The new student was very… odd.
In the classroom, she took off her boots and laid her feet (with her socks on, thank goodness) on her desk. Everyone looked at her for the whole period, but she didn’t seem to care. The teacher, Mrs. Harrison, told her to put her feet down around four times, but the new girl kept repeating herself: “I ain’t going to listen to an old lady.”
It was only her first day, but she already received four detentions. I thought detentions were her punishment because the principal was getting tired of talking to her all day. I can’t blame the principal, though. I would suspend her for the rest of my life. She was so freaking annoying.
I was paired up with her for the science fair project, which was not a good thing. She chewed her gum really loud and squeaked her chair back and forth on the floor.
“Do the crap assignment,” she muttered at me. “I’mma just chill.”
There was really no point in arguing with her because it would lead up to me losing the fight and working on it myself. So I agreed, and I jotted down some ideas for the project.
1. How air pollution affects the environment
2. What to do to decrease the number of animals losing their homes in the trees
3. Cleaning the ocean so more fish can live
I actually thought my ideas were pretty decent.
The new girl glanced at my work, and she snorted. Snorted!
“What?” I asked her. “Are these ideas stupid? Got any better ones?”
She looked straight into my eyes. Her midnight eyes showed a reflection of me. “Actually, yes I do. Gimme a pencil.” I threw her one, and she caught it with one hand. “Your ideas are so unoriginal.”
I actually wondered if the new girl could write down a pretty good idea or two. I mean, she wasn’t the hard-working type (I think everyone learned that in the first hour we met her), but she wasn’t the lazy type either. I think she just doesn’t participate enough.
“Done,” she announced. She crumpled up the paper and threw it at me.
“The hell.” I groaned and smoothed out the paper. I actually overestimated her.
1. Something about stress relieving
2. Homeless stuff
3. Technology things
4. Cigarettes damage the ocean
“First of all,” I told her, reading the first one. “You can’t just write ‘something about stress-relieving.’ You gotta be more specific.” I crossed that off the list.
“Second of all, the next two have the same problems.”
I was actually okay with the fourth one. It wasn’t so bad, it was actually pretty decent. It wasn’t too unoriginal, but it was good enough. I checked the clock. After all, we only had twenty more minutes to decide.
“Third of all, the last one isn’t so bad. Maybe we should use it.”
The new girl stopped slumping. She sat up, looking straight into my eyes. Her midnight black eyes were so dark I could see my reflection. “You really think so.”
She said it like it was a statement, not a question. But I still answered it. “Yeah. It ain’t so bad.”
This time though, she studied me. I actually liked it better when she was mad or something; I didn’t like her examining me like a doll.
“Okayyy. So we’re gonna use that idea for the fair?”
“Sure, why not?”
She blinked and then shrugged. “No one ever liked any of my ideas, that’s all.”
Awkward silence. I pleaded for this class to finish. Everyone else seemed okay with their partners, like Amanda and Keisha, or Ryan and Dave. Then I noticed there were thirty-four students in the class, and I was chosen to be with the new girl out of thirty-three other people. Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. That’s just how my luck is.
“Class is over,” the new girl announced. Then, right on cue, the bell rang.
I was impressed. And I thought she was just a girl that lacks participation.
* * *
At lunch, I sat alone. I really have no friends, except Margaret who sits in the peanut-free table, not where I sit. And Margaret and I have our differences. She likes art, music, and math, especially math, and I like reading, French, and writing, especially writing. She doesn’t play sports, except she knows how to play soccer. I only know how to swim. And lastly, she plays clarinet and piano, but I don’t know how to play any instruments.
I don’t know what made me do it, but I actually had a huge urge to sit next to the new girl. I didn’t even know her name, yet I felt like… I don’t know… I just had a feeling…
When I sat down next to her, she didn’t even flinch. Instead, she asked, without looking up, “What the hell are you doing here?”
I ignored her question. “What’s your name?” I clenched my jaw, in the hope it was the right move.
She finally looked up, looking annoyed. I guess she wasn’t used to having people not answering her question. “I don’t have a name.”
I was surprised. “What do you mean?” I asked slowly. “Everyone has a name.”
“I don’t have a name.”
“Yeah you do.”
She stared at me, her eyes turning cold. “Shut up. I don’t have a name.”
I decided right now was the perfect time to change the subject. “So… what do you like to do?”
The new girl shrugged. “Smoke. Read. Trying to drown people in the pool.”
When she saw the look on my pale face, she laughed. “I’m just kidding about the last part. Although I do smoke.”
“You’re only twelve.”
“Oh. Well, I like to read. Do you?”
“I like reading the cigarette brands. You?”
I sighed. “I meant books.”
“Chill, dude. Iz just a joke.”
Our conversation literally ended right there. I thought our conversation was pretty decent because she actually laughed. Well, at her own lame and horrifying joke, but still, I get at least one bonus point. I thought it was going to end well.
“Anyway, see ya. Lunch is over.”
I was about to tell her the bell didn’t ring yet, but again, right on cue, the bell rang. Miracle.
“How do you do that?” I caught up with her as she went to class.
“Do what?” She slowed down.
“Saying the bell will ring right before it rings.”
She shrugged. I guessed that meant I wasn’t getting answers any time soon.
“Well, then, see you when we work on our project again.” I took off to the classroom, leaving her hanging. I hope she didn’t mind.
* * *
The new girl and I actually became closer. We didn’t really ask personal questions, because that would end up with the crickets chirping in the silence again. I still sat next to her during lunch, and we talked more during the science fair work. I thought, And things actually ended like this.
I was partly correct.
At the end of the school day, she caught up to me, just like I did to her a few days ago. “Hey, wait up.”
I jerked to a stop. “Hey, new girl.”
She sort of scowled at the name, but then she smiled. “You want a cig?”
She looked at me with her jaw dropped as if I was a clown that just turned into a cat. Or maybe the other way around. “A cig, dude! A cigarette! You want one?”
“Oh. Actually, no. It’s okay.”
She shrugged, but inside I can tell she was happy she could have the extra to herself. “Suit yourself.” She stuck the cigarette back in her bag.
I took a deep breath. I’ve been asking her this many times a day, and I knew she wasn’t going to answer. But it was worth a try.
“What’s your name?”
She pursed her lips, and I could see her curling her hands into a fist. Was she gonna punch me? Heck, I hoped not.
Then she spluttered. “Nova.”
I looked up in astonishment. “Your name is what?”
“Nova. Nova Ellison Murray.”
I was so surprised that I didn’t even ask her why she hadn’t told me all along. “M-Mine’s Nova too.”
We stopped walking for a second. “Nova Ariel Grayson. Nice to meet you, Nova Ellison Murry.”
“Murray,” she corrected.
“Nova Ellison Murray, very glad to meet you. My name is Nova Ariel Grayson.” I stuck out my hand.
She smiled slightly and shook it. But then I saw a scowl in her eyes. “Just because we have the same name, doesn’t mean we are going to be friends. I’ll still hang out with you, even though I’m wasting my shit. And you can’t ever come to my house.”
“Before you step into the house, you’re going to smell a lotta smoke.”
“Oh. Don’t smoke too much.”
I laughed. I knew we couldn’t ever be best friends, yes, I knew. But Diary, I am still glad I met her. I’m still glad I met another Nova, and even though we have a slight friendship, I’m just going to admit — I think that friendship is enough.