Reggie's Journal

Chapter 1

Entry 1

 

I hate creative writing. I mean I really, really, really hate it. Like I hate it to the 18th power. School just started yesterday, and I already hate it. The first day went well. I liked all my classes. I’m a sophomore this year, so I took all the easy classes last year. I was looking forward to being challenged, but a journal?

That’s right. Mr. Byrd is going to make us keep a journal until after Christmas vacation! It’s the first week of September! That’s four months! God, I hate creative writing to the 941st power.

It’s not the writing I hate. I love to write. I’ve even written a few short stories. One appeared in our school newspaper when I was in the sixth grade. It was about a boy who found an injured wolf and nursed it back to health. After tending to it for two months, he finally released it back into the wild. Every day that wolf would come to the edge of his yard and wait for the boy to appear at the door. After the boy waved at him, he’d disappear back into the forest. The teacher gave me an A+. My parents were thrilled when she called them and asked them if it could appear in the newspaper. I don’t know why she didn’t ask me. I would have told her yes.

But a journal? You should have heard the other students groan when he passed out the handout and explained what he wanted us to do. Of course, everyone wanted to know how much of our grade it would affect- 60%!!!! That means if I passed everything else with a 100%, the best grade I could get out of the class is a D-!! So I’m pretty upset right now. I hate Mr. Byrd, and I especially hate creative writing to the 1498th power.

Like everyone else in the class, I immediately headed to the counselor’s office right after class. There was a line of about twenty students. Mrs. McDonald, the sophomore counselor, informed us that changing a class was not something that could be done easily. First, we’d have to take a class change form home to have our parent’s sign it and agree to the class change. Then, we had to give a reason for wanting the class change. I don’t think putting I hate creative writing to the 3284th power would be a good reason. So I spent the rest of the day thinking of a good reason. In sixth period, Jenny Stephens told everyone she had a good one. She said she wrote that creative writing was not a college prerequisite class. It was worth a try, but we all knew Mrs. McDonald wouldn’t buy it. The class we were taking first period was an AP class.

I gave it a try, though. After dinner, I asked Dad if I could talk to him- in private. I already knew what Mom’s answer would be. She’d be thrilled that I was taking the class. She tried to talk me into taking journalism last year so she could read some of my articles. I managed to convince her that I didn’t have the time because I was a freshman and I didn’t want an extracurricular activity to affect my grade. But since I had all A’s last year, I doubt she’ll accept that excuse this year.

I knew that getting Dad to agree was a long shot. He’s a college professor. To make it even worse, he teaches 19th Century British Literature. My excuse had to be good, but it wasn’t. Actually, his exact words were, “That’s a bunch of bull.” All I told him was that I wanted to devote more time to reading Shakespeare’s plays this year. I hate Shakespeare almost as much as I do Mr. Byrd and creative writing. But if I had to endure torturous hours of reading the most boring plays ever known to modern man, then it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. When he got through laughing, he asked me the real reason I didn’t want to take the class.

I thought about telling him that I didn’t think Mr. Byrd was a good teacher. But if I told him that, he would have gone to school to meet him. Actually, Mr. Byrd is a cool teacher. He’s not too old. I guess he’s probably around 30. And even though I’ve only attended two of his classes, I can tell he’s really knows what he’s talking about. Yesterday, he told us he wrote for the Wall Street Journal for four years before deciding he wanted to teach. Dad would really be impressed with that. So no, I can’t use the bad teacher excuse.

After sitting quietly for a couple minutes as my mind tried to come up with something he’d believe, nothing popped up. Even the college prerequisite excuse didn’t work when he noticed it was an advanced class. I couldn’t do anything but get up and leave when he tore the paper up and tossed it into the waste paper basket beside his desk. He was telling me how much I’d benefit from the class as I left.

So right now I’m writing the journal. According to Mr. Byrd, no one would read what we write. He said we were free to write whatever we want. The journal was to help us grow and learn more about ourselves. So I’m going to test whether he’s reading this.

I HATE WRITING THIS JOURNAL, MR. BYRD!!

Now I’ll see if he reads that. If he says something to me, then I know I’ll have to be careful what I say in this stupid thing.

