Disclaimer: Disclaimed in previous chapters. Please refer to them if in doubt.
I really enjoyed Rivera in this chapter. She doesn't do much often, as she and Lexie are practically strangers, but when she does, she's a kick :) I look forward to her and Lexie growing closer. That being said, this chapter makes me laugh so much - especially Lexie's thoughts on Grabiner. I suppose this was supposed to be one of those serious, contemplative events in Lexie's life but...I enjoy my work too much for her good health.
Monday morning we were summoned to another assembly. I would have missed it if not for just catching the tail end of the crowd headed to the gym. I should probably stop leaving my room before the RA came by in the morning with announcements.
It wasn't just Freshman this time, though. A lot of older kids were there, too, and it was one of these students that stood behind the podium on stage. He introduced himself as William Danson (name sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it), senior class president. He was smiling and confident, holding himself proudly. He was a Wolf, and surprisingly pretty for a boy, with dark skin and long, glossy hair that was an almost blue-gray pulled up in a ponytail. He winked as he informed us that this was Freshman Initiation.
That...didn't sound good.
The longer William talked, the worse I felt about this 'Freshman Initiation.' We were ordered to line up and come on stage, one by one, and introduce ourselves. A sufferer of severe stage fright, I thought I would die up there, standing in front of all those people. From behind the podium while I spoke, I flexed my fingers, concentrating on casting Light in a super small form in my palm. It kept my mind off the crowd and helped me get through the introduction quickly. Then I was handed a stapled together paper book entitled The Initiation Handbook. It listed all the rules as well as all the members of the senior class, complete with black and white photos.
Why did we need a list of the seniors?
My question was soon answered. In the rules, I was informed we had to memorize the seniors' names, and address them as Lord or Lady such-and-such for the entire week. The list of stupid rules went on: memorize this poem and recite on command, never show our backs to a senior, never be taller than a senior-
I was appalled by the ludicrousness of it all. There was no way on earth I was going to do all this.
William was back at the podium, but I was ignoring him. Actually, I was getting kind of ticked. So when a senior stepped in front of me, I wasn't sure what was going on and really didn't care. But seniors were barking orders all around, and being a part of the crowd, I got pushed along as well. Kids were being shoved to the ground, and that was the last straw for me. As best I could without getting noticed, I went along with the shoving in order to maneuver myself. When I neared the edge of the crowd, I ducked down and slipped out of the gym.
Having safely escaped, I straitened up and sighed, trying to let my anger out more productively. There was no point in being mad at an event. In fact, I'm sure this was all organized with good intentions, but I was getting tired of being reminded of how unsocial I was. Did they have to force peer interactions on me at every turn in this school?
I had made my way down the hall a bit when Professor Potsdam came out of nowhere. I'm certain she didn't teleport, but she really surprised me. Guess I had started zoning out again.
I flinched. I was so used to being addressed by my nickname that hearing my full name usually meant I was in trouble. Wait, was I in trouble? For skipping Initiation?
I looked at her guiltily, unsure.
But Potsdam didn't seem upset, only a little puzzled. "Why aren't you at the gym with the others, dear? Is something the matter?"
"I just..." I searched my brain for the right words, evaluating myself to make sure I wasn't about to say something stupid. "I'm not...well, the social thing just isn't...and there was a big crowd, and yelling, and it all just seemed like bullying and I know this is supposed to be some kind of ritual bonding thing and it's supposed to be fun and friendly but it's just not my thing so I left."
I took a deep breath, realizing I'd been going kind of fast. "Is that okay?"
Potsdam smiled radiantly, and I was suddenly reminded why I hadn't cared for her. But a teacher smiling was a good thing when you though you might be in trouble, so I pushed my bias aside. "Certainly! There's no rule that says you absolutely have to participate. Though your fellow students will probably think you odd for refusing. A lot of students worked hard to make this event, and you might hurt some feelings by not participating. But it is completely optional, and if you're uncomfortable with the proceedings then no one is going to force you."
I nodding, sighing in relief. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I wasn't going to force myself into a week of servitude to appease a bunch of strangers. I was glad to be out of this. "Thanks."
"You'd best be off to class then, dearie."
With that, Potsdam was off and I was left alone, something I was used to and rather liked. What worried me was that alone wasn't something I could be all the time, and I was bound to still be subjected to at least witnessing the harassment that would occur the rest of the week. Sighing, I headed off to class to find out how right or wrong I would be.
