Sunday, July 17, 2016

Zoe Bleak #5

The beautiful Hyde Park Academy High School building was luminescent in the rising sun as it faced Stony Island Avenue. The first day of school consisted of helping the freshmen get acclimated to their new surroundings with teacher introductions, games, scavenger hunts, and numerous other things to make them feel at home. Photos were taken of every new student and was going to be hung up for the whole school to see. After lunch, all the freshmen went to their advisory teacher to get introduced to the learned portion of the school and then to take a short walkabout of their classes.

Winnie’s advisory teacher was Mr. Felix Sullivan. When his advisory students came in, the first thing they all noticed was the bright yellow bag on his desk. A couple students giggled about Felix’s purse which Felix heard but pretended to ignore. Winnie sat next to Heather Gratts, a girl she had gotten to know during the scavenger hunt. Since lunch they had been trying to find things that they had in common. “Everyone in my family went here. We’re all from the neighborhood,” Heather said.

“I just moved here. I was living with my grandparents but now I’m with my Mom and her girlfriend,” Winnie said.

“Your mom’s gay?”


“Where’s your dad?”

Winnie shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s never been in my life. My Mom wasn’t either until, like, a month ago.”

“Weird. Where’d you go to school before now?”

“I was home schooled.”

Heather pulled out her phone and began tapping the screen. “Do you have Facebook?”

“No, and I don’t think my Mom would let me have one.”

“Ah, too bad. Here, get close to me,” the pressed their heads together as Heather held the phone out. She held up a peace sign with her fingers and closed one eye. Winnie smiled normally and innocently. The picture was taken and Heather put her phone away. “When we start going to our classes, you can meet some of the cooler kids.”

“Thanks,” Winnie said.

The bell rang and the kids got up to go to their classes to get a feel for where they are and to meet their teachers. Felix grabbed his bag and water bottle and left his room for the teacher’s lounge. He went into to fill his bottle. As he was doing that, another teacher came in.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hey,” he answered. He finished filling his bottle and backed away from the watercooler so she could use it.

“I’m Laura Hanson. Math. I don’t have any freshmen.”

“I’m Felix Sullivan. Social studies. I have a plan period during first hour.”

“Is this your first year as a teacher?” she asked.

“Oh, God. Is it that obvious?”

“No, no. I was just asking. I am so I was just wondering.”

“Oh, okay. Yes, I’m a first-year teacher. It’s nice to know someone else who is as well,” Felix said. “Why math?”

“It came easy to me in school so when I decided to become a teacher and math was the obvious choice,” Laura said.

“Well, I guess someone has to teach it. I was never good at math. Now, history, I know the crap out of history,” Felix smiled, knowing he knew it well because he had experienced a lot of it firsthand. The bell rang indicating that the freshmen were to move to their next class. “Now I have to go. I’ll see you around, Laura.”

“Same to you, Felix.”

Winnie had Felix as her World History teacher during fourth period but Heather was also in that class. They had three of their seven classes together. They were quickly becoming best friends. Heather was the fourth of six children. Her older brother, Ta’Rahn, had recently graduated and was currently working, wanting to go to college. The next oldest brother, Jesse, would be a senior but dropped out and is now living with a friend. Both Jesse and his friend were in a gang so their parents, Roy and Jasmine, constantly worried about him. Her older sister, Promise, was very sports oriented while Heather couldn’t care less about them. Heather’s two youngest siblings, Marcus and Holly, were in sixth and fourth grade respectively. Also living in their tiny apartment was Heather’s grandmother, Jasmine’s mother, Belle, who has been bedridden for the last three years.

Roy Gratts worked for the city mostly doing street maintenance. Jasmine worked at a factory that produced chips but also worked as a janitor for an office building for four hours in the early morning hours for extra money.

“I wish I had brothers or sisters,” Winnie said to Heather.

“You can have one of mine,” Heather said.

“Can you come over after school?” Winnie asked.

“I don’t know. I’ll text my parents,” Heather got out her phone again and began texting.

“I hope you can. I want you to meet my Mom and see the bookstore.”


“Yeah, we live above a bookstore.”

“That’s so cool,” Heather laughed. “They want to know the address but they said it’s fine.”

“Awesome,” Winnie squealed.

After school, Felix was sitting as his desk, working on what he was going to do tomorrow. He had no idea because he wasn’t really a teacher. He breathed a sigh of relief when Laura came into his room. “Thank you for interrupted what I was doing because I wanted to stop doing it.”

“You’re welcome,” Laura said. “Hey, do you want to grab an after-the-first-day-of-school drink?”

“You want to grab coffee or something?” Felix clarified.

“Or something.”

“Sure. I just need to finished tinkering with these lesson plans. Give me another twenty?” he glanced at the clock.

“You got it. Just come down to my room when you are done,” Laura said and left Felix’s room.

Felix watched her go and smiled. “All right, then,” he chuckled and smiled bigger as he went back to his lessons.