Black cat crossing path
When Monday morning arrived, Julie was ready to attend her classes. Leaving the dormitory with Melanie, they made their way towards the blue block. The building was painted grey, yet it was called the Blue block, surrounded by walls with one entrance even though it was inside the campus.
She saw students making their way towards the building, some who stood outside the building talking to their friends.
“Is this to avoid students from skipping classes?” questioned Julie while they walked past the gates.
Melanie, who was busy fumbling through her book looking for something, turned to Julie and said, “Just the starting three hours. As this property once belonged to the Lords, it is said that this particular building was decades ago used as headquarters for something important. It is probably why they have had another set of walls and the Veteris happened to use it. But that doesn’t stop some of the students from skipping classes.”
“I guess I now know why the students here have such high reputations in scoring high marks,” murmured Julie, while they stepped inside the building.
As expected, the architecture of the building was magnificent. Entering through the wide doors, she noticed the huge space, and the ceiling was taller than the main building. There were paintings imprinted on the walls that made this place appear as if she was in a museum. There were two corridors on the left and right side, and at the front were the stairs that led to the above floor.
“Our class is at the top,” informed Melanie, and Julie followed her.
Following her new friend, Julie climbed up the stairs and walked through the corridors. On her way, she didn’t miss some of the curious eyes on her, but she behaved as if she didn’t notice them. When they stepped inside the classroom, the teacher was already present and standing near the board.
Melanie gave her a nod before walking towards her seat like the rest of the students making their way inside. Julie stayed back to talk to the teacher.
It was a male teacher, his hair blonde and a smile on his lips when he looked at her, “I don’t think I saw you here in last week’s class.”
“I am a new student. Julianne Winters,” Julie pulled out the printed page that she had collected from the office to show it to him.
The teacher took a quick look at the paper before handing it back to her. He offered her a smile and said, “I am Alan Torres. I am your Maths teacher. You can take the seat that is in front of Ms. Mitchell’s desk.” She had picked science as her major, and the university had added Mathematics and the English language along with it to her schedule. Of course, not to forget physical education, thought Julie to herself.
“Thank you,” replied Julie, ready to leave the front of the class. But before she could take a step forward in a hurry, Mr. Torres asked,
“Are you not going to introduce yourself? This isn’t a history class, but a little about yourself would be lovely,” the teacher smiled. At the same time, she heard the bell ring in the building, and like a spell, everything turned quiet.
When her eyes fell on the students who had already taken their seats, Julie inhaled, “I am Julianne Winters,” she repeated herself. She turned to look at the teacher, who waited for her to speak more.
“Aren’t you the one who pushed Jackson?” one of the boy’s at the back asked her.
“She’s the one?” came another voice, “Dude, she’s so dead,” the person chuckled.
The chatter of murmur grew in the class, and Julie’s face turned slightly red. “Seems like they already know you. You can go and take your seat,” said Mr. Torres.
Julie gingerly walked towards the empty seat, sliding in before placing her bag on her lap. Taking a book and pen out from her bag, she put them on the desk. After Mr. Torres left the class, the next class was quick to start. And as much as Julie was excited to learn and score higher grades this year, she couldn’t help her eyes from starting to close. It had been a while since she had last sat in a lecture this long.
In the same week, one day, she excused herself from the class to visit the restroom. On her way, she walked past some of the classrooms where the teachers had begun teaching. This left the corridors empty except for one or two students who carried books or papers.
Entering the restroom, she was greeted by the pastel green walls with flower patterns on them, giving it a vintage appearance. The windows were small, and there were stalls opposite to where the mirrors had been fixed with five basins.
Julie walked towards the sink, pushing the long sleeves of her sweater up, before turning the faucet and splashing water on her face. Her brown eyes looked back at her through the mirror. Pulling the tissues, she dabbed them on her face. On hearing the girl’s laughter coming from outside the restroom, she threw the tissue in the bin and pulled her sleeves down.
Four girls entered the restroom, laughing about something.
“You should have seen her face,” laughed one of the girls while walking in. “It serves her right for thinking she could go against you.”
“Serves her right for daring to look at my man. I warned her before and she dared to write him letters and send gifts,” said the other one, who appeared to be the ring leader as the other three girls flocked around her. “Now she will know to leave him alone.”
“That was a good idea to write it in his name and send it to Stella. But I think he would have torn it himself if he found it,” said the first girl with a grin on her face.
