The Good Student
Walter Davis was standing right in the bust stop in front of his house.
He did not know what to expect from it, but what he did know was how lucky he was to have been accepted at this special school, where only out of the 3000 requests it gets each year, only 450 are accepted. This matched up to 15%, according to his calculations.
The thing was that Thomas Jefferson School was a luxurious school in Jefferson, Illinois, USA, not so much for the wealthy but for the hard working, as Walter had many times proved that he was, even though that due to his condition, he found it hard to show his enthusiasm for things.
Up to that date, December 2019, Walter had been studying in Lutheran Students, a school not far from there, but his mentor knew as well as he did that it was time for a new step in his life.
THE BIG TIME NEWS
By Spencer Harrisby
I had just finished up my chemistry exam, and nothing was out of place.
In other words, all was going as expected: The clock on the back of the class was ticking and marking half an hour of the exam gone, and one other half left. I would have time to revise. Marvellous.
“Excuse me, Dr,” Tyler Adamson, or the monk, as we called him, said, “Does REDOX mean there’s a transference of electrons or what-?”
“Ty- Tyler, right?” Dr Calvert asked, not sure if he was saying his name right, “You should have made sure you knew that before the exam. Please consult you books…revise!…ask in class, please.”
I placed my hands on my forehead. I wouldn’t normally laugh during an exam, but this one hadn’t been very difficult for me, and I kind of felt like it.
However hard it was to get into this school, this kid Tyler had done it, and it wasn’t because he was extremely intelligent or anything.
He won’t say it, but my hypothesis is that he’s hooked up with someone, like the principal. Perhaps he’s his nephew or something, but then again, we don’t know, and really, who are we to judge?
We called him the monk because of his hair, which he carries with a simple, straight cut across his dark hair, which makes him look like he was wearing a constant hoodie.
After a while, the waiting for the ending of the exam had grown bigger, and my feet started moving sideways, plus my mind started to doze off.
“I bet Moira would like to go out to Taco Bell tomorrow night.” I started telling myself while I scribbled on the back of my test.
I like to think of Moira as my girlfriend, as we have been on a couple of dates now and then.
Normally, that would mean that she’s my girlfriend, but with girls nowadays, no one can know. Afterwards she would just post a story on Instagram with her and some other boys or something.
What can I say? Life’s confusing.
And truth was that it was gonna get a whole lot more confusing when the teacher picked up the tests.
“Did I get everyone’s?” He tried to check, “I do not have to remind you that if you don’t turn your exam in, it will result in an absolute-“
Just then, Dregen, who had been double checking his answers, got up and turned it in.
“Good, I will see you all for homeroom.”
And then the bell rang, and everyone got up to go to the hallway and put all our stuff in the lockers.
“Are you free tonight?” I heard Alexander Plumber say to Maria, the girl right next to me, who was trying to pretend she wasn’t nervous by his sudden appearance, “Just in case you wanna have dinner or something.”
“Yeah, sure, I’d love to!”
I rolled my eyes.
I really didn’t get how easy it had been for Alexander to get a date, when it had almost cost me a liver to get one with Moira.
“Literature…Biology…Anatomy… all here, okay.” I pretended to be pretty interested in my subjects while I tried not to barf. So, taking these books from the locker back to class, I found the tutor already waiting.
“Please sit, I have a very important announcement to make.” He simply said, so I sat down.
“Everyone, your attention please,” He started, but kept a watchful eye on a group of people who didn’t seem like they would be quieting down anytime soon.
“I’ve told you guys to listen to me because this is very serious and important news for you. You see, starting this Monday, we will be having a new student among us.”
My eyebrows raised as a large cheering abrupted from the back of the class, and soon reached the front, where I was.
The school usually got new students from year to year, but it was relatively uncommon to get new students once the semester had started. One could tell people were excited.
However, the teacher kept a determined face and made an expression.
Something told me that what he was going to say was far more important than what he said before.
“The thing is- and please don’t misunderstand this- that this kid is different. You see, he’s autistic.”
“It means he has difficulties with social relations, Martha.” Maria was heard in the midst of all the rubble, and Sofía Agudo snorted. She always did.
“Now, I trust, that being as we are, In one of the best schools of the United States of America, you guys will be kind, understanding, and compassionate to this new student.”
At this point, Sofía raised her hand.
“Is he a good student?”
Dr Calvert lowered his look, and then looked up again.
“According to his academic records, yes. He is a good student.”
By Alexander Plumber
On Monday morning, the school just couldn’t hold the excitement, because no one knew what was going to happen, what the kid was gonna be like, who he would respond… or anything, practically.
We knew about his condition, yes, we had indeed been warned.
I even talked to Maria about it, but she said she was sure he’d settle in just alright.
“Remember that this isn’t just some random school, where he could get laughed at. I think people here will take him seriously.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“Take him seriously, as in…?”
