Chapter Description: Tommy has Lunch with everyone thinking he's not quite all there, and suddenly being VERY nice to him.
Chapter 20: Out to Lunch
What is this feeling
So sudden and new?
I felt the moment
I laid eyes on you
My pulse is rushing
My head is reeling
My face is flushing
What is this feeling?
Fervid as a flame
Does it have a name?
By lunch time, Tommy was getting ready to yank his eyelids out. The fudge was going on? His entire class schedule was upside down, and he’d ended up in classes he didn’t even recognize with teachers he’d never met before.
Remedial Science with Mrs. Gee; Miss Ell had Remedial Social Studies; and Remedial Language Arts in Mr. Vee’s class. He’d gone from being a middle of the road student, to being in all the dumb kid classes! And by all that was right and good, how dumb did you have to be to reach eighteen years of age and not know that there were supposed to be three branches of government?! That was elementary level- maybe middle school- trivia at best.
Even the teacher’s names were dumbed down. Mrs. Ell’s last name was Lyons. Mr. Vee was really Mr. Vinkman. Mrs. Gee...okay, that was a legitimate nickname. Having to call on Mrs. Gronkowskovich constantly might be a mouthful.
But that was beside the point! This was wrong! Tommy shouldn’t be in the remedial classes with the dumb kids! He didn’t need things like accommodations, or modifications, or handicaps, or extra help.
He already knew all this stuff! He knew about food chains and producers and consumers, (not to mention apex predators). He knew that congress had two houses (otherwise known as “bicameral legislature”) He knew that Animal Farm was an allegory for the Russian Revolution (and what an allegory was).
What Tommy didn’t know is why he was in these classes, and why no one seemed surprised to see him there.
“Good morning, Tommy,” Mrs. Gee had greeted him with a smile and a little-too-sunny disposition. “Did you get lost again?”
“Yes ma’am,” Trevor had answered for him.
“That’s okay,” she’d said. “These things happen.”
And Tommy had been forced to thank Trevor and send him back on his way. Kids that Tommy didn’t know beyond fleeting glimpses in the cafeteria greeted him like they were old comrades, and Tommy was too shell-shocked to argue with them.
All morning had been a kind of drudgery: Colorful worksheets about the food chain, first period. Filling out a diagram of the U.S. government and their jobs on the most basic levels and a multiple choice quiz based on stuff that the teacher had just talked about during second period. Third period was illustrating a scene from Orwell and providing the appropriate matching text that the drawing was based on.
Instead of being bored by stuff that was too dry and complex, Tommy was being bored by stuff he had long ago mastered. This was stupid; practically baby stuff. The only thing he didn’t know was what was what new classroom to shuttle off to, but a new-old classmate would always take his hand and lead him in the right-wrong direction.
“This way, Tommy.”
“Wrong way, Tommy.’
Don’t get lost, Tommy.”
His new-old teachers seemed amazed and perplexed, too.
“Way to go Tommy Boy!”
“Tommy is having a really good day, today!”
Mr. Vee offered him a sticker and a tiny candy bar just before lunch. If only they’d been perplexed about why he needed to be in remedial Special Ed. Classes.
At least his lunch period was the same. Tommy sat by himself stewing over a plate of macaroni and cheese, trying to make sense of this brave new world that he’d awoken into and what people it had in it.”
He was aware of Amanda’s presence before she announced herself. He knew her by the silhouette of her shadow hovering behind him. He’d watched that shapely figure too many times to not recognize it. “Hey, Tommy.”
“Hey, Amanda.” Tommy didn’t look up. “Why are you eating alone?”
“I always eat alone,” Tommy said.
“He was like this on the bus.” Great. Cameron was here, too. “He’s off today.”
Amanda slid up next to him. Cameron took the other side. On any other day but today, he would have loved being sandwiched between these two. “Why aren’t you sitting with your friends?” Tommy looked where she pointed and saw the kids from the different remedial classes eating lunch together.
“Those aren’t my friends,” he told them.
“I see what you mean.” Amanda was talking over his head to Cameron. “Really off. Sick?”
Cameron shook her head. “I saw Katlynn feel his forehead. No fever.” Cameron looked at Tommy. “Do you want to talk about plays and stuff? Like on the bus?” Tommy stewed, unsure of what to say. “Maybe Spider-Man? You really like Spider-Man, don’t you?”
That’s where Tommy recognized that tone! Duh! It was the same tone that grown-ups...adults...used when trying to talk to little kids. Do you like cartoons? What cartoons do you like? Spider-Man?
Tommy looked at Cameron. “Why are you patronizing me?”
