The
Underachievers
CHAPTER
6
Sullen Savannah
My Mom dropped me off at school for my second Saturday detention. I was in that mood where everything irritates you and you hate everything. My Mom had been especially badgerish all morning. If that’s not a word, it should be. It was cloudy and cold out. Perfectly fitting weather. I felt cloudy and cold on the inside, too. When I feel miserable it really feels like there are clouds in my head making it impossible for me to think clearly or look on the bright side. On days like this I just want to tell the world to leave me alone because I am suffering from brain clouds. All humans and animals would cower away from me and just leave me alone! But, no! That’s not how my life works. I have to have my Mom driving me insane, tripping on the clutter in my room, finding my favorite shampoo bottle totally empty, having the shower water go cold on me, not able to find my favorite pair of jeans, and now a day of detention. This is one of those days I should be allowed to just hide under the covers of my comfy bed all day.
I sat on the cold bench in the school entryway. The kid with the glasses sat across from me playing some sort of game on his iPhone. I just crossed my arms and stared down at my blue sneakers. They were looking rather worn.
Zoey walked in and said, “Hey,” to me. I sort of waved and went back to staring at my sneakers. Probably the most exciting thing I’d get to do all day.
“What song is that?” Zoey asked interrupting my stare fest.
“What song? I don’t hear anything,” I asked back.
“You were just humming,” she laughed. “I was trying to figure out what song it was.”
“Oh, sorry. I just hum sometimes, even when I’m not aware of it,” I explained. “I have no clue what I might have been humming.”
The door opened and that Braeden kid flew across the entryway on his skateboard. He jumped off it and let it hit the wall and reverse. Stomping on one end of the board he grabbed the opposite end as it shot up. He tucked the board under his arm and walked toward the bench Zoey and I were sitting on.
“Ladies,” Braeden said as he flipped his long bangs to the side with his free hand. He sat on the next bench down. He placed his skateboard under his feet like it was a short ottoman on wheels and leaned back against the wall. His eyes closed. What a weirdo.
I saw Tyler walking toward the entryway. He slapped the upper doorway and then pushed open the door. He sat down on the bench by the kid with the glasses. The door swung open a final time and in walked Ben the comedian. He sat on the bench by Braeden.
“Hey! All my junior janitors showed up,” said Mr. Dan. He was pushing out a cart with cleaning supplies. Oh joy.
“Like we had a choice,” Braeden said. I don’t think Mr. Dan heard.
“You know, as much time as I spend childproofing this place, y’all keep finding a way in,” Mr. Dan Joked.
I rolled my eyes but Ben was sure laughing. “Good one, Mr. Dan!” Ben said.
“I knew you would appreciate that one, Ben,” Mr. Dan said.
“I have one for you,” Ben said to Mr. Dan. “Why did the janitor take early retirement?”
“Why?” asked Mr. Dan.
“Because he realized that grime doesn’t pay! Get it?” Laughed Ben.
“Yeah, I get it,” Mr. Dan said.
“Good morning,” said Mrs. Callahan.
She had us all put our lunches, cell phones, and bags on a cart which she took with her to guard in her office, I’m sure. Only Zoey had a backpack this time. When the principal asked why she would bring it when she knew we weren’t doing school work, Zoey said something about a parent swap. I wondered what that meant.
Mr. Dan split us up. Vandals went crazy in some of the bathrooms yesterday. So Zoey and I got to clean up the girl’s restroom and the rest cleaned up the boy’s restrooms.
“I can’t believe this,” I said shocked when we walked in to the restroom. Toilet paper was everywhere. Terrible things were written on the long mirror with red and black lipsticks. There was graffiti all over the side of the stalls. Wads of paper towels littered the floor and the full garbage can had been dumped over. “So gross,” I added.
“I wonder who Laura H. is.” Zoey said.
I read the writing on the side of the stall. “How rude! I feel bad for her, whoever she is. Hey look, Zoey P. loves Scott S. Is that you?”
“No way,” said Zoey. “Want to see something cool?”
I followed Zoey into the last stall. In black pen there was this really cool intricate drawing of an owl flying across the sun. “Wow! That is cool. How did you know about this?”
“I drew it,” Zoey admitted.
“You are talented!” I said impressed.
“Thank you,” Zoey said.
“Wait! Did you destroy this bathroom?” I asked.
“Of course not. I only beautify things,” Zoey said. “Did you destroy this bathroom?”
“No. I can’t believe we have to clean all this. So not fair,” I grumbled.
“I know right. Where do we start?” Asked Zoey.
“The mirror I guess,” I said. It seemed like the simplest job and the least gross.
We got to work. We talked a lot about art. She loves art as much as I do practically. We seemed to have a lot in common. I asked her about her parent swap comment. It turns out her parents are divorced. She and her younger brother go to her Dads today since he got back late yesterday from a business trip. Her Mom dropped her off here and took her brother to their Dads place. She didn’t trust her younger brother not to go through her stuff and use her iPad so she kept the bag with her. I feel bad for her having to go back and forth between two homes. She said she’s pretty much used to it now.
When she asked if I had any brothers or sisters I ended up telling her about Kelsey. When I told her about Kelsey and her friends driving home from a soccer tournament weekend and being hit by a drunk driver I actually started crying. I haven’t done that for a while. Zoey got teary, too.
