"Long, Long Way From Home" by Foreigner
A/N: This is story is now officially off hiatus! If you have read this story in the past, PLEASE go back and re-read it! I have edited each chapter and changed some crucial information. Thanks, and enjoy!
This chapter is a lot of filler and set-up, so I hope you still enjoy it but also look forward to more interesting chapters in the future.
Christmas came and went, and now my presents sat untouched in one of the many bags and boxes I managed to stuff inside the car. The holiday itself was ruined by the dread of attending this boarding school, this hell I would have to suffer through for the next few months.
Mark had been surprisingly quiet and out of sight on the holiday, which led me to believe he was gloating in secret about our upcoming departure, or already working on the wedding plans. Smug bastard.
I went through my room quietly the night before we were to leave, and packed one last box. Anything that I couldn't take with me to school but didn't want to leave unprotected in this house during my absence, such as old snowboards and trophies, went into the pile. Then, I moved it all to the garage and taped a note on the top of it, addressed to the twins, the contents of which went something like me begging them to keep my stuff for me while I was away. I tried not to let myself cry over any sentimental attachments to anything, but it was so hard leaving all of my things when Mark or my mother could throw them out.
On the day of the move, I made a conscious effort to ignore Mark completely and cut off my mother's small talk as the four of us crammed ourselves into the car. My iPod earbuds were firmly planted into my ears, and I spent the entire 5 hour drive texting Nate and Xander and complaining about the ridiculous outfit my mother forced me into for "good impressions".
By the time we actually arrived at Canterbury, the cruel and unfortunate events I'd suffered through fueled enough anger in me that I was ready to raise hell.
I tugged at the collar of my white blouse my mother forced me to wear, trying not to suffocate from the stifling heat of the small, cramped admissions office. We hadn't even set foot on the actual campus of Canterbury and I already hated the place.
"Walk a bit faster, sweetie," my mother cooed. Hayden said nothing, but gave Mark a reproachful look when the alumnae turned away to admire the building.
I turned around to give my mother a death glare and almost fell flat on my face. Damn high heels.
"I would walk much faster if I weren't wearing these... stupid shoes." I hissed, though I doubt she really heard me.
At that exact moment, a middle aged woman with her gray hair pulled back in a bun and lips pursed in a thin line stepped out of an office door and immediately locked her hawk eyes onto mine. I wanted to shudder at the mere sight of her.
And, if the look she was giving me was anything to judge by, I would say she wasn't too excited to see me either.
"This is Mr. and Miss Baker, I presume?"
"Yes, these are my children," my mother declared. I was surprised she'd even be willing to claim us, but I had worse things on my mind than a mother's affections.
"Follow me then," the hawk lady cawed, "Miss Baker, you first please."
I vaguely tossed the idea around of saying no to the creepy hawk lady, but figured she'd sink her talons into me and turn me into lunch, so I kept quiet. Her clogs clunked awkwardly against the polished tile of the hallway, and I followed her into a small office, where she gestured for me to sit down. I slumped down into the nearest squishy blue armchair and kept my eyes trained on my fingernails, finding even the dirt beneath my nails more fascinating than hawk lady.
How did my mother and Mark get to miss out on this meeting? Why was I the first one in the office and not Hayden? This sucked...
"Well, Miss Baker," she began, fingering through a plain manila envelope which I assumed was my transcript from St. Andrew's, "it is unusual that we take in students just after mid-terms, but we will deal with any problems accordingly. Let's organize your classes first."
"Okay," I replied meekly.
She handed me a thick packet with lots of colorful tabs on the sides. Idly, I brushed my fingers across the tabs over and over in nervous habit. My eyes glazed over the immensely long list of offered classes. This was going to be a little more complicated than I'd originally thought.
"Now, there are certain classes you must take here at Canterbury. As a junior, you are required to attend a class in every core subject, as well as one elective..."
Damn... electives? I vaguely wondered if P.E. would count as an elective.
"... Let's start with English. This year at your previous school you took American Lit, correct?"
"Um... yes ma'am."
There were no visible signs that she heard my reply, and I decided not to answer any more of her questions unless she peered at me with those creepy eyes again.
"Here, we offer a generic English 11 class that covers both American and British literature, so you will simply be required to take that. You will continue Math with Pre-Calculus. There is both an advanced and a regular track for Pre-Cal, but looking here at your grades, I'd say we put you in the regular class."
