Where I Go
Author's note: Many kids don't read because they can't relate to the story so they get bored. However, with Zack... Show full author's note »
Chapter TwoIn the week that I have been here, through extensive thought and observation, I have come to one conclusion: I am invisible. Nobody talks to me. Nobody looks at me. Teachers don’t call on me in class. Even when I’m standing right in front of them they just look right through me and walk right by me like I’m not even there at all. There’s still a person staring back at me when I look in the mirror. I know. I check at least a couple times a day just to make sure. Milo waves and smiles when we pass each other in the hallway. Maybe he’s just got some special super power like the Ghost Whisperer. I’m still working on that piece of the puzzle.
I’m standing in the lunch line and all I can see in front of me are red pigtails swaying back and forth. I realize I do know one person here, whether I want to or not. It’s Mollie McCarthy from Camp Carter. Oh God, please don’t let her turn around and find me. For two weeks last summer she followed me around, tried to grab my hand, filled my sleeping bag with flowers, and left little cards with hearts all over my cabin. Then she gave me all these orange M&Ms so I’d have “something to remember her by”. The girl wouldn’t leave me alone. Don’t turn around! Don’t turn around! Don’t see me! I’m invisible. Everybody else knows that. I’m invisible. You can’t see me.
“Zack? Zack?!? Is that you?”
She turned around. She saw me.
“Oh my Gosh! You never told me you go here.”
“I just moved.” Why? Why? Why?!?
“I can’t believe this! This is so great! I’ve missed you so much.”
“Yeah, me too.” Lies.
“So how have you been? How do you like it here? Oh my gosh! I can’t believe we’re going to the same school. Isn’t this so exciting?”
“Yeah, sure.” If that’s how you want to look at it, I guess.
“So are you going to Camp Carter again this summer?”
“I don’t know.”
“ Well, you should. It’ll be buckets of fun. Buckets! And it just wouldn’t be the same without you, so you have to promise me you’ll come. Promise!”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, you’ve promised… So now we seriously need to catch up, like seriously. I haven’t talked to you in like forever.”
“It hasn’t been forever.”
“Seven whole months! That is totally like forever.”
That is not even close to forever. Forever doesn’t end that fast.
“How come you never called? You must’ve been really busy.”
“So what’s been keeping you so busy?”
“Well, you know, stuff.”
“Just stuff? Is that all?”
“Well, no. I’ve also done… things.”
“I’d love to hear about all of this stuff and these things you do.”
“Of course you would.” Was that as sarcastic as it sounded inside my head? That wasn’t supposed to come out. Hope she didn’t notice.
“Where are you sitting?”
Nope. She didn’t. I point in the general direction of my empty table.
“Oh, who are you sitting with?”
Should I tell her? What if she makes me come sit with her?
“Do you have anyone to sit with?”
She’s on to me now. I waited too long to answer. Now she’s going to invite me to come sit with her and not stop bugging me till I agree.
“You should come sit with us. I won’t take no for an answer.”
See what I mean? “Alright.” What’ve I got to lose? At least she’s someone to sit with. Better than being all alone, right? What’s the harm in it? It’s not like I have to go out with the girl. I’m just going to sit at her lunch table. Maybe I’ll look like less of a loser.
Now we’re walking through an ocean of tables and chairs and people and any one of them could be the one she sits at. I stop once in a while to try and figure out where it is she’s taking me, but she won’t slow down. She grabs me by the hand and just keeps walking faster and faster. There’s so much spring in her step she’s practically skipping. This is exactly what I was afraid would happen.
Suddenly we’re directly in the center of the cafeteria, and she stops on a dime. Her sneakers squeak against the tile floor. I bump into her shoulder nearly knocking her over. There are three girls at the table in front of me wearing cheerleading uniforms. I keep looking back and forth between them and Mollie. This can’t possibly be where we are actually sitting. I’ve got to be dreaming. Then I notice she’s wearing the same thing they are. Maybe this won’t be so bad.
“Everybody, this is Zack,” Mollie said beaming from ear to ear.
They stopped their conversations for about a second.
