The New Student
By Annie Laura Smith
New in Town
“Class, please meet our new student, Brian Thornton,” Mrs. Jennings said.
The new student’s face reddened slightly as the teacher made the introduction and then led him to a desk next to Mark Andrews.
“Hi!” Mark said as Brian sat down beside him. “I’m Mark – glad to have you with us.”
Brian nodded and put his worn backpack on the floor beside his desk. Mark noticed that several buttons were missing from Brian’s shirt, a sleeve was torn, and his jeans were much too short.
After their geography class, Mark showed Brian the way to the lunchroom, where Brian filled his tray and handed the cashier a free lunch ticket.
Mark said, “I’ve lived here in Bridgeport all my life. Where are you from?”
“We just moved here from Houston.”
“I wonder if we’re neighbors. What street do you live on?” Mark asked.
Brian hesitated for a moment before replying. “On Normandy Road.”
Mark knew Normandy Road was an industrial area except for one old house that had been converted by a local congregation into a shelter.
At recess, Mark encouraged Brian to join their soccer game. He was amazed at Brian’s flawless passes. He outmaneuvered the defense every time.
“You must have played soccer in Houston,” Mark noted in admiration.
“I played on the Houston Rockets.” A smile crossed Brian’s face for a moment. “We made it to the state finals.”
When recess ended, Brian carried the soccer ball into the classroom.
Mark said, “That’s my ball, but you can use it anytime.”
Brian glanced down at the ball, and reluctantly handed it to Mark.
On Monday morning, Brian and Mark met in the hallway at school. Brian wore the same shirt and jeans as he had on the first day. Mark thought of his closet full of clothes and wondered if any of them would fit Brian.
After school, Brian showed the boys how to pass around the defenders and to catch the goalie off guard.
When Mark got home from school, he found a big box on the kitchen counter. He tore into it and pulled out a new leather soccer ball.
Mark and Brian took the new soccer ball out to the playing field the next day for recess. The time went all too quickly as Brian continued to show the team new soccer techniques.
When recess was over, Mark and Brian walked toward the school building.
“What happened to your soccer ball?” Mark asked.
“I have three younger sisters. There just wasn’t enough room in the car for anything but clothes when we left Houston.” He then added quietly, “We sold everything else.”
Mark looked through his closet when he got home and found a pair of jeans and a shirt he thought would be perfect for Brian. He folded the clothes neatly and put them with his books. Later that evening he explained to his parents what he wanted to do for Brian.
The next day Mark met Brian at the lockers before class stared and handed the jeans and shirt to him.
“I’ve outgrown these and thought you could use them,” Mark said, looking quickly into his locker as Brian took the clothes.
“Thanks,” Brian said.
“And one more thing. I have two soccer balls now and I really can only use one. Why don’t you take this one home so you can practice there, too.” Mark reached into his locker and handed Brian his new soccer ball.
Brian’s blue eyes widened as he looked at the ball. “But Mark, this is your new ball. I can’t take it.”
“Sure you can,” Mark said, pushing the ball into his new friend’s hands. “Besides, you’re going to teach me how to be the best soccer player ever. How can you do that without a good soccer ball to practice with?”
Brian smiled and nodded, holding the ball in his arms. “Sure, I’ll do that for you,” he said. “Thanks.”
Mark hoped the new soccer ball would help make life on Normandy Road better for Brian until he had a real home again. From the huge smile on his new friend’s face, it certainly appeared to be a step in that direction.
© Annie Laura Smith
Annie Laura Smith is a freelance writer from Huntsville, Alabama.