It isn't that I wanted to disappoint my parents I just didn't want them to think of their perfect son, Zachary, when they looked at me.
The principal's reception room is a lot smaller here in Union High than in BlueState High School in Las Angeles. The walls are adorned with pictures of past school principals and pictures of graduating classes. Two pots with simple blue and yellow flowers sit opposite each other against a medium-sized window near the door to the main office, and a faint buzzing sound can be heard from the fluorescent light bulbs above.
"Mr. Logan?" The receptionist, a woman in her mid-fifties with brown hair freckled by age, said. "Mrs. Cardigan will see you now."
I was used to this, even if it was a different school. Back home, my friends and I would often finds ourselves in trouble. Whether it be with other students, our parents, or the law--we always ended up back where we started: in trouble. Zack had always had a gift of managing his looks alongside his social life, so trouble never found him. Me, on the other hand, I allowed my looks to draw in trouble.
"Hello Michel," a middle-aged woman welcomed me into her sunny office. Except for a few diplomas on the wall behind her, a large mahogany desk, and a single cushioned seat for a visitor, this office was empty. "Please, have a sit."
I was so stunned by the sudden unexpected sight of such a room that I actually followed through with her suggestion. I was still looking around at the remaining empty white walls as she began looking through my transfer files.
"From what I can tell," she said, "you've been in-and-out of trouble since you were young. Tell me, what where you doing behind the gym today?"
I finally looked at her and took in her red frazzled hair and bright green eyes. She had makeup on, to cover her freckles no doubt, and one tiny finger was holding a place in the chaos of my papers. "I think you all ready know."
She smiled. "I do, but I would admire you for telling me."
I shrugged. "If you know, you know."
"Hm," her smile flickered, but she continued on. "I see, all right. Well, Mr. Akinawa said that he saw you smoking with your friends."
"I don't smoke."
"He saw you Michel," her voice had changed its pitch to scolding. Here we go.
"I don't care what he saw, I don't smoke."
I looked down as she opened a drawer that wasn't visible to me. "I hope that your stay here does not mimic the one you had back in Los Angeles." I could feel her staring so I looked back up. "Am I clear?"
"Yes, you're very clear." I gave a sarcastic smile and got up swiftly.
"Michel," Mrs. Cardigan said as I neared the office door. "I hope you enjoy your stay here."
I doubt it, I thought as I walked through the reception area and out the door. Suddenly someone's head knocked into my chin and I stepped back in surprise. I had hit her before I'd seen her and within seconds papers were flying everywhere. I rubbed my chin painfully and looked down at a girl who was frantically picking up her belongings.
"Are you always this clumsy?" I asked while watching her awkwardly pick up the loose sheets of paper around her.
"Usually," she said. Her voice was low and monotone; shy and insecure.
"Do you need help?" I realized my words were meaningless as I watched her pick up the last sheet of paper.
She looked up from her kneeling position and a shock of recognition shot through me. Up close, her blue eyes were more startling and her bowed lips bunched together into a surprised pout. Her cheeks reddened and I knew that I was staring.
"Sorry," I said suddenly, "I think I know you."
"You... don't," she said, "I'm your neighbor."
"I know," I smiled, "What's your name? Here," I went to grab some of the papers that were threatening to leave her shaky grasp. "Let me help you with that."
As I bent down to help her she backed away, her legs sliding on the marble floor. She shook her head and quietly stood up, while holding onto her papers and books more securely. "It's okay... you... don't have to help me."
I watched quietly and confused as she turned around and walked away. I don't know how long I stood there for while staring at the empty hallway that she had just vacated through a side door, but the bell rang and students began filing out. I was bumped from behind and I broke from my trance. What just happened?
Liam and Jen, the only two people that I had let myself get along with showed up behind me. Liam's bright blond hair sat three shades brighter than my own and stood out in the gloom of dozens of bobbing dark-haired heads and Jen's multiple face piercings reflected the sunlight from the windows.
"Same place as usual?" Liam asked. His voice was rusty from misuse. "Or do we have the wrong twin?"
I looked at him and Jen. "Yeah, let's go."