Sophie was enjoying herself. It was the first day of twelfth grade and everything was just as she had always imagined it would be. She could almost feel the excitement buzz against her skin as the returning second years swarmed through the college gates. She scanned the crowd for her best friends while expertly dodging the shoves generated by overly enthusiastic hugs accompanied by high pitched squeals. Thankfully, the guys preferred bumping shoulders and fists over the joyful public bouncing the girls were partial towards. She had just caught sight of Sam striding towards the café in pink heels when a carelessly swung giant handbag nearly knocked off her glasses. On the bright side, her yell of surprise had drawn the attention of Sam, who was now hurrying over as fast as her shoes allowed. “You okay girl?” Sam asked with concern. “I was afraid this would end up like a scene from Sleepy Hollow!” Sophie clutched her head and groaned in reply unable to give her retreating attacker a piece of her mind.
Fortunately, they finally reached the café without further accidents and collapsed next to Sarah and Aly. As both girls were busy texting, they failed to notice them until Sam exclaimed “OMG! You guys will not believe who I just saw practically seducing our Math teacher!” Two heads eagerly whipped around to face them at that juicy piece of gossip. Sophie got up to enfold Aly in a hug but she was instantly held at arm’s length and scanned from head to toe. “That shirt cut was barely trendy like six months ago Sophie. For a second there I thought you were one of the teachers!” Aly said shaking her head in disapproval. Sighing Sophie moved on to greet Sarah who suddenly seemed conscious of her own top from last season. “Come on, Sam spill!” Aly nearly shouted out in impatience. “Well,” Sam begin drawing out the word slowly, “It was that total snob Laila! You know that Kardashian wannabe who everyone says got lip injections during the holidays?” There were gasps from the other two as Sophie interjected, “I bumped into her at the mall a few days ago. I didn’t think she looked like a duck.” Sarah snorted at that statement. “Oh please, your nose is always buried in a book. You never notice such things.” Sophie opened her mouth to argue just as the bell rang and they all hurried towards their classes.
The girls made plans to go to the movies later that afternoon to celebrate their first day back as no assignments had been handed out. Standing in the queue for popcorn, Sophie shifted her weight from one foot to another and watched Sam throw up her hands in exasperation at the ticket counter. She could hear her friend yelling from all the way over there. “Four! I said four!” Sam screeched at the poor guy on duty. “Are you deaf or too stupid to count?” Thankfully, Aly and Sarah showed up in time to pull Sam away from the panicked guy who appeared to be stuttering apologies. Sophie rolled her eyes at the scene. Sam was way too dramatic about everything from breaking a nail to her cat getting run over by the neighbour’s car. Oh and how could Sophie forget that time her brother yelled at her in front of everyone for taking his car without permission? Sam’s mascara had completely transferred from her lashes to her cheeks by the time she finally stopped sobbing into her pillow. “What a drama queen!” she muttered under her breath as she found her friends in the third row ogling a passing couple and giggling like idiots.
“Isn’t that Ruby?” Sophie inquired as she glanced over at the girl smiling shyly at cute guy who was obviously trying to impress her with his witty one-liners. Sarah threw a malicious look in Ruby’s direction as she let out a bubble of laughter. Her companion seemingly pleased with his success, grinned from ear to ear. “Yeah, that’s her. Home wrecker!” Sarah snarled in response to her question. Comprehension dawned on Sophie’s face and she sighed inwardly. Ruby must have earned that title because she was guilty of appealing to a guy Sarah had set her sights on. “I have been inviting him to the movies with us all week but all I got were lame excuses!” Sarah whined loudly. “It’s his loss”, Aly patted her knee trying to placate her. “Yeah”, Sam piped in, “Ruby isn’t half as pretty as you Sarah.” Sophie forced herself to nod along at the appropriate places to stop Sarah’s grumbling. Fortunately, the movie started at that moment putting an end to the annoying conversation.
The next day they met in the main hall of their college and were almost swallowed by the animated crowd of first years pouring in for their orientation. Moving to stand with the other seniors, they scrutinized the newcomers for potential prey respecting the long standing tradition of ragging. “Look at that one!” Aly suddenly pointed at someone just entering the hall. Sophie craned her neck to catch a glimpse of the first year but she was hidden from view by a burly boy who looked hopelessly lost. “Her sleeveless top looks more like the strapless variety”, Sam snickered next to her. “Did she run out of cloth for her trouser?” Sarah added laughing at the unsuspecting girl. “No scarf either,” Aly noted smirking. “Looks like another one of “those” girls who is just begging to be branded with a distasteful nickname.” Frustrated at not being able to see the first year, Sophie took two steps forward before stopping in her tracks as the crowd parted to reveal the newcomer. Her friends were openly laughing by now but their laughter died in their throats as Sophie calmly stated, “That’s my little sister”. Storming past them to meet her sister, she heard their gasps and almost felt the shame burning their faces.
-End of Part One-