"Alright, Iris, as a new student, you've been privileged with a personal tour of Blue Flower High School and your very own, super awesome tour guides, Laura and Sandy Robins, who is me!" Sandy made jazz hands while Laura rolled her eyes.
"Whatever," she muttered.
"Aaaanyway, right now we are about to go through these fancy shrmancy double doors made of bronze!"
"It's actually just regular metal."
"Whatever, I'm just trying to spice things up, Laura. Y'don't need to be such a drag."
"I'm being realistic."
"Okay! Moving on. Let's go inside already!" Sandy, Laura, and Iris made their way inside. If the school was already overwhelming on the outside, it made Iris feel even smaller on the inside.
Eep, she thought. I think I'm going to pass out. There were several corridors branching out into infinity. Lockers and classroom doors lined each of them.
Laura noticed Iris gawking around and smiled. "I know it looks big now," she said. "Trust me, I felt that way too when I first came here. But as soon as you get used to it, this will seem as small as your house."
"Unless you live in a mansion," Sandy joked.
"Sandy," Laura chastised him, but she had a smile on her face.
The three of them headed to the auditorium. Inside, there were hundreds of students. There were several desks where girls and boys, probably older students helping out, were seated. Students of all grades were lined up in front of the desks, receiving their schedules and moving on.
Iris, Sandy, and Laura joined a line of students receiving their schedules from a young girl. She had a blue streak in her black hair, and an energetic smile on her face.
"Welcome, fellow Bluies!" she announced in a high-pitched voice when Iris reached the front of the line. "I'm Rivera Sampton. If you're looking for your schedules, they're right here! Just tell me your last names, and I'll fetch them."
"Lankley," Iris said. Rivera searched through several fat Manila envelopes, peering at the tabs labeling them.
"Lankley… let's see… L…L…a…n…"
While Rivera was searching through the files, Sandy gave Laura and Iris a funny look. "Who calls their fellow students 'Bluies'? That's the stupidest name I've ever heard." Rivera shot him a dirty look.
"Quiet, Blondie. I came up with that nickname. And watch who you say that in front of. Because unlike you, everyone else likes it." She pointed to a nearby welcoming poster, which read, in blue glitter letters: WELCOME FELLOW (and INCOMING) BLUIES! She then went back to looking for Iris' schedule. "Ah! Here it is! Iris Lankley!" With a big, welcoming smile, Rivera handed Iris a sheet of paper. "Now, tell me your names," Rivera said, turning to Laura and, with a scowl, Sandy.
"Robins," they both said at the same time.
"Coming right up. Robins… R… where's the R…?" She handed them each their schedules, first Sandy, then Laura. The three walked away back to the auditorium's entrance.
"So the homeroom teachers are already waiting in their classrooms, which are right next to their names on the paper. Just find the teacher who's listed on your schedule as your homeroom teacher and-" Her green eyes scanned the crowd of students. She must've seen someone, because she gave a small yelp as soon as she saw them. "Oh no, he's here…"
"Who's here?" Iris inquired.
"Nothing, nothing," Laura said as nonchalantly as she could, though Iris wasn't fooled.
"Seriously, Laura, are you okay? Is something bothering you?"
"Like I said, Iris, nothing for you to worry about. Now come on, do you want to meet your homeroom teacher or not?" Iris looked at Sandy, who just shrugged. Still, he looked slightly concerned as well. Reluctantly, Iris stopped questioning Laura. All three teenagers checked their schedules.
"Hey look, I got Ms. Greenwood again!" Sandy said. "Guess she's now a sophomore homeroom teacher." He looked at the two girls. "Who'd you guys get?"
"I got Mrs. McFlan," Laura answered. Sandy snickered at the name. "Iris?"
Iris peered at hers. "Ms. Greenwood." She shared a smile with Sandy. "Guess we're in the same homeroom."
"Awesome!" Sandy said.
Laura sighed. "Well, I'll see you two later. Take care of her, Sandy." She waved at them as she left the auditorium.
"C'mon Iris, we better get going too." With that, Sandy and Iris left the auditorium and headed in the opposite direction Laura had just went.
"So...Sandy, are you and Laura twins?" Iris asked him on their way up the stairs to the second floor. So many floors, she thought as she stared up over the railings into infinity.
