Penelope sighed blissfully as she watched the leaves blow in the cool tinged wind.
Some of her favourite colours were on display: pumpkin orange, creamy browns and dark reds.
The colours decorated the trees, the grass and even complimented some of the shades that people seemed to be adorned in.
Penelope loved September, its colours and the slight bite of its air.
It was a beautiful month that brought on equally beautiful changes in nature.
But most of all, she loved September because of the people— the atmosphere.
She sighed in awe as she watched a toddler stumble down the sidewalk with their parent in tow, obviously excited to be sporting the new bubble guppies backpack that sat largely on their back.
Penelope smiled softly to herself and sipped her tea. Oh, how she loved the month of September.
“Elly, come downstairs we have to go!” A voice sounded from downstairs.
Penelope grinned in excitement at her mother’s voice.
The first day of school was finally here.
She sent an enthusiastic reply to her mom, Lila, and rushed to throw on her outfit that she had put together the night before.
After smoothing down her dress she hopped over her pyjamas to apply her makeup.
A few passes of mascara to bring out her grey-blue eyes, some tinted gel for her eyebrows and a generous coat of clear gloss for her pouty lips. Pretty.
She left her brown hair in its naturally curly state before lugging the small backpack that fit her cutely.
“I’m ready mom,” Penelope called as she hopped down the last step.
Her short frame stood patiently by the door, already sporting her white converse high tops, which did little to add to her 5′3 height.
A taller woman made an appearance 5 minutes later, closely resembling the smaller girl despite her deep black hair.
“Okay, sweetheart let’s go. I’m running late for work.” Her mother said in a bit of a hurry.
“Okay,” Penelope replied before slinging on her backpack.
“Alright, after you” Her mother urged as she opened the front door.
Penelope bounded outside her house, waving to her next-door neighbour who was also out and about.
When her mom locked the front door, she raced to their modest Honda Accord and jumped in the passenger seat.
The drive to school was fairly short, even with the usual traffic that surfaced on the first day of school.
When her mom pulled up to the drop off zone, Penelope leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before yelling bye, nearly sprinting into the school.
As soon as the small girl pushed the doors open, she grinned widely.
Everyone was smiling and laughing with their friends, despite their dislike towards the return of school.
Immediately, people began greeting Penelope, giving her short hugs and soft squeals at her appearance.
“Penelope! I missed you so much.” A girly voice yelled over all the chatter.
Penelope was caught by surprise when her best friend since elementary school hugged her tightly.
“Never volunteer to build houses in 3rd world countries again.” The girl cried out while tightening her grip on the brunette.
Penelope giggled and flushed at all the attention before patting her blonde friend’s back in a soothing manner.
“It was only one country, Olivia.” She replied, clearly amused by her friend’s antics.
When she finally pulled away, Penelope was able to see the girl that she had missed during her 2-month volunteer expenditure in Haiti.
The girl before her stood at her same average height of 5′6, although she was slightly tanner than usual and her green eyes had a bright glow to them.
Penelope skimmed her eyes down her nearly perfect figure, which was clad in high waisted denim shorts and a white long sleeve crop top.
“You look stunning.” Penelope complimented easily.
She was always envious of her best friend’s looks, height and personality. She could never match her confidence or high energy.
“Awe thanks Elly, you look adorable as always.”
Olivia smiled while twirling the shorter girl.
They both giggled at themselves but the sound of their laughter was cut off by the bell.
“Shit, I don’t want to be late for my first class,” Olivia exclaimed in worry.
“I have English first with Mr. Hann,” Penelope said while looking down at her schedule.
“Damn, I have Advanced Functions,” Olivia muttered.
“Well, I’ll see you later then. If you see Mark or Owen tell them I said hi” Penelope said while backing up.
Olivia nodded with a small smile and waved to the short girl who was maneuvering her way through the crowd.
Penelope arrived at her class on time, and she mentally patted herself on the back at her success.
There was a fair amount of people seated already, so she took a spot in the middle and waited patiently for the rest of her class to stream in.
She swung her legs that barely touched the floor and nibbled on her bottom lip, while quickly skimming the bodies that were already there.
Most of the students she recognized, though there were a couple of faces that she wasn’t familiar with.
Penelope had taken AP English throughout the last 3 years of high school but she decided to go mainstream for her senior year.
She wasn’t surprised that there were people at her school that she’d never seen before. Some people went out of their way to not be noticed.
The sound of the door closing brought Penelope out of her thoughts and she looked up to see her teacher looking down at the attendance list.
“Alright seniors, welcome to your last year of high school-”
Cheering erupted from the students and Mr. Hann rolled his eyes at their dramatic display.
“Alright, alright, settle down.” He took a seat on his desk before continuing his previous statement. “This will be the last English course you ever take in high school- even in your life if your program doesn’t require it. I expect you all to put in your best efforts, I want to see you succeed.”
The teacher made eye contact with everyone who was listening, which was only a few, so he took that as his cue to begin attendance.
“Okay, if I say your name, reply ‘here’, you know the drill.” He muttered.
He began calling out first and last names in alphabetical order and Penelope waited patiently with a grin on her face.
All heads in the room snapped towards the voice that spoke.
The deep baritone sent shivers down Penelope’s spine and his thick accent had her blushing involuntarily.
When she turned her body in the direction of the voice, she almost fell off of her chair at the sight.
Sitting at a desk in the far corner of the room was a large boy—no man. He sat lazily in the seat that seemed much too small for his frame.
