One adult stood like a pillar of authority in a room of young adolescence. A name was sprawled across the middle of the chalkboard, as if it was what they'd be studying: Miss Dogheart.
She set the chalk down, after retracing the final letter. Turning her back to the board, "I don't need to state the obvious. You're all thirteen or fourteen now. And you've been together in this quiet little town long enough to know each other, and the routine. Soon, we'll get to work."
New faces are always good in this little piece of nowhere, Dan thought. He stiffened in his chair, leaning his elbows on his desk. I was afraid we'd be taught by Mr. Bogue this year. What a madman.
She drew her long face into a smile, addressing her students, "But I'm not the only new face you have to get used to."
Everyone sat up now, attention caught with expectation.
Dan wondered, Perhaps a new teaching assistant?
"It's okay my dear," Miss Dogheart spoke towards the door, motioning with her hand. "Come on in."
The door swung open slowly, and bare feet fell against the cold tiles of the room. A girl stepped into the room, in a frilled white dress. Modest make-up framed her eyes above a shy smile and what Dan thought was such a cute nose.
"She's beautiful," a girl whispered behind Dan.
My thoughts exactly.
"I hope she's nice," another girl answered.
"Where are her shoes?" one boy queried.
"Class," the teacher said. "This is Cassandra Paddock. She moved in this summer."
Mostly everyone drew a warm smile to their faces.
"Go on," she instructed, "take the free desk in front there in the middle."
Daniel reached forward with a hand and pulled back the chair of the empty desk in front of him.
Taking her seat and placing a bag at her side, Cassie turned back to him with a forlorn look on her face. She whispered, "He's gone, Dan. Ran off just after you returned him."
"Oh," answered Daniel. "Sorry to hear that."
Miss Dogheart cleared her throat, drawing attention back to herself. Then, she told them to open their notebooks. And, as if it were not even the first day, she soon had them taking notes and asking questions about a mildly interesting science experiment they'd soon be undertaking.
However, it was not long before a knock came at the door of her classroom, and Miss Dogheart paused in mid sentence, "Now, who could that be?"
A stern-faced woman with too much mascara leaned in, and spoke to the teacher as if the students were not present.
Dan recognized her as the guidance councilor.
"I'm sorry, Clare, but there's one more for you. He just registered now. He's not on your attendance sheet just yet, but please take him in."
A thirteen year old boy walked in. He had pale skin, and white hair that surely must have been dyed. His denim jeans looked just as heavily bleached, and he wore not but a white t-shirt above it and a silver watch. His ears twitched nervously. There was something devious in his eyes, that unsettled Daniel.
After consulting more with the councilor in a whisper, Miss Dogheart turned to her class. "Well," she began, "this is another new student. We'll have to carry in another desk, it seems. This is Robert Jameson."
Daniel couldn't help but check. Sure enough, there was a nearly camouflaged, flesh-coloured hearing aid clasped in place upon the other teenager's ear. Bobby!? This is getting strange... I should tell her. But not now.