Growing up I had always known that I wasn't exactly 'normal', but I never could have predicted how spot on my feelings were. Not only was I not 'normal'.. I was about as far from it as you can possibly get. It seemed as if every single time I came close to fitting in, I would discover something new that set me apart once again. I guess though, that I should start at the beginning.
It all started when I was 14. I was your average scrawny timid little bully magnet. I didn't really have any friends to speak of, in fact most people didn't even know my name. Its Leonard by the way, but please, call me Leo. Aside from the fact that I seem to be socially inept, I'm pretty average. At least I thought I was. I have medium length light brown hair, and dark green eyes. I have a heavy spattering of freckles on my cheeks and nose, and a very boyish face. Did I mention I was a bully magnet? Not only at school either. I had 3 older brothers at home, all who loved to make my life a living hell. If I wasn't being tricked into being their crash test dummy, I was being used as their tackling dummy. The only time they were nice to me was when they wanted something from my parents, it being my duty as the cute youngest child to work our parents. Looking back though, I'd trade everything I have now to go back to that simple life.
It was my first day of grade 9, and I was totally NOT looking forward to it. My step- brothers Chuck and Steven , the twins, were in grade 11, and my other brother Kyle was in Grade 10. See my mom died when I was 6, and since then my Dad remarried, and I got stuck with the twins. Before they came into the picture Kyle and I got along really well, but they liked him a lot more than they liked me, so he decided to take their side, leaving me all alone to be tormented. Unfortunately this included the 10 minute wait for the bus at the end of our lane. See had I gotten along with my older brothers I would have been totally excited for high school. Chuck and Steven were your average perfectly sculpted high school handsome jocks who all the girls loved, and all the guys idolized. They were both on the football team, and had managed to get Kyle on the wrestling team too. He looked more like me, but without the freckles and the boyish face. He got my dads looked, and had a pretty well sculpted jaw line, and even at 14 was already shaving every day. He had made it onto the track and soccer teams on top of football. Then there was me. I was such a klutz that I could injure myself just getting out of bed. I had good grades, and I liked to ct and sing but... in a house dominated by testosterone... that didn't account for much.
When the bus pulled up I felt my heart drop. I really didn't want to do this. Secretly I was hoping some greater power from above would smite me the second I stepped foot on that bus... unfortunately I boarded unharmed. I slipped quietly into the first empty seat I saw as my older brothers passed me, and quickly went about trying to blend into the material. The bus rumbled and shook uncomfortably, and was unbearably loud. Above all other voices I could often times hear my older brothers. Life of the party those three. Then there's little old wallflower me. Mercifully, after about 45 minutes, the bus rolled to a stop, and kids started to pour out. As soon as I exited the yellow abomination I looked up at the school. It was huge. It had to be at least 7 floors high, and I swear to god it took up at least 100 city blocks. Well maybe it wasn't quite THAT huge. I later realized it was only 3 floors, and only covered about 30-40 acres. But I was in grade 9. To me I was about to get lost in a high school the size of a small country.
'Luckily' for me however, my dad had instructed my older brothers to all help me find my way around, and to keep an eye on me till I settled in. he had forced them to promise that they would help me out for the first couple weeks, introduce me to people, show me around. All that fun stuff. I wasn't any more thrilled than they were.
I waited on the sidewalk till my brothers got off the bus. Kyle and Chuck passed by me while Steven shoved me forward, telling me to hurry up. I did as I was told and jogged to catch up with the other two, walking timidly between them. Our first destination was lockers. All four of us had ended up right near each other, since they were sorted alphabetically. When we got there I unloaded everything into my locker except my timetable and my binder.
'All right twerp. What's your first period?' Chuck asked me as he opened his own locker, tossing his backpack inside.
'Umm... it says Math with... Ms. Dagger?' I said nervously.
'Oh have fun with that one,' said a familiar voice from behind me. I turned around to see the only person I was actually looking forward to seeing today. Viktor was a grade eleven guy who's Mom had been close with mine in high school. As a result we pretty much grew up together, and I saw him as much as Kyle up until I was about 7, when he stopped visiting as often. Him and Kyle had stayed friends though, and he was on the football team with Chuck and Steve. Whenever he did come over to visit nowadays he was the one who protected me from my older brothers. He had promised to spread the word among his friends that I was to be looked after. Vic was the older brother I always wished I had gotten.
