Liam made it to the front of the school. A crowd of children buzzed about, chatting with their friends or goofing off. It was the first day back to school and the warm air still lingered of summer. He didn’t want to go to school and told his parents he wanted to retire, but they only chuckled at him. Why they had laughed at him, he didn’t know. His parents took days off from work all the time and it was never an issue. His grandparents never worked because they said they were retired. Why couldn’t Liam do the same with school?
First grade wasn’t going to be easy. His best friend from last year had moved away and he didn’t know where to. They wrote letters to one another over the summer – he dictated while his mother wrote – but it wasn’t the same. Liam didn’t know who he was going to talk to. Who would he play with at recess? Who would he sit with at lunch?
He looked around the yard of the school. All the grade levels were segregated from one another. He assumed he was standing among first graders. At least, he recognized a couple of classmates from last year. He didn’t want to talk to them though. He wanted to find a way out. The school doors weren’t going to open just yet. He could walk away.
He could leave right now and no one would know. His house was around the corner from the school anyway. He could walk home. Both of his parents were at work, but he had a key to the house in his backpack just in case of emergencies.
This was certainly an emergency, wasn’t it?
The moment he turned his back on the school was the same moment the doors opened. The school principal yelled, “Good morning!” as loud as she possibly could – and it was loud. Liam had heard her yell at the older kids all the time last year, especially when a fight would happen in the middle of the hallway.
Kids trickled into the school and before Liam could take another step away, the crowd of kids carried him into the school. He was trapped now. It was probably better off this way though. Someone surely would have noticed him walking away in the opposite direction from everyone else.
So, he was in the school now. He followed the crowd of first graders to their room which was just down the hall. The younger kids were on the first level of the school and the older kids were upstairs. Liam made his way to the first grade classroom with a pout on his face.
Not only did he not have his friend here, but he knew first grade was going to be harder than kindergarten. His mother kept saying they’ll probably still color a lot, but he’ll also have homework like what his older brothers have every day. Despite that, whenever Liam tried to do something over the summer and asked for help or didn’t feel like doing it himself, his mother would say, “Liam, you’re going to be a first grader in a month. Try first and then I’ll help.”
What in the world did that mean? Just because it was summer vacation he was suddenly old and wise? It didn’t make sense. They were simple things his mother was capable of doing too like writing Liam’s name when sending a letter to his friend. For some reason, Liam had to write his own name all the time now. Sometimes he remembered how to spell it and sometimes he didn’t, okay? Was that a crime?
Liam entered his new classroom and dropped his shoulders in disappointment. There were desks lined up in rows. Where was the circle time rug? He didn’t want to sit at a desk. That wasn’t comfortable. What was he supposed to do with a desk?
Luckily, he still had a cubby. He hung up his backpack, taking out his lunch box and putting it on the top shelf of his cubby. He then took out a small tin from his backpack and brought it back over to a desk with him. He didn’t know where he was supposed to sit, but he didn’t care. He wanted to get out there and he needed something to take his mind off of this place.
He sat down at a desk – while some kids played around the room and the teachers helped some other kids get settled in. One child was crying, Liam didn’t know why.
Liam opened the tin and grinned. His Pokemon cards were still there. He knew they wouldn’t go anywhere, but it had been a whole hour since he was able to look at them. He was in the middle of sorting them by type when his mother made him leave the house to go to school. He wanted to bring the whole lot of his cards, but his mother agreed to disagree on just bringing a tin of them. Liam would have to sort these now and add them to sorted pile later when he got home.
He picked out one card in particular and frowned. It was a special Charizard card – his favorite Pokemon and his friend’s favorite too. He turned it over to the back and saw his friend’s name written on the card.
It was how they met in kindergarten last year. Liam was looking at his Pokemon cards and his friend came up to him with his own Pokemon cards. They both liked Charizard and had the same cards. They traded each other the same Charizard card and wrote their names on the back so they’d always remember each other.
He put the card back inside the tin. He’d have to find a special place for that one. Maybe under his pillow or something so it wouldn’t get ruined and he’d always know where it is.
“Are those Pokemon cards?”
Liam narrowed his eyes. Who dared to speak to him when he was in his happy place? He looked to his right and another kid was practically in his face. “Yes,” he muttered.
The kid grinned. He sat down at the desk beside Liam and took out a tin himself. “I sneaked this in my backpack this morning. My mom didn’t want me to bring them to school because I’m a big first grader now.” He rolled his eyes.
“Your mom thinks your suddenly older too?” Liam asked.
The kid nodded.
Liam cracked a small smile. “Well… want to look at each other’s cards?”
His classmate passed his tin to Liam and held out his hands for Liam’s. They swapped tins and it was the beginning of something beautiful.
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