"How would you feel if your school decided to change?" asked MissTeacher.
Nova listened intently, willing her stomach to stop screaming.
"The idea of making your own schedules. How would you feel about that?"
A boy in the back of the class, Raphael, raised his hand.
"I think I'd do well in that environment," he said. "I could get my work done in my own time and sleep in late."
MissTeacher smiled, disappointed, and tried to steer his thoughts in the right direction.
"But what about planning out your whole year? Could you look at a calender, look at the curriculum, and know exactly how you were going to complete all of it, and when?"
Raphael shrugged, not so sure now.
"And what about if you made all your choices at home? If you chose when and what you ate, all the time?"
Nova looked around, but no one raised their hands.
'I wouldn't eat anything at all,' Nova thought to herself. 'I would be pretty.'
"I mean, when I was your ages, I would have had pancakes, pizza and ice cream, all the time."
Nova smiled, but said nothing.
"That wouldn't be very healthy at all, would it?"
The class was silent, but thinking.
MissTeacher stopped talking to let them think.
When the bell rang, Nova stood up and slung her bag over one shoulder. Ellie and Mara grabbed their bags and headed for their lockers, walking in a small group.
"Oh god, my stomach's such an ass," Mara complained.
Ellie laughed. "Mine too. It wouldn't stop grumbling the entire lesson," she said, then made a noise, close to what it sounded like.
Nova fell into step with them and smiled.
'One out of three girls self-harm. One out of three girls self-harm.'
"You going out for lunch?" Nova asked Ellie.
Ellie shrugged. "I'm not really eating today."
"Oh." Nova wondered if every girl in their group really did schedule their own eating, and if they did it the same way she did.
"Hey, but I'll go out with you if you're going to Bankers St." Ellie stopped talking and stared at Nova's hair intently.
"Wait," she said, reaching up. "You've got a fluff in your hair."
Nova smiled, knowing it only reflected inside herself. Like a light shining into her, but showing darkness to all the other people around her.
"Thanks," Nova laughed.
"And yeah. I'm probably going to just head for the posts, though. Just hang there." Ellie nodded, still staring at Nova's hair.
"All right, I'll come with you." But Ellie wasn't thinking about lunch. She was thinking about Nova.
Nova has such pretty hair, down to her shoulders in small, dark-brown waves. Ellie was envious. Always paying attention to it. Her own hair mirrored her mothers. Dirty blond, and flat. Not very exciting.
But Nova's gave her an hair of mystery.
She wondered what Nova was thinking about, this very moment, but silenced her thoughts when Mara walked up and put her arms on Ellie's shoulders.
"Bugger. I really hate Science. It's boring as shit," Mara exclaimed. "We should do something more exciting, like, watching grass grow, or something."
Ellie nodded, smiling, pretending to be as exasperated as Mara. But she almost liked science. It was informative, sometimes. And their teacher wasn't particularly bad at teaching, so.
"Right, well I'm heading out," Nova said suddenly, zoning back into the world.
"Me too," Ellie stated, affirmatively.
"You guys going to the posts?" Mara asked, applying some chap-stick in her locker mirror.
"Yeah," Ellie said.
"Mind if I join you?"
Nova smiled and closed Mara's locker. "Come on," she said. "Let's go."