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Below the Waves: Chapter 1
Have you ever felt like someone was watching you from every angle, yet you could never see them. Like there are just eyes coming from every dark corner. Well, that was how I felt that day walking to school. My morning didn’t start out to great and dandy either. I woke up with a sick feeling in my stomach. Butterflies were fluttering around inside me, and my throat was a little sore. It was a very un-satisfying feeling to have at 6:00 in the morning. I tried desperately to convince my mother to let me stay home, but she wasn’t giving in. “Take my temperature.” I told her, but when she did it came out a pretty average 98.5. Stupid thermometer, why couldn’t you take my side just this once.
I chugged down a glass of milk and a piece of peanut butter toast, threw my backpack over my shoulder, and headed down the road. The school wasn’t too far from my house; maybe a mile. I walked there and back almost everyday and I was never late. I guess you could say I worry too much. If I ever forgot my homework or was yelled at in class, I would fall to pieces. I’m not saying I’ve never forgotten a homework assignment before, but I dread the days that I do. I once got a lunch detention for losing an assignment, and I cried for 2 hours that day after school. I don’t know how all those popular people can deal with it. They get in trouble all the time, but they just laugh about it or make it some story to tell all of their friends. Now, my mom says popular isn’t even a real word, which it is in the dictionary, but I get what she means. She’s trying to say that we’re all just people and we’re all equal. There should be no losers and geeks, or populars’ and jocks. Why are people who are over weight or have funny features so much of a target. No one should be judged that way, like the cover of a book. No one is less important than someone else in my school, but people just don’t understand that.
The air was quite chilly that April morning, and I wished that I’d brought my coat. My backpack felt heavier than ever with that new social studies book in it, and I felt like I would tumble over backwards any second. Why couldn’t I ever get a ride to school? Well, I knew why. My mother had to drive my little sister Jannie over to kindergarten, and because the middle school was in the complete opposite direction, and it was close enough to our house, I had to walk. As my teeth chattered and a slight breeze swept leaves of tree branches, I heard a crackle from the woods beside me. I stopped, and turned towards the trees. There was nothing out of the ordinary, so I kept walking. I trudged on, kicking small rocks with my feet. I watched as they tumbled away, then once again spiked to a further distance. Suddenly, another cracking sound came from even closer in the woods, and before I could think about it, I was running as fast as I could up the street. I guess it would look more like I was jogging, considering I don’t really enjoy running, and hate the days when we have to run in gym class. I tried hard to keep my balance as I ran, and I nearly stumbled to the ground. My heart was beating faster and faster, and my backpack was weighing me down a ton, but I sprinted my way up the street until I came to the parking lot of the school. I stopped for a moment to catch my breath, and I could feel my face turning red. How foolish was that? It was probably just some bird searching the leaves for worms, or a chipmunk scampering around the forest floor. You are just so…so…unstable. As I kept attacking myself with put-downs, I slung my backpack onto the ground in a grassy area, and plopped down beside it. I was sweating like a pig, which truly don’t sweat that much because when they get hot they just roll in mud. Anyway, after lying in the grass for about 5 minutes or so, I managed to pull myself up, once again throw my un-believably heavy backpack on my shoulder, and head into the front doors of Sanford Middle School.
It was warm in the classroom as usual, but having run half the way to school, it just made me sweat more. I sat at my desk during morning announcements; then gathered up my stuff that I didn’t need for the next few classes and packed it away in my locker. I sat back down in homeroom and really began to take some thought to what had happened down the street. Maybe a criminal was following me, planning my kidnapping. Or maybe it was some kid playing a trick on me. Neither idea was very satisfying.
“Elaina!” Suddenly I came back to reality, and turned toward the voice calling me. It was Ms. Holly, my homeroom, reading, and Math teacher. She was sitting at her desk, calm and a smiling. Her brown curls bounced around as she motioned for me to come up to her desk. I stood up slowly and walked to the front of the classroom. She picked up a snow globe off her desk and held it firmly in her hand. She stared into it for a while. I stood their in front of her, feeling like a bit of a dope. It was like I wasn’t even there.
“You know, winter’s right around the corner.” She said, watching the tiny white drops fall to the bottom of the globe. She placed it in the corner of the desk and glared deep into my eyes. I felt like she could see right through me. She lit up her face with a bright smile, and tried to do the same.
“Elaina, are you ok. You seem worried this morning. Is there anything you want to discuss with me? I’d be more than happy to talk it over with you.”
“No, that’s ok Ms. Holly. I’m fine.” I tried to keep the smile on my face.
“Ok. I just want you to know I’m always here if you need to talk about anything.”
“Ok.” She nodded at me and I turned and hurried back to my seat. Ms. Holly watched as I sat down and rested my head on my desk.
