Monday, July 14, 2008

More Narviness!

Narvi Flan hated riding the school bus home only slightly less than he hated riding it to school. Narvi was not the most popular boy at Yonkender Middle School, but, to be fair, he was not the least popular. That honor, or dis-honor as the case may be, belonged to Matthew Meeks, the boy with the lazy eye who punched people between the shoulder blades really hard when they weren’t looking. Narvi’s popularity hung somewhere in the lower ranks of his classmates, poised between that of the alliterative poetry club and the Carnigan Quintuplets, five nearly identical brothers and sisters whose parents dressed them alike, according to the law of their obscure and unpopular religion. For all the ridicule these groups received, Narvi secretly envied their engroupment. They at least had someone to be unpopular with, or was it “with whom to be unpopular”? Narvi had not done well on his English exam today.

The bus hit another bump, sending Narvi skyward, where he hung, weightless, for a prolonged instant before crashing back down on the hard, grimy rubberized walkway in the aisle between the two rearmost seats on the bus. His grunt of pain drew snorts of laughter from the boys sitting in relative comfort on either side of him, three to a seat. It also attracted the attention of Mike the bus driver. Once or twice a week, Mike filled in for the lady who usually drove the bus. Narvi did not know her name, because all that she ever said was “Sit Down!” Mike, on the other hand, was a nice enough guy. He played the radio and chatted with the high school kids who got on first and were lucky enough to ride up front. He tended to drive too fast, take corners too hard and speed up for bumps, but most of the kids on the bus were appreciative of Mike’s attempts at enlivening an otherwise dull ride home. Today, Narvi’s backside ached for a bit less excitement.

“Get back in your seat!” Mike yelled back, his eyes flashed annoyance in the oversized rear-view mirror as Narvi resumed his seat on the floor in the aisle.

Narvi pursed his lips in grim determination before answering as calmly as he was able, “I don’t have a seat.”

“Well, find one!”

Narvi rose unsteadily to his feet, shouldering his backpack and swaying as Mike took another turn. He made his way slowly up the aisle, looking for an empty seat where he knew there were none. Kept after class. Last one on the bus. This was not a good day.

Narvi paused at last beside the seat occupied by the two Carnigan brothers in their matching button shirts and jeans and the neatly stacked tan totebags belonging to their three sisters who sat in the seat behind them. It was the only seat on the bus with only two occupants. Narvi pushed his thick eyeglasses a little further up the bridge of his short, upturned nose, brushed back the lank brown hair that clung to his forehead in the warmth of a late spring school bus, and cleared his throat to speak.

“Can I sit here?”

The Carnigan brothers looked up at him, and then each other. Frowning. Silently, they heaped the pile of totebags onto their laps and shifted toward the window, leaving a gap of about six inches on the edge of the seat. Narvi stared down dubiously at the narrow purchase. He was, after all, something of a “husky” boy. At least that’s how his mother phrased it when they went clothes shopping.

Another sharp turn and Narvi dropped unceremoniously into place, one butt cheek planted solidly in his portion of the leatherette seat, and one foot braced against the base of the seat across the aisle. Backpack balanced on one knee, he dug his fingers into the frame of the seat in front of him, steadying himself. It was better than nothing.

“Thanks.” Narvi told the nearest Carnigan. He really meant it.

The Carnigans grunted in response and returned to a whispered conversation, apparently interrupted by Narvi’s arrival.

“I think you should throw it away,” Joss Carnigan muttered, his voice disapproving.

“We don’t even know what it is!” Jessi Carnigan protested, his voice rising a little.

“Shh!” Joss admonished, “You shouldn’t have brought it to school.”

Narvi lifted his forehead slightly from where it rested on the nape of his backpack, stealing a glimpse. There was something in Jessi’s open palm. Small, caked in rust. Metal probably. A ring of some sort. No, too small. A pendant? What were the two little curving protrusions on either side?

A bump slammed Narvi’s backpack down hard on his leg. The metal point of his protractor jabbed through backpack, jeans, and flesh.

“Augh!” Narvi exclaimed, rubbing at the wound with his fingers. Dampness there. Gonna need some ointment when he got home. He looked up to meet the gaze of Janetta Pruitt the president of the drama club. Narvi smiled tensely. Janetta rolled her eyes dramatically and turned her attention back to her friends. Narvi glanced over at the Carnigans again who seemed unaware of his trauma.

“If you don’t throw it away,” Joss whispered darkly, “I’m gonna tell dad.”

Jessi said nothing, but the strange pendant was nowhere in sight.


Blogger Ginger Hunter said...

Good stuff, encore!

8/04/2008 09:37:00 PM  

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