"I'm sorry you have to do this alone, Fallon," her mother said.
Fallon just shrugged. For fifteen years, she'd been doing things by herself. Why should having to start a new school two months after the school year already started be any different? When her mother pulled the car to the curb, Fallon got out and closed the door without saying a word. Her mother didn't say anything either, but that didn't surprise her. They didn't have much to say to each other anymore.
Despite the front she put on for her mother, Fallon's heartbeat quickened as she trudged toward the office.
"Can I help you?" one of the secretaries behind the counter asked.
"I'm new here," Fallon answered.
The secretary frowned at her. "Do you have a parent or guardian with you?"
"My mom signed me up yesterday, and they said to come back today for my class schedule," Fallon explained.
The woman's frowned deepened. "Name?"
"You're late Miss Keyes. School starts at eight ten and not eight fifteen."
"Sorry about that."
The secretary continued to frown as she handed over the class schedule. "Your first period is English with Mrs. Laird. I assume you were given a tour of the campus yesterday," she said, and Fallon nodded. "Good, then run along to your first period."
Fallon hoped the teachers weren't going to be like that secretary. Outside the office, she paused to review her schedule. English, biology, geometry, history, P.E. and a couple of electives; pretty standard stuff. Her first period English class was in room N twenty-nine. From her tour yesterday, Fallon learned the campus was divided in three sections: the north hall, the south hall and the central hall. They weren't really halls, making her wonder again why they'd been given that name. Not that she cared enough to ask.
Just before she entered the class, Fallon stopped to pull a mirror from her purse. Yep, she looked the same as she did when she left the house that morning. Blonde hair pulled into a high ponytail, green eyes and a super shiny face she tried to dull with a little powder since she wasn't allowed to wear real make up yet. The one thing her mother did allow her in the way of make up was lip gloss, which she did a quick touch up of before heading inside. As soon as she walked through the open door, every pair of eyes in the room zeroed in on her.
"May I help you?" Mrs. Laird asked.
"I'm in this class," Fallon said, trying to sound more confident than she felt.
Mrs. Laird furrowed her brow. "You're late."
Are you kidding me? Fallon thought. "I'm new."
"Congratulations, but you're still late," Mrs. Laird said, and the whole class laughed. "You can take that empty seat over there."
Fallon's heart sank when she pointed to a spot in the front row. The girl beside her offered her a smile as she dropped into the seat, and Fallon smiled back.
"Now, then, back to business," Mrs. Laird continued. "We were reading aloud from the John Steinbeck book Of Mice and Men. Wendy, share your book with our new student until I can get her one of her own. Griffin, why don't you read the next passage?"