OK. Don't panic. Don't panic.
So what if it's my first day at a new school where I won't know a soul?
I can make friends. I will make friends. In fact, I bought a book called Making New Friends just the other day. It's written by a guy called David E. Barton. I've read three chapters already and he sounds like he knows what he's talking about.
Making new friends, David E. Barton says, is not nearly as difficult as people might think. Just try a new hobby or activity and you never know whom you may meet there. It's all about having a common interest.
A new hobby or activity. Right, I can do that. All I have to do is try out for the gymnastics team or maybe join one of the language clubs. After all, as Mum keeps telling me, "there are advantages to attending the poshest private school in Oxshott." I'm sure those advantages include activities of some sort.
The thing is, I can't actually do the splits or speak any other languages besides English. Well, I did try to learn Italian when I went to Milan last summer, but I soon ditched Italian classes in favour of shopping and flirting via mime and body language with cute local boys. But that's alright. I can learn.
"Becky!" Mum calls. "Are you nearly ready, darling? You don't want to be late for your first day of school!"
"Just a few more minutes!" I yell back, as I quickly check out my reflection.
Blazer? Check. Tie? Check. Pleated skirt? Check.
I sigh glumly. As if starting at a new school where I don't know a soul isn't bad enough, I'm also trapped in this ghastly preppy uniform. I'd much rather be wearing the coral minidress I bought at DKNY last week. There was a gorgeous pair of jeans I wanted too, but I'm waiting until they're on sale...
"Becky!" Now Mum's starting to sound more than just a little impatient and I can hear Dad honking the horn outside.
Yes, that's right, both of my parents are accompanying to my first day at Oxshott Prep. I guess I should be embarrassed about this, but the truth is, I'm actually kind of relieved that they'll be with me.
"Coming!" I yell, hastily grabbing my satchel (Prada) and my water bottle (Evian). I cast a last longing look at my gorgeous brown suede boots (Balenciaga) and try not to think about how much they cost – Dad is already going to freak out when he gets this month's credit card statement - and how much I wish I could wear them right now.
Mum looks at me proudly as I walk down the stairs.
"Don't you look adorable!" she exclaims. Her eyes glisten. "I can't believe my little baby Rebecca is already in the sixth form. Soon you'll be taking your A levels... then university... then perhaps getting married and settling down... and giving me a grandchild or two..."
I can't believe it. I'm still in high school and Mum is talking about grandchildren. I have to nip this in the bud right now.
"Mum, I thought we were running late!"
"Oh, but I thought it would be nice to get a picture of you in your school uniform, in front of the cherry tree," Mum pleads.
I glance at my watch (Gucci) impatiently. I can't be late for the first day.
"I'll do it another time, Mum, I promise. But we really have to go now!"
Despite my worries about being late, my parents do manage to deliver me to Oxshott Prep on time. It's not long before Miss Parnell, the school secretary, is introducing me to my new headmaster, a middle-aged man in a dark suit.
"Mr Smeath, this is Rebecca Bloomwood. She's starting in the sixth form today."
Mr Smeath looks at me closely. "Pleased to meet you, Rebecca," he says cordially. "I know starting at a new school can be daunting, but I trust you'll make plenty of new friends in no time."
"Yes, sir," I manage to stammer out. Well, I plan to, thanks to David E. Barton.
"I've organised for one of the girls in your form to take you around for the day," he says. "Susan?"
As if on cue, a bubbly-looking girl with golden blonde curls and dimples appears and smiles warmly at me. I smile back, feeling my fears starting to dissipate, thanks to the friendly and welcoming expression on her face.
"Hi, I'm Suze," she says brightly. She glances at my satchel. "I love your bag. Prada is awesome."
"Thanks! I'm Becky and I love your bag too," I reply, gazing somewhat enviously at the denim Louis Vuitton bag that Suze is sporting.
We shake hands, under the approving gaze of Mr Smeath and the beaming faces of my parents. It sounds crazy but I swear I feel like I've just met my soulmate.
David E. Barton was right. It's all about finding friends with common interests and it looks like ours is designer bags.
Suze proves to be a great tour guide and seems to know everybody in the school. All I have to do is point at someone and she'll instantly not only tell me their name, but their life history.
"Who's that?" I ask, pointing to a rather forlorn-looking boy who's sitting on his own and whittling at a piece of wood with a penknife. I'm actually quite surprised that they even allow penknives in a prep school – I mean, they don't even allow nail files in airports!
