I swung my old wooden door open, an eerie creek ensued as I did so, my ears cringed at the sound. I wasn't used to it. The street had a dull concrete pathway where even the sun's rays couldn't restore the vitality, the small patches of grass that tried thriving were savouring the morning dew. My patio was small, a good meter in all with slabs that were lacking order and a black gate that seemed to be waiting for me to push it. For it to leave it's frozen state, to feel the thrill of rush as my fingers grace it with movement, I granted it as I left my patio towards the school where I would be volunteering.
I had learnt most of the instructions from reading documents they had given me, it was a unique school system. The years were separated into three groups, the staff and students referring to them as A, B and C. Class A contained students around five to nine year olds, where I would be teaching. I had hoped to get some experience working with kids as I had hoped to become a psychiatrist for children, helping them to adjust to homes and how to adapt to change. Class B contained students from ages ten to thirteen, though not as rowdy as class C, where ages were fourteen to sixteen, it still had a rebellious charm to it as students were experiencing the first stages of puberty. All the classes seemed to radiate its own youth which was refreshing after being cooped up.
I arrived at the institution, long iron bars made it seem like a prison. It had a dull tone and the heavy darkness of winter mornings made it even more so. Upon arriving I was greeted by a care taker, face stern and old as wrinkles made crevices in his skin. He greeted me with a 'hmph', I smiled saying "hello, I'm Juniper." I had small hand movements as I spoke, he looked at me strangely. His face seemed to become cold as he wrinkled his nose, eyes looking into my soul.
He tightened the grip around a pair of keys before looking at me deeply, "you look different." As he spoke he placed a finger at an angle to his chin, edging closer to me as to get a better look. Before I could say anything he shook his own head, "don't mind it, just an old man and his age." I became slightly nervous, maybe they had looked me up and thought of me to be one of my friends, either way I didn't have social media so the confusion may have lay in looking into another identity. He started walking towards the front door to the school, a hand beckoning me to follow.
As he walked, crumpled clothes dragged along the school hiding uncleared shoes. His posture seemed to be a haunching figure as he slowly brought himself to the entrance, almost reluctant. Opening the door the receptionist wore the same stern look, it seemed as if the people here didn't wear smiles often. I was more used to a vibrant atmosphere and the contradicting tone gave me unsettling feelings, although I didn't wipe of the enthusiastic look off my face. A small sigh could be heard under the receptionist's breath as she turned to greet me, not holding any pleased look at all. "Juniper Black is it?" Her eyes made contact with mine, unimpressed with my smart dressed attire or my energetic self, perhaps, I thought to myself, this is what children do to you. I nodded my head as she turned to grab something from her office, without a word the caretaker had also left me to my own devices.
Upon looking at the hall of the school it seemed barren, I was imaging the spark of youth to have lit a fire within to school to differentiate from the outside, however it even seemed the fire of youth was not enough to add a flame to the mundane presence of the school. A grey carpet pathetically tried to replicate a welcoming atmosphere and the grim lighting seemed to be dancing with the silence of the dull school. A door creaked open slowly as the receptionist came out, a lanyard in hand as she handed it to me, readjusting her red glasses as she did so. Her hair was tied up in a formal ponytail, no blonde hair was out of place. "You're with Mrs Wickentire, the third door on the hall."
Green eyes went to scan my face, I simply wore a small smile, "thank you." I said before casually walking towards the new class, down a corridor that didn't seem anywhere near endless, more like too short. All the doors looked the same and the walls had some water colour drawing, even they seemed to be dull though they contained actual colour. Some had a bridge on fire, their own interpretation of the fire of London. Others had their family or portraits, independently they would look creative but all together made them all blur into a mess of childish art.
I finally reached the door, the only thing I could do to occupy my thoughts from the dullness was to focus on anything else which was already hard. I hoped that with the new class it would show me the light this school was lodging, upon opening the door I looked to the teacher who graced me with a smile and signed, 'class this is our new volunteer here to help' as she was signing I had made my way to the front. 'Go sit over next to Brandon,' she signed pointing to a boy who was scowling at the window. I smiled as I made my way over, hopefully this was going to be interesting.