Jimmy's First Day of School

(by anonymous26, 08 January 2004)


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Jimmy's First Day of School

Ten-year-old Jimmy was incredibly nervous.  His parents had laid out his
clothes for him the night before, but now he was going through his
closet, trying to find a shirt that might fit in with what everyone else
was wearing.  The problem was, it was his first day in a new school, and
he didn't know what everyone else was wearing.  He and his family had
been in Maple Hills for over a month, but he had yet to meet any new
friends.  They had moved during the summer, and he hadn't even had a
chance to say goodbye to David and Nick and Colin and all his other
friends back home, because he only ever saw them at school.  Since
arriving at the new house, he'd mostly stayed inside, afraid of new
faces, not certain how to a ct around here.  Would kids in this town be
like kids at his old school?  Or would they be different?  He didn't
know.  He had seen some kids walking by his house in strange clothes
that he would have never dreamed of wearing at his old school, and now
Jimmy was deathly afraid that he would stick out like an elephant at an
antelope convention if he wore anything in his closet at all.

"Jim?" called his mother from downstairs.  "Are you ready yet?" 

He sighed nervously, pulling on a plain white polo shirt, deciding it
was best to be as plain as possible, and try not to stick out.  "Almost,
Mom!"

"Hurry up!" she called.  "You don't want to be late on your first day!"

Jimmy went downstairs, and then ran back up, grabbing the backpack he
had almost walked off without, throwing a notebook in it and hoping
there was still a pencil inside.  Then he ran back down and hopped in
the car.



"Jim Appleton?" his teacher called.

"Here" he responded.

He had the only white shirt in the entire school.  He was sure of it. 
Everything so far had been almost a completely alien experience.  He had
come to this strange school full of strange people, wearing strange
clothes and using strange body language.  He didn't know where anything
was or how anything worked.  All the other kids seemed to know where
they were going, and who to talk to; he kept having to ask adults where
he was supposed to be, because he was afraid to talk to the other kids.

He also felt poor.  He had never had that feeling before.  He had fit in
fine in his old school - he did the same types of things and owned the
same types of things as all his schoolmates.  He had been shocked to see
everyone here in designer clothing, walking around before class started
with brightly-colored cell-phones, talking to their friends in the next
hall over.  He had found his classroom early, and sat in the back of the
room, hoping everyone would ignore him. 

Now everyone was whispering - about him.  "We've got a new kid!" one of
them said.  "Do you know where he's from?" asked another.  Jim laughed
inwardly at this - no one had talked to him.  How could anyone know
where he was from?  Everyone was darting glances his way, wondering what
the new kid looked like. 

Jim listened to the teacher call off names, trying to remember as many
of them as he could.  He could already pick out personalities; John was
clearly the class clown, while Kimmy was a spoiled brat.  Eric seemed
like a troublemaker, Ben was the athlete, and Yolanda was the girl that
couldn't quit talking; she had already been shushed twice by the teacher.

"Dawn Tuller?" the teacher called.  A pretty girl sitting in the back
next to Jimmy raised her hand.  Long, brown hair framed her face,
falling down her back and onto her chest.  She had green, piercing eyes,
and a cute button nose.  She smelled strange, Jimmy realized, though he
couldn't place it.  It reminded him of perfume and old shoes.

When roll had been called, the teacher began by explaining the classroom
rules.  No chewing gum - he heard some groaning about this.  No wearing
hats, no cell phones in class, no disrespect, and all the usual stuff he
had come to expect from school.

He was surprised when pretty Dawn cussed - he had really only heard the
word "shit" from adults before.  Oh, of course he and his old friends
had said it before, nervously and under their breaths, but never with
such vehemence.  He couldn't understand why only being allowed two
bathroom breaks a day would be so upsetting to her.  She had tried to
say it under her breath, but Jimmy was amazed the teacher didn't hear
her, even sitting in the back of the room.  Jimmy looked at her in
surprise.  She really was quite pretty.  And she had a cute voice, even
if she was cussing with it-

"Jimmy Appleton!" the teacher yelled, startling him.  "While I'm sure
Dawn is happy for the attention you're showing her, you need to pay
attention to me, not her!"

