There's always something jarring about not immediately knowing where you are when you wake up. As I tried to make sense of the strange room around me, I reach over to turn off the alarm that woke me. The furniture of the room was wrong—it looked too large for the room, making me feel smaller than ever. The bedspread was familiar, a satiny cream with burgundy lace detailing, the same one in my old home. With this thought my memory came flooding in. How could I forget the single largest change in my entire life? The sudden move that brought me from Virginia, where there are four distinct seasons, to Washington, where there are two seasons, cold and rainy and just plain cold? Two thirds of the way into the school year no less.
With this revelation I threw the covers off and head to the bathroom to get ready for my first day at Forks High School. I brushed my teeth and threw my hair into a semi-decent ponytail before changing into the outfit I picked out for this momentous occasion, a lilac sweater, jeans, and a pair of brown boots. I rush down the stairs, my early morning confusion making me late. Grabbing a pop-tart and my bookbag, I head towards the door where my mother waits to intercept me before I make my escape.
"Are you ready for your first day? A fresh start and all that jazz?" She asks with a small, hopeful smile on her face.
"Sure. What's better than starting a new school towards the end of the school year?" I ask sarcastically, softening my expression into a slight grin when I see my mother grimace.
"We wouldn't have done this if we didn't think it was best for you," my mother says while looking down. "Don't forget to pick up your brother after school! Do you have the address?"
"It's already in my phone." I call over my shoulder as I walk through the front door. I shiver in the still-chilly morning air and climb into my Honda Accord, a hand-me-down from my parents. I turn on my navigation and begin the drive to my new school.
I get turned around a bit despite the directions straight from my phone, so by the time I make it to Forks High, I have to park in one of the farthest parking spots in the lot. There are no students loitering by their vehicles, so I assume I'm already late and begin to speedwalk towards the building closest to me, hoping it's the office. From what I can see of the school, I assume that I'm going to have a difficult time trying to find my way around. The school is built like a maze, with multiple buildings that seem to be strewn out willy-nilly. I sigh, surrounded by snow falling lightly, my breath making a white puff in the frigid air.
Upon entering the office, a nice, older woman looked up from where she was typing noisily on an ancient-looking desktop computer. I approached her, glancing at the name plate facing out from her desk.
"Hi, Ms. Cope? I'm Raquel Lewis, I'm new here. I was told to come to the office before heading to class?" My voice came out shakier than I intended.
"Oh, Raquel! I was worried you'd decided not to join us! You're a little late, you see," she babbled, handing me a thick folder with many papers inside, "Here is your schedule; I've taken the liberty of circling the buildings where your classes are and marked the best routes to them. If you could also get your teachers to sign your schedule and return it to me at the end of the day, please. If you need anything else, I'll be here." With a smile and a wave, I was effectively dismissed.
"Thanks, Ms. Cope. I'll see you at the end of the day, I guess." I said as I pushed open the office door with my back. I glance down at my schedule to find my first class, English.
After making the trek to what I hope is the right building, I enter the empty hall, attempting—and failing—to casually look at the room numbers. Finally finding room 347, I steel myself and open the door.
"Nice of you to join us, Miss—" The balding man starts to say before looking over at me and realizing he didn't recognize my face.
"Lewis. I'm sorry for being late, I'm a new student and somehow managed to get lost on my way here." I respond as I walk over to him and hand him my schedule for him to sign, which he does grudgingly before handing it back to me.
"We're working on Macbeth. You'll need to get your own copy, but for now you can share with someone around you." He dismisses me by nodding towards an empty seat. I sit down, unsure of which of my fellow students will be unlucky enough to share with me. Before I can ask the dreaded question, the girl beside me quietly speaks up.
"You can share with me, if you'd like."
"Yeah, that would be great. Thanks." I smile at her, and she returns it. She scoots closer as quietly as she can. She tucks her dark brown hair over her right shoulder so it doesn't get in my way as her soft brown eyes scan the page of her copy before pointing out what line we're on.
After class, the girl beside me hesitates while I pack up my things.
"I'm Bella, by the way."
"Nice to meet you, Bella. I'm Raquel." I glance up at her.
"I'm still new here, too. In fact, your arrival will hopefully take some of the spotlight off of me." Bella says, nervously twirling a lock of her hair around her finger.
"Glad to be of service," I reply with a grin, "By any chance, could you point me in the direction of the science building?" After Bella points it out on my map and lets me in on a shortcut, I thank her and head out.
Biology, American history, and trigonometry all pass in a blur. I don't share any other classes with Bella, but the school's population is so small that I notice familiar faces in each of my classes. Outside of the Spanish building, I catch up to Bella as well as a girl named Jessica, who seems to enjoy the attention that being around not just one, but both of the new girls awards her. The three of us head to the lunch room, Bella clutching a binder like a shield as though someone was about to attack her with a barrage of snowballs.
"Don't worry, Bella. If anyone looks at you with a snowball, I'll protect you. After all, I sincerely doubt anyone here would throw one at the new girl. Well, newer girl." Even though she was a couple inches taller than me, Bella laughs and thanks me for my brave sacrifice. We enter the cafeteria and join the lunch line. Bella looks across the room and suddenly looks nauseous, opting to buy just a soda. I grab some food and follow her to a table filled with several people I recognize from my classes.
