Chapter 3 Part 1
Back to School
Click here to read Chapter 2 Part 4
The first day of school arrived shortly after Paivi’s birthday celebrations came to an end. Paivi was so excited that it took her forever to fall asleep the night before. But she felt ready. She had her new outfit all laid out, the one she had bought with some of her birthday money. The jeans fit perfectly and the green top set off the color of her eyes. Her favorite sandals were all she needed to complete the ensemble, along with her new purple polka-dot backpack.
Paivi was up before her alarm. She got ready quickly and made her way down to grab a bowl of cereal before heading out to the bus stop. The bus was crowded. Being the first day back, everyone hadn’t found older kids to ride to school with just yet. There was no air conditioning on the bus, just a hot, humid rush of air through all of the open windows, which caused Paivi to rethink her wardrobe choice. The jeans were sticking to her legs. Ugh. She just kept reminding herself that the school would be like a meat locker, so it would pay off in the end.
The bus joined the queue in the driveway in front of the school, pulling slowly forward, opening the doors to allow their passengers to exit. Paivi took the steps slowly. It would be extremely embarrassing to fall down the stairs in front of the whole school. Not quite the impression she was going for. She stepped off the bus into a throng of students and was shuffled towards the courtyard, where everyone split off into their own groups. Some students continued on, filtering through the front door and into the cafeteria. Students were not permitted past the cafeteria until the first bell at seven thirty.
Paivi decided to stay outside to see if she could find Michaela or any of the other girls. They had all come on different buses. She waved and greeted a few kids she remembered from junior high, but kept walking. She found a spot to sit along the concrete wall and sat for a minute, taking in her surroundings.
St. Andrew High School was a very uninteresting looking building. The original school had been built in 1872, an imposing building of brick and stone, it quite resembled a castle. As St. Andrew grew, the building became too small, and the new St. Andrew High School was built down the street. It opened in 1971, apparently when no one had any sort of creativity regarding architecture and design. The school was large and boxy, like someone had just gone and glued some rectangles together. The building was covered in red brick and the only good thing about it was the fact that it had large windows that looked out onto a forest preserve.
“Hey P!” Paivi heard a familiar voice behind her. She spun around and saw Michaela and Paulina walking towards her. She could tell they were wearing new outfits too. Everything looked perfect.
“Can you believe it’s our first day!” squealed Michaela rubbing her hands together. “Just think of all the new boys. And OLDER boys! Nice!”
The three of them turned to see a large group of boys looking in their direction. When the boys noticed they had been caught, they quickly looked away, shouting at each other and laughing. There was one boy that caught Paivi’s eye. He looked right at her, unblinking. His cold stare made her slightly uncomfortable. He held her gaze a moment longer and then broke it, turning back to his friends.
“Oooo!” said Michaela, teasing Paivi as she nudged her in the ribs with her elbow. “It looks like somebody’s got a thing for you, P! Nice job! The first bell hasn’t even rung yet!”
Paivi let out a nervous laugh as the bell rang and the throng of students moved in a giant wave, carrying them all towards the door.
The day was a mixture of feelings. It was exciting to see old friends not seen over the summer, which resulted in large groups of screaming and hugging girls. There was also tension as they checked out the new students, possible friends and enemies that they hadn’t met yet. They attempted to size each other up without appearing obvious. The classes themselves were the dullest part of the day, more so for the fact that every teacher spent the period ‘getting to know’ their new students by playing cheesy ice-breaker games and going over never-ending lists of classroom rules. In each class they collected book after book until they were teetering precariously through the hallways, hoping to make it to their lockers before their backs gave out.
Paivi stumbled into her sixth period class balancing a pile of books and notebooks and collapsed into the nearest open seat. The desk was old and not quite level, and when she dropped her pile onto the desk, it proceeded to slide onto the floor with a loud crash.
She looked at the heap of books and paper, put her hand to her head and sighed loudly. She bent down, stacking the items one by one on the desk.
“Looks like you might want to invest in a backpack, unless you happen to turn into the Incredible Hulk during passing periods,” said an unfamiliar voice dryly, as a hand reached down from the desk across the aisle and began picking up a few of her books.
“Uh, yeah, thanks. I left it in my locker. I just didn’t think we would get so much stuff already!” She slammed the last book onto the pile, and finally looked up. The owner of the voice across the aisle handed Paivi her things stacked neatly, which she set next to her sloppy pile, hoping to avoid a repeat performance.
“Thanks for your help,” Paivi said, smiling at him.
“Oh, yeah, well, just try to keep those books under control!” He held out his hand. “I’m Jason, by the way.”
Join me for the next installment of INTO THE SHADOWS next Wednesday!