Unearthly Page 36

What does it mean?

I look up. I’m in the classroom again, staring at Christian. Somebody snickers. Everybody’s looking at me expectantly. I can feel Angela’s tension rising up off her in waves. She’s freaking out. She wanted to give me note cards. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea.

“Your Majesty?” prompts Mr. Erikson.

I suddenly remember my next line.

“Take heart,” I say quickly, unable to tear my gaze away from Christian’s. He smiles again, like we’re having our own private conversation.

“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman,” I say. “But I have the heart and stomach of a king.”

“Here, here!” says Angela, her golden eyes wide behind her glasses. “Long live the queen!”

“Long live the queen,” repeats Mr. Erikson, and then the whole class is saying it.

I can’t help but smile. Angela, looking relieved that my part is done, starts going into the details of Elizabeth’s reign. Now I only have to stand there and look pretty, like she said. And try to calm my racing heart.

“Of course for a long time all anybody in England seemed to be interested in was finding the right husband for Elizabeth,” Angela says, glancing over at Mr. Erikson like she’s proving a point. “Everyone doubted that she’d be able to rule by herself. But she turned out to be one of the best and most revered monarchs in history. She ushered in a golden age for England.”

“Yeah, but didn’t she die a virgin?” asks Tucker from the back of the class.

Angela doesn’t waver. She immediately launches into her stuff about the Virgin Queen, the way Elizabeth used the image of the virgin to make her unmarried status more attractive.

Tucker is leaning against the back wall, smirking.

“Sir Tucker,” I say suddenly, interrupting Angela.

“Yeah?”

“I believe the correct response is, ‘yes, Your Majesty,’” I say in my haughtiest tone. I can’t just let him mock me in front of the entire class, can I?

“Yes, Your Majesty,” he says sarcastically.

“Have a care, Sir Tucker, lest you find yourself in the stockades.”

He scoffs and looks at Mr. Erikson. “She can’t do that, can she? She’s not the ruler of this class. Brady is.”

“She’s queen today,” says Mr. Erikson, leaning back in his chair. “I’d shut up if I were you.”

“You could strip him of his title,” suggests Brady, apparently not minding at all that I have usurped his throne. “Make him a serf.”

“Yeah,” says Christian. “Make him a serf. Being a serf blows.”

As a serf, poor Christian has already been killed several times in our class. Aside from dying of the Black Plague on the first day, he’s starved to death, had his hands cut off for stealing a loaf of bread, and been run down by his master’s horse just for kicks. He’s like Christian the fifth now.

“Or you could get rid of him altogether. Throw him in the Tower of London. Have him drawn and quartered. Maybe the rack. Or a red-hot enema,” says Mr. Erikson, laughing. You have to admire a teacher who’d suggest death via red-hot enema.

“Perhaps we should put it to a vote,” I say, looking coolly at Tucker, remembering how he almost got me burned as a witch. Sweet revenge.

“All in favor of death to Sir Tucker the heretic, raise your hand,” says Angela quickly.

I look around the classroom at the raised hands. It’s unanimous. Except for Tucker, who stands in the back with his arms crossed.

“Red-hot enema it is,” I say.

“I’ll mark it down,” says Mr. Erikson gleefully.

“Now that that’s settled,” says Angela, looking at me sharply, “let me tell you about the defeat of the Spanish Armada.”

I cast a triumphant glance at Tucker. The corner of his mouth lifts in a half smile. He nods at me, as if to say, Touché.

Point: Clara.

Go me.

“What was that?” hisses Angela as we beeline it for the restroom after class.

“The thing with Tucker? I know! I can’t figure him out.”

“No, the thing where you spaced out in the middle of your speech and left me hanging in front of the entire class.”

“Sorry,” I say. “I had the vision. How long was I out?”

“Only like ten seconds. But it was the longest ten seconds ever. I thought I was going to have to slap you.”

“Sorry,” I say again. “It’s not something I can control.”

“I know. It’s fine.” We burst into the girls’ bathroom and stand in the handicap stall while Angela disassembles the dress and I step out of it. She unties the corset and I gasp in relief, finally able to take a full breath.

“You saw the forest fire?” she asks, peeking out to make sure we’re alone.

“No, not this time.”

She grins wickedly as she hands me my sweatshirt. “You saw Christian.”

I feel a blush creeping up my cheeks.

“Yes.” I carefully remove the headpiece and hand it to Angela, then pull the shirt over my head.

“So you were like, looking at Christian in class and then you were looking at him in the future. That’s wild, C.”

“Tell me about it.” I pull on my jeans and walk over to the mirror to survey the damage to my hair. “Ugh. I need a shower.”

“And in the future, what happened?”

“Nothing,” I say quickly. “It was only ten seconds, remember? There wasn’t time for anything to happen.”

I turn on the sink and lower my head to splash my face, watching the white makeup dissolve into my hand and swirl down the drain. The cool water feels good against my flushed skin. Angela hands me a paper towel and I dry off, then wipe at the bright red lipstick. She gets a brush out of her backpack and starts to pull the pins out of my hair.

“Nothing new, huh?” she says, her eyes meeting mine in the mirror. “No new part of the vision?”

I sigh. I might as well tell her. Angela has a way of ferreting out the truth one way or another. She’s nothing if not perceptive and persistent.

“He was—” I begin softly. “We were . . . holding hands.”

“Shut up!” exclaims Angela. “So you two are like lovers!”

“No!” I protest. “I mean, maybe. I don’t know what we are. We’re holding hands, so what? It doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

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