I discovered immediately that things were just as horrible as I had worried it was going to be. Freshman were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to follow orders, whether it was running an errand or reciting a stupid poem or diving down onto their backs so they wouldn't be taller nor have their backs facing a senior when they waltzed through. I kept close to the walls, trying to stay as far away from other people as possible.
So far, my plan had been working, and I had escaped the notice of most seniors. Class went by uneventfully, and I stayed hid up my usual tree until dark. Rivera didn't seem bothered at all that I had skipped out on Initiation, and was more than happy to tell me about how her experience here was not at all as bad as her coming-of-age ceremony had been back home. Her senior was a Toad named Steve who was apparently just as odd as she was, and addicted to caffeine. She spent every morning the rest of the week fetching him coffee before class, and doing so with a smile. Nothing phased Rivera.
While up my tree on Tuesday, avoiding a group of Seniors who were ambushing Freshman coming out of the building, I spotted Manuel, one of the few faces I was happy to see. I hopped down smoothly beside him-
-and startled him so badly he dropped the papers he'd been carrying.
"Manuel!" I mimicked, laughing. I was scooping up his scattered load before he'd even recovered. "How are you? Initiation not being too hard on you, is it?"
I passed him the stack, which he took gratefully. His smile was as sweet and shy as ever. "Thank you. And no, things are going fine. My Senior is really nice, he hasn't made me do anything hard or weird or embarrassing."
"That's great," I nodded, glad he wasn't being picked on. Manuel didn't seem like the type to stand up for himself, and he was such a good kid from what I'd seen.
"What about you? How's your Senior?"
"I don't have one."
"I'm not participating. I don't really like the social thing, peer bonding and such." I tried to keep my distaste out of my voice, and Manuel didn't seem to notice.
"Oh, I guess I understand. I think it's kinda fun though." He grinned, then pulled a piece of paper from his mixed up pile. "Damien – my Senior – has got me writing a love letter."
He blushed adorably, passing me the note. It had the beginnings of an admonition of affection scribbled down, with several gushy lines crossed out. Manuel appeared excited at his work, despite his coloring and lowered voice. "I've never wrote one before, so it's been a challenge. I've gotten kinda stuck here, see?"
I read the few lines that hadn't been crossed out, admiring the cuteness of this entire procedure. Okay, so if I had been a part of Initiation, writing a love letter wouldn't have been so bad.
"Who's it to?"
"It's not really to anyone, I guess. At least, I don't have anyone in mind. Do you have any suggestions?"
Grinning, I took Manuel by his free hand and pulled him to the nearest bench. "Oh yes! I love stuff like this."
We set the note-dotted page down between us on the smooth stone bench and bent over it together. Over the next half hour, we bounced ideas off eachother, laughing together at the goofier ones, and laughing off the more embarrassing things that got said. Eventually, we agreed on a rather poetic idea that he had proposed and I had perfected.
"'The soul is like a deep well, hidden beneath the mask that shows the world only what it wants to see, and not what's inside.'" I recited sing-songly. "'I want to know those depths, I want to see far deeper than the surface of the mask. I want to know your soul.'"
"That sounds so pretty!" He replied enthusiastically, admiring the neat cursive he'd stenciled across the page. "And very unique! I bet no one's gotten a love letter like this before! Damien'll love it!"
"I hope so. Good luck, Manuel."
"Thanks again, Lexie!"
On Wednesday, we learned Farsight, which was yet again abused by the more immature of the class. Guys were trying to use it to see up girls' robes, and when they realized it only worked on locations they'd already seen, they tried flipping up girls' robes instead to get a peak. I think three guys ended up in detention over it. Professor Grabiner was not impressed, but his annoyance was nothing compared to what happened on Thursday.
There was a piece of paper on his desk when he arrived, and we when he picked it up (gingerly, like he expected it to bite him or there was a particularly unpleasant order coming from it) I spotted a kiss mark sealing the envelope shut.
He opened it.
"'The soul is like a deep well, hidden beneath the mask-'" he began reading aloud. "'-I want to know those depths, I want to see far deeper than the surface of the mask. I want to know your soul.'"
When he finished, a few kids clapped, but they were silenced swiftly by his sweeping gaze. "Would the aspiring poet who penned this little missive care to take credit for their work?"
