“So how was your first day at a new school?”
“Zero out of ten stars. Would not recommend.”
My dad continued flipping pancakes. “Come on, was it that bad?” he said with a chuckle.
“Well, it could’ve been way worse,” I said, playing with the syrup bottle. “First day at Providence was actually way worse. This is actually the best first day so far, but even that’s not saying much.”
“Don’t say so far,” my dad said, transferring the pancakes from the non-stick pan to my plate. I grabbed my knife and started placing butter on them. “I promise you, no more moving after this. We’re spending the rest of our lives here.”
“You mean you are,” I said. “Who knows, I could be an internet sensation and make millions and start a career in Hollywood.” My dad chuckled as he grabbed a pancake from my plate. “And where were you yesterday, anyway? Why were you so late? I waited over two hours for you!”
“Oh God, sorry about that,” my dad said. “Penguin just made official their new product and we have to find new ways to advertise it. Take what you want in college, just don’t take advertising.”
“I kept calling you. You could’ve at least picked up. I thought I was going to have to result to skywriting.”
“Well, it wouldn’t have worked,” my dad said. “Since, you know, I work in an office inside a building.”
I stuck my tongue out. “Anyway, I better finish these pancakes fast or else I’m going to be late for class,” I said. “Let’s see what today brings.”
Despite moving, I still had to take one of the most horrendous subjects yet: Math.
“So does everyone get the lesson?” Ms. Samuels said. Everyone shouted a yes.
“All right, everyone, pair up,” Ms. Samuels said. “We’re going to do a pair work.”
“Hey, do you wanna be partners?” I asked the girl beside me. Better just do it, right?
“Sure, I’ll be your partner,” she said. “Are you good at Math?”
I shook my head. “But I get the lesson,” I said. “We had it in my old school, before I left.”
“Where are you from then?”
“Rhode Island,” I said. “I’m Jeremy. And you are?”
The girl smiled. “Cara,” she said. “Must be pretty nice in Rhode Island. Why’d you move here two months into the school year – in senior year, of all years?”
“My dad got a new job and all,” I said. “Trust me, if I had any say in this, I would’ve stayed right in Rhode Island. But Wilson Bridge seems pretty nice.”
“You won’t be saying that after a couple of weeks living here,” Cara said. “So, Jeremy, how do you solve this problem? Because quite honestly, it’s giving me a headache.”
“Well, first of all, we have to find the value of x,” I said. “And in order for us to do that, we cross multiply.”
Cara was pretty easy to work with. Turned out, she wasn’t as bad at Math as she made herself to be. We finished the pair work way before anyone else did. Pretty soon, Cara was playing mobile games on her phone while I was drawing on my sketchpad.
I liked drawing. It made time go by faster. Sometimes I doodle. Sometimes I draw something so abstract even I didn’t get it. I liked the feeling of being able to create something – to be able to grab an image from my head and put it on paper. Best of all, I liked to sketch. It amazed me how I can get something on paper to look just like the real life object. I loved the challenge of it.
Of course, I was only halfway there. Landscapes and inanimate objects? Sure, no problem. But I was still yet to master the art of sketching a human being.
“What are you sketching?” Cara said, looking over my sketchpad.
“Oh, this is actually from my memory,” I said. “It’s the Welcome to Wilson Bridge sign. My dad and I stopped there and took a couple of pictures during the move.”
“You know, at the back of it says You are now leaving Wilson Bridge. Come again!”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well, so far it’s pretty great,” Cara said. “Think you can sketch me?”
“Oh no, I haven’t mastered that one yet,” I said. “I can’t sketch human beings yet. Or, well I can, but I can’t get them perfect.”
“Who cares about perfect?” Cara said. “I just want to see how you do me.”
“So you don’t want a perfect grade in our pair work?”
Cara scoffed. “I didn’t say that.”
“Well, maybe the two of you can actually get a perfect score if you did something other than just lollygagging,” a voice said behind us. Oh fuck. Ms. Samuels had caught us “lollygagging.”
“We’re sorry, Ms. Samuels,” Cara said in a tone that hinted she definitely wasn’t sorry. “But we’re done with the pair work.”
“Jeremy learned all about it in his previous school,” Cara said.
“Well, it doesn’t matter, Jeremy, because I still don’t allow you doing something that’s not related to our subject,” Ms. Samuels said. She opened her hand. “Hand it over.”
I knew what she was talking about. “Here you go,” I said, handing over the sketchpad.
Ms. Samuels grabbed the sketchpad and continued roaming around to check up on the other students. “Oh crap,” I said. “What are the chances of me getting my sketchpad back?”
“Relax, Ms. Samuels may act real strict in class but she’s actually kind of friendly outside of the classroom.”
Cara laughed. “Just grab it at the faculty room after classes end. She’ll give it back, that’s for sure.”
The faculty room always felt so foreign and unorthodox to a student. Technically put, students weren’t allowed inside unless you had a reason. And when you have a reason – kaching! There’s your entrance ticket. You now get to venture inside the jungle of pencil sharpeners and coffee makers, and see teachers in their natural habitat.
The Math department was pretty easy to find. And there I found Ms. Samuels, flipping through my sketchpad.
“Ms. Samuels!” I said. “Um, I was wondering if I could get my sketchpad back. I know it was wrong for me to -”
“Jeremy, your sketches are really good,” Ms. Samuels said, interrupting me.
I could sense myself blushing. “Well, I mean, I try -”
“Jeremy, do you know what the Paint Splatt is?”
“It’s…what happens when you splat a paint brush?”
“No, it’s an art show,” Ms. Samuels said. “An art show in New York. It’s not that big, but it’s big if you want to get into a good arts school. A whole bunch of college scouts go there.”
“Oh, well, I used to live in Brooklyn,” I said. “But I don’t know about the whole college thing. I haven’t really thought about college that much.”
“Well, joining the Paint Splatt would definitely keep a lot of options open,” Ms. Samuels said. “You should do it. I’m encouraging you too.”
“Well, I’ll consider it,” Jeremy said. “Can I have my sketch pad back now, please?”
Ms. Samuels handed me back my sketch pad. “Thank you,” I said. “Where can I get information about this Paint Splatt thing?”
“Oh, go to the Arts Department tomorrow after classes,” Ms. Samuels said. “There’s a student who works there who can give you that information. Just tell him that I sent you. He’s about your height and a senior too. Oh, and his name’s Grayson Adler.”
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