“So anyway, what did he say, Amber?” asked one of girls who had perfectly straight bleach blonde hair and a perfect tan even though it was the end of March. I would have thought the girl across the table staring back at her was her reflection if she hadn’t had her eyeballs bulging in anticipation.
Maybe I can try to join their conversation.
“Did you see what he did today, Ashley?”
“No, I missed it.”
“Well, during history he started, you know.”
“And then he-”
“Omigod, don’t say it. He didn’t!”
“Oh no! Was she-”
“I can’t believe that he’d—Oh, that little-”
“I know. And then she started-”
“And then Mr. Grant-”
“Ooh. So now are you-”
“Isn’t she gonna be-”
Wait, hold on, what? I would’ve needed GPS to follow that conversation. I’m so lost. I do not speak girl. Do they just read each other’s minds? I mean, how is anybody supposed to know what she’s talking about if she never even finishes a sentence? My head hurts.
There were three other guys at the table. The one next to me is on another planet with his girlfriend. His face is about an inch away from hers. This is really awkward. I tune into the conversation going on across from me.
“Did you watch the NBA game last night?”
“Yeah, we’re not gonna talk about that.”
“Five seconds to go, top of the key, between the legs crossover, around the back, left-handed dunk at the buzzer! Pacers win by two. In your face!”
“Shut up, Tony.”
“Man, Murphy is nasty!”
“Yeah, he’s all they’ve got though.”
“Mark, the Pacers’ bench could take on the Lakers’ starting five any day of the week.”
“Oh yeah? But who’s in the Final Four?”
“Just wait, you’ll see. Last night was the start of a winning streak. They’ll crush everybody from here on out. They’ll be in the Final Four and beat the Lakers again. So you’d better be ready for this.”
“Dude, that’s crazy. They won’t even make playoffs this year.”
“Oh, they will.”
“Not a chance!”
Well, I know what they were talking about at least. Basketball’s not exactly my forte though. The extent of my basketball education ended in fourth grade when it was a huge accomplishment just to hit the rim. I know some of the rules, but other than that, there’s nothing. Like I said, I’m no superstar athlete.
“Tony, what was going on with you and that kid in math today?” Amber asked the boy next to her. She sounded more curious than concerned.
“Who? Milo? Oh, nothing,” he replied.
Milo? I stop sliding the greasy glob around on my tray. What’s going on with Milo?
“We were just having a little fun is all. Relax, Amber,” said Mark.
“Well, I don’t know, you looked a little-”
“Scared,” said Ashley.
“Scared? Please! The kid is practically a legal midget.”
“He started using big words,” Mark butted in. “Tony’s tiny brain couldn’t handle it.”
The girls laughed.
“Shut up, man. You wouldn’t know what he’s talking about either. I mean, look at him!” Tony pointed across the room and there was Milo eating a tuna fish sandwich and reading a book at his own table. “The kid reads the dictionary in his spare time.”
“Well, what were you doing?”
“We were bored. I saw his huge calculator just sitting there on his desk so I took it and hid it when he got up to go to sharpen his pencil. He probably wouldn’t have even noticed if Mark didn’t start laughing the second he sat back down.”
“He took it from under my chair and just kept writing equations like nothing even happened.”
“Course we were still bored.”
“So the next time he went to go use it, I snatched it away real fast like this.” Tony grabbed my milk carton from the table. “And I held it over his head. He just kept jumping trying to get it.”
“Dude, I almost fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard.”
“And he just kept jumping and jumping and his face was turning all red. His little fists were all balled up.”
“That was when he started using big words like delinquents and juvenile. They just kept streaming out of his mouth. Upchucking the dictionary. Ha! What a loser!”
“Then Thomson came back from the bathroom, so when he opened the door I said, ‘Here, Milo, you can use my calculator,’ and put it back on his desk.”
“Then he just sat there mumbling under his breath for the rest of class. It was great!”
I can feel that mystery meat churning in my stomach. I think I might throw up. I look over at Milo just sitting there calmly reading his book lost in his own little world where it’s nice and safe. Then the bell rings, and he’s gone. He’s out the door before anyone else is even done grumbling that they have to go back to class.