"Hey, I'm glad you're here! My name's Mike!" the boy said as he shook my hand. "I just moved here from Ohio."
It was like that every time we met someone new. It never got easier for me to meet a group of people and then have them say hello to me. What were they thinking? Why did I always get such weird looks when they saw me, even though I was perfectly normal?
"Hi!" I replied nervously as I tried not to stare at the other kids around us. They were all so much taller than me; their faces looked older too.
The boy gave me another look. "Are you sure you didn't come up from Florida? You look like you've been there before."
"I grew up on an island, I moved here after I turned 9" I replied.
He looked at me in disbelief for a moment, and then smiled. "Well, what are you doing over here?"
I shrugged. "I... uh..." I glanced around. "I don't really know anyone yet," I lied.
"That's okay, I'll show you around!" he said enthusiastically.
We walked out of the cafeteria, through the hallways, and into the courtyard where students hung out between classes.
"So, I guess you're new here too huh?" he asked me.
"Yeah, I moved here from the Bahamas last year. I'm still trying to learn everyone's names."
"Wow, cool! You must have had a pretty rough journey getting here, right?
"Nah it as pretty comfortable on the plane ride here so, I do miss the beaches though" I reply.
"Oh yeah, I've heard about those islands. Where did you live? In the capital city Nassau? Or one of the smaller towns?" he asked.
"No, I was in Freeport, near Grand Bahama Island. It's a small town next to Port Lucaya."
"Huh, that sounds nice, I think I've heard of it before. That's so weird that you came all the way from there. Well anyway, let me introduce you to some people! This is Karen, this is Scott, and this is Janeen!" he said pointing each person out.
They all greeted me with smiles and nods.
Karen, or as the boy called her, "KK", was short and petite. She had long light brown hair that hung down to her shoulders.
Her eyes were dark blue, and she was wearing a black and white checkered shirt and jeans.
Scott was tall and muscular. His skin was tanned, and he wore a blue polo shirt, and red shorts along with white socks. He had brown curly hair and bright green eyes.
Janeen was very beautiful. She had long black hair tied into two ponytails, and her eyes were the same color as mine. She also wore a black and white checkered shirt, and dark blue jeans.
"Now you can start to make friends!" the boy beamed happily.
"Thanks a lot!" I replied.
"My name is Mike by the way, what's your name?" he asked.
"Yeah, I know, we introduced ourselves earlier," I started to say, but he cut me off.
"What? No, I mean, what is your actual name? It's not Jah, right?"
"Um, yes it is."
"Really? I thought you were called something else?"
"Like what?" I asked.
"Okay well, uh, like, how about Jah-seem or Jah-man?"
"This is getting annoying," I muttered.
"You should tell your mom and dad to call you something different," Scott suggested.
"Your parents are calling you Jah?!" the boy exclaimed.
"Yeah, why not? It's my name!" I replied sarcastically.
"I think you'd be better off if they called you John, or Jim, or Jay, or Jack, or anything but Jah!"
I rolled my eyes. "How many times do I have to tell you I'm fine with it? I don't care what you guys call me! Just leave me alone."
"Uh, no, sorry. If you want to fit in here, you need to go by Jah," Karen said.
She was the friendliest of all my new classmates, but I knew she would try to change me. That's what most of them were trying to do: change me.
I sighed as I looked around the courtyard. There were a bunch of different groups of kids hanging out together.
There were the jocks who sat on benches while talking about sports, and girls who sat on the ground and talked about their latest gossip.
Some of these boys had girls following them around to ask them questions, and others were sitting on the grass making funny faces at each other.
Over to the side of the courtyard, there was a group of students playing basketball. A few students in the courtyard were throwing a football around, and some were kicking it back and forth between themselves.
A girl with long brown hair was running around the school with her gym clothes on. She was laughing and having fun, which made me smile.
I looked across the courtyard to see the teachers talking to another group of students.
In the middle of the courtyard, I saw a group of guys standing around. One guy was holding a basketball and tossing it to another kid.
Then I noticed a girl walking towards the courtyard. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she had on tight jeans and a black tank top.
As she walked through the courtyard, a group of three boys stopped talking and stared at her.
When she reached the group, one of the boys yelled out, "Hey, there she is! The big island bitch!"
"Whoa, that's racist!" Jah yelled angrily.
The boy smirked, "Whatever, man. She's just jealous because we're hotter than her."
"So, what's your problem anyway?" the girl shouted defiantly.
"No, I'm just saying," the boy retorted. "If she wants to talk that way, then I'm going to call her a big island bitch!"
"Why do you care?" the girl asked. "What's wrong with being from the Bahamas?"
"Nothing, it's just that I like hot chicks, and she's not hot enough for me."
"Oh, get over yourself!" the girl cried.
"Yeah, well it's not like you're any better."
"Excuse me?!" the girl shouted.
The boys laughed, and they started to walk away.
"You guys suck! Go home!" Jah yelled after them.
"Come on, man, lighten up. We were just joking around with you."
"You're right, I'm a huge asshole!"
One of the boys laughed nervously. "Hey, we didn't mean to offend you. I'm sorry if we did.""Don't worry about it, just forget it," Jah said.
"Look, I'll have them apologize to you," the boy offered.
"No, it's okay. I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm not a jerk. I'm actually pretty cool."
"That's great! Are you gonna hang out with us later?" the boy asked.
Jah nodded as he continued to watch the other students.
"Cool, well see you around!" the boy said and walked off.
