Chapter 5: Jericho
It was at about 7:30 that morning when I first laid eyes on my new school. It was a two story building that had bricks that were as brown as chocolate. In front of the school, to its far left was the jungle gym and to the far right of it, on the side, the parking lot.
My dad walked past me and made a path to the front doors. Before I joined him, I thought to myself: "I really hope things will be different this time…"
"Jakol! Come!" Dad commanded.
As soon as I heard him call my name, I followed behind him as he continued towards the doors.
In the school, there were kids talking with each other, walking to their classrooms, and putting stuff in their lockers. A teacher passed us in the hallway. She was stopped by my dad who asked her where the principal's office was. Instead of just telling us, she offered to show us to the principal's office. We followed her there and when we reached the office, she told us to take a seat and the principal would be with us soon. After awhile, the principal stepped out of his office and called us in.
As we came into his office, dad and I each took a seat that was directly across from his desk. I studied my new principal, trying to figure out what kind of guy he must be. He looked like he must have been in his thirties or forties. He wore a dark black suit and a dark black tie to go with it. He didn't look nearly as mean as my last principal. He looked a lot nicer.
"So you're Jake, right?" The principal asked.
"Yes sir." I answered.
"Well Jake, it's good to meet you son. I'm Principal Beckman." The Principal said, reaching over his desk and putting his arm out for me to shake it.
I grabbed Principal Beckman's hand and shook it, saying that it was good to meet him too. As he sat back in his chair, he pulled out a folder and opened it up.
"Now I've gone over your files Jake and it seems as though you've had quite a few incidents at your last school." The principal said, his face turning serious for a moment.
"But…" He began, his face all of a sudden forming a smile. "You don't seem like the kind of kid who would try to start trouble or hurt others."
"I'm not!" I pleaded. "I'm a good kid, I promise!"
"Relax, Jake, I'm not saying you aren't."
"Sir, if I may interject?" Dad asked, leaning forward in his chair and putting his hands together.
"Of course. Go ahead." Principal Beckman said.
"At my son's last schools, he had trouble with some classmates as well as teachers. I was hoping that you might be able to keep what happened at his last schools between us." Asked Dad.
"If that's what you and your son want, then of course. I believe that every student deserves a fair and equal chance at our school." Principal Beckman smiled at us.
I thanked Principal Beckman and my dad. Once we were done, the principal asked me if he'd like me to have him show me to my class. I accepted and me, dad, and Principal Beckman left the office and went into the halls. I said goodbye to dad as I followed the principal to my class. As we walked there, the bell rang. The other kids walked and ran past us as they hurried to class. In three minutes, the bell rang again and by then, the last kid had just gone into class.
We stopped at a classroom door. On the door's right there was a sign that had the room number on it, room 403. From outside, I could hear the teacher say good morning to the class. As soon as he said it, the kids immediately responded with, "Good morning, Mr. Johnson". The principal asked me to wait out in the hall for a moment. I listened to the teacher as he announced to the class that a new student would be joining them today. That was my cue. This was it. This was my chance to finally be able to make some friends. I smiled as best as I could, took a deep breath, and opened the door to the classroom. Just before I walked in, the principal told me to come by his office at lunch so I can get my lock and combo for my locker.
I walked in and looked at my new classmates, smiling, trying to look friendly. I walked over to the teacher and looked up at him. The teacher didn't look very old. I guessed he was maybe in his twenties or thirties. He had dark brown hair and was wearing a dark grey shirt and a dark blue pair of jeans.
I turned towards the class. There were four rows, each row with a total of five kids sitting at a desk. The row closest to the door had six desks instead of five. This extra desk didn't have anyone sitting at it so I guessed that was where I would be sitting. As I looked over at the desk, I was surprised when I saw who was going to be sitting behind me: it was that kid from Gamestop! HE was going to be one of my classmates?! That was unexpected. I didn't think I'd see him again. I tried to take my mind off him for a moment so I could introduce myself to everyone.
"Hi!" I said in a happy voice, raising my hand to the class. "My name's Jake Jones."
"Jake, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?" The teacher suggested.
