“Jesus Christ, thank you, Pepper, that would have been ridiculous with just me. I guess I’ll just unpack… Do you guys do, uh, anything fun here on the weekends or are we kind of stuck here?” To be honest, I've been curious for a while about what kind of private school this is going to be. I've seen too many shows and movies, I keep envisioning some kind of horrible prison and I feel pretty bad about it, but simultaneously, it wouldn't surprise me at all.
[b 232]. My left brow arches up at the sound of my own room number. [i ‘Interesting.’] The word flashed through my mind as a passing thought as Ana quickly accepts my offer to help her move. I almost slip out a curse but manage to hold it all together with a light smile. If being born into a family of wasps had taught me anything, it was how to fake a smile professional. “Let's get to those bags.” I let out a silent prayer that Ana wasn’t the type of girl that carried around a huge rock collection with her. The walk to the front of the school had been brief and mostly quiet. As we passed various statues, I made it a personal mission to point them out and explain their origin.
Lucky, my prayer had been heard by something like Ana’s bags and boxes weren’t too heavy. There was one that I was sure was going to be the end of me as I hauled it up the stairs to the third floor. It was odd that the number started with a two, but ended up on the third floor. I explained that the first floor was only used as a large lounge for all the floors. Most floor meetings happened there and that tomorrow night there would be one - just to go over the rules and make everyone sign that stupid paper to make sure we all [i knew] the rules. Mostly, it was a very bored senior repeating the fact that ‘no you can’t have a pet’ and ‘metal doesn’t go into a microwave’. As I sat the last box down, Ana turned towards me.
“Hey, it was no problem.” I waved a hand towards my own side of the room, almost catching it in my hair. “I mean, we are roommates.” My side was mostly made up of maroons, creams, and various shades of purple colours. Everything in its place - aside from my messed up lavender bed cover and sheets, my pillow almost falling off the edge. Mother was an interior decorator and had everything for my dorm picked out before I had even finished the application. Most of the time, the bed looked the way it did today, the only time that I ever bothered to clean was when a visit from the ‘rents was scheduled. The only thing that I had picked out was the old wooden chest that looked like it belonged at the bottom of the sea rather than at the bottom of my bed. The only thing that was missing from it was the barnacles.
“Things to do around here?” I clicked my tongue off the roof of my mouth as I pondered the question, rolling back on the balls of my feet. “Mostly stuck here, but we do get ‘free weekends’, but you have to get signed out by one of the teachers or the den mother, Sasha, you’ll meet her tomorrow. Both actions are kind of a rarity. Tonight is free since mostly everyone went home for the winter break.” I paused for a moment, a thought crossing my mind light lightning. “My brother and I are going out to dinner tonight actually - kind of a last minute hurrah, want to join us?” I shrugged off my coat and hung it on one of the four hooks on the back of our door while kicking my leather shoes off. “You don’t have too, but I would like to have you. Plus it beats just sitting in this room to unpack.” I eyed her belongings for a moment.
“I could help you with a few boxes now if that would make you feel better? The place we are going tonight is kind of a formal setting, so we could work through your boxes until we find the ones with your clothes.” Pushing and assuming people into situations and events ran in my blood. Whether Ann wanted to or not, I was going to make her come with me tonight. Out of roommate bonding and because I had several spells cast across the room that I didn’t want her to accidentally trip while I was out. Without a yes or a no, I picked up one of the closer boxes - one of the least heavy boxes and began to open it. Much to my excitement, it was nothing more than t-shirts and sweaters. If my mother had been here to see it, she would have scowled and fainted. The thought of her winter clothes and summer clothes touching would have ended her. The thought made me smile.
To say this summer has been chaos would be an understatement. Literally everything that could possibly happen to someone happened to me these past few months. Not only did my parents decide that moving back to their home --[i yep, that’s right, I moved countries]--but I’m also being shipped off to private school, because screw public school, right? English students don’t go to public school, apparently here you’re nothing unless you go to a private school. I guess my parents went here, and I think they even jabbered something about how the woman I idolized the most when I was a child , Grandma Sophie, was one of the first students to attend this colossal school. I swear they plucked it right out of the Harry Potter movies and planted it right here in the middle of the woods. It gives me an eerie feeling as the building comes into view from the backseat of the jeep, although there is a subtle, and peaceful beauty to this place--I ‘spose only time will tell if it grows on me.
