“When she saw her reflection in the mirror, she almost screamed. Her hair was a rat’s nest. And it was sticking up in all different directions, not to mention that her eyes were saggy, and she looked like a racoon. She immediately washed her face and started ferociously brushing her hair. At least now her hair looked a little calmer.”
Maya was already plenty stressed about her first day of school. She decided that waking up to her annoying alarm clock and tumbling out of her bed was in the “not a good way of starting the first day of school” column. She groaned and got up. She walked over to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Maya’s mom always told her that her smile was the best good first impression. She brushed her teeth and got dressed. When she saw her reflection in the mirror, she almost screamed. Her hair was a rat’s nest. And it was sticking up in all different directions, not to mention that her eyes were saggy, and she looked like a racoon. She immediately washed her face and started ferociously brushing her hair. At least now her hair looked a little calmer.
“Well, so much for a good first impression,” she mumbled under her breath.
She walked downstairs, where her mom was waiting for her with a plate of piping hot pancakes in her hands. “Mmmmmm,” Maya said, and she sat down and wolfed down her pancakes. After a refreshing drink of orange juice, she flung her bag over her shoulders and went to the door. Her mom stopped her in her tracks and gave her a big kiss on the cheek.
“Mooom,” Maya groaned and walked out of the house.
She had to run to catch the bus. Fortunately, she managed to find a seat that did not smell like dirty socks and boys underwear. By the second stop, the bus was packed. Kids crammed in in any space they could find. Her best friend Clara swooped in next to Maya before a little boy could.
“Sorry, this seat is taken,” she said to the boy.
He pouted and trudged to the back of the bus. Maya had scolded Clara for treating a kindergartener like that.
“Now we are older and wiser. We are in fifth grade now!!!” Maya screamed.
“Right. Older and wiser,” Clara responded.
The bus ride to school had been the most suspenseful ride ever. It was almost a relief when they arrived at school. Almost. She knew that she had Mrs. Garnish for homeroom. She was definitely one of the meanest teachers in the world. But she was grateful that Clara was in her class. At least she would get tortured with her BFF. The bus doors opened with a swish, and all the kids filed out. Everyone went to separate places. The kindergarteners to the cafeteria, the high schoolers to their classrooms, and the fifth graders to the stinky, smelly, humid auditorium. Maya walked out of the bus and went up the stairs to the auditorium. She was usually in the cafeteria with the lower graders, so the path to the auditorium was unfamiliar. When she finally arrived at the auditorium, the place was buzzing. She walked over to the place where her class was sitting, and took a seat next to Clara.
“So, how did convincing your dad that you are a fabulous artist go?” she asked.
“Horrible. He started lecturing me on how I should get a real hobby. Again,” Maya replied.
Clara tried to stifle a laugh. At that moment, the bell rang, which meant that everyone needed to go to homeroom. The two girls walked (more like trudged) to their homeroom class. Maya opened the door to the classroom and confidently marched in. She picked a seat, not in the front, but not in the back. Clara took a seat next to her. The teacher walked into the room, and the classroom fell so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The door closed behind Mrs. Garnish. She was a slim woman with black ravens hair. Her eyes were striking green, while her nose was pointed and flat. The dress she wore was black as night and seemed vaguely familiar to Maya. Her black hair was pulled into a tight bun. She surveyed the class and walked across the room. Her heels click clacked against the marble floor. They looked so tight on Mrs. G as she walked across the room.
Mrs. G’s personality was much like her appearance. She was a no-nonsense teacher! She was a very strict person, yet there was something kind beneath that rock hard outside.
“As all of you know,” Mrs.Garnish said in a sharp voice, “I am your homeroom teacher, Mrs. Garnish. I have many rules, and I expect you to follow them all. Number one: Listen to me when I talk. Number two: Always be respectful… ”
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Maya wasn’t looking forward to spending the whole morning listening to their teacher drone on and on about being respectful. Blah blah blah blah… She didn’t have time for that nonsense! Finally, Mrs. G stopped. Maya was relieved. All that talking had made her brain feel like it would explode. Over the loudspeakers, the principal said, “Fifth graders, the first period is now ended. Please proceed to your second period.”
Maya slipped on her backpack and went out the door. She pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. It was was slightly crumpled, but it was readable. It read, For second period, you’ll be having history at room 305 with your teacher Miss McGonagall. She walked over to the classroom, dodging students all going in different directions. She finally reached room 305. Over the door it had the words Miss McGonagall printed in yellow and pink letters. They had flowers all over the door and their walls. It seems like a very cheery classroom, Maya thought. And with that thought, she pushed the door open and walked inside.