My sister’s soccer team came in first place. They drove back late on a Sunday, so it was dark and the roads were not well lighted. They were just about forty-five minutes from home when a drunk driver came off a side dirt road at full speed and crashed right into the passenger side of the car where my sister was sitting. The first responders reported she was dead on impact. Her teammate that was driving died two hours later at the hospital. The other three girls were injured but recovered.
The worst part was that my whole family was going to go to the tournament and stay in the hotel my sister’s team stayed at. I got strep throat though. So both my parents stayed home with me. I was so bummed we couldn’t go. Mostly because the hotel had a cool indoor pool. That sounds so ridiculous now. I blamed myself for a long time. If I hadn’t been sick my sister would have gone home with us instead of one of the team members cars. Then she would probably be with us today. ‘IF’ sentences can be very damaging to someone grieving. It took a long time for me to give up torturing myself with all the ‘If…, then...’ sentences. The fact is that once something happens you can’t go back in time and change it. So why drive yourself crazy over changing something that’s impossible to change?
As we were drying our tears by the sinks something fell from the ceiling making us both jump back and scream.
“OMG! What is that?”
Zoey grabbed my arm and said, “I don’t want to know.”
It looked like a wet paper towel wad with who knows what on it. “I hope that’s ketchup and not blood,” Zoey moaned.
Mr. Dan stuck his head in through the doorway. “You girls okay?”
We told him what happened and he was kind enough to toss out whatever it all was for us. He looked up to make sure nothing else was on the ceiling too. Then told us to finish up and join the boys who started cleaning the outside of lockers.
“Hey! These are the lockers we cleaned last week!” Zoey said.
“I know!” Ben said. “I want to know who messed up all our hard work. My arms are still kind of sore from doing this last Saturday.”
“This is so not fair,” I whined. I truly loathe cleaning, especially after other people. I just wanted to go home and crawl into bed. I grabbed a spray bottle and a towel. I walked over to a locker to read what someone wrote on it. “What is wrong with people. This is so mean.”
Zoey looked. “Shameful. My Mom would say, ‘It’s b-e-f-o-r-e not B4. We speak English, not BINGO!”
I laughed. I sprayed the locker and started scrubbing.
By lunch time I desperately wanted to sleep and eat at the same time if that’s possible. I washed up and grabbed my lunch. I sat on a bench by Zoey. There was a lot of eating and complaining. I saw Mr. Dan bringing out tarps, rollers and brushes.
“Mr. D! Are we painting the wall?” Asked Tyler.
“Yep. The entire wall,” Mr. Dan said. Then went to get more stuff.
“Painting sounds better than all the other stuff we’ve been doing,” said Zoey.
“Yeah… wouldn’t it be cool if we could make it interesting though. Like use different colors?” I said thinking out loud.
“Yes! Like a mural,” Zoey said.
“That would be dope,” said Braeden.
“We should totally do that,” agreed Tyler.
“I bet they won’t let us. We’ll probably be stuck with boring white,” I said.
“Let’s not ask and just do it,” said Tyler.
“Are you kidding? We will get in so much trouble,” I said.
“Dude, we are already spending every Saturday this month in detention,” Braeden said.
“I agree, I say we do it. This school needs some color. White is for hospitals,” Tyler said.
“Totally,” agreed Zoey. “Maybe if we do something really cool we won’t get in trouble.”
“Maybe, if it is something positive and school appropriate,” I said.
“Maybe something with the school mascot?” Suggested Tyler.
“A mountain lion, dude? Boring,” said Braeden.
“Ben! Sawyer! Get over here!” Yelled Tyler.
We all started bouncing ideas around. Every one of us was willing to risk getting in more trouble. Zoey snuck over to the lunch cart to grab paper and a pen out of her bag. We started sketching out ideas. I was getting so excited about our project that I barely noticed my brain clouds cleared and I forgot to be tired and in a dreadful mood. We were having fun until we heard the clicking of high heels. Braeden folded up the papers with our sketches and stuffed them in his pocket. Zoey tucked the pen into her pants.
Principal Callahan told us to clean up our lunch stuff. I offered to sweep! What is wrong with me? Ben tried to shoot a balled up napkin into the trash and missed. Braeden actually yelled at him instead of the principal!
“Dude, you better pick that up and put it in the garbage! I’m not doing it for you,” said Braeden.
“And spit out that gum Ben,” said Sawyer.
This was bizarre. I think we were all in a hurry to get to our secret plan. When our principal disappeared with the cart and Mr. Dan told us what to do and left to do one of his janitor jobs somewhere, we were ready. He had sent three of the boys to bring a few paint cans. Luckily for our future defense he didn’t say what color paint. Zoey, Braeden and I looked over our sketch ideas some more. Sawyer, Ben and Tyler each carried two paint cans when they returned. Each can was a different color. Tyler snuck a box of chalk so we could sketch our idea on the wall before we started painting. After ten minutes we got to work sketching our mural on the wall. It was so fun and exciting. I’m sure we all had the fear of getting in trouble lurking behind us but it was so worth it. I just hope that when Mr. Dan and Principal Callahan see what we are doing they won’t just totally freak out and make us paint over it. I pray they will consider letting us finish it and keep it.
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