The hallways were full of babble. Teachers rushed here and there, patting shoulders and insistently saying “Go to the gym, everyone! Hurry up! Big news!” before rushing on to the next friend group.
Exchanging quizzical looks, Aaliyah and I shoved our bags into the lockers. Notebook in hand, we began following the trickling trail to the gym.
In the gym, pure chaos reigned. Groups chattered here and there. A minotaur and a triceratops were having a wrestling match. Teachers rushed even more anxiously, trying to get their class groups united and sitting quietly. But who wanted to sit quietly when you could run around and be a pain?
We slunk against the wall, trying to make ourselves invisible. On the other side of the gym there was the dragon cluster, too fashionable and awesome to meddle with the rest of the peasantry. They too were leaning on the wall, speaking together.
“Hey,” Aaliyah said, nudging me.
“What?” I tore my eyes away from the dragons to watch a wolf slink by – and a teacher run in the opposite direction calling out said student’s name. I groaned. What a day. “You’d think they’d be more organized,” I huffed.
“No,” Aaliyah nodded again. “Look who’s at the podium. He’s a guest or something. The sparkling one.”
I straightened up out of my slouch and looked beyond the mass of students and hustling teachers. Beyond the wrestling match. There, at the far end of the gym, was several teachers – and one sequin bedazzled someone. My gut wrenched. “Oh, her?” I groaned. “She must be a new teacher.” Gross.
“Her? You know her?” Aaliyah asked, baffled.
“Uh,” my stomach queased as I was caught in my lie. I hadn’t told anyone about my trip up to the tower. I’d just said I flew around and rested on a rooftop before my landing. Now – I squirmed beside Aaliyah. “Uhm.”
I was rescued by the shrill whining of a microphone. Aaliyah and I winced, covering our ears. The sound dragged on unusually long, and the students fell silent. Curses were heard. The wrestling match stopped. Heads turned to face the front – and the shrill sound stopped.
“Hi everyone,” said the falsely cheerful voice. “Sorry about that,” and there was that cackling laugh.
Murmurs rose. Heads turned to each other. Aaliyah frowned. My hairs stood on end. I so didn’t like this person.
“So, you’re probably all like ‘why are we here? What’s going on?’ Well – I’m here, and that’s to tell you that your principal, Mister,” and she paused to turn to a teacher, Madame Pinfrey. “What was his name again?” Again, that laugh as an apology.
Students sniggered. The dragons shook their heads and pressed fingers to their foreheads.
“Mister Mackinster? Mackin- Mackiney! Yes. Him!” The woman beamed, her porcelain skin fairly shining under the cheap lights. “He’s had some bad news.”
Students gasped. Our principal was beloved. He was kind, just, and a lenient warm-hearted soul.
“Is he alright?” one student cried out.
Holding the microphone with both hands, the woman was smiling and tilting to the side like she was in an advertisement about loving something. The smile stayed plastered on her face. “He’s dead,” she said.
The teachers cursed, obviously not pleased about the delivery. One of them put a hand over their face. There was a moment of shocked silence – then an instant uproar. The jocks began shouting. The art students began crying, and the dragons stood off the wall in indignant outrage.
Then – the shrill shrieking began again. Wincing, I covered my ears with my hands and looked around. What was causing that noise? The microphone wasn’t moving. At least not that I could see. Maybe there was a trick to it?
As the students stopped their ruckus, the shrieking stopped. There must be a trick to the microphone. The woman was still standing there, holding it in both hands, smiling so ridiculously. Beneath her long hair, her eyes sparkled viciously, suddenly more visible than before.
“Now, now, everyone,” she chided as if we were babies. “I’ve been told to tell you we have a councilor who you can talk to if you’re feeling,” and she paused, searching for words. “Sad? Take a meeting. Talk it out. Okay?”
Wow. What incompetence. What bad word choice.
“Sad?” someone shrieked. “Mister Mackiney is dead!”
“Ah, it’s really sad,” the woman said with that awful smile still on. “Now, like I said, I’m your new principal,”
“What?!” the jocks yelled, and for once I felt for them.
“You?” I found myself gawking with the rest of them.
The woman smiled wickedly. Of course she was happy. We were a giant school that had many wealthy students - and she obviously hadn’t been selected by a committee of teachers. No, I realized with a quease, if what I’d seen yesterday had anything to do with anything, she’d been selected by a bunch of bureaucrats for a price. Probably a cheap one, judging by her taste in suits and speaking abilities.
“Now,” the woman said, and suddenly the room fell silent. Her smile was so wide. “Now I do know that this is a school known for –ah- its students.”
