CHAPTER 3

Ahh lunch. The only thing I’ve been waiting for all day.

The whole time in trig, the only thing I could think about was food. But other than that it was actually a good class. I’m not a fan of math, but how the teacher acts, makes it look like this is going to be an easy class.

Her name’s Mrs. Anderson and she’s just like Mr. Crowe.

From what everyone says and in the movies, you’d think high school teachers were old, but a lot of the teachers here are actually young.

I walk out of the classroom and look around the hallway, which is actually more crowded than it was this morning, and spot Phoebe with Lee, Nyla, Katelyn, and Cassidy.

I see them talking and laughing about something. They all look like good friends. I wish I had that. But I think I will, since I’m going to sit with them at lunch.

Hopefully we can all become good friends.

I just never would’ve thought that my first day back in school, I would already have some people to hangout with. But Cassidy also might have people to hangout with, because I do think she is also new, but I’m not sure.

I hope she’s new, so I wouldn’t feel alone.

I hate feeling alone. I remember when I was younger, when my dad died, I would be alone. I know that I was young and don’t really remember anything, but I do remember little snippets of my past and I was alone most of the time. It was just me and my mom and my mom was always busy trying to live with the fact that my dad wasn’t with her anymore.

But it’s all over now and my mom is happy.

I’m glad.

After examining all of them, and bringing up the past, I walk up to them nervously, because the only person I kind of know is Phoebe.

I arrive to them, “Hi.” I say, hoping they’d all like me.

They all look at me, like they’ve just seen a ghost, “Uh hi.” They all say at the same time.

“-This is Jackson.” Phoebe says to Lee, Nyla, katelyn and Cassidy, while interrupting there stare towards me. “He’s new to this school.”

“Oh, hey Jackson-” They all say in a better tone than they had before I was introduced by Phoebe. “-how are you liking it here so far?”

“It’s good.” I say, not really knowing what to say.

I hate being short to them, but I don’t know what else to say to them because I barely know them. Well, I actually don’t know them, so why would I already be talking to them. I’m always like this with people I don’t know. A lot of people think I’m being rude to them, but if I don’t know you then I’m not going to talk to you. It’s not like I can already be myself towards them.

Nyla starts to speak, “That’s good. It’s actually a pretty great school.”

“Yea.” Lee says.

Well of course he’d think that, since he’s the captain of the football team.

Phoebe interrupts my thought, “Okay, well you all ready to go?” She says like she is our leader.

“Yea.” They all say except me.

Anxiety really does suck.

Sometimes when I talk to people I don’t know, my voice will change, and it sounds completely different than it actually does. It’s like when you video yourself and you sound completely different than you actually do. And I get so embarrassed after because I start to question if that is really what I sound like.

I see all of them start to form a line together and we start walking and it’s like I’m an outsider. It’s Phoebe, Lee, Nyla, Katelyn, and Cassidy walking together. And I’m behind them like a lost puppy. I feel like I’m intruding in their group. Well, it’s like I’m intruding Phoebe, Nyla, Lee, and Katelyn, because I’m pretty sure Cassidy is new.

But then Phoebe gets beside me and I don’t feel alone.

“I’m sorry if Nyla, Lee, and Katelyn are acting weird. They just don’t know you, yet, but after they get over their shyness, they should be fine.” She says.

“Oh no, it’s fine.” I say smiling.

But it’s really not. I wish they would talk to me. And make me feel like I fit in with them. But I know what it feels like to be shy. Hell, I have it worse with my anxiety. But they could have anxiety too, and I don’t know it.

Why didn’t she also say anything about Cassidy?

We finally get into the cafeteria and head towards the lunch line. The lunch line has two lines, one for one meal and another for the other meal. Which are salads and cheeseburgers.

We go to walk towards the lines and they are both crowded. Everyone must’ve been hungry.

I hate cheeseburgers, so I choose a salad, grab a water and go sit down. I don’t know why all of the sudden I’m eating healthy. I do eat healthy, but when I have some junk food around me, I’ll eat it.

I’m pretty sure everyone is that way, and it’s not just me.

The cafeteria is pretty big for a school this small. There a bunch of long ass tables, and one side of the wall is just all glass and like four tv’s hanging up on the wall. Wow, the school seems like they have a lot of money, but they still can’t afford a light bulb.

The population in this school is only about 600 students which is pretty small compared to my old school, which had over 2,000 students. I actually like being in a school with less people. Although I haven’t been here long, I feel like since there aren’t many students here, then everyone knows each other and aren’t stuck in groups. But by the looks of it, it seems like everyone is stuck in groups.

