the new kid
(or, angus mcdonalds first day of school and making a friend, from an outsider’s perspective)
The new kid’s desk is next to mine, which is fine, I guess. But I sort of wish that I was sitting next to Dana — we always sat next to each other, because her last name is Manfred and mine is Min, and nobody else at our school had anything in between A and I.
But the new kid is named Angus McDonald — that’s a C, so he sits between me and Dana. He seems pretty okay. When we were all introducing ourselves (because Mrs. Sylvester who teaches homeroom and Language Arts made us do that whole deal), the new kid said, “Hi, my name is Angus McDonald, and I’m from, um, a lot of places, and I like Caleb Cleveland novels and magic and solving mysteries.”
He smiled, and clutched the book he was holding tighter to his chest, and I could tell he was a little nervous, probably. I felt sort of bad for him. I was the new kid in fourth grade, and that had sucked until I became friends with Dana. I should probably try and be nice to him, especially since he sits next to me for the rest of the year, and because our lockers are next to each other.
Besides, he likes Caleb Cleveland novels, and I started reading those over summer break (you know, before the world ended), so, that’s a start, right?
I talked with the new kid between homeroom and second period — it’s really weird having to switch classrooms between classes — and asked him which of the Caleb Cleveland books he’s read. He gave me this huge smile and said “All of them! Which ones have you read?”
And I said, “Um, the Curse of the Amulet, and the Lilac Room Light. Wait, you’ve read all of them?”
“Yeah!” he said.
“That’s like, fifty-four books. Wow,” I said. “Cool.”
He sort of shrugged and said that he used to have a lot of free time, and that “My parents left me alone a lot, you know?”
And I said “Uh, I guess,” because I wasn’t sure how to answer that. “I mean, my dad didn’t exist as a concept until last summer, cause he died in the Relic Wars.”
And he said “Oh. Yeah, it’s kind of like that.”
I felt really weird telling him about my dad, but he’s the one who made it personal first. Then I asked him what class he had next, and he said he had Honors Magecraft, which I’m pretty sure is an eighth-grade class? But I didn’t call him on it. I just told him I had Divinity Studies, and he asked me if I wanted to be a cleric, and I said maybe. I like the idea of fixing people. But I’m only eleven, you know? And my mom says I have plenty of time to decide if I want to dedicate myself to a god.
Angus said, “Okay, that’s really neat! I know a cleric.”
And I said, “Cool.”
And he said, “If you want to borrow any of my Caleb Cleveland novels, just ask me, okay? I’d be happy to let you borrow them!”
He’s really enthusiastic.
I said. “Okay, yeah, that’d be cool. Uh, have fun in class.”
And he said, ‘You too!“
Then we both went to our lockers (it’s really weird having a locker!). He seems nice, but kind of like a nerd. I mean, that’s not a bad thing. I might actually ask to borrow his books — the library is always out of copies of the Caleb Cleveland books. It’s really annoying.
Things at home are pretty weird right now. My mom and my older sister remembered that my dad existed, and that he’s dead, and that’s been pretty rough on them, I think? Like, the whole Hunger thing was really bad and really scary, but it’s over now and mostly things have been repaired, I think, 'cause it’s been like four months since everything happened, and that’s definitely enough time. Except for the fact that people are dead. But it’s weird because all the adults and some of the teenagers keep remembering things different, and I think they’re rewriting some history books which is why Modern Politics as a class at the high school had been canceled — my sister was really annoyed about that, because she needs the credits or something.
I don’t remember my dad. I was one when he died. But it kind of sucks for Mom and for Kitty. I keep running into them talking and then I ask what it’s about, and they say either "Don’t worry about it, honey,” or “None of your business, Nicky.”
And I mean, that’s fine or whatever, but you know. It’s just been weird.
Angus sat with me and Dana and some of our other friends (Fred and Janine and Kelly) at lunch today. Or, it was more like, I was sitting with Dana at a table and she spotted Angus kind of wandering around looking for a place to sit. She glanced at me and smiled.
“Is that your new cru-ush?” she whispered to me. “I saw you talking to him earlier.”
“Shut up! I was just trying to be nice,” I said, “It sucks being new.”
“Sure,” she said, and then yelled across the room “Hey new kid, over here!” Angus turned. She waved at him, and he smiled and started walking over.
“He’s got a name, you know,” I said to Dana. She rolled her eyes. “Cru-u-ush,” she whispered, but she does this every time I talk to anybody.
“Hi,” Angus said. “Um, can I sit with you?”
“Sure,” I said, and he sat down in the chair next to me.
“This is Angus,” I said to the rest of the table as Angus pulled out his lunch. “He sits next to me and Dana in homeroom, and he’s new.”
Everyone said hi, and Angus smiled and said hi back. He started unpacking his lunch and then we were all immediately distracted by how super-nice it was. Like, it was really nice. It was packed in one of those lunch boxes with compartments and dividers and it looked pretty much too nice to eat, and there was a bag of homemade chips. Angus noticed me and Dana staring.
