tagNovels and NovellasThe Only Constant is Change Ch. 01

The Only Constant is Change Ch. 01

byMinstrel_Blue©

Any sexual activity is between 18+ year olds.

***

Ch. 01 - New Kid

It's tough, always being the new kid in school. It's even worse when you're not even starting the first day of the term. But that's the life when you grow up in the military. It's better now than it used to be, but the needs of the service still outweigh the needs of the family. And so, nearly 3 weeks into the fall semester of his senior year of high school, Jeremy Halperin found himself walking the halls of Winfield Senior High School, Home of the Cyclones. It probably wasn't much different than New World Technical, his most recent stop along the academic road, except for one thing: it was coeducational. The "NeWT School," as it is known, is a boys-only magnet school for science and technology. Naturally, as a typical teenager of the male variety, Jeremy was looking forward to seeing real, live girls in his classes. Still, the main point in favor of WSHS, and why he really wasn't all that concerned, was that it was the last stop. Come spring, he'd be a high school graduate, ready to head off to college or whatever. He was hoping that he'd at least have enough time before graduating to make a few friends. Otherwise, it could be a long school year.

He wasn't necessarily looking forward to having learn new names and faces again, but he was used to it; that didn't make it easier, though. He'd been fortunate that they'd stayed at the last duty station for longer than usual, nearly 5 years. The tradeoff had been that he'd made some good friends there, just in time to say goodbye. Oh, his buddies had thrown him a going away "party," but they mostly just sat around and played video games like always, with the addition of some bitching about the injustice of it. And now he was having to start all over, again.

Jeremy's father, Samuel, had just finished up a distinguished Army career. He wasn't a war hero, but he'd volunteered and trained to be one; he'd done some overseas time, but hadn't seen any significant action. Now, after shuffling from post to post about every 42 months over his 26 years of service, dragging his wife and son with him, he was tired. He just wanted to go back to where he'd grown up, reestablish his roots, and focus on his family. Hard as it had been moving so often growing up, often wondering if he'd see his father alive again, Jeremy was looking forward to the promised stability.

Jeremy remembered where the school office was after coming in last week for enrollment. He made his way there to check in and get his course schedule. The woman behind the counter looked up as he walked in. "Can I help you?"

"Yes ma'am, my name's Jeremy Halperin. My family just moved here and I'm supposed to start school today. They said I needed to check in here to get my schedule?"

"Oh, so polite! Most of the boys can barely mumble out their name, much less look me in the eye. Maybe there's hope for your generation yet." She shuffled a few papers around and said, "Ah, here we go. This is your student ID. Make sure you take care of that. Every student has a spending account tied to their ID card. It will work for the vending machines, as well as to pay for lunch. Says here that your parents put $100 on it last week, so you don't want to lose it.

Here's your student handbook, make sure you read that over in the next few weeks. And, finally, here's your schedule. It looks like you have Classical Fiction with Mrs. Walker in room 201 to start the day. Do you remember well enough from your tour how to find it, or would you like me to walk you down?"

"I'm pretty sure I can find it, thanks."

"Here's your check-in form; give that to Mrs. Walker when you get there. Before you go, I better give you a pass. The bell's about to ring and she's a stickler for punctuality." She scribbled something down on a pad, tore it off and handed it to him. "Welcome to WSHS, Jeremy. We're glad to have you here."

He thanked her as he took the pass, then hoisted his backpack and headed off to meet his fate. As he'd suspected, it was no trouble finding the classroom. But he was still 3 classrooms away when the last bell rang. "Oh joy!" he thought. "This means I get to see everyone's happy, friendly faces all at the same time when I walk in late." Sure enough, opening the door caused all the students' faces to swing his direction like they were watching a tennis match. It was a little humorous, if you hadn't seen it several times before.

The teacher looked at him expectantly. "Yes?"

"Uh, Mrs. Walker? My name's Jeremy Halperin. I just transferred here and I believe I'm in your class this period." He started towards her to hand her his check-in form, but on his second step he caught a shoelace and stumbled; he barely managed to avoid face-planting, but the damage was already done. His face was crimson and his ears were ringing with the snickers of his new classmates. He could see a little smile on Mrs. Walker's face, too.

Jeremy had learned long ago that a little self-deprecating humor went a long way, so he sheepishly grinned as he handed her the form and his tardy slip. He said, "Sorry, I just got these feet and they're not quite broken in."

"I see," said his teacher, as his classmates broke down. "Well, tread carefully and find a vacant seat so we can get started."

Scanning the rows, Jeremy spied an open seat near the windows and made his way over there. Gathering his supplies, he made eye contact with a studious looking girl next to him. He gave her a smile, which she returned before directing her attention to the teacher.

