It's too early for this, I find myself thinking for the nth time that morning. I squint from the back seat of mom's car, yawning a grumble at Mabel who chattered at me exuberantly from her perch in front of me. She managed to convince mom that she was tall enough to sit in the front seat. Using her centimeter of height advantage on me, her natural charms, and some serious puppy dog eyes she got her desired spot in the passenger seat. My twin sister currently has her torso turned as far around as her front facing legs will let her, and is peeking around her head rest to look me in the eye with her smiling face. She is practically shaking with an excitement I can't say I share.
"Come on Dip! Can't you be a little more excited?" Her voice is far too cheery this early in the morning.
"We've gone to school for the past seven years, Mabel."
"This year makes eight, bro bro," she corrected chirpily, "eight, can you believe it? We're eighth graders this year!"
"It'll be the same as it always is." I scowl at the memories of years past.
"You're just grumpy 'cause you were up late last night writing in your journal," she continues, "I could practically hear your pen clicking from down the hall."
Mom peers at us from the corner of her eye, only half paying attention until that point in the conversation. If you live with Mabel long enough, you learn to filter most of her babble; something mom is especially skilled at. She shakes her head, and mumbles something about hiding accursed books for the sake of her son's health.
"There is no possible way you could have heard my pen clicking through the walls." I say defending myself.
"Yes, there is!"
"No, there isn't! The walls are made of concrete."
"Then how do I know that you were reading 'til past midnight?"
"You probably heard him muttering to himself." Mom chimes in.
"I do not mutter to myself."
Mabel ignores me "I'm just glad I have some ear plugs left over from when we stayed with Grunkle Stan."
Mabel began to ramble about our summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon with our Great Uncle Stan. I manage to catch her speaking about her friends, Candy and Grenda, but when she starts squealing about Grenda's newest boyfriend update, I tune out. It isn't that I don't care about what Mabel has to say it's just that she has a tendency to repeat herself when she's excited. Consequently, I've heard this story at least seven times. I direct my gaze just past Mabel's head to look at the oncoming scenery through the front windshield. It's cloudy today, which is pretty unusual for California especially in late summer. It reminds me of the rainy days we spent in the Mystery Shack with Soos, Wendy, and Grunkle Stan. I wonder if it will rain later today. I yawn again, cloudy weather always makes me feel drowsy, and it doesn't help that I stayed up until 2 a.m. but I just couldn't stop writing.
Ever since we got back from Oregon, I've been recounting the events of our summer in a journal. The purpose in writing one isn't only for keeping memories, though. Great Uncle Ford's journals were destroyed by a certain triangular menace, and the information that they held burned with them. So, I have been recording every detail I can remember from them, as well as adding in my own experiences and information. I've hardly stopped writing since we left; I can't wait too long and risk forgetting anything. Of course I could always contact Great Uncle Ford and have him tell me some things, that is, if he and Grunkle Stan weren't out on the ocean somewhere sailing the world. It will probably be a while until I hear from them, but they promised Mabel and I that they would be back by summer next year so we can spend the summer with them again. I guess I can wait to ask him until then.
I glance back at Mabel, and zone back into the conversation she's been carrying by herself for the past minutes. She's on the topic of school now, how she got to that point I have no idea, "What do you think I should take this year, Art class or Home Ec?" Ah, I tuned in just in time.
"Why don't you just take both like you did last year?"
"Oh yeah, That's a great idea! Maybe I can join the Pottery Club too!" I hum in response."What classes do you want to take this year, Dippin' Sauce?"
"I was thinking of taking a Mythology class, and maybe a Latin class," I lean my head against the window, and rest my chin on my hand, "but other than that I'm not too sure."
"Maybe I'll take those classes too, that way we can be together!" She says, her eyes shining.
"Sweetie, don't spread yourself too thin." Mom chides. "We don't want a repeat of that incident in sixth grade, do we?"
"Yeah, Mabel, we don't want you to faint into a dead sleep for two days again."
"Fine, but I do want to take that Mythology class with you." She concedes with a humph.