“Oh, so you meant respect. Isn’t that implicit though? It’s not like anyone’s gonna beat him up to a pulp just because of him being a weirdo-“
I noticed the look on her face, and decided to try to change the topic without making it too obvious.
“- I mean. Whatever. What do you think he’ll be like?”
She crossed her arms.
“I don’t really know, maybe like you, but taking away the speaking part.”
“I mean, like… Do you think he’ll be confident, or more on the quiet side?”
“I guess we won’t have to wait long to find out. He’s coming tomorrow.”
And overall, his arrival has brought up a lot of conversation between mates, so that exponentially increased our eagerness, if that was possible.
But he wasn’t there for homeroom, nor the first period, and not even for second or third.
Nobody knew what had happened to him, or if the school had played a joke on us or anything.
“Can someone try to contact the family to see if someone can tell us where he is?” Maria asked Dr Calvert while heading to the cafeteria for lunch.
“Well, I tried to reach his tutor, but he isn’t giving any sign of life either, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if he comes tomorrow.”
I rolled my eyes. This was annoying.
“So apart from everything, he’s also a bit on the unpunctual side, yes?”
“What is it with you and the guy? You haven’t even seen him yet.”
I opened my mouth to reply, but was silenced with the sound of black chicken nuggets falling on my metal tray.
“Yeeeaah, mate,” Lunchman Joe said “I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Just didn’t respect the cooking timing, heheh.”
I smirked and took the tray to a table, where I patiently waited for Maria to come.
“Are you mad or something?” I asked her, surprised by her behaviour with me recently.
“I’m not mad. I’m disappointed.”
I smirked once more.
“Everyone knows that’s worse than being mad at someone.”
“Is it?” She started chewing on a burnt nugget.
I couldn’t believe this.
“Is it because of what I said about the new kid?”
“No, it’s not just because of that, it’s because you’ve been acting like a jerk for the last weeks just because you’re not getting the grades you want! Not everything’s about you, Alex!”
Her face turned red. At first I thought it was because of how mad she was, it when she dropped her fork I started doubting my instincts.
She fell sideways from her seat and hit the floor, barely missing a smack against another chair with her head.
Everyone’s looks turned to our table and the unconscious Maria lying on the floor, many with their hands on their mouths, and, while some yelled in fear, others could not formulate a word.
“Are there no teachers around?” I yelled, looking sideways and all around, “Somebody get a teacher who knows CPR!”
Some students ran out from the doors, hopefully in search of someone who could help. How come there were no teachers on call?
“Maria, can you hear me?” I said, holding her hand, “Oh gosh, what did I do?”
I would have liked to try and bring her back, but I didn’t know anything at all about CPR, I had never bothered to look anything up.
Nevertheless, I reached out and tried to get her to breathe again…somehow…
“You’re doing it wrong.” A voice called from behind me.
I turned around and saw an average height kid with brown eyes who I had never seen before.
“You have to get-“ He started, but quieted down, “I need one more person here!”
This strange and peculiar fellow looked around, in search of feedback from the crowd.
However, they all took a step back, so the kid got his hands to his head and started yelling.
“I need. Someone. NOW!”
“Who’s the weirdo?” I heard someone mutter.
The kid came to the girl and started inserting his hand in her mouth and pulling some stuff from it. Opening the airway
“We’ve already lost enough time. I need you to give her two mouth-to-mouth’s every 30 chest compressions.”
I was perplexed.
“Excuse me, what?”
“You need to give her a mouth-to-mouth in 10 seconds according to my calculations.”
“I know what it is, but I’m not-“
“I need mouth-to-mouth. Stat!”
I looked at Maria.
This felt strange, giving her a literal kiss in the middle of the school cafeteria, being watched by everyone. And if that were not enough, everyone was counting on me and this new kid I had never seen before to solve the situation.
I did it. No response.
“We should have started earlier. If no oxygen gets to her brain she will carry symptoms for the rest of her life if she even makes it out alive.” He announced with a strict voice.
He pressed hard another 30 times, and I tried again.
I could not believe it when she started coughing and turned around.
“Oh, gosh, Maria.” I exclaimed in relief.
The school principal, Mr Simmons, came running across the whole cafeteria and knelt down before her, Sofía on his shoulders, and not believing the scene before her.
“You Ok?” He said, sweating immensely.
“Yeah, yeah. What happened?” Maria was confused.
“Basically, you choked on an over cooked chicken nugget.” I cut in, smiling.
“Thankfully, Mr Plumber was here to save the day!” The principal patted my back. But I felt a bit of a jerk.
“Actually, I was merely a helper. Had my friend here not intervened, Miss Cawley wouldn’t be with us today.”
Everyone’s looks turned to the fellow who now stood in the background of the scene.
“Who are you?” Mr Simmons asked.
The kid put his hands together and looked up, sort of wondering.
“Hello, my name is Walter Davis and I’m a student at Illinois’ Thomas Jefferson High School.”
