I am standing in the middle of a meadow that seems familiar to me. I am surrounded by trees of daisy white, bright yellow, light pink, and deep dark green leaves, which all appear to be the offspring of the warm beginning of another season. The sky is purely dominated by the colour blue, without a single hint of the cotton-white image of a cloud. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, which I find quite surprisingly tolerable. I don’t particularly like the heat; I am more of an autumn-winter type of person because it is when I genuinely recognise the heat in my body. It is when I appreciate more the lighting of the fireplace with my loved ones and reminiscing all of our joyous memories of the year and even further in the past.
The meadow is also covered with unmistakably green-coloured grass following every flow and blow of the wind. The wind also doesn’t fail to strike my body, inch by inch, up to the point where the coldness of the air diminishes the warmth of the newly born sun. I can see the bright red roses at the edge of the meadow, standing out to the earthly colours of the field as if they were intentionally attracting my attention. I approach the roses slowly. I can hear the sound of every grass I walk on to as I make my way to the tantalising bunch of roses that seem to lure my soul. As I get closer, a man appears from behind the trees and stands quite steadily in the middle of the roses. He is wearing a white t-shirt under a relaxing shade of blue checked shirt with black tight jeans, sculpting every inch of his long slender legs. My heart is rising, beating like dancing tunes, as I get closer and closer to the beautiful flowers and the man. I am not scared of him. I should be scared of him; he is a stranger after all. But as I arrive to the life-like bouquet of roses, he raises his hand in my direction asking for mine. Instinctively, I reach for it, grasping his hand like my life relies on this connection he and I are creating. He pulls me close to him, up against his firm chest. I cannot seem to see his face because the sun is shining excessively on him, but I didn’t care. I may not be able to see his face, but I can sense his motion to kiss me, leaning down and forward to the direction of my lips. I close my eyes and simply surrender to him, impatiently waiting for the touch of his lips.
“Celine, it’s 6:30. Wake up.”
What? What the hell was that? The roses are gone. The meadow is gone. The man is gone. I open my eyes to see my father picking up all the mugs and glasses on my computer table. Oh my god. What kind of dream was that? I jump out of bed thinking of the most real and surreal dream I have ever had in my entire life.
“Come on. You have got to get ready for school. It’s your first day, Celine. You can’t be late especially today,” my father tells me while I still think about that guy I saw in my dream. Who is he? The most frustrating thing in the world is feeling that you have found the one and suddenly finding out that it is just a fucking fantasy. I am normally excellent in noticing that I am dreaming or not. Like when I was falling off a sky-high building in a terribly stormy day, I just closed my eyes and said ‘it is just a dream’ and moved on to whatever imaginary land my mind wanted me to be in that night. But in this one, the surroundings, the feelings, and the emotions all felt genuine. It made a fool of me, like what men typically do anyway.
“Uh, dad. Give me five more minutes,” I moan at him as I pull my sheets up to cover the whole of my body.
“No, Celine,” he insists. “It is already half past six and I know it takes you a long time to get ready so get up and take a shower. I am also off to work so when you are ready, head straight downstairs and eat your breakfast.”
“This is torture,” I utter as I move my sheets and pillows out of the way and walk grumpily to the bathroom.
I love my eyes. I don’t care about my face or the rest of my body or what I wear; I don’t even care how bushy my eyebrows are right now. I care about just my eyes. I don’t wear any make-up at all, except on my eye area. I make sure that my eyelashes are as curly and curvy as a rogue wave can be so I spend quite a bit of money for a mascara, but aside from that you can just suck it. I look at my eyes intently in the mirror every day for a few moments and realise how important my sight is. They can see everything from the dust on the mantle, spider at the corner of a room, to how a person may look at you. But what I interestingly know the limit of the eyesight is to see what a person feels about you or thinks of you as a person. That’s why I love the eyes; they have absolute strengths and inevitable weaknesses.
I really cannot be bothered for today, but I need to make a good first impression so I put on one of my sundresses, designed with yellow and green floral prints all throughout. I match it with a stainless reflective silver-plated bracelet and the only diamond earrings I own, which my dad bought for me on my last birthday. I also put on my earthly brown high-heeled wedges with rose gold metallic buckle ankle straps to boost my 5 feet and 3 inches height a little bit. I immediately go down stairs and head to the kitchen to get my breakfast before I go to school. “Dad, can I just get a glass of cold water please.”
