"Here's the way to the school," my grandmother said, handing me a map. "Are you sure you don't just want to wait for Foster to bring me the newspaper? I'm sure he wouldn't mind walking with you."
"But I would," I mumbled. She cocked her head slightly. Good; she didn't hear me. "I'll be fine," I assured her. She kissed my cheek as I left. I slowly made my way, making sure I was going in the right direction. I did not want to get lost. The last thing I needed was to show up on my first day late.
It took only about twenty minutes to get to school. It wasn't that big; much smaller than my old high school. Still, it was quite intimidating.
"Hi!" a voice said. I whirled around to see who was talking to me. A girl stood behind me. She had medium length brown hair, and wore faded jeans and a grey-blue hoodie. Her eyes were the same color as her hoodie, and she wore little to no makeup. She seemed like a person that would be shy, but she obviously wasn't. "I'm Echo. What's your name?" she asked.
"Cosette..." I said uneasily.
"That's a pretty name," she admired. I shifted my weight uncomfortably. "You're new here, right? I haven't seen you here before."
"Uh, yeah," I said.
"Awesome," she smiled. "Want me to show you around? I could help you find classes if you want to."
"Uhm..." I bit my lip. I wasn't sure yet if I still wanted her around, but it would be helpful... "I guess... Do you know where I get my schedule first?" I asked. She grinned and nodded. Then she took my hand and pulled me through the crowd of students. People gave me weirded out stares, and some people giggled. My face burned as Echo dragged me around.
We ended up in the office. Echo gestured to the secretaries. They ignored us for a couple minutes.
"May I help you?" one of them sighed eventually.
"Um... I'm new here," I said, my voice up an octave.
"Name," she said, uninterested.
"Cosette Hayner..." She looked through some papers, and then handed me a schedule. I handed it to Echo for inspection.
"We have... second, fourth, lunch, seventh, eighth, and ninth period together," she said. She looked up at me and smiled. "Come on, I'll show you where your class is." The two of us walked down the hall, and she brought me to History class. "See ya," she smiled and left. She wasn't that bad, actually.
I took an empty seat in the classroom, trying to seem invisible.
"You're in my seat," someone grumbled. I peered up at a guy who looked like he should've graduated already. I gulped and slowly stood up, and took an empty seat.
"Ahem," said a girl that was dressed from head to toe in pink and sparkles. I sighed and got up, yet again, and took another seat.
I ended up switching seats seven times. Finally I found a seat where no one sat, or the person was just absent today.
"Looks like we have a new student," the teacher said. "Why don't you stand up and introduce yourself?" Oh no. I slowly stood up, shaking a little bit.
"Cosette," I said barely audible. The teacher moved her palms from her mouth and out, her mouth wide.
"Speak... Louder..." she said slowly and obnoxiously loud. I wanted to hit her.
"Cosette," I said again, a little louder.
"A little better," she shrugged. She let me take my seat. There were some whispers and giggles around me, and I let my hair fall in my face, shielding me from seeing anyone else.
After that, I met up with Echo in the hallway. She smiled.
"How was it?" she asked. I shook my head.
"Yeah, Ms. Jenkins is a bitch," she said, lowering her voice. "Come on! We've got English next."
I took a seat next to Echo in English. She said no one sits next to her, so I didn't have to worry about anyone complaining.
"Look, the loser's so desperate for friends she's hangin' out with the new goth girl," a kid sneered as he walked past us. I recognized him. Lowell. I grimaced and looked at Echo, not making eye contact with him. Echo frowned.
"Just ignore him," I grumbled.
"Yeah..." Echo sighed. "He's a jerk." I nodded. "You've met him already?"
"Sadly," I muttered.
"Don't cut yourself," I heard him say. A couple kids laughed. I clenched my hands into fists. The only thing I want to slit right now was his throat. I turned around to face him. He was chuckling with a couple other ass holes.
"Shut up," I retorted. They rolled their eyes and turned away. I turned back to Echo, who looked really embarrassed. I was about to apologize, when she opened her mouth to speak.
"Do you cut yourself?" she asked.
"No, I said, shaking my head. I pushed up my sleeves as evidence. "See?" She nodded, and turned slowly to face the front.
I went to the next couple of classes, one of which Echo was with me. I decided I did like her. She was nice. And not judgemental. I smiled to myself. That's all I ever wanted. To be liked for me. Then lunch came. I started to walk into the cafeteria, and Echo stopped.
"What's wrong?" I asked. She bit her lip, and shifted.
"Uh.." she said.
"Nothing, I... I don't eat in there."
"That's ok. Just come with me. I just need to buy my lunch." She looked at me uneasily, then came in with me, glued to my side. I got and paid for my lunch. We were leaving the cafeteria, when a bunch of kids started throwing plastic knives at us.
"Go cut yourself, emos!" they shouted. I flinched away. I looked at Echo, but she was gone. I left the lunch room, looking for her.
"Echo?" I called, walking down the hall. I heard someone whimper. I found her sitting in the hallway, up against the locker. She had her knees to her chest, and her face was covered with her hands. I trotted over and sat down next to her. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"I'm sorry," she sniffed. "I don't want you to get made fun of because of me."
"What do you mean? I kinda thought it was the other way..." She shook her head and sniffed again.
"They always make fun of me." I pouted.
"Why?" She wiped her eyes with her hoodie sleeve and looked at me. She pursed her lips, then sighed. She rolled up her sleeves. I covered my mouth with my hands and gasped. All up her arms were pink lines. They made lines up her arms. Others were more faded than others. Some had crusted blood on them. The sight made my stomach flip. "Why?" I said again. She pulled her sleeves down real quick and stood up.
"You think you're better, don't you?" she snapped. I stood up to look her in the eyes.
"They all think they're better than me," she said quickly, the tension growing in her voice. "Just because they can deal with it. Well I can't. They don't have to. They don't know anything!"
"Echo! It's ok," I said softly. "It's ok. I don't-- I know I'm not better than you. No one's better than anyone." She grabbed fistfuls of her hair and groaned, pacing back and forth in front of me.
"I'm sorry, I just..." she groaned again. "I don't want to take it out on you it's just... Hard. It's hard to... to deal with." She started to calm down a bit. For a brief second I couldn't believe the girl that greeted me this morning that was all smiles was the same girl having a meltdown in front of me. She stopped dead in her tracks. "Do you hate me now?" she asked. I shook my head real fast.
"No. Of course I don't." Unthinkingly, I hugged her. After a couple moments she hugged me back. From what Echo said, it seemed people think it's hilarious that she cuts herself. It made me sick. This poor little girl was hurting, and all they did was laugh at her. I grew furious.