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First Day at Elmwood
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.
The loud noise of Liam’s alarm clock cut into the dream he was having about scoring the winning goal for the US national team at the World Cup. Liam opened his bleary eyes and realized what day it was. It was his first day of sixth grade at Elmwood Middle School. The day that he wished would never come. Meeting new teachers, classes with new kids, and having to speak in front of everyone… he dreaded it all. If only his alarm clock didn’t work.
Liam took his time when putting on his blue jeans, his baggy, grey sweatshirt, and his Nike black sneakers. The grey sweatshirt swamped his body, however, he still looked extremely skinny. Why the dark colors?, you may ask. Well, Liam isn’t the type of person who always wants to be center of attention. He would rather be sitting on the side or hiding in the bathroom. Yes, this is Liam’s ideal situation. Hiding from the world around him.
After the fifteen minutes Liam took to put on his clothes, which really he wished would amount to one hundred light years, he slowly went down the stairs to find his parents and younger sister eating breakfast.
“Morning darling. I have made your favorite! Pancakes with scrambled eggs and bacon on the side! The very best for your very important day!” exclaimed his mother, Sarah Robinson.
“Yes, this day will be great Liam. You can try out for the soccer team and make new friends. Don’t you agree?” encouraged Liam’s father, Michael Robinson.
“Totally,” sighed Liam as he rolled his eyes.
“Why did only Liam get his favorite breakfast?” pouted Lindsay, his sister.
“It is your brother’s first day at middle school and we are trying to make him as comfortable as possible before the school day begins,” responded their mother.
Liam looked at his sister and thought to himself how lucky she was to just be returning to her same school with familiar faces and no unknowns. If only we could switch places, he thought to himself.
Liam picked at his food and disposed of the rest in the garbage bin without his mother noticing. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings as she had gone to all this trouble to make his favorite breakfast. He then immediately went up the stairs to go to his room to complete his daily routine. He walked into his bathroom and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He thought, How can I make myself not be noticed today? Liam thought that if he combed his blonde hair in a boring style without using any hair products, then it wouldn’t look like he was trying to create a certain appearance.
Before he knew it, his mom was calling him from downstairs.
“Liam we are going to be late for your very important day!”
Liam thought to himself, Why does she keep calling this day important? It is the farthest from that! Liam put his Nike backpack on and walked slowly, dragging his heels, towards the front door. He waited for his mom to finish packing his snacks and then headed towards the car with the hood from his sweatshirt pulled over his head.
In a slouched position on the car seat, Liam could barely see anything out of the window. His mother watched him and noticed how nervous he was.
“Don’t worry sweetie, you will be fine,” she said to comfort him, aware of his anxiety.
Liam gave her a smile, successfully hiding from her his unease. He was not fine. Actually, he was far from being fine. His palms and forehead grew warm from the drops of sweat which seemed to be multiplying at a fast rate. His feet shook uncontrollably against the rubber mat in the footwell of the car. He hoped his mother could not see how nervous he was. Liam looked in the opposite direction to his mother and the spine-chilling, hair-raising sign caught his eyes. “Welcome to Elmwood Middle School! Home of the Huskies!” Liam felt a sinking feeling in his stomach.
His heart was thumping in his chest and his pulse quickened, as fast as a cheetah hunting it’s prey. Liam tucked his hands in his pockets and twisted his legs together as he stood outside of the car.
His mom handed him his backpack and told him the same old six words, “Everything is going to be fine.”
Liam responded, “Do I really have to go? You know that I won’t make any friends and that I am going to dislike this place”.
Sarah’s expression went from an encouraging smile to a serious face.
“You don’t know this until you try. Have a good day sweetie, see you at three. Have fun!”
Liam looked at her with puppy eyes, but knew this wouldn’t work. He walked slowly towards the entrance of his new school. Or at least he tried to. Liam felt as though his legs were blocks of concrete. The five minutes it took him to get into the school building felt like a whole eternity to him.
Liam opened his bag to see his schedule. He read that he had homeroom first with Mr. Hufflebloom in classroom B5. It took Liam a while to navigate through the school, but he finally found his homeroom. He peered through the window of the door and saw some kids already in there. He tried to decide which desk he would aim for. The homeroom teacher saw him at the door and came to open it.
“Good morning! I’m Mr. Hufflebloom. What’s your name?” asked the teacher.
“M-y-y name is Liam,” he stuttered.
“Nice to meet you Liam. I am your homeroom teacher and your math teacher as well. Do you like math?”
Liam’s heart started to slow down when he heard that Mr. Hufflebloom was his math teacher. Mr. Hufflebloom seemed to be very easygoing and funny, especially with that weird moustache on his face.
“Actually-y, math is my favorite subject,” Liam told Mr. Hufflebloom.
“Well, that is great! I can already tell that we will be best buds. Take a seat, anywhere you want!” exclaimed Mr. Hufflebloom.
Liam walked into the classroom and chose a seat in the very back row, in the left corner next to a window.
