In the cafeteria, the new kid sits by himself.
He shows up on the first day of school not wearing the regular uniform. He wears the polo shirt, but it’s an off color of blue. The blue matches the intensity of his eyes. His khaki pants make him look like a Florida panther ready to pounce, not like a computer geek expecting a flood. His Vans are slightly worn on the soles. He didn’t take off his Reds cap when he walked into the building. Principal Whiteman grabbed it and handed it to him wearing his famous frown that gave him his nickname “The Walrus.”
On the bus, the new kid wears sunglasses on cloudy days, pops his bubblegum, and reads Captain America and The Avengers. Marvel comics. Never DC.
I notice him.
He is unlike every other boy in 7th grade. He isn’t loud. He doesn’t brag like Dominic. He isn’t a computer nerd like Calvin, or a brainless jock like Pete. And, he isn’t a whiner like Alex.
He is unique.
On the soccer field, he is a flying devil who raises our game scores to the highest in the league. We pounded Tree of Life 10-1. Stomped Our Lady of Peace 15-2.
He is a natural athlete.
He never opens a book in study hall. He out spelled last year’s champ by four syllables. He went to state with his science fair project, and he got all 1’s at Power of the Pen.
He is smart.
He walks with a grace unseen in middle school. He lopes down the halls as the other boys clump beside him. . You hear the rhythm as he walks by. His body’s music pounds in my ears.
At co-ed gym, he says “Hi.”
My mind is blank and my lips stay silently on my face.
At the rehearsal for the Spring Musical, he smiles at me as we practice lines for the lame-o play Mr. Daly chose this year.
At the cast party he sits beside me, and we talk till midnight about music, beat poets, and our favorite books. His is Catcher in the Rye. Mine is On the Road. We both want to be to be a hobo.
He asks me to the Spring Dance.
I love him.
And life seems enchanting, miraculous, and imbued with exalted significance.
Kate M Carey writes about people and the crazy, strange, painful and wonderful, things they do for love. She recently moved to North Carolina and is searching out the best hot chips in the Triad. She is married to an Episcopal priest, has children living in Ohio and Florida.