Kat gently caressed the leather-bound album, finding comfort in the rough texture of the material. The girl picked up the book and held it close to her chest, taking in the scent of the one that she had loved the most.

"This is one of the few things that I have left of her," she whispered softly to herself.
Kat took the book and randomly flipped to one of its pages. One of Kat's favorite pictures of herself, which was taken last winter, gazed vaguely into the distance. Kat remembered the event as though it was yesterday.

"Class dismissed!" Mr. Kent ordered in that gruff voice of his. "Out!"

The four friends: Kat, Naomi, Darell, and Paige, along with the rest of the class were literally shoved out of the classroom.

"I can't believe that I can't go to Naomi's sleepover because we have to go to some random person's birthday party," Kat thought in annoyance, winding one of her thick chocolate-colored curls around her finger and popping it into her mouth, as she usually did when she was deep in thought.

Kat smiled wryly at the stupid little things that she used to get mad at. She would give anything to be at that birthday party now.

A blinding flash brought her sharply back down to earth. Kat blinked rapidly, trying to regain her sight. Eventually, the objects in front of her stopped looking like blobs of color. She scanned the surrounding area, trying to figure out what, or who, had caused that flash. Her eyes rested on Darell, who was smiling sheepishly, and she understood. "Darell!" she exclaimed in exasperation. "I'm sorry," he apologized, pulling his old, outdated camera out from behind his back, "You just looked so cute like that." Kat walked over to him and playfully ruffled his blond-streaked honey brown hair.

"Kitty darling, would you hurry up, breakfast is getting cold," Megan called from downstairs, "You wouldn't want to be late for your first day of school do you?"

"Yes Megan, of course not," she shrugged, walking over to her new closet. Kat pulled open the closet and took a look inside. Almost immediately, she let out a moan of disgust. All of the clothes were just not her. The blouses were both deep and short and all of the bottoms were either mini mini skirts, or very short shorts. To put it simply, they were just plain slutty.

Kat let out a sigh, and began to walk over to her new bed. She stooped over, pulled out a small suitcase, and began to dig through it. Kat shoved aside a velvet top and a satiny skirt, but eventually found what she had been looking for. The teen gently pulled the thick turtleneck top out of her suitcase, and rubbed the soft blue fabric against her face. Kat then set the sweater at the head of her bed and began digging through the suitcase once more. Within a couple of seconds she pulled out a pair of well-worn jeans and set it next to her sweater.

Kat surveyed the outfit, finding it perfect for her old school, but she couldn't say the same for her new one. Kat tugged the sweater over her head and pulled her pants on.

"A bit snug," she noted, "but they'll have to do. I wonder if Megan will let me exchange some of those clothes, if you could call them that, for a couple pairs of jeans." Kat spun around to look at herself in the mirror of her dresser. Her gaze traveled to the cat that was embroidered above her name on the sweater, and her hazel-brown filled with tears, threatening to overflow.

"Katrina!" Megan called once more.

"Coming," Kat replied, her voice empty of the emotion she felt. Kat took a corner of her shirtsleeve and dabbed at her eyes. She took her bottle of zero-frizz, sprayed it onto her hair, and quickly ran her brush through it a couple of times. Kat then walked out of her room and sprinted down the stairs, her feet barely touching the steps. She crossed the living room quietly and entered the kitchen.

"Uh Megan?" Kat asked, " Where…"

"Your plate is on the counter, and the syrup and butter are over there," Megan said, gesturing toward the table with the spatula that she was using.

Kat picked up her plate, drenched her pancakes in syrup, plopped a dollop of butter on top, and began to eat.

"Uggh! What are you wearing?" Stacie questioned, "I didn't buy any of those for you." Kat turned to glance at Stacie, and sure enough her clothes were very similar to those that her closet was filled with.

"No wonder they looked so bad," Kat thought in displeasure.

"Now Stacie," Megan reprimanded, "Be nice to your sister. Stacie rolled her eyes and muttered something unintelligible under her breath, but didn't say any more to Kat.

"Kat, eat quickly, you don't have much time left before you have to go," Megan urged.

"I'm done," Kat stated, getting up and pushing her plate with more than a pancake and a half on it.

"You have enough time to finish eating," Megan informed her, after glancing at her almost full plate.

"I'm not hungry," declared Kat. Megan nodded, acting like she understood, but Kat knew otherwise.

"Oh I almost forgot. Here is your schedule, and a map of the school. And there was a letter for you in the mail this morning, do you want it now?"

"Yes please," Kat asked politely, taking the bulky envelope that Megan handed her and shoving it into her backpack.

"Well then, both of you should go," Megan urged, "Stace, you can take my car. Both of you will fit in that."

"Mom! I can't …"

"Stacie," Megan pleaded, with a tone of warning in her voice. Stacie grudgingly stomped out of the house. Kat slung her backpack over her shoulder and followed close behind. She walked over to the metallic blue Toyota, which was sitting in the driveway, and got into the passenger seat. Stacie glanced over at Kat and sulkily started the car. Kat sat there in silence, slowly pulling the envelope from her backpack. She glanced at the return address and almost jumped for joy.

"Naomi Nuella," Kat read softly. "Naomi! Nam-Nam!" she breathed joyously.

"Kitty?" Stacie asked, her voice overflowing with feigned kindness, "Would you get off here and not tell Mom, please?"

