I’ve been waiting my whole life to sit next to Ryan Greene, but why won’t he notice me? I guess he is only the most popular, most beautiful boy in the whole school. Why would he go for a girl with short hair and glasses like me? Wishful thinking, huh? I spent extra time this morning trying to look my best so that he’d finally notice me, but that will never happen. Maybe if I tried out for the cheer squad…maybe if I did sports. I don’t know. Would we even share the same interests?
I try again to get his attention. I tuck my hair behind my ears and I fake a little sneeze. Ah-choo.
Oh my god! That was him. He looked over at me, his deep brown eyes were looking right into mine. He smiled too. It ripped through all my defenses. I smiled back at him…please don’t look stupid. I tried to speak, but my throat was dry. My mind was swirling. I couldn’t think clearly; my thoughts were in constant battle. Say something, dummy, while you have his attention. But now’s not the time! The time may not come again.
To my relief, he broke the silence first. “Mr. Benson is the worst, isn’t he?”
I nodded like an idiot. “Oh yeah, I hate all the homework he gives.”
While the teacher wasn’t looking, he leaned in closer to me and whispered, “I bet he spends his time thinking up new ways to torture us.”
That made me giggle…on purpose? I hope not. I don't want to sound unnatural…or weird.
“Yeah, I bet he has all the ideas written down in a notebook somewhere in his desk.” I tilt my head in the direction of the teacher in case Ryan didn’t remember where it was located.
“Totally! I wonder what he’s like at home.”
“Oh, please don’t make me picture that!” I shudder at the thought of him and the wife who puts up with him on a daily basis.
“Haha, you’re funny, Sam!” He leaned back over to his desk. I felt the need to throw myself back in his direction, but I was glued to my seat. My heart is fluttering right now. I’m finding it hard to think, to breathe. I finally got his attention. Maybe it was only temporary. I knew that. I’m not going to get my hopes up, but I’m not going to let this feeling fade. I am going to dwell on it just a little bit longer.
“Sam, what the heck are you doing?”
Samantha and I had been best friends since the third grade. Who knew crying over spilled milk was the key to friendship? No, seriously! Sam’s kind of a klutz. She was trying to open a milk carton and it slid out of her hand and spilled all over the floor and a wonderful white puddle spread freely across the germ-ridden cafeteria floor. She was absolutely petrified with embarrassment. I offered her my milk (which hadn’t been opened yet), and she gratefully accepted. I also got up to notify the supervising teacher that I had spilled my milk and needed to get some paper towels to clean it up. By the time I got back to my seat, Samantha was so thankful that she wanted to hang out with me at recess. I was a little weirded out that she wanted to spend so much time with me at first, but then she grew on me. I found that I liked hanging out with her. One thing led to another and we were best friends within a couple weeks.
Being Freshmen in high school now, we are still best friends, but not boyfriend and girlfriend. I can’t stress that enough. It was some understood agreement that we made some time ago. I don’t quite remember when. It’s not cool to date your best friend. I guess I may have liked her at some point, but I’d rather keep her as a friend than lose her forever. With dating, there’s always that risk of losing your friendship if things don’t work out.
When Mr. Benson gave us our new seating arrangements, I was thrilled that I had been put right behind Samatha. I liked Mr. Benson. He really brought his history lessons to life. He made me care about the causes behind the Civil War and how that war shaped our country today. Things that I thought had no bearing on my life actually had a huge impact. He made that clear to me. It’s only my first year here, but I think he’s one of my favorite teachers. However, he’s not always the most observant. I try to be a good student, I really do, but sometimes the temptation to tap Sam’s back and whisper something to her was too great.
Sam, what the heck are you doing?
She had been flirting with that snob, Ryan! I don’t know why the girls always swooned over him. I actually never understood the appeal of quarterbacks anyway. People who play sports are no different than people who don’t. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that athletes get all the attention at school. I don’t know. I think people crave attention. They will do anything for attention. But then no one puts any focus on other things. The musician’s, the artists, the geeks, the drama department, we get stigmas as being uncool, lame. The attention we do get is nothing compared to sports. Think about it: Your entire school’s identity is what your sports team is: Home of the…
And there Ryan is, flirting with Sam. She’s flirting back. They’re leaned in close to each other. I can’t quite make out what they’re saying. Mr. Benson is buried in his work at his desk. I don’t even think he noticed them talking at all. I wish he would look up and catch them, anything to make them stop. I feel jealousy rising within me. Why am I jealous? Samatha’s allowed to have other friends. And who knows, maybe it would be good for her to have a friend like Ryan.
What am I saying? It wouldn’t be good at all! Ryan’s a jock, a complete jerk. She’d undoubtedly end up with a broken heart. I have to protect her. She’s my friend after all. It has nothing to do with me liking her—I mean, as a friend, of course. Before I could do anything, Ryan, as if reading my mind, leans back over to his own desk. Good. Now this is my chance…
“Sam, what the heck are you doing?”
She doesn’t hear me.
“Dude, shut up! Be cool! You’re going to get us in trouble.”
Why am I here right now? School is so freaking boring. Mr. Benson needs to quit. He’s gotta be nearing his eighties. I have been learning nothing in his class. I mean, seriously, who cares about the Civil War? This is ancient history. It doesn’t affect me at all. It’s just another one of those things that some power hungry adults insist are important for us to know, so they shove it down our throats like broccoli. I just wish we could learn about things that interest us. I am tired of wasting my precious time learning pointless information.
35). The Civil War began in what year?
Again, I say, “Who the heck cares?”
36). Who was president during the Civil War?
a). Abraham Lincoln
b). Thomas Jefferson
c). John Henry
d). Grover Cleveland
Well, Abraham Lincoln is the obvious answer there, but seriously, how is this going to matter when I go pro?
37). Which of these was NOT a Confederate general?
a). Robert E. Lee
b). Stonewall Jackson
c). George Pickett
d). Ulysses S. Grant
38). What was the first battle of the Civil War?
b). Palmito Ranch
c). Fort Sumter
Oh, my god, if I haven’t lost my mind already, I am going to lose it soon.
I was grateful for that sneeze. It sure distracted me from this torture. I look over my shoulder towards the source of the sneeze. I see that geek, Samantha Whiley, sitting next to me. Wait a minute…that gives me an idea. “Bless you,” I said, feigning politeness. Quick, smile at her so you don’t look creepy. I risk a glance at Mr. Benson. He’s buried in something on his desk. He won’t notice a thing. I lean in closer to Samantha and whisper, “Mr. Benson is the worst, isn’t he?”
She agrees with me. They all do. I try to position my head so that my ear is closer to her. That gives off the impression that I’m trying hard to listen while my eyes can move around freely. My eyes quickly scan her test: 35). B; 36). A; 37). D; 38). C. It was surprisingly difficult trying to carry on a faked conversation while memorizing her answers, but I did it. I moved back to my desk and continued filling in the questions. A few more of these so-called conversations and I’ll be done.
“Sam, what the heck are you doing?”
I recognized Joey Belucci’s voice immediately. I can’t let that Johnny B. Goode spoil everything. I spin my head in his direction. “Dude, shut up! Be cool! You’re going to get us in trouble,” I spat at him. The look on his face told me everything. I had effectively shut him up. This was almost too easy!