Unaware, she tripped over her own foot, tangled in herself.
Tina landed with on her knees with a yelp, hands bracing her fall. After a moment of startled breathing, and a declared, "I'm okay," she slid onto her butt, skirt ridding up. The olive-hued girl squinted at her feet. Her black converse looked like spilled paint, the white bottoms bleeding into the monochrome hues of the empty hallway.
She really needed to make it to the office for the sake of her kneecaps. Dad (or her mom, really) would bring her glasses to her after she convinced the secretary that she really needed to use the phone. She suddenly groaned, anxiety building. Would she even be able to use the office phone? This would be the fourth time within two weeks that a Belcher child had been sent to the office for one reason or another. Louise, Tina remembered, had been there yesterday, grinning wickedly while she waited for the principal to make an appearance.
"Tina, lady, you know you're own the floor, right?" a voiced interrupted Tina's nervous moaning. She blinked at the source of the voice, squinting to make shapes out of the never-ending blur that was inherited bad eyesight. She made out a familiar dark-brown mullet and black tee-shirt. Zeke. She should have recognized his accent right away, thick and southern.
"I'm aware of that, Zeke," Tina replied, sharp and mocking. Well, as least as sharp as the oldest Belcher child could make her voice. Wide-eyed from a lack of sight didn't add anything to the sting of her attempted bite. Tina ignored his answering laughter to finger at the air, feeling for something to grad onto, and pull away from the chubby boy. She didn't exactly hate him – she was too nice for that – but he was too gross for her tastes. He smelled, okay? It was weird mix of old football, teenage boy, and something that Tina was probably happy that she couldn't name.
Tina yelped when Zeke came closer, nose pressing into Tina's. He squatting in front for her, handing resting on his knees. "Want some help?" he asked. "The teach' sent me after ya."
Ugh. Tina could smell his breath, and it was far less pleasing than the odor that came with the flesh-rotten zombies of her dreams. "What?" Tina murmured, wrinkling her nose, face scrunching up even further.
"Help? Ya need it?" her crush's best friend repeated with a chuckle. He grinned toothily at her confused stare. J-Ju was lucky; Tina was pretty cute. Zeke presented the fallen girl with one large hand, waving his thick fingers in front of her face.
"Okay," the older Belcher girl answered, weighing other options against Zeke's offer. There wasn't any other options.
Timidly, Tina placed her hand in Zeke's. With a quick jerk, Tina was standing, again, save for the shakiness of her legs. Zeke grabbed her shoulders to keep her from tumbling over, again. Tina blinked at him through thick black bangs. "Thanks," she said, in her usual soft voice.
"So," Zeke begun as Tina took a few careful steps down the hall, "you need to make it somewheres?" He was still gripping her by a shoulder, directing her past an open classroom door.
"Uh, downstairs," Tina mumbled, "I need to call my dad for an extra set of glasses."
They rounded the corner of the hall, closing in on the stairwell to the first floor of the brick schoolhouse. Tina glanced at Zeke who was smiling ahead. "So why did you help me?" she asked, quiet, "besides, being asked too?"
The aforementioned boy scoffed, "I'm a lot of things, lady, but a guy who leaves a girl in the dirt ain't one."
Tina blinked, "Um,"
"Sides –, " Zeke continued as he grabbed her elbow when the reached the stairs, "– careful, the first step is always a doozy – you're nice," he said it like it was most obvious thing in the world.
A surprised smile twitched onto Tina's face. "Oh."