October 3, 201X
I think I’m happy for Nathan. Today at breakfast Mom and Derrick were talking about the robotics competition this weekend. His celebratory pancakes would come later so today we were eating oatmeal. Being the baseball star that he was, Nathan took his with no sweeteners at all. And I had to look away from him while I added the molasses into mine. But it wasn’t that hard to not look at him while I was eating, the fake flower pot blocked the view of my perfect step-brother pretty well.
“Nathaniel, will you be home for dinner today? Any robotics after school?” My mom asked him, eyes shining at the prospect of her step-son coming home late today.
He laughed and swallowed another spoonful of oatmeal. Drawing the energy of the entire room toward him, even Derrick looked up from his phone to listen to what his son had to say, “No, there’s nothing this afternoon. But some of my friends are going to see a movie after school.”
My mom was still hooked on the robotics thing though, “But the tournament is this weekend don’t you have to prepare.”
“I think I’ll be fine, Mom,” He said.
Derrick chimed in at this point, “The other’s may have to prepare but I know you’ll be fine, Nathaniel. I’ve heard that everyone at school thinks you should be team captain, right Naomi?”
I almost dropped my spoon into my bowl when he asked me that. Their entire conversation had been sort of passing over my head, but suddenly I was pulled out of my mind and back to the table.
It took me only a few seconds to mumble out an answer but I knew that it was a few seconds too long, “Yeah Dad, everyone says he’s great.”
Mom carried on the praising Nathan parade with Derrick chiming in when he thought it was necessary. Nathan just kept eating his oatmeal, and so did I. Spoon to bowl, spoon to mouth. My lipgloss smeared on the steel utensil, creating a clear sticky residue on the handle, I made a mental note to reapply before I left.
I finished eating and made sure to rinse my bowl and reapply my lipgloss before leaving. Crossbody bag? Check. Phone? Check. Viola? Check. I was ready to go.
But before I even opened the door, “Bye Mom!”
She didn’t answer but I knew she heard me, the dining room wasn’t too far from the front door after all. But I guess she was too busy with Nathan to reply.
My skirt went down to my ankles so it did a good job covering me from the aggressively chilly Washington State fall. The skirt did make it tricky to get on my bike, but after a month of biking to and from school, I was used to it.
And I like biking anyway. The bus is way too noisy and there’s no way I’m riding with Nathan. With the bike, I’m free to just peddle and listen to music in silence. With only the crunch of the leaves and the whistle of the wind to interrupt it. But that’s only when everyone isn’t absolute jerks and plays their car stereos at like full volume! I swear it’s like they’re trying to spite me.
There I was halfway to school, not a care in the world other than if the gray sky meant rain that afternoon when none other than Peyton H. comes steaming by, she was probably late to beta club. Even though that flashy red two-door car that her dad bought her for her sweet sixteen can go from 0 to like 100 in three seconds. A Fives Seconds of Summer song is blaring and all the windows are down despite it being like 40 degrees. Not that I have anything against 5SOF but I really don’t want it seeping into my earbuds before 9 am.
I kept my eyes down as she pulled away though, is she didn’t notice me then we wouldn’t have any problems although that music got grating quickly. My commute wasn’t ruined though, although I was a bit on edge the rest of the ride. And it got to school. Everyone who lives that close walks anyway, I couldn’t help but think they were staring at me. But I just tried to focus on my music, letting my legs do the work of taking me to school and not my mind. Anyway now for the lyric of the day...
If you listen closely your heart is dripping gold, everything about you is something that you sold now you’re feeling lonely well I told you so. - I Don’t Wanna Know, Weathers.
But the commute wasn’t over Diary, the commute wasn’t over. My bike rack is like an entire block from the building and once I locked up the old girl it was another five-minute walk until I was in view of the “grand” brick and wood building that was Fortuna Highschool. And even though I’m a city kid at heart I’m still as used to the chill as much as anyone else in Fortuna. We all hang out outside the building, leaning on the low brick walls and sitting in the parking lot and the weedy lawn before the warning bells started to ring. First day I made a huge mistake and waited right outside my class for the full ten minutes before the bell rang. Everyone called me a nerd before I started wearing my fishnet sleeves, now everyone calls me a freak.