“Water? I hope you’ll be drinking that next to the bacon and eggs I cooked for you. I toasted you some bread as well.” My father is so sweet. He is already on his grey two-piece suit and freshly shined black leather formal shoes, but he is still in front of the stove frying some bacons. I just don’t like heavy food for breakfast. I just tend to have water to drink my vitamins E and C with and I will be good to go. And besides, I am feeling extra nervous today because it is my first day in my new school so I don’t think anything that could potentially make me throw up is on the table.
“Dad, you know that I don’t eat breakfast especially when going to school. I am not hungry. I will just grab something to eat in the canteen,” I try to tell him convincingly so he won’t force me on eating the bacon, egg, and toast.
“Are you sure you will be fine? It is your first day, Celine,” my dad says as he turns the bacon in the pan. “I don’t want you to go hungry on your first day.”
“I’m fine, dad. You don’t need to worry about me,” I assure him. “I also ate quite a bit at dinner last night so my stomach is still full.”
“I know it was hard for you to leave everything behind in Southampton but my work is here in Norwich and it is the only place they can put me in.” My father is a banker for a big prestigious, excessively wealthy bank. And as I see it, bankers go where the money goes.
“It’s okay, dad. It’s not like my life was so exciting there anyway. I’ve lived there my entire life; I probably need a change as well. We both need it.”
“I am so lucky to have you as my daughter. I hope you have a great year Celine,” my father says while giving me a kiss on the forehead.
“Ugh, dad. You are the cheesiest person I know in this entire world. I’m going to go now, bye!” I utter wittingly as I open the front door.
I am not a particularly emotional girl. Perhaps I should’ve given my dad more credit for cooking me breakfast and reciprocated his fatherly affection instead of showing disgust for it, even if jokingly. But it is just how our relationship is formed since I was a kid. We are okay. He knows I love him.
I walk along rows of Victorian semi-detached houses on the way to school and observe how quiet the neighbourhood is. The streets are overflowing with parked cars and the sun is shining bright, but there is not a person to be seen. Am I late as everyone is already in offices or schools? Or am I grudgingly early that everyone is still in bed or having there breakfast? If it is the latter that’s good news for me because I can set up my alarm a little bit later. I have about five alarms in the morning, actually. The first one is to wake my spirit up, but not my body. The second, third, and fourth ones keep my spirit from falling back to sleep, while the fifth and last one is the warning that I will either get out of bed to get ready for school or just call off sick for the day.
As I approach my school, I can hear the loud noise everyone is collectively creating. All the banter and catching up from the holidays, or even the very early overly dramatic arguments between couples. I mean the first day of school hasn’t even started yet and you are already crying over how he did not reply to your text message last night. Get a grip.
So according to the letter I received from the school, welcoming me to their ‘exceptional community’, as I quote, I should head to the reception on my first day to collect my timetable and meet my ‘school buddy’ who would accompany and help me get use with the school. I am not really in the mood for making a fake I-am-so-excited-for-today and it-is-lovely-to-meet-you looks, though. I will just have to pull myself together and make a good impression if I want to have a smooth sailing school year.
I come inside the brick-made front building of the school campus and see the most rows of grey lockers I’ve seen along the halls of a school in my entire life. Not that I can really make a legitimate judgement of what is plenty or not because I have only been to two schools and both of them were unbelievably small. I can just see everyone in their own worlds in front of their open lockers, stocking them with their fresh sets of notebooks, textbooks, or revision guides and disposing the ones they have left behind last school year. I walk along this long stretch of hallway with everyone just in their own little bubbles while I look for the reception quite nervously. As I get to the end of the hallway, I turn my head right to see a big silver sign shouting the word ‘RECEPTION’. “Thank god,” I exhaled together with my breath as a sigh of relief. Approaching the reception I can see two people, one who looks like the admissions tutor and one who looks excessively enthusiastic, which I conclude would make her my ‘school buddy’.
