Chapter 5

White sunlight bathes the room as my roommates scurry about, getting dressed and primped for school. Krista pokes me for the third time in the shoulder, this time a bit harder.

"Good morning, sunshine." She rolls her eyes when I groan and turn over on my pillow. If there's one thing I seriously don't want to do, it's get up and start another day, especially after what happened last night. It's still freaking me out how real it felt. It's probably not in my best interest to let everyone in my room know, simply because if they overreact, I may or may not get even more worked up.

Scarlet Caine is at the mirror, applying purple eyeliner to complement her warm chocolate skin and near-black eyes. She already has her uniform on too, and her curly hair is fastened with a sparkly barrette, so she's a few steps ahead of everyone else in the room. She has a tendency to wake up early so that she can meet up in the student lounge with her boyfriend, Jonah.

Meanwhile, Eveline Minet is running a comb through her glossy raven-black hair. I remember when I first met her at the age of twelve. She'd barely left her small town of Bayeux in France, so a big ugly brick building in the middle of Nebraska was a definite adjustment. Back then, her French accent was so heavy and her English so limited, I could hardly tell what she was saying. Things have changed since then, of course, so I understand her perfectly when she asks, "Where were you last night? I stayed up until about 10:15 or so, but you still weren't here."

I answer as honestly as I'm willing to. "Dozed off in the student lounge. Mr. Hallman's math worksheets might be a new cure for insomnia." Eveline giggles softly, slipping in a pair of pale pink earrings in the shape of roses. I've never seen a single day go by that Eveline hasn't worn something pink. Usually it's jewelry, but it can also be a headband, a scrunchie, nail polish, or shoes. Last year she had streaks of pink in her hair.

Scarlet checks her hair one more time, and smiles at her gorgeous self in the mirror before joining Jonah Glenleigh in the lounge. His gigantic personality is in defiance of his appearance, with his bony frame and yellowy blonde poof of hair, like a used Q-tip caught in the wind. He's a total joker, and is fun to be around until he just gets annoying. In any case, he's better than his sister, Mina. She runs with Charlotte and her crowd, and never misses a chance to dish on someone, including her brother. He might just dislike her as much as I do.

We chat absentmindedly as we finish dressing and organize our bunks. Room inspection occurs every Tuesday and Thursday, usually conducted by Mrs. Frisk, the fussy Solutions teacher, for the girls, and her husband, Gabriel Frisk, the Pre-Algebra and Algebra I teacher, for the boys. I wish it were someone else's job, because Mrs. Frisk is very, very tidy. If you fold your sheets sloppily, you'll lose your dessert privileges and/or coffee machine access (the latter was probably a bad idea to begin with, but I'm not complaining) for a week. Other punishments for various violations include writing a paper on the history of mattresses, grading History worksheets, watering the garden, dusting all ten trophy cases, and cleaning the boys' bathroom on the third floor (but no one's messed up that badly since the legendary Stinky Cheese Incident of 1989).

Today is Thursday, so we'll have to go to our rooms after breakfast and stand at attention while our hands and teeth are checked for cleanliness. After that, we will remain silent while every square inch of our dorm is surveyed. Once we're cleared, we may proceed to class.

At breakfast, I indulge in a stack of buttermilk pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Krista joins me, carrying a plate of eggs and tofu-sausage patties, as well as our drinks. Mine is a white caramel mocha, while hers is a steaming mug of cinnamon tea as she prefers her daily dose of coffee at lunch. Not me. I need my caffeine early. I pity the seventh and eighth graders who have to wait until freshman year for this luxury.

Eveline is the next person to reach our table, followed by Theo. Krista smiles at him and nervously pushes some hair behind her ear. Before I can shoot her a "What's up with you?" look, Theo asks me over his gargantuan stack of chocolate chip waffles, "How can you eat so much junk and be so skinny? Every time someone tries to put some real meat on those bones, nothing happens." I blush, because I had been rising to get more pancakes, and decide to sit back down.

The last additions to our table are Scarlet and Jonah, accompanied by Minnie Baker and Osmay Morganstern. They appear to be discussing elements of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." You know. All that good, normal teenager stuff.

I've developed a soft spot for Osmay over the years. Her father is the Head of the school, which must be hard in terms of pressure to succeed. She could've easily chosen to be snooty about her position, like Charlotte is about her parents being rich CEO's, but instead she chose us. Most of the time she hangs out with Minnie, a sweet and smiley girl who wouldn't hurt a fly, and the more talkative of the two.

"This is way beyond love triangle. Viola secretly loves Octavio, Octavio loves Olivia but the feeling isn't mutual, Olivia loves Cesario because she doesn't know it's Viola in disguise, and Malvolio and Sir Andrew are both in love with Olivia but no one loves them. Then you throw Sebastian into the mix…" Scarlet's rant is cut off by the bell. Exasperated, she places her dirty plate in the plastic bin, and the rest of us follow suit. We then proceed to our rooms for inspection.