What's this? I can't believe my eyes, I must be dreaming. Wake up, Frank, this isn't fair. What's this?
Title from One Republic
“You guys should’ve heard what this black guy said!”
“Yeah, what’d he say?”
“He asked me if I was DUMB. How about a ‘thanks’ for me opening the door for you?”
“That was ignorant. I would’ve said thanks.”
“I know, that’s why you’re my friend.” Frank said with a smile.
Another smile comes from Franks friend Cheyenne, and the two walked silently for a moment to their language class, which was, in this case, German.
“…You know, the only person that even bothered thanking me was a boy. You think it would be opposite, but no.”
Cheyenne simply nodded, lost in counting her footsteps to the double doors that led to a freezing outside world.
“They should make a trailer leading TO the trailers. Then we wouldn’t have to bundle up every day to make an hour and a half trip inside.”
This school that the two attended had recently added trailer classrooms for multiple class use. While the students only had to walk a few seconds to their next class, the outside was colder than the main building, and the trailers were destined to be just as cold.
“It’s obvious that we need the heaters turned on. That’s why they’re there, so I don’t get why the teachers act as if it’s the 1800’s and we gotta put coal in the oven.” Frank said, to which Cheyenne snickered and made a vague reference to ice cream.
After entering the trailer, Frank wrapped his jacket around him tighter, laying his head on the desk (which turned out to not be such a great idea, since the desks were colder than ice itself), and paid little to no attention to the days lecture. Instead, he thought of nothing but the one thank-you he got from a stranger, somebody he’d seen the year before but hadn't bothered himself with.
And suddenly, this boy seemed worth thinking about, at the least.
“At least he said thank you. You don’t get people like that anymore, too lazy to say fucking thank you.”
The time is the third month of seventh grade, and Frank was prepared to leave behind what he thought the weird, awkward boy from sixth grade, and move onto the brand-new, hey-look-at-me-I’m-different-from-everybody-else seventh grader. It was true in a way; nobody was quite like the off-centered person that Frank was. Though his innocent humour and thoughts were gone, he remained much the same from last year. He was still loved by his close friends, and acquainted with the entire student body. Yet, he had never found the time to say hello to the one stranger.
“Klasse ist dismissed. I expect everyone to turn in die Hausaufgaben in zwei days!”
Each student left with murmurs of “Auf Wiedersehn”, knowing full well how the teacher liked to throw in English along with her German. Only one student remained behind, who was Frank, lost in his thoughts.
“Frank, the other students are going in. Eight grade will be here soon, you need to leave.” the teacher said, lightly patting Franks hand.
“Right. Auf Wiedersehn, Frau Schock.”
“Auf Wiedersehn Frank.”
Frank gathered his things and was starting out the door of the trailer when he found the other students, including his friends, had left, not bothering to keep the automatic-lock doors open for him. He ran over and fumbled his hands around the door handle, using his strength to try and open the door.
“My dad gave me muscles and so by God I SHALL OPEN THIS DOOR. OPEN SESAME!”
Magic words did not help, but Frank felt giddy from the cold and continued using all the magic words he could call upon to open the doors, which remained locked. Frank was slowly freezing himself all the while with no concern. When he finally understood what he was doing, the Spanish teacher ran outside and unlocked the door with a key.
“Magic does not exist. You are in middle school, not elementary.” the teacher said, huffing away.
“Who pissed in your Cheerios this morning?” Frank muttered, stepping inside and running late to his next class, Music, which passed by quickly. Something in Franks DNA made him extremely artistic and musical thinking, with very little athletic ability. Frank never wore sports jerseys or gym shorts; it was always different band t-shirts, Old Navy, and his trusty jacket that he vowed to never part with.
How far would I go to say about his sense with clothing? All I know is that Frank doesn’t care what others think, with the exception of himself. He once wore a pair of black Converse shoes with writing until they turned green and the bottoms were flopping off with each step. Only then did he bother to get a new pair, complaining that his old shoes were better. Already, his new shoes have writing on them, stating quotes from songs and a quote from his favourite superhero.
“Dang.” Frank hissed, putting his bleeding finger to his mouth. He had cut himself on paper and was examining the temporary wound.
“Can’t do anything right, can you? Stupid emo.” sneered Joseph, a boy that had pestered Frank since his first day of sixth grade.
“I can do plenty more than you can, and all you can seem to do is piss people off.” Frank said, swiping his books off her desk and walking out the door, heading to his locker. He wasn’t able to avoid Joseph well, since their last names put them in the same locker row.
“Maybe if I hurry…yes, hurry, that’s a plan.” Frank thought, quickly shoving his things into his oh-so-large locker. Grabbing his ID card, he was disappointed to not have been able to avoid Joseph completely, but he was glad that his few close friends had waited for him to come to lunch with them. Telling his friends about the incident with the stranger boy and colored girl, they sat down at their usual spot behind the “athletic” boys table.
Frank looked around his small circle of friends. From Joy, his Italian friend from sixth grade, to Amy and Tasha, his American Bosnian friends from sixth grade that Joy had introduced him to. Frank loved the three very much, and would do anything for them in a heartbeat. However, the friendship had not started off as true as it sounds. Ever since Frank was kicked from his old, wide circle of friends due to a new copycat of him, Frank had been on his own, looking desperately for somebody, anybody (except Joseph, of course) to call his friend.