“Good morning, Ms Jones, I am Mrs Paul. Welcome to the school,” she says while giving her hand for me to shake. How did she know who I am?
I reach for her hand because I thought I am leaving so much time thinking in my head why she knows me that it is just getting uncomfortable. “M-my name is Celine Jones,” I utter just to fill the awkward silence I created, but I’m still baffled to how she knows me.
“Quite right, Ms Jones. I recognised you from your photograph on your application.” Oh, that’s how she knows me. Why do I have to overthink everything? “Here is your timetable for the rest of the year. That includes all your subjects, lesson times, teachers, and how much time you have for break and lunch. The school starts at 8:50 and ends at 15:30 sharp,” she tells me very seamlessly. Mrs Paul is someone who is probably immensely busy and as a result she is straightforward and deals with no non-sense. She is wearing a dull grey pencil skirt with a white perfectly ironed shirt tucked in it; even her fashion sense is as stereotypical as her character for a serious person. But I must commend her choice of shoes; it is a pair of black court shoes reflective of every light that strikes them.
“Thank you.” It is the only thing I can manage to say while she hands me my timetable. She doesn’t look scary, but her character and seriousness just intimidates me.
“Let me introduce you to your school friend, Hanna Atkins. She will talk you through the school’s rules and regulations, which are enforced to maintain the safeguard of all students and staff of the school. Ms Atkins would also give you a tour of the whole campus to familiarise yourself of the rooms, facilities, and departments we have.” I glance at Hanna as Mrs Paul tells me all this crap and she looks tremendously excited and happy like she’s giving the Queen of England a tour of the school. “I will leave you two to it, Ms Atkins, takeover. And for you Ms Jones, again, welcome to the school,” she tells me with her mouth smiling but her eyes showing a different expression I cannot quite get. It’s supposed to be a welcoming greeting, but it felt more like a threat.
“Hi there, Celine. I am Hanna Atkins, the student leader of the school. I am so glad you chose to join us here in our school. We’ve not had a newbie in a while,” she says, interrupting me of my observation of Mrs Paul.
Hanna has a rather jolly character, but this does not fully conceal the probable fact that she is one of the popular kids here in school. I can just see in her eyes and in to how she carries herself that she no longer is the innocent girl her parents think she is and the girl she once was in primary school. I think girls have that sort of feeling with each other.
“Do you want to start the tour of the campus?” she asks excitingly.
“Yes, absolutely,” I say in response, though I would rather go back to my bed and sleep the whole day.
“It perhaps would be much better to start with the rooms you have lessons in to,” she says.
“That would be great,” I reply.
“Brilliant. Follow me.”
As Hanna walks in front of me blabbering patronisingly all these information about the school, I observe her instead because I would rather do so than listen to whatever the hell she is talking about. She is wearing a pink dress just right up to the top of her knees with some very small glittery shiny disks over the chest area. I must say, that dress is so yesterday in fashion, but I suppose the blue denim jacket over it and pink pair of sneakers she is wearing with it could salvage the outfit. She has a beautiful face as well anyway.
“And this is the common room,” Hanna says with a long deep breath in the end, which I hope signals the end of her tour. The room is filled with couches, tables, and chairs, nicely laid out in the middle of the common room. Along the sides are computers and at the right-hand side is a kitchen with everything you would expect to have, such as a microwave, coffee maker, mugs and glasses, coffee beans, cream, sugar, and tea bags. I think one of the students is making a bag of popcorn over there. “First lesson starts in about five minutes. Since after that is break, I was thinking I’d meet you here in the common room so we could hang out and I could introduce you to my friends too.”
Shit. My first lesson is about to start. “Sounds good,” I tell her, hopefully quite convincingly.
“Great! I will see you in a bit,” she says and then heads out of the common room.
As I walk out to the hallway, I look at my timetable to see that my first period is Politics at room 8S. Politics is actually my fourth and last choice of all of my subjects. It is not because I don’t particularly like it the way I do my other subjects, but I was conflicted to either take Economics or Politics. I obviously picked the latter, and I hope I made the right choice.