"Guys, this is Raquel, she's new here." Jessica says as she takes a seat beside me, gesturing towards me like the hostess of a game show displaying the top prize.
"Thanks, Captain Obvious." A blonde guy with a rounder face says before turning towards me.
"I'm Mike. Mike Newton. We're always happy to have another lovely lady join our masses." He smiles as he holds out a hand. I shake it gingerly before returning to my food. Jessica points out people, saying their name as she points, and I forget their names as soon as she moves on to the next person. I glance to my left to see Bella look incredibly uncomfortable. Before I can ask her what's wrong, Mike speaks up while looking over his shoulder.
"Looks like Cullen's back." The scowl on his face shows his feelings on this person's return.
"Cullen? Who's that?" I ask, following Mike's gaze to a table of five incredibly attractive people.
"Looks like someone finally found the Cullens." Jessica sing-songs, nudging my shoulder with hers.
"They moved here a couple years ago and don't really socialize with the rest of us plebs." Mike adds with an eye roll.
"The blondes are Rosalie and Jasper Hale, that's Edward, Alice has the short hair, and the muscled up one is Emmett Cullen. They were adopted by Dr. Cullen and his wife, I think the Hales are his wife's niece and nephew or something." Jessica informed me, as if she'd been over this spiel before. I follow Jessica's descriptions and see a blonde guy and girl are sitting next to each other at the table, a boy with wind-tousled reddish hair, a tiny girl with an untamed, black pixie cut, and finally, a giant guy with black curls and incredible muscles.
"Bella seems to have gotten on Edward's bad side—he disappeared for like a week after he met her." Another guy, Eric, I think, pipes up. I glance to my left to see Bella turn a shade of crimson that cannot be healthy.
"I didn't do anything." She mutters before sneaking a glance at them before dutifully turning her eyes back to the table.
"Edward Cullen is staring at you." Jessica giggles as she leans around me to shake Bella's shoulder.
"Does he seem mad?" Bella asks, fidgeting again. I look over and see Edward staring at Bella, head cocked to the side.
"Not particularly. More curious, I'd say." I tell her, and she breathes a sigh of relief as she puts her head down on her arm. I glance over at the table again and make eye contact with Edward, his eyes an unusual shade, like butterscotch. I wonder to myself what Bella, who seems as kind and inoffensive as they come, could have done to this guy, especially considering she was new. And what kind of dramatic person just avoids school for a while because of a perfect stranger? As this thought crosses my mind, Edward's mouth quirks up the slightest bit in knowing, and I would've sworn he somehow knew what I was thinking.
I break the eye contact as the bell rings, and Jessica offers to walk with me to the gym, which we have together. She leads me across the cafeteria, and as we approach the Cullen table, the five of them get up and leave almost frantically as we get closer. I look at Jessica, who shrugs. As we pass the now vacated table, I notice that in the spot where the giant one, Emmett, I think Jessica said his name was, was sitting, the table has indentations in it, spaced and shaped like someone's fingers had gripped the table so hard it molded to them. My guess is that it came from the years of teenagers attempting to leave their mark on the school.
In gym, Coach Clapp hands me a uniform and informs me that the class just started the badminton unit. Jessica immediately clings on to me as soon as I'm out of the locker room, announcing that we have to be a team. Seeing no other viable options, I take a position closer to the net. In all of my years in the public school system, badminton was the only part of P.E. I actually liked—and was decent at. The hour passed incredibly quickly as Jessica and I proved ourselves to be a formidable team, winning all but two of our matches. As Coach blows his whistle, we high five and return to the locker room to change.
I'm grateful for the cold Forks air as I walk to the Spanish building, as it cools me down and dries the sweat from the back of my neck. I run into Ben Cheney halfway there, who reminds me who he is and that we sat at lunch together. He offers to walk with me the rest of the way, and seeing no reason against it, I agree. The Spanish teacher, Mrs. Goff, sits at her desk as Ben and I enter the classroom.
"Hi, Mrs. Goff, I'm—" I start to say before she cuts me off.
"En Español, por favor." She says without looking up. I sigh.
"Hola, Señora Goff. Me llamo Raquel, y soy una estudiante nueva. ¿Puede usted firmar mi horario para la oficina?" I reply. She glances up at me as if seeing me for the first time.
"Oh, I'm sorry Raquel. It didn't register that you were a new student. It's nice to meet you. In general, my policy for this class is for everyone to only speak in Spanish. Is that okay? Did you take Spanish at your old school?" She asks, taking the schedule and signing it.
"It's fine with me, I was in advanced Spanish at my old school." I say as she hands me a slip and points at an empty seat that's behind the human Goliath himself, Emmett Cullen. I move to take it when a smooth voice interrupts.
"Mrs. Goff, wouldn't it make more sense for—" Edward breaks, gesturing towards me, not knowing my name.
"Raquel," I supply.