“Um, my, uh, my dad packed it for me,” he said. Which didn’t seem to make sense considering he told me he wasn’t really close with his parents, but I guess making lunch doesn’t mean his dad spends time with his son.
“Are those homemade chips?” I asked. I was really impressed. Chips are like, fried and stuff. I’ve only eaten homemade chips at restaurants.
“Yeah,” he said. “Do you want some?”
“Yes please,” I said, and he poured a couple of chips into my hand. I ate one. It was like, the best chip I’ve ever had.
“My dad told me to magic missile anyone who asked for one,” Angus said jokingly.
“You can cast magic missile?” Fred asked, looking impressed. Angus nodded. “My dad taught me.”
“Nicky’s been trying to learn all summer,” Kelly said. “She’s been stealing her older sister’s spellbooks.”
“I can’t get anything more than one bolt, though,” I said. “And I can’t practice when my mom’s around so it’s going pretty slow.”
“I could show you sometime?” Angus said.
“That’d be cool,” I said. I meant it, really.
I started trying to learn magic missile after the whole apocalypse battle day, you know, what the adults are calling “the day of story and song,” when all the black columns attacked everything. We almost died! It was very exciting and pretty scary. Kitty had to kill what was like, a black tiger that sprung out at us even though we were barricaded in a bunker. I’m eleven. I should be able to take care of myself, you know?
I know this was being super rude, but after we were done eating I was really curious, so while we were throwing out plastic sandwich bags and stuff, I asked Angus a question.
“Hey, I thought you and your parents weren’t close? But you keep talking about your dad.”
“You’d be a good detective!” he said, like it was the highest compliment he could think of. “Well, my bio-parents were pretty hands off. But my family is really close! I’m living with them now, which is nice.”
“Cool,” I said, even though what he said was like, super vague. I guess I was sort of prying, though. “Your dad seems cool.”
“He’s the best,” he said, and we walked back to the table, and the rest of lunch period was pretty normal. We mostly just compared classes and schedules and talked about which teachers seemed okay and which didn’t. You know, normal school stuff.
I saw Angus for the last time that day when I was getting my stuff out of my locker to go home. His locker is next to mine so it wasn’t really a surprise that I saw him. I was pretty tired so I just nodded at him and he nodded at me. He was pulling his backpack out (his backpack is really nice — it looks new. My backpack is new too), and then he closed it and turned to me.
“Yeah,” I said, “What’s up?”
“Do you want to come over this weekend?” he said, like he was expecting me to say no. “I could show you how to cast magic missile, nobody at home will mind. And you could borrow my books, if you want.”
I blinked. I was really surprised, in a nice way.
“I’ll ask my mom,” I said. “That’d be really cool!”
“Neat,” he said, grinning, and I smiled at him.
Then we walked out of the front doors together, along with everyone else, which is like, a lot of people, and I started heading toward the buses which is what most people do, but Angus started heading toward the sidewalk away from the school and then he stopped. I bumped into him.
“Oh no,” he said, but not like he was actually mad.
“What is it?” I said, and I looked the way he was looking, and there was like, a whole horde of people standing a little bit away from the school. When they noticed us staring a couple of them waved. It was like, nine people? Maybe?
And not even all one type of people, there was like a couple of elves and a gnome and a dragonborn and after that I kind of stopped trying to figure everything out. They looked kind of familiar, but I couldn’t place it. A lot of other students were also kind of giving them the sideeye, cause it was a lot of adults in one place, and they were loud.
The tall human guy looked really happy to see Angus, and shouted, “Angus! Over here, buddy!” and then the pretty elf next to him rolled his eyes and said “I’m pretty sure he can see us, dipshit. Agnes! Get your butt over here so that Maggie stops causing a scene,” just as loud.
“Oh no! I told them I could just walk home,” Angus said. “They didn’t have to come get me.” But he was smiling. He glanced at me. “Um, I’ll see you later, Nicky! Thanks for being so nice!”
And he ran off, to the people who I guess were his family? The other elf — the girl one without the huge hat — bent down to give him a hug, and the big guy ruffled his hair. Then they all started walking down the sidewalk, and I started walking over to the bus.
The new kid’s kind of weird, but I think we’re going to be friends. I guess I need to ask my mom if I can go over to Angus’s house this weekend.
- angus is refraining from using anyones names bc the names are pretty much well known all over faerun cause of the voidfish, although appearances less so - nobody expects to run into superman.
- angus is very happy to make a friend!
- the ipre crew + carey and killian came to walk ango home
- the Whole Gang was a lil nervous about angus’s first day at school even though angus has literally fought monsters and chased murderers, but this is socialization, you guys, what if the other kids are mean to him. what if they’re meaner than we were.