"Things couldn't possibly get any worse. Its bad enough mom decided to move in the middle of the summer; she enrolled me into Michigan Valor Academy. She says its one of the upper echelon schools in the district, but if you ask me, it's a glorified private school with a God awful dress code. I was lookin' forward to goin' to Emerson High with Mika and Anthony, but now not only do I have to get use to a new neighborhood and a new house, I have to go to an over rated private school without my friends. I bet they didn't even have a basketball team; they probably play stupid shit like lacrosse or racquetball. This sucks on so many different levels..."

Jamal quickly tucked his journal under his pillow, and then turned to the mirror that hung on the back of his closet door, taking one final look at himself. The academy, in his opinion, had the absolute worst uniforms. They wore black slacks, a blue shirt, and to make things worse, a black, white and blue plaid tie. 'All that's missing is some nerdy ass Steve Urkel glasses and my social life will be completely ruined,' he thought.

He flopped down on the bed with a sigh, dreading the idea of going to a different school. He wanted nothing more than to go to school with his old friends, but instead, his mother enrolled him in Michigan Valor Academy, which was school on the other side of town. When his mother got a promotion at work, it required her to move to another city to head a team of advertisers in a different branch of her company. So that meant they had to pack up and move, leaving behind the house he'd been in his entire life.

It had only been a few weeks since they settled into their new house, and as much as he hated to admit it, he loved it. His room was much bigger than his old room, including a walk in closet and its own bathroom. He'd done his best to decorate the room to his liking, including putting up posters, but there was still a stack of boxes in the corner collecting dust that he hadn't gotten around to unpacking yet.

'Not that it matters,' he sighed. 'Its not like I'll get to wear any of my own clothes anyway.'

His cat, Fat Louie, sensing he was upset, leaped up onto the bed, rubbing up against him and purring. Jamal rubbed him on the head slightly. "It must be cool being a cat. You get to sleep all day, play with yarn, eat and lick yourself," he said, smiling slightly. Almost as if Louie was responding to him, he meowed. "Well, I'm as ready as I'll ever be Louie. I'll see you when I get home."

The smell of french toast, eggs and sausages greeted him in the hallway. He headed into the kitchen, where his mother was still cooking.

"Morning ma'," he grunted, heading for the refrigerator, quickly pulling out a carton of orange juice. He opened it, taking a swallow.

"Well, you look so nice in your uniform," she paused. "And what have I told you about drinking out the carton young man?"

"My bad," he sighed, closing the orange juice and putting it back in the fridge.

"Hurry up and eat so I can drive you to school on my way to work," she told him.

"Ma, its bad enough you're sending to me nerd academy, do you really want to kill my social life? I can't be the only guy there who brought his mommy to school on the first day. Why not just pack me lunch in a brown bag and give me a 'hi, I'm a big loser' name tag?" he complained.

She grabbed the brown bag on the counter, pushing it behind her before he noticed it. "I guess I can give you money for the bus and a few dollars to get lunch there," she said. "You sure you don't want a ride though? I could drop you off a few blocks from the school so I don't ruin your dope rep," she said.

He rolled his eyes. "Mom, dope? Who still says that?" he couldn't help but giggle as he picked up two pieces of french toast, stuffing as many eggs and sausages as he could in the middle, making a sandwich, then took a bite. "I'll see you when I get home," he mumbled with a mouth full of full, heading towards the door.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" she asked him, tapping her cheek with a fingertip.

He stopped dead in his tracks. "You're right mom," he walked back over to the fridge, taking the orange juice out. "I'll need something to wash all this down," he told her, walking out the room.

She shook her head.


He'd seen the brochure a few times, but it didn't prepare him for actually seeing the school. It was much bigger than he imagined, and he found himself a bit taken back by it. Everything looked so new, so clean, so orderly. There were students scurried in every direction, all of them wearing the same uniform, all of them with the same look of bewilderment on their faces.

One of the first things he noticed were that the girls wore the blue shirt, black, white and blue plaid skirts and a matching tie. 'I stand corrected, it could be worse,' he thought.

With a sigh, he headed into the building, and was equally in awe as he glanced around. The floors looked so clean, all the lockers were so shiny, and everything looked new. He quickly glanced down at the schedule he'd gotten in the mail, hoping to figure out where his first class was.

'Great, math,' he groaned, wandering down the hallway.

So busy staring at his schedule, he wasn't paying attention to where he was going, and before he knew it, he bumped into someone, scattering books and papers all over the floor. That was enough to snap him out of his daze and back into the reality.

"Watch where you're going dumbass," a female voice snapped.

He glanced up, and that's when he saw her.

Even though she was wearing the exact same thing everyone else was wearing, somehow, she made the uniform beautiful. She had long, dark hair and the most elegant brown eyes he'd ever seen. She was so beautiful that it didn't even matter to her that she'd just insulted him.

"I'm sorry," he kneeled down, picking up the papers she'd dropped, handing them back to her. "I'm new around here and..."

"Just watch it next time freshman," she scolded, and then continued on her way.

He found himself staring as she walked away, turning the corner.

