The Signs of Me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

My first short story

Death. Death is the word I can describe quite well. Death is cold. Death is dark. Death breaks up families. Death is mine. Forever ago, my parents’ death left me cold and alone in the dark. My parents are gone now, gone like the wind. They died in a serious plane crash above the Pacific. They were flying to Europe to speak to other scientists like them. They were astronomers and they have taught me almost everything I know about the stars and what is beyond our world. I remember that very night, the night I said goodbye. I still remember Mom rubbing my cheek and saying, “Goodbye, Jelly bean,” If I had known it would have been my last night to say goodbye, I would have given her the biggest goodnight hug and goodnight kiss. A hug bigger than the world and a kiss brighter than the sun. I would have hugged her for all eternity, but I didn’t. If only I had known. “Goodnight…” So like I said before, death is mine. 

 

Aunt Laury had breakfast waiting on the table. A warm piece of toast with purple jam and bright red jelly. It was then that it finally sunk in. The fact that I was starting at a new school. Sunnydale Middle. I honestly wasn’t looking forward to it, but Aunt Laury and Uncle John said it would be fun. “Think of it as a fresh new start,” he said. But I wasn’t sure I believed them. Soon later, I was ready for my “fresh new start”.  I said goodbye to Uncle John and Aunt Laury and my dog Scorpio too. As I rushed off to the bus, I saw Scorpio’s face peering through the window. I smiled and stepped onto the school bus for the first time. But when I saw what was going on inside the bus, it made my smile disappear. 20 sets of eyes glued to me. Some looking into my eyes and some looking me down. Eyes staring. Eyes judging. As I walked through the aisle, I felt the butterflies inside me wake up. I sat down near the back where wrappers and trash flooded the floor. It was then when I knew that my “fresh new start” was not going to be easy.

Mercy and Wesley. They were the first kids I met that day who were in my class. They greeted me with a smile and a happy “Hello!”.  But I knew that that would change. For my whole life, people have avoided me for liking Zodiac Signs and they probably would too. The signs that my parents taught me about. The signs that kept me whole. People had always thought I was nerdy, but I’ve always seen myself as smart. I’ve seen myself teaching others about what my parents taught me. Zodiac Signs. My signs. 

Like I did on the bus, I sat down near the back of the room. The classroom was colorful and bright. The laughter of my classmates washed over me as if they were waves. I opened up my Zodiac book and started reading. Even though I’ve read it hundreds of times, I still liked looking through the pages. RIIINNNGGG!!! The school bell rang and my classmates took their seats. Silence peacefully surrounded me. “Welcome back, class,” the teacher said, “I am Mrs. Doris. I will be your English teacher this year.” Mrs. Doris seemed kind and gentle. Or at least I hoped. She looked in my direction and then our eyes locked. Her eyes were a hazel color and her hair matched her light brown blazer. 

“Hi,” I whispered with my eyebrows raised. 

She replied, “Hello,” Her voice was soft as she walked over to my desk. “I’m guessing you are Zoe Smith.” Zoe Smith? Who’s that? 

“That’s me,” a hand raised behind Mrs. Doris. Zoe Smith’s hand. 

“Oh, sorry. It’s Eliza right?” I nodded when I heard my name. “Eliza Sky?” Eliza Sky. The kid whose parents were dead. The kid who knew everything about Zodiac Signs. The kid who was a nerd. “Yep, that’s me.” 

“Welcome to Sunnydale Middle!” Mrs. Doris said happily. “Would you mind sharing some things about yourself?” I thought about that question. My life. I remember doing that at my old school. Back in Nebraska.

 “I guess that would be ok,” I said, putting a fake smile on my face. I got up nervously. And again, just like on the bus, I had 20 sets of eyes staring at me. When I got to the front I said, “Hi, my name is Eliza, I moved here from Nebraska, I have a dog named Scorpio, and my parents were astronomers, they taught me a lot about space. And Zodiac Signs.” Wesley looked confused.

“Wait, they were astronomers?” He said. Mrs. Doris gave him a sharp look. I didn’t say anything. I just walked back to my seat. I stared at my book, the one I got for my seventh birthday. The book I got from my parents. I wasn’t ready to tell the entire class that both of my parents had died. It was a little too early. 

