The door to room 216 was already closed. Was I late? How could I possibly be late, and on the first day? I had my watch set to the exact second, and I made sure my bike was on the road fifteen minutes before I was considered early. I checked my papers again: Room 216, West Corridor, Mrs. Gerando, 8th Grade. I hadn't even tried to open my locker yet. "Come on Jenn, just do it!" I encouraged myself. My hand ever so slightly twitched to the door handle, but I couldn't find the strength to open the door, so I balled my hand into a fist and knocked on the cherry wood door. Everything was just as silent as before as an elderly woman emerged from behind the door frame. I first saw her pink glasses peek out from behind the door, then her entire gray head, then body stepped out. She was wearing a floral dress shirt with a matching skirt that stopped just above her slate-colored orthepedic shoes.
"Jennifer Carriage?" She asked in a scratchy voice, almost like fingernails running down a chalkboard. I looked at my paper, avoiding the stare of her dull green eyes, and stammered,
"Y-yes. That's, um, me." Gah! Quit stuttering! Teachers absolutely hate that, I mentally scolded myself.
"Stop stuttering and come inside," she snapped. It wasn't until I looked back up that I realized she had stepped aside and a roomful of uniformed students were staring at me. I could literally feel my face catching on fire. It took three baby steps to get inside the door, and Mrs. Gerando slammed the door shut behind me so hard that a breeze blew my hair around. "Your backpack goes over there for now," she pointed to a counter next to a sink. "Mr. Galls has not yet installed a locker for you in the hallway so all of your books and your useless items you carry in your backpack will stay on that counter. Cell phones are to be turned off and no bright, vibrant, and/or patterned book covers are permitted. If you do not have any that fit these standards, I expect all of your textbooks to be covered with paper bags by this time tomorrow."
Mrs. Gerando then walked across the tiled room to three cabinets above a white counter. She pulled a small brass key from the array of keys that hung from a cord around her neck and forced it into the matching lock on one of the cabinets. From that cabinet emerged, not two, not four, but six textbooks, all with different covers, but the same large size. "These are your textbooks for all of your classes, and have them covered by tomorrow," she reminded me.
In a small whisper, I replyed, " Yes, Mrs. Gerando." I walked over to her, passing my classmates, and returned to the door. From there I shuffled to the counter. I pulled the almost empty backpack off of my back, revealing my navy blue sweater, which was identical to the ones the rest of the school were instructed to wear. I patted down my pleated navy blue skirt, and pulled my my gray knee high socks. The Mary-Jane's I wore were freshly polished and shining, and my golden blond hair was resting freely on my shoulders. I was very aware of every move I made, since I knew that twenty- one 8th Graders were watching me closely, waiting for a fatal mistake. But I continued to pull out a brown paper bag that held my lunch and my sweater, which I folded neatly and placed in a different pocket. It was a good thing I had turned off my Go-Phone before I had entered the school.