. That was a lot faster than she had expected.


The cafeteria was a sea of noise and motion. Francine peered over the crowd for anyone she knew. Suddenly a familiar voice caught her ear.

“Hey Francine! Over here!” called Arthur from the corner of the cafeteria. He was sitting with Brain and Buster.

“Hey guys, how’s it going?” said Francine tossing her bag on the ground and taking a seat.

“Pretty good! First day so not a ton of work” said Buster.

“Yeah, how’s your day been so far?” asked Arthur.

“Same here, physics looks pretty tough but art class seems fun, and Molly says that geometry with Mrs. Duncan isn’t too hard” said Francine.

“Molly? You mean Molly MacDonald? Why were you talking to her?” asked Arthur.

“She’s in my art class. She’s actually pretty nice” said Francine.

“You should be careful around her! I heard that she was the one who broke into Mr. Allen’s house!” said Buster.

“That wasn’t Molly, they caught the guy who did that!” said Arthur. “Even so, you should be careful, she does get into a lot of trouble I hear. I think she smokes too.”

“C’mon you guys don’t be so judgemental! Sure she was kind of rude but I don’t think she’s really a bad person. She’s a really good artist! Remember that movie she helped me and Muffy make back in the third grade? Well she’s gotten even better!” said Francine.

“Oh yeah, I suppose. Well did you hear that she -” started Buster.

“I don’t care what you heard, Buster! Geez you guys are so close minded! I don’t scrutinize every person you guys hang out with! Give it a rest” said Francine indignantly.

“Well we don’t hang out with Molly MacDonald” said Arthur.

“Man fuck you guys” said Francine, starting on her sandwich.


Over the next few weeks Molly and Francine became rather good friends.