-''Hey, Jess? Time to wake up. School starts soon, and you'd hate to come late on your first day in Ninth grade.'' Jess' father told him as he shook him lightly. Jess groaned quietly as he exited the dream he had. Like many others, it was a nightmare about Leslie's death. Jess then slowly sat up. He had lost a medium amount of weight during his period of being catatonic and not eating anything. He looked both older and was a lot taller since then, having grown at least a feet.
-''What time is it?'' Jess mumbled, doing his best to escape from his prison of sleep. Jack patted him on the back as he got down to the floor. Jess was catching up to Jack in terms of being tall.
-''Half past 6.'' His father said as an answer to his question. ''Jess, did you have that dream again? About Leslie?''
Jess looked at him in silence for a few seconds, and then looked down into the ground.
-''Yeah, I did…'' he confirmed, nodding slowly. ''I'm standing right behind her as she swings across, and then the rope breaks. She falls in, hits her head and starts to drift downstream. I want to jump in, jump in after her, save her, but my feet are stuck to the ground. I can't move, and eventually she just… disappears. Drowns.'' His voice cracked slightly at the end of the monolouge. Real sadness in his heart there.
-''Alright, son… but know this.'' Jack said as he used a hand to lift Jess' head up. He looked into Jess' eyes for a few seconds, a kind expression on his face. ''You were her best friend. I'm not sure, but I believe that she thought that you were one of the few reasons she wanted to live.'' Jess nodded slowly, thinking about his friend, his first love.
-''She was one of my reasons I wanted to live, too.'' Jess sighed, his voice showing that a knot was forming in his throat. ''She still is.'' A tear inevitably broke out through his eye. Jack nodded in understanding and then pulled his son into a hug.
-''She'll remember you, always.'' The elder Aarons reminded his son.
Jess put on the rest of his clothes, mainly his socks, and then proceeded out into the kitchen. Brenda was sitting on a chair, reading a newspaper and eating some toast. May Belle and Joyce Ann refused to stop shoving bread pieces into each other's faces, recieving some scolding from their mother. Jess sat down in one of the remaining empty seat, right across from his toast-eating, newspaper-reading older sister. He helped himself to a slice of bread with nothing on it. He didn't feel hungry even one bit.
-''How are you, Jess?'' Mary, his mother, asked him while throwing him a quick glance. Jess only threw the glance back without much but a short ''Mhm.'' May Belleg ave him a hug which he barely returned.
After an hour or so, he and May Belle were standing at their normal spot, waiting for the bus. Joyce Ann was still one year under starting in the school Jess studied.
-''You really miss her, right?'' May Belle asked his older brother out of the air. Jess turned his head towards his sister. She was almost a head taller.
-''Yeah…'' he responded with no emotion. He sighed and was about to say something when the buss arrived. May Belle got on first, followed closely by Jess. While May Belle quickly took a seat near the back with her best friend, Alexandra, Jess hesitated before sitting himself down on a seat near the front of a bus.
It wasn't until halfway thorugh the trip that Jess noticed the person sitting on the opposing sides of seats that was staring at him, or at least hat Jess thought was staring. The person seemed to be a boy, Jess couldn't tell as he couldn't see his face clearily, due to a large hood pulled over and then down over his face. The person was also wearing a thick winter jacket, seeing it was in the middle of fall. When Jess looked back at him, the person quickly looked away. Jess thought it was pretty weird, but didn't really care much. If the person couldn't do anything to give him Leslie back, then he had no importance to Jess.
After another ten minutes, the bus arrived at the same, old school he had studied in his whole life. Luckily, the school wasn't like other schools. Jess had no big trouble finding his proper location for the first class, seeing as there was signs and maps almost everywhere. Jess took farewell of May Belle, who also followed the signs to her proper class.
Jess stepped into the hallway of the nine-graders house. There were already a lot of people in the hall, many of which Jess didn't recognize. A lot of new blood, it seemed. Hed id see Jerry, a tall, good-looking boy that had been in Jess' class ever since he started. He hadn't spent much time with the guy, almost none at all, but thankfully, he wasn't like certain other people that Jess in particular did not like. Unfortunately, one of them seemed to be here.
Scott Hoager was in the middle of a small crowd of people, discussing loudly about something Jess couldn't quite pick up on. Luckily enough for Jess, he managed to slip by unnoticed. He then found the right classroom, stil following the signs, and patiently waited for a teacher.
A teacher did appear, eventually, in the form of a black, short bald man with white hair set in a typical ''sideburns'' manner. He was carrying a medium-sized portfolio as well as a just as medium-sized bag. He made his way through the pupils, almost everyone taller than him. With short pushes, as well as fairly many ''Excuse me'', he reached the door that Jess camped outside of. With a short and simple move of his hand, he slipped out the key from a pocket in his coat and unlocked the door. It slowly glided up.
Jess was one of the first to enter the classroom. It was fairly normal sized, perhaps just as big as the ones he had used in his previous grades. In came, after him, all of the other students. Two actually got stuck beside one another, and a minor fight had occured. Luckily, it subdued just as quickly as it had started.
Jess chose a seat in the middle and then slightly to the left. He looked those places, although he didn't know why. He just sat himself down and watched as other pupls did the same. Of course, other minor arguments took place when someone had taken a seat that someone else wanted, such as the very popular seat by the windows.
Jess watched the bald man take place behind the desk in front of the blackboard. Jess felt actually that he took a first-sight liking to the short man. The man put his bag on the ground beside the desk, and then the portfolio on it. He opened the Portfolio and took out some kind of folder. Jess thought that it had to contain all the names of the pupils.
Soon enough, everyone had found a seat. There were actually a few seats left empty. Good thing if someone was late.