I gaped, mind racing. How did Manuel's letter get to Professor Grabiner? And what would happen to him if someone knew it was his? After the trouble I had gotten the kid into for just being down the wrong hallway, I'd hate to think what would happen if Professor Grabiner had an excuse to punish him again. As much as I liked Professor Grabiner, I had no illusions as to how he worked.
So I had to do something. Fast.
I was going to die, I could just feel it. I wasn't sure if my feet would even support my body, I felt so embarrassed, but I slowly stood anyway. I stared straight ahead, trying to see through Professor Grabiner without actually looking at him.
Things only got worse from there.
"Ah, Miss Wilson. And do you expect me to be flattered by your childish affections?"
I didn't even try to argue with him about it. My vocal cords probably wouldn't have worked even if I'd wanted to. I'd stood there and took his berating before receiving ten demerits, detention, and then being dismissed from the room for disturbing his class.
I'd stood out in the hallway in shock for probably a good half an hour after that. Rachel had always made fun of me in high school for being what she deemed a "goody-two-shoes" – I was a teacher's pet who never got in trouble, who could be found haunting the library and toeing the line, never breaking a rule if I could help it, and getting away with it when I did (because when you barely ever got in trouble and the teachers liked you, you got away with stuff when you did get into trouble, something that seemed to blow Rachel's angry mind). I'd never had a teacher call me out in the middle of class like that, humiliate me and punish me all in one go. I was mortified.
I finally recovered my senses enough to get out of there before class ended and I was surrounded by those who'd witnessed my humiliation. I had no idea where to find Manuel, whether he was in class or the dorms, so I hid out in my usual spot. Up the tree, I tried to suppress my horrified feelings, but tears were creeping up now that the shock was wearing off. I tried to bury myself in a book instead, and found that the only two I had with me were my Blue Magic text and the magic symbols book I'd borrowed during detention – both painful reminders of Professor Grabiner and his cruel rebuttal.
The tree was helping a bit; a calm reminder of home, a familiar spot surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. But my sanctuary, however private, was still behind the school building and next to the oft-walked gardens, and when classes let out, students flooded past in droves. I knew the recalling of my humiliation had made it's rounds when kids started to stop and point me out. I fled back to my dorm room.
Rivera was there, holding a phial up to the light, evaluating it with one eye closed and the other covered in a strangely decorated monocle. Despite my distress, I was curious, and sat on my bed to watch.
Some time later, a knock sounded on my door. By then, Rivera's experiment (I still wasn't sure what it was) had escalated into a combination of Frankenstein's laboratory and the Wicked Witch's brewery. Tests tubes linked cauldrons, beakers bubbled with concoctions made with powders labeled with animal pictures, not words, and Rivera was back and forth between French exclamations and Latin chants. It wasn't until the second knock that I pried myself away to answer.
I was relieved to find it was Manuel, flanked by a tall, pretty-faced blue boy with glorious lengths of purple hair and a set of leathery wings. Someone to (unfairly, I admit) judge people by their appearances, I instantly liked him. His wings were awesome. Were they real? Could he fly? How cool would it be to have blue skin? What kind of shampoo does he use to make his hair that gorgeous? And those wings!
I tried to blink away my wonder; it was rude to stare. Manuel was talking.
"...so sorry, Lexie! I heard about what happened – with the love letter, and how you told Grabiner it was yours!"
"I didn't want you to get in trouble again." I managed to reply. I felt my throat getting tight at the sudden reminder of why my day had been terrible. I missed the distraction of Rivera's little world already.
"Thank you...I really appreciate it, Lexie. And I'm so sorry about what happened. But we're gonna get this all cleared up, okay? Damien says he'll go to Grabiner and explain everything. You see, someone stole my love letter!"
I nodded, glancing up to the blue guy, who I was now assuming was Damien. He looked as terrible as I felt, picturesque face painted with sympathy. "I've...never gotten a love letter before, which was why I wanted Manuel to write me one for Initiation. I know it was silly, but...I didn't mean for this to happen."
He sighed, looking at me apologetically. "You see, I was bragging about getting a love letter to some of the guys in the dorm. Next thing I know, it's gone. I guess someone thought it was funny that someone like me would get a love letter, and decided to take it...and then..."
"Leave it for Professor Grabiner?" I cringed, leaning back against the door frame. "That's terrible. This whole thing is terrible."
