High School: Junior Year
The Year That Solidifies Your Place in the High School Food Chain
Have you ever had that sensation where you just didn’t want to get out of bed? Well, I feel that every morning I wake up. I don’t know if I’m just lazy or if I have some medical condition that won’t allow my body to actually wake up early in the morning. I do the same routine every morning: shut my alarm clock off, roll the covers above my head, and lay there until the replacement mom walks in and tells me breakfast is ready. I’m freaking 17 years old and my “replacement” mom still cooks me breakfast.
You’d think that lying in bed those few extra minutes would be good but it’s agony because the entire time you’re just thinking about the moments you have to leave the comfort of your own blanket. Oh bed, what a cruel mistress you are. It being the first day of school wasn’t making me get up any more than I wanted to clean after one of my dad and replacement mom's dinner parties.
It was my first day of high school as a junior. The first day of the year that defines who you’re going to be your senior year. The first day of the year that will either make me the school joke or make me the school jock. It's the first day that I can become someone other than a nobody. Freshman year was figuring out where you belong because you just came out of the babyish middle school years. Sophomore year: the year-long break where you can be free, hang out, and do whatever it is you want to do, because no one will care to remember. Junior year is the year. It is the most important school year in a person's life, second to senior year of course. It’s nerve-wracking just laying there thinking about it. Junior year at Luis David High was practically Hell with desks if you didn’t have a game plan.
“Wake up sleepy head, breakfast is on the table,” the replacement mom said. My dad didn’t like it when I called her that but that was what exactly she was to me. She was the replacement mom. My parents had divorced when I was in the sixth grade and just a couple of months ago my dad remarried the replacement. Well her real name is Rebekah and dad calls her Becky. She even asked my brother, Alex, and I to call her that as well.
She did the same thing every morning: she’d come into mine and Alex’s room and say “Wake up sleepy head, breakfast is on the table,” walk out and wait on us to get downstairs. My dad was always telling us that we needed to spend some time with her so we can get to know each other but that was certainly not going to happen. The replacement mom just came into this house as if she were our mom! She was not my mom and she never will be. If it weren’t for my actual mom having to move to England for her job I would be with her right now. Every time we FaceTimed each other she always says that she wishes that we were with her. England was pretty cool. I wouldn’t mind living there. I would miss my dad, but I would be able to watch a live Manchester match to make up for it.
So it was time. The time of the morning when I had to get up out of bed. If my dad knew how emotionally scarring it is having to get out of bed he wouldn’t have to make me go to school. I did it. I flung the covers off of my body and made my way to my closet. Luis David High didn’t have anything special I was looking forward to and it didn’t have anyone special for me to impress, so I decided on donning a dark blue V-neck and some skinny jeans. Not the super tight skinny jeans but loose enough to were the boys are able to breathe a little.
I had gone running and done a little weight training this summer so losing some weight and gaining some muscle made the shirt a little snug and tight fitting in the chest area. I checked myself out in the mirror, I swear I didn’t recognize myself. This was the year to make a better version of me that people will remember and like, hopefully. People always made a fuss about what to wear the first day of school. Usually, that isn’t me. Typically, I just wore what my hand touched first in my closet, but junior year wasn’t the year to risk it. Last year I wouldn’t have cared what I wore. Once I even went to school wearing two different pairs of shoes. Embarrassing? Not really. Okay maybe a little, but that was sophomore year. Nobody remembers what you did sophomore year.
When I opened my door the familiar smell of waffles and eggs filled the air. Another “great meal Becky makes” my dad says. He’s always hyping her up as if she was an awesome cook which I can’t see how making waffles and eggs is hard. Then again, Alex can’t even make ice but that’s just Alex, he’s dumb that way, he has an excuse.
I’ve read in books, siblings fight over who gets to the bathroom first and at the end they’re all late because of the fighting and bickering. Alex found that since he barely takes baths and brushes his teeth, there isn’t a reason why he’d be in the restroom so I just go on in and use it with no fighting and bickering while he lays in bed a few extra minutes. The wonders of living with a stereotypical dirty jock. Strange how books are supposed to be somewhat a testament of reality and yet my life was simple and definitely not like what some books describe.
“So when are you planning on telling the boys?” I hear my dad say as I rounded the corner, still standing on the last step of the stairs.
“I don’t know. What if they aren’t ready?” The replacement mom responds.
“Honey we’ve been married for four months now I think it’s time they met your…”
“Move it Sam!” Alex says pushing me out of the way.
I guess that caught the replacement off guard. Alex wasn’t your typical nice, “Let’s go outside and play catch” sort of brother. He was the opposite. Sort of. Alex was nice, but only when he needed something and the only time he’d ever want to play catch with me was if he threw the ball and I tried to catch it with my head. “Boys, your plates are on the table. Hurry up, you don’t want to let it get cold. It's the first day of school so we don’t wanna be late,” the replacement said. “We’ll talk about it later, ok?” she said talking to dad.
“Fine, if you want,” he said defeatedly.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know who they wanted us to meet but I do know that if it was someone the replacement mom knew, then I wouldn’t like them.
“I’d like to walk to school if you don’t mind,” I said. I really did want to walk to school because no one has their parent drop them off anymore. The replacement mom wasn’t my parent and I surely didn’t want to be in a car with her alone. Her driving us to school was one of dad's ways of Alex and I getting to know her.
“I thought Becky was taking you to school, Sam?” my dad inquired.
“That was before I thought I’d have to spend the whole time with her making small talk, dad,” I said. I know that wasn’t really nice of me, and I usually am nice, but I just didn’t like the fact that she was trying to be my mom.
