The New Guy

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I was pretty.

Pretty intelligent.

It’s not everyday you get to have friends that don’t think you’re boasting when you raise you’re hand almost every single time the teacher asks a question...and then get it correct—every single time. But, I was with the Asian kids, so I don’t think they really cared. I think they thought me more of a...strange specimen. Why? Well, it’s mostly ethnicity, really.

See, I’m black.

(Well, half black. My mother’s Puerto Rican, so I don’t look so dark. And I’m an islander, so that’s pretty awesome. Something to be proud of when you make your self-oral-report in class.)

Most people think of baggy pants, guns, drugs, and fried chicken when they think of African Americans—not total whiz nerdy chicks. Or maybe big thighs and afro hair—but not straight A student. Or maybe the slang and cursing—but not prim and organized half-clean freak. No, not at all. But that was fine with me.

I liked being different.

I liked that look on other people’s faces when I say a big word that they pretend to know the definition of and nod their head, turning around slowly with their eyes widened like: What the heck? Or when I get my report card and somebody asks me what I got, and, when I tell them nonchalantly, raise their eyebrows and say stuff like, “Dang, you’re smart.” I just shrug, mostly because I don’t understand why they think it’s so impossible. For instance, this girl in my math class had asked me:

“How do you do it?”

“What?”

“How do you get straight A’s?”

“Uh...” I thought about it.

How do you NOT?

I shrugged again and said, “I don’t know.”

Well, you’re probably thinking: okay, well, nice to know you’re above average; don’t really care. And, it may seem that way, and it’s perfectly normal, but, I take reveling pride in my work. Everyday I get up and go to school. Adults say school IS our work, then they laugh at us when we say school gives us stress. But, they don’t know the half of it. Getting homework, and staying up until twelve in the morning trying to make sure that the papers you turn in are correct and checked, it’s a lot of stress.

Then, you have the tests.

I hate it when you have back to back periods full of tests and then you have the worst period at the end of the day, leaving you crabby. Then, when the bell rings, you feel light-weight because you forgot how much homework you’ve written on you’re agenda and you feel relaxed for a couple of minutes, not giving a care in the world about school.

Until you get in the passenger side of the car when you’re mom picks you up.

“How’s school? How much homework do you have? Don’t slouch; sit up. So, did you have fun? How was the football game? Did you win? How’d you think you did on your test?”

And everything comes back to you.

Those few moments of spared amnesia of stressful school are now being demolished. Crushed. Annihilated. Exterminated. Spontaneously combusted. You try to suppress your irritation and try to keep that happy mood you were once in a few moments ago by saying one word:

“Fine.”

Then they start ranting about how we need to communicate our feelings; that it brings a healthy relationship with them; that we need to try to talk more. Then they start asking you more questions. Well, then we all get that same thought:

Screw communication.


Well, anyway, I was at my work, early and standing on my number when the bell rang. I liked having P.E. first period. The cold, freezing breeze made me work harder, made me forget my thoughts and just do. I didn’t have to think too much, which was good. Very good.

Makenzie, my new best friend this year, had, almost as usual, run up to me with her crazy smile. She passed me up, handing me something in the process and running back to her number halfway across the blacktop. I already knew what it was.

I yelled in exaggerated happiness and said, “Thank you!”

She held up her thumb as a “You’re welcome!” and kept running.

Makenzie is a short Philippino with pink-rimmed glasses, slight buckteeth, and a watch in which she wore everyday. She was also intelligent. I might say smarter than me. We both rule the classes, but I am more dedicated to my work. I may not check to see if they are correct, but I think more of school even when the bell to leave has long already rung.

I looked down.

Cookies.

Not just any cookies, though. They were red velvet peppermint cookies. And Makenzie makes them herself. She always makes some for me when she does make them, or when her mom does, and I usually give her some of the good stuff in my lunch as a trade.

I smiled to myself.

My P.E. teacher, Mr. Booth, blew, with dry lips, on his whistle and everyone struggled to stand still and get on their numbers. My number was 21, all the way at the end (to you’re left; Mr. Booth’s right). He looked up and back to us and clipboard, jotting down who was here and who wasn’t. No one was absent. Of course, I never was and never will be. I intended on finally getting a perfect attendance record. At least, for all of middle school. High school next year would probably be different, but I would try my best.

Mr. Booth waved a hand, telling us to form a huddle. Everyone moved up as he spoke.

“Today, we’re going to play flag football again. Team 1 against Team 3, and Team 2 against Team 4, okay? Teams 1 and 4 wear red flags and do the kick off. Go change.”

We parted to go to the locker rooms. I was excited. I loved flag football. Mostly because it was a game I was good at. Most of the girls in my team didn’t even understand what a first down was. I know, pretty sad. So, I was the only girl on my team who actually could catch, throw, and run good. I proved that the first day we played and I was quarterback. I had won two downs and two touchdowns for my team. And plus, my teacher had said that if a girl made a touchdown, it was double the points. So my team depended on me heavily.

As I spun in my combination on the tiny little top locker, I started undoing my pants button. You know, I used to think changing in front of everyone was stupid. Why did we have to change anyway? It was a little perverted too and I didn’t like that. And then, everyone changed in a matter of two weeks after the first time of changing last year. All the ditzy girls would comment on how cute their bras were or how awesome the color of their underwear was. I didn’t say anything, that being a little too girly for me and all, but I just commented on things like YouTube videos or something.

I was usually the first one to change and I had a locker way in the back so I had to step on the bench in the middle of the row of lockers and girls and try to step over everyone. Then I jumped off and walked into the dimly lit bathroom which eventually led to the exit door.

Rays of impending sunlight streaked onto my face and I put up my hand like a visor, shielding my pupils from the blinding sun. I put my backpack in the gutter off to the right so that the other eighth graders could play Floor Hockey, something we were most likely going to do later on during this trimester. I went and waited for my other two friends to join me.

First, Sarah came out.

Sarah was a cool friend. She was shorter than me (like most girls) and had straight black hair like the Chinese Asian she was. She had pretty chinky eyes, but, when she talked, you didn’t really seem to notice. You just focused on her whole outlook than the nuances of her appearance.

She said, “Where’s Saima?”

I shrugged, then saw her and pointed. “There she is.”

Saima was shorter than Sarah and wore pink (I think) glasses and had her brown hair tied in a ponytail like always. She was Indian, I think, but didn’t have the slightest accent like another Indian friend I knew.

I said, “Hey Saima. Ready to be SmartCar-ed?”

She smiled.

You know those really compact cars that look like hobos should ride in them? The SmartCars? Well, I have a very humungous backpack and Saima had said it was the size of a SmartCar and I told them about this one episode of 1000 Ways To Die where this guy and his friend sumo wrestle by a cliff and the guy falls off, says he’s okay, and then gets hit from behind by a SmartCar. So, when I hit Saima with my backpack, I told her she got SmartCar-ed. Nice, huh?

She said, “No. Not until I run you over first!”

I laughed. “No way. Only Sarah can run me over.”

Sarah wasn’t paying attention. “What?”

We laughed. I said, “I’m going to run both of you over a SmartCar with monster truck wheels.”

We all laughed.

Then my teacher came back out and told everyone to put on their flags. Team 1 and 4 red. I was in Team 1, so red flags were for me, which was good since our P.E. shorts were maroon. They help camouflage and protect most of our downs. I looked around. There she was.

Nisha.

She was my rival in flag football.

She had just started to become my friend in P.E. a few weeks ago when this activity first started. But, she was small, thin and pretty athletic. Me? Not so much. But then, I found out we weren’t too different. When we played our first game, she talked about it as we waited for the teacher to open the locked door to the locker room.

She said, “I scored two touchdowns and I was the only one doing it for my team! Everyone else, even the guys, didn’t do much. But, that’s kinda because we have a ball-hog, but, I still did it!”

I nodded. “Me too.”

She nodded, grateful for a girl who knew what a forward pass was. “I mean, it’s like, I’m a girl, and I can do this too!”

I smiled. I had immediately begun to like her. And the best part was: she was in Team 3.

We always played Team 3.

We eyed each other on the field and smiled as we made finger daggers at each other and laughed. We went to our side of the field, and they went to theirs. The kind-of team captain had told all the girls (the “Ditzy Chicks”) to get to the line. Our guy who played soccer was ready for the kick-off. He ran forward and punted it right before the first quarter line. And the game began.