Mr. Hufflebloom made the class introduce themselves and say what their favorite hobby was. Liam was the last to stand up and said, “My name is Liam Rob-in-n-son and I like soccer”. He immediately sat down in his seat after his time in the spotlight. “I like soccer too Liam, you should try out for the team! I am one of the coaches,” responded Mr. Hufflebloom. Liam nodded his head in reply. He observed that there were fourteen other kids in his class, counting eight boys including himself. Liam noticed that they all had similar hobbies, most of the boys liked soccer too and some of the girls played volleyball.
English class and science class were next on the schedule. Again, it was just formalities during these two classes and Liam spent most of the time staring at the clock. He was waiting for the time to be 10:03 because he knew that math class would start then. As soon as the bell announced that science class was over, Liam grabbed his backpack and sprinted into the corridor to head to math. Liam felt brave enough to choose a seat in the front row, even if it was to the side. Mr. Hufflebloom noticed this change and smiled encouragingly at Liam. Liam returned his smile, thinking that at least this class would be good.
The class started off with everybody having choose partners and Liam was left to pair with Mr. Hufflebloom because there was an uneven number of students. He was actually happy that he got to be with Mr. Hufflebloom because this meant that he didn’t have to speak with any of the other students. Mr. Hufflebloom was impressed with Liam’s math knowledge and asked him to join the school math olympiad team. However, Liam declined. He thought, If I join this team, then I will have to socialize with other people and compete against other people. That all involves people, so it is a no-go.
Mr. Hufflebloom, trying to convince Liam, said, “Come on, Liam. I can see that you are strong at math and guess what, if you win, there are prizes! And you will for sure get one of those! Isn’t that tempting enough?”
“Ok. I will come to the first practice and see how I like it,” Liam said reluctantly.
“That is a much better attitude. Now, finish up those problems so that you won’t have any math homework.”
Math class was soon over, the noise of the bell rung out again, and it was time for lunch. Liam started to worry because he didn’t know where he would sit in the school cafeteria and, more importantly, who he would sit with. He stood in line to get some rubbery looking pasta with an unknown red, lumpy sauce on it. Now, his problems really began. He tightly gripped his lunch tray, rubbing his hands against it’s rough edges, and stood looking nervously around the whole landscape of the cafeteria.
He could already see the various groups of students and the tables they occupied. He started to categorize the different groups as he remained standing to the side of this mass of chattering voices, clanking plates, and scraping chairlegs on the stone floor. At one table, were five athletes wearing their team jackets. Not gonna happen, he thought. Across from them were four nerds playing chess while eating. They seemed nice, but unfortunately, Liam didn’t know how to play chess so that “friendship” wouldn’t work out. He noticed three boys standing next to the nerd table who then knocked the chess pieces to the ground. These must be the school bullies. Maybe eighth graders? Liam got a sense that he should keep away from that crowd. Lastly, he noticed four girls sitting at a table. Other kids were coming up to them to talk. They must be the popular girls, Liam assumed. He recognized one of them from his homeroom and remembered that her name was Ashley, his sister’s middle name. He could see that she wasn’t at the center of the girls’ “gossip circle”. She seemed nice but Liam knew that there was no way he was going to sit at that table. Instead, he decided to sit at an empty table close by so that he could just eat his lunch in peace.
Liam’s mom had packed a Mott’s apple juice for his snack. The refreshing juice relieved the dryness in his mouth. Suddenly, the smell of stinky socks surrounded him. Liam turned around to find the three bullies facing him. This can’t be good, he thought.
“Well, what do we have here? A little runt sitting alone with his little baby apple juice,” laughed one of the bullies.
“Plea-plea-se do-do-n’t do anyth-th-ing,” pleaded Liam.
“Give me your apple juice boy,” commanded another bully.
Liam, without hesitation, gave the bully his juice box. He hoped that this would make the bullies leave him alone.
“What a wimp, am I right?” the third bully said to the other two.
The cold, sticky substance of his Mott’s apple juice trickled from his head, down his back, and then to the ground. Kids nearby started to laugh and Liam wished that the ground would open and swallow him up. He was in shock and unable to move.
“Was this really necessary? Seriously, you all need to grow up,” Ashley screamed at the bullies.
“Who do you think you are to speak to us like that?” responded one of them.
“I am just a girl that is helping out a boy being bullied by a bunch of jerks. So, if you had any brains, you would go pick on someone your own size,” Ashley countered.
“Come on guys, we have better things to do,” another bully said.
The bullies walked away and Ashley moved toward Liam to help him. She used some of her napkins to remove the apple juice off his hair and clothing.
“Are you alright?” asked Ashley.
“Y-y-es. Th-th-ank you,” stuttered Liam, not knowing what else to say.
There was an awkward silence and Ashley then went back to her original table. She kept looking over at him, but he just hung his head down in embarrassment.
The last class of the day was Spanish and the teacher had assigned seats. I can’t believe it. Ashley is right next to me!, thought a mortified Liam. While working on a number of grammar exercises, Liam became aware of a note Ashley had slipped onto his exercise book. “Would you like to go to the Shake Shack with me after school?” He gazed down at the note, staring at it like a lottery player observes their winning ticket. After what seemed like an everlasting pause, Liam turned towards Ashley and began to speak.
“I think that…”
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.
The school bell interrupted Liam’s response.