They say that everyone is really good at something. I’m not good at much, but I can fold an awesome paper airplane. And that is where the trouble began.
Between classes, I had bragged to my friend Zach that I could make the best paper airplane. That’s why we were sitting in the back of Mr. Cochran’s 8th grade math class, secretly making paper airplanes. I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t get the folds just right working on it in my lap in the shelter of the desktop.
Mr. Cochran was droning on about stuff that I learned on my own a couple of years ago, so I didn’t feel bad about not paying attention to him. If Zach missed something I could always explain it to him later.
You could say that Zach was my best friend. But then, he was my only friend. I don’t start conversations so I don’t meet new friends unless they are like Zach. At the beginning of the school year, he came up to me and introduced himself. While his personality is totally different from mine, we both like video games, especially Minecraft. We are also both into electronics and other nerdy kind of stuff. He is very outgoing and has a bunch of other friends. Still, he makes time for me.
My plane was complete and so was Zach’s. Zach mouthed that we should throw them forward when Mr. Cochran turned around. This is crazy, but awesome, I was thinking. We watched. He turned. We lifted our planes. He turned back. We hid them quickly. Mr. Cochran gave a suspicious glance our way but went on talking and turned to write something on the whiteboard.
That’s when we struck. Both planes took to the air above the heads of the kids in front of us. As I thought, mine flew better and farther. Too far! Mr. Cochran turned around just as the plane came right at his face! He just barely dodged it and grabbed it as it bounced off the whiteboard. The room erupted in laughter. For a moment, I was in heaven. Other kids were laughing at something I did that was not embarrassing. Visions of sudden popularity flashed through my brain.
“Silence!” Mr. Cochran roared. “Who threw that?!”
The fingers pointed at me were too many to count. Mr. Cochran’s eyes pointed at me. I swear I could almost see steam coming from his nose and ears.
“Mr. Clarey, you will head straight to the principal’s office!” His voice was loud and stern. I imagined a roaring locomotive of words heading straight for me and I was tied to the tracks.
Perhaps I should explain something to you. I have what is known as High Functioning Autism or HFA. A lot of people call it Asperger’s Syndrome. I can tell you more about it later but what you need to know now is that my brain can get overwhelmed under pressure. Right now, Mr. Cochran was bringing on the pressure.
“I said, head to the principal’s office, NOW!”
I could no longer look at him. I buried my head in my hands and started rocking. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Zach get up.
“Zachary, sit back down! Mr. Clarey, GO TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE!”
I heard the door open and close. I heard Mr. Cochran walk towards me.
“William Clarey, this is your last chance. Get up and go to the principal’s office or else.”
My thoughts were locked in a loop. I blew it. He’s overreacting. I can’t handle this. I blew it. He’s overreacting…
I could feel his presence. I felt his hand grip my upper left arm. I locked my grip on the desk and kept my head down.
He tugged. “Move it! NOW!”
I gripped the desk harder.
“Stand down Mr. Cochran,” came the calm but firm voice of Ms. Elliot. She was the special education teacher. Zach must have gotten her. I hate the term “Special Education” but right now, Ms. Elliot was an angel. “Continue with your lesson. I’ll take care of Wil.”
“He needs to be disciplined!” Mr. Cochran grumbled.
“He will be, appropriately.” Then, to me she touched me lightly on the back and said, “I am going to pull up a chair next to you Wil and when you are ready, we’ll talk.” Then she just sat silently. She knew me well. She knew that, unlike a lot of people with HFA, I did not mind being touched by people I trust. She also knew that I would come out of my “defense mode” (that’s what it is officially called) once things around me calmed down.
With the attention off of me, I was able to come out of it in just a few minutes. We then walked out of the classroom quietly. I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just say I had to call my mom that day and she had to take me home early. I was so glad that it was almost summer!
Incidentally, Mr. Cochran doesn’t even know my real name. Neither do you and I am not sure I want to tell you. Let’s just say that I go by “Wil”, with one “l.”
Copyright 2016 Richard D Solano