We lost.

It wasn’t our first time from this team. Our team was never really organized and the Ditzy Chicks on our opponent’s team would at least try to participate, even if they were off-sides. It was our second time losing from this team and I was getting sick of it. They had really good players and it sickened me. We were good too, but that was not cool at all. We were going to have to take them DOWN (capital D, O, W, N and neon arrow pointing to the ground).

But, it didn’t matter. It was Monday. No tests, sure, a whole bunch of homework but nothing that will take up almost ALL of your time.

Today was going to be a good day.
_ _ _ _ _ _
I hated him so much.

Made me want to puke and then throw the puke all over him.

Who am I talking about? My father, who else? I can’t explain how much I wanted to kill him. He just drove somewhere else today saying that I wouldn’t be enrolled in my old school anymore; that I was going to a new junior high school; that my old school wasn’t good enough. I was going to hit him.

No, I was going to make him drive up a pole and then pretend to die so he could feel the shame and regret. No. I would pretend he was a kidnapper and scream for help out the window at a fellow driver. Or, I could bang his head on the steering wheel like they do in movies and knock him out for, like, twenty four hours, enough time to say that the enrollment was a mistake. Or maybe...

“Hello? Nick?”

I came out of my fantasies. “What?”

My dad looked at me for a brief second, giving me that worried I’m-Sorry-I’m-Making-You-Do-This-Again-Nick look. And then he said what he always does: “Look Nick, change is good. It’s part of life. And, even though you may not like it, change is always for the better. And you’re a brilliant kid. When you come home with your report cards and A+ papers, it makes me feel bad to take you to a crabby school.”

I looked out the window, trying my hardest not to reach over and choke him. The wrinkles in his forehead deepened. He said, “I’m sorry, Nick. But, your mother said...”

I snorted. “You mean the one over in Texas? Or, the one over in Florida? Or maybe, the one out in Montana? Or Columbia, for that matter?”

His jaw muscles tightened.

I looked away again, not caring. He drove into the empty parking lot saying, “The principal already knows that the first few days you’re going to be pretty late. However, that’s no excuse so don’t use it to your advantage. Don’t go into the bathroom and stay there until the last period of the day.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, dad. And make sure you don’t marry anyone else while I’m gone.”

His face became red as I got out of the car and slammed the door shut. I looked at the school and sighed. This was just another new kid day. New friends all over again. And I could make them, I just don’t want to have to say goodbye to them anymore.

The school, anyway, was actually pretty cool. Didn’t look bad at all. I was used to graffiti everywhere. This school was nice and clean—rich kid style. It didn’t bother me much, but I still kind of felt a little envious of those kids who didn’t have to move almost everyday; who didn’t have a father who married and divorced like twenty times in naïve desiring. Dad had already gone as I walked into the office. The secretary looked up at me through lowered glasses and stopped typing.

She said with a fake smile, “Hello. You’re pretty late to class aren’t you? Need a tardy paper?”

I shook my head and smiled back. “No, I’m new here. I need to see where my classes are.”

She nodded. “Oh yes. Um...what’s your name?”

“Nicholas San Roman.”

She went through a stack of papers and said, “Oh yes. Well, welcome Nicholas. Here’s your schedule and I’ll have our office aid to escort you to your class. You’ll be going to second period first since first period will have ended by the time you get there.”

I nodded. “Thank you.”
The Office Aid ended up being a tall blonde girl with light blue eyes with a white, plastic smile. She shined her teeth and said, “What’s your first class?”

I looked at my schedule. “McNair. History.”

She nodded. “Cool. She’s really nice.”

I nodded and looked away. I didn’t really care. I was probably going to have to say goodbye to her anytime soon anyway. The girl led me across some tables with open area on one side and half gate and open area on the other.

She said, “This is the cafeteria. According to your schedule, you’ll have first or second lunch. First lunch is before fifth period and second is after fifth period.”

I nodded again and kept looking at my schedule, hoping that she would shut up.

She didn’t. She kept on yacking away.

So I made her useful. “So, my next class is...¬Fee-icks?”

She looked perplexed. “What? Let me see.”

She took my schedule and then laughed, handing is back to me. “It’s pronounced: Fikes. Yeah, that’s in room 405 right after you get out of the One-Way Hallway. Someone should take you there. Just ask.”

