Hands in my pockets, bag slung over my shoulder and looking straight forward. That’s how I walked to school. It was a short, ten-minute walk. It was no match for me and my immeasurably long legs, after all.
It was a regular British school with old fashioned buildings, a courtyard with a few trees here and there, benches, and a freshly cut lawn. It was quaint and pretty and I honestly wondered if I’d ever get used to it.
When I looked up at the buildings I felt like I had suddenly landed in Hogwarts and that I’d be attending my first wizarding class in about an hour.
But all jokes aside, this was clearly nothing like what I was used to back in Chicago.
There were dozens of kids my age and younger speckled in small groups in the courtyard and across the lawn. They were all wearing the school’s uniform, though they seemed to be perfectly comfortable with it while I felt like I was completely out of place.
I went to the main bulletin board the kids were gathering around to see which class they were in.
On one side there were guys cheering and jumping at each other, going hyper all over the place because they were shoved into the same classes this year; on the other hand we had girls groaning because they would be separated from their best friends for most of their classes.
I just walked over to see which room I was expected to be in for the first hour and then I left the crowd to enter the building, occasionally asking directions to where room B306 was.
I then guessed that that was the moment when I should start making friends. I wasn’t expecting to stay this whole year alone, and I needed a minimal social life if I wanted to get by.
In America, I only needed to rely on my accent to have people flocking to me because ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re British!’ but here, I blended in pretty well.
And it’s good, really, I don’t get stared at unless it’s by some girls who mutter about there being a new kid in school.
Soon enough, I got to my class, found a chair and slouched down on it. I didn’t know what to do next so I waited, pulling my phone out of my pocket to play some dumb game to pass the time.
Ten minutes passed and the classroom was filling up rather quickly. Most of the students were friends who were pushing each other around like a bunch of mentally deficient seals, others were chatting about their holidays, and I was sitting there alone until someone tapped me on the shoulder to pull me away from my game.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” asked a bright, peppy voice from behind me. I turned around to find a girl with bubbly blonde hair who was leaning over the desk behind me. I wanted to make friends; this could always be a start.
I paused my game and turned completely over to the blonde to keep the conversation going.
“Yeah, actually, I am.” I told her, noticing how her eyes suddenly sparkled, as if she were waiting for this moment her entire life.
“Seriously?! Well, welcome to Saint Tom’s! Where do you come from? You don’t really sound like a Londoner. No offense.” she said, sitting on the desk and pulling her skirt down.
I seriously wondered what she meant by ‘no offense’ since there was nothing to offend me in what she said. I was surprised that she thought I sounded different, though.
“I actually just moved here from Chicago, actually. I’ve lived there for a few years.”
“Chicago, really? You’re not, like, American, though, are you?”
“Nah, not really. I’m English but my dad’s job made us go there a few years ago only to come back this summer, so yeah, I guess you see what I mean.”
She nodded, biting on her plump lower lip as she did so. Then there was a small, awkward silence before she grinned back at me “I’m Molly, by the way. You?”
“Right, so what do you think about me taking you around the school later and stuff? Like showing you where’s what and who’s who. I know everybody, so I’ll be a good guide! … I guess?” she added with a giggle “I love taking the new kids around, it’s fun and stuff, and I guess you don’t know anybody around here, but don’t worry, this is a really nice school, so like—“
She pretty much lost me there. I was amazed by how much she talked, though it felt nice not to have someone gawp about my accent and where I was from.
Molly was a pretty girl with curly blonde hair and brown eyes, and I guessed that having her as a friend would be a plus. She seemed pretty kind and sociable even if she talked a lot. It was endearing, though, I suppose. I had barely arrived in a new school that I was already invited to eat with someone else. At least that’s what I understood from Molly’s chattering. That was kind of a relief; at least I wouldn’t be all alone.
We soon got to having lunch in the cafeteria and I got to meet Molly’s group of friends. Half of them were hipsters, though they were tolerable. We had Kelly, a Taiwanese girl who spent her time drawing, Alex who was the stereotypical hipster with a stretcher in his ear and an infinity tattoo on his wrist. He was in an indie band. Then there was Jamal who was in said indie band with Alex, and Lucy who seemed to spend her entire time taking pictures of her food and drinks to filter them and post them on Instagram. I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite catch the other three people’s names.
But all in all they were nice and welcoming, though Kelly spent her time staring at me before she asked if she could draw me because ‘I’ve never seen skin like yours, would you mind if I—‘
Yes, Kelly, you can admire and draw my facial angel hickeys all you want.
Though the girl had talent, I’ll give her that.
Soon after listening to their conversations I found out more about them, which was fun. What was less fun was when they were starting to diss random people when they passed by. Because if there’s one thing that kids do that’s an international thing, it’s that.
I never quite understood what it was with teenagers and dissing people being their backs. It seemed fun to them. X was a faggot, Y was a whore, Z gained weight over the holidays and W’s parents were getting a divorce because he was a little bastard.
