Thirty Three: Sweet Revenge

Taylor

“Aaah!” I let out a loud yelp as the car swerved dangerously close to the side of the road. “Watch where you’re going!!”

“Oh, sorry,” she muttered, brushing back an errant lock of hair before gripping the steering wheel. “I can’t concentrate.”

“Obviously!” I relaxed my grip on the door handle after a few minutes. I was beginning to agree with her earlier description of herself. She certainly was neurotic. “Maybe I should drive.”

She turned to glare at me. “Hey, now. Just because I—“

“WATCH THE ROAD!!!!!”

“Sheesh,” she muttered. “Alright, alright.”

We were swiftly approaching campus, and I dearly thanked God for that. The twenty-minute drive up here had raised my blood pressure to untold heights, I’m sure. I mentally reminded myself to never let her drive when she was under this kind of influence. It was worse than being intoxicated.

“Allison,” I said, more gently this time, “Relax. You look like you’re about to have a heart attack.” She was hunched over in the seat, both hands firmly on the wheel, her eyes locked ahead.

“I can’t help it. I’m a jumble of emotions right now.” She bit her lip absentmindedly.

“I know, I know.” I paused. “And thanks to your automotive skills, so am I.”

“Oh, shut up.”

We found a parking space, exited the car, and headed up toward the famous biology building. The campus was rather quiet today, at least more so than I had seen it. I guess people didn’t feel like getting out much with the threat of finals looming over them.

“Slow down, speedy,” I heard a mutter behind me. “Not all of us have giraffe legs.”

I stopped for a moment so she could catch up. Her hands were stuffed in her heavy winter coat, and she’d pulled the hood up to block the wind. A scarf covered her face below the nose. Several stray blond strands escaped from under the furry hood and fluttered around her face, and her nose and cheeks were ruddy from the cold. I couldn’t help but grin. She looked like a cute little Eskimo.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked.

“Like what?” I feigned innocence. No need to tell her the truth.

“Oh, nevermind. You’re just weird, anyway.”

“Aw, thanks, sweetie.” I reached over and pinched her cheek. “It’s good to know you think so highly of me.”

“Stop that!” she demanded, but her eyes laughed.

We continued our walk to the building. Once inside, I followed her to the elevator. The building was quiet and empty, save an occasional student sleeping on a bench. I shot her a questioning look, and she shrugged.

“Sometimes it’s easier to just sit and wait for your next test or class,” she whispered. “I’ve done that before.”

“How do you make sure you wake up in time?”

“Well, I use the alarm on my cell phone.”

We entered the elevator and she pushed the button for the third floor. We both leaned back against the wall. Her eyes were closed, and a small smile graced her features. She tapped her fingers rhythmically against the rail of the elevator.

“So, what exactly is the game plan here?” I asked.

She lazily opened one eye and looked at me. “Well, the scores are posted on the bulletin board right outside of his office. So, we’ll go look at mine, and his, and then stake out a place to watch the action unfold. Hopefully he won’t be too long.”

“I can’t believe they would just post your score up there for everyone to see,” I mused. “I mean, that seems kind of… I dunno, wrong.”

“Well, it’s not your name up there… it’s the last four digits of your social security number,” she replied. “So it’s pretty much anonymous.”

“Well, how are we going to know which one is his?”

She giggled. “One day last week, when I  met him for that ‘study’ session--” she grimaced slightly at the memory. “—which, by the way, was sheer hell on earth, but I digress—I asked if I could see his ID. So then I memorized his number.”

I nodded approvingly, offering her a high-five. “You’re evil. Pure evil.”

She flashed me a beautiful smile. “I know.”

The elevator, which was excruciating slow, finally reached its destination. She led the way, walking confidently and purposefully down the hallway. I lagged behind, studying the new world I was in. After the disaster early in the semester where we’d gotten separated, she rarely allowed me to tag along to class with her.

The walls were littered with various flyers and papers, mostly with notices of student organization meetings. A bright pink-colored page caught my eye, and I moved closer to read it. A lump fell in my throat.