Settling in, he started a little game he'd developed over the years, seeing if he could guess the names of students based on their appearance. He'd never actually gotten it right, but it was surprising how close he got. The big preppy jock guys usually fell into one of two categories: either a pretentious name like "Holden" or "Maxwell", or some bro moniker like "Chip." Likewise, the girls were "Buffy" or "Cassandra" or some such thing. The nerds seemed to have strong, but common names, like "William" or "Cynthia." And it never failed that the nondescript kids who didn't fit easily into a category had equally nondescript names like "John."

He didn't know what that said about himself, since he didn't think "Jeremy" was particularly pretentious, or serious, but it wasn't as common as John. Of course, matching the name was only the first stage in categorizing the other students. There was a second stage, too. Kids don't have a choice about the name they start off with. But when they figure out who they want to be, and the name didn't match that self-image, they'd change it. Those were the kids Jeremy found the most interesting. It was like a metaphor about knowing yourself, something that his dad had always stressed.

"You're going to run into a lot of people in your life, Jeremy, from all walks. You'll meet people who look like you, who look nothing like you, and everything in between. There will be rich people and poor people, people who will be friends and people who will be enemies. Those differences are what make life interesting. But no matter how much you think you know about someone, they'll always have secrets, things that will surprise you. That makes them variables. Not inherently untrustworthy, but still unknowns.

When you have goals in your life, someplace you want to be, the only certainty you have is yourself. You know your thoughts, your emotions, your capabilities, and you have a better idea than anyone how you'll react when the pressure is on. Too few people spend time getting to know themselves that way, and it makes the path so much harder to walk."

Looking around the classroom, Jeremy got the sense that there were a lot of Johns and Janes around him. On the other side of the room but in the same row, there was a gamer - classic pasty white skin offset by a head overgrown with dark brown hair - in his mind the kid's name was "Sean." Directly behind Sean was a meathead. That guy looked to be well over 6 foot tall, with a heavy set body. His choice of football jersey-as-attire marked him as a jock, but he looked more like a kid who'd always been bigger than everyone else than an actual athlete. He looked like a "Jimbo."

Mrs. Walker was describing the 9 levels of hell from Dante's Inferno. Jeremy had actually read the book before, so he was able to zone out a little longer, which meant getting back to naming the other students. Seated near the back of the room, seemingly more interested in whatever conversation they were having than anything the teacher had to say, was a pair of gossip girls. These were a matched set of pretty blondes decked out in fashionable sleeveless collared shirts over jeans. From where he sat, Jeremy could see they had perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect makeup, and manicured fingernails. He thought of them as "Jenna" and "Gina," liking the alliteration of their names.

Shaking himself from his musings, he turned to focus on his note-taking. As he did so, he realized that as he'd been checking out his fellow students, a cute little pixie was watching him from one of the seats near the front. He thought of her as a pixie as much because she wore her light brown hair in a pixie cut as he did because she was clearly just a tiny slip of a girl; she couldn't have been more than five foot tall. Her bangs were long, so she had to cock her head a little to get a good look at him. He was caught off-guard by her eyes, though. They were intensely blue; the effect was exaggerated by her fair complexion, broken with a sprinkle of freckles over her cheeks and nose, but he still thought they were beautiful. She had a little smile on her face, and he saw a sparkle in her eyes, like she knew a secret she was dying to share. She looked away first, but Jeremy was sure she'd winked at him as she did. And just like that, Jeremy decided her name would be something wild, like Calypso.

The rest of the class passed without incident, but as the bell rang, Jeremy felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to find a guy a few inches short of his own 6 feet, lean in a way that suggested "skinny" more than "exercise," with a mop of dirty blonde hair and wire rim glasses. The guy extended his hand and said, "Welcome to WSHS. I'm Adam Jordan, but most people just call me AJ. If you need any help around here, just let me know. I moved to town about 4 years ago and I remember how lonely it felt being the new kid."

"Thanks," Jeremy said while shaking his hand.

Leaning in, AJ lowered his voice and said, "That," nodding towards Calypso, "is Jess Harper."

Jeremy was a surprised that anyone had seen him looking at her; he hadn't thought it was that long or obvious. "How'd you know I was looking at her?" he asked.

AJ laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "Jess likes to have fun, and her version of fun is to tease us poor mortal boys. She thinks it's hilarious to see how much she can get away with when a guy can't do anything about it, like in class. I knew you were in for it as soon as you sat down." As they made their way out into the hall, he asked Jeremy what his next class was.

He looked at his schedule and said, "I've got History with Stevens, and Calc I with O'Reilly before lunch."

"Ooo, tough break on O'Reilly. Ms. Baxter teaches the other section, and she is hot. I don't know how much I'm learning about calculus, but it's a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Mr. O'Reilly is retiring at the end of the year and I'm pretty sure he used up all his patience for students about 30 years ago. You'll probably like Dr. Stevens, though. He has this routine, sort of a mantra or poem that he recites every Friday. Every Friday he adds a line to it, so it gets longer through the semester. It's all life advice, you know 'If you drink, don't drive' kinds of things, but it gets pretty funny by the end.

