Edward shuffled to lunch and sat at his usual spot. His friends from Astronomy class and Furbs sat elsewhere. Only Laura Furbles, Furbs’ freshman sister, sat with him.
“That’s an awesome spacesuit, Ed,” she said.
Edward grumbled into his bologna sandwich.
After a few moments Laura asked, “Where’d you learn to make—”
She never finished her question. A half-open carton of chocolate milk flew, hit Edward in the helmet and exploded. Edward turned in anger. Everywhere he looked he saw cackling faces and heard howling laughter. He ran from the room, his pristine suit splotched with brown. The wet cardboard sagged and ripped.
Laura, hearing the whispered gossip, followed Edward to the third-floor boy’s bathroom. She waited outside the door for a long time hoping he’d come out. Just then she heard Mrs. Snook the wire-haired librarian coming down the hall. She was giving Billy Fitz, one of Winfield’s beefy cronies, a stern lecture on “not playing hooky.” His place was in class.
Laura panicked and jumped inside the boy’s bathroom.
Once inside she heard sniffling and rustling. She followed the noise to a stall in the back.
“Ed?” she asked.
The sniffling and rustling stopped.
“Ed, it’s okay,” she said.
A long silence followed.
“I’ve never been in the boy’s bathroom before, but I wanted to see my spaceman,” she said with a playful smile.
Edward kicked open the stall. His suit had large, brown blotches all over it. The detailed marker work on the control panels and mission patches ran and merged into ugly, puke-colored blobs. His visor had been yanked off and clumsily reattached. His eyes screamed betrayal. He pointed to the door with the ferocity of a battle cry.
“I just… I didn’t…” she said.
When she didn’t move, he pushed past her and out into the hall. He tried to slam the bathroom door behind him, but its spring mechanism prevented him. After several more attempts he pushed it closed with a whimpering finality.
Edward wandered through the halls, avoiding both Mrs. Snook and Laura, until the end of fifth period.
In sixth period, Calculus, the milk curdled and his suit smelled. Mr. Everheart made Edward sit in the hall so he didn’t stink up the classroom. Out there he closed his visor. He tried not to notice the stares or wrinkled noses from teachers and students roaming the halls or heading to the bathroom. The reattached visor did not fit as snugly as it had before.
The seventh and final period of the day was always his least favorite: English. While Mrs. Van Pelt did not make him leave the room, she pulled out the earplugs she used during study halls and stuck them up her nose. Edward and his classmates found it difficult to analyze the words of Chaucer while their teacher pranced around with two bright orange nostrils. Most of the students sitting near Edward scooted as far away as possible. The souring milk being only the most immediate reason.
When the bell rang, Edward took his time walking to his locker and gathering his things. He walked by snickers and muffled laughs and pinched noses as students headed toward the busses or the parking lot. The suit meant to shield against gamma rays and cosmic dust—to make one giant leap for his kind—hadn’t worked. Edward grabbed his stuff and exited out a side door to avoid anyone still hanging around.
He kept his eyes on the ground in front of him. The day would be over soon.
“Spaceman!” someone shouted. Edward looked up to see a crowd blocking his path.
To Be Continued…