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Jazz: Chapters 1-3
The Rainy Day
She wanted to mean something. She didn’t care to who it was. She sat in the middle of 6th period science class, staring out the window. She watched the rain outside and wondered, would anyone ever care who she was? Would she ever make a difference in the world? Of course she had friends. She had plenty of friends. Just none that she could talk to about anything other than hair styles and , she thought.
Jazz snapped out of her thoughts as the door opened. It was someone new. No one she recognized from seeing in the hallway. No one she knew because they sat on the other side of the classroom. Completely and utterly new.
The boy walked in and Jazz could tell he was intimidated. Probably wondering why, on the first day at a new school, he was put into an honors bio class, Jazz thought. But he would fit in here. Jazz could tell that too, because as new as this boy was, he looked exactly like everyone else in this school
He wore a green polo and khakis. All the guys in the grade wore khakis. The only way you could tell them apart was by the color polo they had on. They were clones of each other. Different, yet all the same.
He walked in and handed a slip of paper to Mr. Bradford. Mr. Bradford accepted it and cleared his throat as to speak to the class.
“This is Walker. He’s new to Saddleborough, so do the best to make him feel welcome,” Bradford said. “Now Mr. Kennedy if you’d hold on a second, I’ll find you a lab partner.” He scanned the room to see who didn’t have a partner. Immediately Jazz looked to her right. No luck, all she saw was an empty chair. “Ms. Martin, if you’d be so kind, I’d like Mr. Kennedy to join you,” Bradford said.
Jazz cringed; she’d been looking forward to not having to work with a lab partner. It only made things more complicated. But she soon covered it up with a fake smile and replied, “Sure Mr. Bradford.”
He walked over and confidently sat in the seat next to hers. I guess I’m not intimidating to him, she thought. He introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Walker,” he mumbled as Bradford began to clear his throat.
“Jazz,” she mumbled back. For the next 34 minutes she would have to listen to Mr. Bradford ramble on about DNA makeup. She refocused her gaze on the window. And so she sat as still as a rock in that seat, hardly listening to what Mr. Bradford was saying.
When the bell finally rang, Jazz decided to do the nice thing. She asked Walker what class he had next, and if he needed help finding it. He replied, “Algebra 2.” She rolled her eyes, another class with him.
“Me too, let me help you find it,” Jazz said. Not that she actually cared what happened to him. To her he was just another guy in this school. But she knew, as well as anyone else, that by the time the homeroom bell rang the next morning, every one of her friends would be ready to pounce and stake her claim on him. In this school there was nothing more attractive than a new kid. Everyone wanted to date the new guy, the one that didn’t know who they had hooked up with at the Winter Wonderland Dance last month, or who had dumped them the day before prom. And it wasn’t exactly a minus that he was devastatingly gorgeous.
“So Jazz, right?” he asked her as they walked down the hall.
“Yes,” she replied back. “Where’d you transfer from?” she asked as she tried to make conversation.
“Lincoln High,” he answered, “It’s in Philadelphia.”
“Now that’s a big move,” she commented.
“Yep, well Dad’s gotten transferred here for work,” Walker explained.
By the time they got to the Algebra room, Jazz had exhausted all her effort of conversation, and had sunken into silence. She sat down in her normal seat as Walker handed Mrs. Campbell a similar slip that had been handed to Mr. Bradford the period before. Luckily, Mrs. Campbell placed him on the opposite side of the room, and when the bell ring, Jazz left him in the hands of another, more capable guide for the last period of the day.
Jazz had forgotten about him completely, until she turned around to pass the Spanish handout back and saw him seated behind her. He smiled when he saw her, and she returned it with surprising sincerity. She sat through SeÃ±or Garcia’s boring class, trying not to get called on. And when the final bell sounded, she was out the door quicker than a cheetah. The last thing she wanted was to have to have another awkward conversation with Walker. She packed her bag and began her long, winding, walk home.