I nodded and said, “Thanks.”

She nodded back and said, “You’re welcome. So, here’s your class.”

And then she pushed open the door.
_ _ _ _ _
I never really needed to have a love life.

I already had one.

I loved more than anything in the world...they loved me more than anyone else. They stared at me everyday, smiling at me whenever I took them out and smiled at them, satisfied with how good they looked. I had never loved anything else in the world.

I’m talking about my homework.

I took pride in my work and smiled at the pencil and papers in my folder—done good with nice and neat handwriting. I had my papers neatly stacked and my pencil almost exactly parallel to them as Mrs. McNair said, “Okay, well, let’s get out the homework I gave you over the weekend. And the Study Guide on the agenda is due on the Fifth of November, not the Fourth, since you’re GATE/Honors class.”

I smiled as everyone around me shuffled. I already had everything out, including my red correcting pen. Of course, I didn’t smile on the outside. If I smiled on the outside, it would seem a little conceited and cocky. On the inside I did, proud of my thinking ahead.

And then the door opened.

Elise and a light-skinned boy had entered the room. I gave a brief look at the boy, judged him as inferior, and just looked away in not caring. He really didn’t need my attention; he had everyone else’s. I mean, yeah, I thought he was pretty cute, but so did probably all the other girls in the class. He didn’t need my emotions if he had everybody else’s. So I just wrote some key points on the homework in front of me in my agenda. I didn’t really care. And he probably didn’t either. I was so nerdy-looking, he probably couldn’t realize I was black.

But it didn’t matter.

I am who I am, nothing more, maybe a little less.

Mrs. McNair looked at Elise when she came in and smiled. “This must be our new student, yes?”

She nodded and said, “Yes.”

The teacher nodded and said, “Okay then, you can have a seat right behind Makenzie.”

The boy, I realized, was looking at me the entire time and didn’t respond until I roved my eyes to the right and pointed to Makenzie, three chairs behind me and one row next to me. He shook his head, as if trying to shake something out of his mind and moved to sit down.

As Elise shut the door, Mrs. McNair stripped herself of her glasses and smiled to the new boy. She had that caring smiled you could melt in as she said, “So, may I ask what your name is? I’d rather get your answer than look on the sheet.”

Everyone turned to him. Everyone, except me.


He cleared his throat. “Um...Nick.”

She nodded. “Great. So, just try to keep up if you can.”

She put on her glasses again and looked down at her book. I stirred in excitement and readiness. She was going to ask a question—a question I probably knew the answer to.

She said, “So, by the worksheet, what had happened in 1774 and what did it establish?”

I raised my hand. This was too easy.

Mrs. McNair looked slightly surprised, and I thought it was maybe because it was so sudden that I raised my hand. I opened my mouth to speak as she opened her mouth and pointed at me.

But, she said, “Okay, then. Nick?”

I closed my mouth and let my hand droop to the side. I realized she was pointing behind me.

No one ever knows the first question. Everyone forgets over the weekend.

That was MY question. That was MY routine.

I felt envy and prickling anger start to boil inside. I turned with narrowed eyes to the new kid three chairs down and the next row on my right behind me.

He answered, “In 1774, the First Continental Congress was established, in I believe Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was made the same year in July, in Philadelphia. This established the first sort of authority in the colonies.”

Everyone’s jaw, even the teacher’s, dropped. Everyone’s except mine.

I was boiling with anger, with fury, with malevolence. I was going to kill him. I seethed in my seat as my heart melted from the icy fire burning frostbite in my darkened chest. I was going to commit murder right here at Canyon Hills in front of my favorite teacher.

I looked at the new kid and he gave me a floppy, embarrassed grin. I scowled at him and he frowned immediately, quite confused. The teacher was talking about how smart and unexpected that answer was as I turned away from him and stooped low in my seat. She kept going on and on and on that I almost wanted to puke all over the floor.

Finally, she shut up and started talking about what she was paid to talk about.


I gritted my teeth and growled lowly in my throat. No one could hear but me.

I did not like this new boy.
_ _ _ _ _
That’s when I saw her.

