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Things Happen: Chapter 2
Sprawled out across of me was boy about my age. His eyes were wide in shock, and his face was slowly turning a light shade of pink, either from the running or from the embarrassment. Realizing the situation, I began to scramble away from him and quickly began apologizing. He beat me to the punch though.
“I’m so sorry! I should have been watching where I was going," the boy blurted out immediately. "Here, let me help you pick it up!"
In the midst of my confusion, I hadn't noticed that my school bag fell to the ground and its contents spilled everywhere. I cringed when I saw everything scattered around us. The boy I ran into was quick to help collect my things. "Sorry, again," he repeated, and I tried smiling.
"It's all right, my bad," I replied nonchalantly, but I was humiliated. "I know better than to read and walk at the same time."
He laughed quietly with me, and I knew he was going to recover from the embarrassment. I, on the other hand, not so much. I was still mortified and wanted to disappear as I dumped the last of my things back inside my useless bag. "Thanks."
The boy looked up and gave me a small smile. As I met his eyes, I saw that they were this clear kind of brown color, a nice shade, and intently watching me. I blushed deeply, and ducked my head. As I pretended to fumble with the strap of my bag, I saw that he was now standing with his arm extended out towards me.
"I'm sorry. I should have paid more attention where I was going," he said, once I took his hand and pulled myself up.
"It's okay," I repeated, a bit irritated with both myself and him, straightening myself up and brushing off my clothes. "It was my fault, too." Now that we were both standing at full height, I got the chance to study him better.
He was at least two or three inches taller than me, that was for sure. His brown eyes were peeking out from underneath floppy brown hair, curiously observing me as well. I heat was rising up to my cheeks and I knew at once my face was incredibly red, yet again.
"I haven't seen you around here. Are you new?" he said, curiously scrutinizing me with his head slightly tilted to the right. I blinked in surprise and swallowed. Say something!
"Uh..." He waited for me to say something else. I cleared my throat and tried to form words together, "Yeah. I moved from California during winter break."
He nodded understandably and stuck his hands into the pockets of his khaki pants. "That sucks, I guess. I'm Nat by the way."
"Emma," I replied. "And yeah, it kind of does."
Nat looked at me and smiled.
All around me the hallway began to fill up with students. The swarmed in at all directions, and pretty soon it was crowded. It was really noisy and made it hard to concentrate; I heard students talking and laughing, feet shuffling, backpacks bustling, locker doors opening and snapping shut. Clutching my schedule tightly in my hand, I weaved in and out of groups and masses of guys and girls, trying to get a glimpse of the number on the doors I passed by. I was looking for classroom 221 with Ms. Hale, apparently my homeroom teacher. At this rate, I was never going to find that room. It just seemed hopeless without having to get lost. Pretty soon, the crowds began to disperse and the last of the students fled to their classrooms when the late bell began to ring, loud and continuous. I pulled out my cellphone from my bag and checked for the time; it was now 8:21.
"God, no," I moaned; I was already minute late, surely enough to get in trouble, but also because I knew I was going to arrive much, much later.
As I was flipping my phone over to toss it back inside, I saw it had a crack running across the back, which probably occurred from when all my stuff exploded out of my bag this morning. As if I needed another thing to worry about now; mom was going to kill me. The hallway was empty and now I knew it was a good time to whip out the school map. I've never been good with directions, which was why I hadn't thought to pull it out because then I would just end up confusing myself even more. Several minutes later, I ended up in front of a closed door with a row of crimson lockers to its right and a bulletin board on the left. My insides felt queasy, not just because I was late and knew I was going to end up looking like a fool, but because that familiar first-day-of-school nervousness feeling had returned.
"Here goes nothing," I mumbled to myself, taking a deep breath before knocking lightly on the door's wooden surface. Through the little window pane I could see a woman sitting behind a desk at the corner of the room, positioned so it was angled just slightly enough to have an entire view of the class. She suddenly looked up and saw me standing outside the door. The woman stood up and made her way over to me, opening it partially.
"Can I help you?" she asked politely, taking note of the paper I still held tightly in my hands.
"Uh, yes," I stuttered, and then tried to swallow. "I think I'm supposed to go to this class."
She nodded slowly, as if she didn't comprehend the meaning of my words. I realized how stupid and foolish I had just sounded. "Do you have your schedule with you?" the woman asked quietly, catching me way off guard.
"Um, yes-here." I handed it to her and waited patiently as she studied it. Her eyebrows creased as she read, and for a split second I wondered if I'd given her the wrong paper. A second later, I felt a pang in my stomach, the truth sinking in. Oh no, this wasn't my class. I'm not supposed to be here at all. My schedule's messed up. God, I'm such an idiot-
"Alrighty, then," the teacher finally said with a bright smile. I could feel my heart still pounding fiercely in my chest, still fired up after all my hasty assumptions. Relief washed over me and I carefully took my schedule back with shaky hands. Ms. Hale, I assumed, opened the door wider, welcoming. "Come right in," she said, and I cautiously stepped inside. I felt as if I had just passed a test, but then once I faced the rest of the class, I realized the next part was going to be torture. Twenty-four pairs of curious eyes stared right back at me as I cowered beside the teacher.