I’m going to write down what we’re supposed to do just in case I loose the assignment sheet. We have to have 16 entries, one a week until after Christmas break. We don’t have to bring the journal to class except on Fridays. He said he’ll walk around the room, and we have to show him that we’ve written something for the week. He expects us to write five or six pages, single spaced if we type it. If we write it long hand, then it has to be 10 to 12 pages long.

YOUR MOMMA IS SO SKINNY SHE WIPES HER BUTT WITH DENTAL FLOSS

In the journal we are supposed to write down our feelings.

I’M SIXTEEN, MR BYRD. I DON’T HAVE FEELINGS

 We’re also supposed to write down how we feel about things that happen in our life.

I THINK I HATE THIS CLASS TO THE 6739TH POWER

He tried to get us excited about this stupid project by explaining how much it will help us discover who we are, and that we will better understand ourselves.

I DON’T CARE, MR BYRD

 After we return back from Christmas break in January, he wants us to write a paper about what we learned about ourselves by keeping this journal. Again, he says no one will read it, but how can he give us a grade on something he doesn’t read?

YOU’RE FULL OF IT, MR BYRD

However, it’s going to count as almost half our grade. They don’t even give out a failing grade in an AP class. If I don’t do it, then Mr. Byrd will call my parents and schedule a conference. So I’m screwed. I can’t get out of creative writing. I guess I’m going to have to do it whether I want to or not. This journal is going to have so much manure in it, a farmer could fertilize his crops for a year.

IF YOUR BRAIN WAS CHOCOLATE IT WOULDN’T FILL AN M&M

 If you read this, Mr. Byrd, I’m just kidding. Hehe.

Another thing that he is going to do is give us a prompt each week to help us write in the journal. When he told us about them, they sounded like they could be personal. We don’t have to answer them, but he says they will help us better understand ourselves.

I’M JUST FINE THE WAY I AM, MR BYRD

This week’s prompt is easy. He wants us to tell something about ourselves. Then he wants us to pick one word that would best describe us. That may be hard, but I’ll give it a try. No one is going to be reading this stupid journal anyway.

YOU BETTER NOT BE READING THIS STUPID THING

 Okay. I guess I’ll get started. Tonight I’m going to write something about myself. I guess I’ll get the easy stuff out of the way first. My name is Reginald Kaylor Faulkner, but everyone calls me Reggie. I hate Reginald. It makes me sound like I’m from England or something. I think it was Dad’s idea to name me that. It was probably the name of some British writer. I’ve never really asked. I know that Kaylor was my grandmother’s maiden name. That was my mother’s contribution.

I’m fifteen and a sophomore at Fairhaven High School. I’ll be sixteen next month, October 21. I can’t wait to turn 16 so I can get my learner’s permit to drive. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing this stupid journal. I knew if I argued too much with Dad over this creative writing class, he might remember it when I ask him to let me sign up for a driver’s ed class after school. I can hear him now lecturing me about responsibility. I don’t know how a creative writing class can even compare to driver’s ed. But he’s smart enough to figure out a way of doing it and then tell me I can’t drive.

I’ve already talked about my dad. Let me see, he’s forty-two and tall. I’m only about 5’9” the last time I measured myself a year ago. I may have grown an inch since then. I had to buy some new pants because the kids at school began asking me when I was going to start building an ark. Dad is pretty cool. He’s really smart, probably one of the smartest people I know, but I’d never tell him that. Maybe when I get older I will. He stays pretty busy. If he’s not at the university, then he’s in his office working on the next day’s lecture or grading papers. He’s also writing a book about Shakespeare. He’s written two other books. One was on John Keats, and the other was about Alfred Tennyson. I tried reading one of them once, but I fell asleep in bed.

Mom is also a teacher. She teaches third graders. Sometimes she gets on my nerves because she talks to me like I’m one of her students. I’m almost sixteen, not eight. Other than that, we get along pretty well. She’s also a great cook. She makes some of the best spaghetti. I should be fat, but I’m not. I’m slender. Some people call me skinny, but slender sounds better. On a good day, I may weigh 135 pounds. Mom is always trying to fatten me up, but I don’t want to look like some of the guys in my class. I get all grossed out when I see them change in gym. Some of them need to exercise more often.

