Author's Note: This idea was bouncing around in my head, and I'm still on my Hey Arnold! kick…now, eventually I will reach Helga's chapter, but you are going to have to be patient. While she is in some chapters, she will be absent from others. The point of this isn't romance (though there will be some of that, I promise) it's on dealing with how Arnold affected his classmates and how much they all miss him, even a few years later. Mr. Simmons is their teacher because I adore him, and I'm just going by the "Feeney" Principle, (named from the "Boy Meets World" character) in that if a teacher is awesome enough in a series, they can come back to be the kids' teacher over and over again…even into college, if necessary. I am hoping to write a chapter for any kid who was given enough screen time for us to know their personalities. I may write chapters for the boarders, we'll have to see.
Jungle theories/flashbacks etc. abound. You were warned.
Mr. Simmons leaned back in his chair, fiddling with his pencil as the high school kids made their way in, the last few stragglers scrambling desperately for their homeroom class (Mr. Simmons was not the type to write up for tardies, but today was a tardy lock out day, and so in a few minutes he would be forced to refuse admittance to anyone who didn't make the 8:05 cut-off time).
He rose from his seat at the appointed time, ready to lock the door…only Sid had just reached it. Mr. Simmons said nothing, merely jerked his head in the direction of Sid's desk. Sid muttered a thanks before taking his seat. With that, the teacher locked the door, confident that every desk was filled.
"Class, I have a very special surprise for you…" Tardy lock out days were always the best days to start on his projects. They made the students glad to have such a forgiving teacher (though many had been late, Mr. Simmons had always insisted that the alarms must have been fast, and that his wristwatch claimed the students still had ample time. It was an obvious lie, but the students were thankful for it), and that certainly made for less groaning when the project wasn't particularly as popular.
But he thought that it wasn't really necessary this time, it was just random timing. "Do any of you remember Arnold? I believe almost all of you had my class with him back in 4th grade…" Sure enough, several of the kids were nodding. At the mere mention of Arnold's name, Helga had fallen out of her chair.
A few of the kids who were newer to Hillwood gave indifferent looks to their teacher. Sure, they'd heard of Arnold, but they'd never met him.
"Well, this is not absolutely necessary, I just thought it might be fun…and I'd be willing to give extra credit," Mr. Simmons walked up to his dry erase board and pulled the projector screen down with enough force that it rolled back into itself. Behind the screen, scrawled on the board was an address. "Now, since Arnold was so special to almost all of us…I thought we could all write letters to him," he pulled a letter off his desk. "He sent me one just last week and I'm certain he'd love to hear from all of you. Plus five points of extra credit to an English test for anyone who does it. I won't read the letter, you just have to bring it to me in its envelope. I'll even pay the postage."
"How long does the letter have to be?" Harold asked. "I don't wanna have to write a whole page or nothin'."
"As long or as short as you want," Mr. Simmons said warmly, "Just tell him what you're learning, ask him what sort of interesting things he has going on for him in San Lorenzo…tell him about how much fun you had when we went to San Lorenzo -"
"Fun?!" Rhonda interrupted. "You think that was fun? Do you know how long it took to wash all that jungle crud out of my hair?"
"I thought it was fun," Nadine offered. "All those spiders…" she said dreamily. Rhonda rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, and I suppose you liked being chased around by bad guys, nearly dying, and not having a decent shower, too…"
"Well, my point is, kids, Arnold would probably like to hear from you. You can write to him if you want, but you certainly don't have to," Mr. Simmons continued as though he'd never been interrupted. "This is the first address he's had that you can reach him at, but it's for a limited time, kids. His letter told me he'll only be there for another two months, and after that he'll be right back to moving all around San Lorenzo and its neighboring cities and even countries, and good luck trying to mail a letter to him then. Anyways, I've printed copies of his address, and they'll be on my table all day. Pick one up whenever you like…" he gestured towards the white squares on the side of his desk.
That was all it took. Gerald was immediately on his feet. He pocketed a copy of the address, then handed one to Phoebe. They both looked at Helga expectantly, only…not only did she not move, she was decidedly not making eye contact.
"Oh, what the heck, I could use the extra credit," Sid admitted, grabbing a copy. "Hey, Stinky, how 'bout you?"
"Well, I sure could, too," Stinky drawled out, accepting the address. Moments later, anyone who'd known Arnold had a copy of the address…except Helga.
"Helga, weren't you and Arnold -" Rhonda started to ask. Lila shook her head.
"I'm ever-so-certain Helga has her reasons," Lila whispered. "I don't think she wants to be bothered about it."
"Eh, whatever," Rhonda conceded, shrugging it off.
