As soon as Mrs. Renzodi said that, everyone in the room scrambled out of their seats and ran like madmen to the door. I wondered how they could get away with wild behavior like this.
"Woah, woah, woah!" the teacher yelled, blocking the exit.
Apparently they couldn't get away with it after all.
When she released us and everyone had made their way to the lunch room, I went to sit down with Cami and her friends, which were Rebecca, Iz, Amy, and a few others who were kind of their own group.
"Hey, Ariel! Sit next to me!" Cami exclaimed with her usual hyperness.
"Okay," I said, relieved.
I was really nervous about all the personal questions they might've asked me. But they didn't say anything worth being afraid of.
"Wait, what school did you come from again?" Rebecca asked me. She was hard to read because she seemed tough, but actually was pretty nice.
"Blessed Son," I told her, and took a bite of my sandwich.
"That's cool," she said, and started talking to Iz.
Part of me wanted to be over with Erin and Kaylee, who surprisingly were sitting with Derek and Nolan. But these girls were being so nice to me that I might as well get to know them a bit better.
"Have you all been here since preschool?" I asked the table of girls.
Most answered yes, but Paris, who was sitting at the end of the group, shook her head.
I looked at her questioningly and Cami whispered, "She got kicked out of her old school."
My eyes widened and I looked down at my food.
Rebecca mouthed, We'll tell you at recess, when I looked back up.
I nodded and we pretty much just talked about our summers for the rest of the time, until the lunch monitor announced that we could go outside now. Me and my new friends jumped up and speed-walked through the doors.
"Come over here, and we'll tell you about Paris Hill..." Cami said darkly.
As I went over to join them, Erin came out of nowhere and took my arm.
"Hey, bestie," she said, giggling. She steered me in the opposite direction of the girls.
"B-but-" I stammered as she dragged me along.
"I want to ask you something, and I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings," she told me quietly.
"Oh," I said, relaxing a little.
"So, since we are, like, best friends, I wanted to invite you to go to SkyPark with me tomorrow after school, while we still don't have homework!" she exclaimed, then cleared her throat and lowered her voice. "But if you don't want to, that's totally cool. Like, totally."
"Yeah! That sounds really fun! But...what is SkyPark?"
"It's this really cool trampoline park."
I noticed that she talked really fast.
"Cool. I'll ask my mom tonight!" I told her.
We walked off toward this little sitting area beneath a statue of Mary. Erica took out this little pocket notebook that was labeled 'Songs'.
"Oh, do you sing?" I asked her.
"Yeah. My dad is in a band, and they're kinda famous."
"That's cool. I love to sing."
"Oh, really?" she asked, smiling really big.
"M-hm. I take voice lessons."
She opened her notebook and started humming one of her songs.
"Do you write your own songs?" I asked, astonished.
"Yeah," she replied happily, flipping through her book.
I looked around at the beautiful parking lot. I know that sounds silly, but they had these beautiful white and pink trees lining the lot, with a gorgeous, circular church not too far away from the school. The sun was shining, I had made new friends, and I was at a school that I now loved. It was a good day.
Then I noticed some of the other girls, Cami, Rebecca, Iz, Ophelia, Bailey, and Amy, staring at me and Erin from across the parking lot. I looked away, but every time I glanced up, they were talking to each other then looking at us again. It was getting really awkward.
Kaylee started waving at Erin and I from where she was sitting with Derek, Nolan, and two other guys I hadn't met, Geoff and Brent. I stood up with Erin, but she motioned for me to stay sitting and walked away without explanation.
Then, to make matters worse, the group of girls who were staring at us all got up and started walking casually over to me. I pretended like I didn't see them and played with the hem of my skirt.
When they reached me, some of them sat down around me on the ledge, while others leaned against the trees and wall. They studied me for a moment, and I couldn't help but thinking this group of Catholic school students looked more like a gang of thugs, the way they were all staring at me like they had done this a million times, whatever they were about to do. Even happy go lucky Cami had a serious expression.
Finally, Ophelia spoke.
"Don't be friends with Erin."
"Yeah," Cami said, shaking her head.
"Why not?" I asked defiantly.
"Because the girl's bad news," Bailey said.
"What a creep," Amy muttered, rolling her eyes.
I didn't like Amy very much.
"Oh really? She's been pretty nice to me," I told them.
"Exactly," Ophelia said. "That's always how she does it."
"Does what?" I asked.
"Gets her friends. Her little voodoo dolls. The ones she does experiments on," she replied.
"That's not true." It was my turn to roll my eyes.
"Just wait till she sees her witch book..." Iz mumbled, putting her head in her hands.
"Now that's just ridiculous," I exclaimed.
"We know. That's why we are warning you now," Rebecca said, finally speaking.
"We sure wish somebody had warned us before we wasted our time on her," Bailey told me, pointing to Erin.
"Okay..." I grumbled, giving up. I didn't want to make enemies out of them today. But who could tell me who to be friends with? "I hear what you are saying. I'll be careful. But please just let me find out for myself," I pleaded.
They all shook their heads and looked at each other, then me.
"Okay, Ariel, that's cool," Cami said, and put an arm around me.
Then they all got up and left. Next it was Derek, Nolan, Brent, Geoff, Kaylee, and Erica's turn to visit me.
"Hey guys," I said as Erin and Kaylee sat beside me. "I've been meaning to ask you something," I added, pointing at Nolan and Derek.
"Yeah?" Derek said, smirking.
"Are you two related?" I asked, referring to the fact that they had the same, uncommon last name.
"Uh, duh! We're brothers!" Derek exclaimed, putting his arm around Nolan.
"You sure don't look like it."
It was true. Derek had light brown hair and big, brown eyes. His face was more oval shaped than Nolan's. Nolan had red hair and small, green eyes.
"Well, we are!" Derek said, lightly punching Nolan's arm.
"Okay..." I said disbelievingly, but when I looked at Erin and Kaylee they were nodding in conformation.
Then the whistle blew and kids started rushing toward the main doors.
"Recess is over!" Derek yelled and ran off, acting like a wild little toddler. Nolan rolled his eyes and jogged after him, with the two other boys right behind him.
Erin giggled and grabbed my arm. She led me and Kaylee off in the same direction.