Halle is hands down my favorite writer. In fifth grade, I was a co-editor in chief of our school’s newspaper. Every Friday morning in the library, our club would meet, and I along with my other co-editor in chief would give out assignments for the week. Needless to say, Halle’s articles were always top-of-the-folders. It was like she instantly had a creative take on even the simplest of news to report. She would write and write and write while I had pry others away from whatever Cool Math Game they happened to be “totally crushing” at the moment and “couldn’t be bothered” and “would get the article done eventually.” Not Halle. She would have her article done and typed by the end of our allotted 30 minute time slot for Newspaper Club every single Friday. It may be hard to believe, but since then, she’s only gotten better. Her excellent character development and creation of a solid plot with exciting rising action sprinkled with fancy vocab words make for a fantastic start to this sure-to-be bestselling book. I now present to you possibly my favorite Reader of the Month post thus far in the collection, Halle’s short story entitled, “Deep Connections.”
I can feel a bead of sweat slowly trickle down my forehead. I wipe it away with the back of my hand self-consciously, looking around the classroom to see if anyone saw. No. Well, of course not. Finals are in full swing, and I can hear the scratching of pencils in the otherwise quiet room. I look down at my paper and dig my fingernails into my palms. 2y – 5 + 27x = -17y + 2 + 4x. So, first you subtract 4x from both sides- no, you add 17y, no… I slam my pencil on the desk and sit up abruptly. I make my way to the front of the room.
“Can I go to the bathroom?”
“Yes, go ahead,” Ms. Sanders says, putting down her book and peering at me over the top of her glasses. I open the door, slip out, and take a deep breath, relieved to be out of there. The hallway is eerily cool compared to the thick, hot air in the classroom. I enter the bathroom and glance at myself in the mirror. My normally smooth blonde hair looks stringy and is sticking to the back of my neck. There are red splotches on my face and my forehead is sticky with sweat. I sigh and run my fingers through my hair. Finals are the worst part of the year. Sitting on hard desk chairs and wracking your brain for information you learned back in October is agonizing. I only have 45 minutes left in the period, though, and I’ve only gotten through one page of the test. The bathroom door slams behind me as I walk through the halls back to my classroom. Heads turn as I enter, students looking for any distraction from the tediousness in front of them. I plop down at my desk again, looking towards the back of the room to make sure the windows are all open. They are, but the warm breeze that blows in has no effect on the muggy climate inside. There’s no escaping this now. I pick up my pencil and subtract 4x from both sides.
The familiar ding of the school bell rings. I scribble my name on the top of the test and race to the front of the room, handing it to Ms. Sanders.
“Tests up here,” she says feebly, to no avail, for everyone’s escaped.
I open my locker door and grab my lunch bag. I’m starving- that final drained the nutrients from my body. I remember with glee that I packed a brownie today. I place my binders and notebooks on the floor of the locker and slam the door shut. I push through the throngs of eighth graders moving towards the lunchroom, like bits of metal attracted to a large, central magnet. The double doors to the cafeteria are open, and we swarm in to find our seats. I see a pop of ginger-colored hair, and I race towards the source.
“Hey, Megan,” I say, plopping down onto a seat across from her.
“Hi Olivia,” she replies, smiling. “How was the math final?”
“Horrible!” I say dramatically, fanning my face. She knows math is my least favorite subject. “I think I failed.”
“Oh no,” she says, reaching into her lunch bag for a water bottle. “The science final is really hard, too.” I put my head in my hands. Megan is the best student out of our group of friends. If she found a final hard, the rest of us are doomed. I feel a tap on my shoulder, and I look up to see Genevieve tapping my shoulder.
“Scooch!” She says playfully. I good-naturedly move a seat down, and she sits across from Megan. Where’s everyone else? I look up and see our other three friends coming towards the table.
“Howdy, fellas,” greets Aiden. He takes a seat across from me. Clara sits across from Sam, and my best friend, Adrianna, plops down next to me. This is my crew. My rocks. These people have been my best friends since the beginning of eighth grade.
Megan is a great student. She’s the one who helps us with our homework and gets nineties or above on every test. She has long, red hair and large, green glasses that accentuate her blue eyes. Genevieve is Megan’s best friend- the sporty one. Her coarse, black hair is always pulled back into a ponytail. She might be the prettiest of our group with her chocolate colored skin and big, brown eyes. Genevieve plays soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. I don’t think I could play three sports- I barely get my homework done each night. Then, there’s Aiden. He has floppy brown hair, large, black rimmed glasses, and wears the same grey Converse every day. He loves playing the guitar and taking Tumblr photos with his instrument. Aiden is also my only gay friend- he’s dating a guy from another middle school named Chad. If you’re crafty, you should meet Clara! She’s the queen of DIYs. Her room is colorful and filled with her different projects. She’s thinking of starting a DIY Youtube channel. Clara has straight, blond hair and long, perfectly manicured nails. She’s also my most sassy, spunky friend- she always wants to speak her mind. Sam is Clara’s boyfriend. He has curly, dark brown hair and chestnut-colored eyes. I don’t know much about Sam, but he seems friendly. Sam loves soccer and playing trombone. Lastly, there’s Adrianna. Adrianna is my best friend- we’ve known each other since second grade, when I moved to the town. I was playing with a doll that had curly black hair, like her. She was playing with a doll that had straight blond hair, like me. We switched dolls, played with them, and became best friends. Adrianna has a curly, black mane of hair that goes down to her waist. She plays guitar and loves taking artsy photos outside in her garden. Adrianna wears dark, winged eyeliner and white Converse to school. She’s one of my main fashion inspirations.
“Oh my gosh.” Adrianna breaks me out of my reverie and taps me on the shoulder.
“Callum Bennett and Michelle Atkinson are sitting together. Again.”
“Didn’t they break up?” I ask, taking a bite of my sandwich.
“Yes! They did!” Adrianna shakes her head. Oh, another thing about Adrianna- she loves to gossip. If you want to know what’s happening at our school- she’s the person to ask.
“I think they’re a cute couple,” Aiden remarks. “What do you have against them?”
“Do you really want me to answer that?” Adrianna counters, smiling. She launches into a play-by-play rendition of their fight during P.E.
Having solid friends that you can be yourself around is a vital part of middle school. As I sit at this dirty lunch table eating a ham sandwich, I’m grateful for every single one of my friends and how they’ve contributed to the person I am today.
To be continued…