If there was anything I knew for sure in my seventeen years of existence it was that all high schools functioned on the same level. I don't think they'd changed much in fifty years. Although we might change and discover new places, the skylines change, the summers and friends different. No matter where you go high school would be right there to remind you that you were still human. The location might be new. The student body might be new. But they functioned just like the last one. And I of all people knew that as I looked out the car window at the building that was to be my new school.
"I don't want to be here," I said out loud as I looked over the school yard.
Although none of the faces were familiar I knew them all. I knew where everyone fit in and where they belonged. All the regular cliques were in their rightful places. There was a group of girls sitting by a tree on the right hand side of the school. They were laughing and talking about something I probably found completely irrelevant. There was a group of nerdy looking students that were having what appeared to be a detailed conversation about something I most like didn't care about. The jocks were seated on the front steps. They seemed to be discussing a recent game. Then there were a few of the kids who didn't know where they fit in. They wandered around trying so desperately to belong that they lost themselves along the way.
But it was one group in particular that caught my attention. They were so small they were almost miniscule. They sat by an old oak tree on the left side of the school yard. They didn't seem to notice the rest of the school. Nor did they seem to fit in with anyone else. They were a mismatch of different styles and personalities. They were themselves. They were unique. Brought together by a real bond, rather than similar tastes.
"You'll be fine," my dad said to me as I stared at them.
They reminded me of my old friends back home in Detroit, Michigan. Though they were only slightly different. I saw a pretty brunette remove herself from the popular girls and head over to them. She smiled and a boy immediately embraced her. I watched as he played with her hair and kissed her. It reminded me of my own boyfriend back home. I knew we weren't going to work out. We weren't in love but it still hurt to leave. We promised to keep in touch and try the "long distance" thing. But I knew in my heart it wouldn't last.
A few raindrops escaped the grey Jersey sky and stuck to the window. A few seconds later the bell rang and all the students piled into the building like a herd of cattle.
"Are you ready?" my dad asked from the driver's seat.
"No," I said simply. I missed Detroit. I didn't want to be there. I wanted to go back to Michigan and crawl into my familiar bed in my familiar room. I wouldn't even mind school there if it meant I didn't have to be in Jersey anymore.
"C'mon." My dad opened the door and climbed out. He came around the car to my side and opened the door for me. I just looked up at him helplessly.
"I don't want to do this." He sighed.
"C'mon, Ruby. Don't make me take your seatbelt off too." I smiled slightly to test him. He made a move for me.
"Okay, okay." I unbuckled myself. I went to reach for my backpack but he grabbed it first. I pulled myself out of the seat and stood before him. He smiled at me.
"Everything is going to be okay," he said. I did my best to return that bright smile. My favorite smile. But not much came out. I hugged him for a moment before he led me across the street.
We walked over the same yard that I'd seen all those other kids on. I glanced at the oak tree as we passed it. It seemed so lonely without it's group. We went up the same stone steps. Nothing about the place seemed special. Nothing at all. My dad opened the heavy doors and led me inside. I took a deep breath and breathed in the same familiar school smells. It was a mix between pre-cooked school lunches and some kind of cleanser.
The linoleum floors were ugly and mismatched. It was as if the school had just been donated a bunch of random tiles in different colors. Then they just threw them on the floor and painted the place to match. Lavender, pale green and brown. Lovely. We came up to a door with crisscross wire in the glass. The word "Office" was chipping on it.
I sighed as my dad led me inside. The woman behind the counter looked different from the last secretary. But she was just the same. Mid fifties. Brown curly hair. Tried to dress younger than she was. She had a look that said "I care" even though I was positive I could go there every day and she would never remember my name.
"Hi, this is my daughter Ruby. We just moved here from Detroit," my dad explained to her. "I need to get her registered for school." She smiled brightly.
"Okay, I'll just need you to fill out a few forms. And I'll need her last name so I can set her up with a counselor to get her schedule. What grade is she in?" she replied.
