The next day I sat down at my regular spot in English class and prepared for homeroom. I retrieved the homework assignment from last night, a two-page reaction paper to the first chapter of A Clockwork Orange. I glanced around at my classmates who were talking and laughing. Briefly, I made eye contact with a girl and I smiled at her. She glared at me in return then looked away. My situation seemed more hopeless than ever.
Class started and I tried to follow what the teacher was saying, but I felt a heavy tug of sadness. Everything I had tried didn’t seem to work and I was quickly running out of ideas for how to fit into this ridiculous school. Everyone seemed to be determined to exclude me. Even some of the teachers didn’t seem to like me. I suddenly wondered if maybe they had heard some rumor about me that wasn’t even true.
Maybe they had heard that I was a gang member from my old town or maybe that I had three kids. Maybe that’s why they all seemed to be against me. If I could just find out what they thought I had done, then I could work to correct their misapprehension. If I could just make one single friend then I could find out why everyone disliked me, then I could work on making new friends. I glanced to my left. The girl sitting beside me was named Christine, I think. Maybe she would be my friend.
“Valentine, are you paying attention?”
“Huh?” I looked up and realized that the teacher was standing in front of me. “Oh, sorry Mrs. Klass. I guess my thoughts just wandered.”
“Humph. Well, I don’t know how your old school worked, but in this school you pay attention to your lessons and you take notes.” She tapped her pointer stick on my desk for emphasis. I didn’t think it was really needed. But, okay.
Mrs. Klass opened her mouth to continue, but there was a knock on the door. “Yes?” She asked, crossing the room to the door.
The door opened slowly and one of the office secretaries entered with a teenage boy. The boy’s eyes covered the entire room and he briefly made eye contact with me before looking away. I raised an eyebrow. He was cute. His hair was a dark auburn, with deep brown eyes and an even face. He was slightly tan, no small feat in the middle of November.
“Mrs. Klass, this is Dash Braydon, your new student.” The secretary said, gesturing to the boy.
The class suddenly became a sea of angry murmurs, I looked around the other students as they all narrowed their eyes and glared at Dash while whispering to each other. I rolled my eyes. Maybe this was just how they treated all new students because they were all dickheads.
“Alright,” Mrs. Klass responded, not even bothering to greet her new student. “You can sit over there.” She pointed to the empty seat next to me in the back.
Dash nodded then walked past the murmuring students to set his backpack down on the floor and slid into his seat. I smiled at him. “Hi, I’m Valentine.” I told him. He smirked at me.
“Valentine! No talking!” Mrs. Klass shouted. I stared at my desk. Today was going to be a long day.
The day dragged on and on. When the bell finally rang for my final class, I was relieved. But then I remembered that my last class was history and my relief disappeared. We had a quiz today about English history and I was dreading it. The teacher had given one quiz previously and it had been so difficult I was sure that I failed. The questions centered on the most minute players in history that I wondered if anyone in the class had even paid attention to these figures, let alone remembered who they are in order to pass the quiz.
“Hey, Valentine!” I turned at the sound of my name to see Dash walking quickly to catch up with me.
“Oh, hi,” I said, somewhat sadly. I wonder what he wanted.
“So when were you going to tell me?” He asked.
I blinked, “Tell you what?”
“That this school is inhabited by body snatchers.”
“Body snatchers?” I raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think that I’m not a body snatcher too?”
“Please. You don’t fit in here any better than I do.” He said it with a smirk, so I was sure that he was light-heartedly joking and not pointing out that I was an outsider in the entire school.
“Didn’t take you long to figure that one out.” I laughed. “What tipped you off?”
“You actually introduced yourself and didn’t start whispering behind my back as soon as I looked away. Everyone else seems to be really into that here.” He said, sounding slightly annoyed.
“Well, my secret’s out. I’m new here too. I just started about two months ago,” I offered. “I guess this is just how this school is with new students.”
“Yeah, no kidding. Hey, where are you headed?” He asked, nodding at my books.
“History class with Mr. Ronald,” I responded.
“Sweet, I’m in that class too. I’ll walk with you,” He said.
I could feel my cheeks turning pink. “Sure!’ I said a little too eagerly.
“Or rather, I’ll follow you, because I have no idea where the class is,” He laughed. “At my old high school they gave students maps instead of just throwing them into the mix and wishing them the best.”
We walked to class together, talking and ignoring the other students who stared and whispered about the new students.
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