So my Dad a professor, and my Mom is a teacher. That combination made me smart. They said I was reading before I started walking. English and history are my favorite subjects because they involve more reading and writing. I do all right in math and science, but I’m not an analytical thinker. I’d rather write an essay than work a geometry problem. I took a test in my psychology class last year, and it said I was a right brain person.

Let me write down my schedule.

1st period- Creative Writing Mr. Byrd

2nd period- AP Geometry Mrs. Reynolds

3rd period- AP Chemistry Mr. Archer

4th period- AP U.S. History Mrs. Carter

5th period- AP American Literature Mrs. Griffin

6th period- French II Ms. Neuman

So I have a pretty hard schedule. Since most are advanced placement classes, I have to work harder than most students. I don’t mind because I like learning. Besides, I don’t have anything else to do when I’m not at school.

I guess it says something about me when the prompt word I’ve decided that best describes me is lonely. I’m not lonely because I’m ugly or anything like that. Let me test first to see if Mr. Byrd is reading this.

YOUR NOT STUPID YOUR JUST POSSESSED BY A RETARDED GHOST

I also know that I’m misspelling you’re, but I want to see if Mr. Byrd corrects it. Now though, if he is reading this, he won’t.

Dad just stuck his head in the door and told me it’s time to go to bed. It’s 11:15. So I’ll try and write more tomorrow. It’s Wednesday and the first entry isn’t due until next Friday.

Okay, I’m back. I brought this stupid thing to school today. I’ve got it hidden inside my book bag because if anyone finds it I’ll be in some deep doo doo. I’m in 2nd period geometry. I’ve finished Mr. Archer’s assignment in twenty minutes so I don’t have anything to do.

In Mr. Byrd’s class, Abe Foreman had a really good idea. If he doesn’t get caught, I may try it. He said he’s going to write something for the first page and last page of his journal. He said most teachers only read that anyway on most of our papers. He says they want to make sure we introduced the paper correctly and then have a good conclusion. They often don’t bother to read the rest of it. He says he learned that from his brother in college. Anyways, he’s going to write a first page and last page. Then he’s going to fill in the rest by copying something like a fairy tale or few pages from our literature book. He’s going to try it next Friday and see if Mr. Byrd notices. He borrowed his little brother’s book about Rapunzel. Everyone is now going to be watching to see if Mr. Byrd notices. If he doesn’t, I’m going to copy a few pages from Wuthering Heights next week. Okay, gotta go. The bell is getting ready to ring.

Okay, I’m back. I just reread what I wrote last night. I just hope Mr. Byrd was telling the truth when he said he wouldn’t read why we write.

WHEN YOU FELL OUT OF THE UGLY TREE YOU MUST HAVE HIT EVERY BRANCH ON THE WAY DOWN

I am in some deep doo do if he does read this. I don’t know why I said that the best word to describe me would be lonely. That sounds kind of sad or something. I’m not really sure what I mean by that. I’m not really good at expressing how I feel. Everyone expects me to be this intellectual kid since my Dad’s a college professor and my Mom’s a teacher. All we talk about is books and news. We don’t like watching television except the nightly news when we’re eating dinner. The kids at school talk about shows they watched the previous night but I have no idea what they are talking about. I’ve tried to watch a few, but most of them seem to insult my intelligence. I’m not sure who they think their audience is, but judging by some of the stuff I’ve seen, they must think we are morons with an IQ of 60.

I guess that sounded somewhat condescending, didn’t it? I mean I’m smart, but I don’t go showing off to people. Actually, I’m rather introverted. I wish I could be more extroverted, but it’s not my nature. I’m not shy, though. I have a lot of friends at school. I just don’t say much to them. Most of us have attended the same classes since elementary school. We tested higher than the other students, so they placed us together so we could advance faster than the rest. We were doing algebraic equations in the fourth grade and dissecting frogs in science.

It also ostracized us from other students. How many fifteen year olds know the meaning of ostracized? There are twenty-two of us, and we’ve been called a lot of names since elementary school. It’s gotten worse since we arrived in high school. Other students avoid us like we have leprosy or something. I guess that’s why I don’t like the words geek or nerd. I’ve heard those names a few thousand times. That reminds me, I have to get a better picture to put at the top of this journal. This one really, really makes me look like a nerd. I’ve got to learn to handle Mom’s stare better. Maybe I’ll ask someone to take a picture of me today. My hair is longer and isn’t combed back like a geek. And I honestly don’t have a pocket protector on my shirt filled with pens. In the seventh grade someone asked me where mine was. I came home that night and asked Dad. When he got through laughing, he explained what it meant. I didn’t think it was very funny.

