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Just Remember Me (part 1)
It’s not easy being the new girl. Always teased, always made fun of, always constantly stared at by people trying to figure out what’s wrong with you. I hate being the new kid! But it happens every 3 years. I move often, but my parents aren’t in the military. This year, my 13th year, my freshman year, I moved to Stoneville, Tennessee. I’ve never been to Tennessee. I go to Stoneville High now; started last week. It’s even worse since I’m the one and only extra smart one this time. I have a feeling I’m gonna hate it here. I’m Nike Gonzalez, and this is my story...
RRRIIIINNNNNNGGGGGG!!! The bell rang. My soon-to-turn-awful day has begun. It’s my first day at Stoneville High, and its worst ‘cause I’m a freshman. Fresh meat, right? Double whammy.
“Move outta my way fresh meat,” says some sophomore bustling down the halls. She knocks me over. All my books fall out of my hands. When I reach to pick them up, some really tall kid, either a junior or a senior, comes and pushes my face towards the ground. A friend comes to help. I feel a pen or marker touch my sensitive skin. They had written F’s all over my arm.
This was strange to me, but some freshman boy who looked slightly younger than me helped me back up and says, “Cool! You have more F’s than any other freshman!” What did he think; this was a game? Apparently because when the same seniors who had tackled me wrote on another kid, the freshman-looking girl said “Thanks!”
Never at my old school had people been grateful for bullies. Then when another freshman girl came up to me and said “cool,” I responded, “What do you mean cool? They wrote all over me!”
“It’s a game here,” she says. “A competition between us freshman and it’s just plain fun for the seniors.”
“It’s unethical!” I shout.
“No, it’s fun!” she insists. “I’m Rosie. I’m a freshman. You must be new.”
“Yes, I am,” I respond. “I just moved here from Yorkville, Ohio.”
“Cool. Hey! You have my homeroom!” says Rosie, noticing my schedule. “Here, I’ll show you where it is!”
I followed Rosie down the hall. She had a way of making the space for both of us to get through the crowded hallway. I wondered how she knew where all these classrooms were. She was a freshman just like me. Then it occurred to me that they had a freshman orientation while I was still in Ohio. Right then I realized, with a whole locker worth of stuff in my hands, that I needed to pay a visit to my new locker.
“Hey, do you happen to know where locker 603 is?” I finally ask her.
“Yeah, that’s right by mine! I’m locker 602,” she explained. “I think I’m right under you. Not until she said did I realize the lockers were one on top of the other. I’m used to the entire column being one locker. I could tell now that we’d have to make a locker schedule.
As Rosie led me to our locker space, 6 more seniors wrote F’s on us. I realized it was kinda fun. Rosie and I compared how many F’s we had on us. We both had 12. But when we get to our locker, I realize that not all of it is fun. There is a hole in the wall; a secret passageway of some sort. A sophomore (you could tell because of his badge) tall enough to be a senior shoved us into the tiny space and put both me and Rosie’s books combined in front of the entry. This must’ve been a conspiracy because the light on the other side of the tunnel turned black. We were trapped; and I highly doubt they were joking.
RRRIIINNNNNGGGG!!! The bell rang again. “The late bell,” Rosie explained. “We’re late for homeroom.”
I heard footsteps; someone was coming. The books that blocked our way out were taken off by whom I thought to be the principal. She was the principal; Rosie told me. We crawled out of our hole and into the light of the empty hallway.
“What happened here?” asks the principal, whose name, according to her nametag, is Mrs. Junesday.
“Well, uh, these uh,” I stutter. I’m kind of shy. I hate meeting new people.
Rosie took over. “These two sophomores shoved us both into this hole and we couldn’t get out. They just left, and they were pretty violent with it. I highly doubt they were kidding.” Finally! Someone else who says “highly doubt.” At my old schools, I was the only one.
“Yeah. Now we’re late and we haven’t even been to our lockers,” I fill in.
“Well, can you describe what they look like?” Mrs. Junesday inquired.
“Ya, one had glasses and the other had brown hair. They were tall enough to be seniors!” Rosie explained.
“And the one with brown hair had braces. The one with glasses had a green and black hooded sweatshirt on,” I once again fill in.
