Short Story About School
Locker 138 is the place where I met the best girlfriend I ever had and where I broke up with her. It’s also where I made about $300 off of letting people copy my homework. My Frank Sinatra poster was in the door, and I kept a lucky pencil from kindergarten in the back of the top shelf. It’s been a good two years here. I’m close to the bathrooms and vending machines. In three days I leave it forever, and someone new will have it.
Just like me they’ll make it their own. Just like I did from the person before me, and them before the prior. I don’t know who they were, but I like to think I do.
In 1928 the school was built. Randy just moved here from Oregon for his dad’s job. He was the very first to have locker 138. On the very first day of his freshman year he fell in love. He couldn’t talk to her. Every time he did he stuttered and got red. She felt the same way but he didn’t know. It wasn’t until a month before the end of the year that he finally was going to ask her out. He stuttered a lot and turned red, but she just smiled. They went out that night, and the night after that. They then would go out for rest of their lives.
By 1934 Jennifer finally decided she’d try in school. She had been suspended three times the previous year and she knew that pretending everything was going to be fine wouldn’t work out in her favor. The problem was Jennifer liked drinking and rock n’ roll too much. She’d sit against locker 138 during lunch to try to get all of her homework done that she didn’t do the night before. She told herself she was trying harder. It wasn’t until she failed half of her classes that she knew she wasn’t. Jennifer left school shortly after. No one ever saw her again.
It was the beginning of 1943 when James said goodbye to his best friend. He had already said it when Sam got shipped to Poland. Now James had to say it again when Sam got shipped back. James told him not to dropout to go into the army. Sam had always been smarter than James. He just didn’t apply himself. Their plan was to travel the world together. The last time James saw Sam was at school, at his locker, number 138. Sam came to visit him before he left. There wasn’t anything too weird about the last conservation; they figured they’d see each other again. James told him, “I’ll see you later…oh, and bring me back something nice.”
Christmas break 1950 just got done when Rich got a bloody nose. Tony, the cliché high school jock, pushed him right into his locker on the 138 sign, leaving a blood mark right over the numbers. It wasn’t abnormal. Usually every Tuesday and Thursday Rich expected to be pushed into the locker because that’s when Tony had to go through that hallway. Otherwise Rich could expect some cross-cafeteria insults on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays usually weren’t an issue. One day Tony tore up Rich’s homework. The next day Rich punched him in the face. The day after that Tony didn’t do anything to Rich, or ever again.
In 1956 Louise was new to the school. She changed schools a lot due to her parents never being happy anywhere they were. Since she changed schools so often she never really knew how to make good friends. For the first few weeks Louise sat on her own during lunch and in the back of class. To her right was locker 139, and to her left, locker 137. 137 was not a nice person. He offered her drugs a lot and then would laugh every time she said no. 139 was the best thing to ever happen to Louise. 139 was the only person to talk to Louise. Her name was Emily, and she and Louise became good friends.
After a normal night of being whipped by his dad, in 1968 Tommy finally cracked. He came to school the next day with his dad’s pistol. He hid it in his leather jacket. He left class early and waited by locker 138 for everyone else to get out. The gun was already loaded. Tommy didn’t have any vendettas against anyone coming out of the nearby classes. He just had a grudge against everyone. Society was the reason his dad drank. When the bell rang Tommy walked out into the middle of the hall. Students poured out and Tommy fired off six shots. Everyone ran away…everyone. Every shot had somehow missed. So Tommy ran too.
Some years later I came along-Brian.
Brian thought that it was a good thing to have as many friends as possible. Really, it’s not. It just makes the people who were good friends drift away. It makes class hard to go to when you’re invited to a party every night. It makes it hard to know who you really are. But, Brian had fun. He doesn’t know what he’s doing next, and he might even have peaked in high school, but he had fun. Maybe he’ll even leave his lucky pencil in locker 138 for the next person, try to give them a head start at doing high school right. Every time they’ll shut locker 138 it’ll echo through the hall just like it did for Brian, and everyone else before.
more by TYLER CLIFTON
photograph by Juan Di Nella