NaNoWriMo Day 24 (1056 words) Visions from the Coffee Cup

The cafeteria was in the back of the school. The dining area was big and open except for the rows of tables and benches. The room was surprisingly quiet as the children slowly filed in, but once the hot lunch line had dwindled to a trickle of students, they nearly had to shout to be heard over the sound of the children chattering to each other.

Linda had packed a bologna sandwich, a bag of chips, two cookies, and a bag of raw carrots cut into strips and placed them into Halloween themed lunchbox that his father had sent along with all of Markey’s of the luggage. She had packed him fruit punch in a juice box, and a handful of change just in case Markey wanted to buy himself a small carton of milk. Markey and the other children who brought their lunch had their pick of seats, and while all of the other children had the new cloth lunchboxes that zipped up, Markey had a throwback metal lunchbox that was held shut with a metal hasp with a keyhole in case he wanted to lock his lunchbox for some the same reason that any young kid might do anything, and like any good child his age he had lost the key within days of receiving the lunchbox.

Markey stood at the back of the lunchroom and watched the other kids as they went to their accustomed tables. Markey saw one of the kids that he kind of knew from his class and started to follow her. When he was about to put his lunchbox on the table, she said, “This is the girls table, silly.” She pointed at a table at the end of the row. “Boys sit over there.”

Markey said, “Can’t I sit here?”

She said, “You can if you want.” There was defeat in her voice, so Markey stepped back from the table and looked for somewhere else to sit.

He sat down at the table next to another boy about his age. The other boy was washing a mouthful of sandwich down with a glug of milk and followed that up with a handful of potato chips. Markey followed his lead and just ate his lunch quietly. The tables in the lunchroom were more or less broken down by age. The younger children stayed to one side of the room and the older children stayed to the other. The boys and the girls generally had their own tables but the children in the older grades were more likely to have a mix of boys and girls. The older grades were more interested in separating by the cool kids kept to one side of the room the weird kids stayed to the other side, and the band kids stayed toward the middle. And teachers were stationed periodically along the walls to tell the children to hush when they got too loud.

 Markey ate everything except the carrot sticks. He sat quietly for a little moment before he picked up a carrot stick in each hand and bounced them around on end like little men walking around. He made some sound effects for the carrot stick men and had them talk to each other.

The other boy looked over at Markey and smiled. He said, “What are you playing?”

Markey said, “I’m playing zombies.”

The boy said, “Can I play, too?” Markey handed him a carrot stick and they played until the bell rang for them to go back to their classes. Just before they had to leave, the boy said, “My name is Felix. Do you want to be my friend?” Markey told the boy his name and agreed to be his friend.

The next day, Markey knew right where to sit at lunch. He and Felix ate and talked and played carrot zombies.

One day one of the older kids from the weird side of the room came over to Markey and Felix as they were eating their lunches. He slapped Felix on his back while he was taking a drink of his milk and made him choke. He said, “Why do you two like zombies so much?” He looked at Markey directly in his eyes.

The teacher that was assigned to this side of the lunchroom walked over. She was an older softspoken woman who had been teaching for years and her mere presence walking towards them hushed their entire corner of the lunchroom. The older boy took two steps back. He said, “I didn’t do nothing, Mrs. C.”

Mrs. Cranston said, “William.” There was so much in that one word even Markey who had never met this boy before knew that ‘William’ was not the name that the boy preferred, and that they had a long history that ‘William’ had not wanted to relive. He said, “I’m sorry Mrs. Cranston.” And he went back to his table without any of the swagger that he had approached with.

Mrs. Cranston looked over at Felix and Markey only long enough to quietly assess the situation. Felix quickly grabbed some napkins from the dispenser in the center of the table and cleaned up the mil that the older boy had made him spill. Mrs. Cranston walked back to her station against the wall, but she watched William quite a bit more than she had earlier that day.

Markey motioned with his head to where William had sat. He said, “I bet his name is Billy Butt Face.” Both kids laughed.

Felix said, “Don’t say that too close to him.”

Markey said, “Butt Face?”

Felix giggled. He said, “He is a butt face.” They went back to playing carrot zombies. Felix said, “I don’t like him. He’s always mean to people. If we leave him alone, he will find someone else to pick on.”

Markey said, “My dad would call that weak.”

Felix said, “Mine too. But what can we do? He is big.”

Markey said, “I could send some zombies to gobble him up.”

Felix said, “Here is Billy Butt Face.” He pulled a piece of uneaten celery that his parents had packed in his lunch. He said, “Get him zombies.” He had his carrot jump on top of the celery’s head and he made roaring and chomping sounds. Markey joined in with the carrot stick zombie mayhem.

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