“That’s right he would. He would appreciate my efforts of keeping pests away from him,” laughed the second girl.
One of the girls nudged her head towards Julie, and Julie noticed the action from the mirror.
Julie looked like a meek person to an outsider because of her figure and her sweet looking face. With the round-framed glasses on her face and the sweater that covered her well, she appeared to be someone people could step foot on.
“You must be new here. What is your name?” Julie was busy pulling the tissue, and the girl said, “I am talking to you, sweater girl.”
Julie turned around, her eyebrows slightly raising, “I am Julie. Who are you?” she questioned them back.
“Me? Don’t you know you aren’t supposed to question your seniors? Looks like you lost the guideline of how to behave as a freshman here,” said the girl while crossing her arms across her chest.
Julie stared at the four girls and then asked, “What year are you?”
“Second year,” replied one of them in overconfidence.
Hearing this, Julie smiled, and she said, “Well, I guess you are looking at the wrong person to prey on. I am a third year student. Better luck next time.” She stepped forward only to have one of the girls block her way out. “We aren’t done talking?” Julie asked in an oblivious tone.
“Even if it is true, we don’t necessarily follow the yearly order,” said the ring leader. It was evident that the girl came from a wealthy family and was used to getting her way around while having three sidekicks around her. “You are obviously new, and we have been here for a longer time than you. You are the one who should be following us.”
This place was filled with delinquents and people who liked to bully the weak, thought Julie to herself, which also happened in other places. But this one was on extreme as if people waited in the corners, ready to pounce on the other.
Internally she sighed.
Did they know how awkward it was to enter a class when the teacher was teaching with everyone’s eyes on her? She had come here to splash some water on her face.
“You are right,” Julie agreed to the girl, who looked taken aback. “On second thought, when shall I join your group? Until now, I have never been in any group and I think it would be really cool to be part of.”
One of the girls stared at Julie as if not knowing what the girl was speaking about. Most of the freshman always turned pale in fear that fed the bully’s ego. But this one was speaking about joining them.
“Only the elite students can join our group and we don’t allow a common student that easily into our clique,” said another girl.
Something dawned on the ring leader’s face, and she said, “Now I remember where I saw you. You are that girl who is friends with Olivia, isn’t it? I am Eleanor,” Suddenly, her behaviour changed, and she offered a friendly smile to Julie, “You should have told us sooner that you are close with the famous five.”
Famous Five the book? Asked Julie in her mind.
“You can cross the remark Nancy made just now,” Eleanor smiled before proposing, “You know what? We should hang out together. For now we have classes to attend to. Sorry for troubling you.”
“No problem,” said Julie, noticing how Eleanor turned sweet and waved at her. Julie quickly left the restroom.
This place was strange, thought Julie to herself. She had successfully avoided the porcupine since Saturday, and her classes had been peaceful. But the same could not be said about what happened outside the classroom and her dorm room. Knowing the porcupine’s lackeys were looking for made her slightly uneasy.
She was making her way back to her class, walking through the corridors, when suddenly someone jumped right in front of her from the nearby classroom’s window. She inhaled a familiar scent, something that was musky and probably outrageously expensive.
The person crouched right in front of her, taking a few seconds as if he were tying the lace of one of his boots. Because of the person’s black hair, black shirt, black jeans, Julie couldn’t help but compare him to a black cat. Maybe a leopard would be more apt, thought Julie to herself.
When he stood up, Julie’s eyes subtly widened on seeing the person she had almost collided with last week.
As if he remembered her, his eyes slightly narrowed, holding her gaze for two seconds.
“Why are you skipping class?” her curiosity blurted out of her lips.
When the boy glared at her, Julie realized they didn’t know each other to be asking him questions as if they were friends. She caught sight of the tattoos peeking out from his t-shirt and noticed his arm to be inked.
“Get back to your class,” his voice was slightly deep, and her eyes quickly snapped back. Look who was speaking, thought Julie in her mind.
He took one daunting step towards her, and Julie took one back. She gulped.
“Good girls should listen to what is being said, lest you want to invite trouble.”
And he walked past her as if he hadn’t shared a single word with her. While watching him disappear, Julie wondered how he had managed not being caught by the teacher while jumping out of the window.
Frowning at his words, she stared in the direction he left until she heard someone call her.
“Ms. Winters.” Turning around, Mr. Borrell came into her vision. “What are you doing skipping class and standing in the corridor? Detention in the evening.”