And this is why I didn't participate in Freshman Initiation in the first place, I thought bitterly. But Manuel and Damien were obviously just as upset as I was, so I kept that to myself and nodded. "So what's the plan? Professor Grabiner's not one to really be sympathetic, no matter the reason, I've gathered."
"But he just has to listen to us!" Manuel almost wailed, distraught.
"Us? I wrote that letter, remember?" I smiled at him, though it probably looked more like a grimace. "You're not a part of this, okay? Me and Damien will go."
"It'll be fine, don't worry about it."
I inclined my head to Damien, who patted Manuel on the shoulder. "She's right. We'll handle it. Don't worry about a thing, okay?"
We both smiled reassuringly, and Manuel took a deep breathe, then nodded. "Alright."
Despite our convincing Manuel, I was not looking forward to having our little chat with Professor Grabiner, but I wasn't about to let Damien go it alone. I'd rather serve my detention than get these two into trouble, as well, but Damien was determined to go and set things right, and thus so was I.
Thankfully, even though class was long over, Professor Grabiner was still around. Damien entered first, and I tried my best not to cower behind him in shame. You should never show a predator weakness.
"Professor Grabiner? Can we talk for a minute?"
He looked up from his desk, which was littered with papers, and glanced from Damien to me. His eyes narrowed slightly, then he went back to his papers. "I do hope Miss Wilson hasn't recruited you to try and dig her out of the hole she's dug herself, Mister Ramsey."
"Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, sir, and I want to clear things up."
"I take it you ordered her to write the letter?"
Damien and I both gaped, shocked that he already knew what had happened – or, at least, what we were planning to tell him had happened.
"Yes sir, I did." Damien replied quickly.
"And did you think it would be funny to have her give it to me and disrupt my lesson with your petty Freshman Orientation shenanigans?"
"What? No, sir, that's not what happened at all-"
Oh, no wonder Grabiner had been so quick to punish me. He thought my love confession was a freshman prank. Ouch.
"Save your excuses, Mister Ramsey, this happens every year and I'm growing tired of it. It's about time I set an example so that next year's seniors don't decide the same task will be funny again."
He wasn't going to let Damien explain? This wasn't going well at all.
"Sir?" I finally found my voice, and both Damien and Professor Grabiner looked at me expectantly. "I'm more than willing to serve my detention, if you want to make an example, but Damien didn't order me to give that letter to you."
Professor Grabiner raised his eyebrows quizzically. "So you decided to declare your love for me of your own accord, did you?"
I blanched. "Ah, no sir, that wasn't-"
"The letter was to me, Professor." Damien cut in. "I ordered her to write it to me, but it got stolen."
Professor Grabiner stared at us both for a moment. "And whoever stole this letter decided it would be funny to give it to me and get the two of you in trouble, did they?"
Wow, Professor Grabiner was quick on the uptake. I was impressed, and growing more and more hopeful by the minute. We might get out of this after all.
"That's what I figure." Damien agreed, sighing.
"Then I believe I owe you an...apology, Miss Wilson."
"What?" I replied dumbly, thrown for a bit of a loop that the Professor wanted to apologize to me for anything at all. That he even apologized to anyone. Ever.
"I did not give you a chance to explain your actions, because I believed I already knew the reasons behind them. As I'm sure Mister Ramsey is already aware, it is considered a traditional Initiation 'prank' to order freshmen to proclaim their 'love' for me – the very thought of which fills them with horror."
Seriously? But that was...just mean. Declaring your love for someone as a joke? Even someone who was as mean to students as Professor Grabiner didn't deserve that. After all, he had signed up for this job. He was teaching because he wanted to, because he'd had the desire to pass on his knowledge. It was a career that should have merited respect from those who inherited his teachings, not caused him to be the butt of ridicule because his way of teaching was harsher than most.
...though, the Professor wasn't exactly bad looking. And his voice was wonderful to listen to, dark and rich. I wondered how many real love confessions he'd gotten from students that had been chalked up to Initiation pranks.
"Since it was not your intent to disrupt my lessons, I will cancel your detention and return the ten merits I took from you."
My musings on how Professor Grabiner could probably get rich being the narrator for an audio book (especially steamy romance novels) were cut off abruptly.
Really? That was great! Sure, I'd never have my pride back – he'd crushed that into little pieces in front of a room full of my peers – but what did I care? I was back in good standing with my teacher, and wasn't in trouble anymore!
"And another ten, for having the courage to admit that you had written the letter, and in apology for the lesson you missed out on."
