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April 2006, 11:19 AM

"Alright class, we're here! Make sure to bring all of your belongings, and once you get out of the bus, always stay close!"

Ms. Flinders announced, as she stood up from her seat. Once our bus halted, everyone started stretching their arms and legs. Aly began stuffing her leftover snacks into her bag as she chatted with Samantha, who sat across from us. On the other hand, I quietly zipped my bag, which was packed with stuff Mommy had prepared for me.

"Remember Serena," I could still hear her voice when she dropped me at school, "always stay with your group and don't talk to strangers, no matter how nice they are."

I peeked out of the window, and watched as the boys jumped out of the bus. One of them tripped on his foot and bumped into one of his friends. Next, I heard their cheerful but muffled laughter.

"Come on, Rena! We're going to miss the fun!" Aly yelled and snapped me out of my thoughts. She suddenly grabbed my wrist, forcing me to stand up.

"You don't have to do that..." I complained.

"Oh please, we can't just wait here all day!" She remarked.

She leaped out of the bus as she dragged me along. The rays from the sun instantly hit my skin and warmed me up. Luckily I brought my straw hat, since it at least protected my head from direct sunlight.

"Did you all remember your groups?" Ms. Flinders asked. Her eyes carefully scanned through my classmates as their voices of uproar, joy and impatience filled my ears.

"Yes!" They chanted, except me.

"Y... yes!" I squeaked out, and some of the boys chuckled at my late response. Aly instantly crossed her arms and glared at them.

"Awesome, now go to your assigned groups!" Ms. Flinders exclaimed, and without hesitation, people started scrambling around as they tried finding their teammates. Meanwhile, Aly and I stood there watching the scene, while I noticed that Samantha wasn't with us. She was probably with her other friends.

"Thank goodness we're one team," she mumbled under her breath as she clenched her hand around mine.

"I'm actually o-okay being alone..." I blurted out without thinking.


"We're in the same group with that one smarty pants," I snapped up and glanced at Aly. She looked around the area and searched for someone... most likely the 'smarty pants' she recently mentioned.

"There he is!" She suddenly yelled, and once again, she pulled me along.

"I can walk on my o-own!" I exclaimed, but she ignored me as we came close to a nearby group. I was quickly sandwiched between the other girls, and some looked with annoyance when my best friend accidentally knocked them off. I laughed nervously and muttered out an apology.

"There you are!" Aly abruptly stopped, which made me bump into her back. My nose shot out in pain, causing me to yelp.

"Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry!" She shrieked as she snapped her head around, facing the unlucky me.

"It's okay... I'm f-fine...!" I brushed her apology off and refused her aid.

Ow... that hurt...

"Heh, so that's how you treat her," suddenly, I heard someone snickering. It wasn't Aly, because her voice wasn't that low, and it sounded like it came from a boy. I didn't know whether he was laughing at Aly or me, but his sudden presence startled me, "you sure make a great best friend!"

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