By Maria Cawley
Word of the hero quickly spread through the halls of Thomas Jefferson High School through the week, but that didn’t seem to give Walter any more confidence in talking to the rest of us.
He didn’t speak until spoken to, and only then did he mutter a word or two in response.
One of his main qualities that we knew from the very first moment was his effectiveness and concentration in everything.
“Now last class we were talking about the importance of carbon dioxide in the process of celular fermentation. Can anybody tell me what that is?” Mr Sanchez asked during the first five minutes of Biology class.
Everyone started going through their notes, and even then some were confused by the question.
“Come on guys, this should have been thought of at home.”
Walter’s hand shot up in the air.
“It takes the protons and electrons from the glucose molecule that is being oxygenated and then able to reduce itself using these, turning into ethanol or lactic acid.”
I didn’t know if Mr Sanchez was surprised or not, but we sure were. This guy hadn’t seen this with us. In fact, he hadn’t seen anything with us yet, and he had answered a random deductive question without barely thinking.
“Uh, very well, Walter.” The teacher said, taking note of his positive attitude towards the subject or something.
I looked back to share my thoughts on this with Sofía, who was behind me.
Although the look on her face made me want to keep my thoughts to myself.
“Did you see the look on Sofia’s face when Walter was answering the question?” I asked Alex later that Friday afternoon, when we went to get some kebabs (best food in the world, no doubt).
“Oh, I’m sorry which of the questions he answered are you referring to?” He gave a nod upwards.
“Every single one of them, actually,” I replied, “She was about to burst.”
“Look at you! All worried about people and stuff!”
“Actually. I’m worried about Walter.
It seems to me that Sofia has been the best in this school up to this point, and I don’t think she’s going to give away the position easily. Especially being as prejudiced as you know she is.”
That stopped the conversation for some time. I guess he just didn’t know what to reply.
“Anywho, I think I should be getting home.” He finally said.
I blinked in surprise.
“Uhm, eh, Okay.” I waved to him, “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
I half-expected an answer, but it didn’t come. He just walked in the other direction after waving goodbye.
“Alexander!” I called from behind him, and he turned around, “Everything alright?”
He looked to his sides, and then came closer, retracing the steps he had taken away from me.
“It’s nothing really. I’m just a little annoyed with you talking so very often about Walter and his coming to this school.”
“And I wouldn’t have worried about it too much if it wasn’t for the fact that he saved you life at the beginning of the week!”
“Wouldn’t that make you… jealous?”
“I really don’t know where this puts me. And that’s why I’m asking you.” He looked at me seriously.
“That puts you as Alex Plumber, who I have known for so much time. That’s not going away because someone else came,” She was the one who gave a nod this time, “But it seems to me like there’s someone in this school that needs help, or at least someone. I’m not expecting you to help him, but I think you shouldn’t stop me from trying to help him.”
He was quiet for a moment, but then he gave in.
“It sounds good to me. If that’s everything that’s going on, then I’m good with it.”
It had certainly been a while since I had gained confidence in him, and the silence between us had never been awkward. However, these recent ones had been.
We gave the park one about half a round when the silence dropped off again.
“You know who this guy looks like?”
I signalled in uncertainty.
“My cousin? Who’s also like him.”
“No, I meant like, as a character.”
“Oh, ehh,” I laughed, “The guy from The Good Doctor, the series you made me watch?”
“Oh, come on. You liked it!”
“No, you liked it. But I do have to admit it was interesting right from the first episode.”
“See?” He started walking backwards to face me, but he tripped and got up really fast with a giggle, “That’s because you liked it.”
“The only thing that made me like it was being able to watch it with you.” I replied, ignoring him almost breaking his foot.
“Aww, that’s cute,” He smiled, “Now stop before me or the readers of the file you’re gonna put this conversation in puke.”
It took me a moment to realise the meaning of the sentence he just said.
“So you know about us making these files?” I asked him, “Spencer got you into this, too?”
“He asked me to write what I thought of you almost choking to death, and how this new kid came in out of the blue and helped me.”
“And now I’ve grown fond of it and realised I like to write a lot, surprisingly,” He said, “And besides, it looks like this school is already late in case file making.”
“Yes, quite a few schools across the world have started making stories about confusing events related with paper-“
“I just hope Spencer didn’t base this file on one of those school things.”
He pulled a face.
“Oh, boy I hope not.”
By Spencer Harris
This chapter is mainly to recall the incident that happened with Walter and a kid who drew on his desk, which really happened right after one of his first PE classes, in which they ended up disagreeing.
The thing you have to understand before this is that while half of the class splits and goes to PE, the other half stays along with half of the other class which takes French, and therefore, for an hour a week, when me and Walter have PE, another class comes in and takes French, sitting on our homeroom seats.
“What are we doing today?” Walter came from behind me.
I hadn’t really talked to me yet, but I figured we were both on the same boat, since we didn’t have anyone to talk with.
“I think we’re starting a new unit on baseball.” I replied.
