"Come along, then," Ms. Vanders said as she led me from the office.
I followed her out of the building and across the wide open campus. Students were milling about the courtyard that was surrounded by the school buildings and dorms, greeting each other after a summer away. Some of them watched me curiously as we followed the path toward the girls' dorms. I was careful not to make eye contact with any of them.
We soon reached one of the buildings and she opened the door, allowing me to enter first. After passing through the second set of doors I was overwhelmed by the chaos that was going on. Girls were running around the hallway, chattering loudly. I hoped this wasn't how it always was—I might just go crazy.
The first door on the right was open. Ms. Vanders went into the room and came out with an older woman. She reminded me of my grandmother. "Hello, dear," she said cheerfully. "You must be Sierra. I'm Lydia Baker but most of the girls around here call me Nana. I'm in charge of the Anderson Dorms."
"Um…nice to meet you," I said curtly, trying to at least be polite.
"As you can see, it gets a little hectic around here, especially in the first couple days," she said, gesturing to the chaos around us. "Luckily for you the senior floor is much calmer."
I was a bit relieved to here that, but not much.
"Well, Clarice, I'm sure you've got plenty to do," she said, turning to Ms. Vanders. "I can show Sierra to her room."
Ms. Vanders gave a sharp nod and strode out the door without a word.
Ms. Baker chuckled. "I hope she didn't give you the wrong impression. That woman could scare the fleas off a dog if she tried. Ah well, come with me, I'll introduce you to your roommate," she said, leading me to the stairs. "The floors a separated by class, freshmen on the first floor, sophomores on the second floor, juniors on the third floor and seniors on the top floor. You're lucky, though; your class is rather small so the extra dorms on your floor have been renovated into rec-rooms of sorts."
I listened to her babble on, only partly listening to what she was saying. All I knew was that a small class size would just make it harder for me to go unnoticed. I would just have to get over it.
We eventually reached the top floor. The hallway was much less hectic than it was on the first floor. Only a few girls were out of their rooms and they weren't running around like crazy. They were just talking until they noticed Ms. Baker and I. I felt my cheeks get hot from embarrassment as they watched us walk past. "Hello, Nana," they said cheerfully.
We continued down the hallway, eventually stopping at the last room. The door was open so we walked. My luggage had already been brought up and was sitting on my bed that was against the wall. The other bed was already made, as was the rest of that side of the room. A red haired girl turned around when we walked in, hers eyes lighting up when she saw us.
"Oh, you must be Sierra!" she said, with a little to much excitement. "I'm so glad to finally meet you. Everyone was telling me they found out who their roommate was and I was getting a little depressed because I thought I was going to be the one without someone to room with this year, but then I found out you were coming this year and I was so excited to be the one to show you around all the stuff they don't show you on the tour," she continued, grinning, not pausing to take a breath.
Oh God, if you just kill me now I'll never do another bad thing for the rest of my life, I thought to myself.
Ms. Baker chuckled. "Sierra, this is Melody Kendall. I can't think of anyone that would be a better roommate for you. Well, I'll leave you two alone to get acquainted," she said before backing out of the room.
I stood hesitantly near the doorway. "Well, come on, silly, unpack your stuff. I may be a little quirky, but I swear I don't bite," Melody said, giggling slightly as she continued pinning things up on her cork board.
"Right…" I said tentatively, walking over to my bed and putting my purse on the night stand before opening one of the bags.
"With you here, that gives our class an even number, so everyone gets a roommate this year. Unfortunately that doesn't change the fact that there's about ten more of us than there are guys, not that you'll have a problem. You're so pretty."
"Um…thanks," I replied, not looking at her as I pulled my green and purple polka dotted sheets from one of the bags and proceeded to put them on the bed.
"Transferring senior year, that's got to be tough," she continued. "Where'd you go before you came here? Why'd you change schools so late? It's got to suck to move away from your friends."
My God, does this girl have an off button? I thought. "Andover High," I said, not going into details as I continued fussing with my bed sheets.
I heard her gasp. "That's a school for boring old jejumes. That's why you're here. You didn't know you were gifted. I don't know what I'd do if I was stuck in a jejume school all my life. How boring would that be? Everyone exactly the same as everyone else, I wouldn't be able to stand it!"
I wasn't sure what she meant by jejume, but I was a little shocked by how she described the way normal people acted. She obviously had no idea what she was talking about. No one was exactly the same as anybody else at Andover. If they were, we'd all have been Nikki Parker, top of the food chain. Believe me, many girls had tried and failed to be like her, spending the rest of the year several levels lower on the social scale. I turned around to tell her off, only to find that she'd completely changed, at least her hair anyway. It wasn't a red mess of curls anymore; instead, it was the same color black as mine. I fell back on the bed in surprise. "What the…?"
She looked at me curiously. "Something wrong?"
"Your…your hair," I said, pointing.
She laughed. "Oh, that! Of course you wouldn't know, being around jejumes all your life, poor thing. I'm a shape-shifter, only human shapes unfortunately, but it's enough to give people a run for their money. Runs in my family. Both my parents are shape-shifters to so it's only natural that I took after them. What about you? What's your talent?" she asked, looking at me expectantly.
