If you don't believe in ugly things, look closely at yourself. You may find something repulsive and sickening that you didn't see before. I know I did. [student/teacher]
The first day of school always made me nervous; new classes, new places to sit, new friends (and in my case some old), and most of all, new teachers. The last one had tangled in my brain the summer before I was starting my junior year at Fairfax. Things always felt new when you started again.
It wasn’t that I necessarily had a problem with new teachers, like they didn’t like me or something, or I was always getting into trouble while under their watch. It’s not like that at all. It’s worse.
It happened at my old school throughout the year before my mom decided to move. It was the best thing for us, even if I didn’t agree. I was willing to put up with the massive rejection that came with my crush.
The crush had been on a teacher.
Now, as I stood in front of Fairfax, my heart thundered in my ears. I hoped I could put the past behind me. As I went to step forward, someone shot into my path and I jerked back.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he said. He brushed a hand through his brown hair and shook his head. “Aria is inside. She’s getting way too excited. I think you should go and calm her down.”
That was Caleb. He was always looking out for us. He never asked for anything in return. That was probably what best friends did for each other. I wouldn’t know ― my best friend died when I was fifteen. Since then I hadn’t found a suitable replacement.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s what everyone else thought when they’d first heard the story of the two inseparably girls ― one ever popular and the other scrambling for approval ― but it didn’t matter. They were all each other needed.
It was a fairytale, a dream, an illusion.
I squeezed my eyes shut as Caleb blinked at me. I didn’t really feel like him seeing me cry, especially since he wouldn’t understand. I never told him or Aria about Kaia. I never told anyone but my mother and that Psychiatrist I saw to help me grieve.
I took a breath and realized Caleb had asked me something. I reopened my eyes to find him staring at me, his blue eyes intense.
“Are you okay?” he said.
“I’m fine,” I mumbled, pushing my bangs out of my eyes. I stared past him at the doors to the school and watched them shut. “We better go or we’ll be late for class.”
As I brushed by him, he caught my arm.
“Just leave it,” I said, slipping away from him. “Come on.”
The building looked intimidating from where I stood, but as I went up the steps and opened the door, a cool blast of air hit me. I slid inside before Caleb could come after me.
The lobby was a large space, almost as big as my house, with a desk and a chair in the middle. I assumed that was for guests and parents. I saw the pen to the clipboard hanging over the edge of the wood.
“You’re going to be late,” a voice said so suddenly that I almost dropped my books. I glanced to the side and saw a man coming toward me. He was young looking.
“Probably,” I muttered. “I’m new.”
He chuckled and brushed a hand through his dark hair, his green eyes roaming over my face. He looked around and nodded. “Everyone else is in orientation. I never understood why they do that.”
“It keeps things in order,” I said. I heard the door behind me open again, and then shut. “He’s with me,” I motioned, glancing back at Caleb.
The man smiled and extended a hand. “I’m Elias Mills. I teach History.”
Of course he was a teacher. I mentally cursed myself for being so unobservant. I nodded at him, moving my hair behind my shoulder.
“Tate Stewart,” I said. “That’s Caleb Harris.”
Caleb stuck two fingers up in greeting, then came up beside me and gripped my wrist. I could have sworn something passed through Mr. Mills’ eyes at the action, but it was gone before I could identify it properly.
“Better get going,” he said.
He watched us leave, his lips curling into a smirk as he stared at me.