lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
How Jazell Got Their Earrings
Universe: None
Word Count: 1300
Summary: When Jazell moves to a new school, they're ordered by their brother to make a new friend.
Notes: This story was prompted by [personal profile] chanter_greenie  and sponsored by [personal profile] desertroot ! Thanks, guys! It's also in the same universe as the Tanika stories Sympathies and Somebody's Watching You, but you don't need to read them to enjoy this.

Where Jazell grew up, everyone wore earrings. Women wore big hoops, bangles and dangles, and the men wore small hoops or diamond studs. Jazell had always thought they were beautiful, all colors and sparkle and gleam, but in their family, it was traditional to wait until the children were old enough to most assuredly make the decision for themselves—and pay for it.

“And make sure you're ready to take the pain too,” Jazell's mother said. “Your brother screamed like a stuck pig when they were doing him, and I don't want none of that.”

Which was fair, but the pain was part of why Jazell wanted them so badly. The pain made the beauty more so, in their opinion. They didn't want tattoos (what if they changed their mind?) but oh, they couldn't wait until they could pierce their ears.

But then things had changed.

Jazell had been put into a new school, one their parents hoped would be more challenging and lead to more opportunity. Which it was, and the books were nicer and the computers worked better, but the kids were different. They wore collared shirts, and khaki pants, and pastels, and the boys never wore braids or earrings. (Except for someone named Lynn, who had apparently come last year and left almost as quickly, and the stories of whom made Jazell sick to their stomach.)

While Jazell hadn't exactly been beloved at their old school, they'd at least been tolerated, in no small part due to their brother, the one who screamed like a stuck pig. Andreo was not particularly gifted in school, but he took people seriously. Anyone who gave Jazell trouble had to answer to him, and so while Jazell had been known as the school sissy, nobody had harassed them for it.

But there was no Andreo at the new school.

Jazell did their best to hide the trouble from their parents. They didn't want to disappoint their parents after all their efforts. So they kept their head down, studied hard, and tried to be invisible.

Their parents were so excited that it blinded them to the symptoms of trouble—Jazell's insomnia, weight loss, and deep avoidance of all extracurricular activities. Andreo, however, wasn't fooled; while singularly devoid of academic talent, he knew his sibling.

“They giving you trouble at the new school?”

“No,” Jazell said, but it sounded weak.

Andreo groaned and shook his open hands in the air. “I knew Recton was trouble! Fuck them, Jazz, come back to our school.”

Jazell just looked at him. They both knew it wasn't that easy. None of their family had ever been to college, and they both knew Andreo wasn't going. And despite the awfulness of Recton School, it was a step up. And Jazell enjoyed their classes, it was just the classmates

“You can't protect me forever,” Jazell said.

Andreo looked hurt. “Yeah, well. You ain't graduated yet. I just...” his hands danced hesitantly in the air, then dropped. “I just hate seeing you all torn up like this.”

“It's just three years,” they said, patting his meaty shoulder. “That's not so long. I'll hardly remember or care afterward, right?”

Andreo said nothing.

“I'll get into a nice school, and I'll study civil engineering, and then I'll build highways and bridges and I'll never have to think about Recton ever again.”

Andreo raised his head. “You need a friend.”


“A friend. Recton's big; they can't all be dicks. You find someone to watch your back, anyone, I don't care if it's someone even skinnier than you, it'll help. There's strength in numbers, you know.”

“I don't know, Andreo...”

“Trust me. You're good with books, but I'm good with people, so here's my homework: find a friend. Promise me you'll try.”

Jazell sighed. “Andreo...”


Jazell grimaced. Promises were unbreakable. “I promise.”

And thus did Jazell, who was not known for their social acuity, began to hunt a friend at Recton School for the Gifted.