It reminds me of middle school where the preppy kids were at one table, the nerds were at another, and so on. It’s like unless you’re in one of those categories, you can’t sit at a certain lunch table.

We get to a table that approximately fits six people. I think this table is the smallest one in here. The other tables fit like ten.

I guess the Phoebe and them aren’t considered their own group because it’s a mixture of all sorts of people. Not just one.

“So, Jackson, what made you come to South Side?” Nyla says as she sits down.

“My mom got a job transfer, so I had to come here. I didn’t mind coming here, it was in the summer so I got to spend the last bit of my junior year with my friends.” I say, lying to them.

I don’t want to tell them I was homeschooled because I was bullied. I’m embarrassed of it and if I tell them that I was bullied then it will make me seem like a pussy because I didn’t do anything about it.

But I don’t know them, therefore I’m not gonna tell them personal things.

“Oh, where does she work?” Say’s Phoebe.

“With some hospital. I’m not sure which one.” I didn’t know they were going to ask that damn question. I mean she works at a hospital, but like I said, that’s not the reason we moved.

“So, what do you all like to do?” I say quietly and nervously.

It took a lot of guts to say that. I mean it’s not even that hard to say, but I don’t know these people, so I’m nervous as hell. I don’t want them to think I’m weird or anything.

“Well-” Phoebe says “-I like to read books, as you can see.” She says as she pulls out Les Miserables from her bookbag. “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!” She says kind of yelling as she holds up the book. It kinda makes me laugh because who memorizes quotes from old books? I knew she was a nerd though. That’s not something to be embarrassed about. It’s actually kinda cute.

“I like sports.” Lee says quietly. I kind of don’t care, not because I don’t like Lee, but because I have nothing in common with him. I hate sports. Not only because I suck at them, but when I got bullied, that was something I got bullied about. It was like if you didn’t play sports then you “were gay.” That’s so stupid. You shouldn’t be considered gay because you don’t play sports. I have nothing against gay people, but I don’t like being called something I’m not.

“I don’t know.” Nyla says barely laughing. “I don’t really do anything, except sit around and watch tv.” She finishes.

Me and Nyla literally have so much in common. I feel like my life is so boring. If it were a reality show then I don’t think anyone would watch it, because my life is completely boring.

“I also like sports-” Katelyn says as she glances at Lee, than to me. “-mostly volleyball. I remember one time I was in the front and I spiked the ball and hit this girl right in the face, and I couldn’t help but laugh. It was so funny.” She finishes as we all bust out laughing.

Cassidy starts to speak, “Eh, I don’t really care about nothing.” She says. Well damn. “I like black though.” Well, that explains all the black clothes and her gothic lifestyle.

“What about you?” Say’s Phoebe.

“What about me?” I say kinda surprised she asked that. Does she really want to know about me. I’ve always been the person no one wants to know about. And I also don’t like talking about myself to other people because I have nothing to say that is amusing.

“Well, what do you like to do?”

“Well, I don’t like sports-” I say laughing a little as I look at Katelyn and Lee. “But, I guess I also like to read. But that’s mainly it. I’m kinda like Phoebe, I’d rather just relax all the time and watch tv, but I’d like to do it with friends.”

“Really?” Phoebe says kind of excited by the fact that we have something in common. “What type of books do you like?”

“I like fiction, more specifically teen fiction. I also write too. I like how I am able to just come up with something, write it down and it becomes real, even though it isn’t.”

“Same, but I also like historical fiction.” Phoebe says.

I wouldn’t have thought that me and her would have a lot in common. Well, it’s not really a lot, but still. I wouldn’t have thought we’d have anything in common.

“Yea. I don’t like that genre that much.” I say as we both start to giggle. “I like the class though. Just reading about it makes me want to pull my eyes out.”

I’m glad I got to talk with them.

They’re actually great people and I hope we become good friends, but I’ve been so busy talking the whole time that I haven’t gotten to eat any of my food.

So I dig in.

The salad is actually really good, I feel like I’m at a fancy restaurant, but it’s weird saying that considering I’m in a school cafeteria.

But it was like eating dinner on christmas day. Just without the presents.

I get up and go throw my food away.

As I throw my food away I see Kyle, the one in my first period, picking on a ninth grader and I can hear him all the way from here.

“You scared you little bitch?” He says as he pushes the kid then dumps everything out of his bookbag onto the floor.

I feel sorry for that kid, but I’m also glad that isn’t me. Although that used to be me. I used to be that ninth grader who is getting all of his personal belongings dumped on the floor after being pushed.

I know what that kid is feeling right now while everyone has his eyes on him.

That was me.

But it’s not me now and it won’t be me.

I hope.

I walk back to the table and sit down.