Suze rolls her eyes. "That's Tom Webster. He's a loner, as you can tell. He was dating this girl called Lucy for three years and then she dumped him for a drummer. He's never quite gotten over it."
"Okay," I say with a nod. "And who's that?"
Suze follows my gaze to a shy-looking guy who has his eyes closed and seems to be conducting to the music on his iPod.
"Oh, that's Tarquin," she says, but doesn't roll her eyes this time. "He's a bit strange too and he's mad about Wagner, but he's a nice guy, really. Also we're kind of related – our mothers are third cousins, so I see him as family."
"I see," I murmur, as Suze points out the gym, our French classroom and the chemistry labs.
But my attention is soon diverted. Outside the gym is a tall, slender girl with silky blonde hair that's perfectly straightened, and she actually manages to make our preppy school uniform look hot. But it's not the girl I'm noticing as much as the bag that is slung over her left shoulder.
"Wow! Check it out, Suze! That girl has an Angel handbag! Where on earth did she get that? I thought they were permanently sold out at Harrods!"
I gaze lustfully at the beautiful tawny bag with glittering diamantes on the front. I have never seen an Angel bag in person before and now that I've seen it, I can safely say that I have never wanted a bag as much as I want this one.
Suze glances at the girl and an uncharacteristically cold expression appears on her face.
"That's Alicia Billington, otherwise known as Alicia Bitch Long-Legs," she says stiffly. "I think Angel bags are amazing, but knowing that she owns one has dimmed its appeal for me."
I stare at Suze, wide-eyed. "Why do you call her Alicia Bitch Long-Legs? I mean, yeah, I can see that she's got long legs, but what did she do to deserve the 'bitch' part?"
Suze laughs sarcastically. "What hasn't she done?"
Seeing my perplexed face, she takes a deep breath and proceeds to fill me in. And if Suze isn't exaggerating, Alicia's nickname is starting to sound like the understatement of the century.
Apparently she had gotten a teacher fired, bribed a Year 9 boy to swap her GSCEs with those of another student, broken up several relationships, spread a horrendous rumour that had led one student to leave Oxshott Prep altogether, rigged a class presidential election... And that was just for starters.
"Wow," I mutter in disbelief. "And she got away with doing all those things?"
"Oh, yes. Her parents are immensely wealthy and contribute heaps of money to the school, so that definitely helps," Suze says earnestly. "Although I get the feeling there might be something more, some kind of hold that she has over Mr Smeath... but I have no idea what it might be."
"That's insane," I say quietly, silently hoping that I will never have to face the wrath of Alicia Billington.
The morning passes by pretty quickly and I'm pleased to find that I actually do enjoy most of my classes. Even Math, normally the bane of my existence, is pretty interesting today.
Mr Kingbridge gives us a general ability pop quiz in class and I surprise everyone (including myself) by how quickly I answer his questions on fractions and percentages.
"Excellent work, Rebecca," he says at the end of the quiz. "You clearly have an aptitude for this subject. Did you do a lot of work on fractions and percentages in your former school? Our curriculum hasn't really covered this since the lower years, so most of the students in this class are rusty."
"No, we didn't really do a lot of fractions and percentages at my old school," I confess. "But when you go shopping, you have to be able to figure out how much 20% off is at a sale. I guess I just picked it up."
I turn and smile encouragingly at the rest of the class. "So if you want to improve in fractions and percentages, you should go shopping during the sales."
The class titters as though I've said something funny and Mr Kingbridge blinks in surprise.
"Uh, indeed. Moving on," he says, and coughs.
"Can you believe that?" whispers a snarky voice behind me. I look around and after Suze's description of Alicia, I'm not surprised to see that she's whispering to the girl next to her. The girl glances at me and they both giggle.
I shift self-consciously in my seat, suddenly wondering if I've said something wrong. Suddenly I can't wait until class is over.
Author's Note: If you managed to get this far and are still reading, I just want to say thanks. Thank you for reading this first chapter and for taking the time to read the author's note too. =)
I'm not from the UK, so I do apologise for any errors that I may have made or likely will make in the future.
I NEVER thought I'd write a high school story and especially not for this fandom, but this little plot bunny hopped into my head and I was powerless to stop it.
What are your thoughts? Is this too crazy and out there? Or would you be interested in reading more?
I will only be continuing this if you review and let me know that you want to see more of this story. And no, I'm afraid that Story Alerts don't count. ;)
That said, constructive criticism is most welcome and I will endeavour to reply to all signed reviews.