“What a slag.” snapped Alex once a chubby girl with black hair passed by. Molly hit his arm firmly, scowling at him.
“Will you stop that? She’s a total sweetie!” she snapped, frowning “What’s with you and calling random girls slags, Alex, that’s gross, seriously!” she scolded him.
At that moment, Kelly looked up from the portrait she was doodling and turned her head around to look at the girl who just sat down by another group of people “She’s nice, though she’s a bit weird. I like her, I guess, since she’s nice.” She said with a smile.
I really didn’t want to say anything. I barely got to see the girl and I didn’t even want to judge anyway. I didn’t even want to know who she was, though for the sake of getting the conversation going, I dared to ask.
“Who exactly was that girl?”
“Her?” Molly asked me, motioning over to where she sat “Don’t mind her, she’s… Well, she’s in our literature class. I’ll introduce you. She’s really nice!”
“And a slag.”
“Alex, I swear to God that I’ll cut you!” Molly squealed, frowning at him. Something was telling me that I wouldn’t really want to be friends with that goddamned hipster.
Alex just rolled his eyes and went back to eating his sandwich.
He then looked back up to me and asked “What kind of music do you listen to?”
I thought for a second. What should I say not to pass off as some obscure weirdo—but now that I thought of it, I didn’t honestly need Alex’s approval for anything.
“Eh, I’m into metal, actually.”
“The fuck is that?”
‘You’re a fucking hipster, man, you should know about obscure shit like that’ I thought, refraining from saying that aloud.
“Like, what bands?” he asked, adding to his previous question. His tone was disgustingly condescending and I wasn’t liking it one bit.
“… Avenged Sevenfold? Powerwolf, System of a Down…?”
“System of a—Oh! I’ve heard of them!” squealed Molly as she poked my arm “Alex, he listens to the same stuff as James!” she said excitedly, turning back to Alex.
Oh, praise the fucking Lord, there were other people who like metal in this school.
“Which James? From the beefcakes?” he asked, pointing to the table where the chubby girl from earlier sat down with his thumb “Don’t talk to me about them.” He added with his upper lip curled in disgust.
“Oh my God, why do you hate these guys so much?”
“Listen Mol’, just because you fucked one of them that one time—“
Molly cut him off my slapping his arm “Shut up!”
“Ugh!” squealed Molly again, glaring at her friend.
I just finished my food without saying a word, looking over to the beefcakes’, table, wondering which one of them was James.
Meanwhile, Molly and Alex were still arguing.
I barely knew him for an hour but I already know that Alex is an absolute arse. I wondered why someone as lighthearted as Molly would even be seen around him. Yet, I had to admit that I was a judgemental bastard and I needed to give people a chance at things... But Alex was really ticking me off.
Soon enough the bell rang and we were all dashing straight back to class.
Molly took my arm and grinned once we got to class, dragging me over to one of the beefcakes who was in the same class as us.
He was a stocky, muscular guy with pale blue eyes and dark ginger hair. He had settled himself down at a table next to the window and had one of his earbuds in his right ear.
“Hey, Jim!” called Molly as she pulled me over “I have a new friend for you!”
James looked at Molly dully for a moment before he took out his phone and paused his music. He then took out his earbud and looked up to me, then back to Molly.
“If you’re trying to pair us up because we’re both gingers, you can go fuck yourself.” He said with a chuckle.
“Ha-ha, you’re hilarious, Jim. Nope, I’m here to present to you someone who also likes those weird bands you like.”
James quirked a brow and looked back to me.
And in that moment I swear that James looked like he just saw Jesus.
“Yeah, I mean—you like metal, right?.” I asked scratching the back of my neck nervously. He nodded. Whew.
“Who do you listen to?”
“The usual A7x, Dragonforce, Alestorm...”
“Dragonforce?” I asked, taking the seat next to him “Never heard of them, are they good?”
Molly giggled “I’ll leave you two to talk about being soulless and sacrificing virgins to Satan and all that jazz, mmkay?”
“Fuck off, Mol’.” James told her. She giggled and gave us a little wave before she walked off to sit down next to Kelly.
“She doesn’t mean it, don’t worry.” James assured me.
“I know.” I said with a chuckle “Anyway—Dragonforce?”
“Yeah, they’re good.” He said with a grin “Also, Rammstein?”
I grinned at that “Fuck yes.”
James laughed “God, do you imagine how hard it is to find people who like good music here? Everybody listens to the same shite all the time, I can’t stand all that commercial bullshit.“
I snorted at that “I get what you mean.”
“Yeah, yeah—I have friends though. We don’t share this class with them though. And they don’t share my musical tastes, but, eh, you know.” He said, leaning back in his chair.
I nodded and looked towards the board, seeing that the teacher had arrived and was waiting for us to stop talking, looking towards us exasperatedly.
We shut our gobs and took out our books, ready to start the class.
I was glad to have found someone I could relate to.