Elphaba stood looking down at her own feet. She wriggled her toes in her boots in a vague attempt to distract her mind from the present moment. Elphaba had always known it was going to be difficult, complicated even, but this was a whole new level, more than she felt she could possible stand. Despite what everyone thought, she did have feelings though she kept them well hidden. Her first day at Shiz, her first meeting with the students who no doubt would make her life hell for the next three years. Elphaba supposed she should consider herself lucky to get such an opportunity, after all she wasn't going to university on her own merit, she was there to walk in her sisters shadow. She had been told to remain innocuous and simply complete her duties to Nessa; anything else she considered would be a bonus.
She took a deep breath that she intended to be silent but it had obviously drawn the attention of her sister who was waiting nervously for something bad to happen.
Nessa spoke for the first time since their father had left them at the station, "Elphaba do you really have to stand there looking so awkward?"
Elphaba looked down at her feet again, she had been trying to dissolve into the background, not realise how ridiculous she looked.
"Remember what father said, don't deliberately attract attention to yourself."
Elphaba laughed weakly, "Have you ever tried being green for the day?"
"Elphaba." Nessa's tone held a warning.
"Well have you?" Elphaba retorted, regretting her sharp tone.
"Oh Elphaba, we've been through this a hundred times. This is a new start for both of us and I don't want you ruining it for me."
Elphaba turned away, if her own sister couldn't even understand how she felt at moments like this how was anyone else going to? Yet Nessa was right, this opportunity was about her and Elphaba had to try and fit in for her sake. Nessa wasn't even old enough to be going to university yet, but she had been given a chance under the strict understanding Elphaba came as her guide. Nessa hadn't exactly had it easy herself, being confined to that wretched chair. Still it was difficult when she knew she would soon be the talk of the campus, once again a laughing stock. Nessa was disabled, they would understand and accept that. She was green, nothing could explain that. She would be the freak, they would laugh behind her back, and they would laugh to her face and then who knew what would happen next? Elphaba had promised to keep her temper in control because when she lost it outrageous things seemed to happen. This was not acceptable at Shiz she had been told numerous times and felt her promises wearing her down already.
She sighed again, this time to herself. What she would give for just one friend in this place. One person who wouldn't be blinded by her greenness, who could see past her appearance to the person inside. Still she couldn't afford to think like that, that was a dream that would never come true and well she knew it. Elphaba had never had a real friend and that was the way it was going to stay. She was quirky, even a little weird and people didn't like those qualities here; that she was sure of.
Elphaba heard voices in the distance and knew the time was finally here, the judgement was about to happen; her fellow students were approaching.
Nessa gave her once last pleading look, "Remember Elphaba, this isn't just about you. This is my moment and if you go stealing it I will never speak to you again. Worse still, I will write to father and ask him to take you back home. Just try to blend in."
Easier said than done Elphaba thought to herself and quickly she turned her back away from the approaching students in the courtyard. They were laughing and chatting enthusiastically about what rumours they had heard about life at Shiz. Elphaba listened carefully and knew that would never be her. They stopped as they came upon Nessa Rose and one small Munchkin boy spoke kindly.
"Are you alright there? Do you need any help?"
Nessa smiled somewhat awkwardly and spoke, "No, I'm fine. Are you first years?"
"Why yes, this is Miss Milla and Miss Shen Shen and I'm Boq."
"Pleased to meet you." Nessa pushed herself forward in her wheelchair and shook hands with Boq while the two girls waved politely from a distance.
Suddenly a taller boy came rushing into the courtyard almost tripping over his own feet in his excitement. "She's here, everyone she's here and she's even more beautiful in real life, if that's possible," he added.
Boq raised an eyebrow at his new friend Crope, showing a general lack of understanding. Boq was never the first to understand being somewhat dim witted but kind.
"Miss Galinda Upland of course. Wait until you see her. She's to die for. That dress and her hair, it's perfect, just perfect. She's a marvel."
The girls let out a few excited shrieks and Boq allowed himself to grin widely.
All the while Elphaba had been facing away from the excited group listening to their conversation nonetheless. They all sounded friendly enough yet for some reason they hadn't noticed her. This was the first time she could ever remember not standing out in the crowd. She knew it was all down to the intense anticipation of Galinda's arrival but she allowed herself to enjoy the feeling of being totally unnoticed.