She was pretty. Very pretty. I mean, she had braids and glasses and everything, but she didn’t look...nerdy. She had light brown skin and it looked tanned and nicely glowed to the very sight. She had her long bangs (longer than all the way down to her chin) curled and swerved from the right to the left. She had roughly cut fingernails and a...a guy T-shirt?

Well, that didn’t matter. She was still pretty.

She didn’t pay much attention to me, though. One look at me, and then she turned away and started writing something down from her homework. Probably cheating or something.

I had thought the maybe I could impress her with my smart, intellectual answer, because it was an easy one, but I was dead wrong. All girls usually liked me at my previous school. They would giggle and smile when I walked by and waved at them. So when she scowled at me, it was totally unexpected. I thought she was going to smile shyly at me and then turn away quickly, embarrassed at the fact that I was pretty cute.

But that didn’t happen.

She sunk lower in her seat and tightened her grip on the sides of her chair. She was furious. It got me perplexed, not really scared. I mean, her hands went white, (which was almost impossible for a black person) and she had a deep anger wrinkles in her forehead, but that just made her prettier. I know, weird, but that’s just how it went.

So, after class, she waited by the doorway, and I thought she was waiting for me, when I realized she was waiting for the short Asian girl in front of me. She gave me an icy look and then turned away, forgetting I was even there.

They were going towards my next class anyway so I just followed them, eavesdropping on their conversation.

The Asian girl said, “Did you see that new guy? He was pretty cute.”

The pretty girl seemed surprised and kind of staggered. “Makenzie, you didn’t just say that! He’s—he’s an abomination to mankind! A malefic pestilence to the entire human species! An impending epidemic to the international entirety! What GAVE you such an audacious, profane thought?”

Whoa. She was incredibly smart.

Makenzie, the little Asian, said, “I’m just playing around. Jeez. But, I mean, come on, he’s not THAT bad, is he? His answer for the FIRST question was really good.”

The pretty girl snorted. “Sure it was. The teacher was looking at ME, and then she picks him. Do you know how SCREWED UP that is? If not a felony, a misdemeanor!”

Makenzie laughed. “You really think it was HIS fault he was chosen and NOT you?”

The pretty girl went quiet and then said, “You know, you’re not helping.”

Makenzie laughed again. “And you can’t blame Mrs. McNair for picking him. He’s the NEW kid.”

The pretty girl sighed. “Yeah, okay fine. I won’t blame him OR the teacher. I guess I got out of hand, but...you know how it is. I’m enthusiastic sometimes. But...Don’t get all cocky because I said you were right.”

Makenzie smiled and took one of Pretty Girl’s braids and smacked her with it. “Ha, ha.”
The pretty girl swatted Makenzie’s hand and straightened her hair out. “Hey! Don’t do that! Don’t you know not to touch black people’s hair?”

They both laughed and I even smiled myself.

So, I learned a few lessons about Pretty Girl today:
A)
She’s pretty.
B)
She’s enthusiastic about school.
C)
She’s brilliant.
D)
And she’s funny.
What I don’t know is her name. I have to find out her name. I can’t freak her out if I don’t know her name. Name. Name. Name. Name. Name. Name. Name. Name.

GET HER NAME, I commanded myself.
_ _ _ _ _
I realized the Nick was right behind us and I got so embarrassed.


I felt my face flush when I saw him in the corner of my eyes and I fell silent. That was good because Makenzie had just left for math so, if I didn’t have anyone to talk to, he wouldn’t be entertained and eventually leave. But, instead, he kept following me. I got kind of scared. He was the new kid. Was he a criminal just let loose from Juvenile Hall? Or was he an escaped serial killer that preyed on girls with colored skin his age?


But, what scared me most was: he followed me straight into my classroom.

He was in my third period class too.

Of course, I had to play it like I didn’t even see him, so I stood in front of my usual seat and started taking things out of my backpack. I tried my hardest not to look up towards him, or even let my eyes wonder the room until I got my agenda out and finally looked up from my backpack.

He was gone.

I gave a light sigh of relief. I didn’t have him to worry about anymore. A carefree English class.

Then, Mrs. Feix said, “Nick, you can sit right behind Deijha.”

I thought, Well, sorry for that girl, until I realized, I was Deijha.

I froze. Why me? Why, why, why, why, why, why me on this forsaken morning?