Well, judging me purely by numbers and letters now, woman? I sat seething in the stupid blue chair, hoping I could just keep my mouth shut for the next hour and end this painful interrogation as quickly as possible.
"Not enrolled in any History classes this year, Miss Baker? Tut, tut. You can join the majority of your peers then in European History, unless you would like to take an elective this second semester and then take European next year. We offer electives on Asian Studies, the Industrial Era, America in the 60's, and the Civil War."
"European History is fine, thanks." I cut her off short, hoping that I didn't sound too bitter or resentful about this. Her cold eyes stared me down, pausing for a moment before continuing her spiel.
"Well, then. The rest of your classes don't seem too bad. You will continue in Chemistry here for your Science credit, and continue French III for a language credit. Now, each student here at Canterbury is required to be enrolled in at least one elective. You can fulfill your elective credit with an art, music, or theater class, all of which are one semester long. There are also specific academic classes that offer electives like History. English also offers a few electives, such as Russian Lit, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and a Language and Composition class."
Blinking a couple of times, I tried to digest all of that information. Which one was I supposed to take? Was I supposed to choose a history one, or maybe an art elective? If I chose the wrong one, would I be shunned by all the students and faculty? I was going to get a headache soon.
"Umm... are there any P.E. electives?" I let the question out of my mouth before I realized what I'd said. Hawk lady gave me a funny look and I immediately sunk lower into the chair.
Oh god, she was going to come at me and attack me!
"No. The students here have already fulfilled their two physical education requirements in their freshman and sophomore years. You'll have to choose from the list I gave you, which is printed on page 8 in the packet you're holding."
Oh yeah, the packet. I quickly fingered through the pretty colored tabs and found what she'd been reading from. Sheepishly, I scanned through the list once more, trying to figure out what to pick. Nothing really seemed that interesting, so I decided to choose the most random and fascinating sounding one on the list.
"Um, well, I guess Russian Lit sounds kinda cool..." I mumbled, half hoping she would tell me that I didn't need such a prestigious elective in English and that maybe I could get away with something easier like gym with the underclassmen.
"Perfect." she replied. Damn.
"So... is that it?" I ventured. After all, those were all the classes. It just wouldn't be fair if she were to pull one on me and tell me I also had to turn in a certain number of community service hours every month like I had to do at St. Andrew's.
"That is all pertaining to your academic schedule."
Oh no – community service, here I come. I closed my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose between two fingers, and then looking up at the hawk lady to await my certain doom.
"Well, at Canterbury there is also an athletic requirement that states each student must participate in two seasons of sports here at school..."
I perked up. Athletic requirement? That sounded awesome! Maybe they had a boarding team and I could actually see the slopes again!
"... In the spring, you will be able to choose whatever varsity sport you wish to try out for, or take one of our weight training or dance classes as an alternative. Unfortunately for you, we have already begun our winter sports season. All of the teams have already held try outs and some have even had their first games or meets. The only sport that can accommodate you is our track team, where we have a few slots open for distance running."
What? Running? No way... I was always the one laughing at the runners on the side of the street, joking that they only ran because no other sport would take them in. This was just ridiculous!
But how to word this predicament without the evil hawk lady biting my head off...
"Well, um... I am a very high snowboarding competitor back in Colorado where I board weekly, have competitions about once a month, meet with my personal trainer for specific workouts, and am currently training to be an instructor at Mountainside Valley. Can I count that as a winter credit?"
Hawk lady sighed.
"No, I'm afraid you cannot count that. Waivers for out of school athletic participation during the winter season were due way back in November."
"But.. but, surely I can get a late waiver in! I mean, I'm getting in all of my classes now, so why can't I get a waiver now?"
"Second semester classes have not started yet for any student attending here. However, our students have already been participating in winter athletics for about two months. I'm afraid it is not the same situation. And, since you did not participate on any school athletic teams for St. Andrew's, I have no other choice but to enroll you in winter track."
I was being forced to run distance for winter track instead of training for the next winter Olympics. How much lower would I be reduced by this school? Come next snowboarding season, I'll be so out of practice that I'll have to take snowboarding lessons from Dan again...
"But... I can't run just to run! That's insane!" I blurted, but soon sunk back into my chair when those hawk eyes flashed warningly at me.