The bell rang a few moments later, and Mr. Simmons waved to the teens as they left for their second period. "Helga? Helga, class is over," the blonde had remained in her seat, tapping her pencil on her desk as she thought. "You know…there's still a copy left. It's the last one. Even if you won't write to him…you should still take it."
"Yeah, whatever," Helga rolled her eyes but took the paper all the same. "Not like it'll make any difference. Football head chose to stay in San Lorenzo, that's it, end of story."
"I…guess. You should really head to your next class, wouldn't want to be late…"
Gerald was having a terrible day.
Gerald was having an awful day.
His and Timberly's backpacks had somehow been switched, leaving him without an important assignment (that while his teacher agreed to accept late, she insisted she would still have to dock points), Phoebe had once again cancelled on their date for the weekend in order to tutor someone, he'd closed his hand on his locker and every class but gym had assigned him a huge load of homework.
"Hey, Gerald, you got a second?" Harold called after him. Gerald groaned.
"What do you need, Harold, I've really got to get going!"
"We're all gonna go play some baseball at Gerald's field today, you in?"
"I don't have time," Gerald insisted, "I don't see how you do, either. Man, do you know how much homework I got? Besides, my hand is throbbing," he held it up to show Harold where he'd been bleeding.
"Don't have to get upset about it or nothin'," Harold mumbled. "We just needed an extra player. You don't come by the field as much anymore."
"Yeah, well…we got older and I actually do my homework."
"I do my homework!" Harold insisted.
"Yeah!…every morning on the bus."
"You ever think about what the 'home' part of 'homework' means?" Gerald smirked. Harold shrugged.
"Well, if you're not gonna play I guess I'll see you around."
"Yeah, see you around, Harold," Gerald agreed. He shouldered his (Timberly's, really) backpack and headed for the door, thinking as he went.
At first, after Arnold had chosen to stay with his parents, Gerald had been down at Gerald's field more often than anyone. It had reminded him of his best friend. The only problem was, when he first started going it was with the thought that Arnold would be back soon.
But he hadn't come back. Gerald was sixteen now, and hadn't seen Arnold since they were both nine. Sure, he still had friends, and he had Phoebe, but he and Arnold had been so close since …it seemed like forever to him.
This kind of day was the type that made it all the worse. Arnold's optimistic disposition was sometimes laughable, but it had always made Gerald believe that there really was an upside to everything, that everything could and would turn out all right. And Arnold would have listened to Gerald's complaints about today and shown sympathy and interest, while still gently telling him why it wasn't nearly as big of a deal was Gerald was making it out to be.
Gerald had considered all of this on his way home. He handed Timberly her backpack, and she returned his, before he headed up to his room.
"Gerald!" Timberly came running after him. "This fell out of the side, and it isn't mine…" she handed him Arnold's address. Gerald smirked.
"Thanks, Timberly. Now get out of my room."
"But I helped you!"
"That's why I said thanks. Now scoot," he pushed her out and slammed the door behind her. "…I guess the homework can wait for just a bit," he decided, pulling out some scrap paper and a pen.
How you doin, man? I bet the jungle's still all sorts of crazy, huh? Can't be quite as bad as our trip down there. That was crazy. I've told you before and I'll say - write - it again. You are one bold kid, Arnold. What are you doing for school? I guess you get to be home schooled? (Jungle schooled?) Bet that's cool.
This probably won't reach you in time, but I could sure use your advice. Phoebe's always busy these days and it feels like I'm always busy, too. High school is crazy. Sometimes I feel like it's all too much. I haven't slept very well in a while. I bet you'd point out to me right now that I don't sleep that well cause I play video games until two in the morning. And that Phoebe's trying to help kids understand school, so I shouldn't be hard on her about it…and then you'd probably have some great way to organize my work so that it's easier to get it done and turn it in on time. And then you'd tell me that while you really want to hear from me, I shouldn't be writing letters while I still have so much homework to do. And you'd be right.
Thanks, Arnold. I still miss you, man. Come back home soon. It's been too long.
P.S. - Are there any fine women where you are? I hope you're not still all hung up on Helga.
Gerald reread his work before setting the letter aside. He'd still send it, but merely writing the letter had gotten him the results he needed. He felt like Arnold had been talking to him even as the words flowed from his pen. And that thought really helped.
Author's Note: Like I said, I will try for every character. Helga's will be last. Grandpa will definitely get one, Grandma ...probably will, just for the sake of hilarity. Still not sure about the other boarders. I hope this is enjoyable and please, please PLEASE call me out on it if a character is out of character. Okay? Thanks.