The whole class was laughing at him.  All of them, even Dawn, with a
cute little giggle he could single out from the rest of the class.  He
could feel his face warming in embarrassment, and sank into his chair. 
"Yes Miss Richardson," he said into his lap, ashamed.

 

He spent lunch in a corner, by himself, listening to his schoolmates
talk about him, along with a variety of other subjects.  Every once in a
while, someone would dart a glance his way, or even laugh and point.  "I
don't think he even has a cell phone," someone said.  "Oh my god,"
another one would reply, "does he live in under a rock?"

Someone called him "Johnny Appleseed."  The other kids laughed.  He
grimaced.

He was the only one in the cafeteria who had brought his lunch, as near
as he could tell.  Everyone else had bought one.  He didn't know you
/could/ buy a lunch.

To his surprise, he noticed pretty Dawn Tuller eating lunch by herself
too.  He had thought a girl like that would have lots of friends.

 

Jimmy wanted to play on the monkey bars.  Jimmy didn't dare play on the
monkey bars, though.  There were far too many other kids there.

He saw a group of trees off to the side of the playground, away from
where everyone was.  There was an open space he'd have to cross (and he
knew he wasn't supposed to cross it), but it didn't look like anyone was
watching.  He walked quickly to the trees, and then hid among them,
sitting on the ground by himself.  He picked up a small fallen branch,
and began twisting it idly in his hands, staring at his lap.

"Hey, new kid," came a voice from above him.

He looked up in surprise.  There was pretty Dawn Tuller, sitting on a
tree branch, almost completely hidden among the leaves.

"Do you know how to climb a tree?" she asked.

"Y-you don't mind?"

She laughed her cute laugh, which he could pick out among the laughter
of the entire classroom.  "Would I have asked you if I minded?" she replied.

Jimmy didn't say a word.  He just got to his feet and started climbing.

"Ummm- why are you up here?" he asked her, taking a seat on a nearby branch.

To his shock, she reached into her pocket and produced a pack of
cigarettes.  "It's the best place for me to hide when I need to smoke,"
she replied, extracting a cigarette and placing it between her young
lips, then looking at him, one eyebrow raised.  "You're not going to
tell anyone, are you?" she asked, though it sounded more like a statement.

"NO - no, I won't."  He meant it, though something inside him was
screaming that he should.  Cigarettes were bad for you, he knew, and he
had never heard of a fourth-grade girl smoking.  He didn't even know if
it was legal.  He also knew he couldn't tell on her if he tried.  Though
he was inwardly repulsed to see her doing something so awful, he still
thought she was pretty.  And so far, she was the only one who had talked
to him.

She shrugged.  "Didn't think so."  The unlit cigarette bobbed in her
full young lips as she spoke.  She fished around in her pocket for a
lighter, and quickly flicked it to life.  Jimmy watched as she brought
the flame to the tip of the white cylinder in her mouth and sucked, the
tip glowing a fiery orange as she did so.  The smell hit him quickly -
it reminded him a little of old shoes - but he didn't say anything.

She blew a cloud of smoke out of her mouth, then extended the pack
towards him.  "You want one?" she asked.

"No!" he exclaimed.  "I - I mean, I don't smoke."

She smirked.  "Pity."  That was all she ever said on the matter.

"So- you come up here every day?" he asked her.

The tip of the cigarette was glowing, and then he heard the rush of air
as she pulled the smoke into her young lungs, her chest expanding as she
did so.  "I have to," she said.  She blew out some of the smoke inside
her, but let the rest trickle out her mouth and nose as she continued to
talk.  "Except for the bathroom, this is the only place I can smoke
during the day."

"You mean- you have to smoke?" asked Jimmy, a curious expression on his
face.

"Oh, yes."  She brought the cigarette to her sweet young face again,
breathing the poisonous smoke deep into her lungs.  She held it in for
several seconds, and this time, Jimmy noted, it all came out her nose. 
"I have to, or I start to feel- kind of sick, and really cranky.  I
don't know how I'm going to survive this year with only two bathroom
breaks a day."

