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The Cafeteria War
An R.L. Mathewson Chronicle
Johnny sighed heavily as he reached over and took the piece of paper from his mother. “This isn’t necessary,” he said, glancing over the five-page document.
“It’s very necessary,” his father said, holding out a pen. “Sign it.”
Sebastian reached over and took the papers out of his hand and looked down at them. “You know that they can’t legally enforce any of this, don’t you?” Sebastian asked with a sigh.
“Sign. It,” their father stressed, glaring down at them. “We’ve waited five months for them to let you back in school and you’re going.”
“It’s a form of discrimination,” he felt obligated to point out, but judging by the way that his father shifted that glare right back on him, the man simply didn’t care.
“They won’t let you attend school until you both sign it,” their mother said as she frowned down at the weird blue blob things in the pan.
For a moment, he considered asking her what she was cooking, but decided against it since it would only give him nightmares. Instead, he held the document between him and his brother and struggled not to laugh at the list of rules that the School Department and City Council had come up with for them. A lot of the rules were pretty stupid, but a few of them actually sounded like fun. He made a mental note of the ones that they were going to have to try later and reluctantly signed the document. After a slight hesitation, Sebastian took the pen from him and signed it as well.
“Can we go now?” he asked, handing the document back to his father.
“Don’t you want breakfast?” Mom asked, holding up a plate stacked high with whatever that blue stuff was, looking hopeful.
“No, umm, that’s okay, Mom. We’re not that hungry,” Sebastian said, shooting him a nervous glance.
“But, it’s your first day of middle school. It’s a big day,” Mom said, worrying her bottom lip as she glanced back down at the plate of-
Did that blue stuff just move?
Swallowing nervously, he shot his father a look to find him standing there, staring down at the plate and looking terrified. “The boys are probably too excited to eat,” his father said, swallowing nervously as he gestured for them to grab their bags and go.
Mom sighed heavily. “You’re probably right.”
“They’ll be fine,” Dad promised as he leaned down and quickly kissed Mom while they grabbed their bags and backed up towards the back door, trying not to make any sudden movements that would draw their mother’s attention.
Before she could do something like offer to pack the blue stuff in their lunch bags, they turned around and made a run for it and they didn’t stop running until they were safely in the backseat of their father’s SUV. When Dad walked out of the house a few minutes later, carrying a brown paper bag that was slowly turning blue, they realized that their father hadn’t been so lucky.
“I think we have just enough time to stop for donuts before we meet with your new principal,” Dad said as he leaned over and grabbed one of the trash bags that he kept hidden beneath the passenger seat and dumped the terrifying bag inside.
“Thanks, Dad,” he said as he sat back as he stared out the window, wondering just how bad this was going to be.
Very bad as it turned out….
“Class, please give a warm welcome to the new students that I told you about last week, Sebastian and Johnny Bradford,” Mrs. Thompson said with a large smile that looked practiced as she gestured to the two of them.
When the students just stared at them, Mrs. Thompson cleared her throat in an attempt to break the awkward silence. “Perhaps Johnny and Sebastian, you’d like to tell the class something about yourselves?”
“No,” Sebastian simply said as Johnny walked past the teacher, pausing only long enough to grab one of the chemistry textbooks off her desk and headed towards the back of the class.
“They don’t look nine,” one of girls whispered while the rest of the class continued to watch their every move until Mrs. Thompson cleared her throat and drew their attention back to the front of the class.
“Please open your books to chapter three.”
“I should have offered to pay mom to continue homeschooling us,” Sebastian grumbled as he opened his book.
“I offered her twenty bucks a week,” he muttered, turning to chapter three and barely resisting the urge to roll his eyes. They were only up to the basics of the Periodic Table.
“And she didn’t take it?” Sebastian asked with a frown.
“Nope,” he said, making the word pop on a sigh, wondering if it was possible to die from boredom, something that he was sure that he was going to find out soon.
“Gold digger,” Sebastian said with a shake of his head, making Johnny chuckle as he reached into his bag and pulled out the leather-bond journal that Grandma Blaine had given him.
“What time’s lunch?” he asked, wishing that he hadn’t turned down his father’s offer to buy muffins this morning.
“Not soon enough,” Sebastian said, pulling out-
“Isn’t that Uncle Jared’s iPhone?” he asked, glancing up in time to see Mrs. Thompson explain that each element was numbered.
“Yeah,” Sebastian said, bypassing the security code and broke into the phone. “I needed it and Dad is refusing to buy me one. I just needed it to keep an eye on a stock that I’m interested in. I’ll give it back to him tonight.”
“The tech stock?” he asked, as he turned back a few pages to read through what he’d written last night.
“Yeah, it’s a startup, but they have a firm grasp on light-weight alloy metal conductors that look promising.”
“Do you need to borrow my stash?” he asked, risking another glance up and rolling his eyes when he realized that Mrs. Thompson was now trying to explain the difference between a solid and a gas.
“They should have placed us in the advanced class,” Sebastian pointed out with a snort of disgust, voicing his thoughts exactly.
“No kidding,” he said, shaking his head as he returned his attention to the story he was working on.
“How much do you have saved?”
“A hundred a fifty,” he said, crossing out a section that wasn’t working in his story.
“You still saving up for an iPad?”
“Then save it. I’ll find another way to buy this stock.”
“Do you think that we’ll have any classes with Cole this year?” he asked, hoping that they’d have at least one class with their cousin.
Sebastian shrugged. “If we don’t, we can always break into the system and fix that.”
“True,” he murmured in agreement, wondering if they shouldn’t just go ahead and do that anyway so they could switch out of this class.
“Would someone like to volunteer to help me demonstrate how to turn this ice cube from a solid to a gas?”
He looked up just as Mrs. Thompson was turning on a Bunsen burner and smiled. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his brother raise his hand.
“We would love to help, Mrs. Thompson,” he said, already getting to his feet as he considered several different ways to make this experiment more interesting.
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Please let me know what you think of the first mini-Bradford Chronicle 🙂