On his seventeenth birthday Edward Shepard wore a spacesuit to school. He’d built the suit from plastic tubes, cardboard, duct tape and one of his dad’s old jumpsuits. It wouldn’t meet any space agency’s regulations, but it made a striking picture as he walked to school in slow, moon-bounce steps.
When Edward arrived, James Winfield, surrounded by other soccer players, fans, and social leeches, called out to him. “Hey, Eddy. I always knew you were from another planet.”
Edward had been doing James’ math homework since the ninth grade. This year, his senior year, James didn’t have to take a math course, but he still wouldn’t miss an opportunity to remind Edward who the alpha male was.
Insulated from the harsh atmosphere around him, Edward moon stepped on by. He never acknowledged James through the gold-tinted visor. “Halloween’s next month!” James called after him. The cronies laughed and smacked him on the back. James’ eyes followed Edward’s overemphasized steps down the hall and out of sight.
Edward got a few high fives in the hall though he left most of them hanging. There were whispers in his wake. “What is he, an astronaut?” “More like a space cadet…” Safe inside the suit, he skimmed across the surface of the hallways to his locker.
Despite this notoriety, Edward made it through first period, Chemistry, with only a few odd stares and juvenile sniggers. His teacher, Mr. Norris, had a giant calendar counting down to his retirement. He took notice of little else during the classes he still taught.
Edward’s second period class, History, however, had desks that attached to the chairs. His suit would not fit. Mrs. Everheart, true to her name, smiled on him. She let him stand in the back as long as he “kept his eyes, ears, and visor open to the wonders of History!”
In third period gym, Coach Keyes was more interested in Alyssa Sheffield’s outfit than Edward’s. But Coach Keyes still made him sit on the bleachers.
Edward had prepared a speech about space walks and dexterity, but as he opened his mouth, Coach Keyes shut Edward’s visor. He pointed a sausage finger at the bleachers. Edward complied.
On his way to Astronomy he clocked two kids with his backpack and rammed a girl with his helmet. Or so Mr. Everheart claimed when he sent Edward to the principal’s office. (He lacked the compassion of both his wife and his last name).
James strolled out of Principal Hardwick’s office as Edward came to her door. James flashed his winning smile. “I didn’t realize they still had monkeys in the space program.”
Edward, visor down, maneuvered past James. He docked in the seat Principal Hardwick motioned him to.