“Let me see...ah yes, Miss Willow Carter. If you could just take one of these forms and fill it in – your class is gathering over there, under that B poster” she indicated to one of the large billboards that had been erected with a huge black ‘B’ attached to it, there was also A,C and a D. There were roughly fifteen other students standing by that sign, filling in the same forms I had been given. A few of the guys had grouped together and were already discussing different sports while the girly girls had formed a tight little pack to gossip away their year which left the geeks to huddle together to test out the safety in numbers phrase and the few random loners who were trying to look to busy to cover up their shyness.
I was still trying to control my own urge to sprint from the building to even bother unzipping my bag to hunt for a pen I knew it would end with my bag being dropped, pens and paper going everywhere so I was gonna spare myself that humiliation and ask the shy brunette a few feet from me for her pen.
“You done with that?” I asked, moving closer to her so she knew I was meaning her. Think she actually jumped from me talking to her because I got a blank look right back. “Your pen, you done with it, can I borrow it?” I was very pleased at myself, my body felt like it was gonna explode but I could keep my voice on a calm level. The girl looked like she was gonna faint...I’m sure I kept my voice level and I know I didn’t say anything mean or cruel. Should I repeat my question or help her find a chair or something in case she did actually faint...I wonder if I could support her weight long enough to stop her from crashing to the ground...
“.....err....sur-sure...” she stuttered, handing me her pen at the same time without taking her eyes off of me. I must have been one of the first (I may as well get used to calling myself this) student to actually say something to her. I thanked her for the pen and ended up leaning against the billboard, ever tried writing while leaning against something vertical and holding onto a bag at the same time – it’s not an easy task to do, wasn’t a lot to the paper work, just read through it, sign your name to confirm all the details and make any changes if necessary. I checked over the form, making sure I hadn’t missed anything glad to have something my mind could focus on, in a strange way it was calming.
“D-Did you come here before?” the girl stuttered after I thanked her for letting me borrow her pen. I knew the risk when asking for a pen and making contact with others meant exposing myself to conversation.
“Nope, I’m new here.” I tried making sure there was a note of finality in my tone, hoping she would pick up on the fact I wasn’t really want to get all chatty.
“Me too.” She didn’t sense my tone then, “I was afr-afraid that I, I would be the only one.” She stuttered away, I guess she wasn’t all that shy then, just needed someone to make that first introduction I smiled back at her, acknowledging her comment, glancing around poster B to see if anyone new had arrived in our group. Nobody had joined us but I was very relieved to see that tanned boy...Hoot or something strange like that standing with a bigger of group of drooling girls babbling at his feet at poster A.
“He’s kinda ho-hot .” the girl beside me giggled, I rolled my eyes at that statement.
“Oh please, do yourself a favour and pick someone else to drool over for the rest of the year.” I firmly stated, making sure it sunk into her brain I don’t give advice freely to complete strangers so she had better treasure that little freebie. Think it came across more forceful than I meant it as she seemed to shrink into herself somehow.
“H-He is-is out of my l-league.” She gave a small smile. I don’t know if it was the stutter or her small size but combined it made her cute.
“Trust me on this one you don’t want to be in his league ok unless you want to turn into a pink clone” I indicated to the group of girls around him.” The girl giggled at my comment though tried to hide it which made her look even more adorable, her hair coming forward over her face to hide her hazel eyes from view. Guessing her actual height I’d say she was roughly 5ft at least, I was 5ft 5 and the top of her head was level with my nose, could be my eyes, it’s hard to say with her head lowered to hide her laughing. She was wearing a smart skirt and shirt outfit; it suited her just fine though she didn’t seem all herself wearing it, obviously she had wanted to create a good first impression today. I did a quick look down at my clothes, baggy old jeans with zips and buttons everywhere, a T-shit that was a bit big for me completed with my scruffy jacket and hood, I was completely comfortable and myself.
“I’m sorry but your name is?” the girls eyes widened as her head shot up, ok was I the first person to ever show her attention...
“My-my n-name?” she stuttered, fighting to keep her voice level, “It’s-it’s I mean it’s, I’m ssSally.” She completed with a sigh of relief.
“Willow, just call me Will.” I may as well see where this conversation takes me I sighed as I noticed her blushing again.
“S-sorry,” she mumbled into her chest “I thought you-you were a boy.” Her voice was so quite I could barley catch what she had said and when I turned to actually face her I swear she flinched away from me. Good. I had successfully made myself look intimidating so I didn’t need to worry about some friendly idiot trying to approach me. Sally was still mumbling sorry for jumping to conclusions with her beetroot red face glowing through her veil of brown hair.