"I'm definitely going to be friends with Miss Galinda," Shen Shen spoke proudly, adding, "Our mother's have already been in touch."
Nessa couldn't help but find herself fascinated in the anticipation of the imminent arrival but she remembered she hadn't introduced herself properly. She sat up in her chair and spoke loudly, over all the animated voices, "I'm Miss Nessa Rose. The Governor's daughter."
"The Governor's daughter?" Milla said, walking towards Nessa and embracing her quickly. "I'm very pleased to meet you."
"Look! It's Miss Galinda!" Boq cried as an air of anticipation crept through the air. Elphaba fought the urge to turn and stare with the rest of the group and apparently the whole university.
Galinda entered looking the picture of beauty. She had deftly draped herself over her luggage, carefully revealing a little of her toned leg for the boys to stare at, without showing too much. She was being pushed along on her luggage trolley by two of her servants. Galinda smiled sweetly at her adoring fans and gave the occasional wave. She winked at one of the boys who had pushed his way to the front and she took great delight in seeing him blush a good shade darker than he had been before.
Even Elphaba couldn't miss the expectancy that Galinda had filled the air with. She had the boys swooning and the girls all wanting to be her. She forced herself to stay where she was though she desperately wanted to see what all the fuss was. She didn't intend to steal Galinda's moment of glory by showing her repulsive face. Especially when a sheer vision of pure beauty had just arrived.
Galinda allowed herself to be pushed into the centre of the crowd and then she quickly dismissed her servants with one effective sweep of her hand. She smiled her radiant smile at those gathered around her. As she looked, she happily realised it wasn't just first years that had come to watch her arrival, it seemed the whole of Shiz was assembled around her. Yes, she was ready to impress. She gracefully sat up, making a show of covering the leg so many of the boys had been ogling at. Next she made a swift movement with her hair, tossing it back over her shoulders and when she finally felt she had everyone's attention, she cleared her throat and spoke in the most seductive tone Elphaba had ever heard.
"Welcome friends. I am Miss Galinda Upland of the Upper Uplands, but I guess you all knew that." She let out an excited giggle and shook her legs up and down. "I am delighted to meet you all and know we shall all be very best friends."
Boq found his jaw opening and shutting without any sound coming out. His friend Crope stood next to him and clapped him on the back. Boq came alive and Crope pushed him towards Galinda. He looked back and his friend gave him an encouraging look.
"Er…Miss Galinda. I'm Boq. Allow me to help you down."
Boq held out his hand and Galinda giggled, gracefully accepting his hand. "How delightful." She stepped down into the middle of the crowd, holding her posture perfectly. This was all going very well she had to admit. She allowed herself to take a quick look around and was charmed with what she saw. She had captivated all eyes; this was now her adoring public. This had gone better than even she could have hoped for in that idealistic head of hers. She took a swift glance at the other girls. Nobody there was as pretty as her. Nobody had such a dress as hers. Yet there were some relatively attractive girls out there that she instantly knew she would be best friends with. She felt elated inside as the time came for her to make her welcome speech. She brushed down her dress and fluttered her eyelids before addressing her adoring public.
"Good friends we have only been here in Shiz a few minutes together and yet I already feel like I have known you all of my life. I know we shall all be very good friends. I hope you are all as excitified as I am to be sharing our first moments here together. We have such a lot to look forward to. So many parties, balls, shopping trips, my head is spinning with the possibilities. Perhaps even a small amount of studying." Galinda rolled her eyes and showed the group that she was joking by allowing herself a quick giggle. They all giggled with her and Boq felt himself swoon. "Well my father has made a lovely choice of room for, I have my own private quarters but I don't want you to feel they are private. I hope you shall come round whenever you feel like it and come join me for cup of afternoon tea or something more thrillifying." Again the crowd laughed on cue. "I hope to begin by inviting you all to a party tonight in my private quarters. Lots of dancing and naturally shall we say formal dress."
This wasn't a question and nobody answered, they were all too mesmerised by Galinda's loveliness. She smiled once more at the crowd and then waved a hand to dismiss them. They faithfully obeyed.
