‘Today will be boring as well. Of course it will. My first day of highschool will be no different than my last day of middle school. I’ll glance at the board every so often and then I’ll copy down what I saw onto the test.
I arrived at my new homeroom almost twenty minutes before class started. Normally, that’s clearly a very suboptimal time to arrive, but on the first day of school it’s a different story. If I showed up any later, I might not get the best seat.
In order to not stand out, I took the leftmost seat in the back of the class. It has a bad view of the board but a fantastic view of the window. Now, until class starts, all I have to do is lay my head down. Nobody will talk to me that way.
But, I guess nothing ever goes according to plan.
A girl pokes my shoulder and I have no choice but to glance up at her.
“Hey,” The girl speaks softly. She’s tall and surprisingly cute with a gentle face. Her long black hair reaches down to her waist. I don’t remember seeing her last year at middle school. “Is this seat taken?”
A wrench has immediately been thrown into my plans. The goal was to never talk to anyone and become a social outcast who nobody wants to talk to. That would be the ideal scenario where my highschool days pass as quickly as possible and I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to.
But, here we are.
“Nah, you can sit there.”
Her face brightens with a smile before she takes her seat.
Well, I guess just sitting there doesn’t mean we’ll have to be friends, but it might’ve been easier to tell her it was reserved. Although, I don’t think I’d have been able to turn her away without feeling bad.
I attempt to put my head back on the desk and take a quick nap before class, but just before I was able to lay back down,
“What’s your name?” The girl spoke gently as though we were in a library. Few people were in the room at the moment so there wouldn’t be a problem if she spoke up. In a way, it may be the quiet uncrowded atmosphere that encouraged silence.
She looked at me completely unaware that I wanted nothing to do with her.
I sigh faintly, hoping that it’d queue her in, “Daniel.”
“Ah, I see! I-”
I look a little bit off to the side, pretending not to notice her attempt at an introduction and stay silent. It must feel awkward for her…
But, that’s the goal. Maybe now she’ll stop talking to me.
After a few moments of sitting still without knowing what to do, she reaches into her bag and pulls out a small notebook and pencil. She flips through numerous small sketches before reaching a blank page somewhere in the middle. I managed to catch a glimpse at her art which was mediocre at best. She drew mostly landscapes but with the occasional person and self portrait mixed in. A few of her drawings contained a middle aged man, who I assume to be her father as it was the only person she drew aside from herself.
Eventually, the classroom filled and the teacher appeared at her desk. I raised my head to get a good look at her. She’s old and has an agitated looking face. No doubt, this year will be tiresome. She seems like the kind of teacher who is constantly yelling at the class.
Nearly every kid in the room was talking to their new classmates and making friends already, but I have no need for that. The girl next to me isn’t talking to anyone either. From the look on her face and the nervous doodle she was scribbling in the corner of her sketchbook, this probably isn’t by choice.
I swear, I’m too nice for my own good.
“Hey, I didn’t get your name.”
For a moment the girl doesn’t respond and keeps doodling, but after a few moments without hearing a response from the person beside her, she jerks her head up and begins glancing around the room.
Eventually, she manages to point her finger towards her face and mutter, “Me?”
“Rose!” She gives me a warm smile of relief.
Cutting off our brief and poorly timed introductions, the old teacher announces the start of class, “Quiet down now. I’ll be your homeroom teacher for the year…”
As expected, the class period went by without anything notable happening. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Rose again, but that’s probably for the better. I only gave her a quick, “See ya” before switching to the next class.
Unfortunately, after comparing schedules, we share almost every single class together. We don’t have assigned seats either. So, naturally, she sat next to me in every class. I’m the only one she knows, it looks like.
It’s the first day of school and I’m already doomed to a long year.
I sigh aloud just thinking of it.
“What’s wrong?” Rose askes with a worried expression.
We had just arrived at lunch and, because she decided to sit next to me in almost every class, she hadn’t made any new friends yet. So that left us two alone to eat an awkward meal.
“It’s nothing,” Although I don’t like the idea of being her friend, I’m genuinely curious. “You didn’t go to school here last year, did you?”
“No, I just transferred… There’s a lot of kids that go here. Do you know them all?”
We go to a relatively large school, so getting to know everyone in the grade is normally a bit of a task. But, to those who don’t know, I’d never tell them about my little “talent.” At least, that’s what the doctors called it. It feels like bragging to mention something of that nature, something that sounds superior. In all reality though, it’s much closer to being a detriment than a superiority, “Not really. I guess I just had a hunch.”