“Okay.” He said, and reclined on the wall while we waited for the teacher.
He had only been here for a week, but I started realising how cool his hoddie was, with a combination of black, white and red colours all over.
“It’s been five minutes since the class started, the teacher isn’t even here yet.” He announced out loud.
James Marquees turned around to see who said that, and gave a little laugh.
Sofía, on the other hand, answered quite rude like.
“Dude, be patient, ok? We’re not all as perfect as you are.”
The people around started noticing the tension and turned around to try to hear what was happening.
“I am not perfect. I think you already know that.” He replied, without looking at her.
“Is there a problem, Sofía?” I stepped in. I didn’t know where this was headed, but I didn’t like it. And besides, It’s not that I didn’t trust Walter, but I didn’t know up to how far he could stand up for himself.
She stepped down, immediately. I guess she was intelligent enough not to do anything in front of the teacher, because he was coming soon.
I stood by Walter the rest of the class. He just tended to go to me and I to him, that sort of thing.
I realised that he had many skill points, but PE was not one of them, and neither was the baseball unit.
He could throw the ball really far though, it’s just that I think he forgets he has to run after that, and it makes his throw a bit useless for the team. We tell him to run, but he tells us to be quiet.
He’s an interesting fellow what can I say?
After PE, I got to biology class, which is held in our homeroom.
Maria had just arrived from another class and stopped by.
“You just had PE class with Walter, how is he?”
“Oh, I’d say he’s alright.”
“Yep, I’d say so too.” Alex, who had arrived from another class as well, joined us.
“You haven’t even talked to him!”
“Oh, come on, I bet he’s doing OK, and he just wants to be alone. Let him be.”
We could hear some rabble in the back, but we just kept talking.
“Change of topic, do any of you understand what on earth we’re doing in maths?”
“Are you referring to today’s thing or-?”
We stopped talking because for the second time, there were strange noises in the room.
“Filet, leave him alone.” Amy, a girl standing next to Walter, was saying.
“I do not want a problem.” Walter was saying, “I’m just telling you not to draw on my desk again.”
“Okay, kid,” A guy who we called Filet, said, “You’re new, so I’m gonna tell you this the nice way. I draw on whoever’s desk I like, alright?”
We all waited for his answer.
He was about to do something, I could tell.
“Hey, @#@#head!” Filet turned around and got a full punch in the face by Alex.
“Oooh, gosh, no.” Maria put her hand on her mouth, “Here we go again.”
Filet stood up quickly with a bleeding nose, but that didn’t stop him from throwing himself over Alex and knocking him over.
Alex got hit against the wall and made the whiteboard move.
He almost got his face blown by a fist from Filet, but Walter got his fist first, and with a weird kick, Filet got sent falling backwards to the ground.
Alex stood up, surprised.
“Oh, wow, thanks.”
Maria and I got closer to them, so we could clearly see Alexander’s confusion.
“Where did you learn to do that?” He asked Walter.
“I took martial arts classes. Now you know.”
Alex looked at Maria, and then me, then back to Walter.
“Any more things about you we should know?”
He thought for a moment.
“I also like to make origami.” He said, looking up.
By Alexander Plumber
“Thank you for trying to help me, Alex,” Walter said when we were exiting the school, “Although you didn’t need to. You ended up getting hurt yourself.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t know how it all was gonna end, so I helped you.”
“Yes, you did. That is what happened.”
Spencer was going to turn in the other direction to head home, and Maria signalled me to follow her.
“Well, Walt, Maria and I are gonna head-“
“Would you like to come over?” He cut my sentence.
“Come over, like…”
“Would you three like to come over to my house.” He said, but kept looking up.
We looked at each other. I did not have any plans, but I didn’t think it would be a very good idea to go to Walter’s house without any previous call.
“I- We wouldn’t want to just come into your house, and bother your parents-“
“I live with my uncle, it’s okay if I bring friends. I haven’t brought any yet.”
“I’d be delighted!” Maria exclaimed, and joined him, “You guys wanna come?”
“I’ve got Spanish class at four, so I gotta run. Sorry, man!” Spencer said, looking over to me.
Then the rest turned.
“I’m coming. It’ll be good.”
“I am not sure. I cannot predict the future.”
“Walter,” Spencer said, shaking his hand, “We’ll see each other on Monday.”
We waited until he left, and then he talked again.
“How do we get to your house?”
“We take the bus, it’s this way.” He started walking to the bus stop, and we figured it would be wise to follow him, because he wasn’t looking back.
“It is right over there, so we won’t have to walk much, which is bad because I like walking.”
“You like walking?” Maria asked.
“Yes, I liked doing trails in the forest and in the hills of Ilkley Moore.”
We reached the bus stop, and thankfully, a bus came by right at that exact moment.
Once we sat down, Maria asked him again.
“Ilkley Moore? What’s that?”
“It’s a Moore. It’s in Ilkley,” He smiled, “I think it’s easy to deduce.”
