51 comments

Kids Inspirational Friendship

“Honey, do you have your lunch?” I watch my mother’s lips in the rearview mirror of our car. She is worried, which makes sense since it’s my first day at a new school, despite being three months into the school year.

“Don’t worry, Mom. It’s right here. I also have my backpack, my new notebooks, crayons, and a book in case I have free reading time.” I’m trying to calm my mother down, which is ironic because really I should be more nervous than she is. After all, I’m the one starting a new school in the middle of the school year, and to top it all off, I also have a secret to weigh me down.

“Okay, Jenny. Did you remember to bring a pencil?” My mother’s brow furrows in the mirror, and I know I can’t stop her worrying. It’s a big deal. There is what to worry about.

“Yes, Mom. I have a pencil.” I dig around in the bottom of my bag and pull it out, holding it up so she can see it. It’s pink and sparkly, with a cupcake pencil topper. The kind of pencil any normal second-grade girl would have. Meaning any second-grader other than me. It reminds me of the hurdle I will have to cross soon. Convincing the other second graders that Jenny Ashton is a normal second grader. I shudder, but try to hide it. Mom sees anyway.

“You don’t have to do this, Jenny. You could go back to your old school. There was nothing wrong with your old school.” But we both know that there was.

“It’s okay. I’m ready.” I sit up tall and pull my long brown ponytail over one shoulder. I am ready to face the world. “Let’s do this.”

“If you’re sure you’re ready.” Mom turns the key in the ignition and starts the car, but I don’t hear the sound of the motor. As we pull out of our driveway and head down the street, I am lost in thought. That’s it. No turning back now. We’re on our way. I turn away from the rearview mirror and stare out the window as we drive. I think back to my old school, the one I attended from kindergarten up to the first three months of second grade. I am glad to be free of that place.

“Hi, Jenny! How are you today?” my old teacher, Miss Leslie, used to say every day as I walked into the classroom. She would bend down on one knee and speak slowly, enunciating every syllable, as if I were a baby. As if I hadn’t been taking speech therapy and practicing reading lips since I was two years old. I am so tired of being treated like a baby. That’s part of why I’m switching to a new school.

At least I had friends in my old school. Joey, who could actually hear a little, and liked to draw. Maria, who could sign so fast I had to tell her to slow down so I could understand her. I wonder if there will be fast talkers in my new school. Oh, and Kaitlyn, my best friend, who left at the beginning of second grade. Another reason I didn’t want to stay there.

A movement outside the window catches my eye, returning me to the present. It’s a piece of trash—a popsicle wrapper—dancing in the wind. It makes me mad when people throw their trash on the ground. Even trash has a place in this world and it’s not dancing in the wind, fun as it looks. I hope the kids at my new school don’t think of me as trash.

The ride goes by too quickly. Here we are. The school building looks tall and imposing. Kids of all ages stream toward the doors. Everyone knows where to go except me. I glance at the rearview mirror again. “Do you want me to come in with you?” Mom asks. I do, but not really. That would only make it worse. If I can’t do this myself there’s no point in doing it at all.

“I’ll be fine. Have a great day, Mom!” I bounce out of my seat, backpack in hand and ponytail swinging, not looking back to see if Mom has anything else to say. I will be fine. I have to be. If not, I’ll have to go back to my old school. That cannot happen.

I join the crowd of children and follow it through the doors of the school. I have fifteen minutes to figure out where the other second graders are. I asked Mom to bring me early so I don’t have to worry about being late if I get lost inside the building somewhere. It’s definitely big enough to get lost in. I take a deep breath and decide to do this the smart way. I head for the office.

Pushing open the door, I see an elderly woman with silver hair pulled back into a bun and glasses that slip down her nose just a bit. She pushes her glasses up and smiles at me. “Hello! And you are…?” She doesn’t talk too slowly, and her words seem friendly.

“I’m Jenny. I’m new here. Can you show me where to find the second grade?”

“Ah, our new student. I’d be delighted to.” She gets up and comes around her desk, which I notice gives the appearance of being neat despite being covered in papers. She doesn’t take my hand, the way Miss Leslie would have. Instead, she holds the door open for me and walks beside me down the hall and to the right. I think she’s still talking, but I am too nervous and excited to pay attention. The big moment is almost upon me.

Suddenly, I notice that the secretary is no longer beside me. For a second, I panic, alone in the crowd that fills the halls. Then I feel her hand on my shoulder, leading me back to the door she stopped at before. Oops. I didn’t notice she had stopped. Inside the room, rows of small student desks face a large teacher’s desk that stands in front of the whiteboard. The teacher, whom I met last week, sits at her desk, writing something. She doesn’t look up, but the three girls sitting on the floor next to the cubbies just inside the room do. Actually, two girls look up, and then one of them taps the third girl and she looks up, too.