“Ok…” Mrs. Doris said. “Let’s get into our first assignment. I want all of you to write a story. A story about anything you want!” This was great! It was the first great thing of the day! I looked behind me, the other new girl, Zoe, looked disappointed about this project. She looked like she was annoyed. Like it was the worst thing she ever had to do. She was slumping in her chair and her face gave it away. I started working on my project right away. I drew each sign and put an explanation next to every single one. For example: Aquarius - The sign of Aquarius is two waves. One on top of the other. I also wrote that the planets it’s ruled by are Uranus and Saturn. By the end of the period, I was halfway done with my project. The bell rang loudly and left my ears ringing. I peered over at Zoe who was just sitting at her table with nothing in front of her. No project. No friends. She just sat there with her head down looking sad. I walked over to her to say hi. “Hi, I’m Eliza. What are you doing for the project?” I asked. 

“I don’t know,” she replied while shrugging.

“What do you mean? You haven’t decided yet?” I said in my sincerest voice. It was hard to tell, but I think she nodded. “Do you need help thinking of something?” She shook her head abruptly. “Ok… Well if you need any help, I could ask Mrs. Doris if we could work together,” I answered, trying to get her interest. I finally got to look into Zoe’s light blue eyes now as she looked up at me. 

“What are you doing for your project?” She asked. She placed her hands on the desk and winced as if it was cold. 

I slowly slid into the seat next to her as I answered, “Zodiac signs.” Her face looked like the faces of the people at my old school. The faces that made fun of me. 

She started to say something and I knew she would say it was dumb, so instead I rushed to say, “It’s okay, we can change the topic.” Her eyes brightened as I blurted it out.

“No, it’s a good topic. I just don’t know anything about it. I’ll just look it up tonight,”  she said as she pulled out her computer. 

“I can just teach you it instead. That may be quicker.” I handed her the finished half of my project.

“Ok. I guess that works,” She smiled. She read through the pages amazed by work. “It’s really good. I’m Capricorn!” 

“Cool, when is your birthday?” I asked.

“January 4th.” She handed me back my project. At least now Zoe had someone to talk to as well as a project.

“If you want, you can come over to my place tonight and I can tell you more about Zodiac Signs. That is if you don’t already have plans.” I exclaimed.

She said, “Ok! I’ll ask my dad.”

“Great!” I said, happy that Zoe and I were getting along well. 

That night after school, Zoe rang the doorbell and Scorpio started barking hysterically. When I opened the door, Scorpio rushed out to greet her. He licked her hands and she stroked his fur. “Who’s this?”

“His name’s Scorpio. His birthday is on November 17? hence the name Scorpio.” I answered in a scholarly voice. She shook her head sarcastically as if she knew what I was talking about. 

“Well he’s very cute,” she exclaimed. I nodded my head in agreement and opened the door so she could come in. We went up to my room and I got out my project. I started teaching her all about what the signs meant, what they looked like, and also what planets they were ruled by. Scorpio trotted up to my room and started giving us kisses. We laughed as if we had been friends since we were babies. It made me happy. “Well I should be getting home now,” Zoe exclaimed. 

“Ok, bye,” I said as she grabbed her bag. 

She took a quick glance at the rock on my desk. “Wait, is that rock Obsidian?” I nodded. “I learned about these during summer school. It’s an igneous rock, meaning it was made from magma. They are super sharp and also very pretty!” I was amazed. She knew a lot about the tiny black rock that Uncle John had gotten me for Christmas.

Which is why I said excitedly, “Obsidian! You could make your project about Obsidian. You know a lot about it.” I could tell she was thinking about it.

 She picked up the rock and said, “Why not?” I was excited that I helped someone from school. Especially since it was only my first day at Sunnydale Middle. I let her take the rock home and I let her say goodbye to Scorpio. “See you tomorrow!” And she hopped into her mom’s car. 

Aunty Laury was making spaghetti when I walked into the kitchen. Mmm, my favorite! “She seems nice,” she exclaimed.

“Who? Zoe,” I asked, as she poured in the sauce.

“Yeah, she seems nice,” my aunt said. 

“She is,” I said “but I don’t know a whole lot about her,” 

“Well maybe invite her for dinner,” she suggested “Just to get to know her more. I can make pizza!” 

“I guess that would be alright,” I said, thoughtfully.

