After my father died, I had refused to return to public school. No one else had lost thier father, so I knew no one in my class would understandhow I felt. So Mom started to home-school me. Zydane soon joined the make-shift classroom in my family's dining room, and he was quickly followed by Josh and Zack, my younger twin brothers.
However, a month before the start of my ninth grade year, my mother asked Zydane and I something totally unexpected.
"So, when do you two want to go shopping for school supplies?" she inquired one day in early August while Zydane were stting in my kitchen, playing checkers.
"What?" we asked at the same time. "What do we need supplies for?"
"Well, when the school your schedules yesterday, they sent a list of things you need. Zydane's mom and I got together and decided that you two could decided when we go."
I stared at her in disbelief. "School?" I asked. "As in public school?"
My mother nodded.
"You mean we're going to public school this year?"
"Yes," she said.
I was speechless. Mom had registered me for public school without even asking me first.
Very not cool.
"Why?" Zydane asked quickly, before I could open my mouth in protest.
"Well," my mother explained, turning away form the sink where hse had been washing dishes. "I've decided to get a full-time job, not just a part-time posistion. Charles's life insurance and pension can't support us forever, since Jericho has six younger siblings. I'm surprised we've gone this long. I just can't afford to school you anymore. Sorry."
"No you're not," I snapped as I moved a checker. "King me, Zy."
"Jericho, yes I am. Anyway, Zydane's mother and I both agree that public school would be the best place for you two and the twins."
"What if we don't think that?" I asked.
"I don't know why you would. After all, Tres Mannor is one fo the top five schools in the state."
"In what? Cattle population?" I sneered, causing Zydane to laugh and nearly drown on his chocolate milk.
"In curiculum content, Jericho. They have some great teachers, and a lot of advanced courses. You'll learn there more than you could learn from me."
Zydane looked up. "But we like being taught by you, Mrs. Gottee," he said quietly.
"Zydane, you've known me for fourteen years. You can start calling me Alissa anytime now," my mother sighed. "And, besideds, you can join chorus so you two can sing."
"We already sing," I argued. "At Youth Group and church and youth rallies."
My mother shrugged. "I know, but in chorus you can learn to harmoize and things like that."
"We already can harmonize!" Zydane and I cried out together, but Mom shook her head.
"You can harmonize together naturally, but you need how to harmonize with other people. And Jericho, aren't you always saying how you want to be in the high school musicals? In fact, as I recall, about two months ago, you both were wishing you could go to public school so you could be in the plays. Am I not correct?"
"Then I'm just complying with your wished, so you have no reason to argue. End of discussion."
"But Mom!" I cried, but she held up her hand and stopped me in mid-sentence.
"End of discussion," she repeated as she left the room.
And that was how I found myself stepping off a school bus and into my first day of public school in four years.
"That," I said, looking up at the building looming over me, Zydane, and Luke, "Is a big building."
Luke sighed. "It's only a school, Jer. And a small one at that."
"Looks more like a prison," Zydane said, his Gypsy grin spreading across his face.
"No wonder they call it "high" school," I added, resorting to bad jokes because I was so nervous. "The building itself could act like a stairway to Heaven. Hey, Luke, you think I could survive a jump off the roof on my dirt bike?"
"Jericho, shut your mouth and get moving. I have to meet Matt and Brian at the vending machines."
"But your mom told you to show us to our home room!" Zydane said, scowling at the back of Luke's head as Luke dragged us through the frontdoors.
"Zydane, under anyother circumstances, I would be willing to. But it's the first day of school, and Brian just happened to spend vacation at the same beach resort as Melonie Tasar. I gotta hear about it! You two are big kids, you can find your way to homeroom. 'Sides, I'm a Junior, you're Freshmen. Sorry, according to the High School Caste System, we do not mix. I am a noble, you are the untouchables, the grunts. You are technically lower than the dirt on my shoe. See you at lunch!" He called as he dissappeared into the crowd.
"If we're still alive," I mumbled. "Com'n, Zy. Let's see if we can find homeroom."
We made our way down the main hall and turned right withother kids that looked our age. We ended up in a hallway that was lined on one side with lockers and the other with classrooms on the other.
"Uhh, excuse me," I said to a girl standing nearby, talking with some other girls. "Is this the Freshman hall?"
The girl stared at us for a moment, like we were lower life forms not worthy of talking to her. Finally, she answered "Yeah, this is the right hall."
"Thanks," I said turning away from her.
"They must be from out of town. Look at what they're wearing," I heard one of the girls say as Zydane and I walked away. "Newbies. What annoyances."
Zydane and I glanced down at our clothes. Zydane was wearing one of his many Aquire the Fire t-shirts and his good pair of jeans (in other words, the ones with the least amount of motor grease on them). I was wearing my clean dirtbiking jersey and the one pair of jeans I didn't wear to go riding or to repair my bike. I shrugged. This is what I always wore, what was wrong with it?
We found our lockers and dumped our bags inside.
"What's our first class?" I asked as an annoying pinging sounded over the P.A. system. We ignored it.
"Francais. C'est bon?" Zydane answered.
"Too early for forgein language, Zy," I groaned. "I don't care if we've had three years of it."
"Uh, Jer, where'd everyone go?"
I looked up. The hall was completely empty. "Homeroom must've started!" I cried. "We gotta find ours!"
We sprinted down the hall, eyeing room numbers till we found ours.
I peered through the window in the door. The teacher was standing before the class, taking attendance. I swallowed. I had almost forgotten how big classes were in public school. No one-on-one teaching here.
"Open the door already!" Zydane hissed in my ear.
I nodded turned the door handle and opened the door just as the teacher was saying "So the only two missing are Jericho Gottee and Zydane Tribal." I winced. She was massacring our names.
The class buzzed at our names. I recognized of lot of them, and they apparently remembered us.
"We're right here," I said, and the whole room turned to look at us. "Umm, sorry we're late."
The teacher waved her hand, dismissing the apology like an annoying fly. "Which one of you is Zydane and which is Jericho?" she asked, once again completely missing the actual pronounciations.
"I'm Jericho Gottee, and this is Zydane Tribal," I said, taking great care in pronouncing our names correctly.
"I see. There are your seats. And don't be late again, or else you'll get detention." She pointed to two desks in the back of the room. Zydane and I looked at each other, towards the seats and back at each other. We both were thinking the same thing.
But we walked to our seats and sat down. No sense in making complete fools of our selves the first day. We had a whole year ahead to accopmlish that. The whole room turned and watched us. As I sat down, I recognized one unfamilar face. A boy, our age, with very pale skin and wearing all black clothes and sunglasses. he showed no interest in us, until a boy up front whispered real loud to his female neighbor, "I remember them now, they're the Jesus Freaks." Then the new boy turned and seemed to eye us through his sunglasses. I smiled at him, and opened my mouth to say something, but the bell rang again and we had to go on to our first class.
Zydane and I glanced at each other. It was going to be along day.
I was very glad that we had prayed before we had left the bus.