Ms. Holly was by far the best teacher I’d ever had. She was very interested in her students, and always wanted to help them with their lives. She would explain things clearly to you in her classes and she was always optimistic. Have you ever seen the movie or read the book Matilda? Well, I guess you could say Ms. Holly was quite like Ms. Honey in the book. She cared about all her students, like family. Every year she got a new group of kids to learn about and teach things to, but she never forgot her past classes. She knew just about every kid in the school someway or another and she was always making people feel important. I can’t think of one day in my years at Sanford Middle School that I had not been relieved to have her for my next class, and, by what I’ve observed anyway, she’s never really yelled at a student. Sometimes she did creep me out a bit with her staring at random things, and her stalling of words, but she always quickly turned a creepy moment into a moment of smiles and happiness.
As I sat there in a whole other world of thoughts, someone nudged my shoulder. I sat up and looked over at Bethany. “You seem really tired this morning. You’re very pensive.” She looked, raising her eyebrows. Beth always said words I’d never heard of before, and I had to look something up in the dictionary out of class at least 3 times every week because of it.
“Pensive? It means to be deep in thought. To really think about something, you know.”
“I guess.” I rested my head back on the desk.
“What are thinking about anyway?” Her face was right up close to mine.
“Nothing.” She sat up and searched around for something in her folder, but I wasn’t really paying attention.
Beth could really get annoying sometimes. I mean, she is my best friend but she is just too nosey. She’s always getting into my personal business, and eavesdropping on other people. Truly, I think when she gets bored she just sticks her ear out in the air and listens real hard. She finds out some pretty personal stuff too. Last month, Beth told me that she’d heard Fuller Knotting talking about how he still sleeps with a “blankie”. Yep, that rumor spread fast around the school, and I’m pretty sure Beth has been the source of many other disease-like rumors that have practically become history for the 7th grade.
Everyone in the classroom got up from their desks, heading for their first class. I sat for a moment and yawned. Why did school have to start so early? Beth kicked the back of my chair.
“Come on Laney! If we are late for social studies class, Mrs. Flayle will kill us. Last time, I had to walk all the way back here to get a late pass, and I was only one minute late!”
I pushed myself up from the desk and prepared myself for another day of endless learning and teachers watching you at every turn. I grabbed my books and walked beside Beth into the 7th grade hall. By the time I arrived in my social studies classroom, my arms were aching. Boy, that social studies book was heavy!
“Why don’t you take the bus to school Laney? You’d be able to get home a lot faster.” Beth walked along beside me, carrying a few of her books. We didn’t have very much homework that afternoon, and we fortunately didn’t have to bring home our social studies book. It felt so good walking with only a few light books in your hands.
“So, what do you want to do when we get to my house? We don’t have barely any homework to work on, so we basically have a free afternoon to do anything we choose. We could go to the mall, the movies…”
“Let’s go to the movies. I went to the mall over the weekend with my cousin. She was nagging me the whole time that I didn’t have good taste in clothes. I attempted to loose her a few times, but I swear she had my eye on me every second. That’s the last time I go clothes shopping alone with her.”
As we walked contently down the empty street, I saw something turn onto our road ahead. It was smaller than a car, and soon another one followed behind it. As they got closer to us, Bethany stopped and stared up the street.
“Not them again. I swear, they try to knock my books out of my hand this time, I’ll introduce their faces to my fist.”
That’s another thing I liked about Beth. She was very friendly, but also very tough. In the second grade, every boy in our class was afraid of her. She twisted one kid’s finger so hard, that she sprained it, and he was too scared to tell anyone that Beth had done it to him. He just told people he’d fallen off the swing on the playground and it had bent a little too far back.
The bikes were right in front of us now, and they stopped, leaving about a few feet between us. In front of me stood a kid that I’d hated since he’d move to my neighborhood in first grade. Randy Trent was cruel and careless, and his deep and dark blue eyes were cold. His jeans were always ripped at the knee and he wore the same black sweatshirt almost everyday. With the sweatshirt, his black hair down to around his ear lobes, and the ugly black torn up sneakers her wore everyday, he looked pretty scary. I once made the mistake of asking him if he was Goth, and he said such harsh things to me, I stayed in my room for a whole day, not eating anything but a few crackers.
A knot grew deep in my stomach, as him and his friend Kurt stared at Beth with dark eyes. When they turned to me, I practically gulped down my breath in panic, and went off coughing un-controllably. Randy and Kurt snickered for a moment, with their hateful faces, and grim smirks. Then they looked back over at Beth.
“Why don’t you just ride your way back over to the dark ages, and leave us alone.” Beth was grinding her teeth, and made sure she had her “I’m seriously mad at you; get away cause I’ll hurt you” face on. I watched Kurt’s cheeks push in and out and he moved his tongue around his mouth.
Kurt wasn’t really a bad kid; not until he met Randy anyway. He just followed Randy around everywhere and sometimes repeated what he’d say. Every now and then he’d manage to slip a few cruel phrases out, and he always tried to look tough. Sometimes I’d feel like laughing out loud when I saw how much he’d try, because he really isn’t scary, but I’d never dared to do it in front of Randy. I barely ever talk in front of Randy.