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Pre-Calculus goes smoothly. Karen and I pack up our things and head to the Social Studies classroom. We sit down in the middle row and wait for the other students to walk in. Meanwhile, as we see a mass of teenagers coming through the doors, we start talking.

“There are so many people. My last school didn’t even have half the students!” I notice. “I wonder how many of these people will be my friends. Probably not many.”

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll make plenty of friends.” she consoles me. “When I was the new girl, it took some time to adapt, but you’ll get there eventually.”

“Wait, you haven’t always gone to this school?” I ask. She always looks confident and at ease in this school, so I thought it always had been hers.

“No, I moved here in the middle of freshman year. I had no friends either at first, but it’ll get better, I promise,” she says. “But what are you worrying about? You have me!”

I laugh. “That’s true.”

“C’mon. Class is starting.” she points out. I smile as I turn my attention to the blackboard.

After those two hours of Social Studies, we have English. Then we have a free period, lunch and finally two hours of Physics. Yeah, I know. Ugh.

The teachers all seem nice, and I try to make conversation with a few of my other classmates. During Physics, I started talking to some girls. They looked like nice people, but when class started, I heard one of them whisper to the other, “What a weirdo.”

So, yeah. I’m not having a lot of luck in the making-friends section.

Whatever, I don’t care.

Finally, it’s lunchtime. As Karen and I walk out of the classroom, I see Suzy and Sarah walking out of the front doors, so I run after them. As Karen sees me leave, she yells, “Emma, what the-“

I’m too far to hear the rest, but I have a pretty good idea of what she said.

I reach Sarah and Suzy, and together we decide to go eat in the school cafeteria, after waiting for Karen of course.

As we sit down and eat, Sarah starts cheering loudly. “OH MY GOD! I’m so happy you’re getting along with everyone!”

“Uh, yeah.” I answer. “Me too.”

“OH! WHAT IF WE GO OUT TOGETHER? Yes! Yes! Yes!” she yells. With every “yes”, Sarah jumps up and down, reminding me of a very happy monkey I once saw at the zoo.

“Ple,ase Emma! We can meet up tomorrow and hang out!”

I couldn’t say no to that adorable face, so I nod. I underestimate how Sarah would react.


The whole cafeteria turns around to look at our little group, but we’re too busy laughing to care. After we calm down a bit, we start to talk about ourselves. I find out a lot of interesting stuff about everyone, but I try to keep most of my personality hidden. I’m still a little hesitant in telling them everything about me.

I start making images in my head about the people around me.

Karen is a seventeen-year-old that loves to party. She’s currently in a relationship with a guy at the other side of the country. She’s had a lot of boyfriends, and I think she’s not a virgin anymore. She doesn’t like to read and wants to become a teacher.

Suzy is sixteen but is really smart and friendly. She likes to listen to music, but she only likes K-Pop. I’m not even sure what that is, but Sarah told me not to ask. She’s only had one boyfriend, but they broke up during the summer. She was still sad about that.

Sarah is a very positive person. She’s always smiling and, as I’ve noticed, overreacts over a lot of stuff. I’m still not sure about this, since I’ve known her only for a couple of hours, but she doesn’t seem really smart to me. I’m curious to know more about her, and I remember the conversation we’d started in the great hall, so I ask. “What happened to you? In the great hall, you were talking about something.”

Suzy glares at me for a microsecond, but it vanishes as fast as it appears. Sarah’s smile wavers. She tries to talk, but she chokes up. “I’m sorry. But I can’t say.” she finally says. “It’s hard to talk about.”

“It’s fine.” I say. “If you don’t want to talk, that’s okay. Don’t worry about it, I won’t push it.”

Sarah’s wide grin comes back; even bigger than before, if that’s possible.

When the bell rings, Karen and I go back to our class: Physics.

After two hours of boredom, the bell rings.

Finally, the first day of school is over. Karen and I walk out and head towards the bus stop and look at the time. A few minutes and it should arrive. I pull out my phone and check my e-mails.

Suddenly, I get shoved to one side. My phone slips out of my hand and crashes to the floor. I stagger and try to regain my balance, but I have to grab Karen’s arm to pull myself up. Without even looking at the culprit, I kneel down to pick up my phone and click the home button. The screen turns on, but a small crack in the glass is noticeable. Oh, hell no.

“Sorry.” Tom says. Yes, it’s the same Tom that winked at me and the same Tom that I met in the principal’s office. “You shouldn’t have been in the way.”

“Excuse me?” I snap, ignoring the fact that I was in the middle of a crowd. “Did you say I was in the way? How about saying sorry to me, the girl whose phone you broke and almost made fall down?” I ask sarcastically.

Tom shrugs and smirks. “Nah. Blaming it on you seems easier.”

I swear I’m about to kick this guy in the balls, but Karen grabs me by the shoulder and pulls me away. When we’re far enough, I turn to face Karen. “Why did you drag me away? I was just about to punch that asshole!” I complain.

“I know, I saw it in your eyes.” she replies. “But I don’t think hitting the most popular guy in school will be a good first day.”

For some reason, her words calm me down a little. After only a day, I can safely assume that Karen is my friend. I usually open up the more I know somebody, so I didn’t have any problem talking to her freely now. I take a deep breath. “Yeah, okay. Good call.”

“I know how you feel.” Karen says. “Tom is always snooping around the new girls. He did the same thing with me too.”

