So far I hadn't been able to tell anyone that I was really a boy. At first I'd been scared of Mrs. Zeff and what sort of trouble I was in, and then the principal didn't give me a chance. He was so good at guiding the conversation, I didn't have a place to say, Excuse me, but I'm not a girl.
I lifted my hand to knock on Principal Bryant's door, but Ms. Trujillo stopped me. "Don't do it, honey. He has an important phone meeting, and then he's leaving for the day. Whatever it is will have to wait for tomorrow."
"But it's important," I whined.
"Listen," she said. "Unless you're dying or giving birth, you've got to wait until tomorrow."
I struggled inside. So far I hadn't been able to tell anyone that I was really a boy. At first I'd been scared of Mrs. Zeff and what sort of trouble I was in, and then the principal didn't give me a chance. He was so good at guiding the conversation, I didn't have a place to say, Excuse me, but I'm not a girl.
Ms. Trujillo was waving a piece of paper at me. "Here's your new schedule. I don't know where your old one went. Miss Truman can work that out tomorrow, not that it matters to you.
"But tell me something: where were you the past two days?"
"My aunt said that school started on Thursday, not Tuesday."
Miss Trujillo frowned. "Your aunt sounds a little mixed up."
"It was an honest mistake," I said.
Ms. Trujillo gave a look of disapproval. "Tell her what a lot of trouble she caused you. And listen, Ms. Price took your 'add' notices to all your teachers. You're lucky you made an good friend there. You really owe her one." She smiled and handed me two more slips of paper. "Now, you gotta get out of here. These are excuse notes for the two classes you missed this morning. So go have your lunch, finish the day, and go home."
Ms. Trujillo came out from behind the desk, ruffled my hair, and gently pushed me out the door. I stumbled into the empty hall. I was in a state of shock. Look at me: my first day in high school in a new town, and I was dressed like a girl.
The bell rang, and a flood of students filled and flowed through the hall. I pressed my back into the wall. It was overwhelming... I couldn't get my bearings... I felt short of breath.
Then I realized a voice was calling me: "Marcie! Marcie! Are you all right? You look kind of lost."
It was Carla, the girl from gym class. She had a concerned look, but when I recognized her, she smiled.
"Hey," she said. "Wanna have lunch with me? We can sit together!"
"Yeah, sure," I said. "Which way is it?"
As we walked, Carla took my schedule out of my hand and, after a quick look, shoved it into my bag. She guided me into the cafeteria, through the food line, and found a table. We sat down opposite each other.
"Are you sure you're okay?" she asked again. "I didn't hurt you in gym, did I?"
"No," I smiled. "I'm okay."
"Can I look at your schedule again?" she asked. I nodded, so she pulled the card from my bag, and a notebook from her own. Her schedule was taped inside the notebook's cover, and she compared the two. "Wow, Marcie! We have almost the exact same schedule. A couple things are kinda flipped, and I took Shop instead of Home Ec."
"Oh, that's good," I said.
"So how come you missed Math and English this morning?"
"I was in the principal's office."
"For TWO HOURS?"
It did sound extreme. Maybe I'd waited for Mr Bruce longer than I thought. "I guess," I said.
"Are you in trouble?"
"I dunno. I had to do the add thingy, but somebody took my clothes while we were in gym..."
"OH!" Carla cried. "Were you that girl? I heard you were parading down the hall with your boyfriend. Who is he?"
I blushed. "He's not my boyfriend."
She grinned. "Then why are you blushing? Do you think he might have a friend for me?" Then she did a double take over my shoulder. "Oh, there's a cute boy coming this way. Is it him?"
I turned, and saw Jerry grinning as he approached me. "Hey, Marcie. I almost didn't recognize you with your clothes on. You look nice. So where did you find them?"
I couldn't stop blushing. "They're not mine," I said. "I'm just borrowing them."
"You ought to keep them," he replied. "They look great on you."
I introduced him and Carla. "I know you," Jerry said. "You're on the field hockey team."
She smiled and nodded.
"So," he said, turning his attention back to me. "Want to go for a soda and something after school?"
I blushed all over again. "Oooh," he cooed. "You are such a blusher! Does that mean yes?"
"No," I said. "I really have to get home right after."
"How about tomorrow?" he asked.
What the hell? I thought. Tomorrow I'll have short hair; Marcie will have disappeared. If I say I'll go, maybe I can at least get Carla set up.
"Maybe," I said. "Do you have a friend for Carla?"
He cocked an eyebrow at her and said, "Maybe I do. What do you say to Pat MacKinney?"
Carla blushed scarlet and couldn't speak. Jerry chuckled. "So the both of you are blushers. Okay, me and Pat, you and Carla, tomorrow, drinks and small talk!" And then he was gone.
Neither of us could speak for a while. Then Carla gushed, "Wow, Marcie! Do you know who Pat MacKinney IS? I've had a crush on him for, like, forever!" She started babbling about Pat this and Pat that. I tried to listen, but after a while my attention flagged. I just kept smiling and nodding my head. At least one good thing was coming out of my situation.
Carla was great. She was in both my afternoon classes, and showed me the way to each. The afternoon went pretty well. In History, even after I told the teacher my name, he was convinced that I was one of the Graylen girls, and turned my last name, Donner, into a first name: Donna Graylin. I didn't bother to correct him since tomorrow Marcie would be gone anyway.
The last class of the day was Computers. The teacher was pretty interesting, and the time flew.
Near the end of the school day, though, I started to worry that Carla might live in the same direction as me. In fact, I had to make sure that no one saw where I lived, or someone might connect Marcie with Mark.
As soon as class was over, I asked Carla where she lived. She told me, but the address meant nothing, so I asked which direction she was walking. She was staying for field hockey practice, so I didn't have to worry about her coming with me.
On the way home, I looked over my shoulder every so often, but didn't see anyone from school there. In fact, I didn't really see anyone on the street until I got home. My aunt was sitting on her front steps, taking sips from a bottle of water.
"Oh!" she called, smiling, "You must be my lovely niece, Marcie!"
© 2006, 2007 by Kaleigh Way
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