Chapter 2: First Day

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        Fiona followed Meredith down the hall, grateful once again that she and her roommate had the same schedule. Her head was already full after just the first day. Ms. Griffith clearly didn’t believe in a quiet first day, and Fiona was glad she liked and was good at math. If she hadn’t, she’d have been drowning already, and that after only the first class of the day.

            She felt like she was in a kind of daze or still dreaming. Everything that had been piling up seemed to have hit her this morning when she woke up in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room. Fiona felt numb and like nothing she saw seeing was really there. She hadn’t felt like this since she stopped crying the first time and wondered how long this was going to keep happening to her.

            Meredith shepherded her into the next classroom, directing her towards one of the tables on the far side of the room. Fiona sat down in the chair beside the wall, letting her backpack drop onto the ground, while Meredith dropped down beside her. It took a few moments for Fiona to really register where she was. She blinked a couple of times before she looked around.

            This room was almost identical to the one they’d been in for Math. A rectangular room with lines of tables and chairs to either side of the clear path that ended at a huge bookshelf, the room’s walls, ceiling, and floor were all made of the same pale stone as most of the school. Lit by the yellow glow of the wall sconces that surrounded the room, the only decorations were the posters taped to the teacher’s desk at the front. It was a huge, solid wood affair that looked like it must have been built at the same time as the school. Beside it lay the blackboard and projection screen.

            More students continued to stream in and take seats. Fiona watched them, only half paying attention to things. The things that stood out made her wonder about what kind of dress code the school had. While no one was dressing like two dollar whores the way some girls had at her previous school, she was surprised a school this nice let a student get away with green hair. Or the guy who was wearing one of those stupid animal tails on his belt, this a huge fluffy red-brown spotted thing. Fiona had never understood those things. Why on earth would you want a tail?

            Watching a girl with some kind of weird feather headband thing dig her binder out made Fiona realize that she still didn’t have her own paper out. She hurriedly dug into her bag and got out one of her notebooks and a few of her pens. She’d barely gotten them arranged in front of her when their teacher walked through the door.

            “Good morning everyone,” the brown-haired man called as he dropped his briefcase down onto the desk. “I’m sure you’re just as excited to be back at school as I am. I trust you all had enjoyable vacations?”

            A few murmurs of “Yes, Mr. Hastings,” could be heard as the chatter that had filled the room previously slowly died away.

            “Wonderful! In case any of you are in the wrong class, this is English,” Mr. Hastings swept the room with his gaze before smiling. “Excellent. Since it’s the first day I thought I’d give you all a quick rundown of what we’ll be doing this year, have a little contest, and then send you all on your way. I remember how quickly the cafeteria fills up for lunch.”

            Fiona stared for a moment. She couldn’t ever remember any of her previous teachers speaking like that before. Maybe she wouldn’t be buried under homework after all.

            Mr. Hastings opened his briefcase and took out a stack of papers. He circled the room rapidly, handing piles to the person at the head of each column of students before he went back to stand at the front of the room. “That’s an explanation of what we’ll be doing, what we’ll be reading, and what you’ll be marked on. Those of you who’ve had me previously will know I’m not one for attendance. But be aware that I like to make questions out of things I say in class, so skip at your own peril. Now, I’ll give you a minute to read over the sheets, and if anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to put a hand in the air.”

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