It's the third thing they tell you on the first day of school.
The first would be their name in hopes that the students stop
calling them "teacher" or "Mr.Teacherperson". The second is where
the nearest bathrooms are and how long it would take you to get
there as fast as you can while secretly hiding the fact that you
seriously have to pee. While the third thing is when they tell
you all of the safety rules as they show you everything dangerous
around the room that you have to be cautious of. This always
includes all of the toxic liquids that are specifically labeled
Yes, even our favorite class room material, Purell is toxic.
During this safety demonstration, everyone always laughs. Who
could be stupid enough to drink the temper paint? Even just the
thought of such an idiotic act being committed would make anyone
But not me, now don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful sense of
humor. Or at least I think I do. I still like "knock-knock jokes"
if that counts? Well, it actually has nothing to do with my sense
of humor, I just always dread the first day of school, and eighth
grade this year isn't any different.
I guess at one point I actually looked forward to school. Jeesh,
what was wrong with me? But anyways, that all changed three years
ago, on this very day.
"Come on Claire, we're gonna be late!" My little brother Marcus
urged as he pulled me to our new bus stop.
I laughed, he was so eager to get to school. He was wearing his
new Bat-Man shirt with just some jeans, but he was totally rockin
his uber cool light up flashy tennis shoes. His light brown hair
was cut short, for his new back-to-school haircut.
I smiled. Third graders were just so darn cute! This was going to
be our first year attending John Meur Elementary School, in Parma
Ohio. We just moved here from Waterloo, Iowa, right after school
got out, so we've been here all summer. But I'm still not used to
it yet. I've lived in this new house for three months already and
it still doesn't feel like home to me.
I had been so surprised at how busy everything was here. There
are streets and streets filled with houses, it seems like it goes
on forever. And our new backyard is so small! It's nothing
compared to our giant one acre yard we had back home. Back home,
our houses were separated by giant fields of corn, and we could
run around and play whenever we wanted. But here the houses next
to ours are basically connected to our house. They're so close
together that if I stand between my house and the one next door,
and I reach in both directions, I can barely touch both houses at
the same time!
Thankfully I still get my own room in our tiny new home. I was so
worried that I'd have to share one with Marcus. And trust me a
girl and a boy sharing a room, is not exactly a good idea. But my
room still feels foreign to me though. My room back home had a
beautiful stallion running across one entire wall with fields of
flowers around everything else. I had everything I loved in my
room. My giant queen sized bed complete with my green and brown
patterned comforter, and my full collection of extremely feathery
pillows. I had three book shelves filled with an epic amount of
novels. I even had my corner window seat.
It was my favorite place in the whole house. It was where I
spent almost all of my time indoors. Curled up next to the
window, surrounded by puffy, fluffy cushions and pillows, while
completely engrossed in a marvelous book. When I was there, I was
at my happiest. I loved how something merely as nominal as a few
pages of words on paper could excite me to the point where I was
part of the story myself. If my heroine felt crushed and
destroyed, I felt crushed and destroyed. If she felt ecstatic and
joyful, I felt ecstatic and joyful. If she felt love, then I felt
love. It was as simple, yet as complicated as that. I loved that
window seat. I loved to sit and watch the sun set; I loved all of
the magnificent colors and glimmering rays that would spread
across the sky as the sun went down. It was peaceful, and I
always felt relaxed. Even after the most stressful of days, I
would delight in the amazing sight the star would grant me to
You can see why I was so reluctant to leave. This was my home. I
tried my hardest to convince my father to let us stay, but his
job called him elsewhere. And where one Miller went, every Miller
went. So we packed up, sold our beloved house and moved to Ohio.
The house here is small, a one-story. It's nothing like our
three-story abode back in Iowa. My room is purple and pink. You
can tell a total princess lived here before me. My favorite
window seat is gone. All I have here is a simple twin-sized bed,
one measly little bookshelf, and a single window. Which did I
mention is window seatless?
Well, I had unpacked all of my belongings just a few days ago.
I'm not sure why I still had everything packed even after living
here for three months. Maybe I was still clinging to the hope
that we would just go back home and all of this would just be a
dream. But I finally realized that that was not the case. So I
finally accepted that we would not be going back to Iowa, and
this was my home now.
Since this is my home I have to go to school. So today was my
first day of fifth grade. I was wearing a cute green top
decorated with flowers, it reminded me of home and I felt I
needed the extra soothing comfort of the familiar place. I was
wearing beaded jeans and tan opened toe sandals. My light brown
wavy hair was falling playfully around my shoulders. Thank god I
was having a good hair day!
Suddenly my hand started being pulled up and down; this pulled me
out of my interior monologue. So I looked down to see what had
disturbed my inner-babble. Marcus had started bouncing up and
down, excited with anticipation for the bus. I used my free hand
that was not currently holding one of the bobbing boys' hands to
fix his front bangs which had been frazzled during his eager
He looked up at me. "I'm gonna be fine Claire Bear. It's just
school." Marcus said with a reassuring smile.
His old nick-name for me made me smile back. "I'm sure you will
be, just be careful." I insisted.