I can feel a warm kiss on my cheek that rips me back to reality, and I actually cherish the side embrace from my mother knowing it will be a while before I see her again. Apparently I even managed to robotically exit the car still lost in my thoughts. I can hear my dad huffing nearby as he stacks my bags, and grumbles as he goes. My face is freezing by the time he finishes, and we each grab a bag of mine and head toward the office. We all sigh in unison as a warm gust of air rushes us in silent defiance of the opening doors and crisp, cold air sweeping in. I swear the cold settled into my bones in just the five minutes we stood outside. I can feel my mom next to me--practically attached to me--as if holding on to me will stop this whole event from happening. She tries to hide it, but she’s definitely got a wee bit of that separation anxiety. She has ever since I was a kid. Found out when I was seven years old and I went to this girl’s camp for a few weeks. Half way through the camp, she showed up in a damn near panic, asking me if I was alright and if I wanted to come home. Of course I was having plenty of fun, and the instructor coaxed her home, so she let me stay, but I never went to a summer camp again. At least not one I was away at. Mom said it was because of family vacations and money, but I knew the real reason. That’s why I can’t understand why in heaven’s my parents think this is a good idea, but whatever, we’ve already fought enough about it. I figure I can just finish my senior year here, and then move on into adulthood .
I slowly pull off the mittens while my dad steps forward and asks the lady at the desk for the next instructions. The woman is good-looking for her middle-aged self, but the light maskara and artificial red hair probably has something to do with that. Oh well, to each their own. Obviously preoccupied at her desk, she hardly notices our entrance, and damn near ignores my dad. He coughs awkwardly, and she finally spots us in what I assume is her peripheral vision. The secretary--I presume--stands up quickly with breathy apologies. She grabs a stack of papers, and then skirts around the desk to shuffle up to us in her awkward three-inch heels.
“Hello! My name is Mary, I am the head secretary here! Anastasia Moore, correct? Why, what a beautiful name!” She coos as she pats me on the back and then she turns an admiring eye to my mother which doesn’t go unnoticed. “Why, Lana, how could you not tell me you had such a beautiful daughter!” She nudges her, and my mom gives a hesitant laugh. I suddenly feel the awkwardness and the tension dissipate in the room. The two women casually chat and catch up while my dad sips at some odd-looking coffee, and eyes the two of them. I feel a bit lost while they chat, and my dad and I exchange confused glances. I start picking at my nails when the secretary looks down at me quickly, “Oh, dear, I’m sorry honey. Pepper should be here soon to guide you around, and she’ll help you unpack your things and show you where to go.” I nod my head, and I see a worried look cross my mom’s face, but then her face tightens and she somehow smiles reassuringly at me. The two women start jabbering again.
“I’m going for a quick walk,” I state, cutting off the two ladies chat, and my dad’s daydream. My mom gives me a tight squeeze, and my dad follows.
“Okay, be careful, honey. We should probably get going soon anyway. Have fun, and don’t forget to write and call when you can, promise?” I nod vigorously at my mom, and my dad pats me on the back. Without another thought, I turn and head out the door. “Please watch my things, Mary, thanks!”
I stick close to the main office, just skirting around the stone pathways, around a beautiful frozen fountain, and back around. I’m freezing, but I’m still somehow mesmerized by this eerily quiet place. Few students are out and about, and I have yet to pass one. This is a good thing, for I’m too busy staring around me to pay enough attention to anyone passing me. I’d probably bang into someone, or fall--most likely fall--and then feel shitty. Yep. Aside from my awful daydreaming here, I notice there’s definitely a medieval look to this place. The dark-stained, moss-covered bricks and arched window sills make it look--at first, rather eroded and worn--but upon further inspection, actually gives it the rugged, aged beauty I'm noticing. It makes me wonder what parts of history are imprinted on the bricks around this courtyard, and I nod in almost silent surrender to its imposing grandeur. I’ll definitely be looking more into it’s past, especially knowing that my Grandma and my parents walked these same grounds.
When I walk back into the main office, I’m freezing. I rub my hands together, and I can’t miss the ivory-skinned, raven-haired student standing impatiently by the desk. I cock my head when she notices me, addressing me by my name. “Yeah, you can call me Ana. I just went for a quick walk, sorry about that!” She guides me out the door again, and I glance back as a reluctant wave of disappointment crashes over me. Mom and Dad are gone, and I guess I won’t be seeing them for a while. But I’m damn near an adult now, and need to learn to be away from my parents. I keep quiet as I follow her around, asking only a handful of questions about different hallways, how meals work here, etc,.
As the tour finally comes to an end, I fumble a piece of paper out from my pocket. “So I think my dorm is…. Uhm… uh… East Wing, room 232?” I curse my mumbling, hoping that the first girl I talk to doesn’t find the urge to judge me too harshly. I’m not looking to make it into the popular group of this school, but I’d definitely rather not get bullied. I know enough to know I’m not only new, but I’m from across the world, and I’m clumsy as hell. What a great duo. Maybe with my luck, they’ll be interested instead of turned off by my American ways. Although, in my defence, I grew up with my parents who still have a decent accent, so I’ve been told I have a weird, hybrid accent. I wonder if it’s noticeable. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? “Yeah, help would be great! Thank you! I don’t have too much,” we grab my things together, and I attempt to take care of most of it, which makes the trip harder as I try to follow her over and up slippery stairs. Making it inside is a welcome relief. I’m happy to find out that the dorms are rather spacious all things considered, and I drop my things in the middle of the room to heave a heavy breath.
