“Fuck,” I whispered to myself as someone jostled my shoulder as they pushed past me. For what I estimated to be the two millionth time today, I was completely and utterly lost. Nova had disappeared from my side a long time ago, chasing after a pair of boys with the intention of ‘getting directions’ and I hadn’t seen Simon since lunch, when he’d found inspiration in his macaroni and cheese for his latest art project.
“College is the worst.” The crumpled paper map, which had been distributed to every incoming freshman that morning, was of no help to me. Maybe if I flipped it around, it’d make more sense.
No dice. I sighed and lowered it slowly, staying still as the crowds of people kept walking.
“Do you need help?” someone asked and I turned around quickly, the bag I was carrying swinging out to the side. I gasped as I helplessly watched the messenger case head on its collision course with the blue shirted person, but they managed to catch it just before it crashed into their abdomen. I glanced up to see one of the campus guides grinning at me, easily identifiable by the bright red star that was sewn onto the left chest region of his polo. He adjusted the collar of his shirt before letting the bag fall back to my side, where it clumsily bumped into my leg. “I’m going to take the potential harm right there as a yes. Did you register that thing as a weapon already?”
“Sorry,” I said, awkwardly smiling as I rubbed the back of my neck. I could feel it growing hot under my hands as my embarrassment became more and more evident. Of all the dumbass things to do, on all the absolutely wrong days, I’d managed to go ahead and choose the worst.
Good job, Mina. Let’s see how long we can keep this streak going for.
“It’s alright,” said the guide, grinning widely. “I remember my own fall orientation. It was a complete madhouse. Of course, the campus goes completely to hell when the rest of the students get here.”
“Fuck, there’s more?” I exclaimed loudly, before clamping both hands over my mouth. I was on a straight shot to the world championships of embarrassing oneself. But the guide seemed to think it was funny, or he at least took pity on me by chuckling as I earned myself glares from several of my new classmates. “Sorry.”
“Rule number one about Everground University: you need to stop apologizing. To me, to the rest of the people, to anyone,” he said. “Believe me, if you don’t stand up and make a strong impression on this campus as soon as you can, they’re going to spend four years just walking all over you.” He crossed his arms over his chest and the smile on his lips morphed into a smirk. “So I’m going to ask you again, and you aren’t going to sic your backpack on me. Do you need any help?”