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I walk through the halls, clutching my books to my chest. I know that with one shove, the neanderthals towering over me can send me sprawling under the feet of others, who will trample me without a second thought. My intelligent mind will not help me in the survival of high school. I almost regret having it.
I slide through the crowd, inching my way closer to my locker. I was unfortunate enough to get a locker in the middle of the column of three. I am still able to open it, but I can’t see what I’m grabbing. I feel around for my algebra book and pull it out. I close my locker and go to my algebra class.
Sitting there in my desk, while the teacher rambles on about how to find x. I sit quietly, hoping no one will notice me. Why did the school board decide to let me skip so many grades? Why did my parents say this would be good for me? Why would anyone let a ten year old into 9th grade?
“Kevin?” I hear the teacher ask. “Kevin?” I look up.
“Will you please solve the problem?” I look at the equation on the board.
“I don’t know how.” I mutter. I do actually know. It’s x=4. But if I know, and no one else knows, it will just prove that I’m even more different.
“Well then, since even Kevin doesn’t know, I will tell you that the answer is 4.”
I sit through the rest of class quietly. When the bell rings I sit in my desk and wait as everyone goes out the door.
“Kevin, may I speak with you?”
“Yes ma’am?” My teachers are constantly praising me for my mind. They always remind me of why I’m here. The thing is that I wish I wasn’t.
“Kevin, is something wrong? You’ve been missing lot’s problems lately.
“Well, I just want you to know that you have a gift. Your mind is a great asset to this school, and I don’t want you wasting it.” There is nothing in this place that would make me desire to be here. I would much rather be in elementary school, coasting through the classes without the threat of danger.
“Yes ma’am.” That’s when I leave the room.
I skirt along the sides of the halls, so I won’t be pushed by them. Stopping at my locker and dropping off my book. Lunch is next, so I can find somewhere quiet to eat and be in peace.
I remember that I need to return a library book. I grab it and head towards the library, while everyone else is headed in the other direction. At first I’m going along the sides, but I am pushed into the mob by a group of teenage girls. Then I am forced to shove my way through. I try my hardest to not touch anybody. I have to weave and swerve through the many bodies.
When I’m at the end of the crowd, I give a final shove to break out of the group. But with my luck, I shove head on into a gargantuan student. The impact of the collision knocks me down. The student turns his body to face me, and towers over me with his arms folded
seeming even larger.
“Did you push me?”
“Y-yes. But I didn’t mean to.” The student unfolds his arms. I close my eyes and brace myself for a hit, but it doesn’t come. I open my eyes and see him offering his hand. I grab it and he helps me up.
“Thanks,” I say. But the student is already walking toward the lunch room.
Later, I sit in the hallway next to the lunch room doors. I can hear the faint roar of others through the doors. There is no way that there will be an empty table for me, and I don’t dare sit with anyone. I stare into the chicken noodle soup my mom gave me. It’s usually my favorite dish.
The noise from the lunchroom comes out the door louder for a moment, meaning someone’s coming out. I look up and see that the student that helped me up is coming out the door. He heads in my direction and sits down next to me.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hi,” I mutter.
“What’cha have there?” Ever since I came to this school, I haven’t had any friends.
“Cool,” we sit there in silence for a minute.
“I’m sorry for bumping into you,” I say. “I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s fine dude,” he pauses. “I noticed that you’re usually alone. Why is that?”
“I usually don’t like to talk to older kids.”
“You’re talking to me just fine. I’m Brian, by the way.” All my old friends drifted away when I moved up to 9th grade, and no one at this school would even consider being my friend.
“Nice to meet you Kevin,” he offers his hand again and we shake hands. “Kevin.” He says “I know some people aren’t very nice here, and if they’re mean to you I’ll come and help you.” I look up at him. His expression is sincere. I’m sure that this isn’t some prank.
“Why would you do that for me?” I ask him.
“It’s what friends do for eachother. Right?” Friends. I repeated the word in my mind. It’s what I had wanted for so long, but what no one wanted to give me. Except for Brian.
“Right.” I say confidently. I reach into my lunchbox and take out a chocolate bar.
“Sure.” Brian unwraps the candy and takes a huge bite.
“It’s good,” he says with a mouthful of chocolate. I chuckle. This is the first friend I’ve had since the beginning of the year. That’s when I realize that not all high schoolers are barbarians. Not all of them are unfeeling. There’s always one in a thousand that is intelligent and kind. And I’m sitting next to him.