Chapter 1 – Defense
They say everyone is really good at something. I’m not good at much, but I can fold an awesome paper airplane. And that’s where the trouble began.
Between classes, I had bragged to my friend Zach that I could make the best paper airplane. Zach and I were lucky to be assigned seats next to each other at the back of Mr. Cochran’s eighth grade math class. That’s where we were secretly making paper airplanes. I was afraid I wouldn’t get the folds just right working on it in my lap in the shelter of the desktop.
Mr. Cochran was droning on about stuff I learned a couple of years ago, so I didn’t feel bad about not paying attention to him. If Zach missed something, I could always explain it to him later.
You could say that Zach was my best friend. He was my only friend. I don’t start conversations, so I don’t meet new friends unless they’re like Zach. At the beginning of the school year, he broke free from his big group of friends and introduced himself. While he is totally different from me, we both like video games, especially Minecraft.
My plane was complete and so was Zach’s.
Zach kept his voice low and pointed. “We should throw them forward when Mr. Cochran turns around.”
“Ok.” This is crazy, but awesome.
We lifted our planes.
He turned back.
We hid them quickly.
Mr. Cochran gave a suspicious glance our way but went on talking and turned to write something on the whiteboard.
Then we struck.
Both planes took to the air above the heads of the kids in front of us. As I thought, mine flew better and farther. Too far!
Mr. Cochran turned around just as my plane came right at his face! He dodged it and grabbed it as it bounced off the whiteboard. The room erupted in laughter. For a moment, I was in heaven. Other kids were laughing at something I did that wasn’t embarrassing.
“Silence! Who threw that?!”
The fingers pointed toward me were too many to count. Mr. Cochran stared straight at me. I swear I could almost see steam coming from his nose and ears.
“Mr. Clarey, you will head straight to the principal’s office! Do you hear me?”
I’m pretty sure the principal could hear him from here. I imagined a roaring locomotive of words heading straight for me and I was tied to the tracks.
“I said, head to the principal’s office! NOW!”
I couldn’t look at him. I buried my head in my hands and started rocking. Through my fingers I could see Zach get up.
“Zachary, sit back down! Mr. Clarey GO TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE!”
“William Clarey, this is your last chance. Get up and go to the principal’s office or else.” Mr. Cochran was right at my desk.
My thoughts were locked in a loop. I blew it. He’s overreacting. I can’t handle this. I blew it. He’s overreacting…
He grabbed my arm – the muscle part- just above the elbow like he was going to yank me from my seat. I locked my grip on the desk and kept my head down.
He tugged. “Move it! NOW!”
I gripped harder.
“Stand down Mr. Cochran.” Ms. Elliot, my Special Education Teacher stepped next to me. I hate the term “Special Education” but right now, Ms. Elliot was an angel. “Continue with your lesson. I’ll take care of Wil.”
“He needs to be disciplined!” Mr. Cochran grumbled.
“He will be. Appropriately.”
She touched me lightly on the back. “I’m going to pull up a chair next to you Wil and when you’re ready, we’ll talk.” Then she just sat silently. She knew me well. She knew I didn’t mind being touched by people I trust. She also knew I would come out of my “defense mode” once things around me calmed down.
With the attention off me, I was able to come out of it in just a few minutes. Ms. Elliot tapped my shoulder, nodded towards the door and whispered, “ready?” I followed her out the door. Mr. Cochran kept talking – like Ms. Elliot and I were invisible. Sometimes I wish I really was. I was so glad that it was almost summer! Incidentally, Mr. Cochran doesn’t even know my real name. Neither do you and I’m not sure I want to tell you. Let’s just say that I go by “Wil”, with one “l.”