“Its fine I was aiming for that look anyway.” She looked up at me, her eyes trying to work out of I was telling the truth or if I was about to hit her. I couldn’t help but grin, she had too much of an innocent feeling to her I couldn’t help but smile at her. She smiled back as her face began to return to its normal colour.
Crap. I was being pulled in I knew if I spent some time around her I could start to actually like her. My mind spilt. I had two visions playing out. One scene playing out the good things that could happen if I spent some time with her, getting to know her and maybe even being able to call her a friend. The second showed exactly the same but finished with it being taken away and showing the many ways of that happening, the pain of getting close to Sally then it turn out to be a practical joke, or it sounds a bit extreme but this is how my mind works, her actually being killed in some freak accident and having to cope with that loss.
I was spared from having to deal with making a decision over Sally by a loud voice making the now roughly 20 teens standing by poster B stop talking and pay attention to the tall woman holding up the same forms we had been told to sign our names on.
“Ok listen up. I’m your form teacher Miss. Bentley and if you could all pass your forms to me I can check that I have everyone who is meant to be here.” Shuffling paper sounds could be heard as they got passed to her. She must have just got her teaching degree or whatever was needed in order to become a teacher as she was very young possibly late 20’s and she wasn’t wearing an old stuffy suit like some of the teachers I’d seen walking around the place so far. Miss. Bentley called out everyone’s names, checking them off her list and after I raised my hand when she called it out I didn’t pay much attention to who else was called and only realised we were about to move when Sally tugged gently on my sleeve and I allowed her to keep guiding me as we were herded along through another door and along corridors...up a flight of stairs....I paid little attention to what Miss. Bentley was saying and let my mind wander back to if I should willing let myself get to know Sally or if I should just start ignoring her.
I still had no idea on what I should do about Sally when Miss. Bentley had us all standing inside of a classroom and it too had a brand new look to it, new desks, new whiteboard and even new lockers at the back of the room. The new teacher motioned for us to take a seat while she moved and sat on the corner of the teacher’s desk. Sally hesitated, waiting to see which desk I picked. I spotted one at the back of the room and cut straight for it and I could hear Sally trotting behind me and smiled to myself.
“Ok guys” Miss. Bentley carried on after the shuffling of chairs had died down, “Here are your timetables for this year in our new school handbook.” She hoped off the desk and started handing out everybody’s class schedule and saying how it came complete with a copy of school rules and a calendar to help plan out our school year and to keep organised and if we needed, there was even a map of the school buildings and grounds which she followed by her reading out the rules....I should get a watch, I had no idea what time it was...I turned to look at Sally but saw no watch on her wrist either, typical the one person I had to ask for a pen doesn’t have a watch on. Sally noticed that I was staring at her and returned my gaze questioningly. I shook my head slightly, letting her know it wasn’t important and she went back to paying attention to whatever the teacher was saying now.
Miss. Bentley had returned to sitting on her desk and was smiling around her new class while we waited for her to tell us what to do next.
“Well. You guys have got a free this period to stay in here really, after the bell rings we got to head off to assembly for the head’s speech and the last thing I can really tell you is that the only thing I expect you to do this year is to enjoy yourselves, yes I know it’s your last year and you need to focus on getting your exams completed and it gets very stressful, panicking about it does not, I repeat does not help.” A few students giggled at this. “I’m here whenever you need to just come and talk, if you’re falling behind work wise and deadlines are getting close just come and talk to me or another staff member, we can help you. Yes we set the deadlines but we can also help you meet them too. You are not alone here.” She came across so genuine even I was actually being taken in by her words.
There was a moments silence as she let her words sink into our heads before asking a girl on the front row if she had had a good summer and soon a few more students had joined in with their conversation. She had started a ripple effect and soon everyone was joining in, including Sally, swapping their summer tales as Miss. Bentley herself faded out of the conversation, letting the students take over. It was easy to see that most of them knew each other from previous years and that only a handful of us were brand new to this school.
“And what about you...Willow, how was your summer?” Miss. Bentley’s voice chimed right beside my ear, I barely managed to stop myself from leaping from my seat “sorry, I didn’t mean to –“
“Don’t worry about it.” I told her, letting my heartbeat return to normal, it would have been her own fault had I done a reflex hit to her face or something. “Didn’t do much – just moved here.” I answered your question now walk away, go on, walk back the front like a good teacher.
“So not only a new student but new to the area too – I’m no longer the only newbie then, first time I’ve been in this city too.” She added with warm smile and to my relief she walked back to the front of the desk.
“What was-sss that about?” Sally leaned across to me; I just shrugged back at her
“Guess she wanted to say hi to her only student who hadn’t chipped in with rest of them.” I told her after a moment’s pause, unsure if I should have added that comment or kept it to myself, I don’t want to bore her with useless comments.
