One, I recorded soundlessly. Two, I said in my mind. Three, I closed my eyes. Then I lost the rhythm, slowing down slightly. I puffed out my cheeks, and then remembered that holding my breath was not good for running.

I reached Dad. "Keep on going," he prompted.

I sighed. It was the same as every day. We went to exercise, and I had to run four laps first. It was a hot, dry day in August, and it was already five o'clock. Since moving to Hong Kong, I noticed that the temperature was much higher than Shanghai.

I took Dad's advice and kept on running. As a game to distract myself, I step onto the slippery slope next to the plants. We regularly exercised in a park in Queen's Central, and there was a large circle that had a famous person's statue in the middle of the circle. People, mostly joggers liked to come here to exercise. I figured my dad had picked that up from them.

The "slope" was the border to the statue. It was fun to try to keep on the slope while running and I liked to do it. The game's point was to step on the slope once, and then twice, and then three times, and so on. So far, I had only got to six.

Huffing and wheezing, I screeched to a stop at where Dad was standing. "I won," I gasped, pressing my palms into Dad's hands.

"Hmm, faster than Mike! Great, Maria!" He smiled.

Before I could catch my breath, Mike caught up. Glaring at me, he followed Dad into a small area where we stretched. I followed them too, ignoring the sore feeling in my leg.

Sore is good, I thought sarcastically. My dad said that on a daily basis when Mike and I complained that our legs hurt or were sore. If it's sore, that means your legs are getting stronger.

As for me, I preferred weak legs if it meant that my legs would not feel like they were turning into jelly whenever I bent them.

I jogged over to the water fountain to get a drink. To my dismay, the water was warm. Still, I gulped down some and reminded myself that the water was warm every day.

The two sides of my head were soaked with sweat. Ewe, I thought to myself.

I jogged back to the small area where we stretched wearily. Feeling dull, I walked over to the bench and sat down. Dad's head turned, and frowned. "Stretch."

I sighed dramatically, and then lifted my right leg up to place it onto the horizontal bars. Pushing my body down, then burning sensation started again.

That usually happened when I finished exercising, and I was exhausted. A hot feeling started to spread around my face as I looked down at the cobblestones beneath me. Not wanting to start another argument with Mike as usual, I did not say anything.

"Okay," Dad announced. He started to make us do stretching routines. After that was done, he told me to start jumping and Mike to start squatting.

I started jumping reluctantly, with Mike constantly glancing at me to make sure I was not cheating. A few moments later, I stopped.

"How many did you do?" Dad asked his hands on his hips.

"Fifty." I answered instantaneously.

Dad seemed to be considering whether he should make me do more. "You need to do more. How 'bout you do one hundred a set, and do five sets?"

I groaned inwardly as my mind automatically calculated five times one hundred. "Why? I do not want to do five hundred jumps! Besides, my stomach hurts!"

Dad looked deflated. "Fine. Do the 'ducky-walk' around the circle."

Gratefully, I started to do it. The "ducky-walk" was taking a huge step, and then squatting. Again, and again.

I probably shouldn't have been too grateful. By the time I had finished two-thirds of the circle, I was practically dragging my feet upwards, setting it down in front of my other foot, and then squatting. I resisted the urge to collapse on the ground.

After I finished the circle, I was panting. Dad handed me the card and keys for our apartment building, and I took it happily. Proud that I could find my way home myself, I started to half-walk, half-hobble to the high stairs that took me to the other side of the street. After climbing an exhausting amount of stairs, I got down to the ground. Dragging myself, I rounded the corner to go onto another long street. Vaguely, I recognized the posters and the locked, rusty doors of shops. Seeing a couple of police strolling down the street, I subconsciously wondered what they were doing.

I crossed the street warily, my head swiveling back and forth, watching out for cars. To my relief, I was cooling down from the exercise as I plodded along on my way back home. I smiled uncontrollably as I recognized the supermarket with an escalator in front of it across from Queen's Terrace. I crossed another street, aware of the cheerful chatter around me.

The guards opened the door for me. I almost laughed out loud thinking how silly the guards might feel opening the doors for a ten-year old kid as if she was a queen.

My cheerful mood dissipated like smoke when a few adorable kids started running around and staring at me, blubbering sentences that no one could decipher. I thought that the "adorable" kids were annoying. I tapped my foot against the floor, waiting for the elevator to come.

With a ding, the elevator arrived. I, the kids and their family, and a guard filed into the tiny elevator. I noticed that the guard was going to the second floor, and the family was going to the sixth floor. Relieved, I reached over to press the button labeled "50".

Sighing, I noisily opened my apartment door when I got to floor fifty, trying to ignore the wails and cries of the baby next door. I stepped into the apartment.