Galinda sent a kind smile in Nessa's direction, who had been gazing in wonderment with the rest of Shiz. "What about you dearie? I hope you will be able to make it up the stairs. Sweet Oz, how will you get around here on your own?"
Galinda was deeply concerned that at least one member of their year might not be able to attend her wonderful party and experience the Galinda way of celebrating. She didn't like to see people in difficulty and would always try to help, if possible, if it didn't involve anything too strenuous.
Nessa felt herself blush, as all eyes fell on her. Galinda had that effect on people, they couldn't help but stare, even when they were asked not to. So far things had gone well for Nessa, people had spoken to her and she had been invited to the party but there was something she had not yet done. Someone the crowd had not yet seen. She drew a deep breath and spoke quietly so that Galinda had to draw herself in to hear.
"I'm not here on my own."
Elphaba froze, she knew her invisibility was about to vanish and she was about to be revealed to the whole of Shiz at once. Still better it was just once, rather than a stream of embarrassing experiences. She felt her stomach lurch. How could she have Galinda's eyes on her. The most beautiful girl in Oz, according to popular belief, looking on her own sickly green face. She wished she knew a spell that would allow the ground to open up and swallow her but she still hadn't learnt very much magic and that she could manage was very much out of her control.
She closed her eyes as Nessa continued, "I'm here with my sister. She's here to look after me. Our father sent us together."
"Forgive me Miss Nessa but I didn't know you had sister here. I didn't meet her." Boq spoke.
"She's over there." Nessa directed her eyes towards the spot where Elphaba was stood, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. She suddenly felt the attention shift to her sister. She knew things would never be the same again after this moment. From then on she would always be the sister of the green girl. Bitterly she added, resenting Elphaba with every bone in her body, "She's hiding."
"Hiding?" Galinda looked horrified. How could someone want to hide away from her and her more than perfect entrance into Shiz. "You mean she missed all that?" Galinda looked like to Nessa for confirmation.
"What on earth could the Governor of Munchkinland's daughter be hiding from?" Boq enquired.
"Exactly," Galinda looked as if she could bear the thought no longer.
Elphaba felt the colour drain from her cheeks, she knew it was time to make her entrance into Shiz life she only wished it could be as well accepted as Galinda's.
Nessa spoke slowly before Galinda could exclaim her horror at Elphaba hiding away any more. "Well…she's…she's…" Nessa struggled to find the words.
Elphaba decided it was time to take things into her own hands, she took a deep breath, spun around and looked into the gawping crowd. The expressions on the faces of those around her distorted from sheer delight at the sight of Galinda to obvious repulsion at her deformity, her ugliness, her green skin.
"Green," Elphaba finished as she looked away from the eyes burning into her. The first face she dared to look at was that of the girl who stood closest to her, it was that of Galinda.
Elphaba screwed up her face as she took in the other girl. She frowned deeply, hating the fact that everyone apparently in the whole of Shiz was staring at her in disgust. Galinda was beautiful, that was the first thing Elphaba noticed, they were right about that. She was more beautiful than Elphaba believed possible, no wonder she thrived off people looking at her Elphaba thought. Elphaba scowled as she took Galinda in. Her face was an image of sheer perfection, she had the most piercing blue eyes which were brought out by her stunning long eyelashes. Her hair fell in fine looking curls which looked perfectly natural, with not one out of place. Her cheeks held a rosy complexion which only added to her striking beauty, yet Elphaba looked at all this and felt one feeling only, disgust. She studied her dress closely, it was a hideous shade of blue with far too many frills and fancy bits for Elphaba's liking. As she was taking in the other girl, Elphaba noticed Galinda's appearance changing.
The colour abruptly drained from Galinda's cheeks and her eyes began to flutter, clearly out of her control. She opened her mouth and closed it again, she repeated this motion twice more and then left it open. No words came out. By this point the other students had allowed their gaze to drift from Elphaba to Galinda, concerned by the change that had come over Galinda.
Finally Galinda managed to form words as she reached out a hand for the nearest person to lean on. Boq jumped into place as she struggled to find her breath and gasped, "What…what is that?"