There are classrooms, and there are classrooms!!! Then, there are Super Mega Ultra Awesome Classrooms!!! This is what Maya was thinking as she walked into room 305. There were mountains of books piled in every nook and corner. Pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln with bulging heads were staring at him from the walls. The place was humid and steamy, like a sauna, and smelled faintly of toasted marshmallows. Maya was awestruck at the sight of this classroom, but it was nothing compared to the teacher herself.
She popped up right in front of Maya. “Hello, you must be Maya,” she said in a dreamy voice. It took Maya some time to process that this teacher was someone real, and that she was not in fact dreaming. Miss McGonagall had glasses that were simply too large for her face. Her long blond hair was draped around her shoulders. She was wearing a black T-shirt and a short skirt with bright pink stockings. She was wearing blue, sparkly flats and was staring at Maya with much curiosity. The teacher seemed to be wearing lots of eyeshadow, for it looked unnatural on her pale face. Miss McGonagall was so close to Maya’s face that she could practically hear her breathing. “Come, take a seat,” she whispered.
Maya walked over to an empty desk. The only person who was sitting in that room with her was a pale boy with black hair. He was reading a book, and he didn’t seem to notice Maya’s arrival in class. She looked over to the door, hopeful that soon a new kid would come into the classroom and break the awkwardness. Her wish came true. The door opened with a creak. In came three girls. One of them was clearly a leader. She had a short bob for hair, bangs that were pinned to the side, and was wearing the most fashionable outfit that Maya had ever seen. Wow, Maya thought. She is so cool. Maya was convinced she was Taylor Swift’s daughter! She sat down right next to Maya, and the other girls sat next to her. The girls smiled and waved at Maya. Maya felt that she was blushing. She waved back.
“Hi, my name is Carolyn,” the girl introduced herself. She seemed very nice, and Maya couldn’t wait to be her friend.
Maya said, “Hi, my name is Maya. It’s nice to meet you!”
Just then, the door opened, and many kids filed in. Everyone got a seat, but some grudgingly took a seat that was not next to their best friend.
“Settle down, settle down,” the teacher said. “I am Miss McGonagall. I will be teaching you about history and everything you need to learn about it.”
Maya thought that this teacher would be different from other history teachers, but it turned out she wasn’t. This year was no different. This year they’d still be learning plain old boring history. Miss McGonagall introduced them to a lot of famous people from history. By the time she walked out of the room, Maya was humming a tune that went, “George Washington,” with other various heroines. She checked the list again.
Miss McGonagall came running after her yelling, “Everyone in my class, your homework is to read chapter twelve!”
Maya nodded and briskly walked away to her science class.
Suddenly, a magical flyer came out of the blue and hit Maya in the face. (Well, not really. Maybe Maya was just walking and saw the flyer on the wall. But this makes the story more exciting.) The flier said, Join the art club! Fun! Make new friends! Paint! Afterschool. Room 101! Sign up today! Maya took a picture of it and sent it to Clara. The clicking of the phone echoed in the silent corridor.
Clara texted back, OMG you should totally join.
Then, Maya texted, R U Sure? Dad might kill me.
Clara said, BRB Got2Go.
Then, Maya put her phone away.
Maya had been thinking about the flyer all day. She decided that she would ask her father about it when she got home. When she got off the bus at her stop, she knew what she would say. Maya shouldered her backpack and stepped off the bus. The bus lurched forward and bellowed exhaust into her face. She turned around and started to her house. She knew the path by heart and didn’t bother to look where she was going.
Maya dug into her pocket and felt the familiar grip of her keys. She fumbled with the door and heaved it open. “Dad, I’m home!” she called half-heartedly. She knew it was way too early for him to be home. Unsurprisingly, there was no answer. Maya closed the door behind her and turned on all the lights. She plopped her bag on the floor and went up to her bedroom. She took off on the stairs and skipped a few. When she got to her bedroom, she pushed her door wide open and flung herself on the bed.
Her bedroom was the only place that was comforting to her. Maya reached into her back pocket and pulled out the crinkled flyer. She read it again. Maya then decided that she better be ready for when her father came home, so she went downstairs and started microwaving some leftovers. Her father would probably be disappointed. The pesto pasta and fried vegetables didn’t look inviting, so she added a Caesar salad.
She heard her dad (the major chef) creak open the door. Finally, she thought. She quickly busied herself with setting the table. Her dad had probably had a bad day at work, because he heaved himself onto a chair and started shoving pasta into his mouth.