‘DELTA ZETA’S FIFTH ANNUAL BATTLE OF THE BANDS!’  the flyer announced. A dozen or so bands were listed below. Bands, I thought wistfully. I used to be in one of those. Well, I guess I technically still am, but whatever. I wonder what Isaac and Zac are doing…

“Taylor!” Allison called my name softly, noticing that I’d stopped. “What are you doing?”

“Oh—nothing!” I lied, jerking away from the wall and trotting up to meet her. “Sorry.” I bit my lip, my mind still straying.

“Um…” she hesitated, apparently noticing my sudden change of mood. “Are you alright? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I said. “It’s nothing.”

She didn’t say anything, but I knew she didn’t believe me. We knew each other too well. She didn’t press the matter, though.

“Well, OK then.”

“So,” I said, eager to change the subject, “where’s this bulletin board?”

“Right over here.” She smiled, taking my arm and leading me over. We found the listing for her test. Three pages of nothing but lines of numbers.

“Damn,” I muttered. “It’ll take us all day to find them.”

“No…. OK, let’s both look for mine. You start at this end. My number is 4782.”

“Alright.”

We scanned the list of tiny numbers. It felt like it took forever, and more than once I was forced to look away and rub my eyes. I glanced at my watch; it was 1:15. We needed to hurry.

“I found it!” she whispered. “OK, Score of 49 out of 50… 98 percent! YES!” She pumped her fist into the air. “It pays to be a geek.”

“Congratulations!” I said warmly, draping my arm over her shoulder and hugging it. “Now let’s look for his.”

“OK, his number is 2802.”

2802? I had just seen that one a second ago… I quickly scanned my side and found it easily. Then, I nearly pissed myself with laughter.

“AHH!” Lucky no one could hear me, or  a professor would have surely come outside of their classroom to berate me. “ONE out of 50!!!!! ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“WHAT?!” She clapped her hands to her mouth to cover her laughter. “You’re joking, right? You’re joking?”

“I’m not joking,” I wheezed, pointing to the number 2802. “Oh, man…. that is classic.”

She gazed where my finger was and her mouth dropped. “Oh, my God…. OH MY GOD. I bet the one I missed is the only one he got
correct…. he copied me letter for letter. Oh, my God…” She buried her face in my chest to cover up a loud snort.

“That’s like….” she could barely speak for laughing, “like, a fucking TWO percent!”

“Well, you said he had to fail grandly…. and I’d say he certainly managed that.”  I wrapped my arms around her back and bent my head to hers, enjoying our closeness. “And that, my dear, is sweet revenge.”

She raised her face to mine. Her eyes glittered with tears of laughter and she casually wiped them away. “Oh, it is. It is.

Our faces were so close, I could feel her breath against mine, and it made my heart stop. What would she do if I kissed her? I wondered crazily. Even if she pushed me away, it would be worth it, just for that one second…

“Taylor?” she asked sweetly.

“Yeah?” I whispered hoarsely. I felt my arms tighten their grip around her and for a moment I thought I would pass out from the strain of holding back.

“I said it before, but I’ll say it again. Thank you.”

“It was….” I struggled to think. “Nothing,” I finished lamely. “You’re welcome.”

Her entire face lit up in a huge smile and she clapped both hands on either side of my face. “We did it! We’ve both been avenged.”

“Yeah…..” Oh, God…

The sound of a door clanging shut caused us to jump apart. I wasn’t sure whether to be angry or thankful. Five more seconds in that position and I could have potentially done something very, very stupid.

“We should find someplace to wait,” I said gently to her as another student walked past us in the hall. She nodded in assent.

We walked up and down the hall, surveying the surroundings. I suggested simply waiting down by the water fountain, where the hall curved and we wouldn’t be seen, but she pointed out that there was another door and staircase down that way, and there was a slight chance he might choose that way to come up. We would have to find someplace close enough to see or at least hear the action, but completely enclosed.

