A 937 word story written for the Writer's Cramp Challenge 8/26/19.
| New Girl
I can't face seeing her this morning. I know my mother is going to act so positive, pretending that I have nothing really to dread. She knows that I do, though. It will all be an act. A lie.
Avoidance, that is the best way. I get up early, grab my bag and sneak outside. Maybe I'll have to answer for my actions later, when I face the parental inquisition, but at least I'll have got it over with - the first day at a new school.
I'm right in the middle of it. Two years left. Everyone there will have found their place, will have made their friends or decided to go it alone. I'm going to be the newcomer, the unknown; I have no idea how things work in a school this size. The one I have left had students that probably numbered less than a quater of those here.
One thing is always the same though. Head to the office to get your schedule first thing. I'm very early, but even so there are plenty of students milling about, giving me a cursory the dismissive glance. Good, the last thing I wanted to do was call extra attention to myself.
No make-up, my hair is pulled back in a casual ponytail. I chose a nondescript sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. My sneakers are not new, but they are not tatty either. This is my best effort at becoming invisible, blending in to the background and escaping all the curious glances.
The secretary seems nice enough. She hands me my schedule which I don't even glance at, and she gives me precise directions to where I need to be when the bell sounds. Head down I walk the halls, turning this way, counting the doors, thing about Mark.
Mark, my boyfriend of two years. Mark who I was forced to leave behind when my Dad took a job out of state. I'd promised myself I wouldn't think of him today, especially today, and yet he is there. I can feel the tears beginning to well up in my eyes. Are they because of nerves? Or because I miss him so very, very much. I don't know, don't care; just want them to go away before I end up making even more of a spectacle of myself.
Finally I get to the right door, push it open. I'd expected it to be empty but there are quite a few students already seated, chatting to each other and catching up on the news of their summer. There is a moment of silence as all heads turn towards me, before I am dismissed as insignificant and can take a seat.
The desks are arranged in pairs. I sit at on at the back, the furthest from the door that I can get. I slouch down, stare at the desk, my fingers fidgeting with nerves. The door opens and closes, opens and closes. I keep my eyes trained on my desk and keep reminding myself to breathe.
Someone sits next to me. I don't look, won't look. Instead I lean forward to dig around in my bag. I'm not really looking for anything but I think I put on a pretty convincing act. Whatever, the person sitting beside me does not have a chance to say a word before the teacher walks forward, clears his throat. This is the signal for the chatting to, if not cease, at least become quieter.
"Good morning," he says. "I trust that you all had a great summer." He pauses for a beat, then continues: "If you didn't, I don't want to know."
There is laughter, chuckling, a few remarks made to the teacher. The atmosphere is relaxed. At least my first class is not with some teacher that is really strict. I'm bound to have studied different things; there's nothing like starting a new school to make you feel stupid, whether there is any truth to the feeling or not.
But then my heart sinks. A relaxed class, teacher/pupil banter; that means introductions and I don't think I can face it. I wish...
"Now we have two more victims...I mean students, joining us today."
I look at the schedule in front of me. Mr Kennedy is the teacher's name. Well, I wish Mr Kennedy would just get on with it and put me out of my misery. He hasn't even said my name yet, and my cheeks are burning. I should have left my hair loose so it would have given me some kind of curtain to hide behind.
"So, first we have Mark Douglas. Take a bow, Mark." he says.
The student next to me gets to his feet. Mark Douglas... It can't be my Mark, can it? I try to stop the hope building. My pulse is racing, partly from anxiety, but could it be... ?
The moment he opens his mouth and says 'Hi" is the moment the unbelievable happens. It is him, my Mark, sitting beside me, new here like me.
"And next to new-boy, Mark, unless I am very much mistaken, and we all know that never happens, we have new girl, Carol Jordan."
Shakily, I get to my feet, go through the motions of saying 'Hello', but all I want to do is sit down and ask. "How is this possible?" I whisper as our fingers search each other out, then entwine.
"It's very simple really, Caz. First, you moved; then, we followed!"
I don't care how, I know why. And together being the newbie is really not going to be such a chore after all.