Even a school as impressively homogenous as Recton had freaks besides Jazell. Most of them were fellow 'charity cases' on scholarship. There was Darryl, who wore tracksuits, corn rows, and listened to gangsta rap, but Jazell had been raised to distrust anyone that white and affected, so they steered clear. There was Marcie, who had cerebral palsy and dealt with the saccharine condescension heaped upon her with blistering sarcasm and impressive swearing. Jazell was a little in awe of her sharp tongue, but also scared of it; they couldn't summon the courage to approach her. There was Alex, the honest-to-god cancer kid, but cancer was even scarier to Jazell than sarcasm.

And then there was Tanika, the fat black girl in striped tights who was reportedly possessed. Or saw ghosts. Gossip wasn't clear.

Ghosts were less scary to Jazell than cancer or sarcasm, but Tanika was on the English/history track, not math/sci like Jazell. They shared no classes, and Tanika seemed to spend any and all free time holed up in the third floor bathroom. The third floor girls' bathroom.

“You're just making excuses now,” Andreo complained.

“No I'm not! I can't go into the girls' bathroom! I'm not a girl!”

“Well, you're not a boy.”

“Look, last year they had someone like me named Lynn who tried to use the girls' room. They still talk about what happened. No way am I being the next Lynn, nuh uh.”

“Then talk to the cancer guy.”

“I can't! What if I say the wrong thing? I'll die. I will actually literally die.”

“Look, you talk to Ghost Girl or Cancer Boy within the week, or I tell Ma about your hassle. Your choice.”

“I hate you, Andreo.”

“Yup. Now go out there and make a friend; I believe in you!”

It turned out that Jazell got no choice in the matter; Alex was sick and out of school all week. It'd have to be Tanika, so on Friday afternoon, Jazell found themselves standing petrified in front of the third floor girls' restroom.

Of all the bathrooms in the school, it was easily the most inconvenient, hidden way back in the dankest, grosses part of the building, and there was always a draft in the hall outside the door. It meant nobody was likely to catch Jazell there, but they still couldn't overcome fifteen years of social conditioning screaming don't go in.

Finally, they knocked on the door.

After a moment, a perplexed voice came from the other side. “Hello?”

“Tanika? It's Jazell?”


Jazell sighed. “We had advisory together last semester? I'm math/sci track?”

“Ooookay. May I help you?”

This was way worse than cancer. “I'm trying to make a friend so I don't get bullied and you don't get bullied and Alex is sick so my brother said to make friends with you and my grandma saw ghosts too and she was cool so maybe you're cool and yeah?”

Silence. Jazell wanted to die.

Then the door opened and Tanika was there, looking curiously at Jazell.

“I don't know you that well,” she said authoritatively, “so I don't know if I want to be your friend or not. But I'm willing to give you a trial run.”

“Okay,” Jazell said.

Tanika frowned. “Math/sci, huh? How's your math?”

Jazell shrugged.

“Look, I'm starting a ghost business. But my math is awful. If you can help me figure out what to charge, I'll pay you and we can hang out.”

“Okay,” Jazell said, and for the first time since joining Recton, they were excited.

Three weeks later, Jazell, Tanika, and Andreo went to the mall and got Jazell's ears pierced with little gold studs. They didn't scream, they grinned all the way through it, and then they ate some pizza and went to watch (and make fun of) the Sixth Sense.

Date: 2016-04-22 12:28 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a blue-shaded dyed egg (not enough blue in the world)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
XD! :) I'd almost forgotten about that prompt, and then whoops! Go Jazell, and an older brother with a sizable clue for the win. Also casual validation of nonbinary identities for the win!

I kiiiiind of want to know what happened to this Lynn, and where they went, now. Oops?

Date: 2016-04-22 03:02 am (UTC)
desertroot: Agave - a smooth and spiny desert plant with wildflowers growing in front (Default)
From: [personal profile] desertroot
Me too!

I also want to know what's up with the ghosts, and what Tanika and Jazell get up to together!
Edited Date: 2016-04-22 03:03 am (UTC)
Page generated Sep. 26th, 2017 06:03 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios