A Different Blue Page 17

In another time, she and Wilson would have been the conquering Romans, and I would have been a leader of one of the savage tribes that attacked Rome. What had Wilson called them? There were several. The Visigoths, the Goths, the Franks, and the Vandals. Or maybe I would be a Hun. Attila's girlfriend. I could wear a bone in my hair and ride an elephant.

In the end, the tribes had overrun Rome, pillaging it and burning it to the ground. That pleased me on some level. The underdogs rising up and conquering the conquerers. But if I was completely honest with myself, I didn't want to conquer Wilson. I just wanted his attention. And I got it in the most obnoxious ways. He usually was a fairly good sport about it, but the day Pamela came he held me after class.

“Miss Echohawk – hold up a minute.”

I groaned, falling back away from the door where I was steps away from making my exit. I got a few smirks from some of the other kids as they vacated the room. They all knew I was in trouble.

“I thought we discussed the Miss Echohawk thing,” I growled at him when the room had emptied around us.

Wilson started gathering up the papers littering the desks, pushing and straightening as he went. He didn't say anything to me but there was a deep furrow between his brows. He looked kind of . . . . . . pissed – the American definition.

“Am I missing something?” His voice was subdued, and when he finally looked up at me his eyes were troubled.

I tossed my hair and shifted my weight, popping one hip out the way we girls do when we're aggravated. “What do you mean?”

“Why are you so angry?”

His question surprised me, and I laughed a little. “This isn't angry,” I smirked. “This is just me. Get used to it.”

“I would really rather not,” he replied mildly, but he didn't smile. And I felt a stab of something close to remorse. I tamped the feeling down immediately. I shifted my weight again and looked away, communicating that I was done with this conversation.

“Can I go now?” I asked sharply.

He ignored me. “You don't like me. And that's all right. I had teachers I didn't much care for in school. But you are constantly looking for a fight . . . and I'm not sure I understand why. You were rude to Miss Sheffield today, and I was embarrassed for you and for her.”

“People like Miss Sheffield need to be given a hard time every once in a while. It's good for her. It'll toughen her up, help her grow hair on her chest, develop a little muscle,” I smirked.

“What do you mean, people like Miss Sheffield?”

“Come on, Wilson!” I moaned. “You know exactly what I mean. Haven't you ever noticed all the little groups, all the little cliques in your own classroom? Over here we have the athletes.” I walked to a grouping of desks on the back row. “Here we have the pom poms and the Prom Queens.” I pointed as I strolled. “The nerds usually congregate here. The bitchy girl – that'd be me – sits here. And the kids that don't have a clue who or what they are fill in all the spots in between. Maybe you don't recognize these little divisions because people like you and Miss Sheffield have your own status. People like you don't have a group because you float above the groups. You're from England. You should know all about class structure, right?”

“What in the world are you going on about?” Wilson cried out in frustration, and his obvious upset just spurred me on.

“Jimmy, the man who raised me, told me a story once,” I explained. “It goes right along with the whole tribal thing we've been talking about. Romans vs. Goths, vs. the Visigoths vs. everyone else. It's the reason people fight. It's an Indian legend his grandfather told him. He said Tabuts, the wise wolf, decided to carve many different people out of sticks. Different shapes, sizes, colors. He carved them all. Then the wise wolf put all the people he'd created into a big sack. He planned to scatter them all over the earth evenly, so every person he created would have a good place to live, plenty of space, plenty of food, and plenty of peace.

“But Tabuts had a younger brother named Shinangwav. Shinangwav, the coyote, was very mischievous and liked to cause trouble. When Tabuts, the wise wolf, wasn't looking, Shinangwav made a hole in the sack. So when the wise wolf tried to scatter them, instead of everyone getting their own little space, the people fell out in bunches.”

Wilson stood very still, his grey eyes trained on my face, and I realized I had his attention now, whether I wanted it or not.

“Jimmy said this explains why people fight. They don't have sufficient space, or maybe someone else fell on a better plot of ground, and we all want the land or possessions someone else got – simply by the luck of the draw. So we fight. You and Pamela are the same kind of people. You're from the same bunch,” I finished, defiant.

“What's that supposed to mean, Blue?” Wilson wasn't defiant. He looked upset, hurt even.

I shrugged tiredly, my anger fizzling like a leaky balloon. Wilson was a smart man. It wasn't exactly hard to decipher my meaning.

“But if we're all carved by the same wise wolf,” Wilson persisted, using the story to make his point, “why does it matter where we were scattered?”

“Because so many people suffer while others seem to have it so easy. And it doesn't make much more sense to me than that Indian legend.”

“So you're angry because of where you were scattered. And you're angry with me – and Pamela as well – because we grew up across the pond in a life of leisure and privilege.”

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