I was floored. Not only had I gotten my merits back, I'd been rewarded. Damien looked just as shocked. It was probably the first time in the history of Iris Academy that Professor Grabiner had rewarded a student (okay, so maybe I was exaggerating, but dang! Today should have been declared a national holiday)!
"Thank you very much, sir!"
He proceeded to try and reinstate his position as teacher and jerk by giving us a speech about how this didn't make us 'friends' and that he was just making things right again, but I knew I wouldn't be able to see him as just my grumpy teacher again after this. He was a human being too, after all, and he'd just shown he was capable of admitting his mistakes, even to kids younger and stupider than himself, and being man enough to apologize. It was even possible to talk to him rationally.
As Damien and I stepped out of that classroom, we both just looked at each other, dumbstruck. Then we both started grinning, laughing, and slammed a high five right there in the hallway. We met up with Manuel outside the main building, and spilled the good news with overlapping exclamations.
It was dark by the time I made it back to my room, and I was riding a high I'd rarely experienced in my life. The giddiness that came with my relief, combined with the excitement that had been shared between myself and two (count them, TWO) others at our good fortune, had left me with a flood of warmth and happiness that I realized only came with sharing experiences – both good and bad – with others.
I might just have been making friends. I sat on my bed, staring at the ceiling, caught up in the wonder of it. I also tried to get a hold on myself. This hope I was getting up was dangerous. I'd tried having friends like this before, in my younger years, and it had blown up in my face. Was that what would happen this time?
"Here, drink this."
I glanced up, startled, to find Rivera uncomfortably close, leaning over my bed with a full beaker sloshing around a bright green liquid.
"Drink it," she repeated kindly, giving it a wave.
I took it slowly, once again unable to do anything but follow Rivera's confident instructions. I gave the beaker a wary look, but gulped it down in one go. It didn't taste that bad; something nutty stood out. I handed the beaker back.
"So...what did I just drink?"
"I've been working on it all day," she replied, whipping around and sashaying back to her side of the room like she wasn't talking to me at all.
So I just drank that powdered animal gunk from earlier? I rubbed my eyes, unsure what to make of all this. When I looked up again, Rivera was watching me, looking satisfied.
"There was a black spot."
"I cleared it up for you. Don't think about it anymore, okay?"
The only thing I had been thinking about was the possibility that I was setting myself up to get hurt by making friends.
A black spot.
"Okay," I agreed. "I won't think about it."
Friday was a rather uneventful day in Blue Magic class. Professor Grabiner was dutifully back to being sarcastic and spiteful, and I kept to my books the whole hour, taking meticulous notes. Some of the kids around the room snickered, but most already figured my love letter had been an Initiation prank so no one hassled me about it.
It was then I realized that I considered this a 'normal' day. It was my first clue that I was accepting my new life, getting used to it, setting up a routine and really settling in. And I was happy with it.
It was also the last day of Freshman Initiation, and I found I was missing out on something, because after classes all the Seniors and Freshman seemed to vanish. I hoped whatever was going on was fun, since Rivera, Manuel, Damien, and Steve (who Rivera had taken all of ten seconds to introduce me to the day before, "He matters. Not right now, but he matters," which didn't seem to bother the green-haired Senior at all) were all gone as well.
The lack of two grades made the campus much more open, quiet, and relaxing, and I enjoyed some time alone in the dorm room before setting out across the grounds to explore. By the time Rivera returned, I was back in the room, curled up with my volume on magical symbols again. We acknowledged each other with nods and, though I suppose I should have asked about her day, we settled into companionable silence.
Saturday morning brought our allowances and the mail. Rivera got about six letters from home, which I thought was excessive and she thought was about normal, but since I'd just sent my first letter out on Monday, I didn't really worry about the fact I hadn't got anything.
When it got close to time to go into town Rivera and I loaded onto a van with a group of other kids. We sat together, but there was a comfortable distance between us and the only interaction we engaged in before exiting our transport was when she patted my leg and smiled. I got the feeling she knew something I didn't, but then the moment was gone and we were piling out into the street.
The mall was small and sparsely populated. With Iris Academy students hopping off the vans, we easily outnumbered the normal shoppers.
