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CHAPTER 1: THE WORST YEAR
Tomorrow is the last day of school, and I CAN’T WAIT FOR IT TO BE OVER!! This has been the worst year EVER! The bad part is that I don’t see how next year is going to be any better at all. Fifth grade was horrible—I’m afraid sixth grade will be EVEN WORSE. Why was it so bad? Where do I begin?
Top five reasons why fifth grade was HORRIBLE:
1. It’s school! I’m sitting at a desk ALL DAY.
2. I learned that I’m dumb! That’s right. All the other grades I thought I was “smart.” But this year was a FAILURE! I still don’t know my times tables! How the heck am I going to make it through next year?
3. School lunches. They call it “pizza.” I have no idea why. Since when does a piece of white bread count as pizza crust???????
4. Gym class. Most people like gym. But at my school we have “tests” and I completely stink. Especially at PULL-UPS. Guess how many pull-ups I can do? ZERO! I can do ZERO pull-ups! I’m a disgrace to ten-year-olds—and the whole class knows it. Even the girls. Especially the girls that can do more pull-ups than me!!
5. Field trips. Just like gym class, most kids like field trips. Well, we go to one place for field trips: Mount Tom. We go there in the fall before it gets too cold and in the spring when it starts to get warm. But here’s the thing: Mount Tom isn’t a mountain. It’s a lake. Here’s the problem: I CAN’T SWIM! I hid it pretty well during our fall trip. But this spring, kids noticed. “Why don’t you come out in the water?” “Why are you staying on the beach?” “Why don’t you jump off the diving board?” What kind of person can’t even swim? ME: That’s what kind of person! AAAHHH!
6. I know I said top five reasons, but there is one more, and it’s probably the biggest reason: Kenny Williamson. He is big and he is MEAN. He rules the jungle gym. He even calls himself “King of the Jungle Gym” or “King Kenny”!! If any other kids want to play on the jungle gym, they either have to be friends with Kenny or follow his “rules.”
All the teachers talk about how my school is “bully-free.” We even had a No Bully Day, where we talked about bullying and how bad it was and how we should tell the teachers if we saw it happening. Well, let me tell you, Kenny is definitely a BULLY, and he definitely is in my school. And no one says anything to the teachers about it!
Those are the top reasons that fifth grade was horrible, and sixth grade isn’t going to be much better! I can’t wait for school to be over tomorrow so the suffering can STOP and summer can START!
This summer is going to be AWESOME. Yes, it is cool that I won’t have to be in school—but something even cooler is happening. My uncle Jake is coming to stay with us for the whole summer!
He has been a Navy SEAL for eight years and is getting out of the Navy to go to college. Before he goes to college, he is going to stay with us the whole summer long. A Navy SEAL! FOR REAL. IN MY HOUSE!!!!!
Uncle Jake is the best. First, he is super cool because he is a Navy SEAL. He fought in real wars. My mom says he was “on the front lines.” That means he was face-to-face with the bad guys. Whoa! Uncle Jake is also awesome because he is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF ME. I am weak—he is strong. I am dumb—he is smart. I can’t swim—he can swim with a backpack on! I’m scared of bullies—bullies are scared of him!
Anyway, I haven’t spent too much time with Uncle Jake because we live in California, and he has been stationed in Virginia for a long time. I hope he doesn’t think I’m such a DUMB WIMP that he won’t even hang around with me! Maybe he won’t notice?
AAHHHHH!!! Of course he will. He is a tough guy! I’m a dork! Well, I guess I will find out soon.
CHAPTER 2: THE WORST DAY
Today was the absolute worst day OF MY LIFE. I know the last day of school is SUPPOSED to be fun, but let me tell you, it was miserable, horrible, awful, and terrible. How can that be? Where do I start?
First, it was Sports Day, which is SUPPOSED to be fun. It means we are out at the recess area all morning playing a bunch of games and challenges and stuff. Not just stuff like soccer and basketball but also things like three-legged races, bobbing for apples, and potato-sack races. We would do each activity for a while until we were told to “rotate” by the teachers, and then we would go on to the next activity. At first it wasn’t so bad. No one was taking it that seriously, and everyone was just kind of having fun.
