My body wakes up, and I only know because of the warm touch of my cotton blankets against my outstretched legs and the gentle air of the fan brushing against my face. My eyelids feel like they’re stuck to the surface of my eyeballs and take a few strenuous tries to force open. There is a minute of serenity with the light streaming through the window and my head and mind sinking into my thick pillow before the sound of my alarm hits my ears like a bird abruptly hitting a window. My peaceful state of mind is shattered as I realize today is the first day of school. I lay there for a minute more, unmoved, meditating on the past few months and how they escaped my grasp so fast. I sit up and swing my legs around to the side of the bed allowing myself one more moment of contemplation and scuff off to my bathroom.
School starts in an hour which means I only have so much time to savor one of the only parts I know I will enjoy. I rummage through the mounds of clothes scattered on the floor of my room that looks like a minefield, but also looks like a bomb could have already exploded. I mix and match all the possibilities in my head of my favorite clothes with the pungent smell of American Eagle perfume pulling me towards a bright pink shirt sticking out of one of the mines. It will have to do since my indecisiveness has led me to eight o'clock. I finish my look in a rush, and shove a notebook and a pencil into my light blue backpack that still feels grimy with dirt from summer adventures. I walk out to the kitchen to see everyone all ready, waiting for me in the kitchen and brush by them without a word to grab the keys from the little black box hanging on the wall. The box closes with a jingle and I’m out the door with my brother close behind me.
I step outside and am encapsulated by the raw atmosphere: a feeling I know will be robbed from me for 8 hours a day during the next 10 months. The ride consists of of Will talking my ear off with his playlist of the day rumbling the speakers. His eagerness to arrive at school and meet up with his friends is beaming out of him in every possible way: out of his face, his words, his freshly combed hair, and his shiny, clean sneakers. I’ve learned all too well how to keep one half of my brain open to reply to him and keep the other half closed for my own time to think. As we sit in the rumbling car in the long line of illuminated traffic, my thoughts wander to first days past and how they always used to be so thrilling. The idea of meeting new people, taking new classes, and new beginnings no longer appeal to me the way they used to. Pulling into school on time, the parking lot is already packed with bouncing students who evidently arrived there early on purpose. And me? I couldn’t get there any later.
I reach the front steps and see the front windows of the school grinning at me like the cheshire cat in response to my sunken expression. The instant I pass through the doors, the temperature increases and that crisp air I had been breathing in just moments earlier is replaced with something thicker that tastes like chemicals and sweat. The subtle scent of my sweet perfume is lost into a giant mass of substances that should smell nice, but mash into a giant headache instead. The scent passes momentarily, being blown away by the administrative hallway’s A.C., but somehow finds me soon after like it always does. Old and new teachers smile at me and send welcoming remarks my way that just seem to bounce off the white cinderblock walls and reflect back to the person behind me. Glazed eyes burn holes into my retinas, as if trying to figure me out completely through one glance. Some eyes are new and hold curiosity behind their colored Irises, but others are the same ones that have been staring at me for the past three years and return to where they had previously left off. I continue trudging down the linoleum hallway, scuffing my white converse on the ground as I have no desire to pick them up completely. Fresh looking sophomores stop abruptly in front of me in their outfits that were carefully picked out three days before and halt their conversation to, again, stare into me. My face remains blank, holding no hope when I see the glimmer of a silver nose ring peek around the corner, closely followed by the rest of a thin female body with straight, stringy, dark brown hair. My brain lights up and the long awaited first day excitement hits me as a pace towards my friend.