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New KidI’m used to being the new kid.
In fact, more often than not I’m the new kid. I’ve seriously considered telling people to call me ‘That New Kid’ but this wouldn’t work because a) there are three other kids in the Bennett family, which would make the whole name thing really weird, because we’ve all been new kids a lot (we would probably end up being called That New Kid #1, That New Kid #2, That New Kid #3, and That New Kid #4. Not exactly ideal, even though I’d be That New Kid #2, which is better than being, say, number four) and then there’s b) there’s a slight possibility that we might not move again and I’ll have a chance not to be That New Kid (this chance, however, is probably around the ballpark of 0% chance of happening. Maybe 0.1% if you want to be generous). Lastly there’s c) my dad would absolutely freak if I ever even mentioned changing my name from Juliet Bennett, a name my mom choose.
I don’t like the name Juliet. I mean, I’m named after a girl who killed herself over a guy she’d known for less than 24 hours. Please. How pathetic is that? So instead I go by the name Julie. The downside of having a nickname is that every time I get the honor of being That New Kid, I have to explain it to every single person in the school. It doesn’t help that my dad and I share a stubborn streak, which means that I’m enrolled as Juliet Bennett in every school. Even when they have a ‘Put Preferred Name Here’ place he completely ignores it.
So, because of my dad’s stubborn streak, I had to go through the whole ‘Call me Juliet and you die’ thing today at my new school, Woodford High in the tiny town of Woodford, California. My older brother, Drew, drove a beat up car that we had bought yesterday at a used car lot. It was a black Prius that was beat up so much that I was surprised when we managed to drop off our younger siblings, Savannah and Kyle, and make it to Woodford High in one piece.
Drew pulled the car into a parking space just in time. He glanced at me. We look a lot alike, I suppose. We share brown, slightly curled hair, except Drew cuts his short so you can barely tell it’s curly. We share the same eyes, gray, too, and the same pale skin. We could pass as twins I suppose. The only difference being Drew was seventeen and going into his senior year, and I was fifteen and heading into my sophomore year.
“You ready for this, Jewels?” Drew said, using a nickname for me that he had made up ages ago. It happened during a really weird phase, just after we watched this scary movie about thieves, and I told him I was going to become a jewelry thief. Probably not the best career choice, but I was five. I guess I wasn’t too considered about, you know, jail.
I made my eyes really wide and morphed my face into something that resembled fear. “Ohmigod, Drew, I’ve never been the new kid before, I don’t think I can do this!” I let my normal confident smile come back. “Drew, I think I can do this.” I flicked a glance at the school. Girls squealed as they saw their friends that they hadn’t seen all summer. Guys gave each other high fives and those weird hugs that all guys across the world seem to know. I smiled. It was the same as any other school – I could fit in, easily. “At least it isn’t too big.”
Drew laughed, getting out of the car. I climbed out, shouldering my messenger bag. The weather was beautifully warm out, warm enough that I could get away with a cute t-shirt, shorts, and my dock shoes. I smiled, pulled my sunglasses off and slipped them into my bag. “Be glad it isn’t too big, Jewels,” Drew grinned at me over the car, before locking it. “You’d get lost in an instant.”
“I think it would take longer than an instant.” I laughed.
“I give you five minutes, top.”
“Hey,” I said fake defensively. “I’d give myself ten minutes at least.”
“Really, Miss Brilliant Navigator?” Drew scoffed as we walked towards the front doors.
I smiled, pulling out my schedule. We had stopped by the high school the day before to get it, and a map of the school. All the new kids had been there (which translates into Drew, me, and the entire freshman class). “Really,” I said with fake bravo. A cool blast of air hit us as we had reached the front doors.
“So which way is your homeroom?” Drew asked stopping and turning to face me.
I squinted at the map and the jumble of ink-smeared numbers. “Um, that way.” I told him, pointing to the right.
“You’re not even looking at a map,” I protested.
He tapped his head and I groaned. Both of us had amazing memories, but mine seemed to decide to stop working when it came to directions. Go figure. He smirked. “Go down that hall, take a left, go up the stairs and you should reach it. See you later, Jewels.” With a final smile, he left me on my own.
I sighed. Better get this first day over with.
“Juliet Bennett! Oh class we have a new student!” Ms Hart’s eyes were bright. She was an English teacher in her early twenties, with light brown hair and a pink dress that she had probably picked out for specifically for the first day of school. With the size of this town, I bet they got a transfer in sophomore year about once a year, making today a very interesting day for her and the rest of this school. Sure enough, twenty heads swirled around to stare at me. Most of them just looked curious, but a blonde girl from the front row surveyed me with disgust. Great. Someone already hated me and I’ve said a grand total of zero words so far. “Juliet how about you stand up and tell us a bit about yourself.” She beamed brightly like this was a brilliant idea.
I fought back the scowl that I really wanted to show her, and instead stood up with the best smile I could muster. The last thing I wanted to do was talk about me, no matter how many times I had to do it. I was the worst at it. “Hi. I’m Julie Bennett,” And don’t you dare call me Juliet, ever, I added in my head. “I do cross country running.” My smile was beginning to become strained at this point. How long did I have to go on about myself for? Was this long enough yet? I added one last sentence before sitting down, “And I just moved here from France.”
That last part hadn’t meant to come out snotty, it was just a fact. But the second it left my mouth, I regretted it. The blonde girl’s disgust deepened. Several people’s mouth dropped open for a second before they recovered. Guy’s suddenly started looking interested, probably wondering how good my French kiss was (I mean, really?).
I almost wanted to add that I had only lived there for the summer, but I had already sat down. Besides, that would lead to the question of where I had lived before that, and that was one long list that would take forever to go through. Rarely did we stay in one place for longer than a year, and most of the time it was less than that.
“Wow!” Ms Hart looked giddy over the prospect of having a person from overseas in her class. “This is one coincidence! We will be studying Shakespeare’s play, King Henry V, first, and it takes place in France!”
I tried for a smile, but all I could think was that this woman must have had too much coffee because she was way too excited over a very small coincidence. My dad was a freelance writer (hence all the moving) and had decided that reading Shakespeare as bedtimes stories was perfectly normal. My memory was a little rusty, but I was pretty sure that only a little bit of King Henry V took place in France.
I’m pretty sure Ms Hart, as an English teacher, knew this too, but she just continued to beam at me like this was the most exciting thing that had ever happened at Woodford High. Considering how small this town was, it probably was.
Finally, Ms Hart broke her gaze with me and started giving the people in the front books to pass back. I had to reach over the empty desk in front of me to grab a copy that a girl with red curls was eagerly trying to get to me. Mentally, I sighed. Was everyone here on too much coffee?
I bent forward into what could possibly be the most awkward position ever and managed to grab the book when as someone cleared their throat at the front of the class. I scrambled to get back into a normal position and then looked up…
… only to see a seriously hot guy standing at the front of the room.