Picture a dark auditorium.
A bright spotlight shines overhead.
A single microphone hums in anticipation.
Slowly pan in on me, Babymouse, sitting on a stool center stage.
I lean forward and begin my monologue.
“I guess I thought middle school would be exciting. And it was—for maybe three weeks.
“Oh, who am I kidding? Make that one week. The truth was that middle school was just like elementary school, with way more homework, and way fewer arts and crafts projects. It was boring. Nothing exciting ever happened.” SCREECH!
I jumped as I heard a loud noise offstage.
A door creaked open, and a janitor appeared, dragging a mop and a rusty bucket of sloshing dirty water. He flipped on the lights to illuminate an empty auditorium.
“Hey!” he barked. “You’re not allowed to be here.”
I hurried off the stool, embarrassed.
“Sorry,” I said quickly. “I had a free period, so I thought I could hang out here.”
He sighed and shook his head. “I’ll let it go this time,” he said. “But don’t let me catch you in here again. . . .”
He didn’t have to tell me twice! I gathered my things and hightailed it out of there as fast as I could. So much for freedom of expression!
But anyway, about my take on middle school . . .
It probably sounds like I’m being dramatic. But I’m really not! It had gone from this shiny-new magical experience into another never-ending parade of classes, homework, and popularity contests. (None of which I was winning.)
Here was my life in a nutshell:
X 1. Stupid locker?
X 2. Gross bathroom?
X 3. Smelly gym clothes?
X 4. Too much homework?
X 5. Messy whiskers?
If only I could click my heels together and disappear into a far-off land of adventure.
Instead, I wandered into the school lobby to check out the “New and Cool!” bulletin board. The sad thing was, not a single thing on the board was new or cool in the slightest.
Seriously, it was the same yellowed flyers as always, probably posted a hundred years ago, when the school was first founded.
(I’m pretty sure some of them were typed on a typewriter!)
The bell rang, and the hallways flooded with students changing classes.
I had gym next period. Which meant I had to play soccer. It wasn’t my favorite. Everyone played like sharks.
Plus, unless one of my friends was a team captain, I always
got picked last. Last time Felicia and Berry were captains, they picked every single possible person except me. You think I’m kidding?
Don’t get me wrong. I tried my best, but . . . my best was not very good. (Though I was still better than a rabid squirrel! I think. . . .)
On my way to the locker room, I ran into my best friend, Wilson, in the hallway.
“Hey, Babymouse, heading to gym?” he asked.
“You know it,” I replied.
In no time, we had all suited up and taken the field, practicing our shots on goal. (Which meant we didn’t need to pick teams—thank goodness!)
When my turn came, I took a running start and kicked the ball with all my might. I ended up missing completely and flew onto my tail at the most slippery part of the field. That would have been bad enough. But instead of just landing and staying put, I slid
all the way down the field and straight off the side.
Luckily, an enormous mud puddle broke my fall.
I heard a burst of cackling. I covered myself, thinking it was a flock of geese coming to poop on my head. But it was worse. The cackling noise was the popular girls laughing at me from the sidelines.
Story of my life. If I’m not being pooped on by geese, I’m being laughed at by the popular kids.
At least Wilson came over and helped me up.
“It could’ve been worse, Babymouse,” he said.
“At least your elbow didn’t get muddy.” Le muddy sigh.
My gym teacher came over to check on me. Once she was convinced I didn’t have any broken bones, she let me hit the locker room early.
I plodded off the field slowly, squish, squish, squish
-ing with every step.
Finally, I made it into the school and back down to the girls’ locker room. The warm smell of sweat and feet (or maybe it was sweaty feet?) hit me like a ton of bricks, as usual.
I tracked mud all the way to my locker and swiveled the lock until I got the combination right.
Now, if you thought my regular locker was bad—boy, wait till you see my gym
Penny and I shared a locker. Let’s just say it was obvious whose part was whose.
I was pretty sure I had a clean shirt in the back somewhere, behind my other stuff. The problem was that an old water bottle was lodged in front of it, jammed in the locker. I tugged on it.
Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer L. Holm; illustrated by Matthew Holm. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.