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The following week, at the beginning of the school year, Jess and Leslie meet again. In class, Leslie is like one of those things that's not like the others. Everyone else looks all dressed up and she's casual.
She's friendly but they all stare at her like she has three heads.
Their teacher Mrs. Myers has to squeeze the new girl in to their crowded classroom. When Leslie sits down and gets settled she looks up at everybody, and everybody else acts like they're not looking.
Jess thinks about who drew the initials on his desk, and how Mrs. Myers isn't supposed to be that nice.
He has to help pass out books, and Leslie tries to make eye contact with him. He tries to distance himself while also feeling pity for her on her first day – never an easy day.
A kid named Gary Fulcher asks him whether he'll be racing and Jess gets all excited and ready to take him down at the lunchtime race. He tunes their class out and starts drawing pictures.
Gary bugs him and tries to look at the picture. They scuffle and Jess steps on Gary's toe. The teacher reprimands them, and Jess feels really bad about having to stay in school for so many more years.
At lunch, Jess is trying to keep his head down and get to the race, but he gets distracted when he hears two other girls making fun of Leslie's yogurt. He drinks his milk really loudly to get them to stop poking fun of Leslie and turn their attention to him.
Mrs. Myers sends them out to recess, girls first, and the boys are super excited to run. They get divided into heats of four racers.
Jess has to go last, so he watches his competition. Leslie comes up and tries to talk to him but he tries to ignore her again.
Two boys named Jimmy and Clyde fight over who run their heat. Gary, who won his, says Clyde won, and they all squabble. Jess says they should both get to run.
Gary makes fun of him and says that's like letting a girl race. So Jess says they should do that too and asks Leslie if she wants to run. She says "yes."
This is scary but nothing bad happens.
The next heat goes and Jess feels confident about winning the whole thing.
He's doing great when his heat starts but Leslie passes him and wins easily. He's embarrassed.
Gary tries to make Leslie go off and play with the other girls, but she insists that she wants to compete in the final race.
Jess defends her, even though that means he won't get to run.
Leslie wins, and thanks Jess, saying he's the only person at school that's OK, as they walk back in.
On the way home, Jess ignores her again, though, and sits with May Belle on the bus. He watches Leslie run home afterwards and thinks she's almost "beautiful."