The First Day of School

brentwood_mo_high_school

My father is a construction manager and because of his career, we have to move around the country every few years.

In my 15 years, I have lived in six different states: New Mexico, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Louisiana, and now Kansas.

This past summer, my father was hired to work on a project near Wichita, Kansas. We moved to a small town named Whitewater that’s just about a half hour drive from the city. It’s a quiet, secluded place with nice people, but it’s close enough to Wichita that my dad doesn’t get stuck in a ton of traffic every day.

Anyway, this meant that I had to go to a brand new school where I knew nobody. I understand how it could be a rough experience for some kids, but I’m so used to it that it doesn’t really seem to faze me. I’m a sophomore now and I’ve only got three years to go until college. This will probably be the last time I switch schools.

Luckily, there aren’t exactly a ton of kids that go to Whitewater High. It’s not a very highly-populated town and everyone is pretty close. With how friendly everyone is here, I didn’t think I’d have a lot of trouble meeting some people I could hang out with.

The first day of school was actually the first time I had been to Whitewater High. It wasn’t too impressive; my last high school in Louisiana was much bigger.

The only thing that stood out was a large bronze statue of a basketball player in front with a No. 14 on his jersey. I didn’t have time to look at the plaque in front of the statue since I was running a little bit late, but I figured I better learn if I want to be a part of this community.

I introduced myself to the short, red-haired girl next to me, told her I was new, and asked her about the statue.

“Oh, that’s Kerry Gosselin,” she replied. “He’s the best athlete to ever come out of Whitewater, that’s for sure-”

“Cool, thanks,” I interrupted, stressed out about getting to class in time. “Nice to meet you!”

As I walked in I noticed a red and yellow banner hanging over the entrance.

“Welcome to Whitewater High: Home of the Comets – 2001 State Basketball Champions”

Wow, this town won a state championship? Hardly anyone lives here! That Kerry guy must have been amazing, I wondered.

On the wall next to the office was a huge picture of the 2001 team. I noticed Kerry and his No. 14 jersey right away: a gumpy-looking kid, pale as could be and with some visibly crooked teeth, but quite a bit taller than most of the other players.

After putting my backpack in my locker and grabbing some books for math, my first class, I realized I had more than enough time until class started. The clock in my mom’s car must have been running fast.

I decided to check out the school a little bit and I ended up in the gym.

A couple of men that seemed to be in their mid-30’s were shooting basketballs. One of them ran over to grab a drink and, to my amazement, it was Kerry!

He looked exactly the same as he did in the picture – and even the statue, albeit a little older. Whoever was hired to make that statue must have been pretty damn good, I thought.

He was extremely tall. I realized that I only came up to his shoulder, and I’m not short by any means.

“What’s up?” he said with that same crooked-toothed smile.

“Hey are you Kerry?” I asked hastily.

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “You must be new around here.”

Duh, of course he was Kerry, how stupid could I be?

“Just moved here from Louisiana, this is my first day,” I answered. “Are you the gym teacher?”

“Nah, I’m not the gym teacher, we just like to come back and shoot around every once in a while. What’s your name?”

“I’m Conner, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too Conner,” he replied. “Hey, you’re new, I guess you haven’t heard about this gym being haunted?”

I laughed.

“No trust me, it sounds crazy but I’m telling the truth,” he reacted. “I’ve got stories I could tell you, but…I’ll just wait for you to find out on your own.”

With the time approaching 7:15, I had to get to class. We said our goodbyes and I headed off to math.

Haunted, I thought. That seems pretty cool! Once I get some friends, we’ll have to explore it before or after school some day.

I had heard my share about Voodoo when I lived in Louisiana, but never saw anything that suggested any of it was true. Maybe this place will live up to the hype. Kerry seemed like he was being pretty honest.

I sat down just before the bell rang. My teacher was an older man named Mr. Thomas. He had long, silvery-gray hair, a mustache, and glasses. He kind of resembled Albert Einstein in a way.

“Ok class, before we get started I see we’ve got a new student,” was the first thing he said. I guess literally everyone in this town knows each other.

After introducing myself, he asked what I thought of the school and the town so far.

“I’ve only been here a couple weeks, but everyone here seems really down-to-earth,” I said as he smiled and nodded. “I also just found out that the gym is haunted, so that’s pretty cool.”

Some of the kids in the class snickered. Shoot, Kerry was playing a trick on me. I should’ve known.

“Haunted? Who told you that?” asked Mr. Thomas.

“Kerry Gosselin,” I answered. “He’s in the gym with a couple other guys from that championship team.”

Suddenly, everyone’s snickering went silent. Their smiles all became glares.

“That’s not the way you want to start off here, Conner,” said Mr. Thomas. “Not funny.”

“What do you mean?” I said anxiously. “I just saw him in the gym right now. Same guy as the statue and on that picture by the office I’m sure of it.”

“Yeah, did you read what it said on the statue or the picture?” he snapped. “During their spring break trip to Hawaii, the team’s plane crashed into the ocean. Kerry and the rest of those guys have been dead for 15 years.”

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