The First Day Of School

By Danny Paster • April 8, 2012

"Excuse me, but what's your name?

The beautiful girl who Johnny had been stealing looks at all too frequently and blatantly throughout lunch from halfway across the cafeteria looked up at him from her seated position at her table. She had been eating with two other girls, but they had both just vacated the table for some reason – maybe it was divine intervention – and Johnny had jumped at the chance.

From his own table, he had noticed her walk in with her friends, and had halted mid-conversation with his, as his mouth had immediately dropped and hung slightly agape, and his eyes had trailed her as if attracted by a magnet, following her until she had sat down at a table.

That was thirty minutes ago, but to Johnny it felt like a few hours, as his eyes had been repeatedly darting from his friends who he was sitting with back to her, dividing his time into two different worlds, and thus seemingly multiplying it as well. The air of mystery that had surrounded such a beautiful creature had captured Johnny’s mind, and even when his eyes weren’t fixed on her, his mind was.

He was a sophomore in high school now; still a lowly dreg in the hierarchy of high school seniority and popularity, but he didn’t care. He was no longer a freshman, the true bottom of the totem pole, and to Johnny that meant he and his friends were now kings. He knew they really weren’t, but it still gave him some satisfaction to know that he could now look down upon and laugh at the wide eyed and nervous looking freshmen who now occupied the same social status that he himself had no less than a few months ago. It was the first day of school, and for everyone but freshmen and new students, it was an easy day.

But for those unfortunates, one false move, one slip of the hand, one incorrectly played hand of cards could mean spending the next four years of their adolescent and puberty-stricken lives alienated, bullied, picked on, or laughed at.

Johnny himself had seen it first hand; one of his friends the previous year on the first day of school had thought he was too cool for school, too good and tough for the well-worn and ancient rules of high school hierarchy that had been established as all powerful and unchanging since the dawn of high schools everywhere. He had been talking with a girl in the hallway and been knocked accidentally by an older student. Hoping to impress, he had turned around and yelled out, “Are you going to say excuse me?”

Well, it turned out that he had inadvertently decided to showcase his arrogance to just about the meanest junior in school, who had turned around and stared for a second, too confused by this puny little freshmen’s outburst to act immediately. After gawking for a few seconds however, he had gotten over it, and promptly walked back and punched Johnny’s friend in the stomach. As he leaned over, gasping for air, the kid who had punched him calmly and smilingly told him that he had just signed his abuse certificate for the next two years of his life.

This as evidence, today was a tense day for freshmen. The one who had ensnared Johnny’s mind however, seemed above these issues. Johnny knew she was a freshman because he didn’t recognize her or her two friends. She could have been the senior prom queen though, given the way she looked. And she didn’t carry herself like most girls in high school who looked as good as she did; she seemed to be aware of how she was perceived, but chose not to be cocky about it. It was like she knew how attractive she was, but at the same time didn’t care to flaunt it, as if she had more to offer.

As she stared up at Johnny, her eyes seemed to glitter innocently at his query. They were light blue, with just a splash of dark green – or was it the other way around? Johnny couldn’t quite tell, but whatever exact color they were, they were sure as hell beautiful. He stared into them for a second as she considered him, and time seemed to stretch on forever in that moment as he became lost in them. When she spoke, he barely even heard her words.

“Uhm…I’m Ashley…Ashley Shane” she said, unsure if she should have offered her last name. “What’s your name?”

Johnny shook himself mentally, though he immediately noticed he had done it physically a bit as well, and coughed and covered his mouth in an attempt to cover it up. She smiled lightly, as if she knew exactly what had happened. It wasn’t an arrogant smile; it was…a genuine smile. And add to that beautiful.

As Johnny freed his eyes from the spell of hers, he took notice of the rest of her face, and his breath was immediately lost. He coughed again as he attempted to find it, this time in earnest, but quickly regained himself as her smile widened. “I’m…I’m Johnny,” he said, searching frantically in his head for the good sense and charm that normally came out in these types of situations. They seemed to have deserted him at the moment however, as he took stock of the rest of her face.

