Early morning bus rides are excruciating. There’s always some kid up front yelling his head off, the bus is either three hundred degrees (Celsius or Fahrenheit- you make the call) or slightly above absolute zero, and you just keep nodding in and out of reality as you fight to stay conscious. Ultimately, when I get to school, I’m tired, cranky, and just want to go home. I’ve been walking to school for nearly two years now- it’s not far, about a twenty minute walk. I prefer it because it keeps me awake and allows me time to relax. When the bus comes for Adrian, the bus I normally would ride, I start my way to school. I still make it there about the same time as everyone else.
Today, the sky is waking up alongside of me. It’s about seven and the sun is still hesitant to break the skyline. I can see the school from about five blocks away. Our town, while relatively small, is still comfortably large enough to walk across for a decent enough time. Our school has about a hundred kids in every grade. I’m in the eleventh grade now, and I do well enough. I’m not super genius, but I’m good at what I like. In my math classes, I impress the teachers with how fast I learn new material. In English, I can recite poetry and explain it at length and at ease. My only problem is in keeping up with tasks, like homework and essays. I’ve gotten way better since freshman year, but sometimes I just forget to do homework or projects. I had a history teacher once call me a “lazy but smart student,” and since then I’ve tried to destroy the ‘lazy’ bit.
I can see the buses lined up outside the school in the street. During the morning routine, a police car shows up to block one side of the road so the buses can park in front and drop kids off. Usually it’s either this really tall, scrawny guy with no hair except on his chin, or the only female cop I’ve met in this town. It’s the lady I see, just sitting in her car, which I can’t blame her with the temperature outside. With all of the layers I have on, though, I barely notice it. Students are coming off of buses and filing into the warm building, and soon I catch up to the herd and walk up the few stairs and into the blue-and-gold hallways.
Our school is set up like a four-leaf clover. We have three groups of halls, all that ring back together, a gymnasium with a computer center on the floor above it, and in the center is the library. Awkwardly off to one side is the cafeteria, in between the Third Hall (mostly science and math rooms) and the gym. To get to my locker in the morning is a mission, because I have to go through basically everybody else to get to my set of lockers in the far side of the school. As I walk through, people jet out of nowhere, people take up about ninety percent of the hallways, and teachers roam around to try to keep everybody going to their homerooms. I get near my locker and am beginning to nearly sweat from all the heat my clothes are trapping in.
I get into homeroom and it’s the usual round of waiting around for Matt to come in. Matt and I have been friends since second grade after the two of us got into a petty fight on the playground over a basketball. We each gave each other a bloody nose, so as the nurse tended to us, we kind of talked it out. I mean, as much as a couple of kids could talk it out, I guess. He usually comes into class with about five seconds to spare before the late bell. He has this pretty girl, Maria, he’s in love with. Often in the hallway when you pass by it’s difficult to tell whose tongue is whose. Seriously. They’ve been together for about three months, so not out of the ‘Honeymoon’ Stage yet, but getting there. His last four girls ended four to two days before their four month anniversary, so I’ve got a bet placed with Cam, another friend of ours, on when they’ll break up.
While waiting for Matt, I see this girl walk in wearing this nice, blue summer dress with a black cardigan on. She’s essentially top shit around here, but I’ve barely talked to her. She moved here a year ago and I’ve yet to get into her group of friends enough to know her. But, dammit, she’s something else to look at. She’s got this blonde hair that drapes down her back midway, blue eyes deeper than any I’ve seen otherwise, and a beautiful, beautiful face. She’s basically a 10, and I can’t help but just look at her once in a while to make sure she’s human.
When Matt walks in, Mr. Harding reminds him that caps are not allowed in school, and Matt quickly puts the hat in his hands and hustles back to our corner seats.
“Hows it go?” Matt asked, sitting his hat on top of the globe which rests behind us.
“Ah, you know, forward mostly. Whatsup in your world?”
“Deep man. Should write poetry. Ever think about it? Walt Matthew. I like it.”
“Shove it. It’s Maria. Dude, she’s being a total… Something.”
“Keep it up! You’ll have your first sonnet in a minute.”
“Again, shove it.”
“Your use of description will be a hallmark for your work.”
“I swear to Christ, Germany, I’ll wring you if you don’t shut it.” He’s called me Germany for the last few years now. “Now stop it,” he said pretending to be emotional, “I’m getting tense.”
“Okay, Maria, what’s up there?”
And he went on the usual pre-breakup rant: She’s always calling him, only wants him to make out with, barely listens to anything he has to say, blah blah blah. In my head, I’m screaming “No! You’ve got to last 8 more days or I’m losing $20!”
“What do you think I should do?” He asked me.
“Well,” I hazarded, “I’d give it a little more time. Maybe another week or so, and see if anything changes. You never know- maybe it’s just a passing feeling, you know?”
“Yeah. You’re right. Wanna go to the mall tomorrow after classes let out? My treat. Maybe you’ll find the girl of your dreams and quite being weird and single.”
“Sure, I’ll come, but it’s not weird to go without dating someone for half a year, Matt. That’s kind of normal, really. Not all of us have had over fifteen girlfriends in our lifetimes. What does that say about you?”
He paused and thought deeply. “That I’m just too good for them.”
I roll my eyes, and catch the back of a pretty blonde head, and get lost for a second. Matt taps me on the shoulder and I look at his sunburnt face. “Dude, for Christ’s sake, ask her to be your girl. Ever think about it?”
“Shh,” I snip. “Listen, I haven’t a chance. Drop it.”
He laughs loudly, and I glare him down. Not that the room is quiet- everybody is talking. The teacher barely pays attention and is stuck on his own work.
“Look,” Matt says, “just ask her out. We have Winter formal in two weeks. Who knows? Eura’s been single, ever since her and Evan broke up over the summer. Maybe she’s just waiting for somebody smart, handsome, and amazing to come along, but in the meantime she’s willing to settle for you.”