PTG: Hello. I'm a bit of a Norse mythology buff (read: obsessor), and so I wrote this story a while ago. I apologize if any Christians take offense at this story. If you don't like it, oh well. Loki's a bit cynical.

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My name is Loki. Let me explain. I've got different kinds of Scandinavian heritage on my mother's side, and pure Swedish on my father's side, so they decided on a name that would reflect all my heritage. The only problem for me is that my last name is Ek. The kids at school just have a ball with my name: Loki Ek, ha ha. I ignore them and stay aloof. I enjoy having the name of the Norse god of mischief, and use it as best I can. Besides, my family moves a lot, for my father's job (mother works from home), so I never see the same kids for a long time. A couple years is the longest we've stayed anywhere.

The other thing is I really don't look Swedish, Scandinavian, whichever you prefer. I'm small and dark, and of course that's sort of opposite the norm. (Not Hispanic: light skin, dark eyes, black hair.) I'm wiry, though.

The most interesting time of my life was when I was fourteen. I was a freshman in Matthew J. Tooley high school. We moved there last day of summer, so school was already underway, and we got there Sunday night, so I hadn't gotten any time to explore. Earlier on, I had exploded when my parents handed me the form about my new school.

"A Christian school?!" I said. "Do you know how close-minded those people will be?"

"Now, honey, not all..."

"Yes I know not to make such sweeping generalizations, but... I thought there was supposed to be a separation of church and state."

"I'm sorry," said my mother, "I really am. But it's the only high school in the area."

So it was settled. The bus to Matthew J. Tooley High School wasn't bad. There was only one other kid at my bus stop. He sat on his trumpet case, played a Gameboy, and ignored me. When I got on, I sat in the front. No one sat next to me.

When I got to school, I pulled my class schedule out of my pocket and found room one-thirty-three. Since no one told me there was no warning bell, I got to class just as the bell rang. I stood by the door and waited for the teacher to notice me. There were no empty seats.

Finally the teacher got off the computer and went in front of the class. She was plump, actually, no, I won't be kind, she was tubby. Her hair was horribly platinum blonde. She looked around. "Where is the new...ah, there he is. Come here, young'un." Young'un? Did she say young'un? It wasn't even her real mode of speech. Try to imagine an American imitating an English accent, with a few Southern words thrown in. That was her. I went over.

"Class, this is Loki Ek. He is the new student. Treat him as you would any other student. Loki, do y'all want to say anything?" A few people laughed at my name, and the teacher puckered her face trying to read it.

I did. "First of all, it's not Lohki, it's Loki. Long O, like in hone. Second, it's pronounced Ehk, like in let, not eek. Ek, very Swedish name, means oak in Swedish. Third, where is my seat?"

The teacher hemmed and hawed, finally producing a seat from another classroom. It was too big. I sat down and the Fat Lady--Ms. Shiler-- gave me my textbook. At 8:30, another bell rang once. A lady's voice came over the PA system. "Good morning students. Please rise for the pledge of allegiance. (We said the pledge.) Please recite the morning prayer. Our father..." This was too much. I wasn't going to say something I didn't believe in. I sat down. Several audible gasps came from various corners of the room, and the other students who had bowed their heads and/or closed their eyes looked at me and gasped too. The teacher opened her eyes and gasped like a dying cow. Everyone continued their prayers, but only half- heartedly, and as soon as it was over, and the voice on the PA said, "Have a good day, students," the teacher looked at me and said, "Mr. Ek, what is the meaning of this?"

"You said my name wrong."

"You have not answered my question."

"I'm an atheist. I'm not Christian, I don't pray. I'm not going to say something I don't believe in."

Ms. Shiler was shocked. "How can you not believe in God?"

"How can you believe in God? Would a benevolent god have let 9/11 happen? Or the Holocaust? Or..."

