The impending first day of school resulted in mixed feelings for everyone. Linley was excited, but her parents were still a little skeptical. They just wanted everything to go right.
Since neither Allanna nor Xavier could be in the sun, they decided it would be easier if Linley just took the bus to school with the other kids. Linley didn’t mind; she looked at that as an adventure. When the bus pulled in front of the familiar building and she was wearing her new school clothes and carrying her backpack and lunch box, she was overcome with even more anticipation.
At Morningside Elementary School, all the kids approached a table where various faculty members handed them a name tag and a piece of paper with their teacher’s name on it. They then had to stand under a sign on the walls with their teacher’s name, and they were then escorted to class by the teacher. Linley already knew where her classroom was, but she joined the other kids anyway.
There were probably 15 or so other students besides herself, and most of them seemed to already be talking to other classmates. They’d undoubtedly known each other from the previous school year, so they were already comfortable with each other.
When Mrs. Kirkwood arrived at last to take the class to their room, Linley saw that, as promised, there were small name tags on the tables indicating who was to sit where. Linley waited until the other kids sat down before taking her seat. She ended up sitting next to a girl named Chelcie Wilkins, who had freckles and blonde hair.
“Okay everyone,” Mrs. Kirkwood said from the front of the room. “Most of you probably already know each other from second grade, but I see a few new faces in here. So I’d like everyone to come up here, one at a time, and tell us your name and a little bit about yourself.”
A few kids groaned under their breath. Others hunched down in their seats so they wouldn’t be called on first. But that proved unnecessary since Mrs. Kirkwood started at the very front of the row of desks and proceeded across the line.
Linley listened closely to everyone’s speeches. Part of being in public school was knowing about your fellow students, especially if she hoped to make any friends.
When it was Chelcie’s turn, Linley learned that she liked to draw and that she’d gotten a pet horse over the summer for her birthday. Then came Linley’s turn.
Suddenly feeling shy, Linley took some tentative steps to the front of the room. What was she going to say about herself? Her parents had made it beyond clear that she couldn’t tell anyone that she was a hybrid and that the rest of her family was vampires. What did that leave? She didn’t get any pets for her birthday, nor did she go on a vacation during the summer. What was she going to say?
“My name’s Linley,” she began as she stared at the faces gaping back at her. “I just moved here from Bridgeport this summer, and I’ve never been to a real school before.”
A few kids in the back of the classroom giggled. Mrs. Kirkwood silenced them and urged Linley to continue.
“My mom and dad taught me everything until now,” she continued, trying to disregard the snickers, “and I really like to run and read.”
“You read for fun?” a boy’s voice mocked from the back. “What a nerd!”
“That’s enough, Derek,” Mrs. Kirkwood said warningly. Linley knew she had to control her temper, lest she transform into a wolf (though that shouldn’t happen until after her first transformation). Her parents most likely hadn’t anticipated bratty classmates.
Instead of retorting to Derek, Linley walked back to her seat and sat down. Chelcie leaned across from her desk and whispered, “Don’t mind Derek. He’s a total jerk to everyone new.”
Linley nodded knowingly. Chelcie hadn’t needed to tell her that; it was blatantly obvious. But at least she was making an attempt to be nice to her.
After all the introductions were made, Mrs. Kirkwood got the class started on science. She made learning fun, explaining that science didn’t have to be the boring lessons about rocks and planets. Instead, she asked random students what they were interested in, and when they gave examples such as playing games and watching TV, Mrs. Kirkwood explained that they’d be studying the eyes and ears later on, which were very important in enjoying those pastimes.
When the bell rang for the first recess of the day, some students grabbed some toys before darting out the door. Linley, once again, was in the back of the line. When she stepped outside, she got an even better view of the playground.
There were five swings on the far end of the playground, a large open field for the students who wanted to play soccer or baseball, three seesaws, two slides, a couple of large sandboxes, some activity towers, and even some bouncy spring rides. Linley wasn’t sure what she wanted to do first.
The swings appeared to be the most vacant, as most of the kids were playing kickball with their friends in the open field. So she headed in that direction and sat down on one of the swings. She pushed herself off and went as high as she could. Linley had always like to swing; it gave her the free sensation of flying. She felt that way now, soaring above the kids playing below her. When she looked down again, she saw Chelcie taking the swing next to her. She dragged her feet along the ground to stop and smiled at her table mate.
“Did you really live in Bridgeport?” Chelcie asked. Linley nodded and said, “I was born there, but we had to move here after my little brothers were born so we could have a bigger house.”