"Ok. Well I moved here from Michigan with my dad and my brother, umm…"I stopped, trying to think of what else to say.
"I like video games. My favorites are Street Fighter and Final Fantasy. My favorite superhero is Batman and…one thing I really wanna do at this school is make a lot of friends." I finished introducing myself.
"Well Jake…" The teacher smiled. "We're all very happy to have you in our class. Now, why don't you take your seat over there?" He said, pointing to a desk in the middle of the first row.
I grabbed my bag and went over to my desk. I sat my bag on the ground and looked at the boy who I would be sitting in front of. He looked at me and as soon as he did, I could tell that he remembered me.
"Hey it's you!" The kid exclaimed. "You're that kid I bumped into at Gamestop last week!"
"Oh, Jericho, do you and Jake know each other?" Asked Mr. Johnson.
"Uhh…Kinda. We bumped into each other at Gamestop last week." The kid…I mean Jericho explained.
"Really? Wow!" Mr. Johnson laughed. "It really is a small world. Well Jake, if you take your seat, we can begin class."
"Yes sir." I said, sitting down and pulling out a notebook and a pencil.
And so my first class at my new school began. The subject was Language Arts. I opened the first page of my notebook and wrote down everything the teacher put on the whiteboard. After about an hour, the bell rang, letting us know that our first class of the day was over. Mr. Johnson told us that our next class was music. He had us line up by order of our desks at the door. I was the third kid at the door with Jericho behind me and two other kids, a boy and a girl in front. Once we were all lined up, Mr. Johnson escorted us to music class. Music also lasted an hour and afterwards, we were taken back to Mr. Johnson's class where we had science and math.
By the time I was halfway through math, I was starting to get really hungry. I didn't know how much longer I'd be able to wait until lunch. It was only thirty minutes away but it felt like forever. I took down everything Mr. Johnson wrote on the board, glancing over to the clock each time I finished writing down a set of notes. My stomach let out a little grumble and I let out a soft, hungry groan.
"Hey, are you okay?" Jericho whispered to me.
"I'm fine. I'm just really, really, really hungry." I whispered without turning around.
When there were only five minutes left of class, Mr. Johnson had us line up at the door. The kids who brought lunch from home were allowed to go to their lockers and get their lunch bags. The rest of us had to wait in the classroom. Once the bell rang, I rushed to the lunch room but suddenly I remembered that principal Beckman wanted me to go to his office to get my lock for my locker and my combination. I groaned again but figured that if I hurried I could get to lunch in plenty of time.
I walked quickly to the principal's office. I told his secretary, an old woman that principal Beckman wanted to see me so he could give me my lock and combo. I heard him call my name from inside his office and tell me that I could come in. He handed me a lock and a small piece of paper with my combination and my locker number written on it: 5-16-8. With my mind still focused on getting some food in my stomach, I headed for the door when principal Beckman stopped me and asked how I was liking it at my new school.
"It's pretty good." I answered. "Everyone here has been really nice to me."
"Well I'm glad to hear that, Jake." The principal smiled. "That's what I want this school to be: a place where students can grow, learn, and make friends.
"Thank you, sir. I think I really am starting to make friends here." I said, feeling very happy.
"I'm glad, Jake. Now I don't want to keep you. Go put your stuff away and get yourself something to eat."
"Okay! Thanks again, Mr. Beckman!" I said as I rushed out the door.
I looked at the note Mr. Beckman gave me. It said my locker number was 247. I looked at the numbers on each locker, trying to find 247. My search brought me to the lockers by my classroom. There were ten lockers to the left of the classroom and ten to the right. Mine was the one on the left that was closest to the classroom door. There was no lock on it so I decided to open my new locker before putting the lock on. I emptied my bag and put my notebooks on the top shelf and my textbooks on the bottom. Once my backpack was almost completely empty, I hung it on a hook in my locker and closed the door, placing my lock on the handle and locking the lock. Now it was time for me to finally get some food.
I rushed into the lunchroom. By the time I got there, most of the kids were already sitting at their tables, eating their lunch. At one of the tables, I saw Jericho sitting together with a girl. The girl had long dark brown hair and was wearing a black short sleeved shirt with the number four in the center. I giggled to myself. I bet she was Jericho's girlfriend.
