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.