Itake a deep breath and shoulder my backpack. My ears perk up and listen for the familiar clink of the metal pins attached to my bag, but I don’t hear anything besides the sound of feet shuffling in the hallways and friends greeting each other. The pins aren’t there anymore, not after I took them off this summer. I tug at my shirt, a lace crew neck with a tank top, and sigh. It isn’t as comfortable as the t-shirts that I used to wear that had graphics and slogans from books and movies on them, but I’ll do anything to erase my former self from my mind.
I finally gather my courage and push the classroom door open, revealing a classroom bustling with the first day of school excitement. My eyes scan the room, looking for a familiar face, but of course I don’t recognize anyone. After the reputation | built myself last year at my old school, it’s nice not to recognize anyone. The beginning of a new school year symbolizes a fresh start, but the chance that this year could be a replay of Freshman year lingers in the back of my mind. As I look around the classroom, I take in small details.
Science posters with cheesy puns line the walls, such as “Think like a proton and stay positive! and “Don’t trust atoms; They make up everything. ” A few of the desks are broken and a fan squeaks overhead. Aston Public High School isn’t as nice as my old school, but I can bet on my reputation from the last few years not following me here. Then I see her. Her head is turned away from me, but it’s only a matter of time before she turns. Scenes flash through my mind, replaying the last time we saw each other. This cannot be happening. I slip into a desk a few rows behind her, hoping I’m in her blind spot. No such luck. It’s not like she’ll recognize me, I think as she turns around.
I look different than I did from over the summer. I’ve died my hair back to its natural color, brown, to take out the blue highlights and have traded the thick glasses that once encircled my bright green eyes for contacts. She studies me for a moment before turning back around. But | know that she sees me even under my changes to my appearance. I can see her lips turn into a crude smile as she whispers to a friend beside her. I’m about to slip into a seat farther away from her when the teacher claps her hands, calling for silence. “Good morning, class, and welcome to your sophomore year.
I’m your science teacher, Ms. Gale. I’m going to start assigning seats, so please sit in the seat l assign you to when your name is called,” the teacher says, holding a list with my class’s names written neatly in cursive. Her wispy copper hair is long and runs down her back and she wears clothes with a hippie sort of edge, which is exactly what you would expect to see at Aston Public High School. Ms. Gale starts to call out names and people move around the classroom. “Amber Chase,” she says, and points to a desk near the edge of the room.
I place my books down and start to settle in, but freeze when she calls the next name on the list. Drew Colton, you’re right beside Miss Chase. ” Drew’s eyes narrow and a smile plays on her lips as she strides toward me. Her black hair sways side to side, making her presence even more menacing. She sits in the seat left of mine and starts to unpack her backpack. “I thought that was you, Chase,” she leans in and snickers. “Or should I call you I call you Geek Girl? No matter how much you try to change your appearance, you’ll still be known as Geek Girl at summer camp. ”
“Yeah, it’s me,” I say weakly. I can feel my face burning up. Drew leans in even closer. You know, camp gossip lasts all year long. Alll have to do is post a message about you online and all of Camp Evergreen will know of all the fun we’ll have here. ” I try to think of a snappy reply, but Ms. Gale claps her hands together and starts the typical first day of school speech. “I hope we’ll all work together to make this a fun school year for all of us,” she says. “So much fun,” Drew purrs. Ms. Gale drones on some more, but only one thing spins through my head as I sit in my seat, Drew staring at me like I’m her prey. Maybe being the fake me isn’t much better than the real me.