“That’s a weird name,” a girl from the end of the lunch table states. “It sounds like it would be a girl name.”
“Yeah, I guess,” I shrug, looking to her.
“I think it’s fine,” another girl, who’s sitting kitty corner of me, says. “It’s cool. What language is it?”
“Uh, spanish,” I answer, shrugging again.
“What does it mean?” a third girl asks.
There’s too many girls in this school. Being that I’m new, I’ve got no idea what any of their names are. I think one of the guys is named Cole or something, but I can never be sure. If there’s anything people truly know about me, it’s that I’m horrible with names.
“Oh, um…” I trail off, scratching the back of my neck. “Nothing.” “It means nothing?” the second girl asks, a small smile crossing over her features. “Wow, I thought nothing was nada.”
I laugh awkwardly and look away. I’m not good at talking to girls. I don’t really understand why, being as there’s no logical explanation. I’m not getting on this topic. Okay, so, I’ll explain my current situation in this cruel reality we call life. I’m stuck at a private Catholic school, named St. Albert. My name is Joya, and I’m a fourteen year old in eighth grade. I’m new to this school, and it’s the five hundred and sixty sixth day. Technically, though, it’s the second. That’s my excuse for not knowing these people’s names. Do I want to is the real question. I’m not sure of that answer just yet.
“Did you go to the public school a few miles that way?” a guy asks from across the table, grabbing my attention.
I look in the direction that he’s pointing, and nod.
“I don’t think I know you,” he says. “You might know me, but I don’t know you. I used to go to that school, and I was really popular. Like, everyone knows who I am.”
“Oh,” is my only reply.
“Have you heard the name Cole Slaw?” he asks, keeping this awkward conversation going.
I was right; there’s a Cole.
“Yeah, actually, I have,” I answer him.
“From who?” he asks.
“From the lunch menu,” I reply, smiling sweetly.
The girl kitty corner of me snorts, so I look at her, but she’s now looking at her food.
“I don’t know any of your names,” I state.
“I’m Cameron,” the first girl introduces.
“Amber,” the third girl says.
They slowly go through introductions like that. We’re all sat at a table in the top left corner of the small, crowded cafeteria. I feel crushed between two guys, but it’s fine. So, there’s Brittany, who keeps staring at me, Autumn, who’s been talking to Brittany a lot for the past two days, Nora, who is sitting two people down from me and laughs a lot, Riley, who seems to be friends with the second girl (Sawyer), Adam, who’s a tall, thin guy with dark, greasy hair, Joseph, a short boy with tall hair, Tyrone, some innocent guy that I haven’t talked to, Olivia, a blonde haired short girl, John, Adam’s brother who talks and smiles and jokes a lot, Nick, a fairly short guy with blonde hair, Rob, some kid with glasses and Pokemon cards, Tim, a short, red-headed guy who’s friends with Rob, Kate, a brown haired, blue eyed girl that’s almost as tall as Riley, who’s the second tallest girl in the class, Tyler, a tallish guy with hair that looks like it just came out of a windy grassland, and Jesse, a tall boy with brown eyes.
Okay, yeah. I don’t think I wanted to know any of their names, except for, like, two. I guess I would’ve rather died than gone up and asked for their names. No, I don’t want to make introductions in one-on-one contact. Definitely not. I zoned out again, and I’m only brought back into reality when someone hits my arm with the back of their hand. I look up and around, then meet the eyes of the brown eyed tall boy. Crap, what’s his name? What’s mine?
“What?” I ask, and he laughs.
“How’s the school treating you?” he inquires, and it sounds like he’s repeating himself.
“Oh, just great,” I reply. “I haven’t really gotten the full St. Albert experience yet.”
“You probably don’t want to,” he laughs, then looks away.
Well, that sounds promising. I look back down to my food, then pick up a chicken nugget. I’m about to put it in my mouth, when I’m stopped by Sawyer’s voice.
“I suggest you don’t eat that,” she says, then holds up a torn nugget.
It’s basically all pink -- except for the breading, of course. I set it back down in disgust. The St. Albert experience is looking great so far. A few of the people around me start to get up, and I watch them as they do. Do I follow? What’s going on? Are they all in some satanic cult that was an option to join at the beginning of the year or something? Wait, no; there’s recess here. So, yeah; there’s a cult. I don’t know if I should go with them. Cole, Joseph, Tyler, Adam, and Jesse are getting up, leaving a fourth of the table empty.