Now where was I? I tend to get distracted because my mind works that way. The good thing is, it may help me fill in the pages of this stupid journal. I still can’t believe I have to do this for the next four month. Okay. I was trying to discuss the prompt. I’m not really lonely, but I can’t think of a better word right now. I’ve got plenty of friends at school. Well, 22 to be exact. But when I come home, I’ve got nothing to do. I guess it’s in my room where I feel really lonely. I’m an only child, so I don’t have any siblings to fight with. I don’t know why my parents never had any more children. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I was a mistake. My mom was raised a catholic, so she doesn’t believe in abortion. I don’t know what I’d do if I ever found out my parents never planned me, and I was here because they couldn’t just get rid of me. I guess it really doesn’t matter, though. They are great and no one could have better parents.

Okay, I’m back. Mom called me down for dinner. I read that last line, and I thought about dinner. Dad talked about a research project he’s working on. Mom was fretting about one of her students who she suspects may be abused at home. Not once did they look over and ask me how my day was going. So I’m reevaluating the word great. Maybe they are just good parents. We get along really well on a simple level. But if I dig deeper, then I realize that a lot is missing. By parents are there, but they’re not involved. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all.

God, I just realized something. Maybe this is what Mr. Byrd meant by the journal helping us understand ourselves better. If this is what it’s going to do, then I don’t know if I want to continue writing in it. Maybe Little Red Riding Hood might be better. I’m going to stop for now.

IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS, YOU MUST BE THE HAPPIEST PERSON ON THE PLANET

           

Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature who was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grandmother doted on her still more. This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her. It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood.

One day her mother, having made some cakes, said to her, "Go, my dear, and see how your grandmother is doing, for I hear she has been very ill. Take her a cake, and this little pot of butter."

Little Red Riding Hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother, who lived in another village.

 

Okay, I’m back. I chickened out. I was going to do what Abe said, but I was afraid Mr. Byrd would notice and I don’t want to fail the class. Dad and Mom would really be disappointed and they would never let me get my learner’s permit if I did get caught. So I guess I’ll continue writing in this stupid thing.

I guess I need to clarify something. I love my parents. I really do. But sometimes I just miss doing things with them like other kids do with their parents. Joey Winters dad takes him fishing every weekend. It sounds like they have a really fun time. His dad has his own boat and they go out on the lake almost every Saturday. I keep hoping he’ll ask me to go, but he never has. I’ve tried to hang around in the kitchen when Mom cooks so I can learn how to prepare my own meals when I get older. It would be fun just to spend some time with her. But she always runs me out and tells me I’m in the way. So I end up in my room- alone. Sometimes I just sit by the window and stare out of it. Sometimes I sit there for hours. We live in a really big house in a subdivision outside the city. It’s isolated with a small forest behind the house. I like to watch out the window to see if any deer will wander onto our yard. I like watching deer. They seem so free and independent. They walk around nibbling on the grass. When something distracts them, they lift their heads, listen to see if they are in danger and then run away. Sometimes I would like to be able to do that, just run away.

IN THE DICTIONARY UNDER THE WORD STUPID, IT SAYS SEE MR BYRD

 

Okay, I’m back. I really don’t like doing this. I went yesterday to see Mrs. McDonald to discuss having my schedule changed. I was even honest with her. I told her I didn’t think I could write Mr. Byrd’s journal. I even tried to cry, but I’ve never really had a lot of experience doing that. I gave her every argument that would come to mind. Of course, she was prepared with a response. I guess she’d already heard it many times before. I felt I almost had her convinced when I told her that the journal was 60% of my grade, and that if I didn’t do it, I’d fail. But then she suggested that she’d be willing to work with me after school to formulate ideas. Formulate ideas? I’ve already formulated an idea, Mrs. McDonald. I don’t want to do this.