Anyway, come find me at lunch and I'll introduce you to some other people. Lunch is bad enough without having to eat alone, too."

The boys parted ways and the rest of the morning was uneventful. Jeremy did like Dr. Stevens, and he was looking forward to Friday's recitation. Mr. O'Reilly reminded him of a teacher he'd had last year at NeWT. Mr. Jamison was an older teacher too, and he could be short with the students. What Jeremy had found, though, was that he just wanted the students to try. Once he'd realized that, Jeremy could see why so many students frustrated the teachers, and he made it a goal not to be one of those guys. He had a feeling that Mr. O'Reilly wanted the same thing, so he didn't see any problems on the horizon.

Lunch was a new experience. WSHS had its own kitchen and staff that produced your typical cafeteria fare, but the school district had contracted with local fast food joints to operate sort of a food court stall on a rotating basis. So, Mondays were pizza, Tuesdays were burgers and fries, etc. Jeremy grabbed a pepperoni pizza and a bottle of water. While checking out at the cashier, he could see AJ waving from a table nearby.

He made his way over and AJ started making introductions. "Hey guys, this is Jeremy Halperin. He's the newest inmate here at WSHS." Pointing around the table, he said, "Jeremy, this is Mark Childs, Rob Thompson, Hank Tucker, and that's Hank's girlfriend, Ava Powell."

Ava exploded. "Are you kidding me? You're going to start that crap again with the new guy?" She turned to Jeremy and explained, "We are not dating. Hank's a great guy, but we've known each other all our lives. We live on the same street, our families are good friends, all that. Last year, we decided to try a date to see if there was anything more there. But we both agreed," looking at Hank, who had a sheepish look on his face, "that it was too much like dating a sibling, so we called it off. And these jokers haven't let it go yet. Makes me wonder why I even hang out with you guys."

"Oh, come on Ava. If you didn't go off like a lunatic every time I brought it up, it wouldn't be nearly entertaining enough to keep doing it. But if it bothers you that much, I offer my deepest apologies and promise that it won't happen anymore." AJ almost looked contrite, but even Jeremy could see that it was a pie-crust promise.

"Whatever. You should keep in mind that I know some things about you too, AJ." Ava looked at him fixedly, "Girls talk."

Whoa, that hit the spot. Whatever it was that Ava knew, AJ shut his mouth and spent the next few minutes focused solely on his tray. While he was preoccupied, the others at the table got a chance to find out more about Jeremy.

Mark asked him, "What brings you guys to town?"

"Well, my dad grew up here. He just got out of the army and wanted to move back home. We've moved around a lot, and this was the only place any of us really have a connection to. When my grandpa passed away last year, he left us his house in town and some land, so it seemed like a good fit."

"Where's the house?" asked Rob.

"You know that old Victorian over at the corner of 9th and Market? Kind of two-tone blue, with the turret and the wraparound porch? That's us."

Rob was excited. "I love that house. I've ridden my bike past that house so many times. My aunt and uncle live down the street, and AJ lives just a couple of blocks from there, right AJ?"

AJ nodded, "Yeah, over on Commerce Street. We're practically neighbors. That's awesome."

"That house made me start thinking about becoming an architect. It has...character. Most of the newer houses look like they got pushed out of a giant cookie press," Rob said.

"Like I said, it's been in the family for years. I think Grandpa Halperin kind of lost interest in keeping it up when my grandma died, so there's some work to be done. But I remember visiting when I was a kid, and it was just about the best place I could imagine. My grandma always made chocolate chip cookies when I was coming, and my grandpa showed me how to do some woodworking in his shop in the basement, and he'd take me fishing at the pond on our land." Jeremy sighed, "I miss my grandparents. It's kind of weird living there, knowing they're both gone. Even though I've only been there off and on over the years, it's the only place I've ever thought of as home."

"Well then," AJ said, "let me be the first one to say, 'Welcome Home.'" The others joined in, and the rest of the meal was spent getting to know each other a little bit better.

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by Anonymous

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by Minstrel_Blue07/21/18

Ch 02 is Coming

I promise that Ch. 02 is on its way and will be longer. Ch. 03 is done and will be submitted soon.

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by UltimateHomeBody07/21/18

Good start

Keep the chapters coming.
I think there are over 3000 words per Lit page. Of course depends how many extra lines you throw in.

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by Anonymous07/17/18

A nice refreshing story with lots of potential!

You're an excellent writer, and I'm looking forward to reading all the new submissions.

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by Harddaysknight07/16/18

Readers are not looking for sex scenes right away.

That is not what will make your story succeed of fail. It will be the actions, adventures, emotions, and interactions that will get readers' attention. Do not try to force sex scenes thinking it will bringmore...

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by Minstrel_Blue07/16/18

Thanks

I appreciate the comments. This is my first submission and didn't know exactly how long it would go. This is the beginning of a much longer series. I have several chapters written, and will be submittingmore...

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