-- 10 Years Later --
“Ouch! Criminy, Sting! Watch where you’re going!”
“Sorry,” I said.
The blonde girl and her friend made it a point to step way away from me before continuing down the hall.
I grumbled to myself, Why do I have to be the one watching where I’m going all the time? Why don’t you watch where you’re going for once? It’s not my fault I zap everybody that—
“Hey! Watch it, Freak!”
Uh-oh. Football player. “Sorry,” I mumbled, backing away quickly from the big number 79 jersey. “I’m Sorry.”
No, I’m not sorry. I’m sick and tired of trying to keep a three-foot space around me all the time. Every day there are more kids in these halls. How on earth am I supposed to not bump into somebody? Fly over them?
Having escaped yet another confrontation, I spotted a clear area by the trophy case in the high school’s front lobby, made my way over, and leaned dejectedly against the wall out of harm’s way.
I chuckled and snorted. That’s a joke. I am harm’s way.
I decided to wait until the halls thinned out a little more, and stood there watching the traffic.
Of course, that was never a good thing for me, because all it did was remind me of how much of a loner I was. Everywhere I looked, guys were together in groups, or guys were with girls, or girls were with girls. I hardly ever saw anybody by themselves—unless they were running like mad to get to class somewhere. Most kids weren’t that crazy about class, and didn’t care if they were late or not. It was worth being a little late, if they could have just a few more seconds with their friends.
A couple of guys across the hall laughed and punched each other, showing off and pretending to fight.
I’d give anything to have a friend like that, I though miserably.
The main entrance doors flew open, and I watched as a tall boy came in holding a girl’s hand.
Or a friend like that, I thought. She was drop-dead gorgeous!
Of course, that was totally out of the question. When would a girl ever be interested in me? I’m way too skinny. My hair is almost orange and sticks out all over the place. My whole face is covered with freckles. I wear glasses.
Yeah, right. Not a chance.
Just then, three girls came stumbling through the front doors into the lobby. Two of them looked familiar. The other one I’d never seen before. The new one peeled off her coat and held it out to the side, complaining loudly to her friends.
“Look at it! It’s horrible! I’ll be the laughing stock of the whole debate.”
She was looking down at herself, and it became immediately clear what she was talking about. Her blue, silky-looking dress was a case study in static electricity. It was so stuck to her from shoulder to knee that it looked like it was soaking wet.
I straightened up. This looks interesting.
“Dad forgot the fabric softener,” she said. “Can you believe?”
“Your dad does the laundry?” one of them asked.
“Why didn’t you just change into something else?” the other one asked.
Both of the other girls were wearing jeans, I noticed.
“Because I was late. I didn’t notice in time.” She stomped one foot and tugged at the hem of her dress. “Dang it! I’ve been saving this dress all month for the big debate today.”
“You’re in trouble,” one of her friends said, as they made their way past me.
“Tell me about it.”
I gave them a ten-foot head start and followed.
“Maybe we could run out and buy a can of Static-Guard or something.”
“No time. The meet starts in twenty minutes. The other team is already here. Didn’t you see their bus?”
I could not take my eyes off that dress. It was so stuck to her and so wrinkled. I’d never seen so much static in one place. And suddenly, I had an irresistible urge to touch that dress. I justhad to touch that dress.
Gradually, I picked up my pace and closed the gap.
“Well, maybe you could keep your coat on.”
“Yeah. That’ll look good,” she answered sarcastically.
“At least until it’s your turn. Then you can just hide behind the podium.”
I could almost feel the static. The air was full of it, pulling me like a magnet, and my right hand slowly came out in front a few inches—wanting it, reaching for it. Hungry for it.
I’ve just got to touch that dress. Just one quick touch.
Before I knew what had happened, they stopped walking, and I ran right into her. My outstretched hand landed on her right hip with a huge ZZZZZAAPP!
“Ouwie!” she cried out, rubbing her backside with her hands. “What the heck?”
Wow, that felt good. What a rush! I just stood there like a zombie, looking down at my hand and grinning stupidly.
Then I realized what I’d just done. Oh my gosh. She thinks I was grabbing her.
My eyes came up just in time to get a split-second look at her glaring, angry face before her right hand landed on my left cheek with a responding SMACK, practically knocking me over.
By the time I regained my balance and recovered, she and her friends were storming off down the hall and muttering all manner of unpleasantries.
Several other kids had slowed down to see what had happened, and the snide remarks came fast and furious as they hurried by.
“Did you see that? Sting grabbed that girl and shocked her. Can you believe it?”
“What a freak. I don’t know why they don’t just send him away somewhere.”
“That’s the one I told you about. The human bug-zapper. Better watch out.”
“Yeah. He’s dangerous.”
“He’s a retard!”
I just stood there rooted in place and stared at the floor. I knew that with them moving and me not moving, all the witnesses would disappear before too long. Besides, it was nothing new. I’d heard it all before a hundred times.
With the halls gradually thinning, I made my way to my locker and my first period class without further incident. There, I slipped quietly into my desk in the back corner of the room—my usual place in all my classes—and slouched over my books as the last bell rang. Slouching was easy for a kid of six foot one, and I was real good at it.
That’s what I am. A big, ugly, slouchy, klutzy freak. I don’t know why I bother. Maybe they should lock me up somewhere.
Another miserable day ahead at Nowhere High School.