Into the Unknown

by Katrina, Age 14 , Grade 8, Model Lab, Richmond, KENTUCKY USA
Teacher: Travis Marcum


Alex made the prediction that middle school was going to be the absolute worst. He had been homeschooled his entire life, in his house just outside of Creede, Colorado. It was a very rickety old town with only around four-hundred residents, but Alex and his mom, Elizabeth Blaire, were just fine with it.

It wasn’t until one day that Alex’s mom wanted to move to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She had told Alex that the view was wonderful and it would provide a great opportunity for Alex to make some friends.

Yeah right, he had thought. Friends. Alex wasn’t much of the social type, but wherever his mom, went, Alex went. It was just how it was. Even if Alex argued, he would end up agreeing with his mom some way or another. So, they packed their bags and headed out to the unknown.

Alex and his mom found a nice cabin on the outskirts of Gatlinburg. Even though there were a lot of tourists all year, the town itself didn’t have very many people. Sure, it was more than what Creede had, but it was still quite nice.

Now that everything was settled, Alex’s mom enrolled him in Pigeon Forge Middle School. Big whoop. He wasn’t going to make friends anyway. He had seen it in movies. There was this new kid who managed to get bullied and never made a single friend. When he told his mom, she wouldn’t budge. She had just gotten a new job too, so he basically had no choice. Still, when the first day of school came, he dreaded it.

Alex’s mom knocked on Alex’s half-open bedroom door. “Alex, time to wake up,” she said. “Today is the big day!”

Alex rolled over and put a pillow over his head. “No, let me sleep forever,” he complained, his voice muffled.

His mom laughed. “Well, if you’re willing to do it the hard way, I won’t stop you!” she said, pulling off his covers and taking the pillow off of his head.

With no way of going back to sleep, Alex sat up and sighed grumpily. “Mom, school is obviously gonna suck. Why can’t you let me sleep?”

“Now how would you know that? You’ve never even been inside a school before,” his mom replied sassily, putting her hands on her hips.

Alex stared at her blankly. “Well yeah, but-” he sighed. “You know what? Forget it. Let’s just get this over with.”

“Heck yeah!” his mom pumped her fists in the air. “Anyway, when you’re done getting ready, come downstairs. I’ll be fixing a quick breakfast before you head out,” she said while ruffling his hair.

Alex pulled away. “Mom, I’m twelve. I’m too old for that kind of stuff now,” he said

“Not in my mind you aren’t!” she called back, walking out of the room.

Alex couldn’t help but smile. He had to admit that his mom was  pretty cool. They had a strong bond. Since Elizabeth was a single mom and Alex was an only child, they had to look out for each other.

Alex’s dad, Barry Blaire, had died in a severe car crash before Alex was born. Alex never got to know his dad, but he often wondered what it would be like to have a father. It was kind of hard for him to only have a mom.

Alex slipped on a pair of black sneakers, jeans, and a simple flannel shirt. He knew he looked like a lumberjack, but it didn’t matter. He looked in the mirror, looking at his messy brownish-red hair and brown eyes.

“Perfect,” he said to himself sarcastically and grabbed his sketchbook. You see, Alex was quite the artist. Some would call him a prodigy. But when you finish your homeschool classes early, what else could you do?

Alex yawned and grabbed his backpack, walking down the creaky stairs. He heard the sizzle of bacon as his mom put some on a plate.

“You better dig in, if you don’t leave soon you’ll be late for your first day,” she said, giving him the plate of bacon.” Do you have everything you need?” she asked, a look of concern on her face

Alex shrugged. “I’ll be fine mom. And yeah, I have everything I need.”

“Oh, I’m gonna miss you so much!” his mom said, giving him a tight hug.

Alex’s face flushed in embarrassment. “Relax, mom. I’ll only be gone for a few hours,” he said, awkwardly hugging her back. Alex looked at his watch. It was 7:30. “I gotta go,” he said, pulling away.

“Bye sweetie!” his mom said as he was starting to walk out the door. “Love you!”

Alex turned back and smiled. “Love you too, mom.” he walked out, closing the door behind him

Usually Alex would take the bus, but because the school was only five minutes away, he decided to walk. It was a good time to take in his surroundings and to learn where everything was. It was so new and nerve-racking, but yet he was kind of excited about it, too. It was a fresh new start, one that he had control of. The only hard thing would be trying to make friends. He wasn’t too good at that.

Alex was so lost in his thoughts that he bumped straight into someone, causing their books to fall to the ground.

“S-Sorry!” he exclaimed, scrambling to pick up their books. He looked up to see a girl that looked around his age with curly golden-brown hair.

The girl smiled. “It’s fine,” she said, helping him pick up her books. “It was an accident.” When they both stood up, the girl cocked her head. “Where are you off to? I haven’t seen you around before.”

“I’m going to Pigeon Forge Middle, and I just moved here from Colorado.” Alex said, trying not to act awkward.

The girl thought for a little bit. “Oh! So you’re the new kid!” she said. The girl had seen Alex once or twice with his mom. She basically knew everyone in town. “My name is Astrid. Astrid McMann,” she said, shaking his hand.

“Um, Alex,” Alex  replied, shaking her hand back.

“I’m going to Pigeon Forge Middle too,” AStrid said. “We could walk together, just in case you get lost.”

“O-Okay,” he said. Alex had already memorized the route, but it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone.

Astrid noticed the sketchbook in Alex’s arms. “Are you an artist? That’s awesome. I can’t draw, but I sing and play ukulele,” she said.

Alex looked at her. “That’s awesome!” he said. He had always wanted to play an instrument, but every time he tried, he failed miserably.

The two middle schoolers continued to talk about their interests all the way to school. Alex started to think he might like this place.

But it was only the beginning.

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