Her eyes were by far the most amazing feature on it, but this did not detract from the obvious gorgeousness of her other features. Her hair was somewhere between brown and blonde and fell just below her shoulders, and the left side seemed to cover her face just a bit more than the right. Her nose, more extraordinarily cute than beautiful, was petite and round at the end, and seemed to be in perfect proportion to the rest of her face. Her eyebrows were pencil thin, but somehow looked as though they had the potential to be quite expressive if need be. Her smile hadn’t widened enough yet so that Johnny could see her teeth, but somehow he knew they would be as white as pearls, and probably just as perfect. “Johnny Carpenter,” he said, reciprocating her action of giving a last name.

Johnny himself was no bad looking guy. Regarded by some girls as the best looking in their grade, he had short brown hair that he let grow out for a few months or so at a time before buzzing it short again. It was more near the beginning of this process now, and it rested about an inch over his dark brown eyes. His nose was straight and average size, situated above a mouth with an award winning smile that he flashed a lot out of pure instinct, simply because he genuinely liked to smile, not because of the attention it got him from girls. Speaking of which, Johnny was no amateur when it came to talking to. But he wasn’t the classic attractive, popular, cocky high school guy.

Yeah, he knew he was good looking, and sometimes it came in handy. But really he was a closet romantic, and had always known he would enjoy a passionate kiss with someone he cared about more so than an exciting sexual act with someone he didn’t.

He got over the initial shock of seeing her up close and in person, this seemingly angelic girl who had captured his attention from the moment he had seen her, and his senses seemed to return to him. But he still couldn’t quite believe how attractive she was. “Do you mind if I sit?” he asked, not moving until she spoke.

“Uh…I suppose not,” Ashley said, unsure of what was happening.

Johnny gratefully took a seat next to her, not removing his eyes from her while he did so. “So do you believe in love at first sight?” he asked with a small grin.

Ashley almost snorted. Now she knew. “Why, are you going to say you’re in love with me?”

“What? No,” Johnny said, feigning a look of surprise on his face. “I’m in love with this table. Once I saw it, I just had to come sit at it. You just happened to be sitting here as well,” he said with a cheeky grin.

Ashley laughed. She didn’t mind what was going on, and was never really a tease, but decided to put his ego in check some. “Oh, okay. So you won’t mind if I leave then?”

Johnny’s charm seemed to have no answer readily available to this, and he was a bit taken aback. “Oh, uh…no…I mean yes…”

Ashley laughed humoredly again, amused at how flustered he became. “Tell you what; I won’t leave – yet – if you tell me why you really came over here.”

Johnny laughed himself. This was one gutsy freshman! She seemed to know she had him in control, but at the same time, wasn’t abusing that power. Gutsy and humble…along with gorgeous. And Johnny could sense, just from their few brief interactions, as well as the aura that seemed to hover around her, that her looks were really just the surface of more amazing things that lay inside. “Alright. You win. I guess I don’t really love this table. I came over to talk to you,” he said honestly.

Ashley had expected this, but she still laughed at his honesty. “Oh? And why did you come talk to me?”

“Well, because you look like you have a beautiful personality,” he said.

Ashley was not expecting this. She had perhaps expected the word beautiful, or some other word relative to it, in some type of context, not because she knew she was, but because of how he had approached her. But his words surprised her a bit, and she may have let it show a little on her expression. “Oh, well…thank you. I think it’s okay,” she said, regaining herself.

Johnny laughed. “I think it’s more than okay,” he said. “Mine’s just okay,” he continued jokingly. “But would you want to…maybe…let my personality go out on a date with yours?” he asked, perhaps a bit too hopefully.

Ashley laughed again in surprise. “Uhm…I don’t think so,” she said, though with a slight smile.

Johnny’s heart fell. “Can I ask why?”

“Well for one thing, I don’t know you,” Ashley said.

“Sure you do. I’m Johnny. I have lunch this period and math next period. What about you?”

“Uhm…what about me what?

“What do you have next period?”

“Uh…” she seemed unsure of why he was asking. “English?” she said, as if questioning why it mattered.

“Oh, cool. Who’s your teacher?”

“Trager, I think my schedule said.”

