“Ready for your first day of school?” Annabeth asked Matias as they ate their breakfast of leftover cake.
“Umm… I guess?” Matias answered. He wasn’t really sure what he was feeling, or if he was ready for high school, or anything.
Annabeth went to the kitchen to clean up the dishes, leaving Matias alone in the living room. The spooky music that was playing somehow calmed him since he knew that it wasn’t real. This is going to be so easy, he thought, then realized that it was almost time to leave and he hadn’t gotten dressed
Nawwaf, why’d you have to call me out in front of the whole school on the first day? Matias thought angrily. If I wanted people to know, I would’ve told them myself.
Stomping inside, Matias found a note from Annabeth:
Happy 1st day of school! There’s still more cake in the fridge if you’re hungry. I’ll be home to make supper, then if you’ve got your homework done we can go out to celebrate. Call me at work if you need anything.
What Annabeth’s note didn’t say was that the kitchen sink had broke that morning when she was washing the dishes, so she had called the repairman, who was still working.
Plum the cake, plum the homework, plum everything. I’m going upstairs to work out.
Matias changed, then headed out onto his rooftop balcony where his new weightlifting machine was.
I-can-do-this he thought, breathing heavily.
Ugh, he thought, rubbing his sore neck. Maybe I should try something easier, like jogging.
I hate high school- can I just not go back tomorrow? he thought as he cut his jog short. Even though he couldn’t tell exactly what the teens at the park had been whispering about, their glances in his direction told him everything.
When Annabeth got home, she found him sitting at the dining table, holding his head in his hands, and- was that sobbing she heard?
“Matias, are you okay?” she asked, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“I’m guessing that’s a no.”
“I hate Nawwaf.”
Annabeth raised an eyebrow. “Okay… do you want to tell me what happened?”
“I was trying to go stealth, but he didn’t know and made a comment that pretty much told everyone that I was trans unless they were really stupid.”
“Okay,” Annabeth said, trying to figure out what to do. “Some people used to say things about my weight when I was in high school, but when they realized that Regina was my cousin, they completely backed off because they didn’t want to get hurt.”
“Can Regina come to school and be my bodyguard?”
Annabeth laughed. “I’m afraid not- she’s got three kids and a job to take care of now.”
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry!” he said, getting up from his chair.
“Hey, where do you want to go tonight?”
Matias thought about it. “The gym.”
“Okay, let’s go,” Annabeth said, hoping that they wouldn’t run into Nawwaf’s mom or Stuart.
They didn’t run into Joslyn or Stuart, but they did run into Nawwaf.
Keep calm. Don’t let him get to you. Focus on your running. Okay, you’re obviously getting angry. Use it to fuel your running!
“There you go! That’s it!” the gym trainer exclaimed.
That night, Matias sat in Annabeth’s room, doing his homework while she slept, when Cassandra came out. “Hey, do you need any help with that?” she asked.
“Do you know anything about physics?” Matias asked her.
“Depends on what kind you’re talking about.”
“Our first chapter is called ‘The Basics of Quantum Physics’.”
“I can guarantee that I learned nothing about that in school.”
“Cassandra- what was high school like when you were growing up?”
Cassandra looked down, her color changing from green to blue. “I didn’t go to public high school- they said that they couldn’t deal with me being sad all the time, so I got sent off to a boarding school for ‘troubled kids and teens’.”
“Oh,” Matias replied, glad that he hadn’t gotten sent to someplace like that.
Author’s Note: I want to quickly explain one of the terms used in this chapter. “Going stealth” means that Matias didn’t tell his classmates that he was trans- he just went to school as a guy.