8 | Shocked Is An Understatement
That’s the reaction I receive after introducing myself. I have to try really hard at restraining myself from laughing at their faces. This whole situation, in general, is just hilarious!
I quickly glance behind the stage at Casey who smirks at me and gives me a wink. She is probably desperate to take an image of this moment. Admittedly, I am too. I want to hang the photo in my lounge so that I can be reminded of this moment forever.
“I just want to say I am thrilled to be here learning. I hope you all feel the same!” I say, lying easily. Although, nobody can tell. They can never tell. I have practiced so hard at lying that no one can tell anymore. It's as natural to me as breathing.
Swallowing at their still shocked faces, I pass the microphone back to Mr. Fisher.
He politely takes it and clears his throat. That knocks some of them back into reality, though some are still far, far away. I think I just referenced Star Wars.
“Thank you, Whitney. Now we have to set down some rules for Whitney’s privacy. One is that you must not ask her for autographs or photos. She is here to study like you, not to sign autographs.
“Secondly, do not ask her any questions about upcoming things. She is forbidden from releasing any new information on her upcoming events.
“Finally, Whitney will have one bodyguard who will be following her around. He will not be inside the classroom but he will be outside. So do not be alarmed. This is also for her safety. Is that clear?”
Nobody replies. You can practically hear a pin drop in this deafening silence.
“I said, am I clear?” Mr. Fisher repeats, louder.
“Yes,” they all reply in synchronization. He smiles happily and then leads me off the stage. As soon as I’m behind stage, I release a breath I didn’t realize I was holding and slump my shoulders. On stage, I appear confident and ready for anything but now I’m off stage, all of the nerves hit me like walking into a brick wall.
Only people close to me get to see me in this state. Casey rushes over to me and gives me a small hug. She already knows what I’m feeling, she’s seen me at my lowest state.
“You did amazing. Honestly, I was giggling back here the whole time at their faces.” She murmurs into my ear and I bark out a laugh. Casey has a really high pitched giggle that is pure comedy. Images of the backstage crew's faces come to mind, causing me to laugh harder.
“Right, on a more serious note. We have your schedule here. Since you already know where you are going, Alan will ask you for directions. Mr. Fisher informed me that all of the students will go back to first period.” Casey tells me and I nod my head in understanding. When she hands me my timetable, my eyes immediately skim it.
I nearly groan when I see the word math. How wonderful. Can you detect the sarcasm?
Casey opens the back door—the one we came through earlier—and gives me a side hug.
“I’ll see you at home okay?”
I bob my head up and down and watch her head to the second car. She gives me one last wave and then gets into it. I mentally sigh, wishing I could be joining her.
Alan and I begin walking to the front doors to the school. I come to a halt at the bottom of the stairs and inhale. Flashbacks of when Callum and I used to walk in together, laughing, float around in my mind.
Or when I was being chased by Ares with a hollering Athena behind us.
The memories are too much to handle. I force myself to block them and will my mind to focus on our current situation.
I wonder if they will approach me today. No, you are not going to think about it! Stop it! My inner conscious shouts.
Alan swivels on his heels and raises an eyebrow. He gives me a look as if to say ′are you—Whitney Winters—really scared right now?′ I sigh and look past him, at the school. Thankfully, nobody has noticed me yet.
“I know, I know but... it's just so surreal. I need two seconds to get my bearings.” I say and set my mind straight. I am going to walk in there, like a boss woman and own it. Because I am Whitney Winters and I'm amazing.
With my new found motivation, I flash Alan a smile, telling him I’m ready and with that, I walk up the stairs with my head held high and my shoulders back. Alan opens the door for me; I step through.
The hallways are packed. Students are either stood by their lockers talking or are walking to their next lessons. When they see me, they scream. Yes, freaking scream and sprint over to me. Before any of them can touch me, Alan puts his arm in front of me and blocks their view of me. I need to remind myself that later I need to thank him.
All I can hear is squealing girls and multiple voices. Questions and compliments are being thrown at me, left, right and center.
