The first day of school is the worst day of the entire year for the whole Gardener family. My mom hates being in a huge rush, my dad just really enjoys watching TV. He hates missing eight precious hours of his favorite shows and movies because he has to teach instead. As for me and my siblings...well, it’s school.
Beep! Beep! My alarm wakes me up in the middle of a horrible nightmare about school. My three sisters Christy, Jennifer, and Samantha are stirring too.
I walk downstairs, half awake. Seven bowls, cups, and spoons are sitting on the dining table.
“Serve yourself,” my mom calls from the kitchen. I make myself a bowl of Cheerios and down a glass of orange juice.
My brothers Jack, Peter, and Max are just waking up and coming down the stairs. I brush past them, heading to my room to get dressed.
An hour later, all seven of us are waiting in the car for my mom to find her keys. She hops into the car, starts it, and drives us to our dusty middle school.
I trail my twin sister Christy out of the car and to her friends before turning away to find my best friend (and only friend), Macie Peters.
I find my way through my entire sixth-grade class and see Macie waving at me. Her arm is around some other girl’s shoulder. I don’t know everyone in my grade, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve never seen her before.
“Hi!” Macie exclaims. “This is Carly. She’s new, and Mrs. Johnson wants me to welcome her here. She’s awesome!” I nod and half smile. Macie is my best friend, not Carly’s. I try to be okay with the fact that Macie’s found another friend but something doesn’t feel right.
The bell rings and I am caught in the mob of students sprinting to their new classroom. I see Macie and Carlie holding hands and laughing. I shove my hands in my pockets and turn around. Christy is talking and laughing with her other friends. Suddenly, I’ve never felt more alone. I walk to my new classroom. My teacher is Mr. Fungus. Fungus. He’s an overweight man in his forties with a huge bald spot on the middle of his egg-shaped head. Macie has a nice looking teacher named Mrs. Telker for homeroom. Lucky. I walk to my locker and deposit my backpack inside, taking out my notebook and pencil pouch. Mr. Fungus’s classroom is extremely boring. My desk has a name tag with my name written in cursive. Lizzie Gardener. I have to squint to be able to read it. My desk is in the very back row next to Bryce Jones’s and Amelia Whittier’s desks. Christy is sitting in the front, surrounded by her friends. Mr. Fungus walks into the room. He taps a pointer stick of some sort on his desk. Everyone stops talking slowly, staring at him.
“Students, please turn to page 2 in your math workbooks,” he says. Everyone has something to say about that.
”It’s the first day of school!’
”This is homeroom!”
”You aren’t even our math teacher!”
He clears his throat and taps his pointer on the desk. Everyone is quiet.
“I am your math teacher, and most of you have math right after homeroom. Please consult your schedule and see who you have for second period.” I pulled my schedule out of my folder and looked. I had P.E. today, but social studies every other day.
Mr. Fungus clears his throat and taps on his desk yet again. That is going to get really old.
“Those of you who have math with me second period please raise your hands,” he announces. Everyone in my class but Cooper Tarden and I raise their hands. Cooper Tarden is the smartest kid in our class. He acts like he’s better than everyone else, and it drives me crazy. He’s also a really bad smart alec.
“I have P.E. today Mr. Fungus!” he calls out. Oh no. I have P.E. too. Do I have all of the same classes as him? I glance at his schedule. Yep. Every single class.
“So, Lizzie,” Connor says. I’m annoyed that he’s talking to me, and surprised that he knows my name. “Do you have P.E. too?” I nod slowly, a sullen look on my face.
“Oh, Mr. Fungus it’s time to switch classes.” A random kid in my class calls. My mom says it’s rude to call someone random. I don’t even care. She and I don’t exactly see eye to eye. On anything.
I gather my books and find the P.E. room. At my school, we don’t have a girls locker room where we can change our clothes. We just go to P.E. in our regular clothes. I walk in and sit down on the dusty gym floor.
“Honestly, does this school even have a janitor?” One kid whispers to the kid next to him. They both start laughing. I don’t see what’s so funny. It’s really just disgusting. Mr. Jacobs, the P.E. teacher walks in, hands on his hips. Our first unit will be wrestling for the boys and gymnastics for the girls. There is a collective groan, with a few exclamations of excitement mixed in.
A huge sheet drops in the exact middle of the room. A few kids start to whisper, but Mr. Jacobs cuts them off.
“Girls stay here, boys follow me.” He strutted into the other half of the gym, all of the boys already ahead of him. He starts talking to all of the boys in a voice so loud, I can hear him perfectly without even trying to.
“Okay, boys today you’re going to learn the why. Why are we wrestling? You might all be asking yourselves that. Well, today you are no longer boys. Now you are strong men who fight!” Someone snorts and we all start laughing. This is probably the weirdest P.E. speech I’ve ever heard in my life! He starts talking again.
“For the next three weeks, you men will be learning the exact art of wrestling.” I can’t contain myself any longer. I start laughing so hard, I have to go to the hallway to get a drink. I guess I’ve never heard anyone make wrestling sound like dancing.
After I come back in, the sheet is gone and everyone is back to their original seats.
“Clearly, some of us can’t handle fun activities like that. Instead, we’re just going to play tag. Oh yes, just tag,” Everyone starts complaining. Maddy Anderson shoots me a look. I shrug my shoulders at her.
After a long quarrel, Pete Rover and Maya Tibbolt are ‘it’. I do the same thing I always do when playing any sort of tagging game. I walk laps around the gym. Finally, P.E. is over.
The rest of my morning classes are a blur, just organizing and learning names until lunch.
When the bell finally rings for lunch, I sit at a table where Macie and Carlie are deep in conversation. I slowly eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, waiting for either of them to acknowledge me.
Finally, Macie does. She smiles at me. Carly waves awkwardly. I can’t really blame her. She’s new, and it’s kind of obvious that I don’t like her.
“So,” Macie says, “How was your first class?” I smile, buying myself some time to think.
“Well, I had P.E. and Mr. Jacobs was giving the boys some stupid speech-” I pause and laugh awkwardly,” And I started laughing so hard!” Both Carlie and Macie stare at me, blink a few times, and start whispering. I storm away. If Macie wants a new best friend, she can have one. Oh great. I officially have no friends.
My afternoon classes are the same as the morning. Finally, the bell rings and I can leave. As I am walking out of the building, Macie grabs my arm.
Look, I’m sorry about what happened at lunch. I felt bad for Carlie, you know because she was new. She’s actually really fun, and nice too! I was hoping that maybe all three of us could be friends?” My first reaction was to yell at her and say no. But when I saw the look on her face, I sighed and nodded. If this is what it takes to regain my friendship with Macie, then I’m willing to do it. Macie smiles at me and runs ahead to catch up with Carlie. Things aren’t going to be the way they used to be, but I think I can be okay with that.