Luckily I would be attending a private school this year. Miss Samantha seemed to know the principal.
“Samantha, nice to see you, and I’m guessing this is Audrey,” I nodded shyly, “Oh you’re a little shy thing aren’t you, but you’re cute as a button. My name’s Principal Pena.”
She stuck out her hand.
“Nice to meet you Principal Pena.”
“Miss Summers tells me that you’re smart, but shy, and can be a little stubborn at times.”
“I guess so ma’am.”
“Well I hope I won’t have any problems with you.”
“No ma’am, I’m a good girl.”
I rubbed my bottom and little bit and I saw Miss Samantha Smile with pride.
“Good, are you ready to go to class?”
“Give me a hug goodbye honey. I’ll be back to pick you up at 3:00. And don’t let me hear about you getting into trouble.”
“No ma’am, I’ll be good.”
“Okay, goodbye Audrey.”
I gave her a hug, and the principal walked me down the unfamiliar hall. Strangely enough, Miss Samantha was what I was most familiar with in this town, and now she was abandoning me, and I felt like I was losing my only touchstone. I was in a dress, walking past a bunch of rooms filled with children I didn’t know.
“We don’t have a uniform here. We like to let our children have some individuality, but there is a dress code. Girls wear dresses and boys wear pants and a shirt. What you’re wearing is fine. You will need a gym uniform, but I can get that for you later….here we are.”
We walked into the class, and all eyes were on me. I clutched my purse with both hands. This was the point where they’d know or not.
“Class, this is Audrey. She’s a new student who just moved to town. I hope you all make her feel welcome, and I’m hoping someone will show her around and take her to lunch. Any volunteers?”
A hand went up.
“Thank you Vanessa.”
“Say hi to everyone Audrey.”
I barely squeaked out the word, “hi,” and everyone started laughing.
“Okay children be nice. Audrey this is Miss Torani. She’ll be your teacher this year. Miss Torani, I’ll let you continue.”
“Thank you Principal Pena. Audrey you may have a seat over there next to Vanessa.”
I sat down, and she gave me a little comforting wave. It made me smile and I did the same.
When the lunch bell rang, Vanessa took me to lunch. It was the first time we were able to talk. She asked me all the usual questions, about where did I come from, why was I here, and I answered as best I could. After that, she explained the routine of the school.
“Okay, we need to get in this line first,” she grabbed my hand and pulled me in line.
I felt her soft hand in mine, and I felt warm inside. It felt so good I forgot that I was holding it.
“Okay, you can let go now.”
“Sorry,” I said embarrassed.
“It’s okay. I know you have to be nervous your first day.”
Her look was soft, and I realized I would have never been treated this way as a boy.
“So why this line?”
“This is the French fry line. It’s the most popular. Don’t eat too many, though, you don’t want to get fat.”
“Yeah,” I giggled.
Vanessa led me to a table of girls. Most were nice, but one said, “Vanessa, why’d you bring this freak over here to our table.”
“She’s not a freak.”
“Nice dress freak. Where’d you get it, from the charity pile?”
Girls were mean. I didn’t know how mean girls could be. It made me mad. For one thing, my dress looked pretty. I checked before I left the house. And another thing, it looked a lot better than hers. A little bit of my male ego made me snap back with force.
“It looks better than yours chicken face!”
“Chicken face!” one of the girls screamed, “She got you Hilda. Chicken face!”
Hilda seemed to sink back down into her seat while all the girls laughed. I saw her, and felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt. Vanessa patted me on the back and changed my train of thought.
“I think you’ll do all right here Audrey.”