I then slowly took my binder out. This was going to be rough; not being able to strangle him. I let out a slow breath and then sat down uncomfortably. I could just feel his every squirm in the chair, or his manipulating gaze. I closed my eyes and let out another breath before opening them and convincing myself that this was just another day of school with another idiot behind me.

But he wasn’t an idiot.

At every question throughout that class, he beat me. It was not cool at all. I wanted to commit homicide and then suicide. I wanted to take him apart atom by atom; take a particle accelerator and smash all the radioactive elements into his skull; rip his heart out and beat it like a bongo drum.

As I put everything away with a sordid expression, Nick brushed past me with a superior look on his face. I wanted to kill him. He was going to die within the trimester. If not, I’ll knock him out and ship him to Haiti. Yeah, feel the burn.

As the day went on, he deliberately raised his hand higher than mine, blurted out answers, or just poked me in the back so that I dropped my hand down. I was ready to punch him. He winked every time I passed him in the halls or intentionally bumped me in the halls and gave a caustic: “Sorry.”

Ooh, he was SO going to get it.

But, the thing was: he always sat somewhere near me. Near enough to screw with me. I hated his very being. Even though I’ve never hated anyone in my life, it was easy to hate him. And sometimes, I hated his parents for bringing him into the world. It was technically their fault for raising him screwy and bringing him here.

I HATED Nick San Roman.
_ _ _ _ _
By the last period, I think school went actually well today.

I found out her name.

Deijha.

Yeah, pretty...exotic. I learned how to spell it when I looked over her shoulder to tell her the first problem on her math homework was wrong. (Of course, it wasn’t, but I just liked messing with her.) It’s pronounced: “Day-zjuh”. I never would have guessed it right. But, hey, I found her name and I feel like I accomplished something.

But she was mad. My gosh, I’ve never seen a girl this mad before. It just made me want to make those teeth grit even HARDER. I’ve never done this before in my life and I don’t know WHY I didn’t do it earlier. This was too much fun.


She came up to me after school and got real close to my face. But she was still mad. The only time a girl came this close to me is when she really wanted to kiss me and I just rejected her because I could.

She looked me right in the eye and poked my chest hard with every word. “Look. I’m not having a very good time on the first week of school because of you. Either you stop this or it can get worse; a LOT worse. I promise I will make you wish your father’s sperm did I backstroke when it saw your egg.”

I couldn’t help but smile. That was a pretty good insult. I said, “Well then; somebody didn’t eat their Jimmy Dean breakfast.”

She was fighting back a smile and she was a great actor. It was only my fortunate knack for details that I saw that prick stretch of her lips, which would have been a smile.

She growled and turned away from me for a little bit, before saying, “You have no idea how much I hate you right now.”

I got a little serious. Pretty Girl hates me? “Fine. Be that way,” I said, “This means war.”

I can’t believe I said that, but I meant it, and the roughness of my voice and the malicious look on my face made her believe it. She raised one eyebrow (something I could never be able to do) and said, “Combat it is then. Though, I prefer someone who can at least handle the lashes of scorn.”

I liked this as much as she did. “Oh really? Don’t comply with doubt. Dubiousness will get my foot up your report card.”

She growled and narrowed her eyes at me. I stared back, raising both my eyebrows in daring connotation. She said, “Though many befriend you, remember I call you foe.”

I smiled. “I’ll even eat blueberries for it.”

She murmured with narrowed eyes, “The gauntlet has been thrown.”

I murmured back, “And I’ll gladly pick it up.”

We stared each other down before we both turned away, a feeling of a huge distance between us. However, it also felt like something has brought us closer...in a WEIRD way. Like, closer to the point where we understood each other on the same page.

I had a new drive; a new motive to stay at this school.

Pretty Girl was going down.
_ _ _ _ _
As I walked home, I thought about precautions and procedures to make sure I ended up victorious.

It was imperative that I reminded myself that I could lose a battle. Just make sure I didn’t lose the war. I kept analyzing so many factors that might prohibit me from triumph that I almost ran into a fire hydrant. I felt so embarrassed.

I mean, it’s YELLOW! How could I not see it?

An idea sprung into my head.

How could I not see it?

Because I was too focused on something else that I didn’t see what was right in front of me. It was subtle and didn’t make much of a disturbance until it was too late.