Maria nodded slowly with her head, looking down.
“That’s nice.” She grabbed her phone, and I saw her type the word Ilkley in Google.
“England? You’ve lived in England?” She suddenly exclaimed.
“For a short while, yes. A guy broke his leg playing Rugby.” He smiled again.
These had been the only times I had seen him smile, actually.
“Wow, that’s bad.”
“I wasn’t there to see it, I got sent home.” He was serious again.
“Oh. Why was that?”
“A very arrogant kid named William lied about me almost setting fire to his uniform. It was the other way around. He was a very bad person.”
We were silent for a bit. There was more to this kid we did not know about, but I figured we should stop here.
“Oh. Well, you don’t have to worry about that here. We will help you.” I intervened in the conversation, and he looked at me, but his mind was somewhere else.”
“I would like to go back, if I had the chance.”
The bus came to a halt on the west side of town, where there was an avenue with houses that followed each other, with a front lawn each, and I noticed some of them lacked garages, so the people’s cars were outside.
However, it all seemed like a very quiet part of town.
“This place is nice.” I said.
“Yes, yes it is,” Walter replied, “But I think it might rain later.”
On a house, he finally stopped, crossed the front lawn and Walter knocked on the door. We awaited.
A man with a white beard came out.
“Ahoy!” He saluted,”You should’ve told me we were having guests tonight, Walter!”
“You always have the house clean. It doesn’t matter if I warn or not.”
The man pulled a face.
“Well, alright. I’m Kev. Why don’t you guys come in?”
“I’m Alex, but I’m not sure if we can stay for long.” I looked at Maria. I was starting to have second thoughts about this whole thing.
I would have wanted to ask how long we would have to be in that uncomfortable position, but I think I and others would find it rude.
We went in only to find ourselves in a very nice and modern house. It was surprising for sure.
“Walter, why don’t you show them your room?”
Walter in our direction. I wouldn’t say he was looking at us, exactly.
“Why do I need to show them my room? They won’t be sleeping or studying here.”
“It’s what people do. Go on.” Kev told Walter, and he got us to his room.
“Wow, it’s so… Cool.”
His room looked like it had been really worked on. It had several Minecraft posters hanging on the wall, a Marvel and a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book on the white desk, and an IPad from 2017.
“Thanks. I like it too.” He said.
“So, what do you use your I-pad for?” I asked him.
“I use it to work and group projects. A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me an email.”
“That’s awesome, do you still have contact with people from your old school?”
“From the one in England, yes. But he just wanted to know how to solve a hacking problem in the school.”
“Cool. So what do you do normally?”
“I like to play fortnite when I’m done. It’s nice.”
Walter went through his drawer, and I couldn’t resist looking at some origami figures under the drawer.
“You an origami master?”
“I like doing origami figures. It’s cool.”
“Nice. So what do you do?”
“Star Wars, sometimes Harry Potter.”
I looked at the corner of the drawer.
“That’s an origami Dr Shaun Murphy from The Good Doctor. I made him yesterday. He’s my favourite character.”
Maria and I looked at each other. This was what we had talked about the other day.
I was going to be right about this guy after all.
By Ella Xavier
Have you seen this kid?
I mean, I have seen him, many times before in these past months since he came back in September, but the truth is that I hadn’t talked to him before. Until today.
Mr Ruiz, our maths teacher was just going through the desks making sure we weren’t copying each other like he usually did, and suddenly he stopped and checked his watch.
“You have ten seconds to finish up your exam papers.” He remarked.
Naturally, I rapidly checked my sheets and saw they both had my name on it, and then I quickly checked my derivatives. I’m quick like that.
“Everybody stop writing and stand up to turn in your exams facing down on this desk.” He announced.
I was going to get my sheets and stand up, but a kid went through the front of my desk and accidentally knocked my pencil case off.
“I am so sorry,” The kid turned around and saw the numerous pencils that he dropped to the ground, “It was not my intention to drop them.”
“Nah, that’s okay.” I said to him.
He turned in his exam and then came back to me to help me pick everything up, and then I looked at his face. He was the autistic kid I had heard from.
“You don’t have to worry, I’ll pick it up.” I told him. I didn’t wanna look rude.
He looked at me, and then he got up.
“Okay.” He said, and then he left.
I could only wonder if I had hurt his feelings, so I reached him when the bell rang and he was putting some books in his locker.
“Hey, ehm,” I started, “I hope I didn’t offend you or anything.”
“It’s okay. You didn’t hurt my feelings. I just did what you told me to do.” He placed his last book and looked at me once more.
“I like your eyes.” He told me, very sincerely.
“Thanks, I like your shirt.”
“I stained it this morning with my apple juice.” He smiled, and I laughed.
“Well, I didn’t know that. Couldn’t have noticed.”
“I spilled the apple juice on purpose.” He said, seriously.
I stopped laughing, not knowing if to continue laughing or not.