Her voice was just as fake as her smile. I hated when people didn't address me personally. Although this would have bothered me any other time I was glad for it now. I didn't want to talk to her. If I had come in here by myself she wouldn't have been as nice. Just like I knew she wouldn't be as soon as my dad left. They were always like that.
"She's a junior. Last name Emery." I watched as she went through the basic paperwork with him.
"Your counselor will be Mr. Jorgan. You guys can go in and see him now if you'd like."
She led us to another room where a man was sitting behind a desk talking on the phone scribbling on a piece of paper simultaneously. He waved us in and we took our seats in front of his desk. He muttered a few words into the phone before hanging up and smiling at us.
"Mr. Jorgan, this is Rick Emery and his daughter Ruby. They're registering her in school today," the secretary told him.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Emery," Mr. Jorgan said shaking my dad's hand. Then he turned to me. "And Miss Emery." I smiled and shook his hand weakly.
The secretary handed him the paperwork and left the room. She closed the door behind her. Mr. Jorgan began a light conversation with my dad and I zoned out. I looked around the room. I could see the field through the window behind him. There were kids running around an orange track. I wondered what class I'd have first. I was hoping they didn't require four years of Physical Ed here.
I looked over the stupid posters of animals saying motivational comments meant to enlighten you. Then I looked over his collection of school memorabilia. I took it he went there as a teen. Sucked for him to have never gotten out of Trenton.
"Alright, everything is set up. We just need to go over her records and come up with a schedule. You can leave if you like," Mr. Jorgan told my dad.
"Alright. Uh… you gonna be okay, kid?" my dad asked as I brought myself back into the conversation.
"Yeah, I think I've got it," I assured him. He smiled and handed my backpack over.
"I'll pick you up after school."
"Sounds good." I smiled as he stood. Mr. Jorgan followed him to the door and let him out.
"It was nice meeting you, Mr. Emery. Don't worry. Your daughter is in good hands," he said. When my dad was gone he closed the door and came back around to his seat.
"Alright, Miss Emery. Can I call you Ruby?" he asked as he pushed his glasses back onto his nose. I shrugged. "Okay great, let's see." He went through some papers for a moment. I waited patiently. "You were in music at your last school, correct?"
"Yeah, I wasn't in band or anything. I just took music classes," I explained.
"Okay, that's great. We can set you up with our program. We have some nice student's in there."
"Alright, we can start you off with Art first period. Then History, English, Lunch, Music, Geometry, Chemistry, and then study hall where you can catch up on homework or anything else you need to work on. How does that sound?"
"Were you interested in any sports or clubs?"
"Okay great. Then we're all set."
He filled out a schedule for me and handed it over. Then he led me back out into the main office so his assistant could give me a tour of the school. Her name was Katy and she was one of the girls from the popular crowd. I could tell from her pink skirt to her brown curls. She smiled as she came over to us.
"Katy, this is Ruby. She's new. I'd like it if you could give her a tour of the campus and show here where her classes are. Then lead her back to her first class."
"Okay," she said brightly as she looked me over. Although she was polite and nice, I could tell that she was reading me from behind her big brown eyes. She was giving me a stereotype already.
Mr. Jorgan smiled and said "Have a nice day," before returning to his office.
"Hi Ruby, my name is Katy," the girl said taking my hand and shaking it.
"Hi," I replied politely. She led me back out into the main hall.
"So where did you move from?"
"Oh wow. That's so cool."
For those of you who are new to this story, it follows Ruby Emery from the age of 17 to 32. It's roughly about 209 chapters long and is the hardest work of my entire life. Ruby's life is cursed by something her dad calls "The Lunacy Fringe." It is both a curse and a blessing. It causes random events, freak accidents, and chance meetings. It makes Ruby a bit clumsy but it keeps her life interesting. Either way I hope you enjoy it if you're an old reader or a new reader.