“Ah,” She stretches out her arms and looks around. It must be disappointing to be sitting with only one friend on your first day at a new school. But, she was determined to keep this friend, so she kept the conversation going. “My family moves around a lot- my dad’s a journalist- so I’ve been the new kid a few times already. My closest other relative lives a few states away.”
“Must be rough.”
“Not really,” She laughs with a bright optimistic smile. “I always look forward to meeting new people! There are so many different kinds.”
“Really…” How can someone like her be happy with that? She seems like the kind of person who needs companionship. If I were her, I’d have given up on making friends and stopped trying by now. Well, even though I wasn’t in her situation, I already did.
Lunch ends as quickly as it began and we continue on with our classes for the day. Rose isn’t able to muster the courage to sit anywhere other than beside me so we sit next to each other in every class we share. I eventually get to catch the bus ride home. We aren’t on the same bus, at least.
The next day, I make it to class before Rose so I simply stare out the window. With nothing interesting to look at, my mind helplessly wanders through my memories.
When I was a little kid, I had a much higher vocabulary than would be expected. Not to mention, I learned to put full sentences together when other kids were learning their first words. Actually, my parents thought it was a cause for concern. It only took me reminding them where they put their keys and where they parked the car a few times before they got me checked out. They probably thought I was a genius. I was only two, after all. As it turned out, my memory is something the world has never seen before. It just started with a local newspaper before suddenly the whole country had heard of the “genius boy” with a perfect memory. I didn’t really mind being the center of attention. While it didn’t bother me, it wasn’t anything I was interested in either. My parents liked it a lot, so I went along with it for their sake. Aside from the media, scientists also heard about my anomaly. They were more interested in it than anyone.
A few times a week I’d get driven to some hospital where they’d try to find a limit to what I can do. The end results were undetermined. I beat every single adult at the card game Memory and I drew a map of the long extensive hallways we had walked through only once.
What they did find was that while I could memorize things, that didn’t mean I could effectively use the information. When instructed on how to make various complicated origami, I fumbled around with the paper and struggled to make proper folds for so long that they eventually took it away from me and moved on. I memorized several languages in a day, though I could hardly pronounce any of them properly. And, despite being able to repeat various mathematical formulas and theories word for word, I couldn’t solve a single equation.
In other words, I’m an idiot.
Eventually, after brain scans and tests, every scientist or doctor who saw me left just as confused as they showed up. I was labeled a miracle and it was determined that no beneficial product could come from continued studies. I have a hunch that it was my mother who put a stop to the experiments. I feel that she might not have liked the idea of me becoming what’s effectively a lab rat.
Soon after, the media also forgot about me. There’s always something bigger going on.
My classmates had always thought I was weird and I thought the same of them. Kids are loud and always making a mess, that’s what I believe now and that’s what I believed then. Most of my classmates were too young at the time to make anything of my “perfect memory” so it didn’t leave much of an impression. I doubt they even remember that about me at all. If anything, I’m known as “the kid who sits alone.”
I let out a large sigh. Thinking about what others think of me always tires me out. I can’t keep up with all of it.
“You alright?” Rose poked my arm and giggled. She must’ve just gotten into the room while I was too lost in thought to notice.
“Well, what’re you doing?”
“Just watching the wind in the trees.”
She sits down at her desk and pulls out her sketchbook. She flips to the first blank page and begins doing a rough sketch of a man’s face.
Unable to help myself, I ask, “Who is that?”
She looks a bit surprised that I started a conversation, “My dad! I kind of told you about him before. He’s a journalist and doesn’t have much time on his hands… but, he’s amazing! He’s still able to find the time for me and my sister!”
“He sounds like a good father. Who’s your sister? I haven’t heard anything about her yet.”
“Oh, she’s not really at our house much. She moves around almost as much as our dad. Y’know, it’d be easy for her to be forgotten like that, but dad is still able to find time between both of their schedules to spend time together. Though, I don’t see her as much as he does- with school and all.”
“I see,” Though the question is on the tip of my tongue, I hold myself back from asking about her unmentioned mother.
Our time to talk up, the teacher gathers our attention and begins class.