“I’m kidding, hehe. It’s a joke,” He smiled, “Why would I spill my apple juice on purpose?”
I laughed again, this kid was something else.
“Can I ask you what’s in you hand?” I said, pointing at a piece of paper he held in his hand.
“It’s a picture,” He showed it, where a man in his thirties could be seen, “He was my Chemistry teacher before.”
“What was his name?”
“Doctor Marshall. He was the best.”
“I’m sure he was very nice.”
“What’s your name?” He asked me before heading back in the class.
“I’m Ella.” I replied.
“I’m Walter Davis, nice to meet you.” He replied, and looked around.
By Kev Davis
I dunno if you kids or whoever is writing this knows who I am, but I am Walter’s uncle, and I was asked to write down what exactly happened in my house one day.
What happened? I’ll tell you exactly what happened.
But let’s start from the very beginning.
Walter and I were having dinner, which I had cooked for the both of us, of course.
I knew that he had been having a tough time going to this new school, so I just made him what he liked the most, oven-cooked salmon with chips.
He was being fairly silent. Yes, it’s true he’s not a very talkative person, but he is when he gets confidence.
“Walter, you OK?”
“Alright then. It’s all good.”
I was going to get another bite, when the bell rang.
“Oh gosh. Walter did you bring the cops for dinner or something?” I joked.
“No, I don’t think I did.” He replied.
I got up and opened the door, where a girl stood.
I can tell you I was ever so surprised.
“Good afternoon?” I asked, kinda.
“Good afternoon, is Walter here?” She said, and then looked at the napkin hanging around my neck (which I had totally forgot to hide), “Oh, so sorry if I’m interrupting dinner!”
“Oh, no, no! Not at all! Dinner, lunch, breakfast!? Who cares?” I replied, “Come in, you want some salmon?” I pointed at her with my fork, which she looked with a mixture of confusion and anxiety.
“Oh, don’t worry about me, I already had-“
“Nah, I’d know that look anywhere. You DO want salmon.” I opened the door for her and she came in. Someone had come to see Walter for the first time in his life, and this was too much for me to pass.
“Walter! A girl-girl-gi- what’s your name again?”
Walter appeared right then. His hands crossed against each other.
“What is happening?” He asked.
“Walter, this is Ella, I believe you two know each other?”
“I just came here to check if this was where Walter lives. You don’t have to bother with dinner, really.”
“It’s fine!” I cut her, “I-“
“Why would you want to know where I live?” Walter asked the girl, thus leaving her defenceless.
“She wants to be your friend, Walter,” I tried to make the situation better, and turned to the girl, “I’m so sorry, Ella. He’s just a bit like this, it’s nothing personal.”
“It’s okay, It’s perfect.” She smiled.
“Why don’t you sit down?”
That dinner was very strange, but we managed to bring some conversation about the school in. I led her to the front door and let Walter say goodbye to her.
“Thank you, Walter.” She said.
“You’re welcome, although you should thank my uncle. He was the one who cooked the food.”
“I thanked him.”
“Good,” He said, looking behind me, “Thank you for coming.”
“You’re welcome. You can come to my house anytime you like.” She replied.
“Okay!” Walter smiled, “I would like to have pancakes at your house!”
“We could go and have pancakes in a café. I bet there’s a lot of them. How about Highmore’s?”
“That sounds good.” Walter said.
“Well, see you around, Walter,” She smiled and turned around, and left.
“Oh gosh.” I said to myself.
By Alexander Plumber
I couldn’t believe how fast the first term had gone, and before I realised, we were already on the Christmas break.
I went several times with Maria over the course of the holidays, and sometimes we invited Walter over with us. He wasn’t very talkative most of the time, but it is true that he gave a sense of comfortness wherever he went.
Once the holidays were coming to a close, I managed to find some time for myself on between my studies and my family, which I very much appreciated.
This first term had been exhausting. I had really tried my best in taking Walter in, and school classes were becoming more difficult by the day.
And quite unfortunately, things were gonna get much, much worse. Because then I had to turn on the TV.
“Dozens of cases of Pneumonia have been treated by Chinese authorities on the other end of the world,” The news reporter calmly said, “The cause is still unknown, but scientific erase arch is being lead, and hopefully we’ll find the reason for this-“
I turned the TV off. Jeez.
Sad but true, people die from diseases every day, many more people than a dozen. Why would this case be on the news every day?
This thing from China was already driving me insane.
TWO WEEKS LATER
To celebrate the start of a new decade, out homeroom teacher, Dr Calvert, took the entire grade to a park in the outskirts of town, a forest actually.
The excitement was building, because it had been ages since we had gone on a field trip, never since the year before.
“Now this forest is different, because it’s more of an obstacle course than anything else,” Dr Calvert and Mr Michaels we’re explaining while on the bus, “You will be concected to a rope and you need to climb trees, pass through bridges and jump from tree to tree-wearing a safety vest- of course. The team that wins gets free candy.”
