Paper Walls - 8. Chapter 8
Jeremy still isn’t picking up my calls or returning my texts, so I do my morning run and take a shower. Debating what to wear the first day of school, I settle on green compression boxers and khaki shorts, with a pink polo shirt. A friend back home said the shirt brought out my eyes and had a nice contrast against my darker complexion
I smile at my reflection in the mirror, my teeth shiny and bright. I feel myself getting a boner. I reposition myself, so it won’t be so noticeable downstairs, and trying one more time to call Jeremy to wish him a good day at school, but he doesn’t answer.
“Ryder, breakfast!” my mom yells.
“Okay!” I shout back and head down the stairs.
I sit at the table and start to eat the pancakes she made. “Where’s Dad?”
“I had to drop him off at the airport last night after you went to bed,” she says.
“What’s going on?” I ask.
She puts a hand on my cheek, “It’s best not to say right now, ok? Just don’t worry about it. Your father and I want you to have a good first day of school and not be bothered with all this. I think I have you for homeroom, which is the first place we will go.”
“Okay, when is Dad coming home, then?”
“Tomorrow,” she says, while putting her stuff in her briefcase. I finish up my breakfast and put my dishes in the sink.
“I will wash them after practice,” I tell her, knowing she will say something.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart, I will take care of them.”
The ride to school was uneventful. My mom actually had a parking space reserved for her, which was pretty cool. “Well, here we are,” I tell her.
“Need a sixty second start?” she asks.
I roll my eyes and laugh, “No, I don’t care if they know!”
“Okay, just making sure!” she says, kissing the side of my head.
We get out of the car and follow the path up to the stone steps of the school. There are kids everywhere - some are in the grass in groups talking, some sitting on the steps. I get a few nods from some of the people from the team. I look around for Callen, but I don’t see him yet.
I follow my mom into the building, and to the front office. “Morning, everyone!” she says to the secretaries.
“Morning, Mrs. K,” one secretary says.
“Ryder, this is Debra and this is Carolyn,” she says, pointing to the second secretary, who gives a friendly wave.
“You are just darling!” Debra says. She has her hair in a short do, but it looks really good on her.
“Thank you, ma’am!” I tell her.
“Come on, I can grab your schedule, and you can head to the classroom,” my mom says.
I follow her behind the counter. “Oh, Ryder, if you need anything, just let me or Carolyn know, and we will help you out!” she says.
“Thank y’all, ladies!” my mom says.
She looks through her box and finds my schedule. “Come on, let’s go see the classroom.”
We walk through another door and down a different hall.She stops at a classroom, unlocks it,, and turns on the light. She has already decorated it with inspirational posters, and her desk has a picture of her, Dad, and myself.
“How am I supposed to find anything in this school?” I ask.
“I am sure someone can help you out,” she says, turning on her computer.
I look at the papers on her desk. So far, I don’t see a seating chart. “So, no seating chart?”
“Not really planning on it,” she says. I love that about my mom - she is more open to let students choose where they want to sit. I choose the middle desk in the row. This way I don’t seem too eager and all that jazz. I check my schedule and it’s funny. I have my mom’s class right after this, followed by math, AP chemistry, AP History, lunch, then a free period (which is sweet ‘cause I will get homework done), followed by athletics last. “Hey Mom, why do I have a free period after lunch?”
“Well, it would have been for a second language, but since you have tested out of that, they decided to let you have a free period, unless you want art or theater.”
I make a face. Nothing against the arts, but my art is football. “That’s ok. I will chill out in the library and do school work,” I tell her.
“That’s what I figured, plus, your father has a free period then, as well, so you could always go keep him company,” she says.
“This school is a lot smaller than our old one,” I tell her.
“Yes. it is. That’s why your schedule looks a little more boring. Not a lot of electives, but I am going to be working on changing that this year. So, next year, we can have more to choose from,” she says.
The bell rings, and I can hear the kids in the hall. I wished I could like and say I was cool as a cucumber, but I was nervous. The first person to come in through the room is Callen, so I am a little more relieved. He sees me and nods. “Sup man?” I ask.
He comes and sits next to me. “Hey man!” he says. His brown eyes are bright, and you can sense a hint of mischief in them.
“How are you so awake?” I ask.
“It’s the ADD. Trust me, Garret is dragging ass, so don’t worry. Most people are,” he says, laughing a little bit.
“YO, Mrs. K!” he yells.
“Callen, good morning,” she says, shaking her head.
“Let me see your schedule, man!” he says, swiping it off my desk.
“Sure,” I say with a laugh.