My home was small. My mom hadn't been sure that we were moving to Hong Kong, so her apartment was small. My mom is in a company called Kitco. There were offices built in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Montreal so she has to go back and forth from those three cities. Currently, she was in Shanghai, taking care of our stuff that we left behind when moving and managing her company.

I hadn't cooled down as thoroughly as I thought I would. Grinning to myself, I took out my cup and the Mr. Juicy brand of fruit punch, and poured a whole cup. Grinning even more widely, I knew that Mike would object to me drinking so much fruit punch.

Nevertheless, I drained the whole cup, and then refilled it so that I would find a full cup of fruit punch when I finished taking a shower. I left the doors unlocked so that Mike and Dad could get in later. I didn't want Mike glaring at me mercilessly because they couldn't get in while I was taking a shower.

After taking the shower, I grabbed the book The Fire Within by Chris D'Lacey and started to drink the cup of fruit punch.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. As usual, Mike and I had a very intense argument during dinner about him not being able to read my novel.

You see, I was writing a novel. I didn't really intend to publish it, it was just for fun. However, I didn't let Mike read it. However, in my defense, Mike was judgmental. I was afraid that he would make some negative comment about my story and then bring it up in every argument we will have, like he always did with something else.

With my eyelids turning heavier and heavier after dinner, I set my alarm. I had a very funny way of doing it. In my phone, among my various collections of apps I had two apps. One was an alarms clock, and the other one was a clock. The clock also had a timer. When I was still in Shanghai, I used the alarm clock usually. However, once it went haywire and the beeping wouldn't stop, until I took the phone's battery out.

So now, I always used the timer. However, I couldn't and didn't bother to calculate how much time I was supposed to insert in the timer. That was where the alarm clock came in handy. I set the alarm first, and it will show you briefly how much time will pass before the alarm. I would put that time in the timer, and then turn off the alarm clock. Simple.

Tonight I decided that I wanted to wake up one minute before Dad right at five fifty-nine. Carefully, I took away one minute from the timer.

My eyelids were finally heavy enough to put me to sleep.

Beep, beep, beep, beep… The annoying alarm kept on trying to wake me up. Beep, beep, beep."Bleh bleh," I muttered, still half-awake.

My mind kept trying to remind me that Dad might wake up because of the alarm, and I decided not to let it spoil the surprise.

"Time to get up," I grumbled. Pressing the snooze button on my phone, I stood up warily.

The view outside the window was enough to widen my eyes in shock. The sky was a pale blue, with dark, black buildings rising up to meet the sky. The clouds were scattered across the pale, blue sky, each of them a light pink. A few shadows lay around clouds, an eerie green.

Smiling to myself, I remembered that I haven't seen a sunrise for a long time.

I shook my head, grabbing my clothes and got dressed. The next task distracted me from the view. I had to get out the food.

Quietly, I tiptoed over to the kitchen and slowly pushed open the kitchen door. I grabbed the fridge door and opened it. I examined the contents only to be disappointed to find no brown bag that came from a store called "International". One by one, I opened cabinets. Just my luck, I thought sourly as I came to the last cabinet. Opening it expectantly, I peeked inside. There were two brown paper bags.

I grabbed them eagerly, and then looked inside the bags. One was stuffed with mini muffins, and one had some pieces of round bread and six cookies. I took out one cookie, knowing that another two would be for my snack at school, and took out a plate.

I also took some fruit punch, and filled my cup. Yummy. Triumphantly, I loaded the food and some yogurt onto my arms and elbows cautiously, only to be startled by seeing a half-awake Dad come wandering into the kitchen.

Dad frowned, like he was seeing a hallucination. He rubbed his eyes, and then went past me into the kitchen.

Oh, well.

I chomped down hard on the cookie, and then took a scoop out of the yogurt.

"Mike! Get up!" I heard my dad yell.

"Hmm…" Mike replied drowsily.

After I finished my breakfast, I glanced over to Mike's room. He was lying diagonally across the bed, one pillow underneath him, one on top of his head. His blanket was strewn across the bed. I sighed, wondering whether to laugh or cluck at him disapprovingly.

Dad lumbered out of the kitchen. "Is Mike up yet?" I shook my head.

Dad grunted, and started to pack my lunch and snack. "Get up, Mike!" he screeched.

Mike must've heard the warning in Dad's words. I heard a rustle, and moments later Mike came stumbling out of the room with his uniform on. He was rubbing his eyes like Dad had, and he was also frowning. "Wherezaa cookies? Wherezaa my breakfast?"

