Chester was first at everything. He got to school first. He was the first person people picked for dodge ball. He got first place in the spelling bee. He even managed to be first in the lunch line, on the first day of school, in the first grade.
Rena had never been first at anything. She’d watched Chester lead the class all through Kindergarten last year. Rena was often the last off the bus. She didn’t like dodge ball so she didn’t care when she was picked. Spelling was confusing so she was always out early in the spelling bee. She never got to the cafeteria in time to be first in the lunch line.
“Chester doesn’t even see what a jerk he is,” Rena thought. Rena couldn’t handle it anymore so she decided she’d be the first to knock Chester down a peg or two.
Rena got up early one morning, brushed her teeth, combed her hair, pulled on her boots and waited at the door. She said goodbye to her Mom and pinched her little brother and strutted out the door. Instead of waiting at her normal stop, she walked a stop ahead. As the bus pulled up and Rena stepped on, she saw Chester running for the door. “Too late!” she thought. “I’m already in the front seat.”
“Good morning, Rena!” beamed Chester. Rena cracked a self-assured smile.
As the bus pulled into the school, Rena ran down the steps and darted to her classroom. She shot into her seat, first to class.
“Good morning, Rena!” said Mrs. Owens. “You’re here early!”
P.E. time arrived and Rena ran to the gym. “Coach K, Coach K! Can I be a dodge ball captain today?” “Well, you’re the first to ask, so why not?” said Coach K.
The other children filed in and lined up. Rena got to pick first but she didn’t pick Chester. “Stewart!” she said, never taking her eyes off Chester. Chester stood smiling, seemingly unaffected.
The game commenced and Rena threw the ball at Chester, hitting him square in the chest. She grinned and yelled, “Chester, you’re out!” “Nice throw, Rena!” Chester replied.
After P.E., Rena ran back to the classroom and grabbed her vocabulary book before shooting back out of the room to the cafeteria. By the time the rest of the class filed in, she already had her tray and she was heading for the line. Chester moved in behind her. “Wow, Rena. You got here fast!” Rena didn’t say a word. She just smirked and collected her chicken fingers and spinach.
Rena sat down and opened her vocabulary book, practicing her spelling words over and over as she munched down her chicken fingers and picked at her spinach.
Back in class, spelling bee practice began and Rena got every word. Before long, she and Chester were the only two left.
“Motor. M-O-T-O-R. Motor.” Rena spelled.
“Friend. F-R-E-I-N-D. Friend.” said Chester.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Chester. That’s incorrect,” said Mrs. Owens.
Rena couldn’t hold it in. She laughed and blurted out, “Now I’m first, Chester! I win!”
Chester’s eyes began to burn. “Good job, Rena. That was great.”
“See, you’re not first at everything!” Rena taunted.
Chester let out a sob and buried his face in his hands. Rena sat down at her desk, reveling in the satisfaction of finally having knocked Chester off his high horse. She beamed and chuckled…until she looked around the room. All Rena’s classmates were aghast –their faces sad and shocked. Mrs. Owens had moved to Chester’s side, her hand on his back.
Chester rubbed his eyes and looked up at Rena –her expression now befuddled. Rena didn’t feel so good anymore. “I just wanted to be first for once,” she said. “Somehow you’re always first.”
Chester reached into his desk and pulled out a single sheet of paper. Drawn on it were stars and a trophy and smiley faces. He’d spent his whole lunch working on it, barely making it through a single chicken finger, his spinach untouched. Chester handed it to Rita.
to my coolest freind
Rena read the handmade certificate and her eyes started to burn. Chester said, “Rena, I was never trying to be better than anyone. My Mommy just always makes me promise to do my best. I thought you were so cool today, I was doing my best to be a good friend.”
Rena took her finger and wiped off a tear that had fallen on the certificate. “I thought you thought you were better than me. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could beat you. I guess I did my best at being a real jerk.”
Rena stood up and walked over to Chester, sticking out her hand.
“I’m sorry, Chester. Will you forgive me?”
“Sure, Rena. I’m not mad. Race you to the bus?!” Chester high-fived Rena’s outstretched hand and darted past.
Now Rena had a real first –her first best friend.