At first Kat wanted to do nothing other than say no, just for the sake of annoying her, but then realized that hanging around with Stacie would hurt her image just as much as it would hurt Stacie's.

Kat complied, and stepped out of the car, watching it speed off into the distance. She glanced in the direction that the car had disappeared, and noticed a small flag, way off into the distance. Kat began to walk towards the school's flag. As she got closer to it, more and more of the school came into view. Kat continued to walk at a steady pace until a bell rang somewhere in the distance.

"Damn!" Kat cursed, picking up her feet and braking into a run. While she ran, her backpack began to slip off her shoulder. The teen pushed it back up as she was running, but it continued to fall. She stopped for a second, shoved her other hand into the other strap as well, and continued on.

In a minute or so, Kat was standing in front of Keystone High. She barged through the double doors at the front of the school, and took a look at her schedule and map. Kat had English first period in room 27, which was conveniently positioned two doors to the right of Kat. She rushed into the room and walked up to the teacher, who looked like the grandmotherly type. Not the kind that were fun to be around, but the kind that would knit all day and always be complaining that they had back pains or something.

"I'm the new student," Kat stated.

"Oh yes," the teacher began, shuffling through papers, "You're Katrina? I'm Mrs. Muffet." Kat had to hold back a smile.

"Why don't you sit over there?" she urged, gesturing to an empty desk. Kat agreed, trying to make a good impression. She relaxed in her chair, and slit the envelope open with her long fingernails, which were painted a pale shimmery gold. Kat delicately plucked the letter out of its envelope and unfolded it.

Dear Kitty-Kat.
Get on instant messenger or give me a call the minute you get home from school. We need to talk.
Love,
Naomi

Kat frowned, "What kind of letter was that? And what was so urgent?" A loud bell rang through the school, and Kat jumped, startled.

"Good morning class," Mrs. Muffet greeted. The class muttered half-hearted replies.

"Good morning class!" she repeated, wanting a response.

"Good morning Mrs. Muffet," most of them replied dully, Kat chose not to say anything.

"Today we will be learning how to use prepositions to make your sentence structure……" Kat glanced around the classroom and noticed that more than half of the class used first period as a nap time, and the teacher didn't seem to care either. She relaxed in her chair, ignoring the ramblings of her teacher, and eased a picture out of the envelope.

There was a girl in the picture had straight auburn hair that went a little past her shoulder, and hazel eyes. She looked like she came from Dixon High, where Kat used to go to school and where Darell, Paige, and Naomi went. She wore the school uniform, which was a knee-length black skirt and a maroon sweater. Kat curiously turned over the photo to read what Naomi had written about this girl.
Name: Cherise Aston Height: 5ft 7in Age: 16 Nationality: French Grade: 10th GPA: 3.50 Elective: Art II Foreign Language: Spanish III Kat smiled; whenever Naomi researched anything, whether it was a tree, place, or person, she always did it very thoroughly. This girl had the same elective as Kat had and took the same language as Darrell.

"But what does she have to do with anything?" Kat wondered, taking the other picture out of the envelope. She looked at the picture, blinked a couple of times, and looked at it again, not believing her eyes.

The girl in the other picture, Cherie or whatever her name was, was sitting on a bench with her hand on Darrell's shoulder, and Darrell's hand around her waist.

"Maybe they're just friends." Kat thought, trying to reassure herself," Yes, just a friend that I didn't know about till know. Maybe Naomi saw them talking and assumed that they were more than just friends." Then, half wanting to, half not wanting to, she turned over the picture to read what Naomi had wrote. But alas! Woe betide her! Naomi had not written anything at all.

"Well it doesn't really matter does it?" she asked herself, "Even Nam-Nam would have a hard time researching nothing, because there is nothing going on between those two." "Nothing at all," Kat whispered, still trying to reassure herself, but finding it very hard.

"Homework for today," Mrs. Muffet began, cutting into her thoughts, "Read the first twenty pages of Hamlet. Class dismissed."

Kat shoved the letter and pictures into her bag, not caring that the pictures got slightly crumpled, and headed out the door. She took another look at her schedule, and began to walk towards her next class, room 32. She crossed the room, and walked over to her new math teacher's desk.

"You're Katrina?" he asked, more of a statement than a question, "Mr. Harrington." Kat nodded anyway.
"Choose any seat you like. I don't have seating arrangements in my classes." He urged, gesturing toward the rows of desks. Kat stood there, unsure of where to sit. If she sat in the front she would look as though she was very eager to learn, and though this would look good in front of the teacher, it would look bad in front of the rest of the class. If she sat in the very back she would look very uninterested, and look bad in front of the teacher.

As the other students started filing in, Kat quickly decided on a seat near the middle, and sat down. By the time the bell rang there were only two empty seats; one on each side of Kat.

"Class get out a…" Mr. Harrington began, stopping almost immediately when the door to his classroom flew open. A tall boy, maybe six feet or so, walked over to the teacher's desk.

"Well, Duane," he said, his voice filled with disdain, " you can't just barge into my class late. Not without a pass anyway. You will receive a detention…"

Duane, completely ignoring what Mr. Harrington was saying, coolly dropped a pass onto his desk and slid into the empty seat on the right of Kat.

"Duane," Kat whispered softly, letting the name roll off her tongue.