“Ah, Jake and Greg, the two delinquents,” Mrs. Junesday says. “Well I’d better write you a late pass and escort you to homeroom.”
“But we haven’t been to our lockers!” Rosie exclaimed.
“Oh, right, yes. Where are your lockers?” she asked.
“I’m locker 602 and she’s locker 603,” Rosie told the principal. “By the way, locker 603, what’s your name?”
“Nike. Nike Gonzalez,” I say.
“Oh, Nike! Our new student! Looks like you and Rosie are locker buddies,” she says as we arrive at our lockers. Mrs. Junesday, like all adults, continually talked to us on our way to homeroom. We’re in someone named Ms. Yershi (pronounced ‘year- shy’) class.
“Sorry Ms. Yershi, I found these two shoved in a hole,” explains Mrs. Junesday. She then leaves.
“Um, Nike Gonzalez and Rosalina Serpenta?” Ms. Yershi questions.
“Yes,” Rosie says. She always speaks for me. I enjoy that, since I hate talking to new people.
“Well we were just in the middle of introducing ourselves and telling something about ourselves,” she explains. “Nike, why don’t you go first?”
“Um, uh, well,” I got tongue tied. I gulped. A whole audience of people were staring at me, waiting for me to screw everything up or say something that could be used against me. “Well, my name is Nike Gonzalez and I just moved here from Yorkville, Ohio. I was always the smartest in my class and I was recently shoved into a hole by sophomores.”
“Nike? As in the shoe?” some kid asked.
“No, Nike as in the goddess of victory,” I explain. I was totally embarrassed. Someone had just compared me to a shoe!
I sat down in one of the empty desks on the west side of the room near the teacher’s desk. I see why that entire row was empty. All these kids liked to do was goof off and cause mischief. It was like a jungle, a madhouse! I couldn’t stand it! My old schools weren’t the best; but at least they weren’t filled with juvenile delinquents.
Rosie introduced herself. She’s just like me. The smartest in her class. She was apparently the valedictorian of her 8th grade graduating class. Finally, I meet someone who’s like me. I’m not an outcast anymore!
I felt like people were laughing at me. I shrank down in my seat. They were laughing at my name, laughing at my smarts, and/or laughing at the fact I was shoved in a hole. I hate people laughing at me. Rosie came and sat down in front of me.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “They aren’t laughing at you. They’re still laughing at that corny joke from orientation.” That made me feel better. Like less of a buffoon.
“Ok,” says I.
“What’s wrong? Are you shy?” she ponders. “You don’t have to be. We’re all the same here. We’re all just getting used to each other.”
“Well, it’s just that I just moved here and I’m all worried about making a fool of myself,” I tell her. “I just don’t feel comfortable. I’m not gonna make any friends here; I just know it!”
“Well you’ve already made one,” she said.
“Thanks,” I thank. I feel proud. It’s my first day and I’ve already made a friend. That’s never happened. Rosie’s a good friend.
The rest of the morning was boring. Lunch, well, I just got written on some more. No one else shoved me and Rosie into a hole or a small space. I met new teachers.
The first day is always the worst. I guessed it would get better tomorrow. I was completely and utterly wrong. My next day was even worse.
Remember how I got shoed into a secret passageway yesterday? Well today, those same sophomores shoved Rosie and I right back through the tunnel, we didn’t get stuck though. They allowed us to crawl through the tunnel to a small oasis. Then they plastered up the hole in the wall and put our books in front of thee plastered up wall. No one found us until lunch time when the security guard was on his patrol. Then WE got in trouble and got a week’s detention because we were trapped in the oasis with no way out. I’ve never gotten a detention in my life and all the sudden I get a week’s worth of detention on my SECOND day of school? It’s completely unethical! I knew I’d hate this school. At least Rosie was there with me. I think for the first time in my school career, I’m going to have a best friend.
While we’re sitting in the detention room after school, Rosie and I start to talk a little. Well, a little more.
“So what was it like in your old school?” she asked me.
“Which one?” I respond.
“You’ve been to more than one other one?” she questions.
“Yeah. I was in Midfield, California and I went to Midfield Elementary for 3 years,” I explain. “Then when I was about to be in 3rd grade, we moved to Jamestown, Virginia. Right before I entered 6th grade, we moved to Yorkville, Ohio. Now I’m here as a freshman.”
