By S. F. Brooke
My feet stand firmly outside the building towering at least 5 stories over my head. Clear windows allow my eyes to see through most of the building, landing on the empty halls filled with bright red and yellow lockers. Ketchup and mustard as mom would say, I think sadly. I shake my head, take a deep breath, and start up the flight of stairs.
I keep my head down and shuffle towards the office in front of me in my faded blue jeans. All around me the air smells metallic and manufactured. It’s not the rich freshness I’m used to. I open the glass door and am greeted with a girl sprawled on the floor and papers everywhere. She seems unconscious.
The first thing I notice is her long, shiny, ginger-brown hair that’s stretched out on the marble floor curling loosely at the ends. It’s mesmerizing. The next thing I notice is a very distinct feeling of alarm.
I snap out of staring as a large lady – that I assume is the nurse – rushes forward to lift the unconscious ginger off the ground. I stand there unsure if I should give into my instincts and help but… there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to risk that particular first impression here.
I decide to trust that part of me. It’s better to lower people’s expectations first so you don’t disappoint them in the long run. Heaven knows, my instincts are often driven solely by my emotions and that never quite ends well for me.
As the nurse carries the girl away she opens her eyes and they flick to my face. Her brows furrow over big beautiful sea-green eyes. She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. Her gaze widens in shock and she looks away as if she’s trying to hide from something. Hiding from judgment maybe? It seems that way by the feeling of embarrassment radiating off of her and into my senses.
Weird. Usually, it takes more work to read the emotions throughout a room. I shake my head again trying to focus on why I’m here in the first place. I spot a lower doorway with a sign that says “Principal Treble’s Office”. Let’s get this over with, I think, already annoyed by the morning’s events. I duck into the room.
The air smells of stale candy and almost makes me choke a little. I watch a man that looks close to his 40’s close his laptop quickly with a snap. I feel his stress and annoyance even though his pale face doesn’t seem to show it.
He looks up at me and does a double-take for some reason. I feel a hint of disgust and then more guilt. We stay there looking at each other for an uncomfortable amount of time and then he clears his throat.
“Welcome to my office young man. I don’t believe we’ve met yet. I’m Principal Treble. What can I do for you today?” The tall, thin man with deep-set eyes behind big glasses questions. He seems immensely guilty but I’m not sure why.
“Um. I’m Lucas Hyperion sir. I’m new here. This is my first day.” I try to sound a little less distracted but it just comes out sounding croaky and weird. “It’s good to meet you, Lucas. Welcome to Jennifer Bracken-Wayward High School! Is there anything else you need from me?” He asks, raising his right eyebrow almost to his receding hairline.
“Oh um. Yes, I’m here to get my schedule and locker number and stuff,” I reply, feeling a bit bored. I don’t need a huge welcoming committee for being here. God knows I wouldn’t be here at all if I could help it. “Alright son, I’ll find all that information and print it out for you. Have a seat while you wait, I insist!” Principal Treble says with a huge smile.
I sigh and slump into a cushioned chair in the corner of the office. I decide to try to clear my thoughts of anyone else’s emotions for once and think about my own. As I sit there my thoughts wander to Mom. Today would’ve been her 38th birthday. Gosh, I wish she was here, I think, feeling like my heart’s ripped out of my chest for the thousandth time.
Okay here’s the plan, I think to myself. Keep your head down, stay quiet, and don’t get close to anyone. You have important secrets to keep and you should focus on schoolwork and that’s it. You don’t need friends because that never goes well and you don’t need any distractions. Lay low until you can get out of here and find Ronny. He needs you. You need to be as invisible and inconspicuous as possible. That’s how you get through this. For Ronny. For Mom. The mental pep talk actually seems to calm me down for once.
After the information is done being printed out, I take it, mumble a thanks, and bolt before being trapped in an interrogation about my personal business. I walk through the spacious empty halls until I find myself towering in front of a long red locker with the number 326 at the top.
I open it and see myself reflected in the metal door. My dark, wavy hair is messy on my head draping down over my eyes. One, a piercing, icy blue, the other an unnaturally light brown. Stupid heterochromia. My gaze looks angry I realize. I decide I don’t actually care. It’s probably because I am angry. My eyes travel to my lips and my broad shoulders are covered in black courtesy of my hoodie.
God, I hate being 6’4”, I reflect because I have to duck down just to reach into the dumb locker. Was this school made for short people only? I decide to ignore all the things that I despise about myself and focus on my schedule. I look down at the folded paper in my hand.
****. I don’t want any AP classes. If everyone found out what a nerd I am, well, that would be the opposite of laying low. Right now it’s… Great. The middle of AP Chem. At least there’s 9th period. Photography is one of my favorite things. It makes me feel calm and it’s one of the few things in my life I can control. An easy A for sure.
I stuff my extra jacket in my locker realizing I don’t actually have a reason for being at my locker other than to find it and feel a little stupid. Once I get to room 202 I open the door and walk inside. Any talk that was happening before completely vanishes. I feel surprise, disgust, annoyance, and relief circulating the room.
All eyes are on me. I hand my schedule to the teacher wordlessly. I instantly regret being kept so late by Principal Treble. She eyes me up and down with a look of pure disgust. ****. I realize I forgot my color contact for my brown eye on the left side.
I look at the ground and await instruction from the irritated, stern-looking, ginger lady leading this class. She stares at the paper for a few seconds before announcing, “Class, this is Lucas Hyperion. Lucas, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Ms. Paresh. Lucas, please go take a seat and try to keep up with your notes. And another thing Lucas, I do not tolerate interruptions like this in my classroom so please do not make this a daily habit. However, seeing as you are new and this is your first day here, I will agree to let it slide this time. Only this once.”
I look up at her, nod my head silently and search for an open seat. As I walk past a few desks I hear people whispering and side-eyeing me as if I’m some abnormal spectacle. I suppose I am some kind of abnormal spectacle but they don’t need to know that.
There’s an empty seat on the far left side of the back row. Two actually. Next to each other. Odd, I think as I sit down in the seat at the end. I sigh and try to put my attention on the teacher as she continues her typical first day of school spiel all teachers are required to give.