I hesitated, waiting for what she'd said to be processed in my head. She talked so fast, it was almost impossible to keep up. As I was opening my mouth to reply, we were interrupted by three girls standing in the doorway. "Dear God, Melody, give the girl a break!" one of them said laughing as they stepped inside. She looked over at me, jerking her thumb at Melody. "She's harmless, but she talks too much, even when she's asleep. Take the advice of someone who's roomed with her before: a pillow will do wonders."
"Um…thanks, I guess?"
"Aw, come on, Laura," Melody said, laughing, "I'm not that bad, am I?"
"Yes, dear. Yes, you are," Laura replied, putting a comforting hand on Melody's shoulder. She turned back to me. "So, I'm Laura Robinson and this is Rachel Kepler and Karissa Clement. Rachel and I are in the room next door, Karissa's across the hall a few rooms down."
"Yeah, a few rooms down and stuck with Alice. Not exactly the best way to start the year," Karissa said, rolling her eyes.
Rachel put her arm around Karissa's shoulders. "Like we've told you before, if you can't deal with her, we can easily fit three in our room."
"You're stuck with Alice?" Melody grimaced. "Freshman year she really wasn't that bad when I roomed with her. It was uncomfortably quiet some times and she didn't talk to me much, but she wasn't mean or anything."
"Yeah, well, times change," Karissa replied. "She hasn't said a word to me the entire hour I spent in there with her."
"Oh, Karissa, you know she never says anything to anybody," Rachel said, grinning slightly.
The other three laughed at was clearly an inside joke. I was completely lost. Whoever this Alice girl was, she sounded like she might be the kind of person I could tolerate rooming with for a year. I wonder if she'd be willing to switch.
I mostly tuned out of the conversation as I continued unpacking. Clearly this was catch-up gossip about people I didn't know. There was no point in listening.
"So, what's your name?" Laura asked, losing interest in the conversation.
"Sierra Anglowski," I replied not looking over at them as I started putting things in the drawer of the nightstand.
"You'll never guess why she transferred and where she transferred from!" Melody chimed in. "She's been going to Andover."
I felt all eyes in the room turn on me. "Isn't that the jejume school over in Marshfield that we pranked last year during their homecoming and everyone thought it was the other school that did it?" Laura asked.
I turned around, dropping what I had been holding into the drawer. "You were the ones who saran wrapped all the cars in the parking lot and hung our mascot from the top of the tree?"
"Technically, no. Jeremy did the saran wrapping since we wouldn't have been able to do it fast enough before school got out and Carter was the only one who could get that thing up that high. We did go along for support, though, and we teepeed the trees just for the heck of it. You didn't honestly think some jejumes would be able to pull something off like that, did you?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
Honestly, I probably could've figured it out, but we were playing Carlson, our biggest rival in the conference. In the heat of the upcoming game, we'd all just assumed it was a stunt to psych us out. Didn't work, though. We just pummeled them into the ground.
"Do you have any idea how long we were stuck at school after that?" I asked, a little ticked and not liking her too much at this point.
Laura shrugged. "No idea, but it probably would've been entertaining to watch the chaos set in after school got out. Oh well, look at it this way: now, you won't be on the receiving end anymore. I'm sure you could help us come up with something better this year."
"Right," I said, turning back to unpacking.
"Anyway…" Laura continued. "We were going to head over to the plaza to meet up with some of the guys. Interested in joining us?"
"Yeah, of course!" Melody said excitedly. "Is Brad going to be there?"
"Then I am so there!" She looked over at me. "You should come too. I'm sure they'd love to meet you before the start of school festivities start."
I shook my head. "I've got unpacking to do."
"Yep, you can tell she's been at a jejume school her whole life," Rachel commented. "Doesn't know a good time when she hears about it."
"Hey, come on, be nice," Melody said, sticking up for me. "Let her stay if she wants, we'll just be sure to drag her with to the bonfire and it'll all be good."
"Yeah, we should get going," Karissa said.
"Alright then, let's go," Laura said. "See you around, Sierra," she added before leaving, the rest of the girls following behind her.
"Oh, I almost forgot," Melody said quickly, stepping back into the room for a second. "Don't freak out if weird things start happening. It's the seniors' job to mess with the freshmen, but I'm sure it's not like it was at Andover; it's much more intense. You're not a freshman, but someone might still try to take a swing at you, just as a warning. Okay, I'm leaving now, see you in a bit."
I let out a sigh of relief that they were finally gone. My first encounter with my fellow freaks and this was my stand on things. Apparently 'jejumes' was the name they used for normal people around here. Melody was crazy, but tolerable. She'd probably get annoying after a while, but I could handle it. Laura was the Nikki Parker of Ringshore, not someone I looked forward to dealing with everyday. Rachel and Karissa were like Laura's clones, but they at least seemed to have some minds of their own. Jeremy and Carter were probably troublemakers. Whoever Brad was, Melody seemed to like him. And then there was this Alice girl…I didn't know what to think of her, but I was sure I'd find out soon.