My first period just finished and damn was that a good lesson. My Politics teacher, Mr Thompson, basically talked about his holiday with his wife and three children in a beach in Thailand for half the lesson, presumably because it was the first lesson back, and the other half to briefly discuss the nature of democracy and how it is observed in the UK. He was very precise in explaining the elements of democracy that most countries, including the UK, implement to their people. I think I would enjoy my Politics lessons with Mr Thompson, and to think that it was just my first lesson with him.
I really cannot be asked to socialise with Hanna and her friends right now so I will just find my way to the canteen, the only part of the tour I paid attention to because I promised my dad I would eat there and because I am legitimately starving anyway. I step out of the main building and walk towards the annex building where the canteen is situated. The breeze of the air in the courtyard is quite refreshing and it makes an elegant flow on my dress that I absolutely adore.
The canteen is packed with students. I walk on the side, following the flow of the queue of people who just entered the canteen themselves. I see the shelves of snacks so I move towards them. I grab a packet of sweet and salted popcorn -only 99 calories so that should be good-, a bottle of cold water, and a piece of banana for my potassium intake of the day. After I paid for my £2.50 tray of food, I make my way to the empty table at the end of the canteen trying to balance my tray while my bottle of water just freely rolls from left to right. I put my tray down on this light blue round table for four and pull a shiny royal blue chair under it for me to sit on. I look around to see all other tables filled with people talking to each other about their own agendas. Some of them are even sitting on top of the table to probably exhibit their coolness and desperate need for attention while a group of boys are just throwing gummy bears to each other. I guess my situation isn’t too bad. I am sitting next to a window with the view of the back garden of the school filled with lavender, yellow bells, red roses… red roses. Holy shit. I just remembered my dream again. That guy, who tried to kiss me wearing a blue shirt and black skinny jeans, and, quite literally, is the man of my dreams. He really cannot get out of my head, can he? I open the packet of popcorn and start eating each piece one by one, slightly slower than the already slow tick of the clock on top of the entrance door. After I finished the whole lot of popcorn, I peel my banana and eat it as quickly as I can. I normally have a thing of eating bananas or Kit Kats weirdly, but I thought I wouldn’t dare do it in school, especially on my first day. I then drink up my water and that should get me going for the rest of this day.
It is 10:45 and the bell rings to signal the end of break and the start of my second period for the day, Geography. I don’t mind it actually. I’m just really nervous because I’ve never, in my entire life, learned about it. All I know about Geography is climbing up mountains, measuring the wind speed, or learning about the type of soil a piece of land has. I think I would have to stop daydreaming about a dream of the man of my dreams and focus on Geography instead.
I walk up the busy hallways of the school with hundreds of teenagers rushing to their classes, finishing off their make-out sessions with their respective partners, or clumsily dropping their books from their lockers – what a cliché right?
I look up at the top of the doors to find my room for my lesson. After about eight doors along the hall, I finally sight a green painted door with a window and a sign at the top that says 29N. That should be right. It’s what my timetable says my room for Geography is. As I open the door, I can already hear the loud cheers and yells of the boys, who I always assume require and seek the most attention because of some family issues they can’t deal with at home, like their parents are going through a divorce or their respective drunk fathers beat them up. Well, everyone has issues so stop acting like you, idiots, deserve any better.
“Um, is this Geography with M.A?” I ask the lady, who is wearing a pair of glasses and a slender black suit with her hair simply tied up in a bun, standing next to the desk in front of the room.
“Oh, yes my darling. M.A. is for McAllen. I am Mrs McAllen your Geography teacher,” she tells me quite calmly like she’s expecting me to not know what the abbreviation stands for anyway. ‘I suppose you are the new student?”
“Yes. Yes I am, Mrs McAllen. It is my first day actually. I hope to learn so much from your class.” Why did I say that? It sounded so sarcastic or, even worse, like a teacher’s pet’s line!
Mrs McAllen doesn’t look too surprised of what I said. It probably didn’t come across the way I thought it did. “Quite right. Well, we do have a seating plan here, my dear. Hmm. I suppose I could sit you down between the boys, I hope you don’t mind. You see, at the moment, it is not the most ideal class. All the boys are just comparing what they have done during the holiday and see who had the least fun so they can make fun of him,” she says while she looks around the whole classroom, pointing her index finger wherever her eyes are directed to. The classroom looks full. Where will I be expected to sit here? Oh god, she wouldn’t make me get my own table and chair to sit by myself, would she? As if it isn’t bad enough to be the new kid on her first day. “Ah! Right there at the back row. Connor, move to the end of the row and let our new student here sit there on your seat. I beg your pardon my darling, what is you name?”