It had stopped raining finally. She could walk home without getting drenched. Not that anyone would come and pick her up if it hadn’t. She hurried out of the school, wanting to get home before it started up again. As she walked she saw a familiar face. It was Walker; he turned down a side road. Where on earth is he going, she thought. She’d never seen anyone go down that road. As far as she knew it was a deserted road.
He then disappeared from her thoughts as the rain started pouring down again. She started sprinting home as a bolt of lightning struck the pole above Walker’s street.
She threw down her backpack, grabbed a towel, and head into the kitchen. She walked past the couch and saw her dad passed out on it. There was a note on the counter that said, “Out, then picking up Jessica. Love Mom.” She put on a pot of coffee. Personally, Jazz didn’t like coffee, but she knew her dad would want it once he woke up out of his drunken stupor. She also knew he would make it Irish when he thought she wasn’t looking, and probably be passed out again by dinner.
He’d never hit her, or her mom or sister. Jazz’s father may not have been able to hold his liquor, but he sure knew his boundaries. Most of the time he just wandered around the house complaining about how it was her mother’s job to take care of him when he was drunk. He complained that during the 19th century, all the women had to do was take care of their drunk husbands. Then her mother would reply that this is the 21st century and someone had to work to pay the bills.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin had used to be working parents. They were the cream of the crop. Money had never been a problem. And it still isn’t, even though Mr. Martin got fired and they were living off her mother’s low six figure income instead of their joint seven figure income.
That was when he turned to alcohol to solve his problems. It’s too bad too, because he probably could have gotten a job at any other bank in the state. But getting fired from the bank you practically built is probably a real blow to your self esteem.
Jazz didn’t feel bad for herself; she had had thirteen good years with her father. She really felt bad for her mom. To see her father struggle this much, had to be hard on her. And of course for Jess too. She couldn’t understand why her father walked around slurring his words. She was only five. She was born on the brink of all this drama.
Jazz took out her bio book and started taking notes. Her father would wake up any minute and she wanted to get as much work done as she could before his hangover needed her constant attention.
The Elite Eight
She walked into homeroom with suspicions assured. Rachel came up to her and said, “So have you seen the new guy, he’s cute right?”
Jazz replied, “My lab partner.”
Shannon entered the conversation with, “Lucky.”
Then there was a chorus of “Who is he’s” and “Where’s he from’s”. Jazz answered, “Walker Kennedy, transferred from Philadelphia.”
Becca then gossiped, “I heard he got kicked out of his last school and he only transferred to the academy because no public schools would take him.”
“No,” Jazz cleared up, “His dad got transferred here because of work.”
“Well aren’t you too just best friends,” Rachel said.
“Ya, you too must be pretty chummy,” Becca agreed.
“I don’t care as long as she introduces me,” Shannon said.
“Relax guys, I just talked to him for like two minutes on the way to class,” Jazz explained.
“Whatever you say Jazz,” Rachel accused. Jazz decided to let it go. Fighting would Rachel wouldn’t do anyone any good. And it would probably just come back to bite her in the butt. Luckily, then the homeroom bell rang. Unluckily, Walker came in and sat down right next to her.
Rachel just rolled her eyes and said, “Sure.” Jazz ignored it and just yawned, she had stayed up until 12:30 the night before doing her algebra homework.
“Hey Jazz,” Walker said as he sat down, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Jazz replied and gave Rachel a look. Shannon then cleared her throat. She still wanted to be introduced. Then Mrs. O’Neil told everyone to get there books out and start reading. Jazz, Rachel, Shannon, and Becca spent the next 26 minutes sitting in silence passing each other looks that said more than words ever could.
The bell rang and Jazz got up without another word. She had art class on the third floor and had to hurry to get there on time. Walker walked in the same direction. Finally she dropped back to talk to him.
“So what’s up?” Jazz asked.
“Not much,” He answered.
“What class do you have next?” She asked.
“Art,” He said. Come on, she thought. She noticed something as they were walking; she’d never had that much attention when she was walking down the hall. Everyone wanted to know who she was with and what was going on. The whole hallway divided as they walked down the center. Jazz was so glad when she looked over at Walker and he hadn’t seemed to notice. When they got to class Jazz sat down with Rachel, Shannon, and Becca. She was hoping they hadn’t noticed she walked in with Walker. No chance, they had seen it and wanted to know the details. Once again Jazz denied anything was going on, but they weren’t buying it.
