I raced out to the front door with my suitcase, my blazer whipping behind me as I put my shoes on. I was behind schedule already. “Have a good first term at your new school!” My mother waved cheerfully as I walked out. I smiled sadly, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see her again until winter break. My mother knew that too, yet didn’t want to show her sadness for both our sakes. “I’ll try, mom,” I responded.
She added, “Try to make some new friends for me, alright? Have fun while you’re still young. Don’t let the past affect your future,” “Right,” I said while adjusting my tie, “I should go now, I think I’m already behind on time,” I really should’ve paid more attention to that YouTube video on how to tie a tie. “Love you, Alex,” My mother said while I fumbled with my annoying tie. “Love you too,'' I grunted frustratedly as I just decided to yank the tie off.
I heard the creak that our door always made when opened or closed as she went back inside. I took one last look at our house since I won't be seeing it again until 4 months later. It was light blue with white and still in prime condition. My mom had always loved the colour scheme. It was a bit cloudy, and the wind sent a slight chill down my spine. The air smelled fresh, signifying that autumn had come. The ground was littered with colourful leaves, and the trees looked sort of bare. Everything that I used to know was going to change. But I wasn't afraid. It was good change, and change happens all the time in life.
I went onto the sky train with my suitcase, instantly earning stares from everyone. It wasn’t the suitcase that was attracting everyone’s attention, although it might have been a small part of it, but it was mainly my new school uniform. I felt uncomfortable from all the attention, since I wasn't used to being in the center of the spotlight. While I looked out the window, seeing all the familiar scenery fly by, my mind wandered to Celeste.
I still clearly remember when I first met her. It was 10 years ago, and I never would’ve imagined us to end up the way we are today.
We met at the mall when she was 5, and I, 4. I saw her with her parents while I was with my mom, coming out of a Gucci store with 5 full shopping bags. She caught my eye immediately. She was very eye-catching, and what appealed to me the most were her deep emerald eyes.
Most of all, I could tell how different she was from us. It was obvious that she was very rich, and it wasn’t just that they were just shopping at Gucci. Her parents were the Vanguards, aka the richest family in the country, owner of Vanguard Retailers, whom I recognized from TV. However, for some reason, she was frowning.
All of a sudden, she looked up and we made eye contact. Unprepared, I may or may not have flinched. She unexpectedly ran over, grabbing my hand as she yelled to her parents, “She’s my friend now, and you can’t take her away from me!” To this day, I still can’t figure out what made her want to be friends with me. I was just a normal girl, while she was everything anyone would want to be.
Anyways, her parents ran over in the blink of an eye and her dad scooped her up into his arms as her mom apologized to my mom. I was still in a daze, wondering what just happened. “Sorry about the fuss, she’s been very feisty these days, without anyone of her age to be with,” Her mother explained. My mother replied, “It’s not a big deal. But what did your daughter mean when she said ‘You can’t take her away from me’?”
Both her parents sighed in exasperation, and said, “She used to have a different friend, but their family was bad for our image, so we paid them to move away. However, she somehow found out today.” “Mm, I see…” My mother wasn’t very happy about this, since she deeply valued true friendship. She probably never really cared about her public image and such either, but that was probably because we didn’t have to, no one would look twice at us on a street, while it was a completely different situation for the Vanguards.
“How’s this, we’ll let your daughter be friends with her, since both of them seem to be the same age. That way, there’ll be no more problems,” Celeste’s dad proposed hurriedly, struggling to keep a kicking and yelling Celeste in his arms, who was starting to attract the attention of unwanted bystanders. We watched as he struggled with her, before giving up and putting her back on the ground. Once she was on the ground, she ran over to me. She still looked upset.
Meanwhile, my mom seemed to be still pondering his proposal. I decided that I liked Celeste and told my mom, “I want to be her friend,” as I pulled on her sleeve. Celeste’s parents seemed relieved, and that was the start of our friendship.
We played with each other nearly daily, and she rapidly became my best and only friend. We’d tell each other nearly everything, and I often went over to her house, which was ginormous. She’d often complain to me about how strict her parents were, while I’d listen and give her advice.
Yet everything changed when we turned 8. We started seeing each other less and less, and she seemed more cold and distant whenever we’d meet up. The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that she looked at me differently from before. It was almost as though she was judging me.
Soon, when we both turned 9, we stopped being friends. She told me that she didn’t want to be friends anymore and just left. I was really upset at the time, to the point of crying as I didn’t understand why. My mother seemed to have predicted that this would happen, which was why she’d been hesitant when Celeste’s dad made the proposal. I’d been far too young and naïve at the time to realize that the Vanguards were just using me for their short-term gains, as a toy to keep their daughter preoccupied for a while, then to throw away when she got bored.
Or maybe her parents decided that I was bad for their so-called public image too. Sure, we were clearly of different classes, her from the high end and I from the lower end, but at that time, I never even considered that those things could matter. But as I realized later on, they did, and they mattered more than anything to families who were as wealthy and influential as the Vanguards.
However, I never once regretted my decision to befriend her, as I really did cherish our friendship and immensely enjoyed spending my childhood with her. Even if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Wow, I just realized how cheesy that sounded.
But that leads us to today, 10 years later, as common enemies of the school, as stereotypical ex-friends. Not that anyone else knew our history though. The school we both went to was the Sir William Stilton Academy, the most expensive and prestigious school in the world, well known for producing successful politicians, lawyers, doctors, and business workers, and its vast variety of wealthy and influential families from all over the world for generations to come.
Most of you would wonder, then how did I get in? Did my family somehow win the lottery? Well, no, I wish we did though. The actual reason is, I got a full scholarship.
After Celeste ditched me, I put all my focus, efforts, and time into my studies to take my mind off of her and how much her betrayal had hurt. I got my mom to hire tutors for me even though we could barely afford to pay for them, and that got me into the gifted program when I was only in third grade. And so, I probably have Celeste to thank that I was able to get into the academy, even though I don’t like admitting it.
The academy wasn’t only for rich students, but also extremely smart students. But it wasn’t as simple as you’d think though. They only give away one scholarship per school year, and you have to take a long and torturous series of tests that just seem to go on forever. I was the lucky one out of thousands of millions of unsuccessful students who’ve applied. But being lucky was an understatement. Getting in was basically impossible.
That day was my first day at this school, and I was already slightly behind schedule. When I walked in, I was focusing on my secondhand uniform, trying to fix my tie while trying to walk as fast as possible to not be late.
Why did the uniforms here have to be so complicated and expensive? It consisted of a light blue dress shirt, a navy blazer with the school crest, a stiff matte black tie, and long indigo trousers, or a knee-length light and dark blue plaid skirt. Both genders were allowed to buy and/or wear trousers and a skirt because the school didn’t mind which gender wore what. This was the one good thing since I would consider appealing to the school board if I had to wear a skirt.
My mother practically went broke buying me my uniform, even though it was second-hand. Anyway, you can’t blame me for accidentally bumping into someone. Yet that ‘someone’ just had to be her. I mumbled, “Sorry,” without really looking up. When I’d finally fixed the stupid tie and looked up, I saw that pair of intense emerald green eyes that I saw 10 years ago.
The eyes that could only belong to one person.