Do you ever miss fictional characters?
I definitely do, and that especially goes for ones that I’ve written. Griffin from A Feeling Like Home was so fun to write, and I’ve thought a lot about what he’s up to after the book ends. Poor Griffin goes through it and I like to think he’s out there living his best life. Here is a peek into the first day of senior year for Griffin (spoiler alert!):
I’m not ready for a new school year.
Last year at school I had my girlfriend Paige. We did everything together. Now Paige isn’t even here and I have no one to eat lunch or sit in the back of classes and pretend to listen with. No one to show my paintings to or vent about my dad’s nonexistent parenting skills to. Even though she’s dating someone new and moved to Texas over the summer, we still talk. But it’s not like it used to be.
So I figure I can either walk in to senior year with zero friends or I can skip. The bell rings and everyone else in the parking lot files inside. They’re all grouped together, talking loudly with friends. I put my hand on the steering wheel and dump my backpack in the passenger seat next to me. Yeah, I’m out of here.
My phone buzzes just as I’m about to pull out and drive toward Starbucks.
Paige: Report back after school. I need to know if Mrs. Dane still pops her knuckles every five minutes. This is important
Her text makes me laugh. Which is probably the point. I didn’t tell Paige that I was dreading school, but she most likely picked up on it. She’s smart like that.
She’s also stubborn. If I don’t actually report back she will blow up my phone. I sigh and turn off my car. Better late than never, I guess. I trudge into school, thinking of all the stupid questions people will ask about summer break. Teachers always want your experience in essay form, like I did enough to write a whole page about.
“We should probably walk in together. Maybe we won’t get in trouble that way.” A chipper voice calls.
I turn to see a tall girl with super-long black hair and black boots on. She’s staring right at me like I’m supposed to know her. I’ve never seen her before in my life. I blink. “Um, what?”
“Yeah,” she nods. “If we walk in together, we can tell the front office that your car broke down and I was helping you fix it. That’s why we’re tardy. But obviously to make it believable we need to exchange names. I’m Maeve, and you are?”
Her face is dead serious but her eyes sparkle. I can’t tell if she’s joking or not. “I’m Griffin. Do you know how to fix cars?” To be honest, she doesn’t look like someone who doesn’t know her way around a car. I wouldn’t be surprised, is all I’m saying.
Maeve shrugs. “I know enough. I’m guessing you’re more into art?”
The way she’s squinting at the delicate black paint splattering on my jeans catches me off guard. There’s something very direct about her. She acts like it’s normal to walk up to someone and ask about their life. I’m not shy about my art, but I never bring it up to anyone outside of my art classes at school. It’s kind of personal.
“I paint some,” I say. I take a deep breath and pull out my phone. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I scroll through my photos and hold one up for her to see. “This is my favorite piece right now.”
It’s splatter paint on a canvas I painted black. Then I dripped white, grey, and baby blue over the top and sides. Depending on which way you look at it, it’s a cloudy day with just a hint of rain or the Washington coast or a spilled bowl of cereal. I’m pretty proud of it.
“Wow. It’s gorgeous.” She smiles and my stomach tips over. Maeve’s smile is this slow sunbeam effect that makes her whole face glow. I like it. “I’d love to see more of your stuff.”
I feel like she really means that. “That would be cool,” I say.
She tosses her hair over one shoulder. “So, should we go in?”
I follow her inside the building. “We actually can go straight to our homerooms. We don’t have to go to the office,” I tell her, taking the lead. While we walk I point out some of the classrooms and teachers to avoid. I tell her about Mrs. Dane’s knuckle cracking. She tells me about the school she just transferred from, some uptight private school across town. I’m surprised that talking to her is the easiest thing I’ve done in a long while.
We stop in front of the same homeroom. Maeve does a double take and we both laugh. “Wait, seriously? We have the same teacher right now?” She nudges the door with her hip. “Ready? Remember the story, okay?”
I touch my temple and wink. “I’m on it.” It sounds crazy, but maybe this year won’t be so bad after all.