"Those things were God's will, young man-"

"Oh, really," I said. "It's god's will that innocent people die and no one does anything?" She didn't respond, so I went off on a tangent. "And how about other religions? Surely this school can't be all christian?"

Ms. Shiler had a response for that. "Oh, we tolerate them. At let they believe in a god, even if it's not the right one." This lady was outrageous.

"You see, the system I think makes most sense is polytheism. All that work would be too much for one being to handle. No one deity is responsible for everything. Like the Norse gods. They started the world, but now they just watch it. You know, the more I think about it..."

"Young man, I can see you are only trying to make trouble. You and the principal will discuss it later." She waddled over to the board and started on biology.

I sat and took notes all class, and made a quick exit at the end. My next class was history. The history teacher spoke animatedly about world cultures and australopithicuses. I liked her at once. The next class, drama, my elective but dead boring, was cut short for me. In the middle of it, I got a note calling me down to the principal's office. I had to ask the teacher where it was, and she replied none too kindly, and asked why I was in trouble on my first day here. "Oh, I expect it's just routine schedule adjustments," I lied smoothly, and she stopped being suspicious.

On the way to the principal's office I passed by the band room. The kid from the bus stop was there, tootling the trumpet. His glasses kept falling down his nose.

There were no other kids at the principal's office. There were two or three fat chairs, a large couch, and a glass bowl of jelly beans on a table in the middle. The secretary said I could sit where I wanted, so I spread out on the couch and started picking out the green and black jelly beans.

"They're a bit old, I hope you don't mind," said the secretary. Her sign read, "Ms. Winters."

"Not at all," I said.

"Good. Could you toss me a green?" I did. "So why are you here?"

"Well, first, I have to know, are you of the opinion that we should have a morning prayer?"

"Well, since this is pretty much an all-christian school," she said, "I suppose that would be considered normal."

"Do you think everyone should have to say it, regardless of their
beliefs?"

"No, if they think...that it, isn't it? You refused to say morning prayers, didn't you?" I nodded. She shook her head doubtfully, and said, "well if you honestly don't believe in something, you shouldn't have to act like you do." She paused. "I think you did the right thing. I know he won't think so, though." She gestured to the principal's door. "Having an all-important phone call. I wouldn't count on being able to talk to him this period. Sorry, I have to get back to work," she excused herself and turned back to her papers. I flipped open a book.

She was right. I sat there all the rest of the period, left just as the bell rang, and still hadn't heard a peep out of the principal.

I went straight to the library next. It was supposed to be lunchtime, but my mother hadn't packed one, so I spent A lunch getting to know the library. I checked out several books and the Library Ladies took to me instantly. We spent a while talking about books we'd read and comparing notes.

Conveniently, right after lunch was PE; the gym was at the furthest end of the building. The PE teacher was named Ms. Franklin, and she took great delight in pointing out that she was not related to Benjamin Franklin. She had a very horsey laugh. In fact, she had a very horsey face. She was really ugly, clumsy, and seemed a bit dim, but didn't know it. While the other kids ran laps-they actually walked and talked to each other while her back was turned- she looked up my name on a chart. "Loki? That's your name?" She thought a minute and added. "Well we better not poke you because then you'll be Pokey-Loki." She laughed-- a horrible snorting, choking, chuckling chortle that I don't ever want to hear again.

"Lady, I don't know what possessed you to say such a thing. Can I have my uniform now?"

"Sure thing." She led me to the side of the gym, opened a door, and got out a uniform with the school colors, which were white and brown. I now learned what our school teams would be-the Tooley Tankers. She showed me where the locker room was. As I left the room I turned back and said, "One more thing. You don't call me Pokey-Loki, I don't call you any of the detrimental names I have in mind." I left and went to the locker room. It smelled.

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PTG: Sorry if this ending's a bit abrupt. I didn't really do chapter breaks when I wrote this (way back in tenth grade), so.yeah. It gets fun next chapter. Heh heh heh. Oh yeah. Please review!