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Fiyori was up in her face. The girl was so close that Georgia Lee could see herself clearly reflected in those enormous, coke-bottle glasses. The eyes behind them were cold, and malice almost seemed to shine out of those storm-coloured pupils, as if they were little evil torches. Georgia Lee stared back into them, trying to hide her annoyance. She could feel her hands trembling, and so she grabbed her bag and pulled it onto her lap, so as to bring them out of sight. It was clear that all Fiyori wanted was to get under her skin, and Georgia Lee didn't want to give her the satisfaction.

What was it about her that made people want to hurt her? There must've been something, for it'd been happening all of Georgia Lee's life. When she was young, her sisters had mocked her for being weak, for being dependent on their parents, for being devoid of talent or accomplishment. She'd treated that like a checklist, and fixed every one of those faults. She'd become perfect, and how did people respond? Now they insulted her for working too hard, for being too talented, too accomplished. Her success scared people: it made them look at themselves, and see how little they'd done, and how much they'd squandered their gifts and their time.

Still, plenty of the student body was weak and was talentless, and nobody seemed to rub their faces in it. There were other students who worked hard too, and who did well too, and Georgia Lee was sure that they were able to sit down to read for five minutes without being harassed. No, there was something about her, it would seem, that inspired this level of hatred from her peers. Some mannerism maybe, or perhaps a particular feature of her face. She was a magnet for resentment. She was a jar of honey, and people's petty insecurities swarmed about her like ugly, useless flies.

Of all the flies, Fiyori was by far the ugliest and most useless. Georgia Lee had asked about her, after their first encounter. Her grades were a joke, of course. A stoner too, of course, and probably a junkie as well. Georgia Lee glanced at the ridiculous billowy poncho that hung off of Fiyori's gangly frame, hiding the insides of her elbows. Why else would someone wear something like that? Perhaps it was some sort of drug-fueled mania that explained the girl's obsession with Georgia Lee too, because obsessed she clearly was.

The two of them couldn't be in a room together without Fiyori making some comment, trying to provoke Georgia Lee. All it would take was Fiyori setting her eyes on her for the giantess to lumber over and start picking on her. Presumably devoid of purpose and meaning in life, finding no appeal to studying or working hard or contributing meaningfully to her community, Fiyori Senay had instead made it her sole mission to aggravate Georgia Lee.

It wasn't fair. Georgia Lee wanted to scream at the girl, to shout in her face that she'd done nothing to her, that there was no reason for this, and to leave her alone. Of course that was exactly what Fiyori wanted, and Georgia Lee was perceptive enough to know that.

She could feel eyes on her. The other students in the library, watching her, waiting to see what she'd do. An audience for Fiyori's little show. Fiyori was grinning, her too-wide mouth splitting her face in half like a halloween pumpkin, her breath reeking of nicotine. Because of course it did. Georgia Lee breathed in, through her mouth.

Engaging Fiyori wasn't going to change anything. It wouldn't make it better, wouldn't make her stop. All it would do was encourage her, let her know that if she kept going, if she pushed a little harder, Georgia Lee would break. There was no way Georgia Lee was going to give her the satisfaction. Not in a million years, in a million libraries. Not if Fiyori interrupted the reading of every book Georgia Lee ever picked up.

She pushed the textbook away from her and stood, zipping up her bag. Georgia Lee was far from calm, but she had enough control of herself to at least passably fake it. She made sure her hands were steady, made sure her breathing was even, made sure she stood up straight. Lifting the strap of her bag onto her shoulder she looked Fiyori in the eye. Even with the girl's stooping, gargoyle-like posture, Georgia Lee still had to tilt her head back.

"Actually, I was just leaving." It was a lie, but she could study elsewhere. The library was her first choice, since it was the most peaceful, but there wouldn't be peace to be found here while Fiyori skulked about.

Still, there was no need to let that grotesque, hulking praying mantis know that she'd driven Georgia Lee off. Her little insect mind might have interpreted it as a victory, and that might have encouraged her, so Georgia Lee gave her a smile, crinkling her eyes to make it look genuine, and clasped the bicep of the girl's skeletal arm in a gesture of faux-friendship as she headed out.

She didn't spare her a backwards glance.

[Georgia Lee day, continued in Acid Rain]

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The Library Is The Power House Of The Student · Beale Library