Kids brushed by Fred to the left and to the right, carelessly bumping against his shoulders. “Why is everyone in such a hurry? Fine, it’s the first day of school; but still – people, chill!” With his hand-me-down backpack and shoes from the year before, “because they still fit” according to his mother, Fred was not particularly ready for the new year, but that wasn’t going to stop him from having the best year yet.
His new shirt boldly declared, “I love bacon,” written in strips of bacon and eggs. It even smelled of bacon.
Omar Brown was clearly eager to be back; he had new shoes. ”Sup Freddy boy? You had a good summer?”
“It’s Fred,” Fred said with a serious, don’t-mess-with-me kind of look. But then he added a mischievous smile to assure Omar that they were still cool.
“Okay, okay. Why’d you change your name over the summer anyway?” Fred was in no mood to explain the nuances of growing up. Omar walked away, “Okay dude, whatever you want… Fred.“
Fred pulled out the school’s activity sheet. “Student Body Elections – next week.” Check. “Tryouts for ‘Aladdin Returns’ – in two weeks.” Check.
He was going to rule the school. He was a year older as of two weeks ago, finally 10. He was no longer “Freddy,” the kiddie old self. He was now “Fred,” the fantastic fifth grader, the top of the food chain, and the master of kickball.
1. Be the school President.
2. Be the lead in the school play.
3. Collect the most bubble gum comics.
The later would give him the coveted and respected title of “Guru of Gum.” The school record was 784 comics from two years ago. Billy Park had chewed a lot of gum that year.
“Hey Freddy, nice shoes,” came an unmistakable shrill voice from behind. Telly Dell could turn a deliciously fun pizza party into a funeral with one sour comment.
“Thank you!” Fred was quick on his feet. “I decided to keep the shoes that made me ‘King Kickball’ last year.” Telly folded her arms in front of her chest and walked away in a huff. “… And it’s ‘Fred’ from now on. Thank you.”
Just then, a kindergartener whizzed by, whispering a scratchy, “F-R-E-D. Fred, Fred, Fred. This is your year so don’t you fear!” Or did an alien creature scamper across his path, he couldn’t tell? One moment he was there and the next, gone.
To be continued…