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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Family · #2281335
Being thirteen is hard enough. But starting at a new school and town can be even harder.

A New Beginning

     “Stephanie Susan Sullivan,” said Stephanie’s mom Laura. “What is wrong with you?”

     “She used your full name,” said Stephanie’s little sister Karen as she came into the dining room and sat down across from her. “You’re in trouble, You’re in trouble.”

     Laura sat down beside Stephanie. “No, she isn’t. I just want to know what’s wrong with you. You have been acting like this ever since we moved here.”

     Slowly, Stephanie looked at her mom with her head cocked slightly sideways and a hint of sadness on her face. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

     “She’s right,” said Karen. “She always looks and acts like that.”

     “No, she doesn’t. Would you stop teasing your sister,” said Laura.

     Laura turned her chair toward Stephanie. “What’s wrong? I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on.”

     “I know what’s wrong with her,” said Karen. “No, teasing. It’s because school starts tomorrow.”

     “Is that it?” Laura asked. “Are you worried about starting school tomorrow?”

     Stephanie had been staring at Karen and the wall behind her. But now she was looking at her mom. “I’m not worried about going to school. I love school. Especially, the first day. If anyone doesn’t want to go to school, it’s Karen.”

     “I don’t dislike school,” responded Karen. “I’m just not as crazy about it as you are.”

     “I’m not crazy,” said Stephanie. “If anyone here is crazy, it’s you.”

     Laura slammed her fist on the dining room table to get their attention. “Would you two stop fighting?” she turned her head toward Stephanie.

     “I know what you’re doing,” continued Laura. “You’re using your little sister to distract me from what is going on with you.”

     Just then Stephanie’s dad Alex came into the room with their dinner he starts passing to each of them. Stephanie points at him. “I keep telling you there is nothing wrong with me. But if there is, it’s because of him.”

##

     “She has blamed me ever since we moved here three months ago,” said Alex as he finished picking up the almost empty plates from dinner. He takes them into the kitchen and placed them on the counter next to the dishwasher. Then he started loading that dishwasher.

     Laura came in a few seconds later with the rest of the dinner leftovers. She started putting them into containers before placing them in the refrigerator. “What did you expect? She’s thirteen. I would be worried if she wasn’t concerned about it.”

     “That’s what I don’t understand. Why she is so worried? Stephanie has always loved school. Especially, the first day of it. She likes it even better than the last day.”

     “She probably still does love it. But this is a new town and a new school.”

     Alex finished loading the dishwasher and started it. “If it was Karen, then I could understand it. She has never liked school as much as Stephanie has.”

     “Don’t worry about Karen. She’s ten. Give her a few years and she will be acting like Stephanie. Especially, if we move to another town.”

     “Once she starts school, I’m sure she will love this one too.” Laura finished putting the leftovers away. Then she went into the living room with Alex to watch a little television before going to sleep.

     Laura picked the tv shows they would be watching that evening. And they started watching them. A few minutes later Laura turned toward Alex. “Do you think it will do any good if I go and talk to her about this?”

     “I don’t think it will,” answered Alex. “But you might as well try.”

     After getting up, Laura headed out of the living room. “I don’t think it will do any good. But we can’t let her go to school with her feeling like this. If she does, it will be even harder on her. Especially, since this is her second middle school.”

##

     A few minutes later Laura was knocking on Stephanie’s bedroom door. But there was no answer. So, she did it again. That time there was a faint reply. “Come in.”

     Laura entered and stopped. She adjusted her eyes in the semi-darkness to see Stephanie starting as she got up into a sitting position in her bed. “Let’s talk about what is bothering you.”

     “Nothing is bothering me, mom. So, there is nothing to talk about.”

     “We both know that isn’t true. And I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what it is.”

     Stephanie moved her covers closer to her as her mom sat down beside her. “You can’t help me because there isn’t anything I need help with.”

     “That’s not what it looks like to the rest of us. Karen thinks it’s because you are starting a new middle school tomorrow. If it’s not that, then what is it?”

     “Okay, I give up. If you want to know what I’m upset about, I will tell you. But you’re not going to like it. It’s not about starting school tomorrow. I still love school. Especially, the first day of it.”

     Laura shook her head slightly. “I don’t understand. What are you upset about?”

     “Everything. That’s what I’m upset about? I don’t like it here. And I want to go back to Pinion City. But I can’t do that, right.”

     “No, you can’t. How long have you felt this way?”

     Stephanie had been staring straight ahead. But now she was looking at her mom. “Ever since I was forced to move here because of my dad.”

     “You know why we moved here. It’s because your father got transferred here.”

     “I know why. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

     Stephanie laid back down in her bed. “Now you know why I’m so upset. I have friends back where we used to live. And I can live with them. What are you going to do? Let me move back with them or force me to stay here?”

