I had decided that today was a good day. Not only had I run into Kevin and lived to tell about it with both arms still intact, but I had just been told that all class president canidates were to meet in the school auditorium… during PE! It was my lucky day.
I pushed open the doors to the large auditorium and noticed that I was probably the last student to arrive. A group of students were already sitting in a cluster in the front of the room. They were whispering furiously to each other, and I felt like an intruder, but slipped into a seat next to one of them. I might have joined in their conversation, but it wasn’t making much sense to me. It didn’t take long before I realized they were speaking in a foreign language. Not a problem. I really didn’t feel like butting in anyway. So instead I leaned back, closed my eyes, and let my mind wander back home to my lab.
I had stayed up late last night creating a miniature for my dream reading machine. I had decided to call it the Dream Reader. That is, if I was able to make it work. Right now it was designed for a small animal, so I would have to alter it if I was ever able to use it on a human being. But I could handle that. What I couldn’t handle was being starred at. And even with my eyes closed, I could feel several pairs of eyes drilling into me. My mind rushed back to school, and I turned to face the group that had been so busy talking. Now they were staring at me… or rather, glaring at me. I would have tried to break the ice, but their fiery glares had probably already melted it.
“Hi.” My voice cracked and sounded unnaturally high. Without saying a word to me, the ten students stood up and moved across the aisle to another group of seats. When they sat back down they resumed their gibberish. I wasn’t sure what they were so irritated about. Maybe they thought I had been eavesdropping. I wanted to let them know that only a few of the words had sounded familiar to me. Thus, my eavesdropping would have provided me with very little information. However, considering how happy they seemed with me already, I decided to let them initiate the next conversation.
I heard the back door of the auditorium click and turned to see Principal Evens walking toward us. The group across the aisle from me stopped whispering and sat up straighter. Mr. Evan’s didn’t make eye contact with anyone until he had positioned himself in front of us, straightened his tie, and cleared his throat. When he finally did look up he directed his gaze straight at me.
“Mr. Young, you may be opponents in this race, but that’s no reason to be unfriendly. Please join the rest of the group.” I glanced at the group that had minutes ago glared at me hatefully. They were now smiling at me and almost looked legitimately friendly, if not a little condescending. What kind of game was this? I knew I would sound foolish if I tried to explain what had happened, and the numbers were considerably against me, so I just mumbled an agreement and moved. I sat down next to the largest boy in the group. In fact, he was probably the largest boy I had ever seen in my life. He took up the whole of his seat and half of mine. However, I have always been taught to share, so I resisted the urge to shove his rolls beneath the arm rest of his chair. Instead, I extended my hand in a warm greeting.
“Hey, I’m Herbert Young.” He just stared at me. Maybe he didn’t speak any English. I thought about warning him how hard it would be to run for Class President without knowing English, but realized my efforts would be futile since I could only speak English. I tried again, extending my hand further. “Me, Herbert Young. You are who?” My enunciation was clear but I kept my voice down so as not to disturb everyone else.
The boy beside me glared harder, before saying in a very clear and quiet voice, “Shut up.” Well, if one was just learning English that was a helpful statement to learn… if one hated the world. But I could take a hint. I gave him one last attempted smile before turning back to face the front. Principal Evans had moved behind the podium on the stage, and looked down at us with a proud gleam in his eye.
“I cannot tell you, Students, how proud I am that we have so many volunteers this year.”