'Daggers a real hag kid. Just keep your head down and try not to make eye contact and you'll be fine,' he advised, putting a hand on my head and ruffling my hair. 'I actually got Spanish right above there, I can take ya if you want,' he offered. I looked questioningly at my brothers, as if pleading for their permission.
'Hey, less we gotta deal with him the better,' Steven shrugged, as he closed his locker., waving me off with his hand. Clearly the other two agreed, so Vic and I headed off.
'Sorry they're so mean to ya bud, but don't let em get you down. I got your back. So what's next after math?' He asked as we snaked our way through the crowded hallways. Every once in a while he would sep in front of me to block someone from stepping into me or knocking me over as we walked.
'Umm... it says Boys' PE 2... What's that mean?' I asked examining my schedule.
'Oh that. Ya see the school has a pretty lame budget, especially when it comes to our phys ed department. We only have 2 gym teachers too. So in order to make it easier for everybody they take all the guys from grade 9-12, and put them mixed u into one gym class. Same with the girls. That way there's one boy's class and one girls' class running every period. It also helps cuz then the older kids help the teachers out by being sort of babysitters for the younger kids.'
I choked back a hard swallow. My second period was going to be spent among not only grade 9's, but 10's, 11's, and 12's too? Could my life get any worse?
'Well here we are Leo. Sit near the back and just try not to draw Dagger's attention too much. I'll ask around, I know one of my buddies has PE 2.. I'll get him to swing down here and take you to your next class okay? Don't worry, I'll make sure you got people looking out for you.' He smiled, and then quickly disappeared into the mess of people. I looked up at the door and let out a heavy sigh as I entered the classroom... or as I would soon come to call it, the seventh circle of hell.
Luckily since it was the first day and all, it wasn't too bad. Dagger didn't know yet who the class clowns were going to be so she wasn't especially harsh to anyone. We didn't get slammed with a lot of homework or anything either, and spent most of the class introducing ourselves and talking about our plans for high school. Gag me. Pretty soon though the bell rang and it was time for morning break. I walked out to the hall and looked around, trying to see Vic or one of my brothers. No such luck. And nobody introduced themselves to me either. Nobody offered any help. When the final bell for next period rang I started to worry. I had no idea where to go, and now no one to show me around as the halls quickly emptied. Just as I was starting to seriously panic I saw a big guy rush around the corner, looking up and down the hall. When he saw me he smiled and jogged over. I couldn't help but stare at the guy. He was somewhere around 6 foot 5 and.. Well... huge. He wasn't like your tall twig person.. His entire body was proportionate to his height. He was just.. Massive. He had a thick chinstrap of facial hair tracing his jaw, a piercing in his lip, and his eyebrow. He had glasses and short black hair spiked up. He was wearing a t-shirt, and I noticed that he had tattoos on both of his arms.
As he came jogging over I nearly wet myself. I thought I was going to get creamed, but just as I squeezed my eyes shut, expecting to get tossed in a garbage can or some other bully cliché, he reached out his hand with a smile and spoke to me. 'Hey, I'm Scott. Vic asked me to take you to gym with me.''
I breathed a sigh of relief, and was sure he noticed as I heard him chuckle under his breath. He asked me if I had gym clothes and I shook my head no. he said it was no problem, and motioned for me to follow him. We went to the office, and he talked to the secretary. He handed over a 10 dollar bill and she handed over a pair of black shorts and a white t-shirt vacuum packed in plastic with the school's coat of arms stamped on them.
'Here. Thy forget to tell grade 9's that they have to buy their gym uniform nowadays. So this one is on me kid.' the guy said kindly. I took the bag, and then followed him to the gym. When we entered the change room it was already empty, and I was absolutely terrified that I was going to be in trouble for being late. Obviously sensing my fear Scott turned around and explained that he would explain it to the coach, and make sure I didn't take any flak. He opened one of the lockers, and offered to let me put my stuff in with his. I gratefully accepted, tossing my binder in, and ripping open the plastic on my gym uniform. As Scott took his shirt off to get changed I noticed that the tattoos on his arms weren't his only ones. He had two more on his left bicep, one on his right, and 2 on his back. When he changed into his shorts I could see another one on each of his legs. I had never seen a tattoo in person before and I thought they were so cool. I stood there in my own little world, looking at them and wondering how much they must have hurt.
'Hey come on, hurry up,' he said noticing me staring at his large back piece of some snake haired lady. 'hehe. You like it? Pretty cool huh. I got a total 13 of them.' he said as he tossed his shirt on.