Sofía let a chuckle.
“Candy? What are we, twelve?”
Maria, who was standing next to me, laughed out of courtesy.
Over the past few weeks I had been seeing how friendly Sofía and her were becoming.
I had nothing against it, but Sofía wasn’t the most humble person of all, and I wouldn’t want it to affect Maria’s personality in any way, so I wasn’t very happy with this new building friendship between the two. Especially since Sofía was one of the main people who had trouble with Walter- who was sitting next to the monk- on the other two seats next to María and I.
The bus came to a halt at the park entrance, and Walter slides through the crowd to reach Maria.
“Sorry.” He said when he stepped on my foot.
“No problem, man.” I replied.
“Why are you so good to Sofía?” Walter asked María, who was trying to concentrate on the instructions the teachers were giving.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” She looked annoyed.
“Sofía isn’t very nice to me.” Walter continued honestly, “And I thought you were my friend.”
This took María’s attention from the teacher inmediately.
“Why can’t I be friends with you both?”
“I don’t like it when she laughs with you.”
“María,” I intervened, “Walter is not wrong. This girl is very smart, but not a really good influence.”
“I don’t want you to tell me what I should do, and, honestly, I did expect something like this from Walter, but I didn’t expect it from you, Alex.” She left to join Sofía and another group of girls.
“Well, crap.” I said out loud.
Walter seemed to be uneased, even though I sometimes had trouble recognising his feelings.
“Hey guys! Hey Walter! I like your blue jacket!” A girl came from behind. I quickly recognised her to be Ella, a girl from another class.
“Hello, Ella.” Walter said, crossing his ten fingers before him, and he looked to me, “Alexander Plumber, this is Ella Xavier-“
“Oh, we already know each other,” I smiled, “But I didn’t know you two did!”
“We met after class.” Ella explained, and I could start to see where this was going, because Walter was starting to wander off in another direction.
“Anyways, see you guys!” She waved goodbye.
“If I wasn’t feeling bad with myself right now, I’d actually feel lucky for you.”
“Don’t worry, I feel bad for you, too.”
I pulled a face.
I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD
By Spencer Harris
I might have overheard part of the discussion between Walter, Alex and Maria. Yeah, sorry about that Alex, but it looks like right after that I actually found some of my own problems.
“Moira,” I called her. She was paying attention to the instructors, and also, she was looking up at the trees.
“Oh, hi, Spencer.” She said.
I’m not really judging, but for a girlfriend of mine, I would have expected a better response.
“Hey so, how are you? It’s been a while since we don’t talk.” I asked her.
“I’m doing fine. Feeling rather awkward through.” She replied.
“Oh, why’s that?”
“I don’t know if I want to tell you right now, because I wouldn’t know how to phrase it-“
“You can trust me-“
“Without hurting your feelings.” She continued.
“Oh. Give it a try.”
“Well. We’ve only been on one date, and it seems to me like you think of me as a girlfriend.”
I nodded, not knowing exactly how to reply.
“I’m not,” She said without any remorse, “And it’s not because of you, it’s because I simply don’t like you, and we’re not meant to be together, even if you now think we are.”
“I- I-“ I started, but she had left me speechless. I had never Imagined her saying this like she had no feelings, as she just did.
“Who’s the other guy?” I demanded, now angry.
“There is no other guy.”
“Yes, there is! Stop lying to me.”
“He’s Peter! Peter Saw.”
My lips tightened. My first thought was killing the guy. And I did go to do what my mind asked.
I hadn’t seen the guy in a while, so he actually surprised me at first.
He wasn’t huge, it he was certainly bigger and stronger than me from what I could then tell.
He had this short and curly black hair, and walked like any guy who tries to be cool walks: taking long steps and moving his arms at the same time he looked around in all directions.
I noticed Walter looked at him, and the both of them locked eyes for a second. If I didn’t know Peter wrong, he was the kind of guy who hated people like Walter: The smart and hard working.
I guess I was driven by anger, because the punch I gave him right after I shouted his name knocked him off his crazy walking, and knocked his sunglasses off.
He got right up the spot, and for a second I felt like Marty Mcfly in front of Biff.
“What did you just do to me?” They guy pushed me back, and I tripped against a log, and fell backwards.
The guy just got that log from the ground and tried to hit me with it, but Walter gave him a kick which made 0 effect on him.
“Ohh, gosh.” Alexander ran to take down the guy when he saw that Walter was about to get hurt. He did that sort of thing.
By Alexander Plumber
The day was crazy enough as it was, but when Walter went out to help Spencer, I felt like I needed to do something, too.
There was a certain tension between Peter and Spencer, so I figured this was something more than a prank fight.
Peter got back to his natural trying to be cool pose, and went to get Spencer, who was getting up from the ground.
Walter used that moment to jump on Peter, and tried to hit him as hard as he could. Zero effect, again.
The guy just took Walter by the neck and pushed him against a tree.