I had finished my food. Dad came over and grabbed my empty yogurt cup, and the plate I used to catch the cookie crumbs. He saw Mike, and then set down my snack and lunchbox on the table. I snatched the snack, not wanting Dad to see my mess of a schoolbag. Stuffing it into my schoolbag, I grabbed my purple water bottle Dad was holding and put it in the pocket next to my bag.

After brushing my teeth, I sat down on my mattress and started to read. Mike was still struggling to finish his food and finish off his daily routines.

Absently, I thought about all my old friends in Shanghai and unexpectedly started to tear up a bit. Their names ran through my head quickly.

Emily, Rowena, Kitty, Sonia, Jackie, and finally, Riddhima.

They were all very good friends. I remembered how unwilling I was to move to Hong Kong.

"Time for school!" Dad's voice shook me out of my thinking. Feeling giddy, I hauled my school bag up and slung it over my shoulder. Mike had already finished preparing for school, and he put on his shoes too after he finished brushing his teeth.

To be honest, I was a big pile of purple mess.

My black hair was tied up into a ponytail, and I was trying not to close my brown eyes. My uniform was a white shirt with purple, vertical stripes and a grey skirt with the initials KS embroidered at the right bottom corner. I had my red- rimmed glasses on. My backpack was purple and grey, overstuffed with the materials I needed for the "Joseph Cornell box" project.

We descended at the ground floor, and Dad took Mike out to the bus station. After about five minutes, Dad found me reading The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. Unwillingly, I closed the book and shoved it into my bag.

It was Monday, the second week of school. I had felt nervous and wrecked on the first day of school, and I remembered clearly what happened.

"Why can't I take the school bus?" I complained. I, my parents, and Mike were standing at the public bus station.

"Because on the first day of school Kennedy School doesn't send school buses. Frankly, I'm relieved because I would be so worried if you went to school by yourself on the first day of school." Mom repeated patiently.

Personally, I didn't get it. I would have been perfectly fine going to school by myself on the first day of school aside from the fact that Mom and Dad needed to buy the remaining stationery that we didn't find in the shop. Part of my reluctance was that I was afraid of Mike embarrassing me.

I sighed, and imagined what it would be like. I had been to Kennedy School before, but only to the PTA office to buy my uniform, much to the displeasure of Mike.

When the bus finally came, I was worried that it never would. The bus screeched to a stop in front of me. The doors opened with a ding, and we stepped in. The air-conditioned car had lurched forward again as I used my octopus card to pay for the fee.

The driver grunted and stomped on the brakes as me and my family sat down on our seats. I put my backpack onto my lap, and then asked how many stops until we get to Kennedy School.

"All the way to nearly the end," Mom replied.

I sighed, and waited.

When I got off the bus, I started to eagerly walk down the streets, trying to find the Kennedy School logo:

We walked aimlessly around Sheung Wan drive, but we still couldn't find Kennedy School. I was getting anxious, when Dad finally asked a biker where it was.

"Down there, walk all the way." The man said, his voice heavily accented. He pointed down the long curved road to the right of the sidewalk we were standing on.

Dad nodded thanks, and we started to head in that direction. We still couldn't find it, much to my disappointment. Dad stopped to ask again for directions.

This man had curly dark hair, and he was smoking a cigarette. "Down there," he said in fluent English. "You can't miss it."

We followed his instructions, and finally I caught a glimpse of a kid with a purple backpack like mine strolling down the slope of a sidewalk. We walked further, and I saw a messy playground packed with kids behind white gates.

We eventually went through the white gate. I couldn't deny that I was very excited. When the bell finally rang after a few minutes during which I read my book, indicating that everyone could go to their classrooms, me and my parents (Mike refused to come) scurried up the stairs to my classroom along with the other students.

I nervously pushed open the door labeled "6A, Mrs. Aruna Orange". Luckily, the classroom didn't fall silent as it did the last time I went to a new school. Even so, I did get a few curious and bored glances from around the room.

My parents were not even half as nervous as I was. They strode into the room, with me trailing behind them.

My teacher, Mrs. Orange turned. She was clearly an Indian. She had wide, brown eyes and dark hair that shone slightly silver in the light. A wide smile was on her face, which stretched even more when she turned around saw me.

"Hi," my dad said, holding out his hand.

"Hello. You are…" She answered politely, shaking his hand. Her voice was very pleasant, with no Indian accent.

"Oh! This is Maria," Mom put in, gently pushing me forward so that Mrs. Orange could see me.

"You are Maria!" Mrs. Orange grinned widely.

I smiled back. "Hi,"

"We're going down to the PTA," Mom said.

"Oh, she'll be alright," Mrs. Orange assured. Mom and Dad went outside the classroom, looking at me worriedly a few times on the way out.

