3 When I got out of the library, I started down the dark streets toward home. I passed the old supermarket with the flickering Open sign, the convenience store, and the Chinese restaurant. I lived in a very small town that was quite self-contained. There was one of everything: one library, one public pool, one pizza place, one doctor, one school, and so on. Everyone knew each other. We were one little community.
It's occasionally nice to live in a small town because when you need something there is always a neighbor to help out. But, when you're an outcast it's sometimes hard to get back into the crowd. My mom used to be part of a book club and she did some things at the Y but now she mostly just goes to work, comes home, makes dinner, sleep, and repeat. I'm not quite sure what happened but at least it didn't affect my friendships.
I turned the corner from Main Street and started to pass the park with its big, grassy field next to a playground. I had grown up in that park. I looked at the old squeaky swings and the jungle gym with the chipped paint. I kept on walking until I got to the end of that street and turned onto the street with the houses.
There were not very many streets of houses, but you could tell the difference between the 'sections' everyone lived in. There were three sections: In the first section, there were big houses, for the richest people. The people in these houses were doctors, lawyers, or lucky heirs. The houses there had pools and mini-playgrounds in the backyard. The second section had middle-sized houses for middle-class people. These people were business owners, trainers, and private teachers. These houses were similar in looks to those in the richest section, but they houses were smaller. In the third section, were the smallest houses for everyone else. Unfortunately, I was in the third section.
Every kid, no matter how rich, went to the same school unless their parents decided to send them off to some fancy private school in a different town. Although the streets were split by money, most of the friend groups at the school weren’t. Jane lived in one of the biggest houses, while Sage lived in one of the middle-sized ones. Of course, Kayla also lived in one of the biggest houses, but so did Charlotte, so you can never judge.
I walked past the first street, then the second, and then to the third street. I walked all the way down to the end. On the outside, our house looked small and old, but on the inside, it was quite cozy. In the living room, we had a brown couch with mismatched furniture. We had gotten a peach paint job on the inside of the house about six years before, and my mom said that really brought everything together. Although our place would not be in a dream house magazine, it was home.
My mom was setting the table as I came in.
“What’s for dinner?” I asked as I took off my black and white sneakers.
“I made mac and cheese, your favorite,” she answered, smiling. I smiled back. Mac and cheese had never been my favorite, but my mom always insisted that I loved it when I was younger.
After I put down my backpack, I sat down at the table across from her. There were four spots at our table, even though we never had company over for dinner. I think my mom was talking, but I was so wrapped up in thought about the library and the boy and all the books that I was hardly listening to.
“Do you know anyone by the name of Quinn?” I asked her mid-chew.
She swallowed and then said, “Um, no.” I sighed. “Oh, wait, I think it was your great grandfather's name. Possibly. You know, I think that was one of the baby names on my list. I think I would have chosen that name if you were a boy. Why do you ask?”
“No reason, I just like it,” I lied. I would have told her, but my mom and I mostly just had polite conversations. We weren’t friends. We didn’t not like each other; we just didn’t talk much about things that really mattered. Also, if I had told her, there's no way she would have believed me.
"So, how was school?" She asked me.
"You know," I shrugged, "Same as always."
"Oh, did you learn anything new?" she asked.
I laughed a little and said, “You know I never learn anything new at school.” She smiled at me and laughed a little. I finished eating, and brought my plate to the sink that was still full from the breakfast dishes.
I made my way down the hall towards my room that was lined with painted pictures of streams and forests. I turned into my small room. It was painted blue and cluttered. I was not very good at cleaning it up. My clothes were all over the floor and my books were falling off the shelf. I had a full size bed that took up half of the room. I jumped on the bed without changing my clothes and tried to make sense of what I had witnessed that day.
Before I knew it I had been carried off from my clouded thoughts to a subconscious state called sleep.