It is morning and the sound of Mr Fritz’s voice is muffled by the haze sleep which hovers over the heads of my fellow seventh graders. Large letters appear on the board in a tilted cursive script which appears to me more like a yellow chalk coloured blotch scrawled across the blackboard. It is morning and my head is like the bear; full of fluff.
A piece of rolled up sheet music hits me in the nape of my neck, breaking me out of the monotony of the daily morning routine. Seeing the page, I know instantly which of my classmates is responsible. It is covered with sketches of cars, tanks and uniformed men with overly large heads.
As I turn around, the face of the culprit greets me from across the room. Aden’s round short-haired face is beaming and he leans across his desk.
“Can you believe we have to read this?” he says waving a small purple book with his left hand.
Then, I realize there is an identical book placed neatly on the desk in front of me. It fits perfectly next my pencil case and in front of my copy of Anne Frank. The books title is faded to the point which it is unreadable, but name is written on the board where once the splotches covered my vision. “A tale of two cities.” I read slowly and under my breathe. I don’t want Camen three desks over to know that I care about the novel at all.
“Yeah, it’s not 1859 anymore. We should get to choose whatever book we want’ I reply, purposely omitting the fact that I have a to-do list of books at home on my dresser, but also betraying my interest in the novel. A Tale of Two Cities is in either fourth or fifth place. I can’t remember the list in detail.
I look back at Aden, he has another book pressed into the seam of the Dickens novel. I wonder if he even noticed that I knew the publication date.
“What are you reading?” I ask with hesitation, hoping to distract him from my mistake.
Aden reaches into his backpack (which should have been tucked away in his locker) and slips a comic book under the wooden desk. It’s a copy Detective Comics with the bat-symbol prominently displayed in red on the cover. This isn’t the kind of literature I normally read. I’ve never read a superhero comic in my life, nor even watched a Superman cartoon. I’d rather read the half-finished Anne Frank on my desk than degrade my intellect with such trash.
Smiling at me from across the room, Camen nods at the book in Aden’s hands. I know the feeling isn’t reciprocated, but I want him to like me.
“Forget the novel. Read this. Dickson is for girls anyways.”
“Dickens” I mutter under my breath, but I take the comic anyways.