Young, shy, and awkward fifth grader Jack Robertson once enjoyed the reserved life that he lived throughout his time at River's Edge Elementary. So what happens when he transitions to the unfamiliar years of middle school? Will he survive the constant evaluation of his classmates? Or will he slip between the cracks and meet the loophole of the rope?
I closed my eyes after staring at the pale ceiling for what seemed to be an hour. The bitter chill that tumbled through the house like an invisible blizzard sent shivers down my spine, causing me to wrap myself in the blanket tighter than a mummy's sarcophagus. Some days, I wished I could just stay in the comforts of my bed, in my room, in my home. But, like always, soon the bedroom door would burst open and my grandmother would be there, calling my name and telling me that it was time to wake up for school. Drudgingly I would untangle myself from the binds of my blanket and hop into the shower and its warm, soothing water spray.
But somehow it felt calming to follow the usual routine, to ride in my grandmother's silver Chevrolet Malibu each morning, hearing the same Christian radio station muffled from the old, worn out car speakers. When the clock read the right time, I would emerge out of the car and enter what was to consume seven hours of my life, but I enjoyed the time that I spent in my own little world, free from the cares and worries of everyone else.
More often than not, I always asked my mom about what middle school was like because my time as a fifth grader was quickly coming to an end. She would always reply with "you'll know when you get there". What if I wanted to know now? I hated to dive into uncharted waters - I want to know what I'm getting myself into before I do it. Sadly, I received little help about my future.
Our state assessment test arrived soon in May, and tensions quickly soared and even groups of students held hands in prayer. Normally, I would not join, but I decided to pray for good luck anyway. Our fifth grade teacher retrieved the test administrator's manual of what he was required by law to recite to us. It was the same old speech - "make your mark heavy and dark". I guessed they wrote it poetically so that it would stick. After his droning instructions, we all broke the seal on the test booklet. The scent of freshly printed paper wafted into my nostrils. For some odd reason, I loved the smell. It meant that I was exploring something new, whether it is a fictional universe or a state test.
After the allotted time for each section ran out, we were given a small break where we could get out of our seats and stretch, but everyone was given strict orders to be quiet. I pushed my arms outward towards the unreachable skies above and stretched out my back, popping out any creaks in my back. Soon, our five minutes were up and the process repeated. Each subject was spread out the course of four days. Every subject contained two sections, with the breather in between. The excruciating week of testing was soon over, the time spent eliminating obviously incorrect answers. We wouldn't receive our results until we entered middle school, they told us. Oh well. I suppose I could wait until then.
But what new frontiers awaited me within the radically different years of middle school? I did not know.