Begin Again, 2020 Second Place Youth Division

By Ella Terry

Eliza Harper’s Rules of Moving (Created by Eliza Harper)

Rule Number One: Try to convince your parents to take you back AT ALL COSTS.

Rule Number Two: See “Rule Number One”.

Rule Number Three: Repeat previous rules.

Rule Number Four: If all else fails, RUN AWAY.

****

I hurried through the halls of my new middle school and tried not to make eye-contact with anyone. I was as lonely as a crow among a pride of peacocks . After moving from Salt Lake City, Utah, the small town of Weiser, Idaho, seemed small and worthless. I missed everything from my friends to the nearby malls.

Just then, I crashed into someone. My books went sprawling across the ground and my papers fluttered around me like feathers in a windstorm.

“Are you kidding me?” a voice asked, repulsive. I suddenly forgot my pact to not make eye contact and saw beside me a boy wearing a Seattle Seahawks sweatshirt. He had glasses, black hair, and freckles that were lightly sprinkled across his nose and cheeks.

I despised him already.

The boy scowled and looked down at me. “You have bad acne,” he told me.

I felt my cheeks burn as I started gathering my scattered papers.  A boulder of hatred crashed down on me, pulling me to the ground with a gravitational force that was as heavy as the Liberty Bell. I hated Weiser, I hated my school, I hated that boy, I hated my parents for taking me here, but mostly I hated myself. If I were like my best friend from Utah, Tracy VanNess, I would’ve already had a horde of friends and admirers! I sighed and moved on.

As I stepped into the classroom, I took in all the colors. The walls were bright yellow, the carpets dark orange. There were pink and grey desks, and pictures everywhere. All the color made me feel as small as an atom for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

I walked towards the teacher, Mr. Scott, who pointed at the only desk available. Next to him. That boy. The teacher nodded at the boy and said, “Kai, I expect you’ll make our new student feel welcome.”

The boy–Kai–bit the inside of his cheek and nodded slightly. I knew he didn’t care either way. In fact, if I turned into a pile of dust right then and there, he’d never even notice! No one would notice. And I was beginning to think I’d like it best that way.

Sitting next to Kai made me feel as anxious as a mouse with a cat just inches away. Already I was starting to feel self-conscious of the bumps on my forehead I had once thought were discrete pebbles among mountains. I just pretended like the floor was the Eiffel Tower–one of the most incredible sights there ever was. Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, I told myself.

I zoned out while Mr. Scott listed the rules and procedures of his classroom, and tried to ignore the bully sitting next to me. That boulder of hatred crashed down on me again in a way that brought small, shimmering pools to my eyes as I thought about all of the bad things in my life at the time. I didn’t want to cry. Especially not in front of this judgey boy. So I blinked back the drops of saltwater and forced them to stay there.

I jumped when Kai mumbled next to me, “Sorry; that was kinda mean.”

I turned my head in surprise, and my golden brown hair fell in my blue eyes.  I shook it away and said, “You’re what?”

“Sorry,” he clarified. His smile made me unsure if he actually was sorry.

My eyes narrowed, and I said, “Err… that’s okay.”

“You don’t have bad acne, by the way.”

I laughed in my head. Now that he had told me that I had bad acne, it was impressed in my brain. Nothing was going to change that. Not even his apologies.

****

There were only two familiar faces among the vast sea of bodies in the lunchroom. One was Kai, and the other was a girl named Brin who went to my new Sunday School class. She was a petite girl with freckles, bright blue eyes, and buttered toast colored hair (I kid you not, that is a real hair color).

She waved me over, and I felt really awkward as I sat down. “So,” she said smiling, “How’s your first day at WMS?”

I shrugged and sighed. “I don’t know. I’ve been trying not to make eye-contact with anyone, and have so far only ruined that once. Teachers don’t count, of course.”

Brin smirked. “That would be me too. I’m so glad I’ve never had to move. It seems like it sucks.”

“Like heck it does.”

Brin laughed, her eyes crinkling, and her head thrown back. After she stopped, she looked over at me and said, “Do you want to come over to my house after school? I don’t have anything today, and I can catch you up with everything that happens around here, and answer any questions you have.”

I thought about it for a second. “I really want to,” I said, “But I’ll have to call my mom.”

Brin smiled hopefully as a young child on Christmas morning as I pulled out my phone and dialed my mother’s phone number.

I grinned to myself. From the way things were turning out, I was starting to think I had made a friend. But only time would tell.

****

I knocked on Brin’s door, and was immediately greeted with a beaming face. “Hey,” Brin said, already leading me towards her backyard. She grabbed my sleeve, and dragged me along like a dog.

As we walked along the muddy path, I was extremely grateful that Brin had told me to wear boots. The puddles were deep, and my feet squelched every time I walked. As we walked in silence, I began to notice the amazing beauty of our surroundings.

The sun glinted off of the wooden fence that surrounded us, and the green and gold that added color to the ground. The sky was as blue as blue painter’s tape, and the autumn breeze left behind a refreshing scent that was crisp and welcoming. It was then I began to notice how beautiful Weiser was. It wasn’t the same kind of beautiful that Utah was; it didn’t have the majestic mountains or sparkling snow. Weiser was more pretty in a rustic way.

Brin broke the silence. “Ever climbed hay bales?”

My head turned towards the girl next to me. “What do you think?”

Brin shrugged offhandedly. “There’s a first time for everything!” She ran ahead and waved me forward. “All you have to do is follow me.” She said. Brin walked back and forth among the huge stacks of hay, and finally found a spot worthy of her attention. “You know, I’ve never gone up this way; I like going in between the stacks and leaping back and forth.”
“Let’s not do that.”

Brin grinned. She was always grinning. “I figured you’d say that. We’ll start with stacks of twos. Eventually, we’ll have to slide down at least one stack of three.” She wedged her foot in between a small crack among the bales and urged me to follow suit. Brin pulled herself up and swung her leg over the side.

 It was simple, but I seemed to psych myself out–making the experience all the more difficult.

We finally reached the top, and I pulled myself over, looking at the gorgeous horizon. The buttery sun was shining just above the rolling hills that left whispering shadows across the fields of shining emerald green and soft brown soil. Birds fluttered across the deep blue sky, and I thought I could hear a murmuring of a brooke in the distance. “Was it worth it?” Brin asked, smiling.

I nodded, still out of breath. “A bit out of my comfort zone, but worth it.”

“Darn city girls! That was easy!” Brin laughed and elbowed me teasingly. “But I’m glad it’s worth it.”

There was a long silence, and I was grateful for the moment to think. My feet itched from the hay stuck in my boots and my favorite pair of jeans were smeared with dirt, but I was finally appreciating the beauty and uniqueness of this small town. Yes, the first day was rough, but that was to be expected. Now, looking out at the fields, I realized how much I actually enjoyed the beautiful, quiet town compared to the bustling, noisy city. In order to appreciate the full experience of the new move, I needed a change of heart.

It was time to let go and begin again.