Elphaba felt the colour rising in her own cheeks and wondered if it hadn't somehow been transferred from Galinda's cheeks to her own. The hateful looks came from all angles due to the effect she had inflicted on Galinda. She felt a rush of temper build up inside but she quickly swallowed it down, after all she hadn't meant to send Galinda silly. She was about to speak when someone else did it for her.
"That, Miss Galinda, is your new roommate."
A rather large and imposing woman had unexpectedly appeared behind Elphaba, capturing all the students with her sharp gaze. Elphaba knew who this was at once, this was their head teacher, Madame Morrible.
Galinda let out a huge gasp and spoke in a faint whisper, "I think, I think I'm going to…" She swooned and fell back, many of the students rushed to her side but Boq quickly manoeuvred himself to a position where he could catch her.
"Allow me," he said as he caught her.
Crope and Milla hurriedly made a space on the luggage trolley for her and Boq laid her gently down next to her many suitcases. People fell to fanning Galinda and Madame Morrible ordered another first year student to go and fetch a large glass of water.
Elphaba stepped closer to where Galinda lay, hardly believing the response she had created. The other students protectively clustered around Galinda, preventing the green girl from frightening her again, if she woke.
"I…I only wanted to help," Elphaba stuttered as Crope shooed her away with his hand, apparently afraid to touch her green skin.
"Leave her alone. Can't you see what you've done. People like her aren't supposed to be exposed to such wickedness," Boq was fierce in his protection of his new found love.
"Elphaba, come away, Elphaba," Nessa practically demanded her sister.
Elphaba took a step back, she looked embarrassed as her sister glowered at her. "See what you've done already and we haven't even been here a day. Why couldn't you have just tried. Couldn't you have done that for me?"
"Nessa, you can't think…you know I didn't mean for this to happen."
"And to Galinda Upland of all people Elphaba?" She crossly raised an eyebrow and Elphaba had to turn away. She looked back towards the commotion she had created.
Someone had returned with the water and handed it to Madame Morrible.
"Out of the way Miss Elphaba, we don't want this going anywhere near you."
Without any concern for Galinda's dress or make-up she threw the water over the girl, almost looking as if she were enjoying herself.
Galinda spluttered as the water hit her, she found herself coming round at once due to the cold shock of the water on her face.
"Miss Galinda we are glad to have you back with us. In future do you think you could try and keep these fainting fits you are obviously so prone to, to a minimum." There was a hint of malice in her voice and she turned away to study the crowd.
Galinda looked startled for a moment and then she struggled with her embarrassment. Her eyes found the hideous sight that had started all this in the first place and she gulped, trying to control her fear. In a mild stroke of panic, she remembered her audience and looked down at her dress. She spoke, trying to control the tears that were threatening to pour at any time. "My dress, it's simply ruined and my hair isn't even curly anymore."
She felt the tears begin to rush down her face, she realised it couldn't make her make-up much worse and allowed them to come freely.
The other students looked from one to another, in silence, each trying to find something to say to console Galinda at this distressing time.
All of a sudden a voice broke through the silence, louder than even Elphaba had intended. "For Oz sakes, get a grip. It's only a dress and an awful one at that. It's not like someone's died." She simply had not been able to keep her feelings to herself for a minute longer, finding it hard to believe the ridiculousness of the situation and the pathetic cry of Miss Galinda Upland. Elphaba had soon seen through her attention seeking façade and couldn't quite believe nobody else felt the same. Elphaba felt that surge of energy again, the build up of tension inside her, her fingers began to tingle when Madame Morrible stepped in.
"Now Miss Elphaba, I'm quite sure you don't want to create a scene on your first day in Shiz. I am also convinced Miss Galinda, with all her skills, will be able to apply a few finishing touches to her rather extravagant attire later." Elphaba noticed the way Madame Morrible glared at Galinda and couldn't help but feel the head teacher had taken an instant dislike to the foolish girl. Madame Morrible continued, "We have more important things to focus on when it is out first day at Shiz university, I am sure you will all agree?" She raised an eyebrow challenging anyone to disagree with her.
"What could be more important than Miss Galinda's present situation?" Boq whispered to Crope.
Madame Morrible gave him a harsh stare and he immediately sat down beside Galinda, opening up her fan once more and fanning her adoringly.