Mom makes a sudden, sharp turn, and apologizes as she straightens the car back out again. My head makes a muffled thump as it hits the window, my chin drops from my hand and hits the glass. I hear Mabel snort from the front seat, and watch her attempt to physically stop her laughter with her hands. I can only observe this with one eye, however, as my hat is now lopsided on my head with one of its flaps over my right eye. I rub my chin in an attempt to ease the dull pain thudding through it. When the pain is nearly gone, I reach up past my jaw and adjust my Trapper Hat so that it sits straight on my head again. My hands linger on the hat's furry flaps as I remember who gifted it to me, I can feel my face begin to flush. Wendy. I wonder what she's up to, I haven't heard from her much in the past few days, last time I talked to her she said she was starting school. It rained that day, I remember her mentioning how fitting it was for her first day back in school being a dark, rainy one. I crack a small smile at the memory; that's why I wore her hat today. Being as cloudy as it was when I woke up earlier, it just made sense. I figured it would serve as a kind of good luck charm. I'll definitely be needing it.
The car slows to a stop and we are greeted by the familiar sight of the building of Piedmont Middle School. Before the car comes to a full stop, Mabel launches herself out of the car in a half somersault, lands completely unscathed feet from the car, and dashes toward a few of her many friends. I watch the display with disinterest, having seen it many times before, and sigh in defeat. If only we got lost and never made it to this accursed building. Mom turns her head to look at me in that patient, yet expectant way that only moms can pull off.
"We can turn around right now. We can go home, and watch the Discovery Channel together. Please, mommy? We could pretend this day never came." Her mouth is in a straight line, and she's raising her eyebrow at me. I look at her with pleading eyes.
"Dipper," she sighs out, putting the car into park, "you have to go to school."
"But mom I-"
"No 'but's. You're smart, honey, and you can do anything you put your mind to."
"I know, it's just-," I hesitate, "it's just that my being smart doesn't help me make friends. Everyone always ends up thinking I'm some know it all snob."
"You have Mabel." She states.
"But, we won't be in all of the same classes, and well," I sigh, "Mabel already has friends, lots of them. She could make friends with a wall, and I just... Can't."
"Sweetheart, I know it's tough I was exactly like you when I was your age, but, unlike you I didn't have a sister. Mabel won't hold it against you if you hang around her every now and then, that's what siblings are for. I know you can make it through," she cracks a small grin, "and if I know you like I hope I do, you won't give up without trying first."
I look at her doubtfully, and then I suddenly remember everything that had happened over the summer. I have fought gnomes, faced dinosaurs, stopped a rampaging video game character, stood at the threshold of a gaping dimensional rift, and battled Bill Cipher and his whole army of demons and won. Somehow I came out of all Gravity Falls had to throw at me alive, and while I'll admit that a lot of it was terrifying, I still did it. All of it. I glance back at the looming building, that was starting to look less and less intimidating. What reason do I have to fear a stupid building full of regular people? I instantly feel a warm confidence flow through me, and laugh inwardly at how moronic I was being. Mom watched this transformation, and smiled a proud, warm, smile as I nod at her filled with renewed determination.
"It'll be over before you can blink," she smirked, "now get out of my car."
Mabel had forgotten to grab her backpack before she tucked and rolled out of the car in her excitement, and so I grab both my backpack and hers and turn to exit the car. My hand touches the door, and I stop short. Whipping around, I lean toward mom and give her a peck on the cheek, "Thanks mom, you're the best," I say through a smile. She beams at me in return as I open the car door, and set my left foot on the concrete below, "I love you, mom."
Closing the door with a slam, I leisurely begin my trek to the main entrance of the school.
"Have an awesome day, Sweetie!" I hear mom call through the car's open window.
I grin over my shoulder, and wave at her with my free hand. I squint as the sun starts to peek slowly through the clouds, and shine in my face. Maybe, it won't rain today after all. I adjust my hat and steel myself one last time, I take a deep breath, "Hey Mabel," My twin turns toward the sound of her name, "you forgot your backpack in the car you goofball!"
She smiles widely at me, her braces catching the morning light, and waves me over with a wide sweeping gesture. I jog the rest of the way over to her and her friends, our backpacks bounce against my sides. I chant a prayer in my head as Mabel pulls me into her circle, and snags her backpack off of my shoulder. A new day awaits, and I face it in hopes it will go well. God help me, I think as Mabel steals my hat and runs off with it. I take off after her bursting through the front door of the school, my screeching and her laughter echo through the vacant hallway. A new day indeed.