Another day goes by and then another yet again. By the end of the week, Rose had unexpectedly not forgotten about me. Actually, she only gets closer by the day. I had expected to wait until she found a more interesting friend, but it never happened. She did meet a few other people and became their friend, but they didn’t replace me. Not in the slightest.
Today, almost two weeks since meeting Rose, we received our scores from the first chemistry test we took.
Going into chemistry is such a weird feeling. It seems like my whole life I’ve looked at chemistry as “something that big kids do.” But here I am, and I hardly feel big at all.
Although chemistry is seemingly complicated, I stare for a brief moment at my one-hundred percent perfect score before flipping it back over onto my desk. Concealing the score really helps keep away unnecessary curiosity in my classmates.
Rose sits staring at her test for more than a short second. Her face looks rather distraught, though still smiling, and her hands grip the test tight enough to crinkle the pages. Her hand is covering the score, but I can see that the front of her paper is covered in doodles.
“Did you do okay?” I ask.
Through a little bit of nervous laughter she replies, “… no.”
“I guess even the ever-cheerful Ro-”
My thinking is immediately cut off by Rose. She reaffirms her smile and laughs, “But, I think I’m starting to get it. I’m sure I’ll do better next time!”
“That’s the spirit,” or so I say. But to be honest, I’m just not sure how she does it.
“What’d you get?”
A little nervous laughter escapes from me as well. As I think of ways to dodge the question, “Uh-”
“Did you really do that bad?”
“N-no! It’s not that…” Well, I guess I can’t really hide it. Is it even something to hide, anyway? It just feels wrong to mention it. It might be awkward for Rose too, because of how bad she did.
Without words, I simply flip over my test.
Her face glows with genuine surprise and admiration, “How did you do that!? You’re incredible!”
“I-it’s nothing. Really.”
“I don’t know about that… One-hundred percent is something to be proud of!”
“But, it doesn’t feel deserved. It’s not like I studied or anything.”
It took a moment of seeing the surprise on her face before I realized what I had said, “You didn’t even study!? Are you a genius or something?”
“Quiet down! Someone might hear you…” I say in a hushed voice. “I just have a good memory.”
“One-hundred percent without studying takes a little more than a ‘good’ memory… And if that’s all it is, then why keep it a secret?”
With a sigh, I come to terms with letting her in on it. There’s no way to wiggle out of this one. And she’s right, there really isn’t a reason as to why, other than how it feels.
“My memory is just really good, but that’s all,” For some reason, it still feels like bragging. So, to even it out, “It’s not all good though. I’m sure you can imagine how boring school is.”
She chuckles, “No way! Having a memory like that would be amazing! I envy you.”
“No… it’s not a good thing whatsoever,” Just by saying that I can feel the atmosphere around us darken a bit, I’m clearly killing the mood. Rose immediately looks taken by surprise at my sudden seriousness. But, I really don’t want the topic to come up again. If I keep going, maybe she’ll even stop hanging around me so much… “Everything is so predictable. Each day blends into the next. Every test I take is another boring, plain one-hundred. It’s infinitely easier to realize how little each day matters when you can see the blatant repetition between them.”
As predicted, the conversation falls to a halt, neither of us know what to say or how to continue. For what seems like the first time, Rose’s smile fades off of her face. Feeling awkward, I turn and face out the window.
Well, I guess that’s it. I just bragged and told her that having something she wants and I have isn’t actually that good. That’s one of the things that angers me the most, when people with a lot of money or fame complain about the adverse effects of it. I’m such a hypocrite.
A few minutes pass and the teacher rambles on in the front of the room. I don’t look up from the window until suddenly Rose pokes my shoulder. I turn around in my chair to see a bright smile on her face.
“You’re right. I guess I made an assumption about your position… But, if everything’s so boring, then I guess we’ll have to spice it up a bit!” She holds out my test, she must've swiped it off of my desk while I wasn’t looking. On it is a drawing of me. It’s not that bad, but one detail on it is noticeably different from my usual appearance.
She giggles, “Isn’t it much more fun now?”
Rose held out the drawing and looked at me like I wasn’t weird at all. I gently take the paper and gaze at the portrait for a second.
“Yeah… sorry about that.”
I simply shrug her question off, not knowing how to explain what I tried to do to her in words. I tried to make her start hating me over something so stupid.
Turning back to her one more time, I take a deep breath.
From that day on, Rose began putting a small sketch on every one of my tests. I didn’t notice for a long time but, somewhere along the line I began looking forward to school.’