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Katie Ineich, 2010

        It was the first day of school, and Steve squinted as he opened his front door and stepped out into a sunny morning. He let the screen door slam behind him, but it clipped his heel as it closed, making him clutch the rail lining the porch as he lurched forward. His eyes welled and he counted to ten; he was not going to cry. He looked at the cuff of his faded navy blue pants, and breathed a small sigh of relief when he determined that the hem was in tact. His mom had fixed his uniform pants less than a week ago, in preparation for the beginning of the school year. She would have killed him if he wrecked his pants again this quickly after having them repaired, and before he’d even gotten to school. She was always lecturing him about his clothes, and especially his uniform. He had two pairs of uniform pants—one for regular days and one for Mass days. His regular uniform pants were several shades of blue lighter than his Mass day pants. They had a patched knee, and the hems had been repaired more times than he could remember. Steve was always struggling to keep his uniform clothes clean and in one piece, but try as he might, he always seemed to find himself rolling or falling on the playground, or getting into a fight with a boy twice his size; more often than not, his school uniform needed repair.

        Steve ran a hand through his curly, brown hair, as he trudged down the concrete porch steps, and onto the uneven sidewalk that lined Main Street. He walked as slowly as possible, watching his feet and keeping track of how many steps he could take inside a single block of sidewalk. Steve hated school. He dreaded every school day and spent the entire week looking forward to the relief of the weekend. He was eleven years old and sitting in a classroom from eight to three was the worst way he could think to spend his time. School bored him. He wanted to be moving, jumping or running around, or playing with his cat, Mittens—not cooped up, sitting in a classroom until his butt went numb.

        Furthermore, no one at school liked him. He had few friends and even most of the teachers didn’t like him. Once, after school, he had gone with his counselor to talk to his homeroom teacher, Mrs. Stone about his behavior in the classroom, and the teacher stated flatly in front of Steve, to the counselor, that she did not like Steve at all, and that she was just waiting until he moved on to the next grade level. The counselor had been completely taken aback, and stared incredulously at the teacher for a few seconds before quietly ushering Steve out of the classroom. Fine, he thought to himself. If everyone was determined not to like him, then he was determined not to like them. And yet, he did want people to notice him. He had taken to acting out in class, picking fights and pulling stunts at school. One memorably bad day, when Steve was walking in the hallway, a small, familiar, red lever on the wall caught his eye. He quickly looked around to make sure no one was watching, and without hesitation, he flipped the lever, and an ear-shattering ring erupted through the halls. He grinned devilishly and darted down the hallway. Unfortunately, a teacher had seen him, and his punishment was to stay after school for two weeks to wash windows.
Steve reached the entrance of his school, and pulled the heavy metal door open. He felt defeated and the school year had barely started. This year was going to be just like all the others.

        As he walked through the hallway, searching for his new classroom, he noticed signs on each of the classroom doors with each teacher’s name painstakingly printed in permanent marker and a picture of a different angel in each corner. When he came to his classroom, he peered inside cautiously. The windows were on the east side of the building, and the sun shone in illuminating an auburn haired figure he assumed was his teacher. But as she turned and looked at Steve with her kind, grey eyes, he could have sworn that she was an angel. And he allowed himself to wonder if maybe this year could be different.

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All Information Copywright by Chimes Publication, Saint Mary's College 2010