"Room allocation is very important to all of us. As I have already mentioned Miss Elphaba and Miss Galinda have been placed together and here I have a list of the other pairings."
Galinda gave another small gasp and Boq fanned her with an increasing pace, afraid she would have a relapse. She shut her eyes, opened them again and spoke quietly.
"Excuse me Madame Morrible. I hate to think there has been a mistake but I am sure there has been. My father has already arranged that I have my own quarters, I'm not to share with anyone. I believe he discussed it with you in person when he visited some weeks ago." She wiped her eyes in as graceful a manner as she could manage and attempted a polite smile which she hoped would win her head teacher over.
"While we're at it," Elphaba contributed, "I believe my father spoke to you about me sharing with Nessa. I mean I have always looked after her and that's the way father wanted it here in Shiz. She needs help with everything." Elphaba lowered her tone slightly, "That's why I'm here, remember? To look after her."
"Miss Elphaba your concern for your sister is most admirable and does you credit however your father and I have come to our own arrangement with regards to your sister. I am to share my own personal quarters with Miss Nessa Rose, so she will have the best help on offer. You can't be expected to be there all the time, you will have your own lectures and essays to complete. You hardly need to be running around after an inv…" She stopped short and smiled at Elphaba in a very false way. "Miss Nessa Rose will be well cared for."
Elphaba looked hard at Madame Morrible and then exchanged quick glances with Nessa, who simple shrugged her shoulders. Nessa, she considered, would be glad to have rid of her.
"You Miss Elphaba are to study your lessons. I have high hopes for you after what I discussed with your father but that is not your only task. You will learn to conform, to blend in. You will learn to stop being an embarrassment to your father and you will fit into society."
A few of the students shared smug grins and made weak attempts to hide their laughter. Surprisingly Elphaba noticed Galinda was not among them. Her face was still pale and tear stained.
"That my dear is where you fit it." She glanced over at Galinda and smiled falsely. "You are to rub off some of your silly ways onto Miss Elphaba and turn her into a respectable member of Ozian society, much like yourself." Elphaba had to refrain from speaking out at this point but Galinda just looked weak and afraid. "Teach her how to behave in company, show her ways to make the most of her somewhat weakened appearance. That sort of thing."
Galinda gasped, she was in a really bad state of shock and couldn't decide who she felt angriest with, Elphaba for being green and ungainly or Madame Morrible for conjuring up such a preposterous idea. She bravely took a step forward, trembling as she spoke, "I think my father will have something to say about this. You can't expect me to share a room with that…that…that green thing," Elphaba felt sick to her stomach, "and he certainly won't."
Madame Morrible smiled a terrible smile as she moved closer to the girl. "Why Miss Galinda, if you want to stay at this university you will conform to standards and stop this silliness. What would your father say if you were sent home from Shiz within a week?"
Galinda gasped, clearly horrified at the prospect. Madame Morrible had her trapped and there was nothing she could do about it.
Their head teacher smiled at her audience, "Now I think many of you have had enough excitement for one day. I suggest you listen out for your names and pal up with your roommates. Without such a fuss," she added as an afterthought. "Miss Elphaba and Miss Galinda seen as you are both aware of your situation you may leave now and go get to know each other." The prospect frightened both girls. "Block C, room 14, over by the sorcery department."
Elphaba picked up her trunk reluctantly, seeing no other choice than to obey for now. She would never get her own way if she chose Morrible as an enemy. She dragged it over to where Galinda was stood and Galinda edged back a little.
"Oh and Miss Elphaba, could you take Miss Galinda's trolley of luggage over to your room. There's a dear."
Elphaba felt a burning rage inside her. It would have been so easy to erupt there and then but once again she stalled herself, wanting to appeal to Morrible at a later date. Still it was one thing running around after Nessa, her crippled sister who needed her help and attendance but this, this was just humiliating. Galinda was in more than perfect health and certainly capable of moving her own ridiculously over weight suitcases. Elphaba sighed, took one last look at Nessa, (who seemed to be relieved her sister was leaving) and headed over to the mountain of suitcases that Galinda seemed to have brought with her.
Galinda looked distastefully at her as she touched one of the cases, still it had to be better than doing it herself, though only marginally. Elphaba threw her own trunk onto the pile and began to push. She was raging!