“I hardly even know him,” Jazz defended.
“You may be telling the truth, but that’s not the way it seems to us.” Becca said.
“Whatever Jazz,” Rachel said.
Walker had the next three classes with Jazz. She wondered when luck would be on her side. He didn’t sit near her so it was easier for her to ignore him, but when lunch rolled around a meeting was inevitable. She sat down at her usual table with Shannon, Rachel and Becca, as Justin, Oliver, and William pulled up chairs. Oliver was Shannon’s boyfriend, Justin was Rachel’s, and Will was Becca’s. Tim used to sit with us, but after he and Jazz broke up, it was just too awkward. Jazz was really the seventh wheel in that situation. For a week, Jazz had been everyone’s pity party. And for that week, Tim had been the biggest jerk on campus. You see, Tim had cheated on Jazz with Stacy that week, that week was also the week that Stacy started sitting with the B-list. Never came back. Jazz was at the top of the group. She and Rachel had started this group. Then Rachel started dating Justin, whose best friend was Tim, whose twin sister was Shannon, whose best friend was Becca, who was dating Will, whose best friend was Oliver. And so the elite eight was started, or at least that’s what everyone called them. Stacy wasn’t really part of the group until seventh grade. The rest of them had been friends since 5th.
But anyway, Jazz hadn’t meant to invite him to sit with them. Just like she hadn’t meant to be in all the same classes as him. But she saw him walking with his lunch tray, and he was looking around the cafeteria for someone to sit with, and she just had to invite him to sit with her.
“Walker,” Jazz said, and she gestured to the seat next to her. Rachel, Shannon, and Becca shot her looks that said, what are you doing? Jazz just shrugged back. She hadn’t planned to invite him over. She didn’t know why she did it, but she knew as soon as she had done it that it would not go unnoticed.
“Hey,” Walker said as he pulled out his chair.
“Walker, this is Justin, Oliver, Will, Shannon, Rachel, and Becca,” Jazz introduced, “guys this is Walker.”
“What’s up,” said Justin. Jazz didn’t like Justin, because of how he treated Rachel, but he was a good friend and always knew how to start a conversation.
“Not much,” he replied.
“So how hard is the Spanish test,” Oliver asked. Everyone else knew that Oliver didn’t need to worry about the Spanish test, both his parents spoke Spanish and his A in Senor Garcia’s class was permanent, but it was nice to have something to talk about.
“It was hard, but you’ll get an A on it anyway,” Shannon said.
“Thanks, but I don’t think so, on my last test I got an A-,” replied Oliver.
“Oh my god, call the police,” Jazz remarked, “You actually got a grade lower than an A in his class. I mean, he’s practically in love with you.”
“I know, seriously,” Rachel said, “You sit there answering every question, and the rest of us just sit there collecting D’s.”
“That’s not true,” Oliver disagreed.
“Yes it is,” everyone replied, except for Walker, of course, who’d had only one class. That was Jazz’s favorite part of Spanish, they all had it together. The rest of lunch went as normal, the girls gossiped and the boys talked sports. Even Walker contributed with his opinion on the Patriot’s cheating scandal. Then the bell rang, that wasn’t too awkward, Jazz thought. Then she left for bio. And that was how the elite eight, found their eighth member, again.
All in a Day’s Work
“JazmÃn,” SeÃ±or GarcÃa bellowed, “¿Que es la forma mandato y negativo para el verbo brincar?,”
“No brinces, SeÃ±or” Jazz responded.
“No, ¿que es correcto Olivar?,” SeÃ±or asked.