"Forget it man, you've got no chance with a girl like that," a deep voice warned. "Better man have tried and failed."

"What is that suppose to mean?" Jamal asked, turning to the guy standing next to him.

He was a bit taller than Jamal. If he had to guess, maybe 6 feet even, with a bald head. "It means that Myriah Crane is a senior, and she doesn't date freshmen," he said. "Besides, her boyfriend Omar is the captain of the Lacrosse team."

'Lacrosse! I knew it!" he thought.

"And how do you know I'm a freshman?"

"You look like the type. I'm Marklar, but all my friends call me Mark," he extended his hand to him.

'Marklar,' he giggled.

"Jamal. Jamal Jacobs," he said, shaking his hand.

Mark glanced down at his schedule. "It looks like you've got Summers for math first period. My class is down that hall, I could show you if you want."

"Thanks." Jamal said. They headed down the hallway. "So, are you a freshman too?"

"Yeah, but my father is a teacher here, so I know the school like the back of my hand. I even know about a few back hallways and service areas that some of the teachers don't even know about."

The truth was, Jamal was barely listening to him. He was still fixated on Myriah Crane. There was something about her, something that, even in that brief moment in time, left a lasting impression on him. She had to be one of the most, if not THE most exquisite women he'd ever seen. He didn't care what Marklar had to say, he vowed to himself that sooner or later, Myriah Crane would be his.

"Well, this is the place. Good luck man," Mark told him, patting him on the back, then walked away.

Jamal walked into the class, where other students were already in their seats. The teacher, Ms. Summers, was an older woman with gray hair and glasses. "Welcome," she said cheerfully. "Take a seat anywhere."

On instinct, he headed to the back of the class, sitting at a table up against the wall. He did a check head count, noticing that there were only fifteen people in the class, and only three of them were girls.

'Great. Just great,' he moaned.

"I'm glad to see so many of you here on the first day, and its a good thing, because we're having a pop quiz," the teacher announced, getting a round of disappointed sighs from the class. She handed the person in the front of each row a stack of papers. "Please pass these back and make sure everyone gets one. When you're finished, raise your hand and I'll pick up your paper. If you don't have a number two pencil with you, consider this your first of many failing grades in my class."

The class shot back with sighs of disappointment.

Luckily for Jamal, he'd remembered to stick a few pencils in his back pocket before he left the house. He glanced over the paper he'd gotten, and couldn't help but giggle at how each most of the questions were. While most of the students were still complaining about having to take a quiz on the first day, Jamal breezed through it.

When he was finished, he raised his hand.

"You're done already?" Ms. Summers asked. He nodded, and she headed to the back of the class, taking a look at his paper. "This is excellent work," she glanced at the name on top of the paper. "Jamal, very fine job indeed."

"Thank you."

"Its nice to see someone went over the lesson plans they received in the mail," she said, walking back to the front of the class.

"How'd you do that?" someone asked him.

Jamal leaned towards the guy sitting across from him at the table. "Do what?"

"Finish this damn quiz so fast? I'm still stuck on the second question."

"I like math," he admitted.

"I hate math, and I heard that this teacher is a bitch, always giving pop quizzes and surprise tests."

'A pop quiz is a surprise test,' he thought, but decided to correct him. "She seems okay to me," he said.

"Yeah, you're a damn math wiz. Slow down Bernstein, you don't want to make the rest of us look bad."

"Einstein. You mean Einstein," he corrected.

"Yeah, whatever. Him too. I'm Matt."

"Jamal."

"Help me out Jamal, what's the answer to number two?"

"Its 16."

"Thanks, you're a genie!"

"You mean genius," he corrected.

"Yeah, that too!"

Jamal rolled his eyes. 'I see this is gonna be a long day,' he sighed.


Jamal found an empty table in the lunchroom to sit at. Not that it bothered him. The truth was, he wasn't very interested in making any new friends. The lunchroom was huge, and there were dozens of tables around the room, all of them with students laughing and talking to one another. The table he'd selected was in the far corner of the room, away from the rest of the students. It provided him the chance to think about her.

He didn't care if Myriah had a boyfriend, or if she was a senior, or that Marklar thought she was out of his league. She was the most extraordinary woman he'd ever met, and he was determined to get to know her. He knew it would be difficult though. Because he was a freshman, chances were that they wouldn't have any classes together, so he found himself hoping that he'd bump into her in the lunchroom.

No such luck.

He'd been staring at the door from the moment he sat down, but Myriah Crane was nowhere to be found. He was beginning to think it was going to be a lot harder than he thought, but he refused to give up. 'I'll just have to come up with a creative way to find her,' he thought.

"Why are you all the way back here Jamal?" Marklar asked as he walked over to him, sitting down across from him at the table. "For a minute there, I couldn't find you."

"That was the idea," Jamal said dryly.

"You're not going to eat?"

"Naw, I forgot my lunch money this morning. Besides, I had a pretty big breakfast."

Mark picked up his milk, tossing it to him. "You can have it, I'm lactose intolerant."

"Thanks," he said, opening the milk and taking a swallow. "So, what else can you tell me about Myriah Crane?" he inquired.

