“Oh my god! Are you ok?”
The boy on the floor did not respond.
Natalie kneeled down beside him and shook his shoulder.
His eyes flickered open, thank god, but there was something strange about them.
Natalie did a double take. No, she wasn’t seeing things. The boy had one blue eye and one green eye. She had never seen anything like it before in her life.
“I accidentally knocked you out. Please don’t be mad at me.”
“Why would I be mad? You didn’t do it on purpose. Besides, accidents make the world more interesting.”
“Uh…thanks for understanding?” Natalie appreciated his generosity but wished he would stop talking so she could get to class on time.
“Which class are you going to?” he asked.
“Biology. Look, I’d love to stay and chat with you but I’ve really got to go.”
“I know. Biology.”
Her question echoed down the empty corridor. The boy with the strange eyes was already gone. He had been the first to show her any interest (most boys took one look at her and ran in the opposite direction) and she had probably came across as a huge jerk. It figured.
She reached for the classroom doorknob. The late bell rang the instant her fingers touched metal. She groaned. If she hadn’t stopped to ask that boy his name she would’ve been on time. Maybe she’d get lucky and the teacher wouldn’t notice her sneaking in.
So much for luck.
“You’re late. But you’re new here, so I’ll let it slide…this time..”
“Thank you Ms. Sharpe. It won’t happen again.”
“Excuse me? Did you just call me an old hen?”
“What? No! I said it won’t happen again!”
A girl in the front row burst into in a fit of giggles. Natalie wanted to crawl into a corner and die.
“Listen here, missy. I’ve been teaching in this establishment for over thirty years. I might be old but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to command a classroom. You just got yourself after-school fish bowl duty.”
“But it was all just a misunderstanding!” Natalie didn’t know what fish bowl duty was, but she knew it couldn’t be good.
“Shush. One more word out of you and you’ll be on your way to the principal’s office. Now take a seat, and the next time you come into my classroom, do not wear those ridiculous pajama bottoms.”
Natalie trudged to the back of the room. First period had barely even started and she had already made a fool out of herself.
She was always making a fool out of herself.
This time it hadn’t even been her fault. If that boy hadn’t been standing in the hallway none of this would have ever happened.
It was all his fault, that stupid boy with his stupid eyes.
Oh who was she kidding? It wasn’t really the boy’s fault. The reason why this whole thing happened, the reason why these things always happened, was simple: she was a loser.
Natalie stared at the terrarium next to her desk. The metal plaque attached to the bottom read “Zephyr Metalmark Butterfly”. Indeed, a Zephyr Metalmark perched on a rock inside. A boy sneezed and the Zephyr took flight. Its wings brushed against the roof of the terrarium just once before it came crashing back down.
Like the Zephyr, Natalie felt trapped. Her family had just moved to Sunset Valley and she was already eager to escape. Not just from the new town, and not just from the new school, but from herself.
Besides, there was something about Sunset Valley that rubbed her the wrong way. She couldn’t place her finger on what it was, but she could feel it all around her. Something wasn’t right.