Carefully, Hannibal added another convoluted coastline to his map. He enjoyed drawing maps. He enjoyed most things in Geography. As long they were studying – where things were. Cities, rivers, mountains, borders, lakes. Real, PROPER Geography. When they did main crops, industries and exports – that kind of stuff – that was just DUMB! That was not PROPER Geography! Tongue protruding slightly, Hannibal added a couple of indicative waves to show ‘Sea’. After a moments thought, a small sailing ship bobbed on the indicative ocean.
“Class!” Miss Allen’s voice. “Class… say ‘Hello’ to a new pupil…And I am sure a new friend.”
Hannibal looked up. Miss Allen’s hand rested on the shoulder of a curly haired lad he had never seen before. Blue eyes, with just a hint of ‘first day’ shyness – gazed back at the thirty-odd staring faces.
“…His parents have just moved to the area …so, we must all make him very, very welcome…mustn’t we?”
Miss Allen did go on like that. She meant well, but, like a lot of women – she gushed!
“…This is Jedediah. Say ‘Hello’ Jede…”
Miss Allen stopped. She frowned, warningly. The nudging and sniggering that had greeted the name died away. The odd remaining snicker received the full force of her folded arms ‘I’m waiting’ pose.
“Class!” she reproved. “There is nothing at ALL funny about that! Jedediah is a fine name with, with…” she drew in her breath “…fine historical connotations!”
A smothered spurt of derision from the back row. A girlish giggle.
The new boy’s cheeks flushed. A firm little chin rose to stare, a hint of challenge in the blue eyes, at his new companions. Hannibal felt a twinge of sympathy. He too was lumbered with a name carrying ‘fine historical connotations’. You did not carry the moniker ‘Hannibal’ through school without attracting more than your fair share of teasing. Hannibal squared his shoulders. NOT that he could not handle any amount of teasing, huh? Still, once he grew up, he was dropping his silly Christian name. Or rather – his own brand of pedantic exactness with words came into play – his silly PRE-Christian name.
However, it was not merely fellow feeling that constantly drew Hannibal’s eyes back to the new boy as morning class continued.
Jedediah, huh? Jedediah. His mind worked. It could be… Maybe… Nah! …But, maybe? You never knew!
Miss Allen asked a question about railways. Easy! The new boy’s hand shot into the air, half a second before Hannibal reached for the ceiling. Hey! That was FAST!
When the rest of the class spilled out to play, Hannibal hung back. He took his time tying and retying a dangling lace, until Miss Allen, too, walked out into the sunshine.
His eyes on the door, in case of interruptions, Hannibal darted up to Miss Allen’s desk. The class register flicked open. A small finger ran down to the newest entry, still darker ink than the rest. His full name…Jedediah Curry…
Hannibal closed the register with a satisfied smile.
Hannibal found the new boy down by the oak tree.
“…You’re Jedediah Curry,” he grinned.
A bottom lip stuck out. Blue eyes stared at him belligerently. A small fist curled.
“Yeah!” the new boy shot back. “…Wanna make some’n of it?”
“No. You see I’m…” Hannibal took a breath, “…I’m Hannibal Heyes!”
Instant recognition. The fist relaxed. The scowl disappeared, to be replaced by an incredulous – and delighted – expression.
“So,” Hannibal could see the new boy’s mind racing, “…your mother…?”
Hannibal nodded and ‘Uh huh’ed’ to Jedediah’s stream of questions.
Brown eyes met blue.
“…If I hafta watch that dumb pair strutting around on DVD one more time!” complained Jed, shaking his head. “…And, with Mum yakkin’ in those sappy chat rooms ALL the time AND checking the stupid boards ev’ry five minutes, I NEVER get to go on the computer! NEVER! T’isn’t FAIR!”
“Same here!” Hannibal sighed, ruefully. “…MINE,” he confided, “…MINE writes fanfic! Real dumb stuff! Think’s she’s funny!”
“Sheesh!” sympathised Jedediah. “…They’re the worst, huh?”
A glance was exchanged. Eyes rolled.
For Hannibal Heyes Bhattacharya and Jedediah Curry Satterthwaite – it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship!