Third period was math, a class Brigid was in, and what was more, her assigned seat was near the front. Rod was in the back, one row over. He could pay better attention here, because his skin coverage calculations had gotten him to like math, at least a little. They were on algebra now, doing problems on the board for Mr. Gianelli.
Rod was lucky. Brigid’s desk-chair was not quite in line with the others so he got a good look at the side of her that stuck out. She was second from the front. Rod surveyed the kids in her row, starting with Millie who sat next to him, from back seat to front. Shirt, blouse, sweater, sweatshirt, bare shoulder, sweater. Jeans, sweatpants, skirt, dockers (ugh, Stanley! you’ve got to un-nerd yourself!), bare hip, jeans. Boot, sneaker, heel, sneaker, bare foot, sneaker.
Now Brigid turned a little and lifted her hand to scratch behind her neck. A little sliver of her breast came into view, like a crescent moon, and jiggled. Then she put her arm down again.
Now she did what she often did when she had her normal clothes on: crossed her leg and sat on it. Her bare toes stuck out into the aisle, wiggling from time to time as she listened and read and wrote.
And now she had a question, raising her hand. The breast bounced again, then swayed to rest. The question was about “completing the square”. Mr. Gianelli explained it carefully and concisely, the overhead lights glinting in his thick-lensed glasses.
“Why don’t you take the next problem to the board, Miss O’Dierna,” Mr. Gianelli said. Brigid got up and bent over to get her notebook, her waist seeming pencil-thin, then walked up to the board, proudly, as if to show off her uniform, though you couldn’t see any of it from the back. She braced her feet slightly apart as she picked up the chalk and started writing numbers.
“And problem number 7, uh, you, Mr. Sykes.”
Lord, give me strength. Rod tried not to trip over his feet as he went up to the board. I have to not do anything stupid, like saying “tit”.
Number 7 was not hard. Rod knew about completing the square and got started on it. He tried not to look at Brigid, who was to his left. He could swear he could feel heat radiating from her bare skin. He was getting hot himself, under all his clothes. He glanced down at her pretty bare feet, with the green toenail polish, next to his marching boots.
Brigid was left-handed and Rod was right-handed, and his peripheral vision told him he had an unobstructed view of her breasts, jiggling and wobbling tightly on her chest as she worked the chalk. He loved the way they moved when she was in her majorette uniform, either in circlets or these new “bits”, not strapped down by a bra, moving independently, one jiggling while the other swayed . . .
He looked over as casually as he could to her breasts, then went back to finishing problem 7. Then his face got hot as he realized that everyone in the room, certainly all the guys, was watching Brigid and would have seen him eyeing her boobs. This was one of those times he was so glad he was black, and not a white person whose blushes were visible to the whole world.
He finished and looked over to Mr. Gianelli, which fortunately meant looking away from Brigid. “Very good, Mr. Sykes.”
He got back to his seat, avoiding all eye contact once again, feeling a new wave of sweat under his clothes. As he sat down, Brigid finished, and turned to face the class and Mr. Gianelli. This time her face reflected not pride in her uniform but concern about her math.
“No, you don’t complete the square that way, Miss O’Dierna,” Mr. Gianelli said. “It should be one-sixteenth, not one-eighth. You added instead of multiplied.”
“Oh right -- sorry -- ” Brigid quickly lurched over to correct her mistake. The class attentively followed her motions, in particular her breasts hanging down and jiggling as she leaned over and wrote with the chalk. “Is that it then?”
“Yes, correct.” Brigid picked up the eraser and vigorously erased her work, breasts jiggling more quickly now. She was a embarrassed at having got one wrong. Such a perfectionist!
She turned to return to her seat and was almost there when Millie called out: “Bridge -- look -- ”
Brigid looked down uncertainly at her bare legs. “What?”
“Oh.” Somehow she had gotten chalk over her nipple so that the bit on that one was now white. She went up to Mr. Gianelli. “Mr. Gianelli, can I go to the bathroom. I’ve got to -- ”
“My uniform -- ”
“What?” With his poor eyesight Mr. Gianelli couldn’t see what Brigid was pointing at. Finally she went up to him and cupped her breast, holding it up to him.
“Oh, yes. All right, Miss O’Dierna.” He fumbled with a desk drawer. “Let me get you a hall pass.”
“Wait, Bridge, I’ve got a wipe.” Millie got up with a medicated tissue from her bookbag.
“Could you do it, Mil?”
“Okay.” As Brigid stood in the aisle, looking down with concern, Millie bent down and squeezed her friend’s breast so that it stuck out, and carefully dabbed the chalk from the delicate latticework of Brigid’s bit. Soon the nipple tip was once again green, fitting for an Irish lass.
The class went on for the next few minutes, during which Mr. Gianelli reviewed the quadratic formula and the guys in the back of the room reviewed Brigid’s shoulders and either her left or right butt cheek, depending on which side of the room the guy was on.
“Attention. Brigid O’Dierna, please report to the Principal’s Office.” It was the scratchy voice of Ms. Kennedy, the Main Office secretary.