My first impression of Whitechapel high was, to put it mildly, bleak. The place was pretty much deserted when I arrived; the only people there were one or two students and some teachers that were getting their classrooms ready. Margaret, my sister, had given me a mini intro to the place during the summer, but I was still clueless as to where I had to go. The hallways seemed so eerie, so quiet… it was kind of creepy. "Oh, no," vice principal Hicks, who helped give me the tour, would've said. "Whitechapel High School is one of the safest schools in the state. In fact, we won the 'safest school award' back in 1984." Not like I hadn't heard that come out of my dad's mouth two billion times. He wanted me to come here. He said that it was a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" and that I "wouldn't have that experience in private school". Mom would've preferred for me to stay in Angels' Grove Preparatory School than here in the ancient school she and dad went to, but dad managed to convince her otherwise.
Okay, I had to admit, the school was kind of weird. As the hallways filled up, more and more suspicious-looking students kept piling in. They were jocks, cheerleaders, geeks- nothing out of the usual, but something about them made me look twice. Then again, nothing was normal in Whitechapel, so I put my guard down. No sense in being paranoid on the first day.
I yanked open my messenger bag and blindly searched around for the scrap of paper where I wrote down my locker number and combination. My hand was wading halfway in a sea of books, pencils, trinkets, and whatever else I had thrown into my bag. No wonder it was so heavy. I groaned and hauled the bag off my shoulder, holding it in front of me. I searched once more. Aha! I thought, pulling the wrinkled sheet of paper out. I squinted down at it and read slowly. Locker 214, 16-27-35. I spotted my new locker immediately.
I uttered a few choice words under my breath when the locker door creaked and squeaked open. First of all, the smell was absolutely appalling; it was like someone had mixed skunk spray, sweat, and rotting food all together and left the odor in there for someone else to enjoy. Second of all, the walls and shelves were completely covered in gum, stickers, and graffiti. I sighed and tossed a few of my books in, then slammed the locker closed again. There was no time to fix that mess now. I decided on calling a friend over after school was over and asking them to help clean it. I would need all the help I could get.
A loud, obnoxious beep came from inside my pocket. I pulled my phone out and checked the screen- one new message from mom. I rolled my eyes and pressed read. It was probably just her asking if I hadn't died on my walk to school. Like I would answer if I was dead.
U okay, honey? :) love u! –from mom, 11/24 at 7:45am
I smiled a bit to myself.
Yeah, I'm fine. Just got here. Class is about to start, though. See you after school. –to mom, 11/24 at 7:46am
I slipped the phone back into my pocket and frowned a little. This wasn't going to be like Angels' Grove, that's for sure. To be honest, I was a bit worried. My friends at Angels' always told me about the horrors their older brothers and sisters faced at Whitechapel. I was never sure if they were true or not, but I still always worried about it. Margaret said that they weren't true. Dad said not to worry about it, that I was smart enough and strong enough to stay away from any trouble. Mom had a mini panic attack. Either way, I wasn't exactly ecstatic when my parents told me that I was going there- especially mid-semester.
I looked down at my watch, which read 7:56am. I didn't want to be late, -god knows what the teachers did to people that were late- so I decided to start heading to class, even though I had no idea where to go. Thankfully, I overheard some girls talking about Mr. Leroy's homeroom- my homeroom- so I followed them until I reached the classroom.
Brrriiinnggggg! The bell rung and I slunk down in my seat a little more comfortably. There would be no more waiting, no more anticipation. My possible-joy, possible-torture had begun. A couple students ran in quickly and settled down in empty desks, trying their best to avoid the strict-looking man that followed closely behind and made his way over to the desk in the front of the room. I was glad I had arrived early. He seemed scary.
"Hello, students," Mr. Leroy greeted in a surprisingly non-monotone voice. The knot in my throat lessened noticeably. "I hope you've all had a good weekend." He studied us all closely, from the front of the room to the desks in the back. His gaze wasn't of cruelty, but of observance. He didn't even seem to mind that there were still one or two empty seats. He looked back down at his desk. "Please say 'here' if you are present."
"Here," said a short redhead girl in the front row.
He nodded and looked back down at the list of names.
A pretty, tan girl was the owner of the name. "Present." The blonde girl next to her giggled and she flashed her a bright smile.
I zoned out for a couple minutes, doodling and daydreaming.
"Ethan Morgan?" At that name I whirled around, a big smile forming on my face. Finally, someone I knew.
Ethan raised his hand. "Hi." He smiled, too, when he noticed me. The kid was a total sweetheart- and I should know; we had known each other since we were babies.
I looked down at the sheet of notebook paper I had been doodling on and frowned. The black ink from the pen I was using had smeared all over my hand, leaving a big ugly smudge on the paper. Half my hand was now a greenish-black. Great.
Startled, I looked up, not realizing why someone was calling me.
"Oh." I blinked. "Uhhh… here." Mr. Leroy gave me a cautious look, but continued to read the list.
I heard whispers from not that far behind and craned my neck for a better look. It turned out to be two geeky boys that seemed to be Ethan's friends, mumbling and staring right at me. I blushed involuntarily. "What are you two staring at?" I said just a bit too loudly. "What? Who said that?" Mr. Leroy burst out suddenly, staring everyone down. I gulped. After a couple seconds of no one answering, he sighed and proceeded to read out the names. The taller boy winked at me and proceeded to check something on his phone. The shorter one, blonde and actually kind of cute, just smiled. He held up a stick figure drawing of Mr. Leroy saying "My name is Richard Leroy, and I like to make kids suffer by keeping them in class way longer than I should". I smiled and laughed a bit to myself. He just beamed and put the drawing back down.
Maybe school wouldn't be so bad after all.