I came into the school and sat down in the back of the class. Kids came and went and found their seats. I sat by myself, feeling shy, the outcast. I hated being the new kid on board. I had moved to more schools than one could count on their hands.
Daddy always thought there was a better job out there. Better money, better hours, always picking up the family and moving us to the ends of the earth. Every time I felt it was safe to reach out and make friends, we moved.
The teacher walked in and behind her a student that seemed to be the oldest and tallest in class. She motioned for him to sit and when he saw no empty seats he seated himself by me and looked at me and winked.
I crouched down a little further in my seat, not knowing what that was all about. The teacher introduced herself and had each student go around the room and stand and say their name. My turn came and I stood. My voice cracked as I spit out my name, John. While I was speaking, the boy across from me stuck his foot out and jabbed me in my foot, causing me to start to tip over.
Everyone laughed and I am sure my face was a shade of a nice, plump tomato. I quickly sat down and all the teacher said was, ” Now Rob, that was rude, apologize to the new student.” No words could be heard above the laughter and the next student stood to announce their name.
Studies started, books were opened, and I set mine open to the page the teacher had instructed. I reached down to get some white paper and when I leaned back up Rob had knocked my book on the floor. I said nothing and picked it up and reopened it.
Lunch time came and I took my lunch outside and sat under the tree. It was a hot day considering fall was here. The leaves had not begun to change and the breeze was still. I watched kids gather in groups and eat and talk.
I ate and then rested my head back against the trunk. Closing my eyes I tried to let the world slip by me, trying to forget how uncomfortable the morning had been already. Mom and dad had differences of opinions when it came to handling ones self among others. Mom always said, turn the other cheek, don’t start fights, and dad always said, stand up and show them whose boss. Don’t let them get the best of you.
The school bell rang and I gathered my lunch and headed back in the door. I stopped at the boy’s room. When I finished I undid the latch but the door wouldn’t open. Trying to see if it was stuck I noticed two shoes at the bottom of the door.
” Let me out, stop it. I didn’t do anything to you. Quit picking on me. Go find someone to pick on your own size.”
” But you are my size cry baby. Are you going to cry? Come on, let me hear you cry. I’ll open the door if you cry for me.”
No words came. The room had silenced as I knew all students were back in their seats. I was going to be counted tardy if I didn’t get out of here. ” Come on, cry for me.” I stood still, waiting, not quite knowing what to do. He kept mouthing off and all I could hear in my own head was mom and dad’s words.
While he stood there blocking my door I quietly got down on the floor and crawled to the next stall. I stood up and straightened my clothes out. Gently pushing the door open I exited and moved past the bully.
He grabbed my arm and made me come to a halt. ” Hey, you think you are pretty darn smart don’t you? Thought you were going to pull a fast one on me.”
” Let me go. We are going to be late for class.” I jerked my shoulder away from him and he reached out to grab me again. I spun around and my fist met his lips. He jumped back and wiped his mouth on his sleeve.
Seeing blood he went and looked at the mirror. He wiped the blood off with his sleeve and turned around looking at me straight in the face. I felt like I was going to pee my pants right there. I had hit him hard, but not hard enough I guess. Ready to dodge his body I shrunk back just a bit.
He came towards me and raised his hands as if to beat me to a pulp, but instead he began to laugh. He laughed so loud he was holding onto his sides and almost doubled over. Suddenly he stopped laughing and looked me straight in the face.
He walked a step closer and I raised my hands but instead of slamming me to the ground, he placed his arm around my shoulder. ” What are you doing? Get your hands off me.”
” Hey, it’s ok. I am not going to hit you again. In fact, I kind of like you. You got spunk. I like a guy with spunk.” He backed away a little bit and held out his hand to shake mine. ” Friends? I know how you feel. I used to be you.” I looked at him for a second and then shook his hands. My first day, my first struggle, my first win, my first friend.