His blue eyes stared at the front of the class in disinterest and his jaw clenched in annoyance at the mispronunciation of his name.
Penelope questioned how she missed him.
His skin was pale and blemish-free, which complimented the almost white strands that sat messily on his head.
What stood out the most was his tattoos. There were so many. All intricately drawn, scattered over his arms and peeking out from his shirt as they crawled up parts of his neck.
Penelope licked her lips at the attractive male and she blushed again at doing so.
It was obvious that she wasn’t the only person that was struck at his appearance. He looked ethereal. Completely out of place in their suburban town of Pennsylvania.
“Where are you from Phoenix? I don’t think I’ve seen you around Charwell.”
The teacher questioned curiously.
Phoenix tilted his head to the side and spoke, though reluctantly.
“Norway.” He answered shortly.
Mr. Hann nodded slowly, seemingly interested in the background of the new student.
“Did you move here with your family?” He questioned again.
Phoenix tensed at the question, which amplified the appearance of his already impressive muscles.
He fidgeted in his tight long sleeve before replying.
“My father, yes.”
“What inspired the move, if I may as-”
Phoenix got up as the teacher asked another question that seemed to be quite a sore topic. He slung his black backpack over his shoulder before exiting the class, not bothering to spare anyone a second glance.
“Hey, you can’t just leave!” Mr. Hann called after him, walking out into the hallway.
When the boy continued walking, the teacher shook his head and re-entered the class with a sigh.
“Some first day.” He muttered.
Penelope frowned at Phoenix’s sudden exit. Obviously something must’ve upset him to get him to leave so abruptly.
Throughout the rest of class, Penelope couldn’t focus. Her thoughts revolved around the Norwegian boy and his departure, rather than Shakespeare’s use of symbolism in the play Hamlet.
Not even seeing her good friend Mark could distract her from the events of her first-period class.
“Elly! How’s it going muffin.” Mark greeted excitedly.
He bent down slightly to give her a hug and Penelope smiled halfheartedly, trying to give the same amount of enthusiasm back.
“Great” She offered lightly.
“What’s wrong” He frowned while looking down at her.
“You’re always happy on the first day of school. Bouncing off the walls even.” He stated accusingly.
Penelope smiled softly and shrugged.
“I am happy! It’s just...something happened in English today with a new student and I feel really bad. He left class upset and I want to make sure that he’s okay.”
Mark smiled sympathetically and ruffled her hair, earning a light swat from the smaller girl.
“You’re too sweet Elle. I’m sure he’s fine now. You might even see him in another class, who knows?” He offered, trying to cheer her up.
Penelope nodded in agreement, clinging to her friend’s words for comfort.
“Yeah..yeah, you’re right.”
“Alright, that’s enough sulking, what’s your next class?”
She checked her phone for a picture of her schedule and replied.
“I have art next.”
Mark smiled and looped their arms together.
“Perfect, I have the same.”
Penelope giggled and began walking with Mark, although their pace increased to almost a jog when the bell rang.
“Oh no, no, no” She exclaimed worriedly while standing outside the closed door of her classroom.
She hated being late.
“Relax Elle, it’s the first day, they’ll be forgiving.”
He proceeded to knock on the door and a short, middle-aged woman answered with a soft smile on her face.
“More students, lovely!” She exclaimed happily.
Mark gave Penelope a knowing look and she let out a relieved breath.
She offered an equally bright smile back at the older woman before briefly scanning the room for any open seats.
This time, however, she didn’t miss the large body that sat in the back corner of the room.
“I’m gonna go sit over there.” She told Mark while nodding her head towards the seat.
He gave her an understanding smile before taking a place at the front.
Penelope looked in the boy’s direction again and her eyes softened at his lonely figure. Finally, she made her way over to an empty desk, adjacent to his own.
“Hey” She whispered gently.
The tall boy turned slightly to see a small girl with a warm smile on her face.
His cold eyes scanned her figure and he couldn’t ignore the fact that she was gorgeous.
Caramel coloured hair cascaded down her back in soft waves and it framed her delicate face perfectly.
Bright, green eyes complimented her fair complexion and he couldn’t help but linger his gaze on her full, pouty lips that accentuated her chubby cheeks.
His eyes snapped back to meet hers and he almost chuckled at the faint but still-there blush that was growing on her face due to his intense stare.
He rose his brow in question, wordlessly asking her why she called out to him.
“I-I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. I’m Penelope, we have English together.”
Phoenix furrowed his brows in confusion before the memory came back to him.
He nodded slowly before turning back to the front of the class.
“I’m fine.” He replied.
Penelope bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from making any embarrassing sounds. His voice was deep and demanding. His Nordic accent added to its appeal.
“I know that you’re new, and I just wanted you to know that I’m here if you ever need a friend.” She offered quietly after composing herself.
She watched his jaw tick at her words before deciding that she’s done all she can to make sure that he’s alright.
As their class progressed, Penelope couldn’t help but sneak a glance at the handsome male every now and then.
She found that although his demeanour would label him as a delinquent, he seemed rather engaged in the lesson on the history of art in the 20th century.
When the bell rang, she slowly packed up her belongings, her thoughts still on the white-haired boy. He seemed to be all she thought about since her return to school.
As she walked towards the front of the room, she noticed that Mark was waiting for her by the door, with his brows raised expectantly.
“So.. did you get the answer that you wanted?” He questioned, referring to her quest to find out about Phoenix’s wellbeing.
Penelope smiled at him and nodded.
“I got something.”