“Oh my gosh, that’s sick! So he’ll just follow me around trying to get in my pants?” I ask.

The bus arrives, so we both get in and take a seat before restarting our conversation.

“Basically, yeah.” Karen says. “But if you’re reluctant enough, he’ll soon lose interest. You’ll be fine. You seemed to be reluctant enough.”

“Yes. Yes, I am.” I say, confident in my words. “But he broke my phone!” I complain.

Karen laughs, then answers. “Please, that phone needed changing anyway. What is that, an iPhone 4? iPhone 5? You have to keep up.”

She’s right. But I’m kind of attached to that phone. My father gave it to me five years ago for my twelfth birthday. But, yes. I should probably change it.

After a few seconds of silence, I ask a question that had been in my all day. “So, what’s the deal with Sarah? Did something happen to her?”

Karen lowers her head. “It’s really not my place to say.”

“C’mon! I don’t want to be the one who knows nothing! Please? I swear I won’t tell.” I ask.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t tell, everyone here knows already.”

I blink. “Then why can’t you tell me?”

She sighs. “It’s complicated.” she pauses. “I can’t tell you, but I can send you a link. You can watch it on your own later.”

I’m about to ask why would there be a link about Sarah and why everyone knows about it, but Karen interrupts my thoughts. “Can I have your phone number? I can’t send you the link otherwise.” She hands me her phone and I type in my number. As I give her her phone back, I realize that it’s my stop.

“I have to go.” I say. “See you tomorrow!”

“Bye!” Karen replies.

I step off the vehicle and head home.

I tell my parents about my first day of school, but they don’t look very interested. The only thing that they find mildly exciting is that the teachers are great and that they were all really nice. Then they went back to not caring.

Whatever. I just want to go read.

Yes. I enjoy reading. Scratch that. I love reading. I have to read a little every day or I’ll die. Okay, maybe not that serious, but it’s hard not to read for me. This year I’m actually counting how many books I read. I’m now at 72 books. It’s not bad, but I could do better.

Anyway, I go upstairs to my room and pick out a new book from my bookcase. Then I make myself fall on the bed and start reading. After a few chapters, I hear my mother calling from the kitchen, telling me it’s time for dinner. I’m not really hungry, but I go downstairs anyway.

After eating, I go back to my room and read a few more chapters, then decide to call it a night. I change and slip into bed, but before falling asleep I pull out my phone and check my messages. Five of them are from Karen:

Hey, gurl


How was your 1st day?

Well, U were w/ me, so it must have been AWESOME

Here’s the link I said I’d send U

I click on the attachment. After a couple of seconds, the article pops up. As I read, my eyes widen.

Oh, that poor girl. I think.

How could I have not known? I should be there for her and help her get through it. Granted, I’ve only known her for a few hours, but still.

Oh, wait. You don’t know what I’m talking about.

Well, dear reader, last year Sarah was sexually abused by her English professor. The article said that her classmates claimed that the professor had been eyeing Sarah the whole year, but never did anything. Then one day, when Sarah had stayed a little while longer to put away her books, the professor had locked the door. There weren’t any cameras in the classroom, but Sarah’s screams, yells, and cries were all they needed to hear to understand what was happening.

They arrested the teacher after one of Sarah’s classmates (I suppose it was Suzy) called the police, saying that her teacher had locked himself in the room with a student.

Now you know. That’s why I want to help Sarah. I want to make sure she’s okay, even if I don’t know her very well. I feel horrible. Knowing what happened to Sarah makes me realize how lucky I am. I often tell myself that my life sucks, even though there are people who’ve gone through much worse stuff.

Heartbroken, I turn off my phone and drift off.

The next day, without even making sure that Karen is behind me, I sprint towards the main entrance, where Suzy and Sarah are about to enter.

“Sarah, wait!” I say.

“Hey, Emma,” she answers turning around. “What’s up?”

“I’m sorry, but I was curious,” I say.

She looks confused for a second, then seems to realize what I’m referring to. Her smile wavers and she looks down. Before she can speak, I keep talking. “I just want to say that I’m sorry. I want to let you know that if you need to talk about it, or if you just need a shoulder to cry on, you can count on me. I’ve been through some stuff too, and I know it can be hard.” I grab her arm sympathetically. “Let me know if you need anything. If you need a friend.”

Her usual smile reappears. “Thanks. That means a lot.”

I’m about to turn around and leave, but Sarah asks me a question. “What stuff have you been through?”

“Anxiety. A couple of panic attacks. I actually still have social anxiety, but I’m trying to work on it.” I explain.

“Well,” Sarah says. “If you need a friend to cry on, you can count on me too.”

“And me,” Suzy says behind her.

I smile and lean in for a hug, which they happily give me. I don’t normally go around and hug people, but it seems like a good hug moment. I turn around to get back to my classes, but first I have to go meet Karen. She’s been waiting for me the whole time, probably wondering what I’ve been doing.

Sure enough, when she sees me, she scowls and asks, “Why do you keep running away from me?”

“Sorry, but I had to talk to Sarah. I read the article yesterday.” I say.

“Oh,” she says. “Pretty horrible, huh?”

“Yeah,” I answer. “What a pervert.”

She smirks. “You know who isn’t a pervert? Mr. Martinez. He is so hot.”

“Who’s the pervert now?”

“Oh, shut up. He’s a Physical Education teacher, of course he’s hot!”

“You’re weird,” I comment.

“Thank you.” Karen answers.

And with that, we head to the gym.

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