Lauren boarded the bus, and found her seat. It was a banner morning; so far she hadn’t been forced to make eye contact with anyone. She scrunched low in the seat. Maybe she’d get lucky and go unnoticed.
Thwack! A thick notebook smacked her on the back of the head and landed in the floor at her feet.
She turned, rubbing her head. “Ow! That hurt.”
Tommy Ledbetter stared back, his eyes wide. “Sorry, Four-Eyes, it slipped!’
“Sure it did.”
The back of the bus dissolved into laughter.
Lauren turned her head toward the window to hide the tears welling in her eyes.
Really, God, she offered silently, is this necessary? If you kicked Pharaoh and the Egyptian’s butts, how hard would it be to smite a few eighth graders?
The bus stopped to pick up another group of kids, all of whom avoided Lauren like the plague.
Plagues, God, where are the plagues? Lauren continued her silent prayers. Frogs would be perfect- Grady Middle School, overrun by frogs. At least THINK about it.
“Hey Four-Eyes, hand me back my notebook.”
Lauren ignored him and the giggles that accompanied anything he said. Tommy was the most popular boy in school, a fact that was completely unfathomable to Lauren. She was not the most popular girl. In fact, she wasn’t even close. It wasn’t that she was without friends; it was just that none of them attended Grady Middle School. Her two best friends, Lacy and Melissa, went to Bethany Christian. Lauren had to be content with seeing them on Sunday’s and at their weekly youth meeting.
“Yo Four-Eyes, are you deaf as well as blind? I need my notebook.”
Lauren looked at Mrs. Bevin, the bus driver. Not once in three months had she intervened, but Lauren could always hope.
You know, God, that death-to-the-first-born thing you did seemed to do the trick. I’m not sure if Tommy has an older brother, but if he does, he’s probably just as bad. I wouldn’t let that worry me.
The bus shuttered to an unexpected stop and Mrs. Bevin opened the door. The Thomas house had recently sold, and Lauren, along with everyone else, turned to see the new kid that had moved in.
A tall boy with wavy, brown hair hesitated at the front. He was wearing a Braves t-shirt and carrying a Nike backpack.
Lovely, another jock. You couldn’t send a girl?
The boy moved forward, and then sat next to Lauren.
“Is this okay?”
Lauren nodded stiffly then rested her head against the window, waiting for the next painful blow. She didn’t wait long.
“Hey, look, Four-Eyes has a boyfriend!”
Lauren felt the heat flood her cheeks.
God! Didn’t you fill the Egyptians mouths’ with flies? This would be a perfect time for that!
“Smoochie smoochie. Four-eyes is in LOVE!”
The bus erupted into laughter.
Humiliated, Lauren couldn’t even glance at the new student.
Maybe I can walk to school from now on, she thought. What is it, four miles? I could totally do that.
The boy beside her shifted to look toward the back of the bus.
“Hey, Doofus. Aren’t you Tommy Anderson?’
Lauren stared. No one ever called Tommy Anderson names. Ever.
“What’s it to you, loser?” Tommy called back, elbowing his friends, and grinning.
“You’re the basketball player, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right. So?”
“So my dad’s the new basketball coach. From what I hear, you might want to spend more time on your grades and less time picking on girls. F’s don’t cut it with him.”
“Dude,” someone said, laughing. “You got a F?”
Lauren smiled, the first one since she’d gotten on the bus.
“Hey, no problem. There were jerks at my last school too. I learned you better stand up right away ‘cause it only gets worse.”
Lauren laughed. “Well, you just stood up to the biggest jerk at Grady Middle School. I’m Lauren, by the way.”
“I’m Moses, but my friends call me Mo.”
“Moses? Like the bible, Moses?”
He laughed. “That’s the one. I guess you’ve heard of him.”
“You might say that.”
“So, you want to do a poor kid wondering in the desert a favor, and show me around the school today? I‘ve got classes all over the place.”
“Sure,” Lauren answered. She turned back to the window to hide her grin.
Okay, God, I admit that’s pretty cool. Not as good as swallowing Tommy up in the Red Sea, but I’ll take it.
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