“That true, wha-what you told her? The bit w-where you ss-said that you jusst moved here?”
“Yes it’s true.”
“Wh-who did you move here w-with then?” I knew that question would come up, if not in that form, she would eventually ask about my...umm family. I had to take a deep breath to steady my nerves. I couldn’t fool myself into thinking that I could simply cut her off and never speak to her again, not now after I’ve already swapped more than a few words with her. My only chance to end contact with Sally was after I returned her pen but I didn’t. I sighed, tapping my head lightly with my knuckles for letting me actually want to keep talking to her. I shouldn’t have even borrowed that pen, I should have dug one out of my bag and left her alone, it would have been better for her in the long run.
“Just myself...whole independence type thing, prove to them that I can take care of myself.” It was partly the truth. Dam, why can’t I stop talking to her! My entire plan for the day had been thrown off. I just wanted to arrive and then spend my time alone and here I was socializing.
“Can-can I just point out that you-you should take your hood off, it-it hides your green eyes.” She had said that in a way that almost made it sound like a command but not. I turned and looked at her directly as whatever power had made her say that shrank back into hiding. To hell with it all, if I was breaking my plan for the day I was gonna make sure I smashed it up and stomped on the scattered pieces. If I was gonna talk to this girl then I was gonna make the most of it.
“Make a deal with you. I’ll put my hood down if you stop hiding behind all that hair of yours.” I grinned. The was a slight moment where she must have replayed and checked that I had actually said that before she pulled out of her slouch and actually threw her head back, flicking all of hair out of her face. I couldn’t help it. I laughed. She had done the head flick in slow motion; it was the best slow motion head flick I’d ever seen without technology being used.
Sally looked back me expectantly.
I did already tell myself if I was gonna do this, I may as well go all out and actually admit I was enjoying it. I grabbed the back of the hood and pulled it down slowly and tried to do the head flick like Sally had done, I knew it would be nowhere near as good as hers. I ruined the entire effect when I realised how silly we must look, doing slow motion head flicks at the back of the class and burst out laughing, Sally was laughing too and I couldn’t stop a huge smile spreading across my face.
The assembly was not that important, it was just like Miss. Bentley’s speech except for a broader audience and less personal. The Headmaster was new; he was young and modern, no old fogey. They must have just decided to dump their old image or something, the entire place had been re-done, and not a single corner was missed, even the chairs we were sitting in were brand new. The guy rambled on about how it was a start of a new year and that it was time for a fresh start and other stuff like that to do with inspiring school spirit and encouraging our minds to learn and absorb new information. I pretended to fall asleep, letting out a fake snore and watched Sally fight down a wave of giggles beside me.
“I can’t believe y-you actually did that” she giggled as we cut a way through the packed corridor as I rolled my eyes but ended up smiling anyway, she was just too sweet and innocent.
“I’ll have you doing it before the end of this week.” She stuck her tongue out at me as a response. The shy stuttering girl actually stuck her tongue out at me.
“Oh you are such a rebel.” I joked and broke down laughing again. What had come over me...I had never laughed this much in years, I couldn’t even try and stop it from bursting out of me, she brought it out of me. I felt a complete transformation taking place within me, I liked this feeling but at the same time I was terrified that something would happen and I’d lose it. It was too fast. I was getting too much too soon; my entire body was being flooded with warmth. Sally caught my glance and concern filled her eyes. Not what I needed, that meant I didn’t look ok at first glance. It may sound daft but yes, her comfort scared me. She was there beside me and had placed her hand on my arm.
Everything changed before my eyes and I was no longer looking at Sally but his eyes were glaring into me, I felt his hands digging into my arms and felt him shove me backwards into the wall, all air knocked from my chest.
“Ww-Willow...” Sally’s voice pulled me back to standing in the middle of a corridor; most of the students had entered classrooms or gone to a different part of the building leaving the more carefree students walking about. “Y-you’re sh-shaking.”
I remembered we had just past a bathroom back round the corner and sprinted for it, my bag slipped from my shoulder as I turned and ran. I wasn’t too sure but I think Sally called out after me; I last caught a glimpse of her as I sped round the corner and she looked utterly bewildered. I would worry about her later – right now I just wanted to get to a toilet in case I couldn’t fight back the wave of nausea. Dam, the bathroom was right at the end of corridor. Stupid school designs!
The run itself had distracted my stomach long enough but now I knew only a door was blocking my way I burst through it – glad to out of the corridor, the smaller room gave a stronger sense of security and the space around me was no longer huge but nice and cramped, objects that I could lean against for safety and not feel exposed. Well that’s what I had hoped for when I burst through the door, what I got was quite the opposite.