I hate getting out of bed in a cold room, as much as I hate sitting on a really cold toilet seat. They are both equally evil. That is why I ended up back in my bed, under the covers with a coat on Friday morning. Since my mom saw me walking to the washroom that morning she must have assumed I was getting ready for school, because she didn’t check on me again before leaving for work. My sisters had left even earlier to whatever club meetings they have BEFORE school (this is why I don’t join school clubs). So after they all left I fell back asleep. I’m supposed to catch two city buses to get to school if I don’t leave super early in my sisters’ car, but wearing a jacket to bed makes me so cozy that I doze off into blissful sleep and miss both buses. I actually dream about DC. He gives me a ring and it’s so beautiful. Unfortunately just as I want to kiss him I wake up to a loud truck revving its engine on the street below. That’s when I realize I’m late!
Arriving at school late is a lot more fun than arriving at school on time. Maybe it’s the bright happy sun, shining in the bus windows all the way to school, instead of the dark cold images of early morning. I’m positive everyone would be happier if school started later in the day. Even the temperature doesn’t feel as cold with the sun beating down. So there’s no way I can be unhappy this morning, despite the late slip I have to carry to my teacher. Lunch is in like an hour cuz I’m so late, so it’s a short school day for me! Did I mention I even had a nice, unrushed, quiet breakfast at home? I thought if I was going to be late anyway, why rush?
Like I said, it was impossible to not be happy on this morning… except Morgan keeps looking at me. I don’t like Morgan because he doesn’t like himself.
I mean, he dresses in these sweaters and dress pants like he’s 52 or something, and his hair is combed flat against his head. Why does that indicate that he doesn’t like himself? Because I believe he takes no pride in his appearance. I have no doubt his mom picks out his clothes for him and probably styles his hair too. His parents are probably one of those old parents, like 82 years old. Maybe they’re his grandparents and his real parents were archaeologists and died of pneumonia during an excavation of some ancient lost city in Antarctica. Okay, probably not, because that would make him a little bit cool, which he is not. But anyway, I just don’t like Morgan this particular morning.
At lunch I sit with the girls in my class and I see Morgan again. With all the possible seating arrangements and overcrowded lunch room it’s really uncanny that he has a straight line of vision to me. He’s sitting with his two best friends. The three of them are not exactly the most popular kids in school, if you know what I mean. I know Morgan gets good grades but I don’t think his friends do. When he sees that I’ve noticed him staring at me he moves to the other side of the table. That’s better.
“What is up with you?” Lindsay asks me. “Why do you keep looking at Morgan?” She says his name like it’s yesterday’s yucky lunch special.
“Me?” I can’t believe she’d imply that! “He’s the one that’s been looking at me all day! It’s weird.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure!”
“How did the blind date go? You haven’t said a word about it.”
“I felt sick. I wasn’t too interested in the guy.”
Lindsay rolls her eyes at my comment. “You’re never too interested… There you go looking at Morgan again!”
“He just bugs me so much.”
“Because… it’s like he chooses to be a loser.”
“Probably. But he’s not a loser. He’s a geek.”
“What’s the difference?”
“A loser is probably going to go to jail before he’s even 18. A geek is going to make a lot of money by the time he’s 20.”
“Not wearing those clothes he’s not.”
“I’ve never seen you so annoyed with anyone before.”
“Well…” I get back to my lunch. “Some people are just more annoying than others.”
“Okay, listen.” Lindsay gets all excited in a quiet, secretive way. “Remember how I told you Josh said you were really pretty?”
“Well he asked me if you were coming to Janet’s birthday bash.”
“I wasn’t invited.”
“Sure you are! You’re always invited, you just never come! You’ve got to come this year. You might actually enjoy yourself.”
“I doubt it.”
“What do you enjoy?”
I open my mouth to answer that question but nothing comes to mind. Finally I say, “I like going on line.”
“And you think Morgan is a geek?”
It takes me a second to get what she’s saying, because my mind is already wandering away. “Me? A geek?” I take it as a compliment. “You think I’m going to make lots of money by the time I’m 20?” I start to imagine all the things I would do with a lot of money.
“Not daydreaming you won’t.” Lindsay gets her stuff together to leave. “You could get better grades than Morgan if your head wasn’t always in the clouds.”
“Thanks ‘Mom’. I’ll keep that in mind.” I roll my eyes.
“I’m starting to remember why we never hang out.” She gets up. “Just come to Janet’s party and be nice to Josh. If you’re never happy you might as well do some good and make someone else happy for a change. You might even enjoy it.” She leaves.
What does she mean I’m never happy? I’m happy!
I see Morgan again and decide to leave too. Morgan can find his happiness somewhere else. I’m definitely not going to be the one to make him happy!
The rest of my lunch hour is spent doing math, because I love math, and because I can’t stop thinking about what Lindsay said about me not getting as good grades as Morgan. That just makes me hate him more. I get good grades! He just happens to be top of the class right now. So what? But we’re neck to neck in math, so now it’s personal. I have to beat his next exam score! That will show Lindsay! And I’m going to make a million dollars before Morgan does. That’ll show the world!