'That's cool. Did they hurt?' I asked, quickly following suit and changing into my gym uniform.
'Nah, not really.' he said, holding open the gym door for me letting me step out first.
'Better late than never guys come on Scott. You know the rules. 2 laps for every minute you miss of my class. You guys missed 10 minutes so your doing 20 laps.'
'Hey come on Coach. Give the kid a break, its his first day' Scott pleaded my defence.
'Well if that's how you feel, you can run his 20 too,' the coach said. Scott shrugged, apparently not caring, but I didn't want him to get in more trouble cuz of me.
'No its okay, I'll run my laps. Its my fault too,' I said.
Scott leaned over and whispered to me. 'Hey bud, you didn't have to do that, I don't mind running at all,'
'Its no big,' I said. Little did he know I secretly hated running laps. I could do it and everything... I just preferred not to.
'Well then I guess I can enjoy the company. You're not to bad for a little niner,' he said as he started to jog around the gym, me keeping pace close behind.
'What grade are you in?' I asked out of curiosity.
'Twelve. Well I should have graduated already actually. I turn 18 in a couple months, but I failed kindergarten. I know, sad right? ' he laughed poking fun at himself.
'Well the alphabet is quite challenging you know...' I joked, getting a loud laugh from Scott.
'You're pretty funny too you know that kid? I like you. What's your name?'
'Well Leo, you got any plans for lunch?'
'Umm... not really why?'
'Well me and a couple of friends are gonna drive down to the little diner on main street. I figured you might wannna come, make some new friends. Vic will be there, so I'm sure no one would mind having you around. Plus I figure if you make friends with a couple seniors... your high school career will be a synch. Whaddya say?'
I couldn't believe it. In one day I went from being the nobody little twerp who everybody picked on, to being invited to go to lunch with a bunch of seniors? I mean just right now I was talking to a guy 4 years older than me, and he thought I was totally cool. What did I say 'That sounds great!' I beamed. I was so happy.
After we finished our laps Scott and I got put with a group consisting of an even split between 10's and 11's. Unlike in Math we were getting right into the semesters work , and the first sport we were studying was tennis. We had been sectioned into smaller groups to run our own practice doubles tournaments. My group decided it was only fair that each grade 10 be paired with a grade 11, and I be paired with Scott, that way the average of skill on every team pretty well evened out.
Scott and I kind of sucked at the game, but we had fun. Well, not so much We sucked as I did. Bad. For the first half of the game I stood in the back, but seeing as I had no idea what I was doing I could rarely hit the ball, and when I did, it never often made it far enough to clear the net. When we switched it wasn't much better. Up front I would always step in front of Scott trying to get the ball, so he couldn't see, and the odd time I did hit it I hit it too far. Needless to say we got stomped, but we had fun. A few times I ran full tilt into Scott, bouncing off him like a wall, and once I tripped and got tangled in the net. The other team seemed irritated and rolled their eyes, but Scott just chuckled. Luckily he didn't care we never scored a point.
When the bell rang Scott got me to help him go around to the other teams in our group and get their scores, and write them down on a sheet, as the mini tournament was to last all week. We were the only team to not score a single point. Neither of us cared. Since we had been late we helped the coach gather up some of the equipment before finally heading to the change room.
It was about half empty when we walked in, and those that were still in there were dressed, and simply gathering their stuff from their lockers.
'Oh shoot. I forgot to ask if u had any money for lunch.' feeling a little dejected I realized I didn't. There goes my plan of making friends with seniors I thought. Scott noticed though and quickly chimed in. 'Hey its no big deal. I invited you. I'll get Vic to chip in a couple bucks and we'll get you something to eat. No worries,' he smiled grabbing a white towel from his locker and stripping his shorts and boxers. I was quite suprised at this needles to say, and was a little shocked as he was standing there in front of me, buck naked. He didn't seem to notice as he leisurely wrapped the towel around his waist. He looked at me puzzled for a moment before seeming to realise something.
'Right. Umm.. Well we shower after gym.. But I mean its your first day so your probably a little shy. Here,' he said, handing me a can from his locker. 'Spray a little under each arm, and some on your chest. You can use that after gym to cover up your BO till your comfortable showering. We'll be sharing this locker all semester... its one of the shortcomings of the PE budget, so it's always on the top shelf there Kay?' he said. He didn't wait for an answer, and instead just walked towards the shower, lightly whistling. 'I'll be out in about 5 minutes, you can get changed and wait for me and we'll go meet everyone else for lunch.