The Aspergerian Secret Society

"They had no right to send me away. All I wanted to do was have fun; if playing with toys and watching cartoons was wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Yet they ordered mom and dad to force me to "grow up" and start acting like a 13-year-old girl or else they would haul me off to a sanitarium. So here I am in New York, trying to get by on my wits alone."

When 13-year-old Anais Johanssen is sent from Suntown, Illinois to New York, New York following an incident at her school, she's sure her life is over. Her parents (who sent her away) tolerated her life choices, which makes the betrayal worse. When she goes to high school and is introduced to the Aspergerian Secret Society, she's pleased to know that she found a group of people who understand her.

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1. Chapter 1

I can't believe my parents are sending me away. It's not even my fault, so why am I being punished? I'd like to speak to someone who's supposed to be in charge because this isn't supposed to happen!

OK, before I go any further, here's what happened:

It was a week before the last day of the eighth grade. I was a student at Suntown Middle School, about to be promoted to the ninth grade at Suntown High School. Or I should be excited to be promoted, as I found myself feeling discontented with the way my life is going.

My name is Anais Johanssen and I am 13 years old. I don't know where the name Anais came from; I'm sure my parents Darryl and Hattie must have named me after Anaïs Nin, that notorious French writer. My grandmother keeps insisting that they named me after her mother, Anna Johanssen, but mom denies it.

Anyway, I'm walking down the halls of middle school with my hands over my ears; if I have to hear about how people "can't wait to get out of middle school" one more time, I'm going to smack them across their face. I'm getting tired of people saying how great high school is going to be when they don't know high school is another school for them to attend.

In fact, I have heard nothing but bad things about going to high school from my much older cousins, most of whom didn't make it to graduation. Years of hearing rumors about fights, tons of homework, and crazy teachers were enough to make me want to be homeschooled; there's no need for me to get involved in any drama.

And I don't have time for drama.

As I'm walking down the halls, minding my own business, some girl approaches me, saying, "What about you, Anais? Aren't you excited to be finally getting out of this crazy place?"

I rolled my eyes, hoping she would leave me alone. As a rule, no one was allowed to speak to me unless the person speaking to me was a teacher. Even then, I don't want to interact with the teachers. But I knew that if I kept to myself too much, people might think there's something wrong with me.

And what's wrong with me? Well, I don't enjoy being around the other kids, as those kids are boring and pathetic. Plus, most of them were already cursing and smoking and a few others were dating.

I'm sure I'm stuck in a messed-up place.

"Hello? Anyone home in there?" the same annoying girl knocked on my head. "I believe I asked you a question." But I ignored her. I always believe that if you ignore someone long enough, they'll go away and leave you alone. That philosophy itself had saved me from many unwanted interactions with the other students, who I knew would make fun of me for being different from them.

But not this time.

"Hey, I'm talking to you!" the girl snarled at me, but I refused to speak to her. I mean, she's really getting on my nerves. But that's not stopping her, as she grabbed my arm and yelled, "Now listen up here, you..."

SLAM!!!

The moment she yelled at me, some careless student opened a door and my face slammed into it. Of course, THAT gets EVERYONE'S attention, including some teachers who happened to be in the halls. One of them yelled, "Now what's going on here?"

At this point, I don't know what happened after I unceremoniously hit my face on the door, as I fainted on the spot and was carried to the nurse's office. Mom and dad were notified, and they rushed to the school to come get me.

OK, I bet you're all dying to know what happened with that other girl who decided to harass me. I'm going to say that she was suspended for punching me in the face when it was evident that I hit my head on the door and ended up getting a bloody nose. Of course, no teacher will believe that I slammed my face in the door while the girl yelled at me, but they're all willing to believe I was beaten up for not speaking to her.

Come on, people, you know the rules: no student is allowed to interact with Anais Johanssen, not unless an adult is present. It doesn't matter who you were, you weren't allowed to talk to me. That's just how it is.

Then again, some people will break the rules, which results in them getting suspended from school one week before promotion day.

Now how stupid is that?

Anyway, as I'm finally coming around, I could overhear the principal in his office telling my parents that "this kind of nonsense can't continue, Darryl. Sooner or later, she has to learn how to interact with the other students."

"Well, we can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do," a voice that had to be my mother's cut through the air like a scythe. "We're not going to be those parents who force their kids to do things they hate. There's nothing wrong with Anais sitting by herself."

"You might be saying that now, but what's going to happen next year when she gets to high school and is taken to the hospital because some student starts beating her up for no reason?" said the principal. "Do you want her to end up like her cousins, who can't get a job or move out of their parents' houses because they have no social skills?"

"Now just a minute here, Mr. Sherman," dad snapped. "How do you know that my nephews and nieces are living in their parents' basements? When last I checked, I ordered them to find a job and move out or I would cut them all out of my will. Plus, how my family lives is of no concern to you, only that what you think happened to Anais never happened. How do you know that she didn't hit her face on the classroom door?"

"I didn't know that happened," said the principal. "But still, Anais needs to start talking to other people instead of being by herself. You do know some teachers believe she's either antisocial or has some psychological disorder. I think you need to get her some form of treatment before it gets worse."

Mom was indignant. "You can't possibly tell me that there's something wrong with Anais. She's not antisocial, nor does she have any form of mental illness..."

"Then explain to me why she avoids the other students as if they have the plague?" the principal's face was turning a dark beet red. "Why does she only speak to the teachers while she's here? Why does she not join in any of the school activities? I hate to say this, but unless you have some form of intervention, Anais will end up like her cousins, dropping out of high school, being stuck in dead-end jobs, and living in filthy apartments because they don't have any social skills."

Well, if that doesn't get my attention, then I don't know what will.

