It's hard being the new kid, but it's even harder when you've got the squeakiest desk in the class!

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Sally felt her face turning red.Sally McNally was sure that the first day at her new school wasn’t going to be much fun; she had been the “new kid” often enough to know. The trick, Sally decided, was to be so boring and quiet that the other kids would ignore her.

Not a bad plan—except that when Sally sat down at her desk, she squeaked.

It wasn’t really Sally herself who squeaked. It was the seat assigned to Sally by the teacher, Mrs. Watt.

The first thing Sally noticed that morning was that Mrs. Watt seemed to like staring at new students. The first thing everyone else seemed to notice was the racket from Sally’s rickety desk. It was hard to ignore the snaps, squawks, squeaks, and the high, thin squeals that pierced your eardrums and made your teeth ring even if you didn’t wear braces.

Sally learned right away that even the slightest movement produced a symphony of noises. Just sitting and breathing was hard enough; raising her hand or writing on the desktop would be impossible!

“Good morning, boys and girls!” said the teacher.

Sally (and her desk) joined in chorus with the other kids. “Good—squeak!—morning—squawk!” Several kids began laughing, and Sally felt her face turning red.

“Calm down, everyone,” said Mrs. Watt. “I’m sure you’ve already noticed the newest member of our class. Now she’s going to stand up and tell us her name and where she’s from.

I am? thought Sally. Can’t I tell you later, Mrs. Watt, outside, away from my desk? she wanted to say. Please?

Sally didn’t say that, of course; she decided to get it over with. She sighed (squeak! went the desk), smiled nervously (squawk!), and stood up shakily (squeal!).

“My name,” she said, “is Sally McNally, and we just moved here from the north side of town.”

“Thank you, Sally” said Mrs. Watt. “That’s the way we like to hear people talk in this room—loudly and clearly.”

How else could I talk? thought Sally. I have to shout to be heard over my desk.

Sally stood a while longer, afraid that touching her desk would bring more laughter. She would gladly have stood until recess or even till lunch—probably until high school. But she had to sit back down, and that brought complaints from her seat.

This time, only a few kids laughed, Sally noticed with relief. Maybe her plan would still work.

Sally did not raise her hand once all day. She talked—and squawked—only when Mrs. Watt called on her. At lunch and recess she waited to be the last one out of the room and the first one back. Making it to three o’clock with as little noise as possible was her goal.

"Is something wrong, Sally?"Class finally ended for the day, and the other kids rushed out of the room. But Sally stayed frozen in her seat like a kid-shaped Popsicle.

“Is something wrong, Sally?” the teacher asked.

Only everything, Sally wanted to say, thanks to this rotten old desk! But she merely moved an inch to her left and let the seat squeak an answer for her.

“I know first days are a little rough,” said Mrs. Watt, “but I’m wondering why you’ve worn that huge frown all day.”

“It’s this desk,” complained Sally as she stood up. The desk, of course, added its squeaky two cents.

“Oh, I see,” said Mrs. Watt. “I guess you did get our noisiest desk. I’ll ask Mr. Thomas, our custodian, to oil it for you tonight. Is that all that’s bothering you?”

Sally paused. Now that she thought about it, the squeaking had seemed to bother her more than it bothered anyone else. The other kids hadn’t really been too bad. In fact, she even noticed some that she would like to get to know.

“I guess so,” she said.

“Well,” said Mrs. Watt, “the first day’s always the worst. Now that you’ve survived it, tomorrow should be easier.”

All the way home, Sally thought about what Mrs. Watt had said, and new thoughts chased away old worries. She could hardly wait to see what tomorrow would bring—a quieter desk, certainly, and perhaps even a new friend.