The alarm went off like a blaring siren. Tommy vomited a little bit in his sleep before fully waking up. Looking over, he saw that the time was 5:31. Every morning he looked over and the clock read dutifully: 5:31.
Making his way downstairs, Tommy found the kitchen to be quiet. Mom & Dad had left for work, and Lamarr–the nickname he had given his little sister–was cooing in her crib still. He grabbed a cold waffle from the fridge, stuffing it into his mouth as he made his way to her room. As Tommy entered, he caught whiff of a full diaper. He changed it without thinking, then spun the circle of animals above her crib. She laughed, uninhibitedly and with some semblance of joy.
Tommy left the room smiling to himself. He realized he always looked forward to those morning visits with Lamarr. That little bundle of human meat laughed but didn’t talk much. Everyone was always talking at his school, or at home, or out on the street as they drank from whatever container was in vogue that day. He wasn’t angered at the fact that what they had said lacked substance, but more that it was a constant stream of information that he couldn’t filter out.
Swinging by the fridge, Tommy reached for the bottle of maple syrup on the top shelf. He took a few chugs of the viscous brown liquid and was out the door. His watch now read 5:48. That meant that the babysitter would arrive soon. Or at least, she should be. She was a college dropout with nothing better to do. & yet mom & dad decided that she was trustworthy enough to watch Lamarr. If anything happened to her, Tommy sweared to god…
…Anyway, it was a brilliant, sun-drenched morning. The grass was incredibly green but moved erratically whenever the wind decided that everything was too calm. A storm was coming, Tommy thought, even though the sky was a pure, reassuring blue. But it was a ways off. He hoped it would rain in history class at least. The pitter patter on the large windows would distract him from his flighty teacher. The man went from blah-blah-ing about President Hoover to the psychological warfare of panzer tanks in less than 60. What a jerk.
Tommy made it to the front doors of Middletown High only after he had been completely soaked by the rain. So much for “a ways off.” Brian was there, and Tommy smiled at the man with fake camaraderie. Brian had always fancied himself one of the “cool” people employed by Middletown High. He always gave Tommy a break. Never asked him for a hall pass or anything. But Tommy didn’t pretend to like him for that reason. No. Brian was a loser, the way he saw it, and Tommy felt sorry for him. He never really understood why.
“You’re not going to like this, man. History class is first. Room 304,” Brian handed Tommy his updated schedule. The schedules were usually updated daily, and when they weren’t, two or three days of routine seemed like hell on earth.
As Tommy started to walk away, Brian said “Hey!” and Tommy looked back.
“Yeah?” Tommy replied, forcing a smile.
“Got you a special surprise in your locker. I hear today is supposed to be a real kicker,” Brian said with a wink. “You’re gonna need it!” Tommy gave Brian a “cool” smile back, perpetuating the illusion of Brian’s continued relevance. Tommy didn’t view that cynically, though. Brian was sort of his friend, but one he preferred to keep at a distance.