“You move a lot,” she notes. “Are your parents in the military?”
“No. We just move a lot,” I say. “My mom wants me in the best possible public school in the nation.”
“It must be tough moving,” she says. “Never staying in one place for longer than 3 years.”
“That’s the main reason why I’ve never had a friend. I knew I wouldn’t be able to let them go when I moved again,” I tell her. I’ve never told anyone something that personal. I guess I just felt that I could trust her and that she may be my friend forever. I should’ve known I’d end up never seeing her again. I never try to make friends for a reason. I despise depressing moments. When I would have to say good bye to another set of friends, it would just hurt too much.
“Tough,” Rosie says again.
“Enough about me,” I tried to end this conversation as soon as possible. “What are you like?”
“Well, I pretty much said the gist of it in homeroom yesterday,” she says. “There’d nothing much to me. I’m smart and talented; almost everyone hates me because I’m so smart. But then again, they try to take advantage of me because I’m so nice and they know I’ll help them or do their homework for them. I hate people that try to take advantage of me! I just want to be like everyone else! Average.”
“Why would you want to be average when its fun being extraordinary?” I joke.
“You’ve got a point Nike,” Rosie laughed.
Suddenly and unexpectedly someone talks to me from across the room. “Hey Nike!” says a boy who’s name I later figure out is Alex. “What sizes do you come in?”
“Yeah! What stores can I find you in Nike?!” his friend chimes in.
Then a third voice comes and says, “Don’t you belong on some lame-o’s feet? Only lame people wear Nike’s!”
I started to cry. I only had one weak spot and those three boys had just nailed it. I hated being referred to as a shoe. Everyone has always compared me to Nike shoes. I’m not a shoe! I hate it when people say I am and make fun of my name like that. My name means “victory” not “shoe.”
“You know what Alex? Why don’t you just leave her alone?” Rosie defends me. I’d never had anyone do that for me before. “Her name means ‘victory.’ Why don’t you just go shove yourself into a hole and leave me and my friend alone.”
“You’re only sticking up for her ‘cause she’s the only friend you’ve ever had!” Alex teased. “If you didn’t stick up for people who don’t deserve to be stuck up for maybe you wouldn’t be friendless. And all the people you have stuck up for have turned out to hate you, too. So why don’t you go shove yourself under a rock!”
Rosie just stood there stunned. She then slumped down into her desk and wept for almost 25 minutes. When she was almost out of water in her body to make tears, she turned to me.
“Nike, you’re my friend right?” Rosie sniffed.
“Well of course,” I still had a tear or two in my eyes myself.
“No really,” she replied. “Everyone has always told me that, but they never meant it.”
“Well I’m not everyone else and I think I told you that earlier,” I say to her. “I’m your friend because you’re the only person who has ever stood up for me. I really appreciate that.”
“You mean it?” she inquires. She wasn’t so sure if she should believe me or not.
“Of course,” I promise.
When I get home, things don’t go so well for me. The yelling started as soon as I walked through the front door.
“Nike Nicole Gonzalez!” yells my mother, storming towards me. “What’s this I hear of you getting detention?” My mom had emigrated here from Spain when she was little; but she still had that Spanish accent. She talks fast. But she talks extra fat when she’s upset with me.
“Mother, you don’t understand-” I begin.
“Understand what exactly?” she interrupts. “I understand perfectly! You got detention on your second day at a new school! You’ve never gotten detention in your life and you blow it all at a brand new school!”
“But ma-” I say.
“‘But ma’ nothing Nike!” she yells. “Now do you care to explain yourself?” I’ve been trying to this whole time, but she kept interrupting. I don’t dare tell her this, for I fear I will be in even more trouble than before.
“Just like yesterday, these two sophomore kids shoved us into this hole and blocked the exit,” I explain. “They plastered up the hole this time so it would look like there was no passageway there. We were trapped in this fantasy oasis until lunch. Rosie seems to know these guys because the guys were there with us. They made fun of her; as if they already knew her weak spot. That’s why they keep picking on us. Neither the vice principal nor the principal would give us a chance to explain. They just thought we were cutting class. It’s not me and Rosie’s fault we got a week’s detention!”