I move further into the room and turn so I can see the secretary and the girls at the same time. The secretary is speaking again. I think she just introduced me to the other girls, because they are all looking at me, and the secretary is saying, “…and these are your new friends, Lizzie, Kaitlyn, and Molly.” My eyes go straight to Kaitlyn, the girl in the middle, who needed a tap to notice I had come in, and I know. I know it is Kaitlyn Jones, my best friend. And I know she knows my secret. Will she tell? Did she tell the others about her?

I barely notice as the secretary says goodbye and disappears. I forget to thank her for bringing me, but I know I can find her again if I need to. If the teacher looks up and notices me, I don’t notice that either. Molly and Lizzie smile at me and say hi, but I don’t really look at them. I freeze up, staring at Kaitlyn. I know why she didn’t notice when I walked in. She can’t hear. She’s deaf from birth, like I am. What should I do? I want to run to her and throw my arms around her, but if the others know we already know each other, they’ll want to know why.

Kaitlyn has a funny expression on her face. Then she grins, and steps forward. “Sorry,” she says casually, “I didn’t catch your name. What was it again?”

“Jenny,” I say, only a little shakily.

“And I’m Kaitlyn. We’re playing cards. Want to play?” Her grin is a little too goofy for a second, and then the look passes, and we sit down on the floor. Molly begins to deal her pink sparkly cards into four piles, and the moment is over. And suddenly, I know everything is going to be okay.

August 23, 2020 22:53

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51 comments

Pragya Rathore
02:46 Aug 29, 2020

Beautifully written! I think my favourite part was: "And suddenly, I know everything is going to be okay." This made for such a lovely style that I didn't want this story to end! I thought that Kaitlyn would act mean towards her, but fortunately, that didn't happen. Even though the protagonist's deaf, it doesnt keep her from trying to interact with her peers. That is a fantastic message that you're spreading. Fabulous story, keep it up! :) Please check out my stories too, if you get the time. :p

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Clara D Berry
02:20 Aug 30, 2020

Thank you! I actually knew I wanted to end it like that before I started writing, so I started with that line and then filled in the beginning. I'm glad you liked it. The message was inspired by a novel I read where a little girl went to a new school where nobody knew she was deaf to escape a bully. I will try to find time to look at your stories later.

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Nandan Prasad
13:35 Aug 27, 2020

Hey, it's a beautiful story! I loved, as someone has already said, that you didn't outright reveal the deafness till the middle, but dropped hints. Nicely done.malso, I read your bio, so I want to try and be a little helpful. It's not a big deal; you don't need to change this if you don't want to, but instead of 'I move my body so that I can see the secretary...' maybe you can just write, 'I move aside' or 'I move to the side' or just 'I move.' Not a big deal though. Very well-written and keep writing!

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Clara D Berry
00:15 Aug 28, 2020

Thank you for the positive feedback and for pointing out that slightly awkward wording. I changed it to something else if you want to look at it again.

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Nandan Prasad
01:08 Aug 28, 2020

Yeah, it's perfect now. Well-done and good luck!

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Clara D Berry
02:36 Aug 28, 2020

Thank you!

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. .
02:06 Sep 02, 2020

Such a sweet meaningful story! Incredible talent

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Clara D Berry
04:03 Sep 02, 2020

Thank you!

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. .
04:07 Sep 02, 2020

Np

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Keerththan 😀
03:52 Aug 26, 2020

Beautiful story. Loved it. The description were wonderful. Loved it. Can't wait for your next...

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Clara D Berry
04:02 Aug 26, 2020

Thank you!

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Keerththan 😀
04:04 Aug 26, 2020

You are welcome, Clara.

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Keerththan 😀
16:46 Aug 26, 2020

I have posted my new story, Clara. Would you mind reading it? (I still have time to edit. So I would love some feedback)

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Keerththan 😀
05:20 Aug 27, 2020

Hey , Clara. I have written my new story. Please read it. I saw the comment you have put in my brother's story. It was a lot of homework. Hopefully, he has finished it.(or should I say I finished it)

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Ariadne .
22:11 Sep 19, 2020

That last line... it touched my heart. Wonderful descriptions. I love how Jenny's deafness was not said explicitly, just a few hints here and there (like how she could read lips well and people talk slowly around her). I can't wait for more! I would appreciate it if you could check out my stories! You're a great author and it would mean a lot if you could critique my work! ❤❤❤ ~Adrienne

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Clara D Berry
02:56 Sep 21, 2020

Thank you, Adrienne! I'm glad you liked my story. Thank you for all the compliments. I am busy right now, but I will try to check your stories out later in the week. Based on a few comments I saw that you wrote I am expecting to enjoy them a lot.

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Ariadne .
03:06 Sep 21, 2020

Thanks! My fingers are crossed that you enjoy them!

