Vanadium is sitting next to Titanium—they always sit together in the same row. Vanadium had been crying near the elm tree that grows by the fence, because somebody had called it nothing but Chromium, which just isn’t true. Of course, Chromium is a lustrous steel gray and is widely regarded to prevent corrosion when used in steel plating, but this didn’t make Vanadium cheer up. Not even the thought that Vanadium is a helpful carbide stabilizer stopped the tears. And Titanium was no comfort. All Vanadium’s rowmate could do was talk about having five stable isotopes, like that was something special.

A few rows back and over slumped Iridium, not looking so good. There were whispers that molten salts, like NaCl and NaCN, might be causing Iridium’s illness. Bismuth, whom everyone regarded as a showoff, thought acids might have attacked Iridium, but everyone knows that Iridium is immune to that sort of stuff, at least the nurse said so when she visited the class that one time. Bismuth just thinks it is all bad or something because it has superior electrical resistance, like, I’m bad, I’m more diamagnetic than you, I’m all cool or something. Astatine, which sits pretty close to Bismuth (especially when Polonium stays home, faker), says that having some big electrical resistance isn’t as awesome as being a halogen that is radioactive. Astatine one time promised to unleash some uranium on Bismuth’s butt, but no one knew if it was kidding or not. Uranium is no joke.

Hardly anyone associates with Francium, who lurks in the corner. Francium, the heaviest of the alkali metals, thinks it is a weight thing. Radium, who sits next to Francium, sometimes lets off some radon gas, which makes Francium laugh and Radium smile. They might have a sleepover this weekend if their mothers agree.

Nearby, Hafnium spontaneously ignites. Tantalum slides over into the empty desk, because the board is easier to see without Niobium’s big head always oxidizing in the way.

The bell rings, and everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing for the afternoon. Some are planning to burn together, while someone else has an appointment to be excited by electrical discharge—their dad says they have to or else, bummer. A few will be melting before TV time, and a handful will solidify with some speed by dinner. One has plans to be defused by hydrogen, but everyone has homework.