While he is comparing our schedules, I start looking at the students that are walking in. There is a skinny brunette that walks in the door. She spots me and smiles, and makes her way over to me. “Hi, you must be Ryder Kessler! I am Renee!” she says, extending her hand.
“Hi,” I say, taking her hand and blushing a bit.
“You are so cute!” she says, sitting on the opposite side me in the vacant desk.
“Hey Renee!” Callen says, “Oh, Ryder dude, we have next period together and Chemistry and that’s it, which sucks!”
“Callen, how is your brother?” Renee asks.
Callen shrugs. “Still an asshole. In fact, there he is. You can ask him.”
I look towards the door, and yup, there in fact is Garret, and right behind him is Shawn. “Sup Mrs. K,” Shawn says as he enters the classroom.
“Hello Shawn,” my mom says.
“Ryder, what’s up, man?” Shawn asks, high fiving me as he walks past.
“Superstar,” Garret says.
“Don’t be a prick, Garret!” Renee says, looking at him.
“Hey beautiful! I didn’t know you were going for younger guys now,” Garret says.
“Age isn’t something I really consider, ‘cause if that was the case, your mental age is that of a seven year old,” she says.
“Dude, stop,” Shawn says, giving him a look.
“I guess you heard that,” Renee says.
“Yeah, just a bit,” I tell her.
“It’s not because of who you are. I have heard a lot about you, but also I’m your rally girl,” she says.
I look to Callen, who is giving me a smirk. I roll my eyes. “What’s a rally girl?”
She laughs. “We make banners and stuff for the football players,” she says, touching my hair.
“Okay class, good morning!” my mom says, standing up from her desk.
“I am Mrs. Kessler, or call me Mrs. K. You already know my husband is the coach. So homeroom is thirty five minutes a day. You need to take the time to do your homework that you obviously will not do the night before, study, read, or take time to reflect on how you will actually pass a test” she says and laughs. “But for now, I will take attendance, and then you can talk with your friends.”
After my mom takes attendance, Callen and I start to talk, and Renee puts her hand on my arm. “Let me see your phone. I will put my number in it. That way, if I have any questions about what you like, I will just shoot you a text,” she says, taking my phone.
“Dude. she totally likes you!” Callen whispers, but I can tell he is jealous.
“She doesn’t know me, man!” I tell him.
“Still….so um, do you want to hang out soon?” he asks.
“Yeah, I guess that’s cool. I mean, I have practice today and some stuff going on tomorrow, but yeah, I am so down,” I tell him.
He looks at me in shock. “Really?”
“Yeah, why not, man?” I ask him.
“Cool, I mean, don’t feel like you have to, I mean, most people get tired of me a lot because I talk a lot, and I’m always ready to go,” he says.
I laugh, and he smiles wider, “It’s cool.”
The day goes fast, and athletics consists of us lifting weights. Coach Q just has me and Shawn work out together. He wants Shawn to work with me on lifting heavier. Afterwards, we have ten minutes to take a breather and get ready for actual practice.
I am sitting at my locker when Shawn sits next to me, and I can’t help but look at him. His shirt is off and his skin is glistening with sweat. “Dude, you are going to be strong as fuck next year,” he says.
I laugh. “Thanks, man.”
“Nah, man, don’t worry about it,” he says.
“No, for real, Shawn. Thanks man. You have been really cool and nice when everyone else hasn’t been as tolerant as you.”
“Dude, they are coming around. I have seen more people talk to you today.”
“Yeah, for sure,” I say.
Coach Q comes in. “Alright, ladies. As we all know, Coach Kessler is out of town on personal business matters. His orders are for us to have fun today, because he says when he gets back, he will sort the boys from the men.”
We end up running offensive plays with the defensive line, and then we trade and work on our defense. It’s defense’s first go, and Coach puts me in as the mock offensive quarterback.
Coach Q calls me over. “Ryder, come here.”
I run to him. “Yes sir.”
“Do not hold back. Have your men blow through their line. You nail your receiver each time, and when they catch on, run it. I know what you can do, and I am not deaf. I know they think you need to earn your place on varsity when truth is, you’re a born talent. Let them know it’s them who needs to earn their place.”
“Coach, that’s not good for team morale,” I say.
“Son, it’s time to have a little fun with them. A lot of our seniors get cocky. Time to knock them down a peg.”
I call the huddle. “Okay, look Dustin, I need you to run to the end zone.”
“You really think you can throw that far?” he asks.
“Actually, on second thought, can you run that fast? Trust me, okay? The ball will be on its way to you.”
I line up our offense and I set motions, and then signal for the hike. Surprisingly, our mock offense keeps the defense away from me long enough for Dustin to get where I need him to be. I take two steps back, and I see Garret break through the line. I just smirk and let the ball fly, and it’s a perfect spiral. If I am right, it will hit Dustin right in the numbers.