I smiled.

This concept could be used as a simple, easy maneuver, yet effective and imperceptible. However, this was not going to be some extemporaneous arrangement thrown into his academic javelins and spears. It dealt with predetermining different outcomes of his reactions and then predetermining his next reactions after mine. But I had to do it. This was going to be so precisely prepared he wouldn’t even notice until the precipice of his demise. I smiled devilishly as I thought of his face would look when he realized the big trouble. Oh yes; victory would be mine.

I started drafting plans here and there, placing decoys and detailed traps and gaps here and there. Make it seem like I’m an amateur. Once I got home, I went up the stairs of the empty house and shut the door to my room. I cleared my desk and got out a pencil, paper, and an eraser. I bit my pencil then started outlining different tactics and determining his reactions. There were so many possibilities to his reactions that there were arrows and lines everywhere. And then my subtle reprisals would be hard hit and effective. I kind of giggled to myself as I thought of his face when these things actually happened. And then, I ordered the whole entire map of schemes from start to possibly winning finish. And then, I sat for a good ten minutes trying to figure out a subtle attack.

I then smiled when I got it.

I had to modify a few things in a few of my schemes, but when I held up the paper, I felt good about myself. And, to just rub the fact that I’m smarter than him in Nick’s face, I wrote all of it down neatly in order on my calendar, making a number set from one to ten on how hard I was supposed to hit (most of them were tens). I circled tomorrow’s date.

Day 1 will soon commence.
_ _ _ _ _
Once I walked up the hill, I prepared.

I wasn’t stupid. She was intelligent. I bet she was categorizing her every move and taking special care to make sure that they came out right. Well, I was going to counteract and attack at every block. She’s probably thinking more of an offense every time I attacked and forgot about defense. I smiled to myself. She wouldn’t be able to touch me with my bulwark of charm. Teachers sympathized with the new kid. But, then, she was a smart, responsible, trustworthy student. They might just believe her first and then oppose me.

I had to think of a way to beat that. I had to do after school help for the teachers. Homework I could do neat and nicely and accurately—no problem. But I had to make sure I got extra credit and a whole bunch of other stuff. I had to be ready.

I had to outthink her and make sure that she didn’t get a chance to hit me on my pressure points. I had to make sure I got the first hit, giving her a knockout so that she wouldn’t be able to sense my next move. I had to be precise and guarded by security of all means. I had to get technical and logical; reasonable, yet insane.

As I got into the car, my dad looked beat-up and tired. I didn’t care; I was thinking about Pretty Girl. She was seriously going to have to go a few feet underground.

“Are you okay, Nick? Something on your mind?”

It was annoying that he asked me stuff about school, but I didn’t really mind this time. “Fine. Just this girl I met in class.”

His eyebrows rose. I should’ve added something else to that sentence.

He prodded. “What’s she like?”

I smiled. “Um...not too bad: nice hair, nice eyes, nice...well, nice everything, really.”

I felt his amusing smile and I said, “But she hates me.”

He frowned and I smiled. “Yeah, she hates me A LOT.”

He asked, “Well what did you do, for crying out loud?”

My smile widened. “I answered the question she was going to answer.”

His eyebrows rose again. “What?”

I laughed. “She’s REALLY smart. I mean, intelligent. And I’m not kidding. She’s pretty, but VERY involved with her work. The teacher was looking right at her when she called on me and she got mad.”

I started to smile. “Then I messed with her and did that for EVERY SINGLE CLASS. After school, we declared war. And I am now a commander of my one-man army.”

My father laughed. I kind of jumped. You don’t hear him laugh too often.

He said, “Nice. So, what do you plan on doing?”

I smiled and shrugged. “Stuff.”

He looked doubtful. I said quickly, “Trust me. I’m smarter than I look. I can handle this. If the information I’ve gathered by observation is correct, she’ll be planning everything out right now.”

My father raised one eyebrow (HOW DO PEOPLE DO THAT???!) and said, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing? She seems a little out of your league.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “The only thing out of my league is Megan Fox, and you took me to meet her four months ago. So, yeah, I know what I’m doing.”

He held up his hands and drove with his knees for a moment. “I’m just sayin’.”

I looked out the window. I thought: She will forever remember the name Nicholas San Roman.





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