I curiously start talking, “So, what is up with that Kyle kid? Has he always been an ass?” I say curiously.

“Yes. He has always been known as the “class bully”. And yes, he is an ass.” Say’s Phoebe. “What made you ask?”

“I just saw him picking on someone.”

“Oh.”

Oh? That’s all you are going to say? Someone is getting bullied over there and you aren’t going to do anything?

Yet, I didn’t do anything.

But I can’t.

If I did, then I’d be his next victim.

And I can’t go through that again.

* * *

This day hasn’t gone bad at all. It was pretty great and I’m so glad that I met some people, who will hopefully become my best friends.

But I am ready for the day to end so I can go home and make all of this tiredness go away by having an amazing after school nap.

***

Ring! Ring! Ring!

School is now over with and that means a nap for me. It’s not good to go to sleep after school because you won’t wake up in the morning early enough, but when I’m fucking tired, I’m going to take a damn nap.

I walk out the front double-doors and see my mom already parked outside. Damn, she got here this early? Maybe she is just ready to hear about my day.

She’s usually late all the time. I don’t know why considering she never does anything, but I’ve learned to get used to it. So it’s fine. But I’m shocked to see her get somewhere early for once.

I get to the car, open the door and get in.

“How was your day?” She said, not even giving me a chance to get comfortable.

It’s not even that exciting, but oh well.

“It was good. Actually it was very good.”

“Well that’s good.” My mom says. Even though her words may not be exciting, her facial expression is as she has the biggest smile on her face. She’s not the only one who’s happy.

We start to pull out the parking lot and drive off as the school disappears behind us and I think back to when my mom asked me how my day was when I was homeschooled.

“So, how was your first day?” My mom says curiously.

“It was good.” I say. There isn’t really anything to say to her other than I woke up, got on the computer, did all my work and then laid down the rest of the day. And of course ate food.

“Do you like it better than being at your old school?”

“Yea, I guess.” Hell yea I like it better. Whatever it is and wherever it is, as long as I’m away from John, than that’s all that matters.

I awake from my daze as my mom slams on the brakes and beeps the horn at another car.

“Dam-, I mean dang mom, what are you doing?!” I say frightened by the fact that we almost got hit head on.

“What do you mean what am I doing?” She says sarcastically. “-That stupid car just pulled out in front of me.”

I don’t say anything to her. I just look at her and laugh because of how offended she got.

I gaze out of the window until we get home.

Home to me is my safe place, the place where I can be myself and won’t have to change for anyone or anything. I remember when I was about eight, I used to make tents out of blankets and I would dress up as a guard and have a plastic sword. To me, that was my home, my safe place. I wish I could go back to when I was a little kid and I would dress up as my favorite characters from my favorite cartoons and would act like I am those characters and would protect my tent made out of blankets. I miss it.

We finally pull in the driveway of our house and I get out of the car. As we walk to the front door, my mom is fumbling with her purse while she tries to get the keys and unlock the door. She always takes so long to get her keys when we get home. I especially hate it when it happens at night and I’m standing there with all of these moths flying around me.

“Mom. Hurry, I’m tired.” I say, whining.

My mom just stands there and looks at me.

“I can take longer.” She says.

My mom is one of the most sarcastic people I’ve ever met. You’d think that Moms would be strict, but my mom is actually chill.

I love it, and of course I love my mom.

“Mom c’mon.” I say again.

“Alright, alright. Chill out.”

Chill out? It’s so hot out here. I’m just ready to get inside.

She finally get’s the keys out, after what feels like a million years, and unlocks the door and we walk in.

Ahh I’m finally home.

The air conditioning blows right on me and it feels amazing. Way better than the hot air outside.

I eye the staircase, and head towards it.

As I arrive to the staircase, I start to race up the stairs into my room, and my mom starts talking, again.

“Where are you going?” She says confused.

I don’t know why she would be confused. There isn’t anything confusing about me trying to go to my room, to sleep.

“Upstairs to sleep. I’m tired.” I say, hoping she doesn’t try to convince me to stay downstairs.

“Okay. Well don’t sleep for long, you still need to get up for school in the morning.”

“Okay mom.”

My mom has always done that before. She’d never let me go to sleep after school, because I’d never get up in the morning. I don’t know what changed the way she feels about that.

I walk up the steps and get into my room.

Oh I sure as hell missed this bed today.

My room is kind of a mess, but I don’t mind. I don’t know why people, especially parents, think it’s so bad to have your room a mess. Well if it’s really messy, then I understand. But if you barely have anything on your floor, then who cares. It’s my room, not yours.

I kick off my shoes and I would change into something else, but I don’t feel like it.

So, I just get into my cozy, comfortable bed, close my eyes and sleep.