It was a bit weird deciding who to hang out with before school today. Mary said hi to me as I was walking past and I couldn’t help talking to her.
The colored contacts were looking great on her and along with her glossy brown hair she looked really pretty, but...“Hey, so did you catch the new Steven Universe episode?”
I do actually watch the show, and I like it just, not as much as her. And there was no way I was going to talk about a cartoon even outside of school. Still, I tried to play along without sounding too eager, without sounding too Mary.
“I didn’t actually but I’m sure you liked it, Mary.”
She was about to say something else but I cut her off, “Anyway see you at the girl scout meeting on Wednesday.”
Mary answered back as I was leaving, “Yeah, see you.”
I looked back as I left, in a way that I hoped was discrete. Mary had turned back to her friends and started talking so emphatically about something. Probably Steven Universe or something like that. Even though I was happy that she had people she could actually talk to I wondered if I had anything that I could talk about with that much vigor.
As I was passing by the main steps I lifted my viola case. Most of the people who were leaning on the wall and chatting were also part of the orchestra with a few band kids lingering around for good measure. Most of them didn’t see me but Julian lifted his bass case in response, a little greeting for us music nerds.
Julian was actually walking towards me so I stopped. He was always great to talk to. Once he even composed an entire song about how rude the janitor lady was. I swear he’s the saltiest guy I know. But before he could get to me, or I could even say hi Steven intercepted me. His rejected football player aesthetic was strong today. Muscled but small, with a genuine leather jacket stretched over his arms. Someone once tried to tease us at lunch, and he just stared at him until he left. His green eyes were piercing so I understood why he backed off.
“Hey, cool scrunchies,” Steven started walking me away from the main stairs and toward the ramp, where our friends were waiting.
Suddenly very self-conscious I started running my hands through my hair. Today I finally worked up the courage to wear my new scrunchies. You know the vegan leather charity ones, ten dollars is the most I had ever spent on anything for my hair. They worked, my two braids were secured, no loose curls anywhere to be seen. But I still don’t know if they were worth it or not. Though of course, Steven would complement something that looked like leather.
Willis greeted me with a hi-five when I got to the ramp. His gloves making a dull thud when they connected to my palm, the poor kid never had a good cold tolerance. Along with the gloves he had on a knee-length fluffy black coat and had teased his blond hair into a mohawk. While Kelly was wearing black jeans so ripped up I wondered if shorts would be the better option and her platform docs gave a good five inches on me compared to the usual two. And of course, Lowell had gone above and beyond. True to his word over the weekend he had shaved his head, only brown stubble was left clinging to his head like a five o’clock shadow. But the real kicker was the black bar he had painted over his mouth, with lipstick or with actual face paint I didn’t know, but it looked, killer. And about five chains hung off of his raw-edged sweater.
“So Billy said he had the hook up on some weed...” Steven started but I didn’t really listen. Drugs weren’t my thing, no matter how many times they tried to tell me how fun they were. Even if weed is legal I don’t think I want anything messing with my brain until I’m 25. And I’ve seen the rock bottom drugs can get someone into, just ask my mom.
My brain drifted from the weed talk pretty fast and instead, I stared out at the parking lot. Nathan was pulling up, and like anyone who was anyone he had bought a parking spot right in the front of the school. Once he got out of course he started hanging out near his car. It was his pride and joy, a blue gleaming jeep wrangler that could take him and his friends anywhere he could go. Just the way I saw people flocking to him when he got out made me wonder how long it would be until I was 16 and if Derrick would bother to get me a car that nice.
“Bell’s ringing,” Steven pointed out, followed by the muffled sound of chimes inside the school, “We better descend inside before the madness starts.”
Steven was right, the chimes had started the morning stampede to get inside the school. And being the 5′3 freshman that I was I knew I needed to get inside before I was trampled. But I couldn’t leave without pointing out the obvious hypocrisy.
“You’re not skipping today?” I teased Steven.
He laughed, “One more missed class this quarter, and I get suspended, and no matter how much I hate this hellhole, for some reason, people think that school’s important.”
