Now, my real story begins when my parents had finally decided that could go back to public school. In 1988 I was fifteen, and about to be a freshman in high school. My younger years are important and all, but what you need to know does not lie in my childhood. The things I am going to tell you are the remains of my former self, and the time in which I lived a surrogate life.
The very first day in high school, I felt dwarfed by the monstrous hallways filled with leviathan football players and Barbie-esque cheerleaders. I found no familiar faces or friendly smiles to greet me as I walked to first period. Even the teacher looked as though he thought himself a god among men.
He walked to the front of the classroom and wrote on the blackboard, “Dr. Thackery.” He then turned around to face us. He wore a dark green suit and a white and yellow checked tie. There were small rectangular glasses resting on his nose. His head was shiny and completely bald save for a gray handlebar mustache and eyebrows. He held his hands behind his back and began in a loud voice, “Good morning, students. My name is Dr. Thackery, and I will be teaching your British Literature course. Please take the text book from under your chair and write your name on the inside cover.”
As we each penned our names into the books, Dr. Thackery went back to the blackboard and wrote, “Chapter One, pages seventeen to thirty six. Due Wednesday.” He turned again, and began walking around the classroom. “Now, class, I want to tell you that this is a mixed class. You will find all grades in this room during this hour. British Literature is not just for seniors, not just for upperclassmen, not even just for underclassmen. It is one of my favorite classes to teach, and one of the most favored to learn, so it is very hard to get into. Because of this, we keep the class open to all grades so that those who were unable to get in one year might have a chance the next.”
Dr. Thackery paused at the desk of a boy with spiky black hair. “Mr. Solbrig,” he said, “I suggest that you write down the assignment from the board.”
“No, it’s okay, Dr. Thackery. I have a photogenic memory. I mean—.”
“Yes, Edison, you have a beautiful mind,” Dr. Thackery replied with a smirk and continued to walk around as the class burst into laughter.
But I was not laughing. I was staring over at the boy. Yes, he was familiar. Dark, persuasive eyes. A smile that could calm a lion. I turned in my seat and said awkwardly, “Edison?”
He looked over at me, recognition slowly being etched into his face. “Saint?” he replied after a moment.
Dr. Thackery stopped in the middle of the room. “Boys, I do not believe that I gave either of you permission to speak. Edison, you should know better. And you… what’s your name, son?”
I bit my lip. My least favorite part about meeting people was telling them my name. But I considered the fact that Dr. Thackery was a fairly formidable opponent and I didn’t really want to lie to him about my name, no matter how ridiculous it was. “Saint,” I replied with a bit of nervousness.
Dr. Thackery chuckled. “So you’re the boy with the preposterous name! I’ve had the roster for a week, now, I’ve been trying to figure out who it might be. Well, now I know. Class, this boy’s name is Saint Lullaby.” My cheeks turned bright red as a few people chortled. “He has quite an interesting name, I know. But if I hear or find out somehow that you’ve been making fun of his name, I’ll have your rear end in detention before you can even say his name. Is that clear?”
The laughing stopped. My heart stopped racing. I looked up at him for a moment with a smile. “Thanks, Dr. Thackery.”
He said quietly to me with a grin, “You can just call me Thackery.”
Throughout the rest of class there was a ridiculous smile on my face. Not just because of Thackery, but the thought that I’d found Edison was almost making me dizzy. My hope was that once I talked to Edison, I’d be able to find Ophelia as well.
When class was dismissed, I rushed into the hallway and waited for Edison. He sauntered over, and though I expected a distant handshake, he embraced me briefly and ruffled my hair. “It’s been too long!” he laughed.
I smiled. “How have you been?”
“Radical, man. I’m learning to play guitar, it’s way awesome. And in a couple weeks me and some of the guys are goin’ to a Michael Jackson concert. You can come with, if you wanna!”
“Uh, no, that’s okay. I’m going to be pretty busy getting used to public school again.”
“Oh yeah! How was home schooling?”
“I expected that. Other than that have you been okay? Get into any fights lately?”
There was a lurch in my stomach. “Dang, Edison, I haven’t thrown a fist in about three years. My parents threatened to send me to a boarding school—which is completely against their own beliefs—unless I stopped fighting.”
“I’ll live.” And then I remembered what I’d been thinking about all through British Literature. “Edison, what class does Ophelia have next?”