“Oh, awesome! I had her last year, she’s really cool. You’ll like her. But there; now we know a bit more about each other. So will you go out with me?”

Ashley laughed. “I don’t think so,” she said kindly, still amused by what was taking place. “That’s not the way I’d want to be asked out,” she said, though she hadn’t minded it in the slightest. She saw her friends returning from the bathroom together. Girls always had to go to the bathroom in two’s at least. Ashley had opted to stay and finish her food alone, a bold move for a freshman on the first day of school. But she didn’t mind sitting by herself.

But now she saw them giggling from behind Johnny, and she smiled at him as she got up. “Sorry Johnny,” she said, making a point of saying his name. “I see my friends. I have to go,” she said, raising her eyebrows and smiling one last time before she did. She took her tray with her, thinking how she had enjoyed her first lunch in high school.

Johnny’s eyes followed her as she left the cafeteria, just as they had when she had entered. Then his mind went to work, and he got up and returned to his own table. His friends sniggered at him as he approached, having seen her leave him. “Ooooh, shut down by a freshman,” one of them teased.

Johnny laughed it off. “Ah, shut up Matt,” he said as he shoved him playfully. “Hey Franklin, you said you had math sixth period?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Who’s your teacher?”

“Uhm…” Franklin took out his schedule and looked it over. “Wilson. Why?”

“Awesome! We have class together.”

“Oh, sweet dude! Let’s get there early and get good seats. And by that I mean in the back,” he said with a laugh.

“Sure, whatever,” Johnny said, brushing it off. “But listen; do you remember when you wanted to get out of that test last year, and so you gave the nurse my cell phone number and had me pretend to be your dad and tell her that you sometimes get migraines and have to lie down for an hour or two?”

“Yeah…” Franklin said slowly.

“You remember saying you owed me one?”

“Uhhuh…” he said slowly again.

Johnny grinned. “OK, well it’s time I cashed in on that.”

Franklin groaned. “I’m not going to like this, am I?”

Johnny flashed another grin. “I don’t think so, no. So here’s what I’m thinking…”

The bell rang for the next period, and then again a few minutes later to signal the start of it, and the hallways were soon empty. The class Johnny and Franklin were supposed to be in was missing them at the moment, something their teacher soon found out when calling roll.

“Baker?”

“Here.”

“Branson?”

“Here.”

“Carpenter?” The teacher looked up from the attendance sheet and around the room. “Carpenter?” she said again.

As if on cue, the slightly cracked door burst open, and Johnny and Franklin fell through, the latter trapped in a headlock by the former, struggling intensely.

“Oh!” the teacher exclaimed in surprise, but it soon turned to anger. “Stop this at once you two!” she practically screamed.

They stopped almost immediately, with Johnny letting Franklin out of the headlock, and the two stood looking at their teacher. She seemed surprised that they had listened to her so quickly. “Uhm…good. That’s better. Now, I’m going to have to send you two to the principal’s office.”

“Ah, shoot,” Johnny said.

“That’s right. Now go, and don’t you two so much as look at each other on the way there.”

“Yes, mam,” Franklin said, and without pause, the two turned and exited the room, shutting the door behind them. They walked to the principal’s office and explained to the secretary what had happened, then took a seat and waited to be seen.

After a few minutes, Johnny was called in first. “Well, well, Mr. Carpenter,” Principal Simmons said when Johnny entered and sat down. “Didn’t take long for you to end up in here, did it? I had to wait a few months last year as I recall, but it seems you couldn’t even wait until the second day to grace me with your presence this year.”

“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Right, I’m sure it won’t. I thought you and Franklin were good friends, no? What’s this about you fighting?”

“We are good friends. It was just a childish argument. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” Johnny repeated.

“Uhhuh. Well why -.” Just then he was interrupted by a blood curling yell from outside the door.

“AHHHH!!!” Franklin’s voice sounded from just outside.

Puzzled and looking slightly worried, Principal Simmons rose from his chair. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” He strode past Johnny and out the door, shutting it behind him. Johnny sprang up and went behind his desk, opening the first drawer and not even having to rummage through it before he saw what he was looking for. He grabbed it and pocketed it, returning to his seat on the other side of the desk.