“A week?” questions my mom. “Well that’s unethical!”
“That’s what I said!” I exclaim.
“Well, I’m going up to your school tomorrow to have an audience with the principal!” she says as she marches off. I could hear her mumbling under her breath. “Give my daughter detention for a week without even bothering to figure out the situation. It’s unethical! Well I’m just gonna have a little chat with that principal.”
At least she believed me. Then again, why wouldn’t she? I’ve never lied to her before, so why would I now? It was the truth. This was most definitely the worst school I’ve been to in my entire life. Why would I want to stay? I just wish my mother would move us to another state right now! Before Rosie gets a chance to be my best friend, I want to move. I have the slightest feeling my life at this school will just get worse and worse. I was wrong again. The next day was better; mainly because my mom did what she said she’d do. She got the school to revoke my detentions and Rosie’s too. On this day, no one shoved us into lockers or tight spaces. I felt better, as if I were going to make it through the year.
And I did. Sure there were a few rough spots now and again, but aren’t there always? For the first time in my whole 9 years of school life, I felt normal. I didn’t feel like such an outcast compared to everyone because I knew there was always one person like me: Rosie.
Rosie and I became best friends. I tried to avoid that, but it was impossible. I didn’t want to be her best friend, in case I move again and all, but it was completely inevitable. We’re exactly alike! Sure, it’s great since I’m not the only one like me and there’s someone else- besides my mother- that I can hold a conversation with about, well, normal things. All this chatting and talking, we were sure to become best friends! We’re in every class together; we always sit by each other. But, for the first time in my life, I think I am going to enjoy having a best friend.
Rosie and I hung out a lot over the summer. Almost everyday as a matter of fact. Then I met this guy...
So Rosie and I were at the mall one day and this really cute guy walks by and “accidentally” runs into me. “Oh, I’m sorry. Hi, I’m Jess,” he said to me.
“Hi Jess,” says I in one of my small, shy voices. “I’m Nike.”
“I know,” Jess says. “Nike Gonzalez, right? You were in my homeroom last year. Well, freshman year.”
“Oh right,” I remember. “Jess McComb.”
“That’s right,” he states. “I’ve always noticed you. You’re smarts, your talents, and your keen ability to ignore everyone in the classroom when it’s way to loud to read.”
“Yup, that’s me,” I smile.
“You’re pretty cute,” Jess smirks.
“Thank you,” I say shyly.
“You wanna go out sometime?” he asks me.
“Really?” I’m completely taken by surprise. “You want to go with me?”
“Sure,” he says. “I mean, you look like you’re the most fun person at our school. All you need is to stop being bashful.”
“You mean it?” I question. I didn’t quite believe it. I’ve been the tricked person since 3rd grade. I wasn’t falling for this act just yet.
“Well of course I do,” he says without even a stutter.
“Ok, where?” I ask.
“How ‘bout the bowling alley?” he suggested. “A nice game of bowling for a first date.”
“Is this your way of asking me to be your girlfriend?” He nods. “Well then, I’ll see you at the bowling alley at 5:30 tomorrow.”
“I was hoping you’d meet me tonight,” Jess whines.
“Either tomorrow or never again,” I bargain.
“Fine,” he agrees. “Tomorrow. If you have any plan changes, text me or call or somethin’. 673-8054, ok?”
“Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow at 5:30,” I say. He walks away.
“Why didn’t you take the date tonight?” Rosie ponders.
“Because I’ve been tricked into going on fake dates before,” I tell her. “I’m not falling for it. I’m still going on this date but when tomorrow comes around, I’m going to change the plans right before the date. Then when he may humiliate me, his friends won’t be around.”
“Smart,” Rosie complimented.
“It took time,” I say.
The next day, I go on my date with Jess. I ended up changing the plans to skating at 6 rather than bowling at 5:30. It turns out he really did want to go on a real date. He really did like me. No jokes, no embarrassments, just a normal first date. It turns out that I actually really like Jess. We hung out as boyfriend and girlfriend and entered the next school year as sophomores. I probably shouldn’t say this or feel this at all, but I love Jess. That shouldn’t be since I’m probably going to end up moving again.