Chapter 1 – Fire Roasted Mushrooms.
My name is Sned. I am a humble person who hates injustice. My plan is to install a really big pool with a hot tub in our gym, and install a candy dispensing machine in the cafeteria. I believe that any leader of the school should be well trained in ninja tactics and swordsmanship, and as everyone knows, I am an expert in these areas. Unfortunately, my sword is at my grandma’s or you’d all be in for a real treat.
I finished typing and pressed print. In a few seconds, the library’s printer would spit out ten copies of the most awesomist campaign poster ever written. How could they not vote for me after they see this? Who wouldn’t want a ninja for class President? My chair scraped along the floor as I jumped from my seat and scampered over to the printer. The whirring sound of it coming to life was the happiest sound I’d heard all morning. As I eagerly watched the pages begin to roll out, I started to giggle. You know, those giddy giggles. The ones that start low in your belly and are really hard to contain.
“Hey Sned,” said the voice from behind me, “How’s your poster coming along?”
Sawyer was the most popular kid in our school. And he’s the best athlete too. He can almost touch the basketball net.. if he jumped really high. Earlier this year, during a student-teacher volleyball game, he spiked the ball so hard, it actually sent Ms. Venti, the school secretary to the office for an ice pack!
Of course, there are girls that give him the ‘dreamy’ eyes every day. I have it on good authority that at least three girls in our class have a crush on him. He’s pretty cool, that's for sure, but he’s not really that great a ninja. One of these days, I’ll have to show him a move or two, you know, be a real Sensei.
“Good,” I replied, grabbing the warm page as soon as the machine spit it out. I pressed it against my chest. “How about you?”
“Oh, they’re okay, I guess. I’m sure they’re not as good as yours though.” He smiled. In truth, they probably weren’t.
So to keep from hurting his feelings, I kept them hidden and said, “I’m sure they’re great.”
“Thanks, Sned. Good luck in the election.” He pulled his pages from the printer and headed back to his seat. I held my poster out in front of me, and looked it over. Yup. All good.
“Okay grade sixes, please log off your computer and push in your chairs. We’re heading back to class.”
That was my teacher Ms. Bennett. She’s one of those teachers that everyone is afraid of, but secretly loves. Her “teacher look” was the scariest I’d ever seen. Oozing with venom, she’d have you back in your seat and scratching down the next boring math problem before you knew what hit you. With her coffee cup in hand, we fell in behind Ms. Bennett, and she lead us back to class. None of us dared to speak, letting only the sound of her high heels click-clacking down the polished hallway floor break the silence.
As we passed the main office, Ms. Kennedy, the support teacher, poked her head around the corner. “Well hello grade sixes,” she chirped in her usual goofy way.
“Hello Ms. Jillian,” we replied in unison.
Ms. Bennett and Ms. Jillian were always stopping in the hallways to chat. They’d laugh and giggle about who knows what. From behind me, my best friend Abby leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “They’re probably talking about their next manicure,”
My heart began to race. Was she crazy? Ms. Bennett could hear everything! I sometimes think she is part ninja too. In an instant, the giggling between them stopped. Turning towards us, her face hardened, her smile morphed into an icy stare. Oh boy, here it comes. I looked down at my feet, trying not to make eye contact.
“Um, excuse me. Did I say it was time to talk?”
“No, Ms. Bennett,” replied Abby.
“Abby, please come and stand beside me.”
“Great,” she groaned under her breath and shuffled to the front of the line.
Ms. Jillian said goodbye and within minutes we’d arrived back in our classroom. I stuffed my campaign flyers in my desk and headed to my backpack to grab the Oreo’s my dad promised he’d pack, but all I could find was a spotted old banana. It looked disgusting. Resigned to my woeful plight, I grabbed the fruit, sat on the bench and waited for Abby to meet me at the coat hooks. Assuming she survived the lecture from Ms. Bennett.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Whatever.”
“You ready to go?”
“Yup.” She looked down at my feet.
“Seriously, Sned, you can’t go outside with your indoor shoes on! Where are your outdoor shoes?”
“Stop bossing me around! Why does it matter?”
“Do you want to get in trouble? You know Mr. Sands will search and destroy the culprit of the mud streaked floors in his otherwise spotless school, and you will be on lunchroom clean up for the next month!”
“Ugh, fine!” I kicked my shoe off and it slammed against the wall under the benches, then did the same with the other. Abby was always mothering me. I know she was just looking out for me, but, C'mon. Unfortunately, this time she was right. Mr. Sands was forever polishing our floors, and he hated it when we tracked in mud. I pulled my outdoor shoes from underneath the bench to put them on.
“Can you hurry up? We’ve already missed five minutes of recess.”
“Just go then, I’ll meet you out there.”
Abby turned and walked away, grumbling the whole time. I finished tying my shoes and picked up my gross banana. As I backed into the door and the fresh October air hit my face, I realized I hadn’t put on my coat. And I had to go to the bathroom.