Sandy laughed and shook his head. "Most people think that, but we're actually just cousins. Our dads are twins, so that would explain why we look so similar."
"Oh!" Iris looked at him more closely. "I never heard of a case like that before."
"Yeah I know. We're amazing."
They emerged from the stairs onto the second floor. Like the first floor, there were lockers and classroom doors in the hallways.
Sandy looked in both directions. "If I remember correctly, Ms. Greenwood is…" He pointed left. "That way-"
"GIVE IT BACK!" The shout made Iris and Sandy both jump.
"Careful, you're making a scene here," another voice taunted.
Sandy and Iris cautiously walked in the opposite direction of their classroom, where a crowd of students had gathered around. Iris peeked between two students' shoulders- why did she have to be 5'3''?- and saw, to her horror, two boys staring down and circling each other like rival male lions. One had red hair and fierce, angry eyes to match it, and the other had messy chestnut hair and a smug smile on his face.
"Give. It. Back," the red-haired boy growled at the chestnut-haired one.
"Or else what? You'll go home and cry to your mommy?" the other boy mocked with a whiny face. He shoved the first boy, who responded with a punch to his face.
"Ooh, that escalated quickly," Sandy, who had forced his way through the crowd to stand next to Iris, whispered. "My bet's on Fernando. That guy can beat the crap out of anyone." He nodded at the redhead.
She frowned at him. "You're enjoying this?"
"What? It's the first exciting thing to happen today. Better watch it while it still lasts. Some goody-two-shoes probably called a teacher already. He's probably on his way here right now."
Iris switched her gaze back to the fight. Red Hair-Fernando- had grabbed Chestnut's collar and pinned him against the lockers. Chestnut kneed him in the stomach. He tossed something he was clutching in his hand to a boy in the crowd. One of his buddies, Iris assumed. She also wondered what the object was.
"Excuse me, young lady." A man who appeared to be in his late forties gently elbowed past Iris. He had glasses and a rough beard. "ALRIGHT, EVERYBODY! CLEAR UP! THE SHOW'S OVER! GET TO YOUR CLASSES NOW!" Several students groaned in disappointment as the crowd dispersed. The teacher turned to Fernando and his adversary. "You two, come with me."
As he passed Iris, Fernando briefly glanced at her. The two caught each other's eyes. It was for the first time Iris realized his brown eyes had a tint of orange in them. Chills ran down her spine. She gulped and quickly looked down at the floor. Fernando made a "tch" noise and moved on.
"Of course Mr. Matthias had to come in. Right when it was getting good," Sandy muttered.
"Let's… just go," Iris said, tugging on Sandy's arm absently. "I don't want to be late for class."
Ms. Greenwood was a short, squat woman with glasses perched on her nose. She wore a dark green sweater and her brown hair in a neat bun. She also had on a polite, if not slightly energetic, smile on her face when Iris and Sandy walked in. Iris liked her immediately.
"Ms. G! Remember me?" Sandy asked her excitedly.
Ms. Greenwood's smile grew. "Of course I remember you, Sandy!" She turned to Iris. "Hello, I'm Ms. Greenwood. I will be your homeroom teacher this year." Iris shook the hand that was extended to her.
"I'm Iris. I'm new here."
"Ah, a transfer student." Ms. Greenwood winked at Iris. "Don't worry. Blue Flower High is a very welcoming to new kids. You should have no problem fitting in here."
Iris smiled back. "Thank you, Ms. Greenwood."
Sandy pranced around the room, earning strange, amused looks from the other four students who had walked in. He leaned on a desk and sighed happily. "Oh man, I remember this classroom like it was my own house!" He motioned Iris to come over, and pointed to a small spot on the desk that read, in tiny penned letters: Sandy was here;) Iris laughed. "I was kinda hoping some lucky freshman would see this and go, 'Ooh, I wonder who this mysterious, probably handsome, person could be! I should go on a tough, unnecessarily long journey to track them down!'" He shook his head. "Guess I'll be that freshman this year."
By this point, there were thirty-ish kids in the classroom, some buzzing with gossip or the latest thing on the news, and others just standing around quietly. When no one else filed in, Ms. Greenwood clapped her hands loudly and called out, "Alright guys! I'm Ms. Greenwood, your homeroom teacher for the year! You can sit wherever you want in this classroom, so long as you don't make too much noise while I do roll call! Then after roll call, we will go to the auditorium to meet the new principal. From there, you will proceed to your next classes."
