“How was work?” Momma asked Mr. Steve at dinner.
“Noisy,” Mr. Steve said. “I don’t know if I’d rather work with children or adults. How was your day?”
“It was all right,” Momma said. “But we stayed in all day watching TV.” Momma looked at me.
“Hey, my idea of a good TV day is not Blue’s Clues, Dora, Mickey Mouse, and Max & Ruby,” I said.
“Let me guess,” Mr. Steve said tickling Megan. “Megan had the remote.”
“Yes,” Jaci, Momma, and I said.
Mr. Steve laughed.
“What time did the cable guy get here?” Mr. Steve asked. “Late, I guess?”
“Nope, he came right on time,” Momma said.
“Natalie practically stalked him,” Jaci joked.
I laughed. That’s something Abby would say not Jaci.
“Does Darcy have competition?” Mr. Steve joked.
“No!” I cried. “He said I reminded him of his little sister, and he’s probably too old for me.”
“Sulking?” Mr. Steve joked.
“Nope,” I said. “He’s more like a big brother.”
Momma started coughing like crazy.
“Did something go down the wrong pipe?” Mr. Steve asked patting Momma’s back.
“Um, sure,” Momma said taking a sip of water.
“You ok?” I asked.
“Just fine,” Momma said. “So what should we watch tonight?”
I woke up feeling cold. I opened my eyes and found that half my body was jammed into the refrigerator. I quickly got out of the fridge. I was ending up in the strangest places.
“Morning, Natalie,” Jaci yawned. “Ready for your first day of school?”
The past week had been boring. Momma had tried to get me to go out and go sightseeing, but I didn’t feel like it. I was feeling homesick. I wanted to go back to Florida. I wanted to explore the Mohawk Trail with Darcy, not the Empire State Building.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I sighed.
“It makes me feel better that you’re going to an advanced school and not a regular public school,” Jaci said touching my arm that had been in the fridge. “Your arm is cold.”
She touched my other arm.
“I was looking in the fridge for something to eat,” I lied. Well maybe it wasn’t a lie. I could have been looking for something to eat. It wouldn’t be the first time I slept ate.
“Oh, I’ll make you some breakfast,” Jaci smiled. “How do you like your eggs?”
“Scrambled,” I said.
“I’m ready to face the world!” Megan screamed running into the kitchen.
“And how to you like your eggs?” Jaci smiled picking her up.
“Hard,” Megan smiled. I laughed.
“One hardboiled egg coming up,” Jaci said turning the stove on. I went to go get dressed.
“Morning, Natalie,” Momma said. “Natalie, it’s going to be eighty degrees today. I’m sorry but you’re going to have to wear a short sleeve shirt.”
I sighed and walked back into my room and changed my shirt.
“Morning,” Mr. Steve said rushing from his bedroom.
“Natalie! I made you some bacon too,” Jaci said putting the plate on the counter.
“Thanks,” I said. I said grace and started eating.
“And here’s your hardboiled egg,” Jaci said putting another plate on the counter. “I started peeling for you.”
“Thank you,” Megan smiled. “Thank you God. Amen.”
“You better hurry up if I’m going to give you a ride to school,” Mr. Steve said after he finished his milk. I put my last little bit of egg in my mouth and got my backpack.
“Have a wonderful day!” Jaci smiled.
I huffed. Not likely.
“Be good,” Mr. Steve said when he dropped me off.
I didn’t answer him. I just walked into the school and didn’t look back.
There was a line to get your school schedule. I stood in line for fifteen minutes. The girl in front of me did not want to have gym first and got into a fight with the lady who was handing out the schedules.
“Name,” The lady at the front desk said flatly.
“Natalie Zoey Matthews. Grade Eight,” I said.
The woman found my schedule and handed it to me.
“Thank you,” I smiled. The woman looked shocked. I stood off to the side to see what my first class was. Advanced Math. Well I might as well get it out of the way.
It took me ten minutes to find Mrs. Roberts Advanced Class. It was in the front of the school by the main office. I thought that 10B would be in the back of the school but the ones and twos were in the back of the school. Well at least I knew were history class was.
I let a girl go before me into class. As she passed me I noticed she was quite pregnant. She couldn’t be any older than me. I actually felt sorry for her.
She turned towards me. The look on her face was sad and lonely. She had soft long silky red hair. Her grey eyes were hard but I saw some softness and hurt in them……….and maybe a little bit of beauty in them.
“Excuse me,” She said quietly. She walked towards the back of the class.
Daddy, you better be right about finding heaven everywhere.
“What’s on your arms, polka dots?” A girl with silky blonde hair laughed.
“It’s called Psoriasis,” I snapped. “Don’t worry. You can’t catch it.”
I walked to the back of the class and sat next to the girl.
She looked at me but didn’t make eye contact. She looked almost uncomfortable. She moved around in the chair. I told myself she was just uncomfortable in the chair.
“Hi, my name is Natalie,” I said offering my hand. She didn’t even look at me. I couldn’t tell if she heard me or not.
“Hi, I’m Natalie,” I said louder still offering my hand. She looked at my feet and turned away. I sighed and opened my math book.
I looked over at her one more time. Her elbow slowly knocked her pencil over the other side of her desk. She noticed that her pencil wasn’t on her desk and started to freak out.
“My pencil!” She cried. “Pencil!”
She was the most distressed and desperate person I’ve ever seen and it was all over a pencil. I got up and picked up her pencil.
“Thank you,” She said with some trouble. Relief washed over her face.
“Welcome,” I shrugged. She looked at the pencil with the most admiration in the world. The pencil was almost down the the eraser. It was perfectly shaped and just waiting to be broken. There was no way she could possibly use this pencil to write anything down. She then did something that shocked me. She licked the pencil. She then took another pencil out of her backpack and started to doddle.
Mrs. Roberts walked into the classroom. She walked to the back and put her hand on the girl’s shoulder. She pulled away quickly.
“Noel, are you doing ok?” Mrs. Roberts asked.
“You all right,” I stuttered. Mrs. Roberts smiled.
“If anybody gives you any trouble you know you can come to me,” Mrs. Roberts said. Noel didn’t respond to her but Mrs. Roberts seemed satisfied.
“You must be my new student,” Mrs. Roberts smiled. “Welcome.”
I smiled. Mrs. Roberts noticed my rashes but she didn’t say anything.
“Welcome to advanced eight grade math,” Mrs. Roberts said when she got back to the front of the class.
I stole one more look at at Noel and then paid attention to what Mrs. Roberts was saying.
“How was school?” Mr. Steve asked when he picked me up.
“All right, I guess,” I said. The rest of the day went fine. I didn’t see Noel the rest of the day but that didn’t mean she wasn’t on my mind.
“Make any new friends?” Mr. Steve asked.
“Nope,” I answered.
“Well, you’re a very likeable girl. I’m sure you’ll make some friends soon,” Mr. Steve said.
“Whatever you say,” I mumbled.
“People teased you didn’t they?” Mr. Steve asked.
“One girl called me polka dots,” I said. “But its ok.”
Mr. Steve sighed as we pulled up into the parking garage.
“Natalie,” Mr. Steve started but I walked out the car.