Thanks, SpookyCatHalloween, for the idea! This one's for you, love.
Just a teaser for those of you who might be interested ;)
That’s it. That’s all. Ugh. Uuuuuugh. That was literally the only thing, the only word, the only thought in Alex’s head as she pushed the door open.
Ugh. What is this?
Not much. Definitely not much. Definitely a total downgrade from the last school she had been going to. The last school she had been happy in, before her parents decided it would be nice to pack up and go and rough it out in the town her mom had grown up in; the house she had lived in, before she left.
Well, no. Not the house. But close. Her grandma’s house, right beside her house. A teeny, tiny little old townhouse that smelled like potatoes and dog hair. And tea.
Tea. Who drank tea?
“Mom,” Alex said, staring at the tiny little office, the tiny little receptionist. “You can’t.”
“Sorry, hun. And, yeah, I can.”
Alex groaned. Her dad ruffled her hair. Alex let her head flop against his shoulder.
“C’mon, love,” her mom said. “You aren’t going into battle. It’s just a new school!”
“Yeah,” Alex said, scowling into her Dad’s shoulder. “A new one. I have to make new friends, and find the new bathroom, and try not to break any of my new pencils in my new pencil case. Yay.” She made sarcastic jazz hands.
Alex’s mom sighed. “Alex—”
“Alexandra,” her Dad snapped, interrupting Mom. Alex wished she could do that.
“Carmen, we aren’t going to stand around here forever. She can either go up to the front, or we’ll drag her there. We’re here whether she likes it or not.” Alex’s dad looked down at her, reaching out a big hand to grip her shoulder. “Go.”
“Daaaaad. That—ow! That hurts!”
“Go, Alex. We’re right here. All you have to do is introduce yourself and ask for a schedule. It’s not difficult.”
Alex stamped her foot. “But it’s a new school, Dad! I don’t know how to go to new schools!”
“For the love of—Alexandra. Go up there. Right now. You’re six years old, for God’s sake. I know you can do this.” As her dad talked to her and gripped her shoulder harder than when Alex had snapped her finger in a mouse trap that one time last year, her mom was looking down at her face, the crows feet around her eyes scrunched. They were supposed to be laugh lines. That’s what her mom had said they were. But they weren’t laugh lines right now.
Alex opened her mouth, closed it, sighed, then turned and walked up to the lady at the front, muttering to herself about ‘annoying’ ‘why’ ‘ugh’, and ‘stupid’, her hands stuffed into the big pockets of her coat.
When she hopped up onto the stool in front of the desk, wobbling a little in her Sketchers,
Receptionist Lady looked up at her, and her mouth formed a big “O”. It kind of looked like a butthole. Oops. A cartoon. Yeah. A cartoon. Mom would kill her if she said that outloud.
Mom wasn’t going to hear….
Eh. She wasn’t going to take any chances.
“Oh my Goodness! I was told you would be here! Hello! What’s your name, my dear?”
Alex stared at her for a moment, trying not to roll her eyes, then gave her a tiny smile. “Alex.”
“Oh—oh! Alexandra Cooper, yes?”
“Yep.” Alex rubbed one of her shoes against the inside of her leg. “Hi.” She gave a little wave, then stuck her hand back into her pocket.
“You must want your schedule, don’t you? If you would get your parents for us, love, we could—oh, where are they—”
“Ah, sorry,” Alex’s mom jogged up to the desk and put a hand on the wood, black hair spinning around her head like a dark halo. “We’re—we’re her parents.” She sounded weird. Nervous, or something.
“Yes? Well, sign here, and here—yes, that’ll do—and here you go, hun!” The lady shoved a paper under Alex’s nose. Alex had to stretch her neck backwards (almost falling off of the stool) to get a good look at it, then took it out of Receptionist Lady’s hand, deeming it satisfactory.
Receptionist Lady gave her a giant, beaming smile. It was slightly scary, but sort of nice. A lot of her teeth were straight, but one of them was crooked. It was cool. Alex wanted to poke it.
Her dad pulled her to his chest, letting her legs dangle for a moment in the air before he set her down, and ruffled at her hair. “Is that all, then? Once Carmen finishes with the papers, she’ll be able to go in?”
“I believe so, unless she wants to stay in here with me!” Receptionist Lady laughed at her own joke, Mom and Dad chuckling weakly along with her. “You don’t, do you, love?”
Alex took her head out of the folds of her dad’s jacket and stared at Receptionist Lady. “No. It smells like old construction paper and cat litter. I tried cat litter once. I didn’t like it.”
Dad made a muffled sound. Mom brought her fingers up to her mouth and bit on them. Hard.
For a moment, Receptionist Lady looked awfully angry, but she slid right back into her scary smile. “Well, dear, you’ll be able to get out of here in a moment, won’t you?”
“Uh huh,” Alex said, hiding behind her dad again. “Sure.”
“C’mon, Al,” her mom murmured, gripping at Alex’s hand. “Thank you for this!” She called to Receptionist Lady, smiling in a way Alex had never seen before. It looked like she was trying to hold in a fart.
“Oh, of course! She’s a dear! Have fun!” Receptionist Lady waggled her fingers at Alex as the door closed.
“God,” Mom said, slumping against the wall once they made it down the hall. “Okay. Right.”
Dad laughed. “She was something, huh?”
“Yeah, a whole fu—dang lot of somethings, Pete.”
Dad snorted. “We aren’t the ones going to school, Carmen.” He put an arm around Mom’s shoulders. “She is.” He pointed at Alex and grinned.
Alex sighed. “I know, Dad. School. Yay.” She made a face.
“Oh, get out of here, you,” Mom said, nudging Alex’s ankle with her foot.
Alex scowled, then snickered, looking at her mom’s face. “Okay, okay, I’m going. I’m going! Bye!” She waved her parents and set off down the hallway. At the end, she stared at the doors. “Uh…”
“Last door on the left, next hall!” Her dad called out. “See you later!”
“Okay!” Alex turned around and gave them a thumbs up, then turned and slipped around the corner. “Bye!”
Alex ran down the corridor, sliding her fingers on the wall, and stopped at the last door on the left.
New school. She thought. Ugh. And pushed the door open.