Not a few seconds later, Principal Simmons returned, hauling Franklin in with him. He plopped down in the seat next to Johnny, and Principal Simmons returned to his own chair behind the desk, eyeing the two of them suspiciously before speaking. “It appears Mr. Lange here had a sudden, momentary, and extremely painful stomach pain he felt we all needed to be made aware of. He assures me it’s gone now though.”

The two stared impassively back at him from across the desk as he eyed them shrewdly. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Uhm…nothing. Really, I had this weird pain for a second and it just surprised me is all. I’m sorry I yelled,” Franklin said. “But Johnny probably already told you, we’re good friends, we just got into a stupid argument over something. We’re sorry, it won’t happen again, I promise,” he said, inadvertently mimicking Johnny’s earlier words.

Principal Simmons continued to eye them both, before grunting in frustration. “Whatever. I don’t have time for this. Get back to class. And shut the door on your way out. If I see either of you back here all semester, you’re not going to like it. Now go.”

The two quickly got up and exited the office.

When they reached the hallway, Johnny took out what he had snagged from one pocket and pulled a pen out from his other. He quickly scribbled some writing on the former, and then handed it to Franklin. “Good job,” he said with a smirk and a laugh. “Okay, she’s in Mrs. Trager’s classroom. You remember which one that is?”

Franklin snorted. “Of course I remember. It’s where you got sent to Mr. Simmons’ office for spitting a spitball at me last year.”

Johnny laughed at the memory. “Oh yeah, I had forgotten about that. Anyways, you know what to do. I’ll see you back in class.” The two exchanged high fives and then parted, going separate ways.

A few minutes later, Franklin knocked on the door to Mrs. Trager’s class and then entered, enjoying the inquisitive look on all the freshmen’s faces as they looked up to see who it was. “Hey Mrs. Trager,” he said.

“Hello Franklin. What can I help you with?”

“I have study hall this period and volunteered to be the office aide. They sent me down with a pass for…” He glanced at the hall pass his best friend had procured from their principal’s desk. “Ashley Shane?” he said as he glanced around the room.

Ashley’s head perked up in surprise, as she wondered why she could possibly be being called to the office on the first day of school.

Mrs. Trager it seemed had not gotten a chance to remember everyone’s name yet. “Ashley…” she called out, to which Ashley raised her hand. Franklin walked the pass over and handed it to her, then turned and left the room.

Ashley eyed the pass curiously before getting up and following in Franklin’s wake. She closed the door behind her, and was surprised to see an empty hallway. He seemed to have vanished. Confused, she looked at the pass she had been given again. Ashley Shane it said under the ‘name’ section. Room 105 it said under the ‘where to’ section.

A bit puzzled, she started down the hallway towards where she thought the room was. She hadn’t been in school long enough to know how to get to the room, and so it took her a few minutes to locate it.

When she did, she opened the door and went in. She was surprised to see it was an empty classroom; empty that is, except for the lone figure kneeling on one knee a few feet in front of her, holding a freshly picked violet in his mouth.

Johnny had waited until a few minutes after the hallways had cleared to stage his fight with Franklin, during which time he had scanned the school until he found an empty classroom, of which there was always a few during any given period. He had gone outside and picked a flower from the school’s front display while Franklin had been off delivering the forged note (although since the teacher hadn’t even looked at it, it wasn’t really forged, as it really was calling Ashley to room 105). And then he had waited.

Ashley couldn’t quite believe what she was looking at, and squinted her eyes with a bit of a quizzical look on her face before registering what was going on. When she did, her puzzlement turned swiftly into joy, and she laughed out whole heartedly and smiled largely, finally revealing the full potential of her smile. It caused Johnny now to be surprised; it was even more beautiful than he had imagined.

He took the flower from his mouth and held it out in his hand to her, offering it out. “How about now?” he said, smiling, this time inadvertently as well as genuinely.

Ashley felt her heart flutter, and she enjoyed the feeling. She answered with her smile that was larger now than Johnny’s. “Okay,” she said happily, accepting the flower.

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