These girls were mean in Franks mind, but as long as he had somebody to sit with and call a friend, he would be satisfied. Now, things were different, and while he still felt that his three friends were mean to others, he had grown to love them. His friend Tasha found it fine to start copying Frank, and so Frank had tried his best to put an end to it. Amy had noticed it as well, and the two gossiped about it at times when Frank was severely agitated with it.
“Dude, Amy, why do you stare at the paintings like that with your mouth open?!?”
“They’re just so pretttyyyy!”
“Look, Tasha, let Amy look at the paintings. Amy, you’re almost drooling, close your mouth before Elmir sees.” Frank said with a smirk at the last word. Elmir was and had been Amy’s interest since the 4th grade, and Frank found slight happiness in teasing Amy about it.
“Whatever, he’s not even here yet.”
“OH RIGHT, NOT BY MY EYESGHT, HE’S RIGHT THERE, I’LL SAY ‘HI’ IF YOU WANT.”
“OH MY GOD FRANK, DON’T!!!”
“ELMIR! OH ELMIR, HELLO! HOW ARE YOU ON THIS FINE DAY? SITTING NEXT TO STRANGER BOY, I SEE, YES? MMHM, I THOUGHT SO. OH ELMIR, LOOK THIS WAY!”
“Forget you.” Amy said, burying her face in her Hollister jacket.
“Who’s stranger-boy? “ Tasha asked meekly
To this, Frank could not reply specifically. Instead, he pointed to the said boy sitting down next to Elmir.
“Him. He was the one I said about in my little story.”
“Oh. That kid. He’s mean.”
“He didn’t seem mean to me.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Well, no, he only ever said two words to me.”
“I’ll tell you later during Break.”
“Sure.” Frank said, nodding before tapping Amy’s arm and telling her that Elmir had not once looked their way. To this, Amy uncovered herself and gave Frank their groups secret middle finger. Laughing, Frank and his three friends got up to get their lunches and sat back down, pleased that the school lunch was not as bad as normal; today was Friday, pizza day.
While three of the girls ate their food slowly and delicately, Frank ate at a hungry pace, considering he hadn’t had breakfast that morning. After throwing his tray of food away, Franks eyes wandered from table to table, teacher to teacher, student to student, until he found himself meeting the gaze of ‘stranger-boy’.
“Hey, Tasha, what’s that kids name anyways?”
“I said I’d tell you everything during Break.”
This was not within Franks patience, considering he had been forced to stand with the flow of life against his will since birth. Frank is what the world would consider ‘against the flow’. He wants to go a faster pace than time, to speed up life, to become more responsible and have more freedom. Then again, most teenagers are this way, so Franks desires are not uncommon.
After going through his first period, Pre-Algebra, Frank walked quickly to his next period, which happened to be Science, and sat down, waiting patiently for the teacher to announce the freedom of Break. Break is the short five to ten minute period that students go out to the main school hallway and stand around and socialize. Frank and Tasha shared their Break together, and Frank was especially looking forward to today’s Break.
“Okay, head out.” the teacher announced.
The class barged over to the door, causing a small jam in the doorway before everybody spilled out and walked out to the main hall. Frank waited a minute for Tasha’s class to come out, and walked over to the twos social corner after Tasha arrived.
Soon after Frank and Tasha went to the bathroom and sat back down, Frank asked,
“Alright, what’s that kids name?”
“Stranger boy,”Frank said, rolling his eyes. “You know, the one I pointed to at lunch?”
“OH, him! Yeah, his name is Gerard.”
“Way. He’s some Bosnian kid. We used to be friends, but then he found out that I’m more American than Bosnian and stopped talking to me. It’s okay though, I didn’t really like him anyway.” Tasha spoke, examining her fingernails.
“Uh, alright. Is he really that mean?”
“It’ll take some explaining.”
“Alright. You know how my mom’s Croatian?”
Frank nodded. “What about it?”
“Well, my mom is best friends with Gerard’s mom. That’s how we were friends.”
“Anyways, one night when Amy was sleeping over, Gerard’s mom knocked on our door. She was soaking wet, and she hadn’t driven over in a car. We guessed that she had walked the two miles in pouring rain to my house like a madwoman.”
“Gee, why’d she do that? Did she say why she was there?”
“Hold on, that part’s next. So, after my mom dried her off and made her some coffee, she shoved Amy and I into my room. It didn’t really do anything, since the room they were in was right outside my door.”
“So you and Amy put your ears up to the door and listen to their conversation?”
“Yep.” Tasha smiled. “After she shut the door, Amy and I stayed really quiet in order to hear them talk. My mom asked Gerard’s mom what she was doing there….”
Frank waited. “And…?”
“And, Gerard’s mom said she had been kicked out of her house by her husband. She said her husband abused her, and apparently, Gerard abuses her too.”
Frank laughed, not believing what he heard.
“That’s ridiculous. No boy abuses their mother.”
“Well. Gerard does.”
“It sure doesn’t look like he’s the kind for abusing. He looks real sweet.” Frank said with his Southern twang.
“If that’s what you think. You only ever see the nice in people. They could be murderers, and you would call them innocent and sweet.”
“Is that a good or bad thing?”
“Depends on how you take it.”
Frank sighed. Break was over, and all he had heard was lies to his thoughts. He didn’t believe that people abused their mothers; not in this town, at least. In fact, what Tasha had said about Frank not seeing the bad in people made him uneasy. He wasn’t sure if it was bad or good, and it was fogging his mind. Frank, though independent, liked hearing what others had to say about him and analyzing it.
He couldn’t analyze what Tasha had said, and it kept him thinking for the next day or two. All Frank knew now was that a boy abused his mom, and that wasn’t enough.