Jimmy's mind was whirling.  He'd heard that cigarettes were bad for you,
but he had never considered that they might change your whole life.  He
was shocked at the thought of having ulterior motives for something as
simple as going to the bathroom.  He was trying to picture getting sick
from NOT smoking.  He imagined her lying in bed, coughing and feeling
awful, wishing she could have a cigarette to make her feel better, the
way his mom gave him cough medicine- 

"Where you smoking last year, too?"  Jimmy asked, his brows knit in
confusion, trying to piece this puzzle together.

She did something strange - she dragged on her cigarette, the end
glowing fiercely, then breathed it in.  Then she did it again, before
exhaling the first drag.  How weird, Jimmy thought.

"Oh yeah," she replied, then blew out a quick, short stream of smoke. 
"I've been smoking for years."  A thicker, creamier exhale followed,
though Jimmy began to realize that her small young lungs still weren't
empty.  "Last year, Mrs. MacGovern let me go to the bathroom five or six
times a day.  It was great!"  Smoke peppered her speech, small tufts of
it coming out with every word.  She finally blew the last of it -he
hoped it was the last of it - out after that, all from her mouth.  He
had never really watched someone smoke before, at least not like this. 
Neither of his parents smo ked, so he had not had much exposure to it
before.  He was pretty sure it was something he never wanted to try (He
kept picturing Dawn lying in bed, sick from not having cigarettes), but
he had to admit it was interesting to watch.

"Now I'm going to be going nuts waiting for my next cigarette.  This
year's going to suck."  She took one more short, final drag on what was
left of her cigarette, then crushed it against the tree, extinguishing
it.  She pulled a small bottle of perfume from her pocket, and gave
herself a quick spurt - to cover the smell of the smoke, Jimmy realized.

"Well, ummm- if there's anything I can do to help, let me know," Jimmy
added.

She smiled at him.  She had a beautiful smile, Jimmy thought.  "I don't
think so but- thanks."  She looked towards the school.  "Shit!  We need
to get back.  Recess is almost over."  Jimmy looked through the leaves,
and could see kids beginning to accumulate near the door, lining up to
go back in.

Smiling, she said "Race you back!"  Taken by surprise, Jimmy watched
helplessly as dropped down to a lower branch, then jumped to the ground,
taking off towards the door.  He followed as quickly as he could, but
she had given herself too much of a head start.

They got into line, and were some of the last ones there.  "Ha-" she
said, smiling, though she was breathing heavily, "I- beat you-"  Jimmy
couldn't believe how hard she was breathing after so short a run, but he
smiled back.

 

On the way back into the classroom, Eric started causing the trouble
Jimmy had suspected him of.  "Where were you, Johnny Appleseed?" he
yelled, pushing Jimmy.  "We needed another player for dodgeball!  Were
you too afraaaaid?"

"He was with me, dickhead," Dawn said.  Jimmy couldn't get used to the
mouth on Dawn!  "Leave him alone!"

"OOooooOOOhhhhh!" replied Eric.  "I get it!  Jim-my and Dawn-ny sit-tin
in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G," he sang, his buddies laughing with him. 

"Don't pay any attention to him," Dawn whispered, though Jimmy could
tell by her voice that she was upset by the jeers too.

They were far enough into the classroom for Miss Richardson to hear what
was going on.  "You leave them alone, Eric Mendleson," she shouted, then
silenced the classroom, directing them to their seats.

 

During the day, Jimmy watched knowingly as Dawn took her bathroom
break.  Strange and gross as he thought it was, he couldn't help smiling
at the shared secret.  When she came back, he could smell the fresh
perfume, and, just barely, the smoky smell it couldn't quite cover up.

During the day, she passed him a note.  It was the first time a girl had
ever passed him a note.  He was excited, but nervous.  It said, `meet me
at the front door, right after school.  We're going to get Eric back.' 
He looked at her, but she just smiled warmly at him. 

 

When class was over, he rushed to get his things together.  He wanted to
make sure he beat Eric to the front door. 

Hurry though he did, Dawn was already outside when he got there.  He
couldn't figure out how she beat him.

"What took you so long?" she asked.  "Did you take the center hallway or
something?"

"Ummm- yeah.  Is there another way?"

She rolled her eyes at him.  "I'll show you tomorrow.  Don't worry, Eric
hasn't come out yet.  He's probably still looking for his cell phone."