-''Alright, listen up.'' The bald man then spoke up, his voice deep and firm, quieting everyone that was talking. ''My name is Monty Grahams, and I'm going to be your teacher in most classes. I have a five-year education of being a teacher, and I hope that we are going to have a fun time together. Now, if I may, I would like you to introduce yourselves, tell me a little about your lives and such. I can start incase no one else wants to.''
-''Okay then.'' Monty started. ''As I've already told you, my name is Monty Grhams, and I'm in the age of fiftythree. I live in a medium sized apartment with my wife and our two kids. I was born in Virginia, and then decided to take education in the local school. In other words, this one. After that, I continued on studying, and eventually I became the man I am today. Any other questions?''
A girl who Jess didn't know put her hand up in the air.
-''Yes? What is your name?'' The dark skinned teacher asked politely.
The girl was fairly tall for her age, reaching over Leslie's length. She had short brown her and a pair of green eyes that were stunningly beautiful. Jess didn't feel attracted to her one bit.
-''My name is Jasmine Coran. What was your dream when you were young, Mr. Monty?'' she asked. Monty cleared his throat and then stood up again.
-''As a matter of fact, I wanted to be a veterinary, because I really like animals. Then, when I turned your age, I changed my mind. Sure, I still love animals, but I felt like I wanted to help youths rather than animals. And that is why I'm standing here today, having my first class with you.'' Monty explained, sounding very polite, as if he had been asked by the king of the country.''Well, since it seems that no one has any more questions to ask, I'm gonna proceed to the list of names, and I'll be gonig from the first letter in his last name. So…'' the man announced as he opened the folder.
Inside, there was a paper with a list of thirty or so names. Monty ran his finger along the list and stopped on one at the very top. He cleared his trhoat once more.
-''Alright… Jess Aarons.'' The man said. Then, almost as if he knew who Jess was, he looked at Jess with a happy expression on his face. ''I believe that it is you?'' het hen asked. Jess only responded in silence, donig nothing but a nod. Monty uttered a quick ''Uhuh'' and marked something with the pencil he was holding. Afterwards, he asked Jess to tell him something about himself. Jess at first didn't answer.
-''Well…'' He started very reluctantly. ''There isn't much to tell except for…'' he was interrupted by the trademark beeping noice of Scott Hoager, who sat three desks away to the right. The other two students looked at Scott in confusion, not knowing the supposed ''joke''.
Jess ignored the taunt and resumed what he was about to say.
-''There really in't much to say. I live in a house pretty far from here, so I take the buss with my little sister. I like to draw and I can run pretty fast.'' Monty could tell, judging by Jess face expression, that he had a hard time telling this. He thought for a second and then added a short ''Thank you'' and then told Jess to come to his office after class. Apparently, several of the others thought that Jess had done something wrong, as they made annoying faces and disturbing noises. Jess simply ignored them completely, save for throing Scott a glare.
-''The next would be Jasmine Coran, although we've already talked about her. The next…'' h eran his finger further down the list. ''Scott Hoager.'' He turned to Scott, again, as if he knew that it was him.
-''I believe that is you, am I right?'' He asked, not nearly as polite as before, rather with a small scold. Scott threw him an annoyed glare, and Jess could tell that there was immediately a first-time hostility between the teacher and then student.
-''Yes, sir!'' Scott mumbled, also annoyed by Monty's straightforward assumption. Monty then sat down again in front of the desk. Jess burried his head in his arms. He could hear Monty mumbling something, and then he didn't hear anything.
Jess woke up to Monty shaking him. When he looked up, he saw Monty's old face looking right at him. Hes at up and stretched. He didn't feel like explaining right now, when he remembered Monty had asked him to come to his office.
-''What's the matter, Jess? You fell asleep, for some reason. Well, if you would kindly follow me to my office. I have something I want to talk with you about.'' Jess simply nodded and then followed Monty into a small room right outside and then to the left of the classroom door. When he stepped inside, he was actually shocked to see how well-organized everything were. Monty sat down at his desk, motioning to an empty chair to Jess. Jess sat down.
-''Jess, don't think I'm some kind of weirdo or something here, but I can tell that something has happened. Your face expression, your hesitation and reluctancy, everything. And the fact that the Hoager boy did something as well. Something tells me you know him from before.''
Seems like you are the fastest runner in class again.
Are you insane?
The memory flashed by in Jess' head as he remembered what Scott had said to him the day after Leslie's death. How he had got up from his seat and punched Scott right in the noggin'. It had felt really good; he needed someone to vent on. Then the conversation with Monster Mouth Myers. It had helped a little, little amount,but not at all much.
-''So, tell me what has happened. It must be a very big thing, seeing as how you behaved the short time we've known each other.
Jess was very reluctant to share the dreary story as he felt like he needed to keep the memory to himself, like it was only inside him the memory stayed alive. After a lot of thinknig, he decided to do it.
-''It all began in fifth grade…'' he started telling the story, Monty listennig silently throughout the whole ordeal, not saynig anything. Jess telling of the story eventually led up to today. Monty noded in understaning as Jess was finished telling. He then told Jess that he should go home, as it was the end of the day. The first day was really soft, and thus it was only the first class that would take place. Jess didn't do much but obey, and then waited for the bus. It arrived every hour, so that was good for Jess.
Meanwhile, Monty rooted through his bag and then picked up something from small box. It was some kind of pendant, as it was made out of what looked like gold. The pendant itself was circular. On the front of it was a picture of a young girl with blond hair and a very pretty face. On the back, it said ''Happy birthday, Leslie Burke.''
-''I have to show this to Jess when he gets here tomorrow.'' He mumbled to himself before putting it back into the bag and then leaving the building, heading for his car.