The gray sky seems menacing and ominous, the perfect reflection of my feelings. It’s depressing.
Today, I’m attending a new school, three weeks into the school year. It's always awkward to be the new kid when everyone already knows each other. If I had started on the first day, my “new kid” status would have been somewhat lost in the back-to-school craziness. Three weeks later, however, I might as well have a spotlight on me.
My dad had to move for his job, so the entire family was uprooted. No discussions took place; instead, we were just told about it. It’s probably for the best because I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have to decide if I wanted to stay and face the mess my life had become or if I wanted a fresh start that this promotion offered me.
Still. However positive this new beginning can be, it doesn’t make today easier. I enter the building and walk among unfamiliar faces with the knowledge that this will be my day-to-day life. Soon, I will walk to class without having to look around, I will be able to put names to most faces (and personalities to some), and I will be used to the worn-out paint and the poor attempts at cheerful displays. I might even have friends by then. Maybe the knot in my stomach will disappear.
Right now, it still persists. It’s just a new school. I’ve done that before. Really, it’s going to be fine. It’s even a bit ridiculous to be so nervous for so little. I’m not 12 anymore.
I enter the administration building. While the receptionist isn’t unpleasant, she acts like a robot. She’s certainly made for admin. I state my name, give the paperwork she asks for, and sit on the chair she points at.
As I wait, my mind wanders back to my old school. The colorful corridors, the art department, my friends, my favorite teachers… and him. No matter how hard I try to not think about him, my mind always goes back there. To the look on his face that day…
I am brought back to the present by a girl in a dark blue dress, wide happy smile and purple hair. Despite not knowing anything about her, I like her immediately. She seems warm and friendly. Non-judgmental, too.
“Hi there. Are you Will?”
“Great. I’m Lena. I’ve been asked to be your guide this week because we pretty much have the same options, so we share most classes. Shall we start with a tour of the school?”
I don’t know what it is about Lena, but she makes the knot disappear. She’s funny and apparently passionate about pretty much everything. She seems to genuinely like this school and that makes me feel better. She asks questions about me too, but I can only offer monosyllabic responses today.
“Okay, that’s pretty much it for the tour,” she says. “It’s probably a lot to take in, so just ask anything whenever you have a question. And tell me if I’m being annoying, I know I can be a bit much.”
“No, you’re fine. I’m just…” My voice trails off.
“The new kid?” she offers.
“Something like that,” I concede with a smile.
“I get it. I actually joined six months ago. I guess that’s why they asked me to do this.”
“So we can be outsiders together?”
“Something like that,” she answers, her happy smile still glued to her face. “But in all fairness, people actually accepted me fairly quickly. It’s going to be fine, I promise you. Come on, it’s time for homeroom.”
This morning is everything I thought it would be. Some lessons are interesting, while others are boring. All of them have been awkward because people stared a lot. I’ve received a list of work to catch up on, homework, reminders about the importance of junior year…
In English, I have a hard time staying focused on the Lord of the Flies. Despite knowing the gist of the story, I haven’t read it yet because I was doing Catch-22 at my other school. It’s boring to follow the analysis when I haven’t read the chapters or know the characters.
Instead, I find myself looking at the guy in front of me. He is probably a bit taller than me. Between the line of his dark hair and the collar of his T-shirt, I spot three freckles. However, that’s not the thing that keeps catching my eye. He barely takes notes, spending more time on drawing geometrical shapes on his paper. At first, they seem random, but they slowly start to form a delicate and intricate design. It’s mesmerizing to watch.
I would have liked to get a glance at his face, but Lena is by my desk literally the second after the bell rings to take me to lunch. By the time I look back, he’s already gone. Next time, I guess.
Lena introduces me to her friends at lunch. I’m not going to pretend I remembered every name, but at least I am reducing the list of unfamiliar faces. Also, you know that feeling when you meet new people and think that they're nice, but they're not really your crowd? Like, eventually, your friends will come from other circles? Well, that’s not the vibe I’m getting right now. It truly feels like these people might become my people at some point.
A boy joins us halfway through lunch. He sits in front of me, giving me a sense of déjà-vu. Before I can try to pinpoint the reason, I lose myself in the warmest shade of amber eyes that I’ve ever seen. It’s not just the color; there's something in those eyes that bewitches me almost instantly.
Luckily, no one seems to notice and Lena happily introduces us. “Noah, this is Will. He joined today. Will, this is Noah.”
“We’ve met before,” Noah says in a deep, rough, almost broken voice. I’m sure I would have remembered meeting him. “We have English together.” Right. Now I get it. If he turned around, I would see three freckles on the nape of his neck.
“Just because you shared a class doesn’t mean you’ve met,” Lena replies. “He probably has no idea who you are. And Will, don’t get used to him too much. His attendance record is quite spotty.”