“Are you coming?” Jesse asks, slipping on a black light jacket and looking down at me.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” I answer, fluently speaking english.
Standing up from the table, I almost fall out of the bench. At my old school, there were stools, not benches. Sawyer laughs and claps slowly. I quickly walk away with the styrofoam tray in my hands. To the garbage I go, throwing the whole tray away. That’s when I look over and see that there’s a place to stack them. Does it really make a difference? Are they planning on reusing them or something? Are they going to wash off the crumbs, ketchup, mustard, coleslaw, and all of the weird, gross mixtures that the girls make? It’s a private school, I guess. They don’t have the resources for trays.
“Stop staring into my home, Joya,” Sawyer says, walking up next to me and throwing her food away. “It’s creepy.”
“What?” I ask. “I’m looking into the- Oh.”
She raises her left eyebrow at me, then walks to the door.
“All your beloveds are leaving,” she tells me, walking out the smaller door.
There’s a big door by the trash bins, but we aren’t allowed to walk through them. I don’t know why. I shake it off and walk out the door. Where am I even going? I catch a glimpse of Sawyer running up the stairs, skipping every other one. I think I’m supposed to go that way. And so I do. I walk up the four steps, then the rest. I’ll count them later. I turn to the left, still following Sawyer’s fleaing form. I go out the doors to the cool, September air. There are three steps, then an area, where my new classmates are playing four square. What’s her name, Kate, is standing on a sloping piece of cement, leaning against the bar. She’s laughing at the people, arguing and running about like lunatics on the court. I go down and stand by her. She glances over at me, then back at the court.
“Hello,” she greets awkwardly.
“Hi,” I respond.
“Kate, you should play,” Sawyer says from her place in line.
“I can’t sport,” Kate replies, and Sawyer laughs. “I’d end up hitting it into the field.”
“Suit yourself,” she shrugs, smiling. “You’re missing out on obviously a lot.”
Kate smiles and covers her mouth. I think they’re friends. I’m pretty sure that Kate is new this year, but she seems to be fitting in, just like Cole, Autumn, and Nora. Unlike yours truly. Very much so. It’s the second day of school, and they’ve already been assigned their own groups. I’m just following people around. What a joy this is all turning out to be. I just haven’t been given the time of day yet. I look back to the four square game that I’ve been ignoring, and Sawyer is now king. Jesse is the pawn, laughing and smiling as he speaks.
“You can trust me,” he tells her before she serves the ball.
“I’ve known you since kindergarten, Jesse,” she replies. “No, I can’t.”
She serves the ball to the next person over, who spikes it into Jesse’s square. He tries to kick the ball, misses, and walks off the court, pretending to throw a fit. The game continues on, everyone yelling at each other and calling Adam a bully whenever he would get anyone out. I’m pretty sure this game is biased, and all the girls are chanting ‘bomb them dead’ as they start to take over the squares. Sawyer doesn’t, because she’s staring at some cute guy as he walks past the school. She points at him as he walks from sight, then continues on with her daily life. Cole says the guy looks like a faggot, then goes on with his. Recess ends torturously slowly, but ends nonetheless. We go inside after the door is unlocked, and I follow everyone up the stairs, by the chapel, down a hall, and to the math room, where we were allowed to leave our stuff. At my old school, we could never do that. It’d probably get stolen. The door is unlocked, and everyone gets their stuff. I follow everyone to science, our next class. We don’t get to choose our classes, since there’s twenty people in this class. Actually, I’m not sure why, but that’s my best guess.
