I wrote this story in 6th grade. It’s based off a group of people I sat with in 4th grade, but some of the events are taken from 5th and 6th grade. When I submitted this story to my teacher, she recommended that I submit it to the school literary magazine, but I was terrified that people would find out who the characters were in real life, since I had written this as a love story in disguise. Nevertheless, after a lot of convincing from my friends and a secret desire for other people to read my writing, I submitted it. If you have the 2009-2010 Musings from Rogers, you’re in luck.
Ms. Lopez: “You’ve had these seats for too long. Time to switch.”
These are the fated words that will decide whom I can socialize with for the next few weeks. As Ms. Lopez looks around the room for potential suspects to relocate, I keep my fingers crossed. I don’t like the people I’m sitting next to, and I’ve haven’t changed seats the entire year.
Ms. Lopez: “Okay, now let’s have Amy, and…how about Fallon switch.”
I glance over at Fallon’s seat at the table closest to the door. My friend Emily is there, and Tom and Andrew, the other two guys, are about as close as you could get to “decent boys:” not too violent, played soccer during recess, and had a few good friends.
Bracing myself, I gather my stuff and walk over to Fallon’s old seat and sat down.
Andrew: “I hope you don’t make me laugh. Fallon made me laugh too much.”
Me: “Why not? Laughing’s healthy!”
Andrew: “I can’t concentrate when I laugh!”
Andrew: “I get problems wrong!”
Me: “But every time you laugh you gain 3 seconds in your life!”
Emily and Tom, the other two people at our table, are listening to our conversation and jump in.
Tom: “Ok, would you rather get pretty good grades and live a long life, or get really good grades and live a shorter life?”
Emily, followed by my echo: “Yeah…”
Andrew pauses for a moment.
Andrew: “It doesn’t matter. The world’s going to end in 2012 anyway.”
Me: “True. But still, laughing’s healthy!”
Emily: “You actually believe the world’s going to end in 2012? Wow…”
Our conversation is interrupted by Ms. Lopez.
Ms. Lopez: “That’s enough changes for now. Now let me explain what we’ll be doing from now on.”
Everyone groans a little, but not too much. Just enough to let her know to make it short.
Ms. Lopez: “And I’ll try to make it short.”
Tom raises his watch and starts his the timer.
26 minutes and 39 seconds later, he presses stop.
Tom: “26 minutes and 39 seconds,”
Me: “You actually time her lectures?”
Tom: “Yeah, most of them.”
This is going to be an interesting table.
“Hey what did you get for #14?”
We’re working on a worksheet on how to add and subtract fractions after a lecture from Ms. Lopez on the importance of vocabulary in math and how we were the “only year” that the kids didn’t get it. We’re working on it together, talking and laughing along the way. (Andrew still has trouble concentrating).
“I’m not even there yet! You work too fast!”
“No I don’t! You work too slowly!”
“Well, Amy and I are at #12. And Andrew’s at #11. So you do work fast!”
“So…what did you get for #10?”
“What’s wrong with you???”
Tom: “Hey what’s that?”
From my pencil bag, I pull out an origami wallet I had made from a carefully chosen sheet of light blue copy paper to hold my tickets.
The ticket system was something our teachers had created to get us to do stuff. Whenever we answered the warm up question of the day correctly in class, our teacher would give us a ticket. Each grading cycle, the teachers chose a different currency that a ticket was “worth” and we could exchange our tickets in USD for prizes. We were disappointed when they chose the peso and delighted when it was the euro. (At the end of the year, we ended up with multiple dollars that went unspent)
Me: “Oh, just something I made to hold my tickets.”
(Yes!!! Someone finally noticed!)
Tom: “Whoa that’s so cool! Can you make one for me too?”
Tom gives me a sheet of wide-ruled notebook paper. Instead of paying attention in class, I make all the familiar folds, and discreetly hand it back to him.
Emily: “Hey that’s not fair. Make me one too.”
Emily hands me a sheet of copy paper. A few minutes late, I give her a completed paper wallet.
Word spreads, and two weeks later, nearly everyone in my grade has one of these “pocket folders” stored away in their pencil bags. I become popular. I cut up notebook paper to fit my “folder” and delicately cut out tabs to organize all the important 4th grade ideas circulating in my head.
A month later, the fad passes. I still keep my pocket folder in my pencil bag.
Me (whispering): “Andrew! What are you doing?”
We’re doing a long division worksheet and supposed to be showing all our work. I sneak a look at Andrew’s notebook. He’s randomly doodled all over the page.
He shrugs and giggles.
Andrew: “I don’t know…”
Tom: “Hey, I just realized, Andrew, you’re the only right handed person at this table. Emily, Amy, and I are all left handed.”
Andrew: “WHAT? How did this happen? This isn’t fair!”
The rest of us laugh at him.
The next few weeks are a blur.
We build a marble roller coaster together with just a posterboard, masking tape, and the side of a table, debating over design and how to mount the base on the ground.
We argue over who “stole” the idea of using Comic Sans for our typed (!!!) science fact write-ups.
We refuse to tell each other the answer to the daily warm up but then share them so we can get our tickets.
Andrew has to erase a letter from the “RECESS” board because we talk too much in class one day, and we share the shame of being the only table to not receive 5 tickets.
When we grade our math homework in class, we cheer when we got questions wrong and act angry when we get them right. In hindsight, this must have been obnoxious, but it’s hilarious to us at the time.
And we still tease Andrew for being the only right handed person.
Whatever connection I had with that table disappeared once we stepped out of the room. We were only friends within the confines of Ms. Lopez’s room. At least that’s what I thought.
I’m sitting in Ms. McIntosh’s class. Tom’s at my table, but Emily and Andrew are at the other side of the room.
Ms. McIntosh: “I don’t want to see you rushing on your work anymore. We are not playing the ‘imo hurrup n git thru’ game.”
The class cracks up as she writes “imo hurrup n git thru'” on the whiteboard.
This time is different for me.
I start giggling.
Sneak a glance at Andrew.
See that he’s laughing.
And then really start laughing.
This is just the first of multiple glances that I give Andrew during class every time before I laugh.
And maybe this is just me…
really just me…
I had this feeling he glanced back at me.
(It was probably just me, ok?)
It’s the fateful day that we change seats again in Ms. Lopez’s class.
She moves everyone away from our table except for me.
I guess we did talk too much.
I try to get used to my new neighbors, but I know that it won’t be the same.
Andrew and I still exchange glances at each other from across the room.
At least I think so.
Maybe it really was just me.