I crept back to the main hall and peeked around the corner. Thankfully it was quiet. If Ms. Bennett saw me in the school during recess, I’d be sunk. That’d be a detention for sure, and who’s going to elect a delinquent for class president?
With the coast clear, I headed for my coat, but the happy smell of Ms. Bennet’s saffron perfume rounded the corner before she did and gave me a quick heads up. In a second, she’d turn the corner and those electric eyes would burn right through me.
With a quick about face, I sprinted for the bathroom. With her cackling behind me, I was sure that she was morphing into the wicked witch of the west, jumping on her broom stick to chase me down. I could almost hear her scream, “I’ve got you now my pretty!”
Luckily for me, I reached the bathroom door, and pushed through, just before she rounded the corner. Unfortunately, someone had made a mess on the floor, and my feet disappeared from beneath me and I landed flat on my back. Staring up at the tiled ceiling, I was pretty sure I was laying in a pool of the most disgusting substances known to man. Certainly nothing could be more gross than a boys bathroom floor. My tailbone ached. I slowly sat up, examining my body parts. My elbow felt like it was the size of a tennis ball.
At my feet I spied the culprit. Someone had spilled fire-roasted mushrooms on the floor. How could they be so careless? I mean, aside from wasting such a delicious treat, those suckers are like ice. I shook my head at the pure idiocy of some kids.
Slowly, I got to my feet and headed for the sink. In the mirror, my round cheeks were bright red, and my brown hair was a complete mess. If my friends found about this, I’d be the laughing stock of the school.
I headed for one of the stalls. Closing the door behind me, I put down the seat and sat down. No way I was going back to class smelling of bathroom disgustingness. It was settled. I would just stay here until the end of the day. After the bell rung - and everyone left, I would quietly slip out into the hallway, grab my coat and bag and walk home. And as soon as I got there, I would burn these clothes.
The recess bell came and went, and a few other boys came in and used the bathroom, paying me no mind. They’d throw water on each other and generally act goofy. I sat quietly, peeking through the tiny space between the stall door. It didn’t take long for the one person I would never want to see me in here, to walk through the door.
“Sned?” I knew that voice. It was Sawyer. “You in here?”
I didn’t want to answer. Sawyer was not someone I wanted to tell about this, but what choice did I have?
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Are you okay? Ms. Bennett is asking for you.”
“Oh. Well…that’s okay.”
“I don't want to come back. Everyone will make fun of me.”
“Nah, nobody will even notice. Ms. Bennett gave us a ton of work to do. They’ll all be so busy, I bet they don’t even see you come in. I can distract them too if you want.”
“Thanks Sawyer, but it's okay. I’ll be right there.”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Alright. I’ll tell Ms. Bennett you’re on your way.”
Sawyer left, but I waited until I was sure he was gone before opening the stall. Reluctantly, I headed back to class. I shuffled down the hallway, trying to make the short walk down the hall as long as possible. Up ahead, Ms. Bennett stepped out from the doorway of our room and spots me. Great.
“Sned, what happened? Why are you late?”
“I slipped on something in the bathroom. I think it was a fire roasted mushroom.”
Then she gave me the look. You know, the look. The one grown-ups give you when they think you’re lying. “I see,’ she said. “and are you okay?”
Looking down at the floor, I nodded.
“Alright. Well, get to work. You’re already behind.”
As soon as I stepped into the room, everyone looked up at me, just like I knew they would. I skulked back to my desk, ashamed. I’m sure they could all smell the pee on my sweater. I sure could. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, in hopes that I might go unscathed, but it wasn’t my lucky day. It was Greg, the meanest kid in the sixth grade, and a thorn in my side. Of course he would be the one to say something.
“Hey Snedly, what happened? Did you fall in?”
The whole class laughed. Well, at least it felt like the whole class was laughing at me. It was all I could do to keep from crying. That would be the worst thing I could do right now. Greg and his goons would have a field day at recess with that one. Thankfully Ms. Bennett was there to rescue me. “Greg, get out. Take your work with you.”
No two words ever sounded so sweet.
Greg stood, packed his books and walked out of the classroom, sentenced to work alone in the hall. This was a common punishment for him though. Ms. Bennett didn’t put up with his antics, and I loved when she put him in his place.
My desk was across from Abby’s. Our eyes met, and she furrowed her brow, like she wondered what happened. I just shook my head. Now was not the time. I pulled my math books from my desk and opened the textbook to the pages Ms. Bennett assigned. We were studying patterning rules. Ugh. Could this be any more boring.
My head wasn’t in it. I slumped back into my chair, so I could see into my desk. Quickly checking to make sure Ms. Bennett wasn’t watching,, I pulled out my ninjago figure. If anyone knew how to turn things around, it was Sensei Wu. The past is the past, the future is yet to come. We must make the most of today.
Alright Sensei Wu, I’ll make the most out of today. But it hasn’t gotten off to a great start.