Kelly woke up that Monday morning feeling nothing. People passed her off as stoic and cold hearted after Jimmy died. She sat up and slid over to the edge of her bed. Her eyes closed tightly she began to think about him and how much she loved him. But nothing happened. It was as if her eyes were experiencing a draught.
Kelly and her family all lived in a small four bedroom home in Indiana. The streets on her block were mainly all the same. They consisted of a cream siding and the only thing that varied were shudder colors. Her best friend Britney lived only a few houses away. They’ve been friends since kindergarten. Their families even got together on holidays.
Kelly was starting middle school tomorrow. While most kids would be excited she dreaded the first day. Everyone was going to ask her about it. She just knew it. Jimmy’s accident had only happened about three weeks ago. It stung, like a freshly acquired flesh wound. Her Dad avoided the office like it was the plague and worked from home. Kelly’s Mom use to work as a receptionist for a local dentist until Jim was born, then she decided to be a stay at home Mom. Everyday after the accident she would scour the newspapers for jobs.
Normally, school mornings consisted of her Mom still asleep and her Dad getting ready to go into the office. But this morning was different; she was greeted by the smell of toast, eggs and bacon. Usually Kelly just grabbed a bowl of Trix and sat in the dark at the kitchen table. Looking into the kitchen she saw a Norman Rockwell painting of her family. Her Dad at the stove finishing up cooking the eggs and Mom pouring three glasses of oj and getting ready to carry them over to the table. The morning news was on at a low volume in the background.
“What’s going on here?” Kelly said as she grabbed some plates and silverware to take over to the table.
“We just thought it would be nice to all have breakfast together today. Especially with everything that has just…” Her voice trailed off as she set the glasses of orange juice down on the table. She looked over at and gave Kelly a kiss on the forehead as she walked back into the kitchen.
“Aren’t you going to be late for work Dad?”
“Oh I don’t have anything until a meeting at nine; A perk of being your own boss.”
“Oh.” Kelly mumbled as she sat down at the table and began to dig in. The food tasted good but was hard to get down. She could feel it get stuck in the back of her throat yet forces it down. *gulp* *gulp* *gulp* she smiled at her parents, she knew how hard they were trying to make everything ok. After breakfast she went to get ready for school.
As Kelly got dressed for the day she came across the cheerios t-shirt that she wore almost everyday that Summer. Jimmy had made fun of her for it.
“Aren’t you too old for that Kel?” he would say. She didn’t cry at the funeral. It made her feel even worse that she couldn’t cry. She was sure people thought she was strange. One day Kelly overheard her Mom’s friend Sue say that Kelly may need therapy. The thing is, it isn’t that Kelly didn’t want to cry. She really did.
Although Jimmy was younger than her she enjoyed their time together. He made her feel like she could really love and take care of someone. He had this great way of making her not feel selfish. Kelly helped him with homework and would sometimes even skip plans with her friends just so she could take him to the park. Kelly finished getting ready and ran to say good-bye to her Mom and Dad before she left. She hugged them and flew out the door.
She was running down the path in the front yard and caught a glimpse of it. When she saw it, images started to flood her brain. Kelly’s face went from cream to pure white. She remembered it all. Hanging up on Britney, running down the steps; It was as if Kelly was an outsider looking in on her life. What a sight it was at the Scottsdale residence the day Jimmy was hit by the drunk driver; her Mom yelling and screaming, her Dad trying to comfort her as best he could and Kelly just standing there like a neighbor’s child who carelessly wandered into the yard not realizing the gravity of the situation. Red and blue lights swarmed over them as if they were at some morbid disco. She watched the drunk stumble out of his car as the cops grabbed him and shoved him into the back of their squad car. A drop of red blood trickled down his left cheek of the man, quickly disappearing into the deep charcoal that was his complexion. Dad was the only one able to muster up the courage to lift Jimmy’s small, fragile body.
Kelly bent down to pick it up and stopped; she froze. Her hair fell in front of her face obscuring the view of the red toy truck that sat in the front yard. She brushed it out of her face and took another look. Jimmy was still gripping his red truck when he was hit, it must have fallen out when her Dad picked him up. Finally, she picked it up and put it in her pocket. Without warning the sprinkler system turned on quenching the thirst of the heat tortured grass and soaking Kelly; bringing her out of her comatose daze.
The bus stop was only a block away; Brit and Kelly always met up and walked over together. Kelly hadn’t talked to her since it had happened. When Britney saw her she looked as if she had seen a stranger.
“Oh, hi” she said. She stared down at the ground when she said it. Her feet shuffled around in her brand new adidas sneakers she was wearing. It reminded Kelly that she had broken the ultimate kid rule. You were always supposed to wear an entirely brand new wardrobe on the first day of school. Although Kelly and her Mom had gone a few weeks ago in the midst of all the chaos Kelly had forgotten this crucial rule. She didn’t have time to go and change so she was stuck with what she was already wearing.
“Hey, how’s it goin?”
“Not bad…got these sneakers yesterday, they only had one red pair left in my size too. Why are you all wet?”
“Awesome. Run in with the sprinkler”
“Oh. So, I know you’re going to get this all day today but I’m your best friend and I deserve to know…so, how are you?” Britney pushed her blonde hair out of her face as she the late summer breeze kept blowing back. Kelly was distracted by Britney’s fight with Mother Nature. She eventually uttered:
“Yeah, I’m sorry I haven’t called or stopped by. I’ve been…ok, just…ok.”
