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Back in Middle School This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I’ve significantly increased my coolness from sixth grade to seventh grade. I’m moving up the social hierarchy, all right. I’m a true intellectual. I know everything there is to know about WW2. The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. See, those are big names, and I remembered them along with Erwin Rommel and Winston Churchill, and everything else. So there. Today I sat next to the most popular girl in school, my fledgling hormones racing. I’m moving up in life, and even more opportunities are arising. This is one of them, traveling to a field somewhere in the middle of some small town in Utah, on a half sized yellow school bus. Our school has two buses, one white and one yellow, and this one is the latter, affectionately known as The Cheesebox. Our valiant soccer team is going to this other rural, small school to teach them a thing or two about getting beat at soccer. Actually we have never scored a goal this year. That’s right, no goals ever. I don’t think a goal has been scored in soccer in school history. Well, a lot of goals have been scored against us, but that doesn’t count. Today I have a chance to knock one into the net, to make history, to transcend the various rungs of the social ladder that is middle school and arrive at the top. I’ve touched the ball a few times, got enough experience under my belt. The Cheesebox is approaching a railroad crossing. A few bumps arrested the motion of this antiquated, unmanageable vehicle. There is this frivolous regulation that mandates that buses stop and open their doors on tracks to look for trains. We didn’t move for a while. Someone in the front said they thought that the bus was stuck, an astute observation. I think he inferred correctly. We weren’t going anywhere, which meant I might not be able to score the historic first goal, and earn my place in history forever. I thought of a great joke, but someone across from me vocalized my exact thoughts. Man, I thought I had that one. Beat to it by an eighth grader too.
“What if a train came right now...”
Que Bells and blazing red warning lights. I did the only thing proportional to the hilarity of the situation, doubled over laughing. The very idea of a train coming at the exact moment we were stuck on the tracks was so absurd that my brain had spontaneously conjured the usual warning signs, I theorized between gasps for air. A hand roughly shook me out of my blissful detachment. Those bells and red lights were very real. That could only mean one thing, that a colossal explosion reminiscent of every action movie I had ever seen was imminent. Way cool, but I still didn’t want to be in it. Bodies were piling furiously out the back emergency exit. We never got to use that door for a real emergency, this day just keeps getting better. I tripped over some soccer bags in the midst of the mania, mentally noted to never put bags in front of the emergency exit again, stumbled and dropped a few feet onto the street. I sprinted to the curb, didn’t look back. Everyone was out. One second, everyone except for one man. At that moment Mr. Gutman was the shining epitome of courage and manhood. He was sacrificing himself to save The Cheesbox, the sole trophy attributed to the team. Here was a man with dark, hard eyes that you never argued with about getting more time for lunch. He wasn’t arguing with the train either. At least Mr. Gutman would die as a martyr, cementing his place indefinitely in the ranks of good seventh grade teachers. This man really did have guts. The headlight was visible around the cusp of a mountain. Maybe a gap of a few more feet between me and the impending explosion was appropriate. I don’t know how to properly identify a miracle, but I think that the surreal movement of the bus off the tracks, clearing the last bump, was one. It’s definitely up there, in the realm of spectacular events I’ve witnessed in my long twelve years of life. There I learned that courage and perseverance could sustain themselves in the face of adversity. They sure will when I beat up on this lazy soccer team that has no idea what’s coming.





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