One way to be welcomed: Punishment
[All it took was breaking one rule that she was not supposed to]
He was the bad boy with tattoos on a motorcycle. She was the good girl with glasses and she was his.
Julie pushed the round-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose for the fifth time out of nervousness since she had gotten inside the car. Her brown eyes noticed the trail of trees finally paused and two massive gates stopped the car from moving forward.
“Looks like the security in here is tight. Feels like I am dropping you off to prison,” her uncle Thomas Winters chuckled in humour.
“I hope you know how to break in and free a person from prison, Uncle Tom,” she joined in the joke. And at that moment, Julie had no idea how close her uncle’s words were true that he had spoken about the university she would attend and live for the next two years.
The watchman at the gates came and stood next to her uncle’s side of the car’s window. The watchman was lean and tall, with his hair on the shaggier side. He bent his upper body, placing his hand on the edge of the window.
Upon seeing the watchman not speak right away, and instead stare at her and her uncle, Uncle Thomas said,
“I am here to drop my niece.”
“Do you have the student ID?” asked the watchman in a gruff voice, and his eyes shifted to look at Julie. For a moment, she noticed a flicker of red in his eyes that disappeared after a second. Did his eyes change colours or was she imagining it?
Her uncle handed the card to the watchman to inspect closely before handing it back to him.
“Let them pass,” said the watchman, and the gates automatically slid away from each other. Julie could feel the watchman’s gaze on her, and it made her slightly uncomfortable.
As they drove inside the Veteris premises, she took note of the line of the trees on both sides. There were tall buildings on both sides that looked like mansions, and at the centre, there was a bigger building that looked nothing less like a castle.
“I still cannot believe you got admitted into this university. I heard only a few students get through,” said Uncle Thomas, while tapping his fingers on the steering wheel as if he were anxious to leave her all by herself.
When her uncle pulled the car over not too far from the main building, Julie freed herself from the seatbelt and stepped out of the car. The university felt like a whole different world away from the city because of its location, surrounded by acres of land that was mostly forest.
She heard her uncle speak, “Your luggage must have already arrived here as we sent them three days ago. The rest of them are here.” He pulled the luggage out from the car’s trunk, and Julie took hold of them. When her uncle closed the trunk, he turned to her, “Are you sure that you don’t want to stay home and attend the nearby colleges? I can get you a second-hand car and you can commute-”
“You’ve already done so much for me, Uncle Thomas. I will always be thankful for it. Please don’t worry about me,” Julie smiled so that her uncle wouldn’t feel troubled.
After what happened a few months ago, Julie moved to her uncle’s home, her mother’s younger brother. He was a generous and warm person, happily married with a ten-year-old son. The last thing she wanted to do was to disturb their family life.
“It is the least I can do,” sighed Uncle Thomas. Julie could feel her heart turn heavy, but she didn’t let it deter the smile on her lips. She didn’t want Uncle Thomas worrying about her. “Come here, give your old uncle a hug before you go.”
Julie hugged her uncle, receiving a pat, while being asked, “I read in the form that you will be allowed to visit us every last Sunday of the month. Let me know once you settle in and also visit us. And be a good girl, and if you need anything, you know I am just a call away and if you need-”
“Yes, Uncle Tom. I know,” she smiled, and he nodded.
She waved at her uncle once he got into his car and left. Now that she stood alone with the trolley bag in her hand, she finally took note of the people around her.
The place where she stood didn’t look deserted, and some of the students walked in and out of the buildings.
She pushed her glasses again as she stared at the entrance of the building. It had been only a minute since her uncle had dropped her off at the university, and she could feel the eyes of the students, who were around, watching her.
“Deep breath,” whispered Julie to herself. When she inhaled, at the same time, her nose tingled, “A-achoo!”
The little sneeze only brought more attention to her, where the students who were outside the building turned to look at her. She quickly looked at her luggage, catching hold of the handle, she climbed up the stairs one stair at a time with another bag over her shoulder. Walking through the hallway, she caught sight of the main office and stepped inside there.
A woman stood behind the counter, writing something in the register, and Julie said, “Hi.”
The person looked up at her, “How can I help you, dear?” asked the woman.
“I am Julianne Winters, I recently received my admission to the university and I was looking for my schedule and details about my dorm,” Julie let the office woman know in one breath without a pause.
The woman stared at Julie before asking, “Let me take a look. Did you bring the issued card?” Pulling the card from her pocket, Julie handed the card that she had received through the mail.
While the woman tried to print her details for her, Julie turned behind to look at the empty hallway. It seemed like the classes were going on. It was the beginning of the academic year, and she was already one week behind. The university looked much better than what she had seen on the internet.
“Here, you go,” said the woman, and Julie saw sheets of papers being placed on top of the counter. “The first one has your schedule, and the next two pages have the details of the dormitorium along with the rules. Make sure to read them.”
What a strange way to call a dormitory like that, she thought to herself.
“Thank you,” Julie offered the woman a smile for helping her. The woman frowned on hearing the trolley’s wheels make noise from the desk to the door before resuming her work.
