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I STOOD STILL ON THE SIDEWALK as the other kids rushed around me. Some were laughing, while others were listening to music, texting or had their eyes on a book in their hands. I stood there staring at the school, wishing I were anywhere but here. I wanted to be back at my old school, Madison High in Texas. Really, who lives in Delaware? Or, as the postcards like to play on words, Dela-WHERE? Who knew this small three county state was even a state! I only knew because my grandparents live here. And this is where I’m sentenced to spend my senior year of high school. Two months ago, my parents died in a car accident. It was a drunk driver who had no business being on the road. My parents were out on their “date night”. You know, when they want to get away from the house and kid. Unfortunately for them, someone else was having a date night and had a little too much to drink. Remembering the knock on the door that night from the police had my eyes watering, and I again see their smiling faces when they kissed me goodnight and reminded me to lock the door after they left.
I took a deep breath and stared straight ahead, willing the tears to go away. Suddenly, someone walked into me from the side. A cute blonde boy had headphones on and had walked backward into me, waving at someone across the parking lot. He wore the same clothes I’ve seen everyone else wearing; jeans and a red t-shirt. I staggered a little before he whipped around, saw what happened and grabbed my arm before I could be further humiliated and fall on my face. That would be just my luck. Lucky for me he had quick reflexes and caught me before I fell. I stared into his blue eyes, dumbfounded and couldn’t think of anything to say.
He greeted me with a smile apologized and moved around me. He stopped and gave me a strange look and said, “Are you new here? I don’t think I know you and I know just about everyone.”
I picked my jaw up from the ground, swallowed and mumbled, “Yes, I’m new. I moved here from Texas and this is my first day.”
“Oh, hey! Texas, that’s pretty cool. How do you like Delaware so far? I’m sorry! My name is Brent. Brent Johnson. I’m a senior here. Born and raised Delawarean.” He smiled, looking into my eyes. He seemed like a nice guy. I was about to answer him when a brunette girl came up, pushed her way between us to give him a hug.
“Brent! It’s been too long! Where have you been? I haven’t seen you since after school let out.” She gave a pout and stared into Brent’s eyes. Not once did she acknowledge me, which was fine with me.
Brent looked less than thrilled, but gave a slight smile and hugged her back. “Hi, Stephanie. Sorry I haven’t been around much. Just working and hanging out. How was your summer?”
I turned to walk away and he grabbed my arm. “Wait! You didn’t tell me your name. How am I going to find you later?”
I looked at him, surprised. Why would he want to find me later? Compared to Stephanie’s green eyes and brunette wavy hair, my blonde hair in its ponytail didn’t stand out. And from Stephanie’s expression, she wondered the same thing.
“Ummm, my name is Nicole. Nicole Peters. I better get into the office to get my schedule so I’m not late to my first class.” I smiled shyly and walked away.
Brent said goodbye to Stephanie and caught up to me. “I’ll walk with you so you don’t get lost.” He grinned at me and I was a little dazed by his smile and looked back at Stephanie who was staring at us.
I looked at Brent and said, “Should you have left? That girl looks like she wanted to talk with you.”
He looked a little pained and said, “Yeah, it’s ok. I’ll, uh, catch up with her later. I want to make sure you’re good to go before I set you loose on the school. I feel kind of responsible since I almost knocked you over.”
I laughed. “I appreciate that, but, I think I’m good.” He smiled and shrugged as we made our way into the main doors to go to the office.
Suddenly, I felt a little sting on my arm. I jumped and grabbed my arm. Brent looked at me, puzzled. I glanced around, looking for a bee, but, only saw Stephanie glare back at me as she was walking away. I looked at my arm but there was no mark. I rubbed my arm and smiled at Brent in confusion. “I thought I got stung, but, there’s no mark.” I shrugged my shoulders and kept moving.
Brent glanced over his shoulder. “That’s strange. So, did you get your schedule yet? Know what classes you are in?”
“No, not yet. That’s why I have to go to the office.”
“That’s right; you said that a few minutes ago. Sorry, I was listening, I just got distracted.”
He pointed to the right as we walked down the hall, to the school office. I thanked him and walked toward the office.
“I’m not letting you off that quick,” he laughed. “I have to know…”
“You have to know what?” I asked after a few seconds of silence.
“Well, I have to know where we go from here.”
I looked at him, confused. “You know. Where do we go from here? Algebra, Economics, Wood Shop or Home Ec?”
He looked so serious, I couldn’t help but laugh again. He laughed with me as he held the door open and we entered the office.
The woman behind the desk gave me a distracted smile. “What can I do for you?” She shuffled papers around, looking for something I assumed.
“I’m new to Johnstown High, and I need to get my schedule. My name is Nicole Peters.”
She turned to me, a little more focused. “You’re Nicole Peters? Is your dad Benjamin Peters?”
I stared at her a little shocked. Hearing my dad’s name was like a punch in the gut.
“Y-yes, my dad was Ben Peters,” I stuttered. “Did you know him?”
She looked away for a moment and then back to me.
“Yes, I knew him when he was a student here.”
I realized I didn’t think what it would be like to walk the same halls my mom and dad did. I knew they went to school here, but, didn’t think further than that.
“How is he doing?”
I glanced around and saw Brent staring at me.
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