In case you don't know what that means: Each Wednesday I post a snippet written in response to a photo. If you'd like to be included in the Wednesday Muse series, please let me know! I'd be happy to add you to the list at the end.
I pushed open the door to the office and tried to breathe past the scent of apples and cinnamon that threatened to knock me down and clog my pores. My eyes watered with the sudden scent overload. The secretary smiled brightly, standing at her desk.
The offending candle melted slowly on a candle warmer behind her.
“You must be Evangeline Winters! Welcome to Black Falls High!”
Her cheerfulness and enthusiasm were as overwhelming as the scent, but they were genuine. I smiled, taking small sips of air through my mouth. “Yes, that’s me. Thanks. I need to pick up my schedule and sign some paperwork I think. Do I do that here or in guidance?”
I already knew the answer, it wasn’t my first time in a new school, but it made people less uncomfortable if you pretended as if you didn’t know anything. Adults and overachievers in schools loved to help the newbie out. If you knew too much, they got skittish, or worse, they decided you were a troublemaker. One of those kids. I didn’t need that rep right off the bat.
“Of course! You’ll go to guidance. It’s just down the hall, third door on the right. There’s a big sign out front. You can’t miss it. You’ll do just fine here. Have a great day!”
I waved and offered a smile and escaped into the hallway. I was so eager to get out of the apple spice haze I failed to pay attention to the tall, dark headed boy outside and stumbled into him. If he had been a little less quick on his feet, we’d have both been sprawled on the floor.
Instead, he offered a wide smile. “You all right?”
I nodded, my face burning. “I’m so sorry. Wasn’t paying any attention. Are you okay?”
He nodded. “No harm done. Are you new here?”
I offered a weak smile. “Is it that obvious?”
He shrugged and spread out his hands. “This is a small town. I know all the faces,” he fell into step beside me. “Well, most of them, anyway.”
“I’m living with my Aunt and Uncle for the year. I’m not new, but I’ve never lived here either.”
“That’s quite a puzzle. How can you be new and not at the same time?”
“Some people know me, because I spent so long with my cousin. But I’ve never been here and attended school.”
The guidance office was a few feet away. Will stopped. “Where did you go before?”
I paused. This is where things got hard to explain. “A lot of places. Sometimes tutors. Sometimes schools. Online classes. You name it, I’ve done it.”
A laugh escaped. “Okay, almost everything.”
He smiled, and I wanted to brush the dark hair off his forehead. He was tanned, but it was the kind of tan that you were born with, not the kind you got by baking. His eyes were dark, and he seemed… sad.
“What did you say?” His smile fell, and panic clawed at my chest. I realized I’d said the last bit out loud.
“Oh, God. I’m sorry. Sometimes I blurt things, and I don’t mean them.”
He shifted his book bag on his shoulders. “You might want to work on that. And for the record, how do my eyes look sad?”
I waved a hand in the air. “I’m sorry. Forget I said anything. I’ve got to get into guidance. Thanks for being nice and breaking my fall.”
His lips twitched, some of the weird tension leaving his shoulders. “Glad I was there to catch you. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
I escaped into the guidance office.
Way to go, stupid. I rubbed a hand over the back of my neck. This was not how I intended to start the morning.