After trying my locker combination a couple of times, I opened it, looked inside at the empty yellow box, and then closed it again. That was one thing figured out. Next was Homeroom in 149, which, according to the school map, was to the left of the gym entrance into a room separate from the science wing next door. Teachers stood around talking to one another outside their doors as kids walked together all around The Square, so they could see who was where. I could see taller, older kids walking around too. Outside by the gym there were walkways that lead to and from the senior high building. There was a whole other world yet to be explored for me later in that building, but since I still had the junior high to tackle, I headed toward Room 149 for Homeroom. Outside the door was a friendly looking teacher with big glasses and short, curly hair. She had on a bright yellow shirt that said, “Pineapple Pirates.”
“Good morning!” she chirped as I approached. “Are you a B.?”
She looked at me sympathetically as I looked at my schedule, confused. “No, dear, I mean, does your last name start with a B?”
“Oh,” I said quietly. “Yes.”
The teacher stood smiling at me for a minute, waiting. “Well, I’m Mrs. Vaughan.”
I smiled back. “Delia Bright,” I replied.
She looked at a piece of paper in her hand. “First seat in the fourth row,” she pointed to the big desk inside the classroom.
The classroom was not a regular class but like a big kitchen. I looked at Mrs. Vaughan confused. “This is Homeroom?” I asked her.
She kept her smile wide, “Oh yes. This is the right room. I teach Home Economics too,” she explained.
“I have Home Ec. first period,” I told her.
Mrs. Vaughn looked at my schedule as I held it up. “That’s right. You do. Just stay here after the bell rings then.”
I thanked her and went to the front desk closest to the ovens. It was warm and humid inside because it was close to the gym tracks and, ultimately, the beach. With the front door open and the side windows cracked an inch or so, the whole room felt like one large, inviting kitchen. It was too hot for my cardigan sweater that I had over my shoulders, but I still kept it on. I looked out the window and saw Travis heading through the side doors towards the boys' locker room. I decided that the Cs must have homeroom in the gym.
I didn’t like feeling Travis being so far from me. Now that we were in a new, bigger school, we were probably going to see less and less of each other, and it made me feel empty inside. He had track and team mates to hang out with now, and I didn’t like it at all. The sky was bright blue with only a few, puffy white clouds across the field and over the ocean. I concentrated on the ebbing flow of the waves in the distance, and wished the skies were darker and rumbling like the water. Today was too beautiful of a day to be alone.
For a while, I sat there in silence, looking out toward the water. I started writing about Travis in my notebook and wishing he could stay with me just like he always did. I noticed that Mrs. Vaughan leaned through the doorway, smiling at me.
“Delia, you see that batch of cookies there,” she pointed toward the counter along the wall.
I nodded as I spotted a tray with a few drops of cookie dough on it next to a glass bowl.
“Would you mind doing me a favor and putting the rest of them on that tray for me? You can do that for me, right?” She looked reassuringly at me.
I got up quietly and headed to the bowl. In it was a mix of what looked like sugar cookie mix and a wooden spoon. I started to stir it around and noticed it was a bit dry from sitting there. A carton of milk and some butter was sitting on a counter on the opposite side of the oven, so I brought the bowl over to them, spooned out some more butter and poured a half of cup more of milk and stirred until the mix was ready.
A loud, metallic sounding bell rang through the school. Other kids came into the room, all quiet and confused. Mrs. Vaughan greeted each other them with the same friendly smile and pointed them to their seats. She saw me dropping the cookies onto the sheet and smiled approvingly. After I had the cookies dropped onto the sheet, I took the sugar from the shelf overhead and sprinkled a bit across them to make them a little sweeter from the extra milk and butter. The sunlight moved across the room and mixed with the overhead lights so the sugar on the cookies took on a shimmery look.
I left my cookies and returned to my seat. I looked in my notebook again and started drawing my own map of the school next to my poem about Travis. It seemed pretty simple but when you are trying to get somewhere among a sea of newness, it’s not that easy.
The bell rang a second time and a little television flickered on the screen. There sat a big, gray-haired man in a suit and a bright yellow tie. “Welcome to Pineapple High,” he began. He introduced himself as Mr. Bailey -- the principal. Mrs. Vaughan flicked an oven on and thanked me quietly as she admired my work on the counter.
“You left the milk and butter out,” I whispered.
She shook her head and thanked me again, putting them into the refrigerator.
Mr. Bailey was still on the little television, explaining to us that while this year, we were allowed to wear sandals, but we were not allowed to wear short shorts, spaghetti-strapped tank tops or swim attire of any kind. The thought of people going to class in swim suits made me want to giggle but like everyone else, we were too confused and somewhat scared to do anything but listen.
After the announcements on where the track team would meet and how the Journalism Club would be accepting new members. Mrs. Vaughan took roll and gave us five minutes to study even though we didn’t have any homework yet. We all sat there nervously quiet while she went to the cookies on the countertop, checked the oven and slid the tray onto the top rack. I noticed a glimmer of the sugar before she shut the oven door. I continued writing in my poem about how I wished Travis didn’t have to go to track, and then I colored in the water on my map with dark waves. I stayed in the same position as the bell rang for everyone to head to their next class.