"Go ahead and a pick a seat, wherever you like," she smiled, giving me a small nudge on my back and she gently ushered me forward. I stumbled and clumsily made my way down the aisle I landed on and kept on walking, trying hard to avoid all the faces that were now watching me, me the new girl, the freak. I briefly contemplated all my options, there weren't that many, and finally came to the conclusion that it was safer to sit beside a girl in a yellow tee at the very back of the room wearing a bored expression. At least here, I knew no one could turn around and continue ogling, and I had a feeling the girl wouldn't really care whether or not I claimed the free seat beside her as long as I didn't bother her or anything. Sinking down on my chair, aware that my face felt too hot and that a couple of girls were still pointedly staring at me, I ducked my head down and hid behind my light brown hair, using it as a curtain as I pretended to suddenly be very interested at the wooden brown desk's surface beneath me. When I looked back up, minutes later, I saw that the girls had thankfully lost interest in me and were now facing the front again.
"Okay, class, as I was saying," Ms. Hale began, taking her place in the center at the front of the room. She was sitting down on a chair. "The forms I'm giving you will be due the following week on Monday-yes, Jenny?"
A girl who was sitting on the far left row, also one of the huddled group that had been point-blankly watching me, had raised her hand. "Um, yeah, but why do we have to do all this crap for anyways? Didn't we get all that stuff signed and everything at the beginning of the year already?"
I winced at her choice of vocabulary, but Ms. Hale either didn't seem to notice, or simply didn't care. "That's a good question," Ms. Hale responded, and I saw the girl gloat as if she were getting praised for saying something incredibly smart. "It's to see whether or not you guys are ready for an amusement park with roller coasters and-"
Cheers had erupted and suddenly everyone was far more interested than they probably had been before. Even the girl with the bored expression beside me looked up interestedly. Up close now, I noted that she discreetly wore green ear buds. I wondered what kind of music she was listening to, or if she was listening to anything at all, just using them as a pretext to look busy and be ignored.
"No, I'm just kidding," Ms. Hale said, grinning, and their were several boos and whines of protest going around. "Seriously, you need to bring them back-signed," she added with a warning glance at a boy slumping down on his seat who had long blond hair and a black beanie covering the top of his head. "The school needs them, and if you don't cooperate in signing to agree with the rules-"
"But the year's half over, Ms. H!" someone called out. A few other kids murmured in agreement.
"And have you been following the rules all year long?" Ms. Hale asked, and there were only a few giggles and snickers in return. "That's right."
She got up from her chair and walked over to her desk where she reached for a pile of papers sitting atop the surface. "Okay, I'm going to pass these out, and then we are going to read it allowed. Some of you need reminding of the rules, code of conduct, principles, and what not. Besides, I'm sure our newcomer would be interested in hearing this."
I didn't dare look up because I could already feel the stinging looks some people were sending my way. Me, the new kid, the cause of everything. Ms. Hale began passing out a stack of the forms to each student sitting at the front of each row, and from then on the forms were passed back until everyone had one. When it was my turn to grab mine, the girl in front of me turned around and gave me a dark look, narrowing her blue eyes slightly, as if scrutinizing on my face for future reference.
"You're new?" she said, and I nodded. With that statement, she made a face and turned around, tossing my packet behind her. I made a dash for it and missed entirely, almost falling out of my seat. I reached for it embarrassedly and quickly yanked it off the floor and hid my blushing face away from the rest of the world.
"Violet," I heard Ms. Hale say in a warningly tone. "That is not the way we pass things around here, you know that."
I heard the girl in front of me make a humphing sound, and I knew I was officially on someone's target zone.
"Ms. Hale! Are you seriously gonna make us read all this?" another girl asked shrilly, skeptically eying page after page of her form. I looked at mine, rumpled from the fall it had taken, and was stunned to see how long it was. Seven pages, and most of them were back in front. Even though this was a private school, I still hadn't expected it to be all high standards or anything. But now, with a packet full of rules that were probably meant to be memorized, I felt scared. It sure was a lot of strict conduct codes for a school, private or not.
"Yes, every single page, and then next week when you return I will be giving you a quiz on what you were supposed to learn," Ms. Hale responded, and I didn't know whether she was joking or not. "So you better study this thing day and night."
There were a couple of snickers and snorts, but Ms. Hale's voice quickly interjected through them. "I'm serious, you guys. If you can't seem to follow the rules, then the board might consider canceling the annual field trip the freshmen class gets."
It was silent in the room; it felt as if everyone were holding their breath, afraid to even shift around in their seat. So it must be a great deal whatever this field trip was because everyone sure seemed like they wanted it. In the still atmosphere, I could just barely make out the melody of a song playing, and I realized it was the Ear Bud girl. My eyes followed the source, and I saw she was lightly bobbing her head along with the music. It was either that or perhaps falling asleep. I wondered if she even heard a word Ms. Hale had just said.
"All right then, let's continue where we were, shall we?"
Groans were emitted, but that didn't stop Ms. Hale from reading off the first rule on the long, long list. Right then and there, I knew it was going to be a long period.