It’s almost impressive how much class Steven managed to skip in only one month of school. But even though he’s the Skipping Lord I needed to get to class. We all entered the building together, Willis and I sort of sandwiched between our older friends but after a while, we drifted apart. Lowell was the first to drift down one bronze and white checkerboard tiled hallway to get to his locker, then it was Kelly that walked up a staircase without a word. Then it was me, reluctantly I said bye and walked down the specialty classes hallway.
The hallway was new, the tiles not the usual bronze and white, but yellow and white. I heard when it was built five years ago some of the alumni almost took the school to court over “the lack of school pride”. It would have been hilarious. But I guess they realized how stupid they were because after a few months they dropped it, such a shame it would have been the funniest thing that happened in Fortuna in years.
Anyway, I got to class just as the bell was ringing, just like 50% of the class. I’ve learned that normally it would be 75% of the class, and in gym 90% of everyone comes in the second the late bell rings. But my first class was EMT Certification and you had to apply for that one so I guess people take it more seriously.
It’s one of the biggest classrooms in the school. The walls are lined with anatomy pictures and glamour shots of the county’s volunteer rescue squad. But the skylights in the ceiling are a bit redundant, it’s cloudy like half the time so mostly it just lets in fog. I took my assigned seat, in the front row unfortunately and started to unpack. My binder, my textbook, my pencil case but it was toss-up whether I would need them today or not.
The back half of the room was the standard classroom, desks in a row, Mrs. Sinters had a bigger desk in the front in front of a whiteboard. But in front of us behind the whiteboard was what Mrs.Sinters called our practical classroom. Mannequin for CPR and EKG training and a bunch of other ones with various different injures we practice on. Next to orchestra, it’s my funnest class, but today I just wasn’t feeling it.
Mrs.Sinters started us off as usual writing stuff on the board, here’s some of my notes actually
First Aid - the assistance given to a person with an injury to prompt life and recovery.
CPR - Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Always assess for pulse and breathing before beginning.
Criteria 1. No moving 2. Not breathing 3. No pulse
Today we were just reviewing for the test on basic safety procedures and our CPR certification. Nothing special, nothing fancy.
“Naomi, what are the three criteria for beginning CPR on a victim?” Mrs. Sinters asked me this right as I was starting to space out, that’s what happens when you’re in the first row I guess.
This was the easiest question to answer, “No moving, not breathing, no pulse.”
I swear she looked disappointed that I was able to just answer off the top of my head. But isn’t that the mark of a good teacher? Her students having the answer to basic questions at the drop of a coin? Did she want me to not answer? Sometimes Mrs.Sinters is just so weird.
After the lecture, we went to the practical classroom to practice our CPR some more, and honestly, I don’t know what I feel about all this. I was so happy when I learned that my application for the class was accepted. It was December 20, when I was five years old when I met my first EMT. One of my mom’s friends had either overdosed or was having a bad trip or something, I can’t really remember. But they took her in their ambulance, and the lights were so loud and noisy that I was straight spooked, one of them I remember gave me a hug and told me everything would be okay, like I was worried about Sara when really I had just never seen a strobe light before.
But now that I’m learning my dream job, I don’t know how to feel about this. It just feels kind of empty you know...
After class, I was talking about this with Kelly while we were both heading to the math hall. She’s always so intimidating and cool, so I thought I could talk to her about it.
“Hey, do you think I should drop my EMT Certification?” I really wanted to hear her advice about this, “I’m just not feeling the point of it, you know?”
Kelly smirked, “Yeah I don’t know why you take that class anyway. It’s an elective but it takes so much work. Honestly, I think you should just drop it before it’s too late.”
I nodded, “Yeah, that makes sense I guess..”
That’s what I said but I think I’ll try to stick it out for the rest of the quarter. I get to meet with the counselor to discuss class changes in November anyway. And I’ve spent so much time invested in this and I’ve always wanted to be an EMT so I think I’ll wait. Kelly’s right though I guess, classes that are too hard will just bring my grade down, and I don’t know if Derrick’ll pay for college. Everyone thinks that Nathan’s going to get a bunch of scholarships anyway.
