Troy Knightly

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13

Troy rifled through the stack of crumpled papers in his hands until he found the school map. On the other side of the page was his class schedule.

“First period, Trigonometry,” he read. He looked at the clock in the hallway. First period was almost over. Following the map, he made his way to the math classroom. It was towards the end of the long hallway.

Troy peered into the window above the door handle and saw the math class was fairly small. Only about ten students sat at individual desks. An elderly woman, almost stick thin, with a tight bun on top of her graying head, leaned against a desk at the front of the room.

Troy opened the door slowly, but to his surprise, it groaned loudly.

“Sorry to disturb your class,” Troy said hastily to the teacher.

“No matter, boy. Hurry up and find a place at one of the empty chairs, please.” The teacher slapped her ruler against the board, and continued her lecture.

Troy noticed all the students were staring at him. Feeling self-conscious, he scanned the room. The only empty seat was behind a guy with thick, dark hair.

Troy quickly made his way to the empty desk in the back of the classroom.

“Geez, pull the fire alarm next, will ya?” someone snickered as he hurried by. Troy ignored the jeer as he slid silently into his seat.

The teacher was rambling about a math problem on the board. Troy saw a lesson posted and began to write it down.

A hand from the guy in front of him came around and placed a paper folded note on his desk. Surprised, Troy took the note and unfolded it. In hard to read scrawl, the note was simply, “Name’s Kip. I play soccer. I’ll sit in front of you so long as you don’t move.”

Funny, Troy thought. Should I write back or talk to him after class?

Kip was a big dude, with his collared shirt tucked in to khaki pants and loafers. He was hunched over his desk in complete concentration as if he had not moved at all.

Troy turned the paper over and wrote, “Troy. Yes, I play soccer. I’ll sit behind you if you stay there?” Troy frowned at his note.

He had just put down his pencil when Kip’s hand reached back and swiped the note off his desk. Troy watched as Kip’s shoulders shook with silent laughter.

After a minute, Kip dropped the note back onto Troy’s desk. Troy quickly grabbed the note and opened it in his lap.

A girl with freckles who sat to his right had her nose in her textbook so he didn’t think she’d noticed.

The note said, “Soccer, good. Let’s talk.”

About ten minutes later, the bell rang and the guy named Kip turned around. His eyes were a shocking blue and he grinned from ear to ear. He stuck out a big hand to shake Troy’s.

“Kip Everett,” he said. “You’re new here, I take it?”

Troy nodded. “I’m Troy. Guess the school’s not big on introductions.”

Kip laughed, “Nah, man, we just file in and get to work.”

Troy closed his math book. “It’s my first day. I just moved in with my grandpa,” he said.

Kip made a fist and gave Troy’s desk a light punch. “So, where’s your house at?” Kip asked, strumming his fingers on the desk.

“It’s up the road, right by the beach. The faded white house with two horses out front,” Troy said.

Kip’s eyes lit up. “Are you at George Mills’s place?”

Troy hesitated, squeezing his pencil tightly. “Yes, why? Is something wrong?”

“What’s your last name?” Kip asked quietly.

“Well, my mom’s last name is Mills. But I have my dad’s last name -- Knightly,” Troy replied.

Kip looked alarmed. “Tell me you’re joking,” he said.

Troy was confused. “What do you mean? Why would I joke about my name?”

Kip closed his eyes and put a hand to his face. “If you’re really Troy Knightly,” he said slowly, “then we’re all in serious trouble.”

“What’s wrong?” Troy asked, somewhat alarmed. Kip looked at him without blinking. After a beat he sighed.

“Whatever, man. It’s probably just a coincidence.” Kip grabbed Troy’s schedule off his desk and skimmed it.

“British Literature. Looks like you’ve got Bob Studman with me next period. Meet you at your locker, Knightly?”

Troy smiled, feeling relieved. “Sure thing man,” he said.

Troy picked up his books. He watched as Kip took off hurriedly through the classroom door. The freckle-faced girl beside him dropped her notebook into her backpack.

“I’m Troy Knightly,” he said sticking out his hand.

The girl looked at him.

“Hi,” she said without shaking it, as if his name didn’t ring a bell.

