As soon as I stepped into the sixth form common room, I knew that it was going to be difficult to fight my way into the obviously closely-knit friendship groups. The groups of kids were huddled together, forming tight circles around iPhones.
Sighing, I dumped my bag on the closest table to the door and yanked out a chair, sitting myself down.
A few passers-by threw an interested glance in my direction, but other than that, there were no attempts to catch my attention.
I wanted to cry. Which was stupid. But the urge was overwhelming and it took every ounce of my being to fight back the tears which threatened to emerge.
Just as I was about to give into the temptation of dashing into the girl’s toilets to silently sob, a girl scooted the chair out opposite me and shot me a huge, sunshiny grin. She had a pair of huge bright blue eyes, framed by thick long lashes which were coated with generous amounts of mascara. Her sandy-blonde hair framed her round face in a cute bob, and the light from the window shone behind her head, casting a pale-gold halo around her.
“Hi!” She said, placing her little hands on the table. Her nails were painted a pale shade of violet, and it made her light-golden tan seem darker.
“Hey,” I smiled back, determined to make a good first impression.
“I’m Jenny. Jenny Kaufman,” she introduced herself. “I noticed you were sitting here all by yourself. It’s tough being new,” she said sympathetically and I couldn’t help but instantly like her.
“Yeah, I’m Edie. Deacon. Edie Deacon.” I agreed. “I swear, I might have cried if everyone had carried on ignoring me!” I blurted out, my cheeks flushing.
“Well, it’s a good job I came over!” She trilled, grinning. “Where have you moved from?”
“Way down south,” I said evasively. “My Dad had to move his business, so we’ve moved into the huge house on Stocknorth Hill, you know it?”
Jenny’s face went white-pale for a moment, and her eyes glazed over. I froze, regretting sharing the information, “hey, are you okay?”
“Oh, me? Yeah. I’m fine, fine!” She stammered, twisting her slim fingers together. “I used to live in that house,” she explained, biting her lip.
“Oh, right,” I said, my eyebrows rose and I smiled encouragingly at her, interested in why they decided to move.
Some sniggers behind me had me turning around, and I found myself face-to-face with a gaggle of girls. They were all looking at Jenny with the same expression of contempt. The tallest girl, who was obviously their ‘ringleader’ of sorts, jerked her chin and a snide smile stretched her cheeks. “They moved ‘cause her brother went and got himself killed. Because of her, you know? You’re really better off avoiding her.”
I felt my jaw drop in horror and my stomach twisted in protest as I made the decision to speak up for the tiny, fretful-looking girl who sat opposite me. “Just hang on a minute!”
“That’s a really awful thing to say. Look, I don’t know you, but I don’t think I want to if you’re such a horrible person.”
“Excuse me?” The girl’s eyes narrowed and my chest tightened in panic.
“Edie, you don’t – ” Jenny began.
I stood up, scrambling for my bag, desperate not to make a scene on my first day. I left the table and looked at Jenny on my way, “let’s go, okay?”
She nodded gratefully and clutched her own bag to her chest as she practically glued herself to my side. “Thank you,” she said softly, looking up at me with her huge fawn eyes and I smiled, shrugging.
“I don’t like bullies.” I said. “Wait, that wasn’t weird of me, was it? I mean, we’ve only just met and – ”
“No! It’s okay. No one ever stands up for me like that.”
“Really? That’s stupid.” I huffed, hitching my bag higher up onto my shoulder.
“No, it’s not,” Jenny sighed. “Alice Hoffman is not someone people generally stand up to.”
“Urgh,” I shook my head in disgust. “It’s just, I’m sorry I brought up the house. I didn’t know that they’d be so horrible about… about your brother, look, I’m so sorry.”
“No, it’s okay.” She rewarded my apologies with a sad smile. “It’s been a few years so I’ve learned to deal with it all.”
“Right.” I said lamely.
We walked down the corridor towards the classroom in which we both had first period. On our way, a boy caught up with us, looking distinctly windswept. He had tousled dark red hair and was tall. Like, really tall. He looked over Jenny and at me with his almost hypnotic green-hazel eyes.
“Hello, Jenny. And hello New Girl.” He said, his smooth voice setting a harsh contrast to his dangerously sharp facial features.
“Hi, Scott.” Jenny beamed, raising her hand into a wave. “This is Edie, she just shouted at Alice Hoffman for me.”
“Wow!” Scott exclaimed, “way to go Eddie.”
“Uh, Edie.” I interjected, “you know, like, short for Edith?”
“Oh, sorry, my bad.” He said, shrugging. “On your way to first?”
“Yup.” Jenny turned to me, “Scott’s in our lesson, too.”
“Oh, OK.” I smiled at Scott, and he smiled back at me, although it was tooth-heavy and I didn’t know if that made me feel uncomfortable or romanced.
“I think we’re all going to be great friends!” Said Jenny with enthusiastic optimism and I couldn’t do anything else but agree.