Math was my next class, and honestly, I can’t tell you what was happening. Luckily there’s no seating chart there so I managed to snag a seat in the back. But the class itself was boring, just rows and rows of numbers and shapes and other pointless things that I’ll never use. Even if I drop EMT at least I’ll know something about first aid but in the real world, I have no idea what this math is good for.
I got my test back though, and Miss White hands them out in the stupidest way possible. My name was called and I took a walk of shame up to her desk. Anyone who scores a 100 or an F gets their grades called up but the rest of us mediocre students have to walk up to her desk and get our tests. Mine was a 91, an A, a good grade but guess what Miss White said.
“You can do better, Morgan.” That was what she told me when she handed me my test like I got an A I did good I can’t see how I could have done any better. But what’s the worst is that she always uses everyone’s last name, like we’re her employees and not her students. I swear she’s so annoying.
But when she told me that I just nodded and went back to my seat, there was no reason to cause a scene. Even if she was so frustrating.
And after yet another class it was finally time for lunch. Since we’re a small school everyone has lunch together, though I heard we’re the only school in the county that does that. All the senior, junior, sophomores, and us freshman were shoved into the same lunchroom, and normally it was cutthroat.
For the first month of school, I was on my own with all the other freshmen. Bouncing from table to table, eating next to the trash cans and table right next to the lunch line. Once all of the tables were full so I had to eat in the bathroom. But eventually, around week three of school, I settled down and sat near the middle of the cafeteria with some of the fellow orchestra kids. Not as good as some of the window tables, but not near the lunch line ether.
But I think that I’ve finally found where I can sit for the rest of the year. Kelly and Steven basically stared down some of the gymnastics team until they gave us their table near the window. Technically it was next to a window table, but I think it was close enough. And Lowell has started throwing chicken nuggets at anyone who tries to sit next to us. So I guess for the rest of the years it’s just us at the 18 person table, it’ll be great.
As has become the normal I was the first one at the table, Steven came next since his class was right next to the cafeteria and he got in the lunch line first. Today it was soft tacos and grapes, perfect ammunition if anyone got too close to our table.
Lowell, Kelly, and Willis basically came at the same time and then we all started talking. Well, they started talking, I still don’t know what to say with them around. But it’s always nice when they talk about something I actually relate to.
“Ooh, can I have one of your granola bars, Naomi?” Willis asked sarcastically.
I just rolled my eyes and gave him one. But Kelly was on the teasing train today I guess.
“Oh, Naomi can I have a bit of your sandwich?” She asked me, equally sarcastically.
Since I was already finished with my sandwich I just gave her my other granola bar.
Lowell fake gasped, “Naomi you’ve given away all of the food your mommy packed for you? Is she going to be mad?”
They always give me trouble for my mom packing my lunch but this time Lowell was right, today it was just a sandwich and two granola bars in my lunch box today. When I realized that I had no more food left I looked over at Nathan’s table, which was right by the biggest window mind you. With the rest of the athletes and popular kids. A sandwich, and what looked like an apple, a granola bar, and a brownie. I guess Mom had run out of food by the time she packed mine. But that’s fine she knows I don’t need her to pack my lunch anymore. I mean Nathan’s a junior and he still had my mom pack his lunch, what a baby.
Steven was talking when I looked away from Nathan, “I can’t believe they’re going to tear down the old community center next year. All my artwork, gone! How are we going to practice tagging without that place.”
Kelly comforted him, I think she said that they can just tag out in the open now. Steven said that wasn’t the point and cue an argument. One that I had no stakes in so I just kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want either of them to be angry with me so I was just trying to keep neutral. I looked over to Willis and Lowell at this time, Willis was looking at Kelly and Steven like they were a baseball game and Lowell was just on his phone. I stared out the window for the rest of the lunch. The clouds were moving in an almost hypnotic way, swirling greys, whites, and darker greys. And all of a sudden lunch was over and I headed to my next class.
It was boring and so was the rest of my day. But at least I have girl scouts tomorrow so I’ll have mom to myself for the ride over there and back. But Evelyn is going to be an entirely different thing to deal with.
Anyway bye Diary, thanks for listening.
Naomi J. Morgan