"What do you mean?" Jimmy asked.

Dawn held up a small, plastic object. 

Jimmy broke out in a huge grin.  "You're pretty cool, you know that?" he
said.

She smiled back at him.  "Thanks.  It'll be cooler when you beat him up,
though."

The smile fell from Jimmy's face.  "What?"

She was still smiling.  "Don't worry, it'll be easy.  I'll distract him
with this, and you just come up from behind and pound him.  He'll never
know what hit him."

Jimmy was sputtering.  "But- but I-"
            "HEY, ERIC!" Dawn yelled, waving the cellular phone in the
air. 

Jimmy wheeled around and saw Eric, looking glum.  Hearing Dawn's voice,
he looked, then locked in on the phone in her hand.  "Hey, give that
back!" he shouted.  He came charging after her, as she backed away,
smiling. 

Jimmy started sweating.  What could he do?  She couldn't honestly expect
him to just beat Eric up, could she?  He'd never hit anyone in his life,
and he didn't know if he could.  But what would he do to Dawn if he
didn't?  Jimmy wondered how he had ever gotten into this situation in
the first place.  After all, he barely knew these people.  Why should he
do anything to either one of them?

Because she'd been nice to him.

And now Eric was running past him, and Dawn was backing up, smiling at
him, nodding, and he had to do something.

Jimmy turned, coming up behind Eric.  He had to kick him, or something -
he didn't really know how to fight, he realized.  He suddenly doubted he
could do anything of value.  He'd try to kick Eric in that big, exposed
butt crack, and he'd probably just fall on his face, embarrassing
himself even more.

Eric's pants are awfully loose, he though.

And then, just like that, he was pulling them down around Eric's
ankles.  Feeling a sudden breeze, Eric wheeled around - and toppled over
as his ankles caught on his pants.  In front of almost the entire
elementary school.

Dawn was laughing so hard she almost fell over herself.  "Come on!" she
yelled, motioning to Jimmy as she tossed Eric's phone at him.  Jimmy ran
after her, suddenly feeling very brave, and very proud of himself.

 

They ran past the laughing crowd of children, running down the street. 
Dawn was breathing heavily after a very short while.  "That- was great!"
Dawn said, gasping, reaching for the cigarettes in her pocket.

"Yeah- that was a lot of fun.  Thanks." Jimmy was beaming.  He was proud
of himself, and even better, Dawn was proud of him too.

Dawn was doubled over, breathing heavily.  Her hand was shaking slightly
as she brought the cigarette to her ten-year-old lips. 

"Are- are you alright?" Jimmy asked, suddenly concerned.

She flicked her lighter to life, taking three tries due to her eagerness
and shakiness.  She drew hard on the cigarette, inhaling the smoke
straight to her hungry lungs.  Her eyes closed, and her whole body
seemed to relax as the smoke filled her, inflating her chest.  She
exhaled a billowing cloud, then drew again, smoke still wafting from her
nostrils from the first inhale.  Smoke spilled out her mouth as she shot
him a shaky smile, and said, "I'll be fine."  She pursed her lips and
blew a long stream of smoke, emptying her lungs for yet another inhale. 
Jimmy looked around as she filled her lungs with smoke for a third time,
noticing that they weren't that far away fro m the school yet, and
feeling very nervous for her.  What's more, some kids were beginning to
walk home, and they were looking at her.  What about the people in the
houses along this street, he wondered.  Could they get her into trouble?

"Ummm- should you be smoking out here?" Jimmy asked.

She let out a long, slow exhale, her eyes closing again as she reveled
in her habit.  "Probably not," she said, the last of her smoke coming
out with her words, "But I needed it."  She looked sadly at the
less-than-half-smoked cigarette, then crushed it out beneath her foot. 

Jimmy grew sad, realizing he needed to get home.  "Well, I have to go
catch my bus now.  It's been fun.  I'll see you tomorrow, right?"

"You mean you don't want to come home with me?  Dawn asked.

Jimmy looked once at the bus, then began following Dawn.

 

They had a nice walk, laughing and joking about the day, and getting to
know one another better.  Jimmy told her about his old school, and about
how different it was here.  She talked about town, and what there was to
do around here.