“Surely, there has to be someplace where we can hide out,” she murmured as we walked down the hall for the third time. She stopped in front of a door that did not have a number next to it. “Hmm. No number. This isn’t a classroom….” She tried the handle, and to both our surprise, it opened easily. We peered in. It was a janitor’s closet. Perfect.

After a quick glance down the hall, making sure no one was around, we slipped into the closet. It was dark and hot, and smelled of bleach, but I didn’t care, as long as I got to be close to her.

“I guess now we just wait,” I said softly.

“Yep.” She flipped on the light for a moment, glancing at the floor. “I’m going to sit down.” She flipped the light back off.

“I think I will, too.”

So we sat, and waited. It was decided that we would crack the door ever-so-slightly when we heard him coming, so we could at least partially see what was going on.

“Well,” I spoke up after a few minutes of silence, “at least I can say that I spent time alone with a girl in a closet now.”

She laughed at my reference to Seven Minutes in Heaven, that wonderful pre-teen party game. “Hmmm, same here, actually.”

“What, you’ve never gotten into a closet with a girl before?”

She pinched me. “Shut up! You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, yeah. Well, actually, this one time--”

“SSHH!!!!” She reached up and with extreme care, cracked the door open. A thin sliver of light greeted us. “I hear him!”

I shut my mouth, listening intently. Sure enough, several deep male voices could be heard approaching us.

“I see him,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. I adjusted my body so that my head was over hers, and I could see. It was lucky that I was so much taller. I could barely make him out through the small crack.

“He’s looking,” I whispered back. I reached down to find her hand and squeezed it. She held on, gripping it so tight I feared it would result in broken bones; but I refused to let go. We sat there for several minutes as Jay scanned the test results, looking for his.

“WHAT THE FUCK?” His loud scream startled us both, causing Allison to pitch forward. I grabbed her and pulled her back into me before she bumped into the door and spilled it open.

“Dude, what’s wrong?” one of his companions asked.

“A FUCKING ONE OUT OF 50, THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG!” he bellowed. Allison and I both fought to control our snickers.

“What? I thought you copied off that one chick! She’s a fucking genius, man.”

“I did!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Well, look at the other scores, see if there’s another one out of 50…. maybe she messed up or something, man, I dunno.”

They both scanned through the test results, but to no avail. Jay was livid.

“That bitch,” he seethed. His friend laughed quietly.

“Looks like she was ready for ya this time, man.”

“THAT BITCH!” he snarled again. I was unspeakably glad that we were hidden. I had the idea that he would probably try to rip her to shreds if caught sight of her.

“Excuse me, young man.” An icy voice interrupted the melee that was going on outside the closet. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the building. You’re interrupting the other students.”

“WHAT?!?”

“Oh, well, hello, Mr. Blanding. Checking your score?”

“That’s Tanenbaum,” said Allison. She chuckled.

"There's been a mistake!" Jay shouted.

"A mistake?"

"Yeah, it says I got a one out of 50. That's impossible!"

"It is?" Tanenbaum replied smoothly. "Why's that?"

Jay grew angrier, obviously not wanting to admit that he'd copied his answers. "It just IS!"

"It's no mistake, young man. I scanned these twice to make sure there were no errors. I suggest next time you spend some time at the library with your books."

Jay didn’t answer, only glared. “Fuck it. Come on, man, let’s go.”

“Yes, I suggest you do, and stop distracting the students who are testing here. They, unlike you, Mr. Blanding, have obviously spent many hours studying and preparing for their tests,” Tanenbaum said. “Goodbye. Oh, and I’ll see you next semester.”

Allison clapped her hand over her mouth to keep from bursting out. “This keeps getting better and better!”

A loud disgruntled shout was Jay’s reply, and we heard the angry stomping of feet recede down the hallway. Tanenbaum retreated back into the classroom he’d exited from.

“Well,” I said. “That was certainly one for the books.” I stood up, stretching for a moment, then offered my hand to her.

“Indeed it was, Taylor,” she replied, clutching my hand and pulling herself up. "Indeed it was."