I was wide awake staring at the back of my eyelids. My eyes were closed, but my mind was racing. First day of school and I was nervous. I opened my eyes and blinked a few times because it was just as dark in my room as it was when my eyes were closed. As I rolled over the light from neon blue numbers lit the air. 4:30am. Ugh. Half an hour before my alarm. Oh well. I sat up and stretched. Let’s get this day started.
When you live in a house with four boys and two parents, it pays to be the first person up in the morning. I showered in peace, dressed and was downstairs eating breakfast before I heard the first person wake up and go into the upstairs bathroom.
I paused to take one last look in the mirror, snapped my morning pic and was gone before whoever that was finished their shower.
Walking down the dimly lit street, I could see a couple of my friends at the bus stop. My nerves calmed. I took out my camera and shifted my flute case underneath my arm.
“Hey y’all!” I yelled down the street. I was immediately embarrassed because it came out way louder than I expected.
“Hey, Nina!“ they yelled back in unison. Snap. Perfect shot.
“You and that camera!” I heard Missy saying as I got closer.
“Did you get my good side?” said Tristan. Missy and I shook our heads and laughed. We all knew that Tristan had no bad side. She was the prettiest girl in the neighborhood and she knew it.
I was so happy to see my friends.
As the sun continued to rise, a steady stream of kids joined us at the bus stop. Perfect lighting for my first day of school photo shoot. I was getting some really great casual shots when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Michael. Great, I thought as I rolled my eyes and turned to see what he wanted.
“Hey Michael. What’s up? Nice sneakers.” Maybe if I killed him with kindness, he wouldn’t have the heart to say something mean to me.
“Yeah. That’s what I need to talk to you about. I see you out here taking pictures. I need some pics of my sneakers.”
“Um... yeah, sure.” My mind went into immediate creative overdrive. Michael’s sneakers were bright yellow with neon orange and green trim. “Leah, Chris and Tristan, y’all come here and stand like this.” I made them all stand with their feet in a circle. On the first day of school, you have to be dressed to impress. Everyone had on their brand new clothes and shoes and Leah, Chris and Tristan all happened to be wearing gleaming white sneakers fresh out of the box. No creases.
Michael’s highlighter yellow sneakers stood out in the circle like a sun ray bursting through the clouds on a rainy day. Rainy day = gray. Gray = asphalt. I could see that my shot was genius.
The bus pulled up just as I took the pic. “I’ll send it to you today after school, Michael,” I said as I put my camera into my bag, grabbed my flute case and got on the bus.
My mind was racing through my class schedule when I was literally knocked back into reality by Terrie.
“Scoot over. I have so much to tell you!” she said as she used her book bag and clarinet case to nudge me over.
“Happy first day of school to you, too” I said, smirking while I made room.
“Did these busses get smaller? There’s hardly any room for both of us to sit here!” Terri lived one bus stop away from me. She was also one of the few neighborhood friends who was in band. Did I mention she grew a foot over the summer break? Well, maybe not a whole foot, but it had to be at least 6 inches. She was taller than everyone.
“Ok, so what’s the big news?” I asked.
“Did you hear? Mr. Fernstead is gone! He’s not the band director anymore!” Terri’s voice sounded as if she didn’t know whether to be happy or excited. Whichever one is greater, that’s the one that Terri was. She never liked Mr. Fernstead. Especially after what happened at band camp last week.
“Seriously? He’s gone? Where did you hear that?” Why did I even ask that question? It was no secret that Terri’s mom was the neighborhood gossip. She knew absolutely everything! Nothing gets past Mrs. Winsome.
“My mom said that the parents got a letter in the mail saying that Magic Hollow Middle School was getting a new principal. She called her friend that works at the school and she told her that once he saw that video you made of us last year at festival, he marched right down to the band room and was in there for over an hour. When the new principal came back to his office, he gave her Mr. Fernstead’s keys and said that he won’t be needing them anymore.”
“Wow. This new principal sounds crazy. What are we going to do without a band director?” I had just made the advanced band and, no matter how terrible they sounded, I was still excited about being in the top band.
The ride to school was a blur. My mind raced from the news I just heard to the sneaker shot I got this morning. This morning. Michael was nice to me. That’s a first. He has had it in for me since I moved here last year in sixth grade. It’s not my fault that the first time I saw him, he had on a pair of cowboy boots, blue above-the-knee shorts and a yellow t-shirt that had MIKEE spelled out in green letters on it. Hey, his shirt said Mikee, so, I called him Mikee. Maybe he didn’t like that nick name. It’s been nothing but torture ever since.
Ugh. Why was I thinking about him? Our school had no band director. What would I do without band? We should turn this bus around now and go back home. I can enroll in another school. One with a good band director. It’s not too late, right?
My thoughts were interrupted as I instinctly stuck my hand out and braced myself on the back of the seat in front of me.
“Did you feel that?” I asked Terri.
“Girl, this bus driver can’t drive. Get your stuff. Let’s hurry to the band room and see if we can find out what’s going on.” Terri said as she quickly worked her way into the aisle and off of the bus.
Snap. Had to get a first day of school shot of the front of the school.
I caught up with Terri and we entered into Magic Hollow Middle School.