Garret still tackles me just because that’s who he is. “Sorry, ball is gone,” I tell him.
He shoves me down as I attempt to get back up. “Lucky, bet it’s an incomplete.”
“Bet again,” I say, and motion towards the end zone, where Dustin is with the ball.
I see Shawn laughing by Coach Q who just has a grin on his face. He calls for the team to meet in the middle to run a play again, this time I don’t show off, but I pass it and let Dustin run it towards the end zone again. We do it a few more times before they finally get a read on me and stop me, and cover my receivers.
I huddle again. “Okay, I need my linemen to blow a hole into the line for me,” I tell them.
“What about Garret? He has been on you all practice,” Billy my right guard says.
I smile. “You’re right, but blow that hole open, and I promise you, he isn’t as fast as me. He won’t be able to touch me.”
I hike the ball and sure enough, Billy blows open the defensive line, and I take my opportunity. Just as I predicted, Garret is coming at me hard and isn’t reading me, so I easily juke him out and leave him in my dust.
Coach blows the whistle and we jog back to him. “Okay, gentlemen, now we have seen what we need to work on. We have seen our weakness. We have a week and some odd days to perfect this for our first game. Now hit the showers. You all stink!”
I had a lot of guys come up to me and clap me on the back. “Dude, you’re fucking amazing!” and, “Great job,” and, “You’re pretty awesome.”
I sit at my locker with my shirt off and dig out my phone to see if Jeremy has texted me, and still nothing. This sucks so fucking bad, I don’t know if I did something to upset him or not.
“You good, Superstar?” Garret asks, walking by me.
“Just waiting on a text from someone.”
“Renee?” he asks.
“No, my best friend from back home. I haven’t heard from him in a few days, which is weird.”
“Dude, he’s probably living life.” He shrugs it off.
I get tired of his attitude about everything, “Okay, so what if you didn’t hear from Shawn for a few days - no text, nothing, no sight of him, anything?”
He puts his hands up in mock surrender. “Okay, man, point taken.”
I ignore him and hit the showers. I don’t even take my time. I get in there and rinse off. I’m just happy that there isn’t really anyone in here at all. I know Shawn has already showered and dressed. He said he has work tonight, which is cool, I guess.
I get dressed and make my way to the bleachers. I debate whether I want to call my mom or just walk home, as I need to clear my head. I start off towards the parking lot and a black BMW pulls up next to me. “Hey, Rye Rye, need a ride?” Renee asks.
“I’m good, thanks. I’m walking home,” I tell her.
She pouts. “Come on, Ryder.”
“Okay,” I say, and she smiles and tells me to get in.
I get in and set my book bag In between my feet. “So how was your first day of school?”
“It was okay, I guess,” I tell her, looking at my hands. Not sure why, but I don’t feel comfortable with her staring at me.
“Just okay, nothing fun?”
“It’s school. I mean, the teachers seem cool. Made a few friends,” I say.
“I hope I am one of them,” she says, smiling.
“Yeah, you are pretty nice,” I say, giving her a killer smile.
“Your hair is so blonde. How is that?”
“Guess it just gets bleached from me being outside,” I tell her.
“That’s true, plus you have a better tan than the cheerleading squad. You are like the perfect boy!” she says, laughing.
“I highly doubt it,” I say, laughing.
“Ryder, are you shy?” she asks.
“I mean, not really, I don’t think. Why?” I ask.
“Because I am barely able to get you talking.”
“I mean, I just don’t know what to talk about. I mean, I talk a lot about football and stuff,” I tell her. “Just haven’t ever had a girl pay this much attention to me.” I feel myself blush.
She giggles. “Well, I don’t know why they wouldn’t.”
We pull up to my house. “You know where I live?”
“I work in the office for two periods. I got curious to know you a little better. Plus, it’s the coach’s house and my dad is on the school board. He offered your dad the contract and found the house.”
“Oh, makes sense,” I say, laughing nervously.
“Well, I won’t keep you. We should hang out this weekend, though,” she says, putting her hand on my leg.
“Yeah, maybe. I will see what my dad has planned. Um, thanks for the ride,” I say, moving for the door.
I wave at her as I shut the door, and go inside. “Hey, Mom, I’m home!” I tell her, and she is sitting on the couch with a glass of wine.
“Hey, sweetie, come and sit with me. Dinner is almost ready.”
“Hey, Mom, I’m getting worried. I haven’t heard from Jeremy in a few days.”
She pulls me into a hug. “I am sure he’s fine, sweetie.”
Hope you all enjoyed this chapter!
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