had a dream that night. I was falling down from the cold, dark, vast sky, afraid to open my eyes and see the ground approaching as I fell, fell, fell. Even in the dream, I felt the contents of my stomach rise up as gravity pushed and pulled me towards the ground. I was lost. Falling without a destination, unable to stop myself. To softly land on the ground and shake it off.
I was afraid and I then I finally hit the ground with a bone-shattering thud.
I woke up on the cold, hard ground. Safe from the night sky staring back at me through the window. Lilith rolled over in her bed, sleeping through my inner turbulence. Soundless, unafraid.
Knowing I would be unable to sleep, I grabbed my phone and the first book I could find before locking myself in the bathroom. I squinted at the light and waited for my eyes to adjust.
It was three in the morning and my phone was spammed with messages. I didn’t feel ready to open any just yet so I checked out my favorite authors and their profiles before ditching the phone and taking look at the first book I grabbed off my table.
Written in bright, bold font on the cover, the title told me everything I needed to know: Introduction To Music Theory
So I dove into my studies to take my mind off the sickening feeling in my stomach. I read the whole book in two hours and memorized the basics. Before I knew it, the clock on my phone claimed it had been seven am already. I heard Lilith’s alarm go off and I sighed in exhaustion.
Grabbing my phone and the book, I pushed myself off the ground and returned to the bedroom.
“You’re awake,” Lilith said in surprise. She wiped off all signs of sleep from her face and lazily made her way to her closet.
“Woke up before the alarm,” I told her, hiding the real truth.
“Good. We have to get ready. We share our first class in about an hour and then we’ll have breakfast afterward.”
“Okay,” I said and checked out the rest of my schedule. Most of the classes were new but I felt grateful for the ones I had back home. I had never been happier to see Math on my schedule before. It gave me a sense of familiarity - something I knew I was good at.
So I began my day in a rather odd manner. I went to my class still a bit dazed but mostly nervous, not knowing what to expect.
It took me less than an hour to take a shower and get ready. With twenty minutes to spare, I watched Lilith run around her room, frantically looking for her stuff. The girl was a mess in the mornings and it made me smile.
That small smile was enough to give me hope. Maybe things here wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. Maybe I’d actually come to like waking up every morning to Lilith’s disheveled look. Maybe I would find the food here absolutely delicious. Maybe people here weren’t bad - as Lilith claimed.
“Did you see my top?” Lilith asked, jumping and pulling up her pants, trying not to trip.
“It’s on your bed,” I told her and walked down the stairs. She put it on but hadn’t realized that it was backwards. I felt a small laugh escape my lips.
“What is it?” She asked, raising an eyebrow. It didn’t take a genius to know she was annoyed with this day already.
“You put it on backwards,” I commented helpfully.
“Thanks,” she said, fixed it and then put her books in her bag. I had done that yesterday.
“How do I look?” She asked and turned around. She wore a simple, yet bold outfit. One that made a statement without saying anything at all.“You look nice. Anyone you’re looking to impress?” I asked and sat on my bed.
“Maybe. You think it’ll work?” She asked.
“Definitely,” I smiled supportively.
“Thanks,” she said to me. “I really appreciate it.”
My phone vibrated in my pocket but I ignored it.
“You look wonderful yourself,” Lilith walked over to me and offered me her hand. “Now come on, you can’t stay in this room all day. Let me show you how a real day at this school starts.”
I took her hand and was prepared to grab my stuff but she shook her head. Instead, she led me to the balcony.
“The best way to start your day is with a morning coffee,” she opened the door for me and I stepped out, surprised to see biscuits and coffee waiting for us on the table.
“When did you do this?” I asked, amazed.
“When you were in the shower. I thought I’d give you a proper welcome,” she replied and sat down, completely dismissing how grateful I was. Still, I had to tell her.
“Thank you,” I pushed a strand of hair behind my ear. “Nobody’s ever done something this nice for me.”
“What? Bring you coffee?” She raised an eyebrow.
“Not just that. Welcomed and accepted me.”
I blinked away the tears in my eyes and joined Lilith at the table.
“Then you’re better off without them,” she shrugged and took a biscuit off the plate.
We spent what was left of our free time chatting, drinking coffee and eating biscuits. It was pleasant and I almost forgot about all the uncertainties this day was bound to bring.
Lilith’s alarm on her phone went off at 8:00, indicating that we should get going.
“Oh, I almost forgot. It’s tradition to get your picture taken on your first day. So hand me your phone,” she said and extended her hand, waiting.
I took my phone out of the pocket, making sure that she knows how much I dislike the idea. But I went along anyway.
She opened the camera and I tried to pose the best I could. Instead of giving me back my phone, however, she opened my Instagram and uploaded the photo.