The girls stifled a laugh as if they’d been caught off guard. “Wow,” Cameron said. “How do you know that word?”
“How old do you think I am?” Tommy asked, heart pounding.
“Eighteen,” Cameron said. “Just like your big sister.”
Tommy stood up from the table, so angry he was ready to flip his tray and spill macaroni everywhere. “We’re twins! Just because she was born a few minutes before me doesn’t matter THAT much!”
“It’s just a joke, sheesh.” Belittling. Not listening. Emotionally tone def. That was a side of Cameron that Tommy was used to.
Tommy didn’t look at them, either of them. He just leaned forward, weight on his hands and panted. Somehow he’d gone to the puny poor loser to the stupid kid that everybody felt sorry for. He’d soared to new heights in Malacus and had plummeted even further as a result.
“Quit being such a B-I-T-C-H, Cameron.” Surprisingly, that came from Amanda. That was unexpected. “Tommy’s sensitive.” Tommy had never heard himself referred to as sensitive; not in a non-insulting way that is.
“Thanks.” Tommy was still staring off, still boiling inside.
“Welcome.” The girls got up to leave. “Take care, cutie.” She kissed him on the cheek. It was nothing. A chaste peck, but Tommy shuddered at the feeling of her lips on his flesh.
His bladder did too. The front of his Thomas the Tank Engine suddenly warmed and the wet spot spread down and out, quickly saturating and then spreading down the thick padding in his underwear. Quickly his bladder muscles clamped down and stopped the stream, but it was too late. He'd wet his pants in front of the two hottest girls in his class.
As if in reflex, his elbows bent and arms retracted up his size, seizing up and making his posture resemble a T-rex. His knees locked and his teeth gritted. He looked down to his shorts, fearing the worst. The good news was that there. The training pants had done their job. The bad news was that they’d had to do their job in the first place. That, and Tommy had the distinct feeling that if he sat down, he’d wring out some of the soaked up piss and end up with puddle marks on the inside bleeding out. Thomas the Tank Engine had only delayed the inevitable.
“Uh-oh,” Cameron said. “I’ve seen this look before.”
“What?” Amanda asked. They were talking over him again.
Tommy couldn’t quite understand them as they whispered, literally, behind his back, but what Cameron said sounded a lot like ‘fetish prance’.
“Tommy? Buddy?” Cameron asked. “Do you need Katlynn?” Her tone was soft and gentle, a grown-up trying not to make a little kid cry. Katlynn didn’t have this lunch, and she’d never let him live this down if she knew; or she’d already know and accept it as normal. Poor stupid Tommy wetting his training pants again. Tommy didn’t know which he dreaded more. “Do you need me to go get you the nurse? Would you like that Tommy?”
Amanda’s hand grabbed Tommy’s. “ Ugh. God,” she groaned. “You’re such a wuss, Cameron. I’ll take him. Come on, Tommy.” She pulled and Tommy followed.
All thought left Tommy’s brain for a moment. He was holding hands with Amanda Monroe! She slowed down and let him catch up to her, walking side by side. She was holding hands and walking with him!
Passersby were noticing, too.
“Hey, Tommy! Hey, Amanda!”
“Hey, Amanda! Hey, Tommy!”
“Sup, Tommy? Hi, Amanda!”
The girl of his dreams waved and said hi to everyone as she guided him towards the clinic. She was walking with him AND being seen with him. It was the smallest, simplest thing, but it was more than Tommy had ever rationally dreamed of. He barely felt the cooling wetness or the odd not-quite sloshing sensation as he practically waddled through the courtyard and hallways in his wet trainers. He was too busy feeling the heat surge through his entire being.
He’d gotten his crush to finally notice him and treat him as something other than a disgusting inconvenience... and all he had to do was wet his pants right in front of her.
Tommy was the first to step past the threshold; Amanda held the door open for him. “Tommy needs um...help,” she said.
The nurse sighed. “Again, Tommy?”
He blushed. “Yeah…?”
“See you later, Tommy. I’m gonna go finish my lunch.” And just like that, she was gone. Still worth it. Still totally worth it.
The nurse got up and opened a closet. From the closet she pulled out a ziplock bag, the words “T. Dean” written on it in black permanent marker. She took a thick pair of underwear and tossed it to Tommy. “Here ya go, kiddo.” A plastic grocery bag soon followed.
The underwear was thick and padded, just like his training pants; only not decorated...and not soaked with pee. Tommy looked at the pair of plain white trainers and back up to the nurse. “What now?”
“Now,” the nurse said, “you get your butt in that bathroom and change your underwear. You’re a big boy.”