“How are you, Whitney?”
“You look amazing in that outfit!”
“I love your hair.”
“You were great in that last film!”
As flattering as it is to receive these compliments, I have to remind myself that some of these people were the reason I left. They bullied me, shunned me, hated me. And now they are acting like a completely different person towards me. As if, nothing happened. Gosh, it makes me furious. How dare they act like that, without apologizing for the torment they caused me. How dare they pretend to be nice to me. How dare—
My thoughts are cut off by Alan’s loud, booming voice. “Listen up, Whitney needs to get to lessons. You can talk to her later but right now, she needs to go. So clear off." He shouts, in a cold, commanding voice. I refrain myself from flinching at his demand. Alan is a sweet man, deep down, but like me, he puts on a facade.
Reluctantly, they all wander off. Some girls give me longing glances. I nearly roll my eyes at it. They probably want to become my ‘new best friend’ so they can brag about it to everyone else and become famous. I hate people like that.
“Ready kiddo?” Alan asks me once they are all gone.
I huff at the nickname and give him a playful glare. At least he knows how to cheer me up.
Alan walks in front of me, forming a protective shield around me. The remaining pupils in the hallways turn to me and smile. Some are genuine and some are fake. Perhaps I could be friends with some people.
A girl, who I think is called Penelope, gives me a bright, almost blinding smile. Two years ago, we didn’t really interact. She was nice to me but she was never around when I was being picked on. That reminds me, at lunch, I’m going to need to find someone to sit with. I am almost certain I’m invited to the popular table so I will need an excuse as to why I can't sit with them. Despite hating most of them, I need to keep a good public image.
If one of them leaked to the press that I was a rude and ungrateful person, Casey would kill me. I need to remain Hollywood’s golden girl.
Eventually—to my dismay—we arrive at my maths class. Alan gently knocks on the door and a few seconds later, the teacher opens it. Mrs. Thomas, who must have been expecting me, smiles and gestures for me to enter. Casting one final glance at Alan, I step in.
Instantly, the students sit up in their seats and flash me friendly smiles. Well, except for some cheerleaders who give me fake smiles. Oh dear, god.
Mrs. Thomas leans against the front of the desk. She has short hair, that is turning a silver color. I remember her from two years ago, she wasn’t my teacher back then but when I would pass her in the hallways, she would always start a polite conversation with me.
“Hello Whitney, it's lovely to have you here.” She sweetly says, with a smile. I return it.
“Thank you, Mrs. Thomas.”
“Would you like to take a seat?” She asks, her eyes scanning the room for a spare seat. I copy her movement and nearly gasp at the sight of Athena, Ares, and Callum. How did I not notice them earlier?
“Should I sit at the back?” I politely ask her, desperately wanting to sit far away from them.
“Of course sweetie.” She replies and I head over there, ignoring the weird tingly sensation I feel when passing Callum. I swear, when I walk past him, he sits up straighter and shakes. But then again, maybe I’m imagining things.
When I get to the desk, I plonk my stuff on the ground. The people around me swivel on their seats to face me. Athena is sat a few desks in front of me, with Ares next to her and Max in front of her.
“Whitney, can I just say I loved your film with—” a girl is interrupted by Mrs. Thomas who gives her a glare.
“Miss Carrington, are you disturbing our new student?” She sternly asks and places a hand on her hip for effect. I stifle a laugh at the girl’s bright pink face. She quickly turns around and drops her head in shame.
From then, I zone out of Mrs. Thomas. Not bragging or anything but I’m already good enough at maths even though I despise it so I don't bother listening to her ramble about equations. I doodle in my notepad to pass the time, ignoring all of my surroundings.
When I feel several pairs of eyes on me, I glance up. All three of my friends are staring at me. I look into each of their eyes and see the want to talk to me, to explain things to me. But...I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.
When the bell finally rings, I’m the first out of my seat. I waste no time in going to the door and over to Alan. Several people call out my name but I pretend being busy.
Next class is History.