“Jesus Christ, thank you Pepper, that would have been ridiculous with just myself. I guess I’ll just unpack… Do you guys do, uh, anything fun here on the weekends or are we kind of stuck here?” To be honest, I've been curious for a while about what kind of private school this is going to be. I've seen too many shows and movies, I keep envisioning some kind of horrible prison and I feel pretty bad about it, but simultaneously, it wouldn't surprise me at all.
The sky was grey and dull, the typical winter day with the brisk sharp air that could cut through the slightest gap in your clothing and chill you to the bone. Pepper wanted to use the weather as an excuse for not getting out of bed. Really, she was looking for any excuse to not move. The bed was comfortable, and she was tucked under the warm, fluffy covers patterned with stars and warm flannel sheets. Her pajamas were silky and just the perfect level of comfort where they would keep her warm when needed, but also cooled her off if the heat was turned up too high. They were a deep violet colour, her favourite colour. While these things were nice and enough of a reason to not get up on this cold winter morning, she had other reasons. Word was a new student would be joining them in the dorms and they had [i selected] her to be their greeter. She sighed, grimacing as she pushed the covers off and looked around the room.
Glancing down at the clock, Pepper was surprised by the time. She was going to be late if she stayed in bed any longer. Pepper debated to herself constantly while getting ready what kind of questions this new student would have and if they would vary from the silence that the others had given the last few times she had been selected as the greeter. Throwing her hair into a messy ponytail, Pepper slipped into a pair of dark wash jeans that hugged her hips and a rather bright sweater that she had bought on her last shopping trip. Within a couple of minutes, Pepper was ready and bundling herself up to go outside to face the snow and cold to get to the front office that would hopefully not have the new girl waiting for her.
The walk wasn't too long, but it was enough to make Pepper's cheeks ice cold to the touch and her fingertips numb. Dozens of flakes were stuck to her hair and grey wool coat, quickly melting as she stepped into the heat of the front office building. There were very few students out and about this morning, but she wasn't sure if she should be surprised at that or not. The dark-haired beauty remembered the first time she laid eyes on the front office building. It looked like the castle out of a dark fantasy novel or a twisted version of Hogwarts. Only they were smack in the middle of a rather nice sized town and not off on some country hill. Pepper rubbed her hands together, trying to get rid of the cold sting that had taken over her skin the moment she had stepped into the building.
Students face blurred past her as she waited. After a couple minutes ticked by a lost face came into her line of sight. [i ‘There she is.’] Having been greeter the last seven times in a row had made her very aware of how to pluck out the new students in a crowd. However, there was no crowd and they picked a Saturday rather than a school day. “Hey,” Pepper raised her hand in a small wave, dropping the other into her wool coat pocket. “Anastasia Moore?” She questioned, walking towards the girl with a small welcoming smile on her face. As much as she wanted to start a rant on having to do this on a weekend, it wasn’t this girl's fault.
“Pepper Dawkins. Nice to meet you, I’ll be showing you around on this cold ass day.” She held her hand, giving the girls hand a steady shake before turning on her heels. “Alright, let’s get this show on the road.” Pepper pointed towards a door next to a large glass showcase filled with trophies. “That is the front office. You will need to go there early Monday morning. I say early because the teachers don’t care if you are new, you miss out on a quiz or homework, you miss that grade.” Pepper looked over her shoulder with an apologetic smile. “I’d get there at six to get any real work done.” Like that, the dark-haired junior was in complete tour guide mode. Moving through the halls and rooms easily, explaining what each room was for, the teacher that mainly lurked inside it and what places didn’t have any security. Not that she thought this small girl was going to try to bring the school down with organized crime. It was just a lot easier to get everything, and she meant [i everything] out of the way.
“That is it for the school portion of our guide.” Pepper joked, shoving both hands into their pockets. The cold from earlier still clung to her skin. In the back of her mind, there was a panic that she might be coming down with something. “What dorm room do they have you staying in? Do you need any help getting things inside? I might not look it, but I can carry...one box at a time.” She joked. Once upon a time, she had been the new kid here. However, her tour was vastly different from this girls. More like Hogwarts than some private boarding school that made their students give tours for extra credit. Even when they didn’t need it. Tardy more than twice and now she was on permanent greeting duty.