This class is agonizing; it’s only the second day of school, and we’ve started reading from our books already. We’ll get homework, we got homework yesterday from history, and I’ll have to do it. Like anyone who isn’t insane, I don’t like homework. Okay, I may be touched in the head, mentally ill, according to my mother, but I know that homework is of Satan. It’s Satan’s crap. We barely got any homework at my old school, but that’s because the teachers were slackers. They barely taught us anything. This school teaches us stuff. It’s nice, but I don’t like homework. And so science ends. Now, we have spanish. I guess. I don’t know, that’s just what the schedule told me. I’ve never taken spanish before, and I didn’t plan on it. I think that we don’t get an option with this, though. I guess that’s fine; it’ll be cool to learn more of it than hola, adios, no, si, and, of course, Joya. Spanish is in the same classroom with the same teacher as english class. Ms. Dorsey, I believe. We got assigned seats the first day, so I’m sitting by Olivia. It’s been quite interesting. It may have only been for two hours so far, but it’s definitely been really, really, really weird. I think that it’s mostly been her conversations with her friends, Riley and Sawyer, that have been the weirdest part. Sawyer talks about her book in the morning a lot, and I’m not sure if she writes or reads. And it’s back to that original question. Do I want to?
Out of everything, the weirdest thing for the past two days has been… Crap. I forget her name. And I was doing so good up until now. Oh! Brittany. The weirdest thing has been whenever I look in the general direction of where Brittany is, she’s always staring at me. It creeps me out, and I don’t know if I should be scared for my life or not. She’s doing it right now. I feel her eyes penetrating into the side of my skull, and, when I glance over at her, she’s staring at me. She giggles and looks away. I’m terrified. What does that mean? No one has the common decency to tell me why she’s doing that. Oh, right; I’m in a class. Technically, it isn’t legitimate, since we aren’t graded for it. I actually want to pay attention, though, so people don’t start speaking spanish at me or about me and I don’t know what it means.
It’s the end of the day; school gets out at 2:45, and it’s 2:30 right now. People are off in their little groups, talking amongst each other. I’m standing by my backpack because that’s just who I am. People usually don’t choose to talk to me over other people, who are more interesting than me. I’m fine with that. Also. I hate these uniforms. More than life. They suck. What is their point, anyway? To make kids hate everything? It’s definitely working, then. There’s no point in them, and I hate them. Not to sound stereotypical, but khaki pants do not fit my figure.
You know, it’s come to my attention that, if I want to make friends, I shouldn’t stand alone in a corner. That’s what drags me over to the big group of people talking. They’re laughing and talking nonsense. Is this all they do? What is even happening in this conversation? Are these even people that I want to be associated with? I’m not sure. Well, who else is there? I tune into the conversation, and try to understand what’s going on.
“I’ve been telling you since last year, Cole,” Cameron groans. “People would actually like you if you were nice.”
Okay, so Cole’s been here from at least seventh grade. I didn’t know that.
“Oh my gosh,” Sawyer exclaims. “He’s not even that bad. You’re not even that bad.”
“Yes, he is,” Brittany disagrees. “He totally bullied me last year.”
“I wasn’t bullying you,” Cole defends himself.
“He doesn’t know how to make friends,” Sawyer says. “He actually made progress, though.”
I don’t think I want to be part of this conversation. Being the hypocrite that I am, I don’t do hate. I stopped listening.
“I have seniority over you people,” Sawyer is saying as I tune back into the conversation.
“Hey, I’ve been here as long as you have,” Jesse replies. “So has Joseph, and Rob, and Nick, and a lot of the class.”
“Either or,” she rolls her eyes.
“What does that even mean?” Cameron asks.
“Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense,” Amber(..?) adds.
“You know what,” Sawyer replies. “It makes sense to me.”
“But it doesn’t make sense,” Amber says.
Stop questioning the lunatic. Sawyer doesn’t seem very mentally stable, so, if she says something means something, that’s how it is. Don’t question the crazy person. I look away from the conversation, around the room. Rob is at his laptop (we can bring that stuff?) with Tim and John looking over his shoulder. Adam and Nick are at the computers in the back corner, some people are missing, and the rest of us are in a crumpled circle. Someone brushes into me, and I step away. Human contact isn’t my cup of tea. I look over and see that Riley is standing next to me. How long has she been there? The whole time? Just a moment? Before space and time? No one knows.
“Sorry,” she apologizes. “I just totally bumped into you.”
“It’s fine,” I smile. “Barely touched me.”
She looks away, back to the conversation, its topic totally changed.
“No, no, no,” Sawyer is saying. “This is how you say ‘suck a dick’ in sign language. Yeah, you had it backwards.”
And these people say they’re Catholic?