*This segment is not finished! Sorry, but I'm working on it*
Israel was not looking forward to his second semester of school because, for one, his favorite holiday was over and all he really had to look forward to was Easter, which didn’t signify the end of the semester. Secondly, Israel’s exploration class for the second semester was FACS, which Mom said stood for “Family and Consumer Sciences” and meant that Israel would be learning about cooking and sewing. After engineering, FACS sounded so incredibly lame that Israel wished he could just skip it altogether.
However, on the first day of class, his assigned seat was next to someone by the name of Sebastian Roque. Israel knew everyone’s name in his grade because he had studied his yearbooks from past years and made sure to figure out all of the new people’s names at the beginning of the year, but he couldn’t place the name Sebastian Roque. Maybe he was a new student. And maybe, if he was new, he wouldn’t know that no one really talked to Israel and maybe, since they sat next to each other, they could be friends.
Israel prayed while he waited for the seat next to him to fill. Dear God, please let him be nice. Please let me have a friend who lives in Missouri. Please don’t let him treat me like the girls who are nice to me but giggle at everything I say and make me feel like an alien. Please just let him be my friend.
Right as the bell rang, a boy that Israel didn’t recognize stepped into the classroom. He had olive skin and dirty blond hair that he wore long enough to cover his eyes before he shook his head to one side and his hair swooped out of his eyes. He spent a couple seconds staring at the board before turning around and making eye contact with Israel.
Israel smiled tentatively, and the boy smiled back and walked towards Israel quickly, swinging his binder by the handle as he walked.
“Hi, I’m Sebastian. I’m new here, which you probably know since this school is pretty small, but I thought I’d say it just in case. Because I know nothing about this place, except kind of where my classes are, but it’s still confusing.” He sat down, and Israel stared at him, unsure what to say after the barrage of words.
“I’ve never been to a private school before, and so far it’s actually just like my public school except for that it’s small and that my mom told me that we have something called ‘chapel’ on Wednesdays which is kind of like church, but in school. And that we do things with the Bible in homeroom. But she was really happy with this school because they do real science where they teach evolution.”
“Evolution is really cool,” Israel said, not sure what else to say.
“Right? I thought that exact thing whenever I first heard it. Because, like, some animals turning into other animals — and did you know that evolution is still happening as we speak? It’s like our time passes one way but evolution is like the slow motion of time that humans can barely sense and we only know about it because we studied the past. And if we hadn’t cared so much about studying the past we wouldn’t even know that things were changing. It’s so wild, right?”
“Yeah,” Israel said, smiling. He had never quite thought about it like that. “Evolution is kind of like history, but in science.”
“And science history is so much cooler than regular history,” Sebastian said, grinning.
“Yeah,” Israel agreed. “That’s why dinosaurs —”
“Are you two done?” the teacher asked from the front of the room.
Israel turned to her, blushing and trying not to cry — he never got in trouble, and if his dad heard that he got in trouble at school he’d be in even more trouble at school, and right after he had gotten his computer, too. He had been looking forward to going home and playing on his computer all day, and now it was going to be ruined.
“Sorry, miss, we were just really excited about learning things,” Sebastian said cheerfully. Israel looked at him, bugging his eyes out. He had never heard someone talk to a teacher like that after getting in trouble. It was like Sebastian didn’t even mind that the teacher was mad. It was like Sebastian had some type of super power.
“I’m glad to hear that,” the teacher said with a wry smile. Sebastian turned to Israel and smiled, and something lit a match inside Israel.
The next day at school, Israel realized that Sebastian was in his science class, their second hour, as well.
“Hey Israel,” Sebastian said, walking over to Israel’s desk before the bell rang.
“I didn’t see you here yesterday,” Israel said, looking down the row of desks where Sebastian had come from.
“Well that’s because my mom wanted to get me a fancy breakfast at a restaurant before my first day and they ended up taking a really long time to get us our food and our check. Mom said we’d never go there again ’cause they weren’t even busy, but I wasn’t that mad. My mom is always working and she took the morning off just for me, so I was happy, you know?”
“Yeah, my parents work when I want to be with them, too. Sometimes,” Israel said.
“My dad barely even works, my mom says, but she says he’s a deadbeat, too. He’s supposed to give her money to spend on me since he left us but he barely does. That’s why my mom works so much, she says. But my grandma helps us too. She babysits me after school. Do you go home after school?”
“Yeah,” Israel said, frowning. He couldn’t imagine life without his dad. “My grandma lives in Arizona.”
“My other grandma lives far away, but she sees me more than my dad. Where’s your other grandma? You could go see her after school.”
“My other grandma died when I was really little,” Israel said. He did wish that he had someone else’s house to go to after school or on weekends, though.
“Oh, well, sorry, I think. If you remember her especially. Did you know I didn’t even remember my dad until I saw him again when I was five? He didn’t seem too choked up about it though, even when mom told me to call him Carlos instead of ‘Dad.’”
“You call your dad by his name?” Israel asked, laughing.
“Yeah,” Sebastian said, joining Israel in laughing. “I’m just like, ‘yo, Carlos, get me some ice cream!’”
They dissolved into laughter, Sebastian occasionally saying more things as if he were saying them to Carlos, until the bell rang and Israel sat straight up in his chair. “You should get to your seat so you don’t get in trouble.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Sebastian said, still smiling. Israel watched as he walked back to his seat, the warmth from yesterday spreading through his chest again when Sebastian looked back and smiled at him.
In FACS, Israel and Sebastian wrote notes in each other’s notebooks as they were supposed to be taking notes about foodborne illnesses. While Sebastian was writing notes for Israel, often funny “Carlos” notes that made it hard for Israel not to laugh while the teacher was talking, Israel took the best notes on foodborne illnesses that he could. It was just so hard to concentrate when Sebastian’s arm brushed Israel’s or when Sebastian touched Israel’s hand with his pencil and then tapped the notebook, signifying that his most recent note was done.
Israel looked down at the note Sebastian was tapping and read it to himself. You should come over this weekend and play super mario bros with me!!!
Israel looked up at Sebastian, his heart racing, and Sebastian smiled at him and nodded. Israel smiled and nodded back, unable to believe his luck. He had finally made a real friend in Missouri, and it hadn’t even been difficult!