I’LL TRY BEING NICER IF YOU’LL TRY BEING SMARTER

 

It’s Wednesday and I’ve got to let Mr. Byrd see that I’m doing it. It’s supposed to be 5000 words and I still need to write about 1000 more. I don’t know what to write. I’ve already answered the prompt question. Well, I read back through this and I guess I didn’t really answer it, but I answered it enough. I’m not very good at talking about myself.

I guess I could talk about the rest of my family, but there isn’t much to say. My dad’s parents live on the other side of the country. They moved to Florida when I was a little boy. I’ve seen them a total of three times. Once was when I was ten and they came to stay for a week. The only thing I remember is I had to give up my room while they were here and sleep on a cot in the living room. We didn’t live in this big house then. We were living in a small two bedroom house. We have visited them twice in Florida. Once when I was eight, and the other time was two years ago during the summer. They live by the Gulf, and I spent the first day swimming in the ocean. The other five days I spent inside with my mother rubbing my badly sun burnt body with lotion.

My dad has an older brother, and my two cousins are at least ten years older than me. I’ve only met them a couple of times. They said hello to me and then pretended that I didn’t exist.

My other grandfather is dead. Mom said he died in a car accident when she was the age I am now. It must have been really hard on her. I’ve tried to ask her about it, but she changes the subject. There is a picture of him on the downstairs fireplace mantel. My grandmother is probably the neatest person in our family. She lives nearby and comes over at least once a week. She plays bingo at least three times a week. She’s about the only person who can make me laugh. Last year she took me with her when she went to bingo at her church. About halfway through, she pulled out a flask and drank some gin from it. My grandmother was drinking inside a church! She told me she’d disinherit me if I told Mom about it. I love my grandma.

My mother also has two sisters and a brother. I have six cousins on my mother’s side. And I hate all six of them. The oldest is 19 and the youngest is 8. They think I’m some kind of a dork just because I make good grades in school. The oldest cousin, Kyle, has been suspended from school three times for fighting. He’s big, fat and ugly. I hate it when they visit because he comes up to my room and looks around. He then spends the rest of the time ridiculing me because I have so many books. He probably hasn’t read a book since the first grade.

CALLING YOU STUPID WOULD BE AN INSULT TO STUPID PEOPLE

 

I’m going to bed now. Only about 400 more words to go.

We’re in big doo doo. Mr. Byrd told us first period that we had to count the number of words we write each week and put them at the end of our journal entry. So six of us are sitting her writing at the lunch table to fill up our paper. I think I’ve got more than the rest. However, Lauren looked over and noticed my big letters and told me I was cheating and that I shouldn’t count those. I’m also going to include the words to Little Red Riding Hood, even though I scratched those out. Mr. Byrd won’t know. Fingers crossed.

So we’re sitting her basically BSing our way through this journal. Amy is writing about the time she cut her finger with a knife and had to have eight stitches in hit. I counted and it took me 21 words to tell that. Add that 11 more for the last sentence. Hey wait! I could keep doing this until I get enough words. Hehe.

Richard asked me if I wrote about my interests. He would. He only participates in about every extracurricular activity not involving sports that the school offers. He tried to talk me into joining the Chess Club last year. Chess Club! All I would need would be a pocket protector to completely certify that I am a 100% loser.

Besides, all my interests are for losers. I like to read and write. That is I like to write except writing in this stupid journal. I like to read the classics because that is what my parents had me start reading at a young age. I prefer American literature to British. I guess that was one gene I didn’t inherit from my father. Occasionally, I like to read fantasy books. I’ve read all the Harry Potter series. The past year I’ve started reading vampire novels. Many of them are corny, but if the writer is good, he or she can usually hold my interest. I like some of the Ann Rice books until she started writing religious stuff. There’s a few really good writers on the internet who have written some good material too.

I spend a lot of time on the computer. Many of my classes require extensive research. Our class never cuts and pastes like they do in some of the others. It is completely taboo to do so. Plagiarism is a certain failing grade. If we do cite a source, it has to be footnoted. I’m glad I don’t have to do that with this journal. It is the only redeeming quality about it.

Yippee! I’ve got over 5000 words. Now I have to cross my fingers and hope that Mr. Byrd keeps his word and doesn’t read this. If he doesn’t, then maybe next week I can write more about things. I guess it will depend on the prompt.

I still hate writing his stupid thing. (I made it little in case Mr. Byrd does notice the final page.)

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