Making friends wasn't really my strong suit. Unlike Emberly, who already had a group of friends to run to at the front doors of the school. Jeez, she had one dance practice at the new studio and she already had a circle. I, on the other hand, was not as friendly. I found my locker, 227, and tried to act like I had been there since the beginning of the year. None to my surprise, it worked. No one introduced themselves, no one asked any questions. I was completely and utterly invisible.
When I entered my English classroom, my presence was hardly noticed. Two boys were staring at their phone in the back and laughing. Three girls were in a corner, two of them trying to console the third who looked like she was about to cry a waterfall. And, of course, there was that one couple that didn't even make you wish you were them because they're display of affection was enough to make you want to throw up.
There was only one pair of eyes on me. It was a bit with light blonde hair sitting in the front. He was the only student in his desk pair, and I assumed it was a safe seat to take. I set the books down on my desk, and he said, "Hey, you're the new kid? Ms. Alaster mentioned you a week or so ago. Benjamin Flenderson, right?"
"Ben's fine," I replied, opening up a blank notebook and a pencil.
"I'm Peter Bakowski, but you can call me Pete, if you want." He held out his hand and for a minute I wondered if I should shake it. He didn't seem like the kind of kid who would pick his nose or not wash his hands after using the urinal. He was wearing a white button up, which to be fair was a little crinkled, but come on. A button up? To a high school class?
"Are you in band?" I asked while flicking my pencil between my fingers.
He lowered his hand, "Yeah, actually. How'd you know?"
Pete looked at me a little puzzledly and opened his mouth to speak when just then, the bell rung and the teacher walked into the class. She was a plump short woman, and she practically screamed purple. Purple shoes, purple pants, purple scarf, purple cardigan. All different shades, mind you. Her name was Ms. Alaster as Pete had mentioned earlier. She stood in front of the class, hands folded in front of her, with a sickening enthusiasm.
"It appears we have a new student today. Everyone, this is Benjamin Flenderson, Lanson High's newest student. Benjamin, this is everyone."
She had a giggle in her voice that felt like a cold knife scraping against my ear. She raised her eyebrows so high I thought they were going to pop off her forehead, and motioned for me to stand. Reluctantly, I did as asked, and pathetically, Peter clapped his hands.
"Ben is fine," I said to the class before taking my seat.
It had barely been ten minutes into class and I'd already humiliated myself. I wouldn't last the day if I had to do this every class.
Thankfully, Ms. Alaster cleared her throat, and began to teach the lesson, which I was only half paying attention to as I started to sketch a beaded eye in my notebook.
Peter slightly turned himself towards me in his seat, and asked me bluntly as he watched Alaster, "Why did you come here in the middle of the semester?"
"Because I felt like it." I outlined a beak and a feathery head.
I hesitated. "I was in the mafia but now the head mobster is out to kill me."
"Because I was in it for his daughter."
"And he didn't like that."
"Why not? You seem like a respectable guy."
"Because he wants his daughter to marry a man with a fortune, and that isn't me."
"That's stupid. Wait, but if he's your boss, couldn't he just raise your pay?"
I actually laughed, "You would think so."
Peter smiled and chuckled a little, too. I knew he didn't really believe that I was involved in some kind of mob, but it gave us some sort of bond, I guess, and he knew that my move wasn't something I wanted to talk about yet, which was good enough for me.
"So, what are you drawing?" He asked.
"A bird. Crow, I think."
"Mmm..." Pete murmured in protest, pointing to the page, "The beak is too small to be a crow's. It has to be longer and a little curved. Right now it... kinda looks like a puffin."
I cocked my head to the side, and grinned. It did look a little like a puffin. I flipped my pencil over to the eraser and began to fix it.
"So what does the head mobster look like?"
I looked him straight in the eye, and he returned the look with a hopeful friendless that made me smile. "A big guy. Really big guy."
"Oh, yeah. Has one that goes right over his eye and through his eyebrow." I dragged my finger over my eyelid to give him a visual.
"Yeah, it's super sick."
So, I guess I could say my first english class at Lanson's went well. Peter and I had found an inside joke that we could go on for months about. He continued to give me bird drawing tips about how the wings weren't positioned right, and I'd tell him about the head mobster and his daughter Penelope who I'd been madly in love with, but was forbidden to marry. Honestly, I couldn't remember anything that Alaster taught me, but whatever it was, it couldn't have been that important.