"Ida," she repeated, cocking her head to the side in the imitation of interest. "That's an usual name!"
"Where did you move from?"
"Down south," I replied.
"Oh, I bet it's warm down there," she said, her exaggerated smile stretching across her face as she looked languorously out of the classroom window.
Probably imagining herself on a sunny beach dipping her expensively manicured toenails into the tepid water, I thought, trying not to smirk as she flicked her blonde hair in a clichéd manner.
"It has its moments. I lived in a city notorious for its rainfall."
Her crystal blue eyes turned back on me, her smile faltering. I had shattered her Mediterranean coastline daydream.
“What was your old school like?” She threw the question at me before I had a chance to twist my chair back around and end the conversation.
“Alright,” was all that I said.
This was starting to sound more like an interview than a girl just being friendly and trying to help me fit in. I briefly wondered how many of my answers would float around the school by break time – hopefully none if I kept them dull and simple. I was not going to allow this girl the pleasure of ‘digging up the dirt’ on the new kid.
She made a gesture for me to continue. When I pretended not to notice her through the classroom bustle she added an adamant, “And?”
It took most of my self-control not to glower at her pushiness.
“It was an all girls’ school on the outskirts.”
“Really,” her eyes widened and she looked stunned as if she had never heard of a single sex school before. “How did you survive without guys being around?”
“I just did,” I shrugged; this girl was really beginning to get on my nerves. "So, what's your name?" I asked, before she could press for more details.
"Melanthe," she replied, her elbow propped up on the desk and her head resting on the palm of her hand.
“Black flower?!” I exclaimed, my expression incredulous, staring at her honey-coloured hair and fair complexion.
I expected her to nod self-approvingly, twirl her hair and giggle, but instead she glanced away and blushed.
“My Gran insisted on that name,” she mumbled. “I didn’t think anyone would know what it meant.”
There was a long break in the conversation, and I was just getting ready to face the front of the class when she perked up again.
“So do you know where your next class is?”
I remembered that I had a map shoved somewhere into my rucksack, but it would have been dangerous to say refuse this girl's offer.
“No,” I answered, plastering an identical smile onto my face. “Will you show me?”
“Of course! Class is almost over.”
I glanced up at the clock and then at the teacher still scribbling away at the front of the classroom.
“Isn’t he going to teach us something?”
“No,” she said, laughing nonchalantly. “This is only registration. Every morning we come to this classroom and they mark in our attendance. There's not many of us, so our entire year fits into two rooms.”
“I think I missed it...” It would be just my luck to be late on my first day.
“Don't worry, they probably marked you in at reception."
She gave me a reassuring smile. I blinked. Was this girl actually being nice to me?
The school bell gave a shrill ring, signalling the end of registration. The class erupted with the noise of chair legs scraping, bags being dragged up off the floor and students discussing the slowest route to their next lesson. I found myself being swept up in a tide of energetic teenagers and carried out the classroom.