That was the story her parents had told her to say in the event anyone asked why they left Bridgeport for Morningside.
“I hear that place is really cool,” Chelcie replied. “I bet there are lots of movie stars there.”
“I never got to meet one, but I heard there were.”
“How do you like it here?”
“It’s good so far, except for Derek.”
“Yeah, he thinks he’s so cool because he has his own cell phone. Who wants a cell phone when you’re stuck in school all day? He’s a total dummy.”
Linley giggled. She then decided to do some investigating of her own.
“Have you always lived here?”
“Oh yeah, and so have my mom and dad. They went to school together here and now they live here. They had me and my brother here too.”
“You have a brother?”
“Yeah, I have an older brother in sixth grade. He’s weird, always listening to stupid music and dressing up in all black clothes. I think sometimes he even puts on girl makeup.”
“I don’t know, he’s just weird like I said.”
“Oh, right. I hope my brothers never get like that.”
“You have two brothers? Ugh, that must stink.”
“Yeah, they’re twins and they’re three.”
“Twins? Oh, cool! I never knew anyone who knew real live twins!”
“Yeah, but it’s hard to tell them apart sometimes. Even for me, and I’m their big sister.”
Just then, a boy with red hair approached the girls. He asked shyly, “Can I swing with you?”
“You don’t have to ask, Skyler,” Chelcie replied. “This is Linley. Linley, this is Skyler.”
“Hi,” Linley said politely. She recognized the boy during introductions. He was definitely the quiet type and he’d said that he liked to build things.
Skyler returned Linley’s greeting before taking the swing next to her. The three then began a jumping contest, the rules of which stated that whoever jumped the farthest off the moving swing won the game.
Linley, with her rapid speed and heightened vision, easily beat them both, landing almost on the field.
“Whoa, how did you do that?” Skyler asked. “I’ve never seen anyone jump that high!”
“Um…” Linley wasn’t sure how to answer that question. Jumping and running came so naturally to her that she didn’t even think about doing it now. Finally, she settled for, “I like to swing and I’ve had lots of practice.”
“Oh. Well that’s cool. You should teach us how to do that sometime.”
“No thanks,” Chelcie, who’d come in last, declared. “I’m too scared of being up high. I say we play tag.”
So the three pursued a game of tag, though Linley was careful not to outrun her new friends like she’d out jumped them. Chelcie chased the two of them and pretended to shoot lasers at them as they ran across the playground.
When the bell rang, the three ran toward the doors and lined up. The third, fourth, and fifth graders all had their own recess periods, so each class had to line up with their respective classmates before going back inside.
Once they went back inside, Mrs. Kirkwood got them started on English, then came the horrid math, and then came a little bit of social studies before lunch. There was also assigned seating in the cafeteria, but only to the point where the same classes had to sit together. All of Mrs. Kirkwood’s students were in one section while other classes were in others.
Linley sat down next to Chelcie and Skyler then joined them. Both of them had gotten the school lunch while Linley took out her lunch box.
“How come you brought your lunch?” Chelcie wanted to know. Linley carefully replied, “I’m on a special diet.”
“Why? Only grown-ups need diets.”
“Well, my mom and dad put me on this one. It’s because I was born with…something, so I have to eat certain kinds of food.”
Thankfully, Chelcie gave up then and dug into her meat loaf. The smell of the cafeteria food wasn’t appealing. Linley was even more grateful that she had her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, not to mention some potato chips, beef jerky, and a cookie, instead. She also had her plastic cup of blood in her lunch box, but she found that she hadn’t craved it all day. In fact, she only started craving it now because she saw it beckoning to her inside her lunch box.
Thankfully, her parents had bought her one of those special plastic cups with a built-in straw, so no one would even see the crimson liquid going up the straw and into her mouth. Plus, she didn’t have fangs that emerged when she drank blood or fed (she wouldn't have those until she was older), so she didn’t have to worry about that either. She was so glad that this day was going as good as she’d hoped.
The rest of the day went by smoothly. There were no more confrontations with Derek, and Linley and Skyler sat on the bus together on the way home (Chelcie’s mother picked her up, so she didn’t ride the bus). When she arrived home, Linley eagerly told her parents all about her fortuitous day. They were equally happy for their daughter and were relieved that everything had gone so well.
It was looking like going to public school would be one of the best decisions Linley ever made. This wasn't just the first day of school for her. It was the first day of a new life for her. She couldn't wait to find out what else might be in store for her.