As Troy passed the front desk, the skinny teacher called out to him. “Excuse me, son, would you please come here? I have some things for you.”

Troy walked over to the teacher’s desk. He’d only gone a few steps when he tripped over a loose board. “Yikes!” Troy shrieked. He threw out his hands and landed on the ground with a THUD. Luckily, his backpack cushioned the fall.

The teacher jumped up from her desk and hurried over to help Troy stand.

“Is everything all right?” she asked.

Troy sighed awkwardly. “Yes, sorry. I just tripped,” Troy said, as he straightened his tie.

Boy, did he feel like a knucklehead!

She sat down at her desk and rummaged through papers she’d just pulled from a drawer.

When she looked up at Troy, he noticed her eyes looked remarkably similar to Kip’s – they were an unnatural shocking blue.

“Principal Davis told me to expect a new student. You’re Troy Whitely?” she asked.

“Troy Knightly, Ma’am,” Troy corrected. “I just moved in with my grandpa on the old Mills Farm.”

The teacher’s expression suddenly blanked but then she quickly laughed, and rocked backwards in her chair.

“Please call me Mrs. Dunhorn.” She seemed nervous now, as if something bothered her.

“I wanted to give you your class syllabus before you got overwhelmed with your other assignments.” She gave him a forced smile.

Troy cleared his throat, “Thank you, Mrs. Dunhorn.”

The warning bell rang. Troy turned quickly and scuttled out into the hall. He glanced at the sheet with his locker number and saw it was the locker directly in front of him.

He’d just thrown in his books when Kip appeared beside him.

“Hey, let’s go, man, can’t be late for Studman’s class. He’s the soccer coach.” Kip slammed Troy’s locker shut and pulled him along by the arm.

Down the hall, Troy caught a glimpse of the girl with strawberry blonde hair.

I’ve got to talk with her, Troy thought, distracted, before I lose her again. He tried to walk in the blonde girl’s direction, but Kip grabbed him.

“Where ya goin’, man? We’ve gotta get to class,” Kip said.

Troy followed Kip reluctantly up the stairs to a second floor classroom.

“Oh, and Coach Studman just got back from a week cruise with his family. So he should be in a good mood when you meet him,” Kip said.

When Troy walked in to the classroom, he saw the walls were plastered with posters of the latest soccer stars. A large man with big tan arms and a buzzed head sat in an equally large desk chair drumming his fingers. He talked animatedly to the students in the first row. Kip led Troy to seats in the front.

“Hey Coach, you got the line up all set for the new season?”

The bald man looked up and grinned.

“Kip Ever-Ready-to-Rumble Everett, how ya doin?” Bob Studman clasped Kip’s hand and gave him a one-armed hug.

“Never better, Coach. Been training with the boys all week so we hit the ground running on game day.”

Studman became serious.

“You mean at our first practice, boy,” Studman said grinning again. The man turned his attention to Troy. “Who’s your friend?”

Kip grabbed Troy’s arm and pulled him over.

“This is Troy, Coach. He’s new at Mavericks. Troy plays soccer so we’ll need to work him into the lineup cuz he looks like he can play.” Kip winked at Troy and then slapped hands with the other guys at the desks behind him.

Troy stood looking at Studman. Soft green eyes glittered back at him.

“I’m Troy Knightly,” Troy said shaking Studman’s hand.

From the corner of his eye, Troy saw a few guys in the front row stop talking and stare at him. When Troy met the group’s gaze, he noticed their eyes were all that same shocking blue.

Studman picked up a small trophy off his desk. It was shaped like a soccer ball.

“Nice to meet you, Troy. Soccer practice officially starts on Friday, but I want you running the drills with Kip until then so you’re ready for our first game in a couple of weeks.”

He waved the trophy in his hands as he spoke.

“But now,” Studman said, putting the trophy back on the desk, “you’ve got to be ready for your first lesson, so make yourself at home.”

Troy pulled the pencil out from behind his ear. “Yes, sir,” he said.

He sat down beside Kip who was in a deep conversation with the guy next to him.

Troy took out his notebook and began to write the outline posted on the board. He glanced at the guys who’d been staring at him, but they seemed suddenly engrossed in digging through their back packs.

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