Jah watched him for a minute, wondering what to do.
After a few seconds he decided to follow the boy. As he followed, he passed a group of students who were playing soccer. He caught the ball before it fell on the ground, and he tossed it back to the group. Then he kept walking until he found the group of guys.
He walked up behind them and tapped one shoulder.
The boy turned around. "Uh, what?" he said.
"That was pretty good," Jah complimented.
"Can I join your group?" He asked.
"Sure, you're welcome to."
Jah joined the group, and they played catch with the ball for a few minutes. He felt more relaxed than he had in weeks. The group was nice to him, and he was able to relax finally.
His mood quickly changed as the other guys began to tease him.
"I bet you guys have a crush on that girl," one of the boys said.
"What makes you think I even look at the girls?" He shot back.
"You do, dude. Don't lie."
"Why would I? All I'm interested in is school, sports, and friends."
The guys laughed.
"Yeah, right. You're the most popular guy in school now because of that girl."
"I didn't do anything!" Jah yelled angrily. "And you know what? I don't need to. You guys are the ones who are obsessed with her."
"Whatever, man," the boy said.
"I guess I shouldn't have trusted you guys so much," He said.
"Well, maybe if you hadn't given us such a hard time, we wouldn't have started talking shit about you."
"I told you I didn't want to be your friend. Why do you guys keep pushing me? I never asked for this."
"So what if you did? Do you have any friends outside of school, or are you just going to spend your whole life here?"
"Fuck you guys!"
"Oh, you're mad now? I can see it on your face."
"Shut up!" He screamed.
"You're right, you don't need us," one of the boys said.
"You can't handle being popular, huh?" another one added.
"Go away!" He yelled.
"Yeah, go home and cry to your mommy."
Jah stormed off, leaving the group behind.
As He walked alone through the courtyard, Jah couldn't help but feel lonely.
He thought about the friends he had back in the Bahamas, and wondered why he ever left.
As he walked past the basketball courts, he noticed a group of students practicing their shooting skills. Most of them were shooting hoops at the rim on the backboard, but one boy was shooting layups instead.
"Hey, hey, stop wasting time and practice your free throws," Jah yelled.
The boy spun around and glared at him.
"Sorry, I didn't realize you were working on your free throws," he said.
"Yeah, well, you have the floor open over there; why don't you come over there and practice too?" the boy asked rudely.
"No thanks. I already have someone to shoot with, and it's not you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" the boy demanded.
"It means you're not good enough to play with me yet!"
"Oh yeah? Well, I'm going to show you how it's done!" the boy shouted as he jumped to the rim and shot a layup.
Jah's jaw dropped as he watched the ball hit the rim.
"Ha! Gotcha, bitch!" the boy cheered.
As Jah watched him run back to the bench, he couldn't help but think about Janeen. He wished she was here with him to cheer him up.
He sighed as he looked down at the court. From where he stood, he could see the students who were working out on the elliptical machines. They were all staring at him.
"Hey, everyone! It looks like Jah's alone again!" one of the guys yelled.
The others laughed and started to shout their encouragement.
"Let's give him a hand!" another one said.
"Yeah! Show him how much we appreciate him!" a third one added.
"Yeah!" Jah shouted back, feeling more comfortable than he had been in weeks.
But as he was getting ready to practice with the rest of the group, he heard a loud voice call out.
"Hey, what the hell is this?" the teacher shouted.
He looked up to see a tall, muscular man standing behind him.
"Hi, I'm Jah," he said.
"I am Mr. Smith," the man said. "I'll be your gym teacher this year."
"Yes, sir," he replied.
Mr. Smith looked him up and down. "Are you part of the team?"
"I'm not sure," Jah answered honestly.
Mr. Smith nodded as he examined him. "Okay, well you're new here. I'm not sure whether or not you should be on the team."
"Why not?" Jah asked.
"Well, you know, we've got some really good players already."
"Really?" he asked.
"Yeah, we're pretty good this year."
"Is that a fact?"
"We're ranked number one in the state!"
"Wow, that's great! How many teams do you have?"
"Three, and we've won every game so far."
"Awesome! I hope we can beat you guys next week."
"Maybe you should join the team," one of his friends suggested.
"Yeah, we could use somebody like you."
"No thanks. I'm perfectly happy playing by myself."
"You're missing out, man. You should come to practice some time."
"Seriously? Why would I want to do that?"
"Because you'll be missing out on something awesome. Besides, I can tell you're a talented athlete."
"Thanks. But I'm not interested."
"Come on, don't be so selfish. If you're not on the team, that means we'll lose."
"What are you talking about? We'll still win no matter what."
"You're right, but wouldn't it be more fun to play with everybody else?"
"I guess you're right. Maybe I'll come to practice some time."
"Great! I'd love to have you on our team."
"Thanks, man. I'll think about it."
He tried to ignore them as he continued to watch the other students.
Afterwards he spent the rest of the day walking around campus.
He watched students talking and laughing together. He also saw some groups of people whispering amongst themselves as they walked in small groups. He couldn't understand why they always seemed to do that.
He walked into the library and found an empty table. He sat down and opened up his notebook, hoping to find answers inside.
He took out a piece of paper and wrote:
Why do I feel so lonely all the time?
He stared at the words for a few seconds, trying to figure out what they meant.
He folded up the piece of paper and threw it away.
Then he pulled out a new sheet and wrote:
I don't know why I feel this way. I wish I knew.