Mrs. Orange smiled at me again, and told me to sit down wherever I wanted. I followed the- not an order, but it sure sounded like one- command and sat down on the left side of a table.

The tables were arranged similarly to an old formation I saw in SHSID. There were five groups, with six tables clustered together in each group. Two groups were at the back, three were at the front. The tables were arranged like this: Two were at the left side, another two were at the opposite side. A couple more were facing the whiteboard in front behind the four tables in front of them.

A moment later, after a few more students came in and a few more greetings were called out, Mrs. Orange called attention.

Shortly after an introduction about Mrs. Orange, the teacher started to call out names.

"Thomas," she called out first.

"Here," someone said. He was pale, with a few beige freckles and light brown hair that almost seemed blond. His voice was slightly hoarse, but he didn't look sick. In fact, he looked very lively and cheerful. "Call me Tom."

Mrs. Orange chuckled. "Hi, Tom. Hector?"

A boy with brown, curly hair covering his whole head completely with a similar skin tone with Tom answered. "Here,"

Mrs. Orange started to call faster. "Vanessa?"










One by one, names were called and I struggled to remember them.

"Maria?" It was finally my turn.

"Here," I replied just as dully as the other people. Whispers started around me, including two Indian girls whose names were Simran and Tara, which sat diagonally across from me at the two tables facing the whiteboard.

Resisting the urge to say, "I'm right next to you," I shifted uncomfortably.

Mrs. Orange moved on. "Nimisha?"

Another Indian girl. She had dark black hair and darker skin than mine. Her black, wavy hair was tied back in a ponytail, like mine. "Here," she had an Indian accent.

When the names had been finished calling, Mrs. Orange started to explain everything. "We are officially in Kennedy School. Great. Now, I will give you everything you need." She held up a book. "This is my Diary. I need it every day. I need it for absolutely everything. I write down everything I need to do in it. I can't live without it. You too. I will give you a Diary, and you need to write down everything you need to do in it.

"Ms. Teh? Can you hand out all the Diaries, please?"

A relatively tall woman with brown hair and red streaks in it and a stern face, nodded and took something from the desk she was standing next to.

"But first, you need to change seats." Mrs. Orange announced. She looked at everyone curiously. Then she started to arrange everyone. "Everyone can find another seat that they like, and I can slightly arrange it."

Everyone started to move. An Indian girl, the one named Nimisha stood just as clueless a posture as I was in holding my grey tray with my pencil box in it.

I built up my courage and asked: "What exactly are we supposed to do?"

Nimisha grimaced. "I don't know! I'm new too!"

I was relieved. I wasn't the only one here that felt as if I didn't belong. "Why don't we just find a seat?"

Nimisha nodded, and looked around. Seats were being occupied quickly, and we didn't have a clue of what to do.

A few seconds later, I, Nimisha, and a large blond girl were the only ones standing. I saw a small, timid girl with wild curly hair and a round face smile at me apologetically.

"Um, Maria, you can sit there, next to Julia." Mrs. Orange pointed at a girl who held up her hand reluctantly. "Garance, you can…" I tuned her out as I walked to the seat available.

I sat down on a group in which there were three boys and two girls with one empty seat. One girl had rusty blond hair tied up in a ponytail like all the girls except for a few others, and her wide, bluish grey eyes were staring at me. She had a slightly narrow face, and I could see that she was very tall. Another girl sitting across from the rusty blond-haired one had curly hair with the same color as the other one tied up in two pigtails. She was wearing pink glasses, and I could feel that she wasn't very nice. Probably even snotty, too. The first boy was slightly round, and he wore glasses too. His blue glasses covered brown eyes and he had short black hair. The second boy was small and tan and I could see that he had two teeth sticking out. He had short black hair like the first boy. The third looked Korean, and he had black hair similar to the first and second one with brown eyes.

Reluctantly, I pulled out a small blue chair next to the girl that had pink glasses. I saw that Nimisha had settled down on the table group in front of mine.

"Well! Now that everyone has a seat, why don't we actually hand out the Diaries?" Mrs. Orange laughed.

Ms. Teh smiled too, and started to toss six of the small books out to each table.

Currently, I'm angry. Now, what kind of behavior is reading someone's story and not reviewing unless you think it sucks? And all of my friends (they're not sugarcoating it, it's honest opinion) say it's super. Not that I'm bragging. If you don't review, you're a lurker. And nobody likes lurkers. Besides, how do I know that people read my story, you ask? Heard of a traffic graph? A count of how many reads my story has? Yes, there are 15 whole views (I know, not many, but in one month? Boo-yah!) ! And only one review which was made by my fictionpress friend! Lurker... *disapprovingly points at whoever read my story and didn't review*