Stay Off The Grass
I knew the minute he stepped into the classroom that we were going to be friends. In the same way animals are drawn to others of their own kind, I recognized a fellow member of the nerd species and knew that if we were to survive middle school, we’d have to stick together. He was a large kid in every sense of the word, bespectacled, with the kind of uneven haircut that only comes from an overconfident mom who saw it done on YouTube once. The teacher introduced him as Jeremy Clyde and directed him to the only empty seat in the back of the class. I tried to offer a friendly smile as he shuffled past, but he stared resolutely at his feet, as if making eye contact with anyone would declare it open season for bullying. Sorry, Jeremy, I thought sadly, but you’ve practically got a target on your back whether you look up or not.
As I had suspected, it didn’t take long for the more popular kids to start prodding each other and pointing to Jeremy when the teacher’s back was turned. They were giggling quietly and whispering nastily behind their hands. When one noticed my not-so-subtle attempts to listen in, he leaned forward and told me to mind my own business. My efforts earned me a hard, painful flick to my ear. Jeremy sat there stoically all the while, even when they started peppering him with little paper balls. When the bell rang, he gathered up his things and lumbered out of the class as quickly as he could.