I kept close to the shop windows, eying the typical stores as I walked by. There was a small bookstore, I soon discovered, but there wasn't a large selection, and nothing on magic (well, magic as an Iris student knows it. Rivera seemed perfectly happy with the Wicca section, though, and we parted ways when I decided to continue looking around). There were plenty of places to eat, and an arcade, a gift shop-
When I reached the end of the mall, it appeared almost deserted. The one shop was closed, windows dark. I almost turned around and walked off, except a slight shimmering around one of the walls caught my eye. As I approached, a second door materialized, a star on the front and the name "Marvelous Magical Accoutrements" written on it.
Guess it would make sense to have a magic store near a magic school, but obviously they had to hide it from normal people. The shoppers there may be used to the Iris uniforms, but I supposed they couldn't know about magic.
The store wasn't very big, but I was fascinated by what it did have: A pair of normal looking glasses apparently charmed to help you read faster and retain more information, a set of fire proof gloves with elbow pads included, an amulet that helps boost your Black Magic, and wands – real Magic wands, charmed to help you with all the different Magic colors to varying degrees.
Everything was pretty expensive, though, and I'd only had ten dollars on me. I told myself to write mom to send me my savings – I was dying to have some of this stuff. There was a sextant charmed to boost Blue Magic, but it cost $95. I almost cried.
A wand or the protective gear seemed like a good idea, but almost anything in the store was going to take some saving up on my part. I was debating on whether I should go ahead and buy the charmed glasses when I stopped dead in front of one of the the displays.
Just like the kid I'd seen on my first day, sitting in the glass box was a pair of fuzzy ears and a fluffy tail. The label on the box said "Furry Set" and it's description said they were charmed – with Green Magic.
I was immediately crazy about the set. The ears and tail were super cute, and I wanted them. But the $120 price tag and the Green Magic both set me off. That was a lot of money, and a big boost to a Magic I wasn't ready to even study yet, let alone use.
Sighing, I left the store with the charmed glasses and an empty wallet. I did like the glasses, though, and began to smile at my reflection as I passed the other stores on the way back to the vans.
For the rest of the day, I stayed in, deciding to get a head start on my studies and maybe do some more writing in my journal. Sunday showed every sign of being spent exactly the same way. Rachel would have called me a bookworm and demanded I do something worthwhile with my time, like light something on fire or play with a ouiji board. That brought a smile to my face.
So far, my classes hadn't involved anything that Rachel would have deemed "magical." Of course, I'd only taken Blue Magic, so maybe other colors would be different, but somehow, I doubted they would be that different.
And I was glad I'd gotten out of Freshman Initiation. I just wasn't made for these weird social bonding rituals. Thankfully, my best friend wasn't, either. If I'd have gone along with it, Rachel probably would have yelled at me for "conforming."
I think I was far from "conforming" but I admitted I felt a lot more comfortable here, with these other strange, magical students, than I ever had back at my "normal" high school. Maybe it was just because I had known I was different for the past three years, combined with my natural antisocialness, and that had just pushed other kids my age away and drawn another weirdo (though one of a different kind than myself) to me.
Manuel, I had to admit, was shaping up to be a potential friend, or at least someone I could hang out with without having to worry about drama, responsibilities, or obligations. He was likable, quiet, but not withdrawn, and he made me smile without even trying. Definitely a good influence, my mother would have said.
As for my roommate...I wouldn't have actually called Rivera my friend yet. Maybe someday, if we hung out more. I was definitely at ease with her, and I could see us being friends, but we weren't quite there, despite her confidence it would happen someday. I hadn't opened up like that to her.
But even if I had, she still wouldn't have compared to Rachel. She was like a sister to me, my reminder that "normal" wasn't real and that people were people, no matter what. As much as I was enjoying the peace and quiet I was getting out here, spending my time alone in my studies, I missed my best friend.
My loneliness reminded me painfully of when Krystal had walked out of my life. It seemed like Magic was pushing all my friends away from me, even though I had so few to lose in the first place. Was that the price of a life where I finally felt at home and was accepted? Did I have to give up the life I'd known before? Not only my friends, but my family, too? Would they all drift away from me while I was here at Iris, changing into this new me?
I slammed my diary shut, causing Rivera, who'd been immersed in her own literature, to look up. I put my stuff away methodically, neat freak that I was, and kept my face turned away from Rivera's direction. She didn't say anything, and neither did I. When I was finished, I left.
I chided myself as I walked down the halls, wiping my eyes when no one was around. I needed to think about something else and stop depressing myself. I headed out to the campus grounds, walking the pathway as it weaved through the trees and bushes.