“Celine, Mrs McAllen.” God, I forgot to introduce myself. I really am not having the best day of my life. Why doesn’t she know my name in the first place?
“Of course. You are in the register so I should know,” she laughs awkwardly. “Well, make yourself comfortable on your seat.”
As I walk to the back row of the classroom I am thinking about what I could possibly learn from this class if it is always as excessively loud as this. Not to mention what Connor feels right now for me taking his seat. He his probably sitting with his friends, but Mrs McAllen said that there is a seating plan anyway so it perhaps isn’t too much of a big deal.
Before getting to my seat, I briefly glance around to observe the room. The walls are light peach in colour, but they are hardly noticeable because of all the posters of the types of rivers, kinds of weathers and many more Geography stuff pasted on them. All the desks have computers, perhaps a perk of taking this subject because we get to research on the Internet and not just on boring textbooks, like if I took History. I could also possibly pretend to be doing research for Geography but actually finishing off the essay due in for the next lesson with these computers in front of me.
“May I?” I ask Connor quite apologetically to move his chair and let me pass through.
“Sure, no problem,” he says. “So, you’re the new kid.”
“Yes, I certainly am,” answering him while I sit on my chair. My seat is quite comfortable, if I am being honest. It is not too soft. It is not too hard, it just gives me the perfect sense of comfort that will allow me to focus more and keep me from falling asleep in class.
“Sorry for taking your seat. I mean I could ask Mrs McAllen if you want it back.”
“Don’t be silly, it’s just a chair. What’s your name?” he asks quite curiously distracting me of my embarrassment for thinking that the seating plan was a big deal.
“C-Celine,” I stutter.
“How are you finding the school so far?” he asks me as he smiles, possibly because of my apparent nervousness.
“I’m finding it alright,” I honestly tell him. “I had a tour earlier of the school so I kind of know where things are.”
“I see. Where did you come from?” he asks me.
Shit. Celine, just say where you’re from. There is no big deal. “Umm…”
“Don’t be too nervous. Connor is just a giant wuss,” a mysterious manly voice utters.
I turn abruptly to my left to see a guy, with his chair set quite high up, sitting care-free with his long slender legs apart and arms crossed, facing the front of the room. I don’t know what to do. I forgot that I am sitting between two people when I sat down my chair. I am trying to utter any word, any word I can think of just to fill the silent space of the floating air.
“Oh shut up, you dickhead,” Connor replies. But I did not care to even understand what he’s saying so I’m not really sure to whom he is pertaining it to. Did he just call me a dickhead?
“Oh give it a rest, Connor,” the guy on my left says. “Is this your first day?” he asks me, finally facing my direction. He has a very deep and husky voice. My eyes cannot help but observe him extensively. He has blonde brownish hair, eyes with the perfect mixture of colours green and blue, jawline as perfectly formed as a slightly obtuse angle, and nose as impeccable as a professional artist would carve such nose on a sculpture. His arms are not very muscly, but you can see the effort being exerted to build them up. My body is still very stiff. It feels like it is getting even more awkward now because, not am I just staring at him quite intently but also, I have been silent for as long as I can remember.
“Are you okay? It’s like you’re in shock or something. My name is Kyle, by the way,” he tells me rather genuinely concerned about my sudden shock.
Kyle. So that’s his name. Why am I still not talking? I will have to respond at some point. Kyle. As far as I am concerned, I have never met anyone with the name ‘Kyle’. There are not even a lot of boy names that start with the letter ‘K’. Kevin, Kurt, Kenny, and I suppose Karl, but most of the time I see it spelt with a ‘C’.
“Hi, sorry, I’m Celine. I just moved here in Norwich a few weeks ago with my father,” I narrate to him unnecessarily. “Yeah, this is my first day.”