“Cuando tu usa la forma mandato y negativo con el verbo brincar, la palabra es brinques, no es brinces,” Oliver corrected. God, Jazz thought, will I ever get it right? Spanish was Jazz’s hardest subject. There is just so much conjugating, Jazz could just never get her mind around it. But she had Oliver to help her in Spanish. In fact, she wasn’t very good in school anymore. She used to get straight A’s, but now she relied on Oliver for Spanish, Justin for science, Will for English, Shannon for math, and Becca for Western Civ. Lately, she had just had other things on her mind. With her dad, Tim, and now Walker, every time she felt like she was landing on stable ground, the earth shook beneath her. But it was a good thing no one noticed, her mom was too busy fighting with her dad, her dad was too busy getting drunk, and her teachers couldn’t give a damn. Besides her friends were more than happy to help. That was a good thing too, because if they didn’t, she probably would have flunked out two months ago.
Senor Garcia had just called on her, so she had at least ten minutes before he would make it around the room back to her. She looked out the window, it was raining again; it was a rainy spring this year in Riverside, MA. She would have to walk home in this. Saddleborough was a private school and it provided housing for grades 10-12, but Jazz was only in 9th so there was no housing on campus for her. Which meant a ¾ mile walk home, in a downpour.
Senor Garcia had come around to her, but luckily the bell rang and everyone raced out before Senor could tell them the homework, let alone embarrass Jazz in front of the class. Sweet, Jazz thought, that means no homework.
Jazz walked out of the school preparing to run in the downpour, but was surprised to see her dad parked out front waiting for her. She got in.
“What are you doing here Dad,” she asked, “I thought you would be home, uh, sleeping.”
“I decided to come get you when I saw it was raining out,” Mr. Martin said.
“Uh, thanks, I guess,” Jazz stifled. Then he speed off before she could ask another question.
The next thing Jazz knew there were flashing lights behind them, blue and red, unmistakable.
“What are they doing Dad?” Jazz asked.
“Uh, nothing,” Mr. Martin said as he pulled over.
“Uh, is there a problem Officer?” Mr. Martin addressed the officer who had just walked up to the window.
“Yes, I’m going to need to see your license and registration, you were swerving on the road,” The officer responded. Mr. Martin handed it to the officer without complaint.
“I’m going to need you to step out of the car sir,” the officer said after he had looked at the license.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Jazz asked.
“Nothing honey,” he replied ad he stepped out of the car. He talked to the officer and the officer made him walk in a straight line and tested his breath. The officer said something to Mr. Martin and he turned around. The officer put handcuffs around his wrist and put him in the car. Then he came to the window.
“Come on honey,” the officer said to Jazz, “we need to take your father downtown. We’ll drop you off at home first though.” Jazz stepped out of the car and into the police car while the officer held the door open for her. She couldn’t think of anything more embarrassing that could happen to her, and then she saw Walker standing on that strange street corner watching her get into the car. Oh crap, Jazz thought.
She didn’t say anything the entire car ride and neither did he. When they got to the house, Jazz and the officer got out. He walked her to the door and waited until Jazz’s mother answered. As soon as Mrs. Martin opened the door she told Jazz to go inside. Then she stepped outside onto the porch and talked with the officer. She came back inside and said she was going out and that Jazz should watch Jessica. She left. Her mom hadn’t told her or Jess anything, but Jazz knew what had happened. This would be really hard to cover up.
Mrs. Martin didn’t come back until 11:00. Jazz had put Jess to bed at about 7:30 after she’d made macaroni and cheese for dinner. It was a good thing that Jess hadn’t been awake to see her mother when she got home. She looked ghostly. Her face was white as a sheet. Her pale skin was tear-stained and tired, quite different from her usual glowing, fresh skin. Jazz was scared when she saw her mother like this. Her dad was always the weaker of the two emotionally. Her mother had always been their rock, and right now it looked like it might break. Jazz gave her mother a big hug when she came in, but her mother pushed ahead and made herself some coffee. Jazz had finished her homework and decided to leave her mother to her thoughts, so she headed up to bed. She knew she would never be prepared for tomorrow but figured it was best to get some rest beforehand.
