Prompt: He’d never had trouble on his first day of school before. This year was different. Everything was wrong.
It all began as he stood at the corner waiting for the yellow bus with some of the other kids that lived on the outskirts of town and didn’t have their own means of transportation. Kevin saw his mother jogging up the block in her faded pink evening gown with her night robe flapping out behind her like a chicken frantically trying to take flight. Her hair was still up in rollers, putting her haggard appearance on full display as she huffed and puffed closer to him. Horror kept him rooted to the spot, and he was powerless to stop her short of rushing into the group of his peers, shouting his name. She stood before him, taking a moment to catch her breath, then she held out a lunch pail that actually belonged to his younger sibling. Across the front were the smiling faces of over primped female cartoon characters of his sister’s current fad.
“You forgot your lunch,” She said, then forcefully pulled him into a tight hug and kissed his cheek. “Have a good day at school.”
Kevin could hear the murmurs around him as he mother turned and waddled barefoot back up the block. His cheeks were burning and when he came to his senses there was giggling from a pair of girls. He shoved the lunch into his backpack and moved to the edge of the curb to stare down at the road. He took a couple of deep breathes then noticed that his socks didn’t match. The autumn weather allowed him to continue to wear shorts, and somewhere in his rush to dress that morning, he hadn’t taken notice that one of his white socks had taken on a pinkish hue.
It was almost too much to handle for Kevin. A moment more he might have decided to turn around and walk home, but the bus pulled up to the curb and Kevin decided to press on with the day. Missing the first day of school would not go over well with anyone. He sat mid-bus and found himself staring into the face of a young girl with wide eyes that was peering at him from over the back of her seat.
“What?” He snapped.
She ducked down but didn’t disappear entirely, “He spit his gum there.”
Kevin stared blankly at the girl, registering the words, but not eager to look down at his seat. He should have gone home when he still had the chance. Should have waited until after lunch to go to school and claim he had over slept. With effort, Kevin decided not to make a spectacle of what gummy mess the back of his shorts might have become, and turned his head to gaze out the window.
School had never been easy for him, but it also had never been hard. First days were annoying at the worst, but not end of the world bad. This year aspired to break the mold, showing him that all his previous years had been a cake walk in comparison. He never should have laughed at that Chinese lady spouting off talk about bad luck when she had caught him smacking his friend with the straw end of a broom. She had jerked the broom out of his hands and her rant had dissolve into her native language while he and his friends slipped away with grins upon their faces. It had all seemed silly then, but the events of the morning was starting to change Kevin’s mind.
His outlook didn’t change when the bus pulled up to the school and he calmly peeled himself off the seat. He scraped the gum off with his fingers the best he could and wiped the pink mush under the seat before following her peers off the bus. He made it as far as the sidewalk before his heart began to race. This wasn’t his school. He currently stood outside of the rival school across town. Kevin spun around to dart back on the bus only to have the doors snap close inches from his nose. He banged on the glass with the palm of his hand, “Hey! This isn’t my school!”
The driver glared at him and drove off, leaving Kevin despairing where he stood in the middle of the drop off zone. Honking from a second bus forced him to retreat to the sidewalk. He pushed against the kids getting off the new bus and fought his way to the open doors. He grabbed on to the side to keep them from closing on him. “The bus dropped me off at the wrong school!”
“Na-uh,” The woman responded while gesturing for him to let go of her door. “You must have been at the wrong pick-up.”
“I’ve ridden that bus since second grade and it’s never taken me here.”
“Not my problem,” With a firm jerk of her hand, the drive began to shut the doors. Kevin reflexively jerked his hand away to avoid losing a finger.
Kevin pinched at his own arm in hopes that the worst day of his life was nothing more than a dream. He didn’t wake up, but at least he was panicking too much to really feel the pain from the self-inflicted wound. Kevin, fueled by the adrenaline of cold fear, began to run. He might be able to make it across town and to his own school in time for first period if he was lucky.
If he was lucky. Everything about the day told him that he was one of the most unlucky kids in existence. Kevin was reminded of this theory-cum-fact as a he passed an alley and a dog caught sight of him and began to chase after him. His body suddenly became streamline and he ran like he was the wind. He dodged around the postman like a NFL tight end would a bulky defensive lineman. He cleared a iron-wrought fence like an Olympian hurdler. He was the most athletic man alive for five full minutes, then the dog caught up to him.
Teeth sank into his heel, and Kevin managed to wiggle free of his shoe as he fell onto the sidewalk. He scrambled away on hands and knees and fumbled for the zipper on his backpack. He pulled out the pink lunch pail, flicked the latch open and threw the baloney and cheese contents at the mutt as he might chuck a grenade at enemy forces. That is if enemy forces could out run him on four legs and had a considerably short attention span.
Kevin began to run again, making it two blocks before he dared to look behind him to see if he was being pursued. Clear of any potential canine threats, Kevin doubled over and tried to catch his breath. When he looked up he found himself in the business district of his hometown. Not too far away he spotted the cartoonish cat figure that sat in the window, waving its left paw at passing customers. A lucky cat. It was the fixture of the local Chinese restaurant, and the very spot where Kevin was certain all his troubles started.
He stood up, brushed himself off, and walked into the shop. There were no customers this early and the morning, and the woman behind the counter was one Kevin recognized as the one who surely had cursed him. Kevin rushed up to the counter to confront her, but his anger dissolved into desperation, “How do I get rid of the bad luck?”