It was a lovely morning in the city of Whoville as the sun shone upon its tiny inhabitants. This day was a very special one. The reason, you ask? Why, it was the first day of the new school year! (A collective groan from every Who kid in Whoville; except for the nerds …they loved school). There was one particular household that was especially chaotic during this time. And that household held the mayor of this fair city, along with his wife and children; all ninety-seven of them.
"You've been in there forever!"
"I'm going to be late for school!"
These were all complaints coming from a few of the many daughters of Mayor McDodd. There was an unusually long line stemming from the closed door of their sole bathroom. With ninety-six young females, it was hard to not have such a long bathroom line in the mornings. Or any time, really. Fortunately for the eldest and only son this would not be a problem. JoJo had planned well ahead of time and woke up before the crack of dawn. By the time everyone else in the house had just started to stir he was awake, dressed and ready to start the day.
In the dining room JoJo was sitting at his usual spot at the table, waiting patiently for his mother to come down and get breakfast started.
"Good morning!" came the cheerful voice of Sally O'Malley.
"Morning, Mom," JoJo greeted, giving his mother a half-smile.
Sally walked over to her son and planted a big kiss on the top of his messy black hair. JoJo tried not to roll his eyes at the affectionate gesture. Ever since the big incident with the entire town almost being destroyed (and JoJo being the one to stop it), his mother had been paying more attention to him. She was doing stuff like kissing him on the head and calling him pet names. And it wasn't just his mother. It seemed the whole town had suddenly remembered he existed. Whenever JoJo left the house he'd get greetings and handshakes from almost every random Who he came across. Sure, for the first couple of days he found it amusing and maybe even a little bit flattering but its novelty wore off pretty quickly.
The seats at the table were slowly starting to fill up as his sisters made their way into the dining room and in no time it was the noisy mad house that JoJo was so accustomed to. His father had also joined them and at the moment his attention was on Helen who was telling him about the "interesting" dream that she had last night. And to his father's credit, he really seemed interested in what his daughter had to say. That was one thing JoJo admired about his father. He was very family-orientated. Even with ninety-seven kids and a wife, he still managed to find time for each and every one of them. Not that JoJo would actually say something like that out loud.
Ever since Ned told JoJo he could be whatever he wanted (including not being the mayor of Whoville), the stress of living up to his father's high expectations had vanished. This caused JoJo's attitude to improve greatly. He wasn't sulky or sullen like he used to be. He was even smiling more. But the young teen was still quiet and kept to himself most of the time. He was also still wearing black, the little emo.
After a hearty breakfast of green eggs and ham everyone left the house to go about their daily business. For JoJo and some of his sisters that meant getting on the school bus. Being the oldest, he was responsible for the thirty or so girls that also rode the bus with him to school. It would seem like a daunting task to anyone else, but JoJo didn't mind it and his sisters looked up to and respected him, so they always listened to what he had to say.
Meanwhile another Who somewhere else in Whoville wasn't having as easy a time controlling their younger siblings.
"Mason! Milo! You two get back here!"
Marley McCoy watched haplessly as her the two twins ran in every direction other than the one with the route to their bus stop. They were laughing loudly as they chased each other. It was almost time for the bus to pick them up, and those two were still playing around.
"If we're late, so help me I'll…"
The familiar sound of the school bus approaching caused Marley to swiftly turn around. She glanced back at her brothers and then at the bus. Deciding it would be one of those 'every-Who-for-themselves' moments, she hurried towards the large, florescent yellow vehicle. It fortunately had stopped to let on the other kids from their neighborhood. Just as Marley was about to climb on, two dark purple blurs rushed pass, knocking into her and causing her to lose her balance. She had to grab ahold of the door's side in order to prevent herself from falling over backwards. It took her a few seconds to compose herself.
"You gettin' in or what, kid?" the driver asked from behind the wheel.
Marley nodded – feeling a bit embarrassed – and hurried inside the bus. The doors automatically closed behind her and the bus started moving. She searched the sea of faces until she found her brothers sitting together at a window seat. She made her way over to them and started to sit down.
"Hold it!" Mason commanded, holding out his hand in a 'stop' gesture.
"What now?" Marley asked, very exasperated at this point. She saw no fit reason why she couldn't sit with them. The bus seats were spacey enough for three Who children to fit comfortably, as they always have been.
"This seat is reserved," Milo stated, taking off his backpack and plopping it into the space between him and his brother.
Marley said nothing as she glared down at the grinning twins.
The two Whos really were identical in every sense of the word. They had the mischievous grey eyes that never seemed to settle on any one thing for too long. They even dressed alike: plum and pale purple striped fur outfits with fluffed collars and long sleeves. The only difference between them was their hair. Although both were the same dark shade of purple, Milo's was bone straight and always untidy while Mason's was short and curly.
Marley on the other hand looked nothing like them, with her dark green eyes, brown and olive striped fur attire and curly brown hair that was always pulled in a big puffy bun on the top of her head. Whos often wouldn't believe her when she told them they were related. Marley closed her lids and pinched the skin between her eyes with her thumb and forefinger. She sometimes didn't want to believe it herself.
"Hey you!" barked the bus driver. "Sit down!" He was glaring at her in the rear view mirror. It wasn't that the driver had some sort of personal vendetta against Marley, he didn't know her. On the contrary, he was more concerned about her safety. Standing on a moving bus with no support could have very disastrous results, for both of them. And from years of being a school bus driver, he found the students to be more compliant when he was loud and firm.
This little outburst caused the other Who children to stop what they were previously doing and focus their attention on the only Who not sitting. Of course, that Who was Marley and all eyes went instantly on her. She hung her head in humiliation and shuffled over to the nearest empty seat, which was at the back of the bus.
Marley quickly sat down, her eyes downcast and her head still hung low. She only looked up when she heard a faint cough.
JoJo cleared his throat, in order to get the attention of the girl who decided to invade his personal space. She quickly looked up at him, her cheeks still tinted pink. Her eyes widened when she realized who it was she was sitting next to. If there was one thing JoJo wasn't too big on, it was company. That was why he always sat at the back of the bus, by himself. JoJo might have become friendlier in the past couple of months but the Who still liked his personal space.
Marley began looking around in order to find another seat to occupy. She could see Milo and Mason sitting and talking with some random Who boy she'd never met before. And the rest of the bus was filled; there were no other empty spaces. Also, Marley was certain that the driver would yell at her again if she even thought about getting up. She turned back to JoJo, a pleading look in her eyes. She had nowhere else to go.
With a shrug of his shoulders JoJo turned away from the Who girl and continued to stare out the window at the passing scenery. "It's okay, you can sit here."
Marley let out a sigh of relief and leaned back into her chair. Well, this was an interesting start to the new school year.