As she walked past her mom, who was drinking her coffee with her body turned away from Jazz, to go up the stairs, her mother said in a strong and steady voice, “Jazz, don’t tell Jess.” Jazz just continued walking until she had reached her bed. Then Jazz collapsed and hit her head hard on the pillow. Next thing she knew she was out cold, exhausted from the day’s catastrophe.
Jazz woke up tired. She had been woken up three times the night before by her mother. Mrs. Martin had cried herself to sleep the night before. She looked at the clock. Uh-oh, 8:15. Her mother must have forgotten to wake her up. Jazz walked by her mother’s room to get to the bathroom only to see her mother asleep on her bed. She decided to let her sleep. Then she woke up Jess. Her pre-school started at 9.
“Get ready for school Jess,” Jazz commanded.
“Where’s Mom?” Jess asked.
“Never mind that just do it,” Jazz said. Jazz helped Jess get ready for school and then went downstairs.
“You can have cereal today,” Jazz said.
“But Mom always says that sugared cereal is bad for you,” Jess protested.
“Well I’m making the rules today, and I say you can have some,” Jazz assured her. Then Jazz got out the phone and called Mrs. McDonald. She asked her if she could pick up Jess on the way to drop of Samantha at school. Mrs. McDonald was skeptical but said ok.
Jess finished her breakfast and Mrs. McDonald drove her to school. Jazz left for school. By this time homeroom had already started. Jazz slipped in in between homeroom and first period. She sat down in her seat before the bell rang. Becca and Rachel gave her confused looks, but Jazz just buried her head in her book before Walker could say anything. When the bell rang Jazz ducked out of the door, but not before Walker could grab her arm and pull her back. Jazz eyed his arm and gave him a look that said, let go now. It didn’t go unnoticed and he let go.
“I’m not going to say anything,” Walker revealed.
“Thanks, but it really isn’t a big deal,” Jazz lied.
“Well that’s not what the police officer thought,” Walker said.
“It’s not,” Jazz demanded.
“Ok, fine,” Walker gave in, “but if you ever want to talk, I’m here.” Jazz leaped at the opportunity to exit the conversation, the last thing she wanted to do was to talk. She hustled off to her next class.
“Hey, where were you during homeroom?” Shannon asked.
“Nowhere,” Jazz responded a little too quickly.
“Are you sure?” Shannon reconfirmed.
“Positive,” Jazz demanded in a tone that could only finish the conversation. She was angry. Who was Walker to think her life was any of his business? It wasn’t. Jazz would be happy if her life wasn’t anyone’s business especially not the entire police station downtowns. She’d only known him for 3 days. Not nearly enough time for her to tell him about her father. She usually waited 3 years before she brought her friends home to meet her family. The only one she’d brought home was Rachel. And that was only because they’d been friends since kindergarten. She hadn’t even brought Shannon, Becca, or Tim when she was dating him. Whenever they were going to pick her up, she sat on the front steps. No one suspected anything suspicious was going on behind that standard red door. No one saw anything in those Venetian glass windows except for glass. And most importantly, no one knew any of the problems that were loose in that house. No one cared. But that was fine with Jazz, the less they knew the better. So when Walker found out about her father, Jazz couldn’t believe he wasn’t going to tell anyone.
At this school you either spread rumors or had them spread about you. Even Walker, who had only been here 3 days, must have known that. So it surprised Jazz when Walker kept her secret. God knows if it was Tim who found out, the secret wouldn’t be safe for more than an hour. That’s the way high school worked. Maybe Walker was different, but what did Jazz care. As long as no one knew her Dad was an alcoholic she couldn’t care less.
Jazz sat through the next 5 hours trying not to let anyone know that she was hiding anything. And as far as she could tell, it worked.
Her dad wasn’t home. Mrs. Martin was sitting at the kitchen table head in her hands. Jazz decided not to say anything to her mom and grabbed a Gatorade out of the fridge. Jess was watching TV, clearly unaware of the fact that her Dad wasn’t anywhere to be found. She slowly slid into the seat in front of her desk. Normally Jazz would start her homework, but today she just sat there. She thought about everything that had happened to her, with her father, with her friends, and with Walker. She didn’t move again until the darkness captured her room.