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Clara D Berry
18:48 Sep 21, 2020

I was planning to get to them later in the week, but your stories were calling me, so I couldn't wait. I enjoyed both of them, but only pressed "Like" on the second one because the first one has a trigger warning and I am trying to keep my "Library" safe for kids of all ages to read without their parents coming to yell at me afterward. The romance in your second story just squeaked by. I left you comments on both.

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Ariadne .
18:56 Sep 21, 2020

Oh, no problem! I appreciate your comments! Yes, I wouldn't want parents to come after me either lol. ;P

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17:17 Sep 03, 2020

Hi Clara, I enjoyed reading your story! Very well-written. I liked that you wrote about a deaf character, it is something hardly seen in stories, or even in movies. I like the ending as well, that it was on a positive note. I felt like I wanted to read more! Really great job :-)

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Clara D Berry
18:14 Sep 03, 2020

Thank you! I may decide to continue this story at some point if it fits a later prompt.

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D. Shikha
18:38 Aug 27, 2020

Beautiful story. I loved it! Would you mind checking out my first story?

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Clara D Berry
00:11 Aug 28, 2020

I just did, and it was great! I left you a comment there.

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Anna Mosqueda
15:07 Aug 25, 2020

This is such a cute story! I love how you slowly introduced her secret and kind of let the reader figure it out themselves. I also think that when she saw the trash outside the window, that was very clever to include that in the story! Great job, I can't wait to read more of your stories!

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Clara D Berry
17:35 Aug 25, 2020

Thank you! That's the effect I was going for with her secret, so I'm glad to hear it worked. I wasn't originally planning to include the part about the trash, but I needed something to get her attention back to the present and it couldn't be a sound, so that just kind of happened. It may have been inspired by all the popsicle melting stories I read on Reedsy.

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Lily Kingston
05:01 Oct 02, 2020

I like how you introduce the mention of a secret in the very beginning which made the story intriguing from the get-go! Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Clara D Berry
05:08 Oct 02, 2020

Thank you!

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Meggy House
18:04 Sep 08, 2020

Wow! This was so nice! The deafness twist was executed so well and the whole thing was written beautifully. I really felt like I was walking with Jenny and you got the innocence of her age done perfectly. Thank you for reading my story :)

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Clara D Berry
20:35 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you for reading my story! I'm glad you liked it. You're welcome.

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John Del Rio
23:48 Sep 07, 2020

very well written. you talked about looking for possible errors. ending the sentence with a preposition :"big enough to get lost in". i have always been told that as long as its' not a formal "writing" that it is ok to do that. In fact i believe that is the way most people think and speak. i don't know if the girl was too self aware for a 2nd grader; or if she was so self aware because she was born hearing impaired and definitely had different experiences than another girl her age. Either way the story was definitely well done and captu...

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Clara D Berry
03:53 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you! You are right that ending sentences with prepositions is not allowed in formal writing, but this wasn't so formal and also that's a really hard thing to do right. It's too late to edit now anyway, but I'm just curious, can you think of a way to say that without the preposition at the end that doesn't sound awkward? I was going for the second option: self-aware because of not being able to hear and having different experiences. I did have my resident second-grader (because of course I have one of those in my back pocket) look the ...

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John Del Rio
14:02 Sep 08, 2020

i think you went the right way because i think if you had gone with something like "big enough in which to get lost"; it would have felt stilted. i believe that most people talk and think informally most of the time. i like how you use your resources -resident 2nd grader-

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Clara D Berry
18:30 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you. Yes, I do actually have one of those. That's part of why I made it second grade.

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00:46 Nov 05, 2020

You’re a good writer.

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Clara D Berry
07:41 Nov 06, 2020

Thank you!

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06:22 Sep 25, 2020

Hey, Clara would you be kind to watch the first video it's on Harry potter. https://youtu.be/KxfnREWgN14 Sorry for asking your time, This my first time to edit video

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Clara D Berry
07:29 Sep 25, 2020

Hi. I'm sorry, but I haven't read Harry Potter or seen the movie. I prefer not to watch clips of movies I haven't seen. Let me know if you do Narnia, which I saw someone suggested you do in the comments, since I have read and watched that.

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The Cold Ice
01:35 Sep 09, 2020

Good story.I loved it.I like the ending.Greatjob 👍keep it up. Would you mind to read my story “The dragon warrior part 2?”(I have still time to edit)

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Clara D Berry
01:45 Sep 09, 2020

Thank you. I will try to read your new story at my earliest convenience.

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The Cold Ice
05:49 Sep 09, 2020

You are welcome.

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The Cold Ice
03:51 Dec 03, 2020

Wonderful story

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Keerththan 😀
05:31 Nov 27, 2020

Wrote a new story after a loooooooong time. Read it if you get some time.....

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The Cold Ice
04:46 Nov 23, 2020

Wonderful story

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The Cold Ice
02:55 Sep 19, 2020

I have written a new story. Please give feedback.

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Clara D Berry
03:03 Sep 21, 2020

Will do as soon as I find a spare hour or so.

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