“Sam, you don’t talk like that to Rebekah, you hear me?...”
“Zach it's okay,” the replacement said walking out of the kitchen.
Way to go, I made her cry again. I know how I’m acting is childish and dumb but I just don’t like her. She isn’t my mom. “Sam you better watch that mouth of yours or I’ll wash it out with soap. You hear me!” Dad always got into a yelling fit whenever I made his wife the leave a room like that. “Why can’t you just get along with her, huh? Rebekah has been everything but mean to you and you can’t help but at least say thank you for the breakfast!”
“I’m late for school.” With that I turned, walked away, picked up my backpack from where I left it when Alex pushed me, and walked out of the door, slamming the door in the process. I was going to get it when I came home. My dad wasn’t one of those parents that easily forgot things. If the past was any indication, he would probably phone my mom and ask her to talk to me. The relationship my mom and the replacement had was strange. It was almost like they were friends. My mom never spoke ill about her even when I ranted to her about the replacement. She didn’t like me calling her that either.
I didn’t live that far from Luis David High, so I could walk to school every day if I wanted. My mom had been the one who dropped me off at school and now that she’s gone, the replacement mom came in and took over the house and now she wants to take me to school. She was trying to way too hard. It's like she couldn’t get the hint that I didn’t like her and that wasn’t going to change.
When you think about it, four blocks isn’t that much but when you’re actually walking it seems like forever. My best friend Ralfie lived a few doors down from where I did so I guess I’ll just wait for him. Our neighborhood wasn’t that fancy but it was better than most neighborhoods in Fabiola, Texas. My dad and Ralfie’s dad work together in the same law firm so I’m pretty sure my dad would be telling him about what happened this morning. Not that I cared or anything. Ralfie’s dad, Frank, had been my dad’s best friend since law school and now it’s up to me and Ralfie to “continue the tradition” as my dad would put it. For Ralfie, since he was an only child, it was either me or Alex to be friends with and since Alex usually made him cry almost every time he came over when he was little I guess he settled for me.
Alex is cool, I guess, but he’s only cool in the sense of popularity. He is the star quarterback of the football team, captain of the basketball team; he’s even dating the captain of the cheerleading squad. And with all that bears the price of him being a jerk to everyone, even me. Especially me. Now that we’re both in high school, him being a senior and me a junior, I shudder to think what he and his dumb friends have in store for the underclassmen. If I couldn’t make a name for myself, Alex and his dumb friends probably will. Then again, Alex was stupid. Like I said, with all his “coolness” there is a price to pay and along with being a jerk it comes being as dumb as a rock. Alex wouldn’t have passed last year, his junior year, if it wasn’t for our mom sweet-talking his teachers in letting him by. It's safe to say that his chances in getting into college without an athletic scholarship or a sizable donation on my dad's part, well, I don’t he’ll be able to make it.
I got to Ralfie's house and rang the doorbell. I guess thinking that I wished it was Friday I got that stupid Rebecca Black song stuck in my head. It's Friday, Friday. I was sort of singing when Ralfie opened the door and let me see that he was taking “not caring what I wear the first day of school seriously.”
He had on a pair of black skinny jeans with a black and dark red plaid shirt. He wore, what looked like brand new, black and red Puma's. “Dude, did you even look at yourself this morning?”
He took one look down, “Shut up, you’re just jealous I look better than you do.” Ralfie had lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of muscle over the summer. Since he joined the football team last year he’s been working all summer to “get in shape” to play for varsity. I went running with him when he went but I didn’t do all the extra stuff that he did for the team other than going to the gym a few times with him. Ralfie worked harder than I ever seen him work. He was about my height before the summer started and now he was a few inches taller than I was, I'm guessing he’s pushing toward six feet even and he never used to wear skinny jeans, let alone a plaid shirt. He was the kind of guy that wore cargo shorts and a band tee. This Ralfie I saw in the doorway was completely different from the Ralfie I saw last year. Before he started working out he wasn’t fat or anything but he wasn’t skinny either, but now this kid has a bulging six-pack.
“Dude it’s so bad I’m thinking of walking ahead of you to school just so I won’t be seen with you.”
“Dude it’s our junior year. Tell me you don’t still think that you’re ‘too cool for school’” he joked.
“Dude you look like you’re about to push my books down and give me a wedgy when I reach down to pick them up.” It didn’t hit me how true it was until I said it out loud. Ralfie actually looks like someone Alex would hang out with. He looked like one of the “populars”. He had “swag”, whatever that meant. I heard Alex and his friends say that all the time when they were flexing in the mirror in his room, “He has swag, she has swag, will this keep my swagup? Yom that looks clean AF!” I don’t think there’s a specific definition for the word but people just use it for anything.
“Hey, if I have to do that, I have to do what I have to do,” he said that mockingly and playfully punched/pushed me. I wonder how true those words were. I mean, looking at him no doubt he would go under the cheers (short for cheerleaders) radar. “Okay get this, you’re going to be on the varsity football team and what? I’m the debate captain and drum major for the school's marching band. I’m a member of the chess society and Interact Club. What are the odds that you will give me a wedgy?”
“Nah man. We buds. We brothas. We homies. Ain't nothing gonna happen to you.” It was cool that he still said it but him saying it in his ghetto voice wasn’t reassuring.
As we stood across the street from the school, we could see all different kinds of people from all of the classes. These were the people that we had to prove that the mark we are making is worth keeping and worth remembering next year, our senior year.
About the author
I'm just a twenty-something year old with an imagination. I have a small idea in my head, I write, and one thing leads to another I have a whole story. I hope you like what I've written. Excuse the grammatical errors, I'm working on it.