As I marched up the stairs, ready to chew Mr. Janus out, my thoughts rattled around my motoring brain. Why couldn’t he excuse me from the stupid lab? I had just gotten back from a science camp I had applied and gotten into on a full ride. Having missed the first two days after Christmas Break, I figured catching up wouldn’t be a problem, but with an unexpected lab from the world’s biggest stickler, my new teacher, and worst of all, my girlfriend’s helicopter father, I found out just how difficult it could actually be.
Dodging my way through the hallway, I shot glances up at the rest of the students, my new classmates. None of them were within two years of age from me. They looked around at each other, some nearly as lost as myself, but many falling into the same routines they’d developed over the last few years, as if middle school were nothing new. I, on the other hand, felt completely lost after moving across the country for my dad’s job and bypassing my final year in elementary school. It was the second one my mother had taken from me, against my wishes.
What am I doing here? Summer is still raging and all my friends still have weeks upon weeks before they head back, moving on to college, but I’m back sitting in a high school classroom. Me, the natural born leader, the straight-A student, the nationally ranked athlete. I earned my way all the way to the national championships and lost only because my calf was ripped in two by the spike on the shoe behind me, but none of that means anything to the counselors. I kept in contact with all my teachers and completed some form of every assignment that was assigned, but that doesn’t matter either. I missed more days than the school board feels an average student should miss and now I’m back in classes I aced before their credits were erased from my records with a cold decision from a distant committee.
Staring across the hall, across the fluorescent dresses and sharp tuxes, across the bubbling mass of dancing bodies and flapping hair, across the thick atmosphere of live and lust and teen spirit, my eyes meet those that I’ve never forgotten. Six years, three months, and fourteen days of solitude among the small city of students I’ve coexisted with and my rickety human memory could do nothing to shake the perfect hues and textures that reflect the soft hazelnut that reverberates through her entire being. I recognize myself in those eyes and see what those 76 months have done.
*None of the characters contained here embody any individuals. They are crafted to reflect traits, details, and personalities found in myself and those around me, but contain no equivalents that I have met.