“Dad?” she said, nervously. “I saw a flyer today. It was an art club. I was wondering if I can join it?”
Her dad mumbled something like, “Sceektkiyrimefil.”
“Dad?” she repeated loudly.
“Maya, you know that I disapprove of your fondness over art. I will talk about this with your mother,” he said, without looking at Maya.
Maya’s heart fell. She knew her dad would never give this conversation a second thought, much less mention it to her mom. Maya ate some pasta halfheartedly and slowly trudged back towards her room.
The next day, Maya had the usual classes. During the day, she was lectured by Mrs. Garnish, bored to death in English, picked at her school lunch, doodled on her math assignment, and then plopped herself down on a bench in the school playground, where she was right now.
She was having an argument with herself, debating whether she should go to the club or not. Sure, Maya’s dad had said no. But she could do it if he didn’t notice, right? Maya finally concluded she would do it. Besides, it was just an art club. Her dad couldn’t get that upset, could he?
Maya checked her flyer. Yep, this was the spot. Room 101. Just like the flyer stated. Maya hesitated before she opened the door. What was I thinking? Dad is going to kill me!! she thought. But it was too late. Maya pushed the door open. As she looked around, she felt a heavy rock in her stomach but pushed it down. She walked into the room and heard laughing coming from one of the tables. Maya shut the door behind her. She walked farther into the room and saw a tall boy with red hair and freckles spreaded across his face. He grinned.
“Hi! I’m Jacob! Nice to meet you!” he said cheerfully.
“Hi, my name’s Maya. This is the art room, right?” Maya asked.
He laughed. “Yep, this is it!” he said. “We work for the school newspaper. Each week we write a comic strip for it. I’m really glad you could join this place. We only have about six people. It’s really hard to write comic strips with that little people.”
Someone yelled, “Hey, Jacob! Who’s the new girl?”
“Guys, this is Maya. Maya this is Ruby, Patrick, Ava, Jake, and Evan.”
There was a series of people mumbling their hellos. Maya walked over to where they were all sitting. She looked around the room. All around the walls there were paintings and murals and all sorts of different paintings. Crammed into a corner was a blank easel, just waiting for someone to make a beautiful picture out of them. There was a small rug with a couple of chairs around it in the middle of the room. Above the rug was a shelf holding markers, paper, paints, pencils, and brushes. (No, not toothbrushes, silly. That is totally different.) Maya stared at the room. In the direction she was headed was the table they were sitting at. She pulled out a seat and sat down in it. Ruby handed her a sheet of paper with five boxes in it.
“Each box will be part of the comic,” Ruby explained. “When you put it all together, it will be a funny scene. It will have to be a short one to capture laughter, comedy, or drama.”
Maya understood this. She did this at home sometimes. She took a pencil from the table and started. She knew what she would draw. She started sketching her ideas.
When Maya got home, she was ecstatic. The art club had been a great success. She walked into her house and put her bag on the floor. She pulled her flyer out of her pocket and threw it onto the table and started to make pasta. She hummed a song that she heard on the radio while she boiled it and hugged her dad when he got home. When her dad got home, he picked up the flyer on the table.
“Honey, what’s this?” her dad asked.
“Ummmmmm,” Maya struggled to find words.
“Maya, did you go to this afterschool?” her dad asked furiously.
“Yes,” Maya responded without looking at her dad.
“Maya, this is unacceptable. Go to your room. You are grounded. I told you not to do it, yet you did it anyway. That is why you are grounded.”
“Wait, Dad, I really love art! I don’t want to be a chef! I hate to cook! My real passion is art. It’s the only time I feel at peace.”
Her dad considered this. “Maya, I never knew this. If you had told me this before I would have let you paint a lot earlier. So, yes, you may join the art club.”
Maya was in her bedroom. It was quiet and peaceful. She stroked the easel with her paintbrush. Maya’s hair was pulled back into a messy bun. Her jeans and T-shirt were covered up with a paint splattered smock. Maya surveyed the paining. “Hmmm… more yellow,” Maya confessed. She dipped the brush in the yellow paint and continued to make the painting. Her mind wandered, and she thought about all that had happened lately. She put her paintbrush down on the table and walked over to the window. She pushed it open and stared out at the open blue sky. She thought about her passion for art, how the chef (her dad) had disapproved. How she had shown him the painting she made. How her dad had smiled. How he signed her up for it. How she went to that classroom for the second time without feeling guilty. How she felt at home.