His name was Cody and Kip was sure that Cody was going to try to make this a long, long year. After Cody’s throw hit her hard in the chest, Mrs. Holiday asked the students to please throw underhand so they wouldn’t “accidentally” throw the ball too hard. Kip knew that Mrs. Holiday was trying to give Cody the benefit of the doubt this first day. She was also certain that Cody was a bully and that if Mrs. Holiday was smart, she would be figuring that out soon too.
The game actually ended up working in her favor. By the time they were done, her name had been said over and over again so people were getting used to it. Mrs. Holiday made the game more fun by spontaneously adding in more balls to toss around and by timing the class to see if they could break the previous class’ record. They were all a little out of breath and giggling as they went back to their seats.
Mrs. Holiday handed out name tags that they would keep on their desks. She asked them to write the name they would like to be called, like if they had a nickname. Kip was happy to let everyone know that she preferred to be called Kip as she wrote the three letters on her nametag. Even though Kip was a boy’s name, it still elicited less teasing than Kipalee. Kip decorated her name with her different colored flair pens, a different color for each letter. She loved doodling and being a little artsy. She didn’t have much talent in the art department, but she enjoyed it all the same. She used her purple pen to draw flowers in the corners.
The day started with homeroom taught by Mrs. Holiday followed by her first hour class, English. In her new school, the homeroom teacher and her first hour teacher were the same. Kip breathed a sigh of relief that she got to stay in the same classroom for the first two classes of the day. She could tell that Mrs. Holiday was the nice-type of teacher. The kind who saw that her students were human beings and valued who they were. The kind of teacher who smiled and tried to make learning fun. Kip didn’t know exactly how she could tell that after just a half-hour with her teacher, but she could. Kip’s mom says that she has a sixth-sense about people, that she could tell what kind of person they were within minutes of meeting them.
She could also tell that she should steer clear of Cody as much as possible. He glanced her way quite a few times since he threw the ball at her, and his expression didn’t change. Cody looked like an athlete, he was wearing Nike shorts and a t-shirt and he had dark brown hair that was cut really short on the sides and was longer on the top. He kept brushing his hand through his hair to keep it over to the side. Sometimes as he did that he glared at Kip, looking at her like she was fresh meat to torture this year. Well, Cody had no idea who he was dealing with. No, she wouldn’t fight him in the alley after school, but she could ignore someone like nobody’s business. And to a bully, being ignored is worse than being beat up. She didn’t even glance his way once. Not once.
Kip’s mom loves Kelly Clarkson and one of the songs she plays all the time, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) started running through Kip’s head. One of the benefits of being super stubborn is that she is very patient and determined.
“Cody may have met his match,” Kip thought to herself.
After the half-hour of homeroom, Mrs. Holiday gave them a couple minutes to get out their English supplies. Kip already had her notebook and pen out on her desk. She thought back to the letter that Mrs. Holiday sent her students over the summer asking them to bring a picture of something they enjoy doing. It could be a photograph or a picture from a magazine.
Kip brought a picture of herself reading her favorite book. Her mom snapped the photo when they were camping this past summer on the beaches of Lake Michigan. Kip was laying on a faded yellow beach towel, wearing sunglasses but still using her free hand to shade her eyes from the bright sun, and she was wearing her favorite hooded blue and white striped bathing suit cover-up that zipped up in the front. Her brown hair was in a ponytail on top of her head. You could see her little brother Jeff digging in the sand in the background. Kip placed her photo on top of her notebook and waited for Mrs. Holiday to begin English class.
A girl sitting next to Kip looked over at her and gave her a little smile. Kip looked down at the girl’s name tag to see that her name was Susan. Smiling back, she noticed Susan’s curly brown almost black hair and that she was really pretty in a friendly-looking way. Her eyes turned into little crescent moons when she smiled. Susan asked, “Are you new to Jackson Middle School?”
Kip nodded, “Yes, this is my first day. We just moved here this past summer because my dad got a new job. I used to live in Grand Rapids.”
“Well, welcome to Jackson. I hope you like it here, it’s okay most of the time. Pizza day is the best day of the week for sure because they have the best pizza ever in the cafeteria. My name is Susan. I like your name, it’s unique. My name is so plain. What classes do you have?” Susan responded cheerfully.
Kip showed Susan her schedule and they discovered that they have practically identical courses. Kip’s flame of hope burned just a bit brighter in her chest and the chorus of Natasha Bedingfield’s song Hope started playing in her mind. Another one of her mom’s favorites that is played on repeat. Maybe this school and this move would work out okay. Maybe.
“I could help you find the classes if you want. I went here last year so I know my way around pretty well.” Susan’s offer of help sounded wonderful to Kip.
“I would really like that. Thank you.” Kip responded quietly, but with a shy smile.
Susan smiled big, her crescent moon eyes becoming just narrow slits. Kip really liked how Susan’s face lit up when she smiled. She reassured Kip, “I am glad you are here. I could use a friend.”
Questions for my editors:
- What do you learn from this chapter? What questions does it leave you with?
- Readers are introduced to Cody in this chapter. Did you connect to Kip’s experience with Cody? Are you interested in learning more about him?
- Readers are also introduced to Susan. What are your impressions of Susan and what questions do you have about her?
- After the feedback from Chapter 1, I added more details about the characters. What details do you notice? Are they helpful to you as you make a picture of this story in your mind? Are there any details that could be omitted because they interfere with the storyline?
- What are your thoughts about the songs that Kip thinks of? Do you connect with this part of the story?
- Did you learn any new words in this chapter? If so, what were the words you learned?
- Always let me know if you find grammatical errors.
Please put your edits in the comments on this post. I will comment back to you and make changes to the chapter based upon your feedback. I can’t wait to learn from you!
Behind the scenes info:
There are bits of me and bits of my mom in this chapter.
I grew up in Grand Rapids and my mom (Kipalee) grew up in Jackson, so I have a strong connection to both of these places. My mom actually moved from Jackson to Grand Rapids after she met my dad in college.
I am a doodler. Anytime I am sitting and listening with a pen and paper in front of me, I am doodling as I take notes. I often draw flowers. Also, I love to read and I love the beach!
The songs that Kip thinks of throughout the chapters are songs that touch my heart and help me be positive and strong. I linked them here so you can listen to them. I would love to hear about connections you make to the songs.