Her hands were clammy as she listened to the constant rhythm of papers being spat out of a printer. The room smelled like cleaning supplies and printer ink with an undertone scent of cinnamon, probably coming from the wispy gray-haired secretary who kept popping Altoid mints as if they were heavy duty ibuprofen pills.
She tried to keep from making herself known in the room. Occasionally people would walk in and out of the office, ready to continue on with their day. It seemed as though she was the only one who was going nowhere and getting nothing done. By the looks of it, she thought to herself, she would miss her entire school day before they even got her schedule set up, printed out, assigned her a locker, and sent her down to Book Rental.
Looking around for what seemed like the hundredth time, she studied the cluster of chairs. There were little side tables in the corners of the waiting area, with old wrinkled parenting magazines that were from 2003. The carpet was stained a shade of dirty gray-brown with specks of chewing gum and dirt every now and again. Posters flecked the walls, advertising school clubs or omitting some ancient cliché that had never really been useful for anyone.
Sighing to herself, she sank further into her seat. She checked the clock again. 10:27. She had been sitting here for nearly three hours now, and no one had really acknowledged her presence. Somewhere within their offices, the councilors were supposed to be setting up her schedule and finding last minute classes that had openings to squeeze her into. Clearly, the school had waited until last minute to get everything filled out. Her mother had notified the school of her being enrolled almost two weeks ago.
Of course they couldn’t get it done until now, her mother had told her before she went out to her bus stop. They were busy. It was the beginning of another school year. Not to mention the fact that the school system had recently gotten a new superintendent, so a great deal of the rules and paperwork had been changed to make it more beneficial for everyone involved.
But she didn’t think it would have really taken this long for them to get everything sorted out. Beginning of the school year or not, this was insane. They were wasting her time.
Not like she was going to do anything about it. She wouldn’t tell her mother when she got home later, if she could remember what the bus number was to take her there. And she wouldn’t call her friends from back home to vent to them. She wouldn’t even ask the secretary how much longer it was going to be until they got everything sorted out.
No, that would only attract unwanted attention to herself from the secretary. Her mother wouldn’t believe her anyways. And her old friends, well, they had other things to do. It was the end of summer for them. Back home, school would start in another week and a half. She wondered if it was possible for her to go to school where she used to. Sure, they moved, but she could always see if she could stay with her aunt there.
Shaking her head to herself, she brushed off the thought. There was no way her mother would ever allow her to do that. Her mom loved the idea of her going to school here. She had heard on the radio that they had exceptional test scores and that there was a very high graduation rate, compared to the other schools in the area. And when she found out that it was a public school, well, you could imagine how happy she was that her daughter had the opportunity to go to school there.
Bullshit. It was all bullshit, she thought to herself. Her mother hadn’t hardly looked into the school at all. She was naïve and believed whatever the radio had told her. Maybe it had been an old broadcast or something, but she was sure that this school had seen much better days. It didn’t seem like a highly-valued academic school at all. Nothing like what her mother had described to her. She felt a little gypped to think about her mother‘s eager description of the school and the classes that were available for students.
She perked up at hearing her name. Fighting the urge to stretch, she got up from her seat. It felt as though she had been asleep for a long period of time, even though she was awake the entire time. Her muscles ached as she walked over to the secretary’s desk, where a middle-aged councilor with bright auburn hair and blue eye shadow past her eyebrows, stood.
The councilor looked like she hadn’t gotten much sleep in the past few weeks. There were deep purple bags underneath her eyes, and she smelled a bit like cat piss. Reagan winced at the councilor’s odor and hoped that the councilor hadn’t noticed. She cast her eyes elsewhere as the councilor shuffled through a stack of papers.
“You don’t have to come to school for a few more days.” the councilor said in a raspy voice. “We’re going to have to find an opening in some classes that are required. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
“Oh,” Reagan stuttered. She hadn’t expected the councilor to tell her that at all. Instead, she had kind of hoped that her schedule had been printed out and she could go over to Book Rental.
The councilor nodded. “We’ll notify your mother when you need to come back. It should hopefully be by the end of the week, alright?”
She nodded. The councilor looked satisfied and then turned. Reagan stood there for a moment, confused, before she headed back over to her seat. Her mother wouldn’t believe her at all. She’d just think she was trying to skip school for the hell of it. But, on the bright side, she thought to herself as she grabbed her empty book bag, I have a few final days of summer left now.
She turned to look at the office for a final moment before she left and walked through the empty hallways. Everyone else was in class, obviously. She peered through the little windows in the doors to the classrooms on her way out, spying on the students at work, starting to realize that she was going to be in one of those classes in just a few days. And then it hit her.
“How the fuck am I supposed to get home now…”
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