“You ready to go in?” Cassandra Elworth, Lily Eriksen’s best friend, nudged her and flashed a pearly smile. Lily bit her lip, looking at the large school across the street from them. It was a sunny morning, crisp, the beginning of the school season. September. With one hell of a summer behind her, she looked to the girl she called her sister and gave a small, hesitant smile. “I-I think so,” she replied softly. Cass took her arm, pulling her along. “Come on, Lils! New year, new start! Let’s have some fun!” Lily could only hope. It hadn’t even been that long since Cassandra and her parents took her in. Looking at the cast on her arm, her broken, useless arm, she sighed and let her friend take her across the street.
The school was a lot bigger than the one she was used to, but she had to admire Cass’ determination and ferocity, even if Cass herself swore it was just an act. Several people cast their gazes in Lily’s direction, staring directly at the plaster cast on her arm. Great… way to make her feel even more insecure. “C-Cass, I don’t… I don’t know about this…” Cassandra glanced at Lily, pursing her lips. “Lils, come on,” she urged, pulling her even more toward the building. “You can’t say you’re ready, then start backing out the closer we get. Come on! You were so strong this summer! I know you can do this! It’s all a matter of perspective!”
Cheerleaders were in the yard, practicing new routines, but all Lily could do was turn her head away. It would be rude to look for too long, someone might think she was staring. The students, however, were doing enough of that in her direction on their own. The yard was massive, filled with familiar sounds that seemed to flare like a cacophony in her ears. Sights she’d seen at her old school, but still somehow all too alien to her. Lily didn’t know any of these people. It was a bigger place and she was a stranger. Keeping her gaze down as Cassandra all but dragged her inside, almost running into someone in the process. “Watch it, cripple!” Lily’s gaze immediately shot up to see a guy, about her height with dark hair and an angry expression almost as if it were carved into his face. “Why don’t you look where you’re going next time!” Cassandra fired back.
Shaking her head, Lily took her friend by the arm and started further into the school, trying to ignore the stares they were drawing. “Cass, please,” Lily whispered urgently. “I don’t… not on our first day. We still have to get to the office.” Aqua eyes met hazel, narrowed before they softened into concern. Cass nodded, sighed, then continued through the halls on their own, following the signs to the main office.
The walls were beige, almost yellow, the scent of old papers, dust, and too much cleaning solution assailed Lily’s nostrils as the secretary told her and Cassandra to have a seat, that the principal would be with them shortly. While the leather of the principal’s chair might have been nice at one time, it was cracked and peeling with age, as if no one had time to replace it. The splintered wood on the armrests and the desk only seem to accentuate and add to it. Their chairs, however, seemed to be in newer condition, but not by much. Cushions worn with age, the legs scraped from the heels of shoes. Sunlight filtered in hazily through the blinded windows. If Lily were being honest, the principal’s office wasn’t much different from the one at her old school. She wondered if…
“Ah, sorry about your wait, girls,” a man, who looked to be in his fifties, strolled into the office. Well-kempt, silver-haired, striding around to his seat with confidence, this had to be Frank Edwards, the principal. Carrying two files in his hands, he swiveled as he sat in his chair, opening one on his desk. The sounds from the hallway were barely muted as the door closed. “All right, Miss uh…” Looking over the name, he glanced back up at each one of them. “Miss Elworth.” Cassandra straightened and gave a small smile and a nod. “That’s me, sir,” she said cheerfully. Mr. Edwards glanced at Lily. “Then you must be Miss Eriksen.” Lily nodded shyly, keeping her gaze on the backpack strap held by her good hand. Sighing, the principal tucked away the folders, pulling two schedules from his desk drawer. Handing one to each of them, he continued. “If you have any questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to come to the office. And-” “Mr. Edwards, sorry to interrupt, but we’re having another issue that requires your attention,” the secretary had only knocked once before making her announcement.
With an exasperated sigh, and something that sounded like ‘Those boys again,’ Mr. Edwards nodded and stood from his desk, gesturing to both of the girls. “Have a look over your schedules, girls. Everything is pretty easy to find.” Without another word, he left, leaving Cass and Lily to look over their schedules together. “Uhm…” Lily bit her lip as she looked over both, peering at Cass nervously. Not a single class together. Only their lunches were at the same time. “Bloody f-” Cass cut herself off. She never swore, making Lily giggle. “You see this, right Lils? Not a single bloody class together! I-” She inhaled deeply before shaking her head. “It’s fine. This is fine. We can work this out. We’ll just… test it and see how it goes.” Lily nodded, clearing her throat as she stood. Together, the two of them left the office to find the hallways crowded and noisy, filled with students and teachers alike. Lockers closing and people blowing past them, without so much of a word other than talking to those they were walking with.
Further down the hall, they could see the principal, scolding someone taller than him. Platinum blonde hair, leather jacket, wearing sneer on his face as he argued back. Curious, much like everyone else, Lily and Cassandra stepped closer to hear what was being said. “Save your excuses, Starkweather, one more time and it’s expulsion! I don’t care if your father is the sheriff, that was uncalled for!” The closer the girls were, the better they could make out the ‘Starkweather’ guy’s face. Chiseled, pierced, with blue eyes that didn’t seem natural for anyone to possess. Lily had to nudge Cass, tucking her head down. “You’re staring,” she whispered to her friend. Cass shrugged, then gave her a teasing smile. “He’s cute,” she whispered back. “Come on, Edwards,” Starkweather protested, drawing his shoulders back. “You know as well as I do it was wrong place, wrong time! Fiyero, he-”
“You’re always blaming the Deamorte boy for your transgressions, Jason,” Mr. Edwards sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “When will you learn that enough is enough? That boy is covered in toilet water, which you know as well as I do, Fiyero would not be seen in that bathroom.” Jason scoffed, clenching his fists and jaw. “He set me up!” “It’s not my fault you let your temper get in the way of simply talking to someone, Jason,” another voice spoke up, and someone brushed past Lily. Hair so deep of a blood red, with brighter tips, enough to make it look on fire under the fluorescent light. Taller than her for sure, his voice was… nice, Lily thought. His clothing looked expensive, his attitude suggested the same thing. Was that… Fiyero Deamorte? Whispers started around them, confirming that’s exactly who this redhead was. He turned, and Lily felt her heart slam in her chest. He was… he was the single most gorgeous guy she’d ever laid eyes on. As if he were a living statue, perfect in every sense of the word.
“I think more than half of the student body here can confirm the only thing I’ve done was send Jason on a little errand to speak to the Swift boy, nothing more.” Murmurs of agreement buzzed in the hall. Jason squared his jaw and gave Fiyero the finger. “You sonofabitch, you set me up and you know it!” “All right, that’s enough! Mr. Deamorte, please get to class,” Mr. Edwards groaned, then looked to the rest of the students. “The same goes for the rest of you! Go on, get out of here!” The crowd started to disburse when Lily and Cassandra heard the principal again. “As for you, Jason, a month’s detention. Go on, get to class.” It was more than obvious this pissed Jason off, but he said nothing. Instead, he pushed his way into the crowd. Most knew to get out of his way, clearing a path as he stormed through. Then the bell rang. Guess it was time for class, after all.