As I grew closer to getting my lunch, I looked around, trying to find a good spot for me to eat. Since I knew Jericho a little better than the other kids, I decided I'd see if I could eat with him and his girlfriend.
I grabbed a carton of chocolate milk and a tray. I approached the lunch lady who gave me some fries, mashed potatoes, and beans. I looked down at the food that sitting in front of me. Milk, fries, mashed potatoes, and beans? That sounded like a strange lunch. Well it was all I'd have to eat for the next four hours so I should eat as much as I can.
I walked over to the table Jericho and his girlfriend were sitting at. I asked them if it was okay if I sat with them.
"Sure." Jericho answered.
I put my tray on the table and sat on the bench across from them. I grabbed my milk carton and pulled the top open, then took a sip of some nice cold chocolate milk.
"So you're the new kid?" The girl sitting next to Jericho asked.
"Yeah. I'm Jake." I said, eating part of a french-fry.
"Jake, huh? I'm Cassie. I see you've already met my brother Jericho."
"Wait!" I said, surprised, almost choking on my fry. "Your brother?"
"Well yeah. Jericho's my twin brother. I'm the older twin though. I was born two minutes before Jericho." Cassie explained.
"What! No you're not!" Jericho butted in. "I was born before you!"
"Well that's not how Dad remembers it." Said Cassie, looking away from Jericho as she ate some of her mashed potatoes.
"Well that's how Mom remembers it." Jericho said, eating some of his own mashed potatoes and looking away from Cassie.
I laughed a little, causing the two of them to look over at me.
"And what are you laughing at?" Cassie said, sounding a little angry.
"I'm sorry!" I said with a smile on my face. "It's just that you guys are kinda funny when you argue."
"Funny?" Cassie said, her voice raising a little. "You think I'm funny?!"
"What! No! I didn't mean like –"
"You know what's funny? Your hair! It makes you look like your head's on fire!" She exclaimed in a higher voice.
I didn't know what to say to that but hearing her say it really hurt. I looked down at my tray and didn't say anything else.
"Not cool Cassie! That was really mean!" Jericho said, standing up for me.
"Whatever. I don't like when kids laugh at me" She said, not even paying attention to what her brother was saying. She stood up and grabbed her tray. "I'm going out to recess. And by the way Jericho, I am the older twin."
As she stormed off, I looked up and watched her head over to the trash and dump her food. I didn't know what just happened or what I did to deserve that.
"Sorry, Jake." Jericho said with a frown. "She didn't mean to say that stuff about your hair."
"What's wrong with her? Why did she get so mad at me?" I asked, still trying to figure out what I did.
"It's not your fault. When we were in first grade, some girls used to pick on her. They used to laugh at her and call her names like 'Gassie Cassie' or 'Crybaby Cass' because she'd always run and cry in the girls bathroom when they picked on her during recess. One day, she couldn't take anymore of them bullying her and she punched one of the girls in the nose. Mr. Beckman suspended my sister and the girl who was picking on her. Now the girls leave her alone but she still doesn't like when people laugh at her." Jericho explained.
"Wow…" I said, feeling guilty for laughing now. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"It's okay Jake. Let's finish eating then go and find her."
"Alright." So me and Jericho finished our lunches. Afterwards, we went outside to look for Cassie. We found her sitting by the flagpole by herself, a soccer ball sitting by her left leg. Jericho and I approached her and sat next to her.
"Hey Cassie." I said softly.
"What?" She said in a still angry voice.
"Look, I'm sorry I laughed but I wasn't trying to make it look like I was laughing at you."
"And I'm sorry I got mad at you and said those things about your hair. I didn't mean it." She said, turning around and smiling.
"To be honest," She continued. "I think your hair's pretty cool."
"You do?" I said, blushing as I ran my fingers through my hair.
"Th-thanks." I said bashfully.
Now that Cassie wasn't angry at me anymore, the three of us stood up together. Cassie bent over and picked up the soccer ball.
"I got us a soccer ball, Jericho. Do you want to play?" Asked Cassie, holding the ball in the palm of her right hand.