Iris, like everyone else, raised her hand and replied, "Here!" when her name was called. After a while, Sandy's name was called.
"Wassup!" Sandy replied, leaning back in his seat next to Iris. Ms. Greenwood chuckled and shook her head. Several students snickered.
Iris blinked a few times. "Wait, Sandy's not your real name?" she asked while Ms. Greenwood called out more names.
"I mean, I prefer most people call me Sandy. Y'know, because of my sandy-brown hair. Adrian… sounds too proper for me." His eyes fell for a moment, but then picked up that bright spark again.
"Ariel Zutherlands!" No reply. "No Ariel?" Ms. Greenwood questioned. Awkward silence.
"We're just missing the cricket noises now," Sandy whispered.
Ms. Greenwood looked around the room. "Alright, looks like Ariel is absent." She closed the attendance book she held in her hand. "Alright, everyone! We're going to the auditorium now!" The students all walked out of the classroom behind their homeroom teacher single file.
Like before, the auditorium was once again filled up with students, from freshmen to seniors, only this time with the addition of the teachers and other members of the school staff. Iris and Sandy spotted Laura in the crowd. Laura grinned, and they waved at each other.
The auditorium had a stage that was raised higher than the rest of the floor, with stairs on both sides leading up to it. Two people stood there now. One was a smiling woman who had a beautiful glow to her. Iris squinted, and gasped when she saw that the woman was pregnant. The other person on stage was a man, who was smiling as well. Yet, unlike the future mother, he seemed to be doing it just to be polite. There was a no-nonsense vibe about him.
The woman tapped the microphone she held in her hand several times, causing the last of the students' chatting to die away. When all were quiet and all were focused on the two people onstage, the woman spoke. "Hey, guys!" she said cheerfully. "How are y'all doing?"
Several "I'm-doing-good"'s and "Great"'s. One "Horrible." The lady smiled even more brightly. "I'm glad everyone's enjoying their school day so far. If you don't know who I am, I'm retired Principal Kimberly. Some of you had me as your principal over your school years, but as of today, I'm taking maternity leave, and will no longer be your principal." She gestured to her pregnant belly. Several students whistled, some clapped, and others cheered, "Congratulations!" Principal Kimberly continued. "I will miss having you as my fellow students and staff. We shared so many memories over the past decade, I can't thank you enough for giving me the chance to work with you all."
"We'll miss you too, Principal Kimberly!" one hysterical upperclassman shouted. His teacher shushed him.
Principal Kimberly wiped away a stray tear that had fallen down her cheek. "Anyway, enough sob stories. Moving on." The man she was with stepped forward. "This here is Mr. Sampton. He will be your new principal this year."
Iris jumped at the familiarity of the name. Where have I heard that before? Before she could organize her thoughts, Mr. Sampton spoke.
"Thank you, Principal Kimberly." He turned from the woman to the students. "So kids, have has your day been?" No one answered. Apparently, they weren't as familiar with this man as they were with Principal Kimberly. Mr. Sampton moved on. "I'm Mr. Sampton, though I suppose it's Principal Sampton now." He chuckled at his own joke. "Anyway, there are a few surprises this year. The first one is that my daughter Rivera is attending this school for the first time. So I won't be the only Sampton who's new here." He looked out over the sea of students. "Rivera, please come up here and meet your fellow students!" The girl with the blue streak in her hair from earlier glided gracefully up to the front of the room, and stood onstage next to her father. She smiled and blew a kiss to the crowd.
"So that's why his name sounds so familiar," Iris whispered softly. She turned to Sandy, who, once again, sat next to her. "She's that girl who gave us our schedules."
Sandy huffed. "Looks like Daddy decided to bend the rules for his little girl."
"It's true! Only juniors, seniors, and the occasional sophomore can hand out schedules to freshmen. Yet somehow she, a freshman, managed to become a student helper on the first day." He sat back in his chair. "Sounds rigged to me."
"The next surprise," continued Mr. Sampton, "is that we're going to change a few things about Blue Flower High, starting with the attire." Students looked at one another. "Starting this year, students are required to wear the official Blue Flower High school uniforms."