Same Boat

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By Ashley Sgro

Melissa has a canopied bed and a wooden floor.
“You’re not this quiet at home, are you?” she asks.
“No,” I say.
“Good,” she says.
We continue working on our project for French class. We’re both eleven years old.

Staircases are made wide so that Nick can pass me. We’re late for history class. He’s on the football team, which means he’s more athletic and prone to arriving first.
“Ash,” he says as he passes me.
“Nick,” I say as I watch him pass. Our conversation is strange since we never converse.
He walks in first.
“Nick, you’re late,” Mr. Butler says.
Then I walk in. His demeanor changes.
“Hi, Ashley.”

It’s tough working in groups. It’s harder when the four of you are nine years old. It’s even harder when you’re assigned to make a sock puppet play. It’s hardest when the sock puppets are supposed to be married.
“I’m Jared’s wife,” Alyssa says when she pulls me aside. She tells it to me as if she’s the boss. “And you’re Dominic’s wife.”
“I don’t want to be married to Dominic,” I say.
“I don’t want to be married to Dominic,” she says.
We continue to argue over fake marriages. She shows me no mercy.

Jim was a jock. Jim was a bully. Jim was my bully. Jim was always my partner in our tap class.
“You better not tell anybody I’m taking tap lessons,” he threatened.
Right.

People always start complaining when groups are assigned in class.
“Why can’t we pick our own groups?”
Mr. Butler says that it’s because some people in the class don’t have any friends. And since I’m the only one in the class who doesn’t have any friends, he must mean me.
I don’t know why they’re complaining. He always assigns friends with friends and me with a group of the nicer ones.

Snow White was never one of my favorite movies as a child, so I don’t know why I wanted to be Miss White for Halloween when I was five. For most of the movie she wore that red, white, blue, and yellow dress, so I went to school wearing that red, white, blue, and yellow dress. It was pretty simple, and no one gave me trouble for wearing it.
Except Jim. He teased me about it all day. I figured he found the very American red, white, and blue combo a strange mix with the very un-American yellow skirt.
He must have been quite the patriot.

It’s hard to listen to music when everyone’s so loud on the bus. There’s always gossip. Even guys gossip.
There were six guys that were the loudest. They thought they were kings. I only knew three of their names. King 1 was Dan, King 2 was Gideon, and King 3 was Mason. Dan was the only one who knew my name. The others didn’t, so they gave me one.
“That’s Silent Girl,” King 4 said.
Kings 5 and 6 said nothing. They were too busy listening to their music.

At lunch my friend tells me about her history class. She’s eating a sandwich, and I’m eating a sandwich.
“Ashley,” she says, “this guy Mario was sitting in front of me joking around with his friends. They were being so loud.”
“Oh,” I say. She tells me homework was being returned.
“When he turned around,” she says, “he smiled and was very polite. I was surprised.”
“Victoria,” I say, “what do you expect?”

On prom night Melissa becomes prom queen.
On prom night I eat a ham sandwich and watch What Not to Wear.

The hallways get pretty crowded during lunchtime. My high school had four lunches: A, B, C, and D. I had C lunch and was walking toward the cafeteria. Others who just finished B lunch were walking back to class.
Some guy in a white hat and a black shirt was part of the B lunch crowd. I barely noticed him until he yelled in my face as he and his buddies passed me in the hall.
I was proud to make everyone laugh. I didn’t know I could make such funny faces.

Now we have a slideshow to make in chemistry class, and we’re dumbfounded.
“I don’t know what to do,” Emily says. I don’t either. Marius is good at chemistry, so we let him take over.
I watch Marius work the computer. I watch Emily work her cell phone as she texts Melissa.
Emily and I feel we need to contribute, so we paste pictures of cats on each slide.
“What are these cats doing here?” he asks in a frenzy. Marius must like dogs.
Emily and I laugh together.

I’m presenting in class today, so I try to look nice in my beige corduroys and pink sweater. I get up and walk to the front of the class (which isn’t far since I sit close to the front anyway) with my note cards and poster. Mr. Butler asks me if I need someone to hold my poster while I present.
No friend, no poster-holder, I think.
I decline.

King 3 was the meanest. That’s Mason. I’m sure he wanted to be the number one king, but that didn’t happen.
I was sitting by the window when he strode onto the bus. He sat next to me without asking, but we’ve never talked so I let it slide. He turned to King 4 to badmouth everyone as usual.
“And this bitch right here,” King 3 said as he pointed to me.
Wow. He must really hate dog-loving Marius too.

I went to a friend’s Halloween party my freshman year of high school. I didn’t want to dress up, so I wore a black shirt and called myself a mortician.
“What makes you a mortician?” they asked. I guess they didn’t buy it.
Another friend of mine, Laura, attended the party too. She wore a dirty smock and called herself a painter. Laura loved to talk.
When we were supposed to bob for apples, everyone got quiet. The hostess spoke. “Who’s first?” Dawn asked. No one said anything. Dawn asked me if I wanted to try. “Maybe later,” I said with a smile. I didn’t want to look stupid.
I never bobbed. Laura didn’t either.

“I was sick and couldn’t go on the fieldtrip,” I say.
Actually, with no friend, no poster-holder, I didn’t want to go on the trip.
“Don’t worry about it,” Mr. Butler says with a smile.

Jim stole my money again on the bus. It was only some change, which is why I was angry when Mom called Jim’s mom.
Poor Mrs. Jim had to listen to my mom over the phone. Poor me had to deal with Jim the next day on the bus.
Thanks a lot, Mom.

I hate school assemblies.
Actually, I like them because I get to miss class.
We’re all sitting in the bleachers. Melissa walks to the center of the gymnasium to make an announcement. She wears short shorts and heels.
“Hey, everyone,” she says, “I’m Melissa.” I hear some guy behind me speak.
“Who?”

Baseball season’s a killer. I’m always awake when I should be asleep.
I look at the clock: 8 P.M.
I look at the clock: 11 P.M.
Oops.
Oh, well. We’re all in the same boat.

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Ashley Sgro has always been infatuated with words and writing. As an avid reader and eternal writer, she dedicates her free time to composing poetry and flash fiction. Ashley currently lives in New Jersey. Visit her at ashleysgro.com.

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