Julie’s mouth fell open at Mr. Borrell’s words but was quick to close it before she could question why. How long had she stood here in the corridor that he had decided to hand her detention? She couldn’t help but internally curse so many people in this university, and she had to meet him.
She had only gone to use the restroom! She screamed in her mind while offering a greeting smile at Mr. Borrell.
Mr. Borrell’s eyes narrowed, and he said in a clipped tone, “First week of your class, and you’re already wasting your time roaming around instead of being in the class. I knew it the first time I saw you.” Julie placed her hand on the chest and then pointed her fingers in the backside direction. “What are you doing?” he questioned unamused.
“I can explain why I was standing here,” Julie offered him a polite smile in the hope that he would listen.
“I didn’t ask you for an explanation,” snapped Mr. Borrell, “Go to the detention room in the evening and don’t think you can skip it. Get back to your class now.”
“Yes, sir,” murmured Julie, and she made her way to her class, her back stiff, knowing Mr. Borrell had not left the corridor.
Never would she have guessed that a simple trip to the restroom would end up in receiving detention. It was that boy’s fault! Neither he would have jumped right in front of her, nor would she have got herself in trouble, thought Julie to herself. Mr. Borrell seemed to be a person who enjoyed handing detention as if he was distributing free meals.
Reaching the classroom, Julie got back in her seat. The teacher was speaking about the nervous system, and when his back turned to face them, Melanie, who was sitting next to her desk, raised her eyebrows as if asking what took Julie this long. With the teacher quick to turn around, both the girls concentrated on the class.
By the end of the day, Melanie stared at Julie along with Conner.
“Who gets detention in the first week?” asked Melanie. “You should have kept walking, it is much better than standing in the middle of the corridor without doing anything.”
“Mel is right. But hey, we all have spent time in the detention room. No need to be ashamed,” assured Conner as if it was not a big deal.
“I guess. I didn’t expect to receive one this soon,” muttered Julie before pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “There was this student who was skipping class. I should have known that I was going to get into trouble,” she clutched one side of her bag. Scratching the back of her neck, Julie climbed down the stairs with the other two while taking in the details of where the detention room was. “I will see you both later.”
“Have fun there,” Conner wished, and Melanie offered her an encouraging smile.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs, she took the left side and the first corridor. Most of the students had finished their classes, leaving the corridors and the classrooms almost deserted.
The students had started to leave the building, and with every passing two minutes, the place turned quieter as if she was alone. She had never been to a place this big before. The last university she had studied in was much smaller. While the Veteris University was probably thirty times bigger, including the other buildings and the property around that.
On her way, she caught sight of the walls that had carved sculptures on them. The paint on them was faded.
“They were made in the eighteenth century,” someone said behind her, and Julie turned to see a familiar face. It was Maximus Marudus, the one with the piercing in his tongue. The boy moved forward, touching the heads of the small sculptures, “I am surprised to see you here. Did you lose your way?”
She wished, though Julie in her mind. “Detention,” she replied.
“No way. You look like Ms. Goody two-shoes,” Maximus commented, turning to look at her, and his eyes brightened up. He asked, “What did you do? Refuse to answer a question in the class?” a wide smile spread on his face.
“I was out of the class. Are students not allowed to go to the restrooms?” she questioned him. “It was because of an idiot.”
“Poor thing. Depends if you were still loitering and trying to skip class in front of the teachers. They don’t take it too kindly… if they find you escaping in front of them,” Maximus whispered the last words as if he was telling her a secret.
So she could skip classes in secret, just not in front of the teachers, thought Julie to herself. But then, she didn’t have plans to miss any classes. She wanted to get good grades!
“At least the last place was better. They used to give a chance to explain but here they wait to send you to detention. By the way, do you know where to find a good network reception?” Julie asked him in hope. She had carried her phone almost everywhere possible, but the network was just bad. “I have been trying to reach my uncle since the first day I got here.”
Maximus stared at her for a second longer before suggesting, “You should check with the office.”
Julie nodded her head, “Oh, okay. I will try that. Thank you.”
She was too shy to borrow someone’s phone and didn’t want to bother anyone. Somewhere in between the days that had passed, she had come to believe that her phone settings had changed, which was why she hadn’t been able to get a network.
She saw him staring at the wall while unconsciously playing with the pin pierced in his tongue. Curious, Julie asked, “What did you do to deserve detention?”
Maximus turned to her and smiled, “I made a girl cry.”
“Why did you hurt her?” she asked him in a whisper, her mind going on an alert.
The boy laughed, “I am sure when she cried she enjoyed it,” he smirked before walking away from there as if he had finished talking to her, leaving a stunned Julie behind.
The girl enjoyed crying?
She knew if her mother was here now and saw some of the university students, she would tell her to stay away from them and not look in their direction. Shaking her head and gathering her thoughts, she finally entered the detention room and saw twelve students who had taken their seats. She was the thirteenth person.
As good as it was to see many students here, only she and three students appeared normal while the rest looked like delinquents. Not wanting to judge people by their appearance, Julie held the strap of her bag tighter before sitting down.
A woman stepped into the room, her hair tied into a bun with a pencil. She appeared to be younger than the other teachers Julie had seen here so far. The woman smacked her hands on the table and her voice loud,
“Every day I come here and I am not disappointed seeing the number of people who fill the seats,” she looked sharply at everyone in the room. “I see some fresh faces here. Welcome to the detention class, I am Piper Martin and I will be working on fixing you in my own special way. We are going to start with the basics. Pull out your book and draw what you see on the right side. If I don’t like it I am going to make you redraw and make sure you turn into an excellent artist by the time you leave the room. This will earn you patience and a ticket to leave this room.”