They walked the rest of the way to the bus stop in silence.
Finally the bus pulled up; Its engine rattling loudly like someone with congestion in their chest. It smelled of a mixture of gasoline and body odor. She took a seat toward the middle with Brittany. As she sat down her legs stuck to the fake leather seat making it impossible to move around comfortably. After a minute or two Kelly glanced up to see Jacob Derringer staring at her.
“So I heard from my Mom your brother was killed by some nigger, that’s too bad I had every intention on picking on that little fruit cake this year.”
It hadn’t occurred to her before but maybe black people were inherently bad. On TV she watched them kill people and sell drugs. She had always thought that that was fake since it was on tv. However, when she saw the same things on the news or would catch a glimpse of an article that said the same thing she thought maybe it wasn’t fake. Kelly had, after all seen their devious ways first hand. It wasn’t a white man that killed her brother.
Even though she hated Jake; She concurred with his idea and thought to herself “fuck those kinds of people.” Just as she was beginning to justify the mistreatment of black people and her thought were culminating into a mountain of hate the sound of screaming broke her train of thought.
“Shut up dickhead” Brit yelled almost spitting in his face. Kelly said nothing. She wanted to knock him so hard he went flying out of the bus window but before she could Britney did it for her.
“Make me, wench!”
Britney’s hand went flying through the air like a helicopter blade, aiming for Jake’s face. Finally she drew blood. A red river flowed down Jacob’s left cheek.
It was an awesome sight to see him get a beat down from a girl. But that’s not what Kelly wanted. What she really wanted was to be invisible. Kelly looked up and down the bus wanting desperately to move away from this kid. There were no empty seats in the back and she couldn’t embarrass Brit and make her sit near the front with her. So she resorted to trying to go back to sleep.
After a while Kelly opened her eyes and saw the “Welcome to Evansville Middle School” sign. Rubbing her eyes a few times she then adjusted herself in the seat. Everyone anxiously waited to be released from the bus. Finally the front doors of the bus screeched open and everyone jumped up and fought for space in the aisle. Kelly just waited for the perfect opportunity then hopped in.
She dropped her stuff off at her locker and said bye to Brit as she headed off to homeroom with Mrs. Weigold. This was the first year that Britney and Kelly didn’t have all of their classes together. They were pretty devastated. The only thing that consoled them was they would have lunch together. Kelly entered Mrs. Weigold’s classroom and felt a chill go down her spine when she saw the math posters up on the wall. Math made her feel ill. Once the class introduced themselves with a goofy warm up game they went straight into learning about the quadratic formula. When the bell rang kids began to go off to their next class in herds, like packs of wild animals. Kelly was about to join them when Mrs. Weigold says “Kelly, can I have a word with you please?” She thought to herself it was only the first day what could have she have done? Quickly, she tries to think if she had fallen asleep during class. Kelly walked over to her desk and as the last person left Mrs. Weigold began to speak.
“So how is your family doing? More importantly how are you doing?” Who did this lady think she was? I didn’t even know her Kelly thought.
“Well Principle Hassly sent out an e-mail to the staff here so if you need anything just let us know.”
Now that the entire school knew, this was going to be the worst first day of school ever and Kelly was sure of it.
Instead of going to second period with Mr. Johnson, Kelly skipped. It was English class. She would just get the assignment the next day. Kelly didn’t want to deal with anymore sentimental offers of compassion from people who did not know her and more importantly, people who didn’t know Jimmy. She snuck into the bathroom after the “talk” with Mrs Weigold and stayed there for about five minutes in order to make sure there would be no more student traffic in the hallways. After a moment she stuck her head out of the bathroom and scouted out the area for any monitors. Once the coast was clear Kelly darted for the nearest school exit. It turned out it lead to the back lot of the school. A few yards away were the soccer fields which were cluttered with gym classes playing kickball or soccer or Frisbee. Kelly blended in with them and then eventually wandered off into the wooded boundaries that surrounded the fields.
It was nice to just be away from everything; her Mom and Dad pretending to be ok, teachers who were so far removed from her life but prying into it, jerk-off classmates. Suddenly footsteps were heard coming toward her. Kelly looked up to see a young woman probably in her mid twenties walking in her direction with an angry look on her face but as she got closer Kelly saw that it was a look of concern. The woman’s dark skin was illuminated by the afternoon sunlight.
“What are you doing out here young lady? You should be in class.”
“I know, it’s just that…it really sucks in there.” At this the young woman laughed and sat down on a stump next to her.
“You’re telling me? I have to come up with lesson plans and then starting next week I start coaching the girls soccer team.” She wasn’t like the other teachers she had ran into today. Kelly liked her. This woman really cared about her and listened to what she had to say.
“Well, shouldn’t you be in class?”
“It’s my prep. period and I came outside to get some books out of my car noticed someone over here.
“Are you going to make me go back in?”
“Not right now but if you’re not back inside before the end of this period I’ll drag you back in myself.”
“That sounds fair”
“What’s your name by the way?”
“I’m Ms. Ingle and I believe you’re in my next class.” She got up and walked away. A breeze flowed through the air rustling the tree leaves making Kelly shiver a little. She put her hands in her pockets and felt the cold metal against her skin.. She had almost forgotten it was there. Kelly began to feel the tears flow down her face like a waterfall. She sat outside for another minute or two and then headed back inside to see what this Ms. Ingle lady was all about.