I wasn’t sure if it would be necessary to invite her over for dinner. But my aunt thought so. I guess it would be nice to get a friend in the class. It looked like Scorpio agreed too. He was grinning. Even though some of his teeth stuck out on the side, I could tell he was smiling. I bent over and scratched him behind the ears. I looked out the window, wondering if Zoe would even want to come over to dinner. It would be okay if she said no, but Aunt Laury wanted her to. At least we had a good start so far. The next day, when I got on the bus, there weren't 20 sets of eyes on me like the day before. And I was happy that I wasn’t an attention seeker. Sitting down in a seat near the back, I peered out the window until we got to school. 

I saw Zoe again in first-period English and said hi. I could tell that she had already started her Obsidian project. She had a bunch of papers and pencils sprawled out on her desk. She had my rock placed in a little box to keep it safe. “Hi again,” I said.

“I worked on it all last night! The project I mean.” She kept gluing and writing as she spoke. 

“So, my aunt wants me to ask you if you’d want to come over for dinner sometime. Just for some pizza and maybe a movie.” I offered. I dragged my heavy backpack off my back and sat down next to her.
“I’d be fine with that, as long as my parents say it’s okay.” She answered, still working on her project. With her eyes glued to her project, she didn’t notice Mercy and Wesley walk up behind her.

“A rock? That’s just kind of dumb,” They said in sync. “Who would want to spend 5 minutes watching a presentation about a rock?” She ignored the question and kept working on her project. Wesley put his hands out in front of her face and clapped, trying to get her attention. “Hello?!?” Again, she kept working. 

“What are you guys doing for your projects?” I asked, trying to change the subject. They exchanged bare glances and then looked back at me. 

“I’m doing video games and Mercy’s doing bikes. How ‘bout you?” Wesley answered in a confident voice.

I answered, ”Zodiac Signs.”

“Oh…” Mercy said in a sarcastic voice. “Interesting…” 

I knew that Mercy was being sarcastic, but I was used to it. All of the kids at my old school thought that Zodiac Signs were dumb. 

“Ok, I can’t wait to see your projects later,” I said in my polite voice. They shrugged and walked towards their desk. I turned towards Zoe. “Your topic is not dumb. It’s unique.” 

She swiped her dirty blonde hair out of her face and said, “Unique is what people say when they're lying. My topic isn’t dumb, right?” She looked up from her project and up at me. I didn’t think her project was dumb. If anything, I thought it was one of the greatest topics in the class, but I didn’t know what to say. My mouth was empty. My eyes just stared at her. My mind was blank. “Well? Is it?”

“It’s a good topic,” and I just left it like that. I went back to my seat to work on my project, but I couldn’t get anything done. My mind was stuck on what I would say to Zoe to make her feel better. Zoe was my first real friend and I didn’t want to mess it up. So instead, I went up to talk to her. “Hey?

“Everyone, take your seats. We will be presenting in a few minutes.” Mrs. Doris cut me off. I sat down in my seat looking at Zoe. Several presentations passed but all I thought about was Zoe.

Several presentations later, it was Zoe’s turn to present. “Umm, this is a rock. It’s called Obsidian. Obsidian is a igneous?” But she was cut off.

“EEEWWWW!!!” It was Mercy, “WHO FARTED?” Zoe’s eyes darted around the classroom. Her voice stopped.

“I think it’s coming from up there!” Wesley pointed to the presentation podium where Zoe stood. “It was her!” Everyone in the class burst into laughter, everyone but me. I looked at Zoe. Fear filled her eyes. This was my chance to show her I really was her friend. My chance to show her that she was not alone. Nobody noticed when I stood up and walked up beside her. 

“They just want attention,” I whispered, “You have the best topic. Your topic is not dumb. And your topic is unique.” I gave her a mint scented tissue to wipe her tears. 

“I know,” She smiled slightly, “can you stay up here until I’m done?” I nodded politely and her smile grew. 

“I’ll be here.” I stood next to her for the entire presentation. 

- which is why this is an extraordinary rock. Obsidian.” She finished her presentation and the whole class clapped. I was as proud as she was and we hugged after. “Thanks!”

“Anytime! It was amazing. You really know your stuff.” I laughed. We smiled just like friends do. And now we were.  Just me and her, best friends . . . forever.


Submitted: June 08, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Veena Langewisch. All rights reserved.

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