"Of course!" Jericho said anxiously. "Jake, you wanna play too?"
"Sure!" I answered with a wide smile. This was the first time in awhile that someone wanted me to play with them.
I followed Jericho and Cassie over to the school. They explained the rules to me: The school and the grass were the goals. If the ball hit the school or landed in the grass, someone would score a point. It was really easy to understand although I didn't know how we were going to play soccer with three people. That would mean it'd be two against one but who would I be teamed up with?
"Hey Cassie, why don't you and Jake be on a team?" Jericho suggested.
"But then it'd be you against the two of us." I said confused about why Jericho would suggest me and Cassie be on a team against him.
"You don't have to worry, Jake. My brother's really good at soccer. He's been playing it every recess since we were in kindergarten." Said Cassie.
"Hey Jake, since you're new here, why don't we let you kick first?" Cassie asked, tossing the soccer ball to me.
I held my hands open and caught the ball. I placed it on the ground next to my feet. Before I kicked, I looked at Jericho who was standing in front of the grass. If he's been playing this game since kindergarten, then he must be really good at it. I didn't think I'd be able to beat him. I've never even really played soccer before.
I pulled my leg back and gave the ball a mighty kick, sending it flying into the air and landing in the center of the grass. Uh oh. I probably never played soccer before but I knew I wasn't supposed to do that.
"Jake, you're not supposed to kick the ball that hard!" Jericho called out to me.
"Sorry!" I hollered back.
Jericho ran to get the ball. He tossed it back to me as he told me to try kicking it softer this time. So I did like he said: I put a little strength into my kick but not as much as the last one. I kicked the ball towards Jericho and tried my best to keep it away from him. After about ten seconds, he got the ball away from me and was kicking it over to our goal. I ran after him and tried to kick the ball away from him but he blocked my kick. I was still able to get the ball away from him. The ball started to roll away as me and Jericho both ran after it. Jericho was in front of me, blocking me from getting past him. How was I supposed to get to that ball before him? I didn't have enough time to think; we were both getting closer to the ball.
Eventually, Jericho was able to get the ball. He brought it towards Cassie and my goal and with a big kick, sent it flying right into the wall of the school. It bounced off, flew into the air and rolled a few feet into the grass.
"Wow!" I said, gasping. "You are good."
"Thanks!" Jericho smiled. "I want to be a soccer player when I grow up, that's why I play it so much!"
"Really?" I asked, wiping away some sweat from my forehead.
"Yep!" Jericho smiled wider.
"Hey Jake." Cassie said, coming over to us.
"You go and defend the goal. This time, I'm going to try and get that ball from him." Said Cassie, sounding sure that she would be able to do that.
"You sure?" I asked.
"Yeah I'm sure! Don't worry, before Lunch is over, we're going get at least a point."
Well trying to get a point sounded easier than trying to beat Jericho. I didn't think we were going to do that. I did as Cassie said and stood over by the wall that was being used as our goal. I stood there, ready for Jericho to bring the ball to me. This time, he wouldn't be getting past me.
Fifteen minutes later, the bell rang, meaning lunch was over and it was time for our next class. Me and Cassie weren't able to get even one point! The game was over with Jericho at four points, Cassie and I at zero. The three of us stood by the door, panting and wiping away sweat.
"Aw man, that sucks!" I said frustrated. "We couldn't get even one point!"
"You did good though Jake. That was pretty good for your first game." Jericho said, holding the ball with his hand.
"I don't think so…" I said flatly. "You're just so much better than me and Cassie. We didn't have a chance against you."
"Dude, I've been playing this game since I was little. You just need to keep playing. You'll get good at it too."
"You really think so, Jericho?" I said, still not feeling very sure.
"Mmm-hmm!" Jericho nodded.
I smiled at him. "Thanks, dude."
Jericho giggled. "Sure!"
And so the first day at my new school was almost over. I couldn't believe it: I'd only been here for four hours and I already made some friends! I smiled to myself as I headed back into the school with Jericho, Cassie, and the other kids. I told myself that this time, things would be different. This time, I was going to keep my friends.