That meant no one really noticed how LAME I was at all these different sports and games. Especially because Fred Turner was in my group, and he is even worse than I am at everything. So it wasn’t too bad.
UNTIL PULL-UP TIME. That’s right. One of the activities we were doing was pull-ups and push-ups and stuff on the jungle gym. WITH EVERYONE WATCHING! So I did what any smart, weak kid would do: I HID! I went to the back of the line and just kind of blended in. When the other kids would jump on the pull-up bar, everyone would count for them. Mike Swearington did eighteen. Billy Hacker did twenty-two! Jennifer Phillips, who does gymnastics, did twenty-seven!
There I was, standing in the back watching, hiding, and waiting for this to end.
Then, it was King of the Jungle Gym Kenny Williamson’s turn. He went up and did eleven, which is actually pretty good when you consider how HUGE he is. He didn’t seem to care, until someone yelled from the crowd, “He’s not as strong as he looks!” There was some laughter, and I saw Kenny getting madder and madder. He wasn’t sure what to do until he saw me looking at him, and our eyes locked.
He slowly raised his finger and pointed it straight at me.
“What about him?” Kenny barked. The crowd suddenly got quiet as Kenny stood pointing at me.
“He hasn’t gone yet! Let’s see what Marc can do!” This was pure evil. Kenny knew very well that I couldn’t do any pull-ups. He had seen me in gym class trying to do one for the last year and failing every time. I shrank farther back into the crowd. “Come on, Marc! Get on up here!” Kenny yelled.
At that moment, someone shoved me from behind, forcing me out of the pack and into the open. I couldn’t hide anymore.
Mr. Maguire, the teacher in charge of this activity, turned and looked at me. “Have you gone yet, Marc?” he asked.
“No, Mr. Maguire. But I’m…” I tried to think of some kind of an excuse. I’m sick? But I just did all the other games. I got hurt? But how could I get hurt watching people do pull-ups? The dog ate my pull-ups?
“Then jump on up there, Marc,” said Mr. Maguire with a stern but encouraging look. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
“Okay,” I said. I slowly made my way to the pull-up bar. The entire crowd was staring right at me. All I saw were eyes everywhere.
“Go ahead, Marc. Get up there,” said Mr. Maguire.
“Yeah,” shouted Kenny. “Let’s see what you got!”
I finally got to the pull-up bar and looked up at it. I wished so hard that this one time I could do some pull-ups. Or that I could just disappear. “Come on, Marc, let’s go,” said Mr. Maguire.
“Yeah, Marc, let’s go,” added Kenny, mocking Mr. Maguire.
The crowd became completely quiet as I reached up. I bent my legs, jumped up, and grabbed the bar. I hung there. I started to pull. Nothing happened. I pulled harder. Nothing happened. I wiggled my body around. Nothing happened. Finally, with all my might, I pulled as hard as I have ever pulled anything in my entire life. I went up about two inches, then stopped. I pulled more but didn’t move any higher. Slowly, gravity brought me back down. I dropped off the bar.
“ZERO!!!!!!” Kenny yelled at the top of his lungs. “A. BIG. FAT. ZERO.”
The crowd joined in: “Zero! Zero! Zero! Zero!”
I hung my head and tried to become invisible.
“All right, all right,” Mr. Maguire said, trying to quiet the crowd. “Not everyone can do a pull-up.”
Then, from the back of the crowd, someone blurted out, “He can’t swim, either!” Everyone laughed. Even though I know that not being able to do pull-ups and not being able to swim don’t make you a bad person, I had had enough. I could feel tears building up in my eyes. I didn’t want anyone to see me cry, so I ran. I ran off the recess field, through the courtyard, and behind the library, where no one ever goes. I sat down, and that was it. I cried like a little baby.
That was my last day of school.
Copyright © 2017 by Jocko Willink