One of the girls raised her hand, “My major isn’t arts and this drawing isn’t going to be of any help. I’d rather work on my assignments.”
“That is bullshit,” came a boy’s response who sat in front of Julie.
Another student stated, “I didn’t do anything and I was-”
“Speak more and I will make you clean all the floors of this building and the next one behind this one. If you don’t want to waste my time while wasting yours, don’t get detention,” the teacher gave a pointed look. Taking her seat behind the desk, she placed both her feet on the table and then pulled a book to read.
Julie looked back and forth while staring at the teacher.
This was detention?
A lot of them grumbled before they finally pulled their book out. She saw Maximus, who had already started to scribble the picture on his book. He was the first one to leave the room. A few seats turned empty in the next hour, and finally, she got out of the detention room.
When she stepped out of the building, a sigh escaped her lips. Looking up at the sky, she noticed the sky was slowly changing from blue to orange and red. With students who had left this side of the building, Julie was surrounded by the sound of the rustling leaves and the breeze that swept across her while she closed her eyes.
‘I cannot do this anymore! You told me she was going to be here only for a few days!’
‘Lower your voice Sarah,’ Uncle Thomas tried to hush his wife. ‘You know what happened. She needs some time to grieve over what happened. We already spoke about it. She didn’t do anything.’
Julie had heard her aunt huff, ‘Do you know how it is going to affect our son who is still small with people questioning? We can fund her college expenses and let her stay there.’
‘I cannot do that. She’s my niece. The only person my sister left behind. Julie needs us as her family, Sarah,’ Uncle Thomas had tried to convince his wife. ‘She has no one else except us.’
‘And what about us? It isn’t like we live lavishly. This cannot continue, else I will send Joel to my mother’s place,’ Aunt Sarrah stormed out from the kitchen.
Her uncle had caught her standing at the other side of the wall, and seeing her there he had appeared surprised. Offering her a smile, ‘When did you come here? Your aunt baked fresh cookies for you. Come take a bite.’
At that time, Julie had smiled at her uncle as if she hadn’t heard any of his or her aunt’s words, but she knew her uncle was aware that she had overheard the conversation.
Julie had never meant to create any disturbance in Uncle Thomas’ house, and after that incident, she had tried to be more careful. But she had also decided to move out of there, applying to universities far away so that she could live in the dormitory. She didn’t blame her aunt; instead, she was thankful that they had taken her in for two months.
Coming back to the present, Julie knew she had done the right thing by moving into this place. She put a smile on her lips. She had promised to look forward and not back. She started to walk towards her dormitory, trying to recollect the assignments she had to finish for tomorrow’s class.
When she reached the front side of the dormitory, she caught sight of Olivia, who stood in front of her dormitory block, but she wasn’t alone. She stood with two boys, Maximus and the boy, because of whom she had ended up in the detention room today.
Looking at the boy in the black T-shirt, Julie couldn’t help but send a glare at him. But when his eyes snapped to look at her, she quickly looked away.
“Julianne, how are you?” Olivia waved her hand with a polite smile. “I haven’t seen you since Saturday.”
That was because Julie was trying to keep a low profile not to get caught by the porcupine. She had been stealthily heading to her classes and her dorm, including the mealtime, to stay away from trouble.
“Hey,” Julie returned the smile. “I was busy catching up with last week’s classes. How have you been?”
“Excellent. Looks like you are going to be making the teachers proud. Good for you,” replied Olivia.
“She already did it,” Maximus nodded his head, laughing in the end. “She was in the detention room with me today. Supposedly some idiot got her into trouble. Do you feel like beating the person up?”
Julie felt her heart drop because when her eyes moved to look at the other guy, his eyes narrowed at her.
“No no. That idiot, I mean the person,” Julie waved her hand, feeling the glare turn intense from one of them, “He did mention if I stayed there I might get into trouble. I should have paid attention,” she tried to salvage the situation. She already had the porcupine and his two friends on her; she didn’t want to end up on someone else’s hunt list.
“What a kind hearted person you are. Looks like you come in the good students category,” commented Maximus.
Julie asked, “What about you?”
Olivia didn’t say anything, and out of the three, it seemed that Maximus liked to speak, “A little bit of everything. Or maybe the bad.”
“I see...I should get going now,” she said to them and walked into her dormitory building.
Julie was making her way towards her room when she decided to knock on Melanie’s room.
“How was your first detention?” asked Melanie.
“Not as bad as I thought it would be,” replied Julie, stepping inside the room, and after a few seconds, she asked, “I wanted to ask you if I could borrow your phone for a minute?”
“Phone?” asked Melanie, and Julie nodded.
“I think I have been having network issues with my phone. I wanted to call my uncle to let him know I have settled in.”
“I wouldn’t mind giving it to you, but phones don’t work here,” explained Melanie with a frown. “Didn’t you read it in the rules?”
There were only three on the sheets, and none of the three spoke about the phone or network being cut off. “I did. All the three,” answered Julie.
Melanie shook her head, “Three? There are a total of twenty-eight rules, actually twenty-nine. And the fourth rule is about not using phones, which also means no network.”