"I am here to dictate the school's requirements, not to sit here and argue with you, Miss Baker! Now, our meeting here is adjourned. In that packet you're holding, you will find your dorm room number, a campus map, school rules and regulations, and a number of other papers you will need to sign and return to me tomorrow morning here in my office. I will give you an official copy of your schedule when I see you tomorrow. Here is the key to your dorm – do not lose it because we do not have extras. Are there any further questions?" she concluded, pressing a small gold key into my outstretched palm.
I shook my head, biting my tongue to keep myself from yelling about the sports requirement any more. Fucking boarding school won't even let me snowboard. I mean, come on – winter track? What the hell?
"No, no questions." I responded curtly.
"Then send your brother in."
When I exited the office, I said absolutely nothing to my inquiring mother, but turned and looked at my sullen brother who appeared just as excited to be here as I was.
"Hayden, you're up."
Nodding, he stood up and entered the office. I sat down in his former chair and prayed that there was some way I could get off the hook for this winter sports credit. The millions of plans weaving around in my mind almost made me dizzy.
Campus was... well, nice. If I hadn't sworn so early on that I would hate this school forever, then I'd probably be grinning. Despite being surrounded by flat snow-less grounds for miles, the lawns were plush and green. There was no desert, to my great relief.
Dare I say I could actually enjoy staying here?
It seemed to be a fairly old and prestigious school since each building was made of worn red brick and decorated by a large amount of ivy growth. There was something charming about the place. Each room I'd been in was large and spacious, with creamy white walls, glittering chandeliers, large windows, and high ceilings.
Mother went raving on about the splendor of the school, and for once I didn't roll my eyes or grit my teeth. Begrudgingly, I had to agree with her.
Shit, this place was nicer than some of the colleges I'd toured with Hayden.
I got to tour almost every academic building and even went out to the athletic fields (and track...) for a bit. Our guide left us at Thorn Hall, the upperclassmen dorm building that both Hayden and I would be staying at. The coed dorms had a wing on each side, the left for girls and the right for guys, and in the center was a commons area with a bunch of couches and a television set.
Mother followed me to the left wing while Mark accompanied Hayden to the right wing, and I braced myself for the final step of this day – moving in.
Never have I seen a more intimidating sight than the off-white door in front of me, the big gold number 214 gleaming at me mockingly. Even The Whistler, the most advanced and dangerous double black diamond at Mountainside Valley, would have been a more welcoming sight than...
My dorm room.
The small and foreign room I would have to share with a girl I'd never met before. Someone by the name of... I flipped through the packet Mrs. Hawk Lady had given me earlier and saw a name printed on the page: Alison (Ali) Reeves – roommate.
Okay, so there was nothing harmful about her yet. I just needed to relax and get through with this. At least the students were still on Christmas break so I could move in without any difficulties.
Slowly, I stuck my hand into my jeans pocket, fishing around for that tiny key, trying to prolong this moment as long as possible. I took a deep breath, stretched out arm and key towards the lock, when suddenly the door slammed wide open.
Gasping in surprise, I jumped back a few inches and tried to ease my nerves.
Standing in the door frame now was a petite, pale girl smacking on a piece of gum. Her sleek raven hair had an assortment of yellow and pink colored streaks and came down to her mid back. She was dressed in a pair of gray sweatpants with 'Canterbury' printed in burgundy letters on the left leg, and wore a black Phantom of the Opera t-shirt. I met her gaze and she stared up at me with a pair of curious honey eyes.
"Oh. Hey," she said casually, "I was wondering when you'd get here. I'm Ali."
For a moment I just stared at her wordlessly.
"Erm.. hi. Leslie Baker." I finally replied, shaking slightly from the sudden appearance of this girl. My nerves were more than a little shot.
She flashed another smile at me.
"Nice to finally meet you. When they told me I was getting a roommate, I was surprised, you know, 'cause it's in the middle of the year and all, but I'm excited. Come on in, and I'll help you get situated if you want."
I turned to look back at my mother, who had stayed oddly quiet until now. She smiled at me, and gave me a maternal kiss on the forehead, which, needless to say, surprised me.
"Have fun. Call me later this week, honey, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, bye mom." I shrugged her off, stooping down to grab one of my suitcases and then walked into the room I would be trapped in for the next five months.