Yet I always thought my cousins were lucky not to have the stresses that other people have, such as having to work at a 9-5 job at a place they don't like, dating a person who doesn't care about you but will use you for your stuff, and living in houses full of stuff they can't afford. I mean, I always thought they were smart.

So who was Principal Sherman to gripe about our family's way of life when he himself lives in a fancy house, driving that Escalade around and marrying a woman 20 years younger than him? As far as I know, my cousins have each other and themselves, so there was no need for them to live in a world that demanded casual relationships and materialism.

Not where it counted.

But then again, was he right? Were my family's poor social skills the reason why I was "messed up" as it were? Before I could answer that question, mom's coming by the nurse's office to collect me. I already know she wants to hear my side of the story, the story only she will believe, for everyone else thinks I'm nothing but a bullying victim.

Well, I've been through enough crap from Big Brother, and I don't need any more crap from the other kids.

Anyway, when we get home from school, mom and dad sat me down and made me repeat the story that the principal told them, but I told them, "Well, Colleen-Sue Peters got mad at me when I refused to talk to her, so she grabbed my arm. Then I slammed my face into a door..."

"Well, you're lucky you didn't lose any teeth," said dad.

"But I have a broken nose," I said. "I can't go to the promotion with a broken nose. If Big Brother finds out, he won't let me hear the end of it."

"Well, Big Brother will have to not come then," said mom. Dad frowned, saying, "Are you sure this is a good idea, Hattie? You know my brother won't like that."

"I know," said mom. "But I worry about Anais. She's about to enter high school soon, and I worry that Harald will do everything he can to force her to quit high school. Our family has a poor reputation for staying in school; none of the others made it to graduation, save for Mads. I want Anais to make it to graduation and preferably away from Harald."

"Maybe we can invite Mads to the promotion," said dad. "He'll set Anais straight. He's already lost three brothers and two sisters to Harald, not to mention most of his cousins; we can't have him lose Anais."

Well, in case you haven't noticed, my cousin Harald Johanssen is commonly referred to as "Big Brother". He's about 27 years old and he rules my generation with an iron fist. He's cruel and unforgiving, and he's been known to knock down anyone who tries to rise above his or their station in life. I needed five pairs of hands to count the number of cousins who lost their futures to Harald when he destroyed their dreams. That's why you won't see any doctors, lawyers, scientists, or engineers from the Johanssen family, but there are fast food workers, janitors, waitresses, and housekeepers.

Well, it's like I already know where my future is heading.

I go to my room and look around; it's cramped and square-shaped with coordinating wooden and plastic furniture. The floor is carpeted and the walls are painted with a paneled dado. Light is provided by wall lamps and a ceiling light. The room is done in vivid colors and overall looks very old-fashioned. Among the first things one notices walking in is a kitschy lamp.

I sit on my bed and think about what my future held. I already knew that Big Brother would find out about my promotion, and I already know he's going to want me out of high school before my freshman year is over. I'm already shivering, as I knew Big Brother was cruel and restrictive, especially when it comes to where I belonged. According to him, I was the unwanted surprise, the unneeded child. I shouldn't even be here. Yet my parents called me the miracle child, as I was born when mom was 48 and dad was 52. They're both old and living in the same house for over 35 years. Well, I can't tell you how many people gave me some serious grief because my parents were old, but that's neither here or there.

I reached underneath my bed and pulled out my journal. It is bound in rose pink leather and has a picture of a pony on the cover. The pony was a character on my favorite show Ultraponies. Well, I had the journal since I was 10 years old, so there you have it.

But I'm not the type to write "dear diary"; in fact, I use it mainly to keep bullet points on all my activities. Of course, my activities include reading as many books as I could and which movies I wanted to see in theaters. Plus, I kept a record of which person offended me or tried to speak to me without my permission; I would see to it that the offending person was punished at the end of the school year. (I do this twice every year, once for Christmas vacation, and once at the end of the school year. The offending students would receive an ugly doll with a nasty message in their bookbags; so far, I have made 175 of these dolls, with about 45 more to make.)

I wrote down today's entry:

May 22
1. Yearbooks came in; not as good as I expected. Might not be buying one.
2. Watched a video on YouTube about how a lizard escaped from over 25 snakes. I despise snakes. Seriously, I hate them. Snakes are evil.
3. School lunch consisted of Baked wheat noodles with fish, cream cheese, bay leaves and bell peppers. Well, guess who doesn't eat school lunches?

Offending person of the day? Colleen-Sue Peters. I mean, she's seriously asking for a death sentence by messing with me and I broke my face by slamming it into the door. Now the principal has her suspended and claimed that she beat me up.

I mean, come on, people! Are you that bored with your lives that you have to pretend that I'm a bullying victim? Not on your life! Nobody bullied me and I'm not going to be bullied now.

I set the book down and pulled out a notebook, a domino set, a pair of knitting needles, a toy robot,, a snowglobe, and a box of crayons. (I have a habit of putting stuff underneath my bed and forgetting to clean up afterward. Plus, I needed the needles to finish making my customary going away presents to the teachers and librarian and the dolls for the offensive students.)

After putting the objects away, I grabbed the needles, yarn, and weaving looms, as I had several more scarves to make. As I'm weaving, I began thinking about what the principal had said about my family. He called the Johanssen family messed-up while his own life is a mess. He doesn't have a Big Brother to tell him what to do or how to act. Plus, there's no way I'm going to "be more social", not if the people around me aren't worth interacting with.

Well, I don't know why people would want to talk to me. I'm not nice to look at, I don't wear the right type of clothes, and I haven't even "developed" yet. I'm still more of a kid than a 13-year-old.

And here comes the part where everything changes... 

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