The bus then pulled up to the stop. And we gradually started
boarding. "Have fun. I love you." I bent over and whispered in
He surprised me with a quick kiss on the cheek. "You too." He
whispered back and smiled as he sat down.
I walked back father in the bus back to the fifth grade section
and I found and empty seat to sit in. I pulled out my iPod and
listened to music until we arrived at John Meur Elementary. As I
got off the bus, I searched for my little brothers' tiny head in
the giant crowd, but my attempts we're thwarted as the student
mob was too large, and filled with tons of bobbing heads.
I franticly tried to find my classroom, as did every other
student at school; which created a chaotic mess of confused
children. I pushed myself out of the crowd and found myself
thankfully in front of my classroom. I shoved my book bag into my
locker and I went into the classroom and found my seat. After
about five more minuets the rest of the class seemed to have
filed in to the room.
Mr. Something (I couldn't remember his name) was explaining some
note card project we were going to do to learn more about each
other. That's basically how the first half of the day went, doing
different projects to get to know each other. Until after lunch
at about 12:45 a red-headed girl came rushing into the room.
"Mr. Speckler!" She franticly panted.
So that was his name! Well, she handed him a red pass, he looked
at it and yelled "Claire Miller! Go to the office right now!
My heart skipped a beat. I jumped out of my seat and ran. I
rushed down the hall and burst through the office door. The
secretary only pointed out side and I was off again. I ran
outside the building. That's when I saw the ambulance. I pushed
myself harder and I ran there as fast as I could.
"Claire Miller?" She asked.
I only nodded. She extended her hand and helped me into the back
of the life-mobile. In the middle of the back was a stretcher,
with Marcus laying on it.
His lips were blue and his eyes were closed. He was out cold.
Only his still beeping heart monitor on the other side of his
stretcher kept me from falling down thinking he was dead. I
didn't realize I was crying until the nurse offered me a tissue
and a place to sit down while they rushed us to the hospital.
"Wh…wh…what happened?" I stammered trying to catch my breath.
"He drank an entire bottle of Purell. The acids in the product
started choking him. Lack of air caused him to go into a coma.
I'm sure once we get him to the hospital he'll be just fine." The
kind nurse explained.
I sat there speechless. A zillion questions flooded my mind. Why
would he drink that? Is he gonna be okay? I know the nurse said
he will but is she just saying that, or will he really? Didn't he
see the Not-For-Consumption label?
I'm not sure how much time had passed when we got to the hospital
but it didn't feel like we got there fast enough. Marcus didn't
even look like himself. So weak, and blue; it wasn't him.
I tried to push my self into the operating room with them but the
nurse turned around and stopped me. "He needs immediate care,
we're going to save him, but you need to wait out here. I'll come
and get you as soon as he's okay."
"Bu…bu…" I stuttered.
"Wait out here, he'll be fine. Go sit down."She ordered.
I turned and sat. Still stunned; nothing was registering in my
mind. How could this have happened? He promised me he'd be fine.
My sweet little brother; I couldn't lose him! He promised!
Tears started flowing down my cheeks once more, but this time I
could feel it. I cried until there were no more tears left. My
eyes burned, my throat stung, my body ached, and I just wanted
this all to go away. I wanted to wake up back at home so I could
go downstairs and eat pancakes and eggs with Marcus, so this
would all be just a terrible nightmare.
I'm not sure how long it took, but after what seemed like forever
my mom walked through the hospital entrance. She sat down next to
me. I put my head in her lap, and waited for more tears to come.
But they wouldn't. I was all out of tears, and my eyelids hurt.
They felt heavy and I slowly drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
I woke up to find myself in a completely different hospital room.
My first thought was "Is Marcus okay?"
I bolted into an upright position. He was lying there on the
hospital bed in front of me.
I got up and walked to his side. His lips were once again their
normal color. But he was still out. He looked like he was asleep.
I looked to his right to find his heart-rate monitor. He was
doing just fine.
Just about then a nurse walked in the room. She checked his
monitor and left the room. "Great service they've got here."I
thought to myself sarcastically.
I kneeled down by his bed side so I was closer to his head.
"Marcus." I whispered carefully.
He smiled. I took this as a good sign.
"Marcus, can you hear me?" I asked hopefully.
He nodded, with his eyes still closed.
"How're ya feeling bud?" I longed for an answer just so that I
could hear his voice.
"Not so hot." The words were barley audible, but I could still
hear him. His eyes were still closed and that was starting to
"What happened?" I asked the question I had been dreading. I
wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer.
"I drank the bottle of Purell." He whispered.
"I know that sweetie, but why?" I used my best mom voice, because
apparently my mother was nowhere to be found.
"I wanted to fit in. I wanted them to like me. They said it was
cool." Marcus admitted in a strained voice. "I'm sorry."
'Oh Marcus! I'm just glad your okay!" I blurted.
He gradually opened his eyes. 'I love you Claire. I'm sorry, I
broke a promise."
I felt the terrible throat wrenching feeling before you cry, but
I wasn't going to in front of him. He needed me to be strong for
"It's okay honey. I love you too." I stroked his hair.
If only he read the warning sign on the bottle, no friend was
worth this. But I knew he would be just fine, and I was just glad
that he was okay.