I don’t hear the bell ring apparently because the Librarian taps me on the shoulder and asks me if I’m supposed to be in class. It’s not the first time I’ve been too preoccupied to hear the bell ring. I hear it so often that it only makes sense that I’d start tuning it out eventually.
Now I have two late slips in one day! Which is a very bad thing because I get called into the Principal’s office after my class (cuz school is over early on Friday’s and its the end of the day).
“I’m afraid I’ll need to call your mother about these late slips.” Principal Dennis says. I don’t reply because I’m trying to figure out why people say things that don’t make sense, like “I’m afraid”. I know he’s not afraid to call my mom, nor is he afraid of my mom, or anything else. He picks up the phone. Now I’m the one who’s afraid. Maybe that’s what he meant, he’s afraid for me…
“No wait!.” I finally say. “You don’t need to call my mom.”
“And why not?”
“Because… I was doing math, when I was late for math.”
Principal Dennis puts the phone down and takes off his glasses.
“So you were doing math when you were supposed to be attending Math class?”
“Because… I learn so much more by myself. I figured out algorithms. Teachers just interrupt the way I learn by talking over my thoughts and expecting me to listen.”
I’m nervous because I don’t know what the principal is thinking in his head.
“Okay,” he says, pulling out a blank piece of paper from his printer. “Why don’t you show me.” He gives me the paper and a pencil.
“Okay… ” I take the pencil and start doing the last algorithm problem I’d done in the library.
“I see.” Principal Dennis says before I’m even done the equation. “Have you ever thought of joining the math club?”
“No! Morgan’s in the math club.” I say before thinking.
“And what is wrong with Morgan?”
“So you’ll be joining them then. And we’ll put this late slip business behind us. Look at it as community service.”
Community service? I don’t know how to respond. Principal Dennis leans back in his chair, looking pleased with himself. “They have a competition coming up…”
“No. I can’t join the math club.”
“I don’t like the math club.”
I’m trying to think of a logical answer but my mind doesn’t work well under pressure, as is evidenced by the entire conversations so far.
“My mind doesn’t work well under pressure.”
“Those competitions are not about understanding math, they’re about how well someone’s mind works under pressure.”
Principal Dennis is nodding and looking at me. He seems to decide something then gets up. I get up too. He walks me to the door. “No more late slips.” He says, ushering me out.
I conclude that my mom won’t be called (fingers crossed), and that I’m not going to be forced to join the math club (please, please, PLEASE).
Did I mention that I’m 13 and not 16? I may have forgotten to mention that. I think if I was 16 I wouldn’t care if my mom got a call about late slips. I’d practically be an adult. I could move out and have a job and a car. And so, because I’m not 16 I have to hurry home. I’m already running late from being in the Principal’s office, and missing the bus. My mom might call the police, like she’s done on occasion. Why did I have to lose my cell phone, again? Just as I’m weighing the options of taking the city bus home (which would take longer than walking), or walking home in the freezing cold, Morgan shows up.
“Hi.” He says. Was he waiting for me? Because I KNOW he takes the bus so obviously he too has missed his bus.
“What is it Melvin? Are you following me around?” I ask sharply. But since I said his name wrong, I’m not sure why, I start laughing. Because in a movie it would be totally funny, to get the geeky kid’s name wrong every time you said it. Except the actors wouldn’t laugh of course, I just can’t help it. The laughing has thrown off my seriousness about Marvin the Math Club Member stalking me. He is smiling too now, unfortunately, and hands me a folder.
“Here. I wanted to give this to you.”
I take the folder.
“It’s a story.” He says.
“Why…?” Then, in about a half second my brain makes all these conclusions that would take much longer than a second to write down. “No!” I hear myself say in horror. “It can’t be you!” I drop the papers on the floor and take off running, fast, that way Mason will never catch up, even if he really wanted to, because he’s probably got asthma or something.
I run for at least two blocks without looking back. Something bad always happens if you look back. Then I have to catch my breath. And Marvin is nowhere in sight so I stop a moment. I think I need to cry. Sometimes I just need to cry and this is one of those times. The people I pass on the street are probably worried that something is wrong. They are right. Something is terribly wrong. I can’t put it into writing. It’s just too wrong. Morgan CAN’T be DC (my online best friend of all time and the love of my life)! He just can’t!
I walk fast, deliberating as I go. Before I know it I’m almost home, not too late. The wind is blowing snow up and around me. It’s extremely cold outside but for once I don’t mind. The cold air feels good as I suck it in, numbing my cheeks and numbing the feelings inside of me. I want to take off my coat and let the cold consume me, but I don’t. I have to go inside or I’ll catch a cold.
No one seems to notice anything amiss when I get upstairs, except that my mom says, “I wish the bus stop was a little closer to home, your face looks frost bitten.”
It’s too hot indoors. In my room I can see a wall of snow flakes falling down onto the street below. I want to be out there again, feeling the cool snowflakes melting on my burning cheeks. My mom is probably right. I probably have frost bite and that’s why my cheeks are burning. I head for Viros, then remember that she isn’t there. So I remain at my rocking chair, looking through my partially open blinds at the large snowflakes falling slowly. I remain in that position till I hear my mom yell “supper’s ready.” Without my laptop, I have nothing. And I guess without DC, my laptop has nothing 😦