School starts mid-August, while it’s still hot and humid.
Rose has a friend to walk with, the kid she met rollerblading, but Mom insists on driving me to the high school, even though it’s less than a mile away. When we get to the gate of our community, there are two girls about my age just walking through. Mom stops and asks if they’d like a ride and explains which house we bought this summer.
Angelica and Natalie get into the back seat while Mom goes on about how we’ve always lived in a tiny town, that this seems like city to us, and how this school is so much bigger than my old one and she hopes they’ll be my friends. These girls clearly spend hours on their makeup, hair, and nails. There’s no way they’d want to be friends with me, even if they weren’t obviously really tight with each other. I try to limit the damage with a shrug and eye roll.
Then Mom goes on about how I’m a top student, but the best classes were all full when I registered and they put me into a jumble of whatever was open. They even put me into two art classes instead of college prep!
Basically, Mom tells Angelica and Natalie I’m a nerd and a scared little hick who’s desperate for friends. She doesn’t realize that, though. She thinks she’s helping. At least she introduces me as Tina, not Montina.
When she drops us off, Natalie thanks her for the ride.
Angelica looks at my schedule and shakes her head. “Your mother wasn’t kidding. They dumped you into dumb-dumb English and crappy classes for kids who wouldn’t pass social studies or science any other way. The rest won’t be too bad.”
“Are you in any of them?” I know the answer but ask anyway.
“Hardly. We’re in the IB program.”
IB, International Baccalaureate Program. I’d never heard of one until Mom found out I couldn’t get into it and started raving about it. At least my being a nerd won’t count against me with these girls.
“Your first class is Spanish. It’s up that way. That teacher is okay.” Angelica points down a hall. “The room number’s on your schedule and there’s a map of the school on the back. Good luck.”
With that they disappear in the opposite direction.
Spanish is overflowing, with six students standing. The teacher takes roll, then says she’ll see how many drop out the first week before she tries to fit more desks into the room. “Meantime, a clipboard will help.”
I decide to be early every day and get a desk.
I have two art classes, drawing and painting, with Mr. Bonhomme. He has us draw the first day. Gym is boring. English, science, and social studies are plain dumb, stuff too easy for Rose.
The first weeks of school, those art classes are what save me from total despair. Mr. Bonhomme is happy as long as the room’s not trashed and we look like we’re working on our assignments. He doesn’t mind people talking while they work, either, as long as there is silence while he explains things. It ends up with a pleasant place to work. My other classes are too large or have too many trouble makers in them. The teachers are battling for control all the time.
I try talking to people in the art classes, but they go their own way at the end of class, and at the end of day everyone heads home. Mom keeps asking me if I’ve made friends, and what about those girls we met the first day, until finally I scream to just leave me alone and go to my room and slam the door shut.
It doesn’t help that Mary’s never the one to Skype me, and she’s not home most of the time when I try to get her. Texting works better, but it’s not the same as having a best friend right there in the room with you. She’s posting lots of photos on Facebook. She’s moved into a new crowd.
The first Monday in October Angelica and Natalie start stopping by every morning to walk to school with me. I figure Mom talked to their mothers.
Later, I wonder if I was right. Maybe they had plans for me from the start.
The Incident is contemporary YA (Young Adult). Following time-honored tradition, I’m publishing it here in installments. To be alerted when the next segment goes online, “follow” this blog. The entire story will be published here. You are welcome to share this link with others, but please respect copyright by contacting me for permission if you want to publish the story elsewhere. Thank you.