Oh, good God. She knew nothing, didn’t she?
“Some of which are, hm, special needs?” She held out a hand at her side as if to designate a platter. “Well I want you all to know that I’m going to be turning this ship straight around,” and her hand curled as if she was crushing something. “I run a tight ship.”
Into a fucking iceberg.
“Now everyone get to class! You’re going to be late! M-hm!” And she lowered the microphone. With a brilliant grin as if she’d won an Oscar, she offered the microphone to Miss Pinfrey. Pinfrey turned it down with a violent shake of the head.
“Alright! Let’s go! Chop-chop!” the new principal said back into the microphone, but the teachers were already rushing forward. Some burst into spirit form to usher the students away with wings.
Mist Macmillan marched towards us, scowling and in the worst mood I’d ever seen him in. Muttering under his breath, he collected students with waves and ushered us to the door. “Go to class!” he ordered. “I’ll meet you there!”
Aaliyah tugged me on the shoulder. Nodding, I followed her out the door before the big rush for the exit began.
“That was a train wreck,” I said to Aaliyah as we walked the near-empty corridors.
Aaliyah hummed, brow furrowed. “Did you find her kind of weird? Like, more than she should be?”
I laughed. A volley of curses came out of me. “She’s weirder than weird! She’s so bad they’ll shut this school down. I betcha,” and I tried to loop my arm around Aaliyah’s shoulder, but was swatted away playfully. “Betcha,” I held up a finger between us. “She’s going to get fired. Just watch.”
Aaliyah smiled. “That’d be fun.” But then her expression darkened. “But she was weird.”
“Well she makes my hairs stand up,” I offered. “I bet she got the job just because she sucked up to someone. Hey! Maybe she paid them so she could get the job!”
Aaliyah shook her head. “People don’t do that, Kyrie.”
I fell silent. Aaliyah stayed bottled in her thoughts, frowning. We were joined by other students, and we generally sifted into the same directions before parting for our individual classrooms.
In said classrooms, you could hear the chaos from other rooms. Ours was one of the few that didn’t have jocks shouting in it.
“Alright,” Mister Macmillan sat at the front on the edge of his desk. “That was quite something.”
“You think?” the jade dragon drawled sarcastically. As usual, he didn’t correct her.
“Yes, I think,” he said with a nod. “And I want to say that for this period, we’re going to forget about class, okay? Let’s just take this time to remember Professor Mackiney. If any of you want to go make a meeting with the councilor,” and he was promptly interrupted by a wailing from his own pocket. All students tensed. Professors’ devices were to be used only for emergencies!
Hastily Macmillan fished it from his pocket – then heaved a sigh of disbelief. “She doesn’t get the concept,” he said apologetically, waggling the device in the air. Then, in a mutter he added “nor does she get sentences, either.”
The class laughed. It was a small breath of relief. Macmillan typed back an answer, then pushed the device back into his pocket. “She’s actually a great person,” he said. “Does anyone want to talk about her?”
“Yes!” was the resounding answer.
“Well,” he crossed his legs and propped a hand on his knee. “She was hired late last night in a rush by the committee-”
“Last night?” I blurted.
Heads turned. Macmillan raised his eyebrows but didn’t scold me. “Yes,” he continued. “It was a hasty arrangement, but she was willing to move-”
“But I saw her here yesterday morning,” I interrupted.
Macmillan smiled apologetically at me. “She was hired last night. She first got here this morning – and she was really lost.” He laughed softly. Then, correcting himself, he looked around “She, ah, comes from the North!”
The North? That pricked my attention. Gays could marry there. Unbloomeds had more rights. It was cold and barren and poor but – I wanted to go there.
“She taught at a university,” and his pocket beeped again. Obviously frustrated he drew it back out of his pocket, then sighed. Looking up he said “Kyrie, she, our new principal, wants to meet with you.”
Sniggers rippled around the room. I scooched down in my desk. “Why?” I asked.
“Your blooming. It uh, I think it interests her. She would like to meet you.” He nodded to the door. Take the hall pass and go. She should be in the principal’s office.”
I stayed firmly put in my seat. “But,”
“Go,” he said gently but firmly.
Scowling and huffing, I rose and walked from the room. “Hall pass!” Macmillan called after me. Embarrassed and trying not to listen to the sniggers, I walked back in and plucked the pass off its spot on the wall. Then, I went to meet the new principal.
The walk down the halls was uneventful, but interesting. The classrooms I passed were almost all in some sort of an uproar. Feathers littered the ground here and there were (hah!) someone had been ruffled. I suspected that soon, a garbage pail would be lit on fire.