It’s December. Christmas is 12 days away and now is the time to show love to the most important people in your life; friends, family, your partner, pets, and whoever else deserves warmth this holiday season. After Christmas comes the New Year, which means celebration and another opportunity to tell others how much you really appreciate their existence. With these occasions, we can also put our issues aside and focus on pure happiness. We can move from our past and focus on improving ourselves. Renewal is crucial for self satisfaction and a positive outlook on the days to come. No one is perfect, so starting fresh is something every person can do.
Joseph Camden was always an outcast; an introvert. He wanted nothing more than to make the world a better place. He felt that the new city he moved to was appealing because of its characteristics; a small, suburban town where with a population of less than twenty-thousand. Yet, the school he was forced to attend was the worst part. Oasis High School was known as the grey area, where students never performed up to standards. Students were left to learn without guidance or expectation, which helped OHS become notorious for lack of intelligence. Students at Oasis High were destined to fail.
On the first day of school, Joseph knew he didn’t fit in. The atmosphere of the campus was unwelcoming; like a heavy fog in the woods. He walked with discomfort as he passed by people. Boys chanted, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” in the bathroom and girls reciprocated stares like a group of vultures eyeing their prey. Joseph had a feeling he wouldn’t last.
“Excuse me, do you know where room 109 is? I’m new.” he asked a student, who he thought seemed different than the rest.
“It’s on the other side of campus, in the science building. Follow the stone path all the way down and take a left. You can’t miss it,” she replied.
“Thanks. What’s your name?”
“Mia. Mia Kayla.”
“I’m Joseph, but you can call me Joey.”
“I can show you the way to your class, if you’d like? Mine’s along the way.” She seemed comforted by him.
Mia gave Joseph some tips on getting through school such as staying below the radar and not hanging around after school. Halfway through their walk, she got interrupted by a voice from behind.
“Well well, who’s this? I’ve never seen him around!” the guy asked Mia furiously.
“Look man, she just offered to walk me to-,” Joseph intervened. Students nearby began to slow; heads turned to listen to the argument.
“Oh, shut up!” Jacob cut off Joseph. “I don’t wanna hear anything from you, ‘new boy’. This is between me and my girlfriend!”
“Jacob, you’re being stupid! I’m told, this isn’t what it looks like!” Mia rebutted.
“How can I believe anything you say! You know what, whatever! And you, ‘new boy’, you better watch yourself.” Jacob stormed off with his fists clenched.
Mia apologized to Joseph. “I’m sorry.” She walked the rest of the way alone to class while Joseph stood in shock and fear.
Joseph reached the science building and found Mr. Oaht’s class. He trudged past a slender man who greeted him at the door, then proceeded to an empty seat. He sat down and looked for something interesting, but saw nothing but gray. He began to contemplate his experience on his first day at OHS. Everything in the school was bland. To Joseph, it was a prison without bars. Where was the spirit and liveliness around here? The peace? The order? He panned over a room of students flipping desks and drawing vulgar images on the board. The bell finally rung.
“Morning class, I’m Mr. Oaht. This year will be different. Let’s be honest, none of you are going to go on to be successful. I’ve tried for many years to give you all a drive to be somebody in life. But, I’ve realized now that my attempts have failed, and as a result, I won’t attempt to teach you. Do what you please.” Moments later, one student came crashing through the classroom door. Joseph turned pale.
“Didn’t I just finish talking to you? This is ridiculous.” Jacob seemed cocky.
“Look man, what happened earlier wasn’t my intention. Today’s my first day at this school. I didn’t mean for it to look like I was flirting. I just needed help.”
“You think I care? I’m not gonna say it again. Stay away from my girl!” Jacob said as he got in Joseph’s face.
“Believe what you want. You can screw yourself if you wanna get mad over nothing.”
“What’d you say to me?” Jacob became aggressive. Students stopped what they were doing to look in the boys’ direction. “Are you deaf? Can you not hear me?!”
“I said screw yourself.” Joseph stood up out of his seat, calm and easy about the situation. Jacob pushed Joseph. “Whoa man, relax!” Joseph’s voice grew louder and slightly aggressive. “I don’t want any problems!”
“It’s too late for that. You see these students? This school? We’re in a place where there are no rules. No one cares if you choose to ruin your life. And you’ve done exactly that by insulting me and my personal life.” Jacob pushed once again. Mr. Oaht glanced, unresponsive. It seemed as if this school was a living hell. “Fight!” He began throwing punches while Joseph absorbed them and screamed for Mr. Oaht to help, unaware that even the teacher didn’t care.
“Jacob, please! I’m sor-,“ Jacob threw another punch. Crimson red blood ran down Joseph’s nostrils. He fell to the ground. Students once again chanted, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” Two teachers finally arrived and restrained Jacob while Mr. Oaht realized he should call the ambulance. The students in the room showed no sympathy; their faces expressionless. Officers arrived on scene; red and blue lights covered the grey walls of the school while students disregarded the situation. This isn’t the first homicide attempt they had witnessed at school. Mia looked at Joseph through her classroom window as he was carried to the ambulance, realizing it’d be the last time she saw him. The ambulance departed and the blank atmosphere returned.
Joseph had a vision: to start little by little. He wanted to feel safe and make a change. He tried to make himself clear that he never meant any harm, yet Jacob denied him. The school denied him. Society denied him. To the students at Oasis High, Joseph wasn’t meant to last. He was a failure in the eyes of failures.