Kyle looks at me from head to toe, like he will be able to know my background by doing so. His face doesn’t give any expression or emotion at all. He looks really curious and manly at the same time. It feels like Kyle is trying to know me by just looking at me rather than talking to me and asking me questions like what normal people would ask people they just met.
“Cool,” he then simply responds.
“Everyone, textbooks are two students for one as always. Open it to page 26,” Mrs McAllen orders, releasing me from my intense and cannot-be-explained… daydream, perhaps. I know that I am supposed to share with Connor, as we are the first two people in my row. So when there is an extra textbook at the end of the table, I pass it along to Kyle thinking he would also pass the book along the row, but he keeps it for himself. A part of me is expecting him to ask me to share with him instead of Connor. I don’t have any problems with Connor. I mean I just met the guy for heaven’s sake. I don’t know. I just thought Kyle would ask me.
“Are you friends with him?” I couldn’t help but ask Connor about Kyle.
“Yeah, that troll is unfortunately my friend. He is the captain of the school’s football team and I am part of the team as well. You would expect him to have been with tons of girls, but Kyle is a virgin,” Connor whispers to me jokingly.
I didn’t really need to know that, Connor. I suppose he is saving himself for ‘the one’. Oh, the liberated side of me hopes that I am ‘the one’ he is waiting for. For god’s sake, Celine, stop! You already have ‘the one’ for you, the guy in the blue shirt in your dream, so stop fantasising about a guy you just barely met.
I force a smile to address what Connor told me.
“I’m just kidding you, Celine,” he says. “I don’t know, actually. He wouldn’t talk about any girls he has been with or any of his past relationships, if he had any.”
“Haven’t you seen him with someone?” I ask him quietly, making sure Kyle won’t hear us. “Surely he has. I mean, he is the football team leader like you said.”
“Nah, I haven’t seen him with anyone since he started school here. He only moved to this school two years ago,” he tells me.
Well that’s odd. Most male teenagers in his position would immediately grab the opportunity to be with loads of girls. I suppose he is different than most men, which is much better for me.
“Okay, class. Don’t forget to read pages 30 to 33 for our next lesson,” Mrs McAllen tells the whole class as the bell rings again. Kyle stands up and says goodbye to all his friends. I’m guessing he is one of the popular kids. That would explain his blunt personality and his not-so-welcoming greetings to me. But he doesn’t act like someone who is perceived as cool or popular. Kyle isn’t rude either. I want to understand him, but I can’t get through his mind. I am normally good at assessing people by their behaviours and coming up with a close-to-accurate conclusion about them; that’s why I chose to take Psychology as one of my subjects as well. Perhaps I should give it more time. I mean we hardly conversed during the duration of Mrs McAllen’s Geography class today. It is unlikely that Kyle would even want to talk to me again, anyway. Following my awkward minutes of silence, I wouldn’t count on it.
“See you in PE, yeah?” Kyle tells Connor as he starts his way out of the class. “Hope you fit in, Celine.”
Just as I thought he would ignore me completely for being incredibly uncanny, he gives me that unexpected yet much needed greetings. Why do I feel so affected of him? I just met this guy for god’s sake! Connor gave me more warmth than Kyle did so it should be Connor that I am thinking about, and not him. I don’t even know what I feel about him, really. I am just one silly girl who dreams about finding the perfect man on the first day in her new school. I cannot stress my insanity even more.
“How did you find your first geography lesson, Celine?’ Mrs McAllen asks me just right when I was about to leave the room. I was actually trying to hide in the bunch of people getting out of the classroom knowing that Mrs McAllen may want to see me.
“It was good. I have never encountered Geography until today so it is pretty new to me,” I said forcefully confident hoping that it could conceal the fact that during her whole lesson I was thinking of the mysterious guy sitting on my left. Kyle really is someone to be reckoned with.
“Well, I am here to help. If you need anything just tell me and I will do my best to help you. Now go to your next lesson before the bell rings again. You wouldn’t want to get a detention on your first day, would you?” Mrs McAllen wittingly warns.
I make my way to my next class, walking through another episode of the paranoid students brisk walking or running along the hallway to get to their classes. I just have two more lessons left for today, and I sincerely wish that they would simply be the normal boring lessons a teenager would usually complain about and not the kind of horror I had in Geography.