|Photohgraph by lemuelinchrist|
The day I walked onto the campus with my second-hand uniform and used books was the day Jimmy and Summer started as well. They’d just moved up from Louisiana and their big black sedan pulled to a stop in front of the school. Terrified I’d be put on the spot as the new kid in town, the beautiful Corbeau twins were all that anyone cared about. I was free to fade into the background, for a while, anyway. Turns out my hand-me-down life didn’t go unnoticed for long.
It’s hard to make friends when your nose is either in a book, or you’re rushing out of the room the second the bell rings. I had acquaintances, lab partners who smiled at me in class, but ignored me in the lunch room, that type of thing. I was happy not to have to make excuses for not having them over. I was flying under the radar. At least until Eric Roxan decided to pay attention.
The day before winter break someone broke into my locker and dumped urine all over my books and folders. A photography project I’d spent weeks working on was ruined. I stood at my locker fighting back tears because I didn’t know where I was going to get the money to replace all the books. The books smelled, my homework stank, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Eric stood down the hall and stared at me with an evil grin plastered on his face.
Summer had been listening to the talk. She’d noticed the teasing. And yesterday, she saw Eric ram me into the lockers on the way to the cafeteria. I watched Jimmy’s expression go from confusion, to shock, to anger as he listened. His eyes grazed over me. I adjusted my torn sweater self consciously, hating the feel of pathetic that Eric had smeared on me. Jimmy nodded once and was gone. Summer smiled at me.
“You know,” she’d said. “Sometimes help comes from places you don’t expect.”
I didn’t know what to say to that so I just nodded and smiled back.
Later that day, Jimmy caught Eric pouring something in the grill of my locker. He yelled at him about picking on girls and when Eric tried to push Jimmy, he grabbed Eric and rammed him into the lockers on the left and then on the right. Eric squealed like a piglet. Jimmy yanked him by the uniform tie to where I was standing and made Eric apologize, and then Jimmy took the soda out of my hand and dumped it over Eric’s head. I was shocked speechless. I never saw Jimmy that mad again, not in all the years I’ve known him. Jimmy was suspended for a week. Eric never bothered me again, no one did.
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