"Right, Raquel to sit in front of Emmett?" Edward turns towards the teacher. Emmett hits his brother's arm, so hard I wince thinking about the inevitable bruise. Edward looks at his brother, who subtly shakes his head.
"It's fine. I can manage." I say, moving once again to take the seat behind Emmett.
"Raquel, don't be ridiculous. Emmett, please switch with her." Mrs. Goff says with finality. I pick up my stuff and wait for Emmett to get out of his seat. He glares at his brother and mutters something under his breath. I slide into the desk, glancing to my right briefly, trying to figure out why Edward was so concerned about my ability to see the board.
After Mrs. Goff lectures about the imperfect tense and passes out a worksheet for us to complete, the room is filled with the quiet buzz of small talk and questions about the different conjugations. As I make my way through the questions, I can feel the annoyance rolling off of the presence behind me in waves.
I'm about halfway through the worksheet when I get tapped on the shoulder. I turn to find Emmett giving me a grin, although it looks slightly like a grimace.
"Hola," He says with a deep baritone voice. His accent sounds exaggeratedly American, almost to the point that it seems to be on purpose, "Me llamo Emmett."
"Mucho gusto," he hesitates, thinking of what he plans to say next. "Lo siento sobre antes. Estoy embarazada." Edward drops his head into his hand and I stifle a laugh.
"You're pregnant?" I ask, a small giggle escaping. Emmett gapes, eyes darting between me and Edward, who shakes his head as if to say "you're on your own for this one, buddy."
"I, uh, no. I meant embarrassed."
"False cognate. It's a common mistake. Don't worry about earlier, it's really fine." I shrug. Thankfully, the bell rings then, and Edward and Emmett amble quickly out of the classroom, almost too fast to be human.
I head back to the office and return my fully signed slip to Ms. Cope.
"So, not as bad as you thought?" She asks with a smile.
"It was less painful than I expected." I reply, and she laughs. I leave, citing my need to pick up my younger brother and head out to the parking lot. I'm about a quarter of the way through the lot when I hear them.
"Embarazada, huh?" Edward jeers at his brother, who scowls back at him.
"Cut it out. At least I try to act like I'm not a walking dictionary."
"That's not all," Edward says, addressing the group now. He catches my eye and lowers his voice so much so that I can't hear what he says, but I think he might mention "karma." I continue making my way across the lot and climb into my car. I take a minute to type in the address to the middle school before pulling out of the lot. It continues to rain, and once my brother is in the car, he shakes his head like a wet dog, sending water everywhere.
"Will!" I complain, but he shoots me an impish grin, unrepentant in the least.
"How was your first day?" He asks, trying to distract me from the water he just flung all over my car.
"High school is high school wherever you go. How was yours?" I ask.
"It was super fun. I met a lot of cool guys and they were telling me all about the town. There isn't much to do here, but they said there's some stuff in Port Angeles. Will you take me sometime?" He gives me the little-brother-puppy-dog-eyes he knows I can't resist.
"Fine. But only if Mom and Dad say you can and you've finished all of your homework."
"You're the best sister, Quel."
"Yeah, yeah." I add a good-natured eye roll in, so he doesn't think that I'm a complete sucker for him and his antics.
My mom finally corners me when I'm doing homework in my room. I hear a knock at my door.
"Come in!" I say, looking up from the biology assignment on the phases of cells. My mom leans against the doorframe, her wild curls tucked into a bun at the nape of her neck with some success. Her hair is the kind of curly that's manageable and can be wrangled into cooperation. My hair, on the other hand, is the weird hair texture of not-quite-wavy-but-not-quite-straight which leads to questionable styling choices, most of which involve some degree of frizz.
"I was just wondering how your day went."
"It was fine. I'm in pretty much all the same classes I was in Virginia, so it's not like I'm super behind in anything." I think she's going to give up on the subject, so I return to my work.
"And the people? Any new friends?"
"The people are nice. There's another new girl named Bella, and she's pretty cool."
"Any cute boys?" She asks, dragging out the word boys with a smirk on her face.
"No." I hesitate for a fraction of a second, thinking of the Cullens, specifically the one that's impossible to miss due to his gigantic size. I can tell my mom picks up on it based on the glint in her eye, but she mercifully leaves me in peace.
After she's gone, I find myself wondering what I missed in the exchange between Edward and Emmett in Spanish class, why Emmett was so opposed to moving to sit behind me. And then, in the parking lot? Why did they suddenly quiet down when they saw me? Unless they were talking about me being new. But most other kids at Forks High did not care if I heard them talking about me—in fact, they wanted me to hear so that I could tell them that the rumors they're gossiping about are wrong. I get so distracted trying to piece together what the Cullens' deal is that I lose track of time. I realize how exhausted I am, and I go into my bathroom to take a shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, and change into my pajamas. Climbing into my bed, I feel relaxed, the first time I've felt this way in months. Before my thoughts can spiral down into the reason why that is, I direct my focus to the day's events. After replaying Spanish class three times, I finally drift off to sleep, no closer to figuring out what Emmett's reaction meant than before.