#FirstImpressions“Now you have something to look back on when the school year ends,” she smiled and handed me back my phone.
“You’re impossible,” I shook my head and fought a smile. Then I turned off my phone and followed Lilith to class.
I was more afraid of actual humiliation and crowds than anything else in this school but it appeared the fates were kind to me today. I learned recently that most classes offered individual studies without working in groups, unless it was specifically mentioned on the schedule.
Lilith was to offer me support during my first few weeks, just until I was ready to go to class on my own without falling behind too much. She was meant to help me catch up.
After class, we packed our bags and Lilith had to stop by our room again because there was something she appeared to have forgotten before.
I took the free time to turn on the phone again and check out my social medias. It was a habit I couldn’t appear to break.
I went on Instagram to see if anything new happened. This time, my curiosity took over and I scrolled through the comment section which was pretty nice. Too bad I knew their true selves hid behind masks.
The people I had known back home were now fighting to grab my attention and it all started with my former best friend.
@realdianakingsey: I swear if you don’t pick up your phone I will hunt you down and I will make you come back here!
I rolled my eyes at her dramatics and scrolled further as her name left a bitter taste in my mouth. Another username caught my attention and this time, it was Connor’s friends worried about him rather than what they’d done to me.
@nathburton: I wish you’d hear us out. Connor’s losing it. I miss you, I miss my friend.
Even one of the school’s popular guys appeared to finally notice I existed.
@derekgier: Too bad you transferred. I will miss the girl who beat up Kai’s ass ;)
The memory came back to me again. So did the usual pain and my heart broke all over again. I missed Kai. I wanted to close my Instagram when my brother’s name caught my attention.
@connorbailey: I’m sorry. Please call me. My jersey misses you. Come home.
Before I could do or think anything else, Lilith came back from the bathroom and snapped me out of my thoughts.
“What are you doing?”
I forgot she was here. Having a roommate was something I’d have to get used to. I cleared my throat.
“Nothing,” I said in a distant voice but I didn’t fool her. She cautiously made her way over to me and glanced down at the phone in my hands.
“It doesn’t look like nothing.”
“It’s a long story.”
She sat down on my bed and continued to stare at me as if we had all the time in the world. I felt as if we were in a staring contest and I would’ve won too, but I just got really distracted by her eyebrows.
“Your eyebrows are distracting me,” I scowled which made her give me one of her wicked smiles. “Fine, I’ll tell you while we walk to breakfast,” I sighed and broke under pressure.
She stood up and we left our room as I dove into the story about my friends, my brother, Kai and the bet. Lilith listened, her face red, lips pursed in a thin line and her eyebrows furrowed.
“Your brother sounds like an asshole,” was the first thing she said to me. “And Kai should have told you the truth. They all should have protected you rather than protect their asses.”
I shrugged sadly, unable to change the outcome or their actions. I could only accept what they had done and try to move on. But her anger scared me a bit. It was the silent, lethal kind. The look in her eyes froze me over like ice and I felt the cold send shivers up my spine. I now knew what everybody in the Great Hall had been talking about.
Lilith seemed to have caught on my train of thought and took a few deep breaths. “Sorry. I just get really angry when people intentionally hurt others.”
I smiled sadly. It seemed that getting intentionally hurt by others was the story of my life.
“I received comments on the picture you posted and a lot of them were from the people back home. I don’t really know what to do. I want to move on and need time to adjust to this new situation yet they keep trying to contact me. The worst part is that despite everything, I feel homesick.”
Lilith stopped in her tracks and turned her attention to me.
“I’m sorry. I know you didn’t want any drama or to listen to me whine about things.”
“You know,” she started, looking around the school as if she had only seen it once. “I was homesick when I first got here. It lasted for weeks but I got over it. Now I hardly find the courage to visit my family. It’s hard leaving this place behind.”
I quickly wiped a tear away.
“My point is that it’s perfectly normal to miss the way things were. To miss your family and your old life. But eventually, you’ll move on and find your happiness elsewhere. And that’s okay too.”
I nodded and composed myself once more.
“Let’s go get breakfast,” Lilith smiled and offered me her arm. I looked at it and she laughed. “Stop being so scared. I’m not going to murder you.”
“That’s kind of hard to believe,” I replied teasingly but took it rather gratefully.
Two minutes later, we were in the Great Hall which had already started to fill up. But the line wasn’t too bad and we got our food pretty quick.
We didn’t sit outside this time. Instead, Lilith found us a table in the corner of the Great Hall, just enough away to have some privacy but not enough to be excluded from the school.
“Since it’s your first day, your schedule is much shorter than mine but you can come with me to my classes if you want,” Lilith offered and I told her I’d think about it.