“Walter!” Ella yelled.
“Stay there!” Walter replied how he could, and, finally, I got a log from the ground and knocked it against his head.
He fell, and he hit the ground, in pain.
“I can’t feel my leg!” He kept saying.
Spencer got down to him.
“Not so tough now, are you?” He mocked.
“Spencer, stop. The teachers are on their way.” I tried to control the situation.
“What happened?” Dr Calvert asked.
“Alexander hit him with a log and broke his leg.” Moira told him.
“Alex- Alexander Plumber?”
“Aye, sir,” Peter said in pain from the ground, “No previous warning.”
“That’s not true,” Walter tried to correct, “Alexander was not the only one who-“
“Do you even understand what this guy just did to me?!” Peter yelled, “I don’t think you have a say in this!”
“Alex,” Dr Calvert made everyone go silent, “Just answer yes or no. Did you just break his arm?”
Alexander looked around, catches Maria’s eye, and gulped.
“Yes, I did. But it was only because-“
“That’s it, take him back to the bus, and we’ll discuss this privately.” Dr Calvert announced.
“But sir, he-“ Spencer went after them, but then came back without saying a word.
By Maria Cawley
Next Monday, Spencer, Walter and me all gathered at the school exit to wait for Alexander. We hadn’t seen him all day.
After some final groups of people who went outside, there was Alex, who came out looking at us.
“Gosh, Alex, I haven’t seen you today.” Spencer laughed.
“What did Dr Calvert say?” I asked Alex when he ignored Spencer’s statement.
“The question should be what did the principal and the school board decide,” He replied seriously, and then continued, “Peter’s parents were furious. Any chance I had in my favor was disintegrated before I even got to say a word in my defense. I have been expelled from Thomas Jefferson School, for uncalled for aggression.”
“Oh, no,” I didn’t want to believe what he said, “Please. Please tell me this is a joke.”
I hugged him.
“Could you leave us for a second, guys?” Alex asked Walter and Spencer, and they nodded.
“I’m sorry I got mad at you before all this. If I been mad at you hadn’t this might not have happened.”
“I did it because I wanted to defend Spencer, and it had nothing to do with you. It was my decision,” He remarked, “And you have the right to be friends with whoever you want to be friends with, I should not have said anything about that.”
“We’ll see each other again, right?”
“Of course,” He smiled, “After all, I’m only changing schools, right?”
“Right.” I gave the smile back.
“I’m sorry,” Walter interrupted, “I made this, and I think this is the right time.”
He gave me a piece of paper. Origami actually, a puppet, like the ones he had back in his house.
“That is an origami Doctor Browne, and this is for you, Alex.”
He gave the other puppet to him.
“Doctor Jared Kalu. I figured it was a way of thanking you for helping me adapt to this school.”
“Thank you, Walter.” We looked at the puppets and put them in our pockets.
“And this is for Spencer. Doctorigami Melendez.”
He took it and gave a laugh.
“I dunno who that guy is but he looks snazzy.”
“Goodbye, Alex.” Walter gave him a hug, something I would have never expected a kid like him to do.
By Ella Xavier
“Walter! Hey!” I greeted him when he was coming out the doors.
“Hello, Ella.” He replied, crossing his fingers.
“Not very good. He was expelled.”
“Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear that. He was a friend of mine, too.”
“He will be missed.”
There was an awkward silence, until-
“Ella,” He got a purple thing from his pocket. I quickly realised it was a purple origami rose, “I was wondering if you would like to go out sometime.”
My first intention was to look around, but who cared?
I brought him to a place where we couldn’t be overheard.
“You mean, out- out?”
“Yes.” He nodded.
“The thing is… I’m not sure if I want to go out with anybody yet.”
“Oh,” He said. His eyes were red, “When would you be ready?”
“I don’t know, Walter.” I felt like mine were about to drop a tear. I didn’t know why, but it just felt that way.
“Well. Bye.” He said. Left. And didn’t look back.
Dr Garrido: Walter? Is your…what is this called? Microphone? Yeah.
Dr Garrido: Walter, is your microphone on?
Walter: Yes, yes. I have a mic but I couldn’t answer because it fell down.
Dr Garrido: Alright, Walter. Can the rest of you guys hear me?
Dr Garrido: Please, guys. Say something, I feel like I’m the only one in this Zoom meeting.
Walter: We should stop using Zoom. People say it’s dangerous.
Martha: I’m here.
Dr Garrido: I’m just gonna pretend you guys are all here. Anyways, you guys have to work on a little science experiment at home. Since there are only eight people connected, I’m just going to ask you guys so divide yourself into groups of four-You know what? I’ll do them myself. Ehm… Maria, Walter, Sofía and the new guy George-by the way he’s taking Alexander’s spot in the grade-and then we have Martha, Wyatt, Spencer and Josh.
You two teams will complete the assignment I sent you via classroom.The first to complete it gets the best grade for this summer. To work!
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