narrated by Lainey Grimsley
For the first week of a school a red-lettered banner hung above the door, reading “Welcome Students to Jefferson High, and below it read: Aim High and Achieve. The wind tore it off with the help of Colin and Luca Traver. When I was in fifth grade, my mother had taken the job as teacher of the Junior Classes, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she was promoted to principal this summer. My own mother, the principal of my school for the next seven years.
(junior high kids sitting, high school kids standing, seniors on the steps, next to principal bekah grimsley)
She’s always been understanding, and tries to make the best of the situation, knowing how awkward it is for me. It’s not me, as much as the other students who have a problem with it. My mother used to be a librarian, and knows how to keep the halls quiet, but I don’t think the kids respect her as much as they should. It looks like it’s going to be a long year for the both of us.
The bell rings promptly at 7:35, and my mom is always standing on the stoop keeping an eye on the crowd as we all come inside. Mr. Up is in charge of hallway duty until everyone has gotten inside, then they both walk the halls.
Literature is my first class of the day with the other kids my age, there’s only five of us at the moment. Next year, my best friend Alice London will be in my group, I’m looking forward to a friendly face. Until then, I can feel everyone’s eyes on me when I step up to ask for help on a question. Generally I wait until we are at home, since I have the advantage of living with my teacher/principal. But right now we are working on a group project on a cherished classical author of our choosing, and sometimes I just have to find out the answer quickly.
I will eternally be thankful that Mom divided us into groups without making us pick them ourselves. Everyone else groaned, but I was beyond thrilled, though I put on a show like I was disappointed too.
The Upper Classes start their day with Mr. Up in the Science Lab. Our grade levels don’t get to take lab until we are in the higher grades. In fact, we aren’t allowed on the entire third floor, which is Lab and Shop class until we start the ninth grade. I do look forward to science, but I’m not interested in sawing wood and making sloppy boxes.
It seems the higher grades are much more grown up then me. Most are in serious relationships, some have vehicles, though our school has banned students from driving to school. They have a city-wide bus that can pick up everyone from South Port to Millwood, they talk about hanging out at Mixed Tape, which my age isn’t allowed on the premises past 9pm.
We get dismissed for lunch in the annex at 11:30, senior Henry Popper is displeased when he sees his little sister, Meme necking with her boyfriend. PDA isn’t just frowned upon, but actually punishable on school premises during operating hours. But the adults can’t be everywhere at all times.
It’s not a secret that Hadley Millett despises me, without cause, I’d like to add. The first day of school she pulled some harsh pranks on me, and Mr. Up had seen it. Since then, Mom has us on this track to make amends, which makes things worse.
Instead of worrying if I’ll have to sit alone, or worse with my mother, I know that I’ll have to sit with Hadley and Mr. Up. It’s punishment, and I’ve whined to Mom and Dad about it extensively, but they are holding strong to the belief that we can make amends. “Amlicable” is the word Mom uses. It makes Meg and Hadley tell the others that my Mom is forcing kids to be my friend now.
I’d give anything to sink into the ground and disappear. I even threw the idea of boarding school out there, but Dad just laughed it off.
I dream of sitting at the table with all the couples. Though I’m not secretly admiring any of the boys at the moment, it’d still be nice to be over there with someone.
Heck, I’d even take sitting at the table with the Millwood kids. Since Paige Lange moved there, the table has been more popular than before, seeing that she lives on South Port Shore Side.
When I got up to throw my plate out, Peter Schehl came up to me and started yelling at me. Apparently, I had gotten confused, and wrote my part of the group project report on Emily Bronte instead of Charlotte. I apologized profusely, but he was still upset with me.
I could tell everyone was watching me, my cheeks were hot, and I knew it was only a matter of moments before I betrayed myself and cried in front of the entire school. I tried walking coolly to the restroom to regain my composure, but Hadley and Meg were in there fixing their perfect hair and make up.
I ran back to the main building under the pretense that I forgot something in my locker. When I recovered myself, the other students were coming back in for gym class. Meg on her own has never bothered me, it’s only when she’s with Hadley, and I don’t understand the reasoning since Meg is an eighth grader.
The boys and girls are separated for Gym class, and right now our group is playing basketball. I prefer soccer immensely more than dribbling a ball with my hands. But I don’t complain about gym class at all, since Paloma Creelman is in it with me. She’s always been nice to me; I only wish she was in the Junior Class so she could be my partner for group projects.
The boys get the outdoor soccer for the month of September, which means we get it during October when it’s colder and even wetter then it is now.
After class, I see Isaac Gavigan giving Hadley a hard time. I feel incredibly good when I go to shower off.
Showers are also mandatory. I think Mom wanted to make it less awkward for those who wanted to be clean and fresh, but it just makes us all embarrassed. Meg and Hadley came in late, and poked fun at me while I finished showering.
They refused to shower while I “stunk” the place up. I caught them off guard when I came back into the changing area, Hadley had just gushed how she was meeting Isaac for some serious necking after showering. She turned on me, saying a boy wouldn’t kiss me even if I paid them, and turned to take her shower.
I’d like to think I’m a good person, but after Hadley had mocked me for being a giant, with a non-applicable chest size; I only wanted revenge. So I went to the office, and told my Mom what I overheard. Mom timed it perfectly, walking in on Hadley and Isaac between the bookshelves. When I heard that Hadley’s Dad was coming by after school to speak with the principal, I can say I felt good, really good.
It was only a matter of time before Meg or Hadley realized it was me that had gotten them in trouble. But at the moment, I didn’t care. The final bell rang, and there were rumors that Hadley and Isaac were going to be suspended for two days. Two whole days without Hadley at the lunch table, or in class passing notes about me; it sounded like bliss.
My glee began to fade as I waited, and waited for my Mom. The soccer team was practicing, and I could hear them cheering at one another as they made goals. Somedays, Mom isn’t done in the office until 5:00, I may as well join an extracurricular activity at this rate.
Mom came down to leave finally, and met Hadley near the annex doors. I didn’t hear what she said, but the way Hadley seemed to mock my mother made me angry. I never wanted to harm a person before, but I really want to punch her lights out.
Hadley didn’t even seem concerned when her Dad, Grant arrived. In the end though, it didn’t seem to go well. He was clearly upset that his daughter was getting suspended, and I couldn’t help but wonder what her grandparents would think when they heard the news. Everyone knew Norma Millett liked to keep up appearances.
There was a definite skip to my step as I walked to the SUV with mom. She was worn out though, and complained about needing to finish a paper for her class. She’s on her last semester of her graduate degree, her job offer was based on the understanding that she’d finish her education in the spring.
Thought I’d try first person, and just follow Lainey around for the most part. She does have it tough. I switched my school over to a commercial lot when I rebuilt it and let go of Jared Prickett (past principal). And since Bekah owns the lot, and Lainey is from that household, the kids always and *only* complained to Lainey. Who did this? Why, Hadley! That girl is just a rotten little punk! The Schehl twins, Peter and Meg as well.
I don’t know when or how but Meg and Hadley are friends. And in the last few minutes of play, Meg upped and slapped Hadley. I have no idea why, there’s no memory to suggest anything, and Meg doesn’t like any boys (nor does Lainey, seriously, 0 chemistry with all the high school boys). I believe it has to do with her aspiration being almost at failure rate. That whole ros from last round (biggest fear) really did a number on her, and not only that, all her wants are lame. “Go to College/Scholarship/Alien/Beat the Reaper.” Sorry girl, I can’t do any of those for you, not at the moment anyway.
I felt like I wanted to smack Hadley for being so rude to Bekah! Omgosh that girl is just b-a-d!