Breakfast wasn’t bad at all. You could choose from eggs, bacon, jam, cereal to anything you could possibly think of. The options were numerous. I was so focused on the meal before me that I almost completely missed the sour look on Lilith’s face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing. People just annoy me, that’s all.”
I turned around and followed her gaze, my appetite disappearing as I saw a couple making out. It was too intense for such a public place and I didn’t hesitate to turn around.
“Well, that totally didn’t ruin my appetite,” I said sarcastically and swallowed the food in my mouth with effort.
“I know, right?”
“You know her?” I raised an eyebrow.
She scoffed. “Do I know her? Of course, I know her. Sunshine, I know everybody.”
“What’s her name then?” I asked because there was something I just didn’t believe.
“Um, Jackie... Smith?” She guessed. I smiled in response. “Okay, I may not know her but I assure you I know the rest of the school.”
“Whatever you say,” I teased.
“I do!” Lilith assured me rather loudly.
“I didn’t say anything,” I raised my arms up in defense with an innocent look on my face but couldn’t keep myself from laughing. Before I knew it, there was food in my hair.
“Really? You didn’t?” Lilith grinned playfully. It was a nice one and it was real.
“You know what? I think I did,” I changed my mind and threw my food back at her. It landed right on her face. For a moment, there was complete silence in the room as everybody waited for Lilith to murder me.
Instead, we both picked up our plates and that was enough for someone to declare war on food. We started an all-out food fight and it was one nobody left unscathed.
I threw my eggs at Lilith and used the plate to shield myself from her piece of bread she sent to war. I laughed but it was short-lived. She sent a pancake flying through the air and hit my chest.
The Great Hall was filled with flying food and students’ laughter. I had more food stuck in my hair than I ever would have wanted. But it was worth it because I witnessed Lilith actually slip and fall; the look on her face when she realized what was happening was absolutely priceless. I tried to step over her but she grabbed my ankle and tripped me. I couldn’t stop myself and ended up falling beside her on the floor.
We were laughing so hard next to each other we didn’t even notice when the whole Great Hall went still. The only thing you could hear was mine and Lilith’s hysterical laughter. We both went dead silent when we saw a set of high heels approaching.
We looked up to see my Aunt stand right above us, a serious expression plastered on her face. It wasn’t angry. Just slightly annoyed.
I got up first and then gave Lilith a hand as we were in a very slippery position. Get it?
“What on Earth are you two doing?” She asked us.
“Nothing?” I asked back at the same time Lilith replied, “Having an awesome food fight.”
“And who started it?” My Aunt asked again, slightly more annoyed but she didn’t seem upset. Normal Principals would’ve suspended you.
“I did,” Lilith replied before I could say anything.
“That’s not true,” I said, feeling as she shouldn’t take the blame even though she did technically start it.
“Yes, it is, Astrid. No need to lie,” Lilith said, clearly not wanting me to get in trouble. Why was that?
“It’s not a lie. I threw food back at you,” I said. Everyone kept quiet as they watched the scene in front of them.
“Yeah well, I started it and that was the question.” Now Lilith was beginning to get annoyed.
“Then I’m willing to take half of the blame,” I didn’t back down.
“Girls!” My Aunt had to remind us that she was still standing there. “Lilith, you’re in charge of cleaning this mess. Astrid, if you insist on wanting to take half of the blame then you can help her. Everybody, go clean yourselves up.”
After finishing the speech, she left the Great Hall and I was left wondering if that was all the punishment we were to receive. Was that it? No I’m disappointed in you? Your punishment is that particular chore that will make you regret ever doing whatever you did? No scolding?
Wow. I didn’t know whether to feel shocked or amazed.
Everybody started to leave and I was left with Lilith Arwen, the girl who started the food fight.
“You should’ve kept quiet,” Lilith scolded me. “There was no need to take the blame.”
She picked up the trays and set them all on one table.
“Why should I? I am equally to blame as you are.”
“It would’ve been better if I was the only one taking the punishment. No need for you to be stuck in here as well,” she sighed.
“I don’t mind. It’s my decision and I stand by it. I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time so consider this as a thank you,” I said meeting her gaze. We didn’t say anything for a few moments as she took all the trays and I took two mops. There was food everywhere. “Besides,” I added. “It’s the first food fight I’ve ever been in.”
Lilith dropped the trays and turned to me in shock. “You’ve never been in a food fight?” Her English accent shone through. I shook my head. “You’ve got to be shitting me.”
“Food fights are a regular thing here. Especially on Fridays because not everybody likes the food.”
“Really? Isn’t that a huge waste of it, though?”
“Yeah but that didn’t stop you from throwing food, did it?” She asked, amused. I guess not.
It took us half an hour to clean this mess up before we could go to our room. Good thing we had two bathrooms because both of us could barely wait to go take a shower.
Luckily, the rest of our classes started two hours later.