"Only that she is one of the most popular girls in school. I know what you're thinkin': you think that you'll find some clever way to talk to her, and your natural charm and charisma will take over. You think you have a shot with a girl like that, but I'm tellin' ya, I've seen dozens of guys get shot down before. Save yourself the embarrassment of rejected and find someone in your class to talk to."

"Just tell me what she's into, what she likes to do."

He paused. "Well, she writes poems, that's all I really know about her. I do know that she signed up for the Big Brother/Big Sister program this year."

"The what?"

"Every year our school has a Big Brother/Big Sister program where a senior adopts a freshman and shows them around the school. Most seniors only do it because it's required, some do it the extra credit, but in Myriah's case, she needs it in order to graduate this year."

"So all I have to do is make sure that Myriah picks me as her little brother."

"That isn't how it works. The names are selected at random, and the seniors don't know who they'll be assigned to until they actually meet them face to face."

"So who is in charge of deciding who gets paired up?"

"The office aid, Matt. He's a friend of mine," he said. "As a matter of fact, I think you have math with him."

Jamal smiled. "Yeah, I do, and I have a feeling Matt will be willing to help me out," he said with a devious grin.


As soon as he walked through the front door, Fat Louie rushed over to him, rubbing up against his leg. Jamal kicked the door shut, and then leaned down, picking Louie up. "I'm glad to see you too buddy," he sighed, rubbing him gently, then quickly set him down.

His first day at school had been less than successful, and he was just glad it was finally over. He headed up the stairs to his room, snatching off his tie and throwing it on the chair in the corner, and then unbuttoned his shirt. It didn't take him very long to flop down on the bed, letting out a sigh of relief. After talking to Matt today, he was sure that he'd be picked as Myriah's little brother, and that would give him the chance to get to know her a little better.

Jamal reached over to his nightstand, picking up the phone and dialing.

"Hello?"

"Hey Sha', what's up?" he asked.

He and Shamika had been friends for as far back as he could remember. His parents and her parents went to high school together, so it was only natural that the two of them become friends. Until recently, were inseparable. Shamika was more a tomboy; she liked climbing trees and jumping fences when they were kids. 'Hell, sometimes she was more of a boy than I was,' he giggled. Shamika had been his very best friend, and every year, the two of them managed to have all their classes at school together. But this year would be different. Not only would they not have the same classes, but weren't even in the same school.

"Oh, hey Mal, how are your first day at your prep school?"

"Don't even get me started. The uniforms suck, the people are stupid, and the only team they have here is lacrosse!"

"La-what?"

"That's what I said. But I did meet my future wife and mother of my children."

"Oh really?"

"Yeah, I'll be sure to invite you to the wedding. In fact, you can be my best man."

"Mal, I'm a girl. I can't be a best man."

"Oh yeah, sometimes I forget you're a girl," he laughed.

"Whatever assclown."

"So how is Emerson? Do you and Anthony have any classes together?"

He figured if he wasn't going to be able to go to Emerson High School with his friends, he could at least get updates and keep up with what was going on.

"I'm not going to Emerson. My dad is trying to get me into another school."

"Really? Which one?"

"Not sure yet, when I find out, you'll be the first to know," she paused. "Are we still on for this weekend?"

Every weekend, he, Mika and Anthony got together and went to the movies, and sometimes got something to eat afterwards. They were determined not to let the distance between the affect their friendship.

"You know I wouldn't miss it for the world, what are we going to go see?"

"I was thinking about checkin' out the Princess Diaries 2,"

"How about no?"

"Oh come on, admit it, you liked the first one and you wanna see the second one,"

He paused. "Well, I did think Anna Hathaway was kinda sexy."

"Well, we have a few days to figure out what we're going to see. I have to go, but tell Louie I said hello, and I'll talk to you soon."

"You better!" he said, hanging up the phone.

After chasing Fat Louie away, Jamal reached under his pillow, pulling out his journal. He stopped at the first empty page, then grabbed his ink pen.

"I knew it, lacrosse! This school sucks on so many levels, but I did meet Myriah today. I'm tellin' ya, this girl makes JLo look like my drunk Aunt Bertha on New Year's Eve. It doesn't matter to me if she's a senior or not, one way or another, sooner or later, she will be mine. Count on it. Other than meeting the future mother of my children, today was less than productive. I only met a few people, but if they're an indication what I can expect from this school, I'll be running the place in six months. I talked to Mika today, and her pops didn't let her go to Emerson. That sucks, looks like none of us will be together for high school, but at least the three of us will get to see each other on the weekends. She wants to go see Princess Diaries 2, and even though I won't admit it to her, I kinda want to go see it to. Still, I don't think Anthony wants to sit through another Disney movie.

There's a guy who works in the office at school, Matt, who has the IQ of pocket lint, but he's the only one that can help me get close to Myriah, so I'll tolerate him as long as I have to. I promised to do his math homework for a month if he could set it up where Myriah would be my big sister, and once that falls into place, I'll have my chance to get with'er. Yup, this is gonna work out just fineā€¦"