####

     After leaving Stephanie, Laura returned to the living room. “Stephanie isn’t worried about school. It’s us she is mad at. Especially, you for moving us here. She wants to move back to Pinion City with one of her friends.”

     “She can’t do that,” said Alex. “And she knows it.”

     “Of course, she can’t. But she hasn’t accepted that yet,” said Laura. “Until she does, she’s going to be feeling like this.”

     Alex turned off the television and got up. He headed toward Laura at the entrance into the living room there. “Let’s go to bed. There’s nothing more we can do about it tonight. We will talk to her tomorrow about this before she goes to school.”

     “Speaking of school, once she starts it, I think she will be okay. All she needs to do is make a few friends,” said Laura.

     “What do you mean?” Alex asked. “She hasn’t made any friends yet! How can that be? We moved here three months ago so she would have time to make some friends.”

     As they headed for their bedroom, they continued to talk. “I know she has gone to the local malls quite a few times,” said Laura. “The movies and a lot of shopping too. But I haven’t seen any friends. At least none have come home with her. I don’t think she has made any.”

     “Then, you’re right. Once she starts school, she will probably be okay.”

     “I hope so,” said Laura. “Because there is no way that she will be going back to Pinion City. At least not without us. And that isn’t going to happen either.”

     After they got to their bedroom, they started getting ready to go to sleep. “I know she is thirteen.” Said Alex. “And she thinks she is ready to be on her own. But she not.”

     “What I don’t understand is why she hasn’t been making any friends,” said Laura. “Karen has already made several. And she’s the shy one of the family.”

##

     “I heard you haven’t made any friends yet. Is that true?” Alex asked.

     Stephanie twirled around in front of her full-length mirror. Her light blue with red hem dress swayed as she did it. “How do you like my new dress?”

     “It looks beautiful,” answered Laura. “And so do you.”

     “I like it too,” answered Alex. “But isn’t it a little bit too short?”

     Stephanie stopped twirling. “It’s not that short.”

     “It looks too short to me,” said Alex. “And you’re not wearing that to school.”

     “Yes, I am. If not, I’m not going to school.”

     Alex and Laura looked at each other before looking back at Stephanie. “I think she has just answered my question about her not having any friends yet.”

     “Of course, I don’t have any. I have been trying to make friends. Don’t know if it’s because I’m part black, part Asian, or both. But it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to be my friend.”

     “I have been having similar problems with my workers because I’m black,” said Alex. “Most of them still don’t like me. And they don’t want to take my orders. But it is getting better.”

     Laura looked mad. “It hasn’t been easy for me being an Asian female. It has taken me almost three months just to get a job. And I know it’s because I’m Asian.”

     “If you give them a chance, I’m sure you will make some friends. It just may take a little while before it happens,” said Alex.

     “The only one not affected by our appearance is Karen,” said Stephanie. “Right now, she only looks black. But in a few years, she’s going to have the same problems as me.”

     Stephanie starts checking out herself in her mirror again. “This dress, a good pair of shoes, and some make-up may be my only way to fit into this new town and school.”

##

     “It wasn’t as bad my first day of school as I expected,” said Stephanie from inside her bedroom behind a closed door. Her parents stood just outside it.

     “Does this mean you have made some new friends already?” Laura asked.

     Stephanie didn’t answer for about a minute. “No, I haven’t. And I don’t want to admit it. But dad may be right. It just may take a little bit of time to make some friends.”

     “If you’re not talking about making friends, then what are you telling us?” Alex asked.

     “It was never about me making friends,” said Stephanie. “I’m sure I will be able to do this in time. What I have been referring to is my first day of school.”

     Just then Karen started storming down the hallway toward her bedroom. “I take it that you didn’t like your first day at school, did you, Karen?” Laura asked.

     “No, I didn’t. I hated it,” replied Karen. “Especially, this school.”

     “What was so bad about it?” Alex asked.

     Karen stopped just before entering her bedroom. She turned toward her parents. “For one thing, it’s the first day of school, and we already have a ton of homework I need to do.”

     “It sounds like Karen had her normal hateful first day at school,” said Stephanie. “Give her a few years of this. And she will probably feel like me too.”

     “Why aren’t you more like your sister?” Alex asked. “She loves school. Even this one.”

     Karen shakes her head slowly. “She always loves school. I’m not surprised she like this one too. It’s the last day she doesn’t like.”

     “I don’t know about the last day of school this year,” said Stephanie “Won’t know that until the end of this school year. But Karen is right. I do love the first day of school instead of the last day. Because I consider it to be a new beginning for me.”

     “You aren’t the only one this year,” said Alex. “It’s a new beginning for all of us.”


Word Count = 1,968

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