Jimmy was amazed at the size of her house.  He had thought that he and
his parents had moved into a nice house - this was practically a mansion! 

She walked into the house without announcing herself.  Jimmy thought
this was odd, as he always told his parents that he was home.  She
walked straight through a nicely decorated living room (Jimmy noticed
the strong smell of smoke), down a hallway, and into another room, some
sort of office, with lots of bookshelves on the walls.

"So- where are your parents?" Jimmy asked, innocently.  "Shouldn't you
let them know I'm here?"

"They won't be home for a few hours yet," she replied. 

"Oh," said Jimmy.  This bothered him for some reason, but then again,
maybe it would be nice to spend some more time with Dawn without anyone
around.

"They pretty much let me do whatever I want anyway," she said, sitting
in the large chair at the desk, and spinning around in it.  "Do you want
anything to drink?" she asked.

"Sure," he replied.  "Do you have any orange juice?"

She leapt from the spinning chair, and opened a small refrigerator. 
"Yeah!  You want Vodka in it?"

Jimmy was beginning to feel more and more out of his element.  "Umm, no
thank you," he sputtered, looking worried.

She laughed, then said, "Suit yourself," pouring them each a glass of
orange juice, and adding a splash of liquor to her own. 

"So, uhhh, what do you usually do after school," he asked, eyeing his
orange juice curiously. 

"Well, first I usually come in here, and make myself a drink, and smoke
one of my dad's cigars," Dawn replied.  "That gets me nice and relaxed."

"Oh," he said.

She sat back down in the chair and reached for a wooden box on the desk,
extracting a cigar and a strange device with a blade on it.  Jimmy
watched curiously as she cut the end off the cigar, then put it in her
mouth.  It looked huge in her young face.  "What do you usually do affer
school?" she shot back, mumbling slightly around the cigar.

"Well, I usually play video games, or go swimming- well, I did go
swimming, but we don't have a pool at this house," he said wistfully,
remembering the swimming pool they had before moving.

"Oh, well, you'll have to come over and use ours," she said, picking up
a large, boxy lighter from the desk and bringing it to the cigar,
puffing several times to get it going.  Jimmy heard the air being sucked
in as she inhaled the thick blue cigar smoke - maybe not quite as deeply
as the cigarette smoke, he noticed - but she seemed to enjoy it just as
much, if not a little more, as her eyes closed and a dreamy look
appeared on her face. 

Jimmy reached back into his mind, trying to remember what he was going
to say before being absorbed into her smoking display.  "Uhh- oh, could
I really come over and go swimming?  That would be great!"

Instead of answering, the ten-year-old-girl took a sip of her
screwdriver, then dragged at the cigar again.  She tilted her head back
as she did so, and her dark brown hair fell over her shoulders in
waves.  She blew smoke from her mouth slowly, languidly, her small young
body relaxing fully, being absorbed into the comfortable desk chair. 
"Jimmy?" she asked.

"What?"

"Have you ever kissed a girl?"

Jimmy gulped a little.  "Well, ye- yes.  He remembered the day clearly,
when he had kissed the girl next door on a dare.

She smiled, then drew on the cigar again.  "Have you ever kissed a girl
while she was smoking?"  Smoke spilled out of her mouth with her words,
accentuating the statement.

Jimmy didn't know what to think.  Her smoking was so strange, everything
about her, about the way she lived, about the way her life worked, was
strange; and yet, he wanted to know.  He couldn't help but be curious. 
"No, I haven't," he said, a lump in his throat.

She smiled at him, cute beyond belief, a single stream of smoke curling
out her mouth.  "Want to?"

 
Late that night, Dawn's parents dropped Jimmy off at home.  As he got
out, Dawn drew on her cigarette, then leaned out the window and blew him
a kiss, a smoke ring forming in the air, and trailing behind as the car
pulled away. 

Ten-year-old Jimmy walked in the door, saying, "Mom!  Dad!  I'm home!

His mother came in from the kitchen, exclaiming, "Jimmy!  There you
are!  We were worried!"

"I'm sorry Mom.  I'm fine."

"Well, dear, how was your first day of school?"

"I think I'm going to like it here, Mom," replied Jimmy, smiling.


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