Stepping out of the room, Julie dragged the trolley behind her with one hand and the other holding the papers that she had collected from the office room. Looks like she had completed one step, and the next one was to find her dorm. But before she could take a look at the printed papers, she heard a slight commotion.
What was that sound? Julie asked herself, and she stopped in her tracks.
In a second, two grown-up boys stepped into the hallways but not how normal people would do. They entered with one person punching the other one.
Her eyes went wide behind her glasses when she saw them punching and pushing each other against the walls in turns. The fight didn’t look like a small one as they put all their might into it. She flinched when she heard the sound of something crack, not knowing who had broken their bone on their face.
One of the boys had a faded mohawk blonde hair who looked nothing less than a raging bull that had been taunted. “I will fucking kill you for pulling that shit!” he growled, gritting his teeth.
“Over your dead body, Jackson. Tell me when you are ready to die,” a small chuckle escaped from the other person who replied. Julie could only see the black leather jacket that the person wore.
“Today is the day you go down!” said the first boy.
The bull appeared to be in a rage and went straight at the other boy, swinging his hand right at the boy’s face. And for a moment, just for a moment, he looked triumphant before the leather boy stood straight, landing a blow at the bull boy.
As the physical fight continued, Julie finally caught sight of the boy in a leather jacket.
His expression was that of boredom, as if he was dealing with a child right now. The tall boy had thick black locks of hair that covered part of his forehead and slightly high cheekbones. She noticed the two prominent cufflinks on the right lobe of his ear.
Julie looked back and forth, wondering where the teacher was to stop the fight that had broken in the middle of nowhere.
Some students started to pour into the corridor, watching the fight like Julie on the sides. She flinched when the dark-haired boy raised his leg, spinning it to leave a kick right across the blonde boy’s jaw. The bull fell on the floor, and the other boy hissed, feeling the cut on his lip.
“You look better as a carpet on the ground,” said the one who stood.
Julie decided not to stay around as she had a dorm to find.
Turning around, she started to walk away from the scene while most of the students witnessed the fight. She had taken only seven steps away from where she had been standing when she heard a whistling sound.
Before she knew it, the papers from her hand slipped, and so did her bag along with the trolley suitcase. While the two sheets of papers fell near her, the third one slipped right below a box placed at the side. The two delinquent boys had found no better spot to continue their fight.
It was because one of the boy’s in the fight decided to crash right at her, and Julie felt as if she was that last pin in the bowling alley and had been bowled to stagger forward. And though she didn’t fall flat on her face, her loose glasses fell right on the floor. Her eyes grew wider, and she gasped in horror on hearing it crack!
Julie knew first impressions were important. If she stayed quiet now, with so many people in the hallway, they would believe that she was a pushover, and it would eventually lead to being bullied.
She had another pair of spare glasses, but this one was her favourite!
Gritting her teeth, Julie snapped around and heard the blonde mohawk boy wince in pain . Just when he was about to take a step towards the other person, she caught hold of the back of his shirt. This caught the boy off-guard, and he lost his balance to fall on the floor.
A collective gasps were heard from the students as if she had committed a grave sin. And then, there stood the boy with the piercings, a slight snicker escaping his lips. The reaction only poured fuel on the person on the floor, and he snapped his eyes to look at her as if he was ready to stomp on her.
When Julie had woken up this morning, she had recited to herself how great her day was going to be. How she was going to look ahead instead of looking over her shoulder at the past that she was trying to hide. She had told herself that she would smile and talk to people. She wouldn’t hide.
And though that was what she meant, pulling a boy to have him fall on the floor was the last thing she had on her list to do today!
The hand that had pulled him turned to a fist, and she brought it towards her chest in awkwardness. The delinquent mohawk boy pushed himself up to stand right in front of her, and suddenly she regretted her action. Compared to the boy, she was small in size, and she gulped.
“You fucking bitch!” the boy growled, ready to pounce on her, and at the same time, one of the teachers arrived at the scene.
“What is going on here?!” The voice boomed in the hallway, and the students who had been enjoying the fight quickly started to disperse.
The mohawk boy was quick to drop his hand back to his side, and Julie’s eyes fell on a man, who was probably in his late thirties. The man wore a black suit and had a chin beard. His arched eyebrows gave out a stern expression as he glared in her direction, where the two boys stood near her.
“In Ms. Dante’s office. Now,” ordered the man.
Neither the leather boy nor the mohawk boy put a word of protest, and Julie was glad that she was saved. Phew! Just missed, she thought to herself before bending down and picking up her glasses. She picked up the sheets that had slipped out of her hand while not realizing she had lost the third sheet.
“Do you need a special invitation to come to the office?” the man questioned her.
“Me?” Julie looked at the two boys, who had already started to walk. “No no, that’s a misunderstanding. I wasn’t with them in the fight. Yo-”
“The office,” said the man sternly.
“But I didn’t-”
“Detention for not obeying the teachers instructions,” snapped the teacher, and Julie’s eyes widened. For what?! She screamed in her mind.