The plane slid across the blue sky smoothly with no turbulence at all. The engine screamed in the sky, but was silent to the passengers. Austyn Jones sat in her seat without a word beside the
window in row 27. The tacky seats felt hard and rough under her, forcing her to move trying new positions in her seat to feel comfortable. The salty peanuts the flight attendant gave to her left
an unpleasant taste on her tongue. Her short, layered, black hair was pushed over to the left, leaving her bangs covering her left green eye. She didn’t specifically plan out her wardrobe for the
flight. Her Diesel jeans wrapped over her red plaid Converse shoes, “The Hives” concert t-shirt was under her striped half-zipped hoodie. Flying over to her aunt’s house wasn’t a problem for her.
She didn’t mind leaving Tacoma, Washington for about a year. She wanted to start over a bit. She was tired living in the same city all her life.
It started when the flight attendants came up to her and asked for her identification. Odd, they didn’t ask for them in the past, she’d flown for years on this airline and had never been asked
for it. She didn’t hesitate to give them what they wanted and quickly pulled out her I.D. The first man who took the I.D. seemed abnormally large to Austyn. His muscles were the size of a beach
ball. He had a completely shaven head, but the signs of a stubble were visible. The man next to him had more of a buzz-cut and was more cleanly shaved than the other man. Other than that, they
were almost identical. Carefully, the first man- whose name tag said “Darren”- examined her identification. After moments that seemed like hours, he grunted and walked off, handing the card back
to Austyn without a word. Slipping it back into her wallet, she tilted her head towards the window and dozed off into a deep, sleep, not waking until the plane had finally come to a complete
Stepping out of the plane, Austyn found her way out of the gate and into the main area of the airport where the cabs were. She heard something drop and realize it was the bag of snacks her
parents had given her for the ride. As she turned to pick it up, she noticed someone. There they both stood, near the gate exit, looking strait ahead, the flight attendant Darren and the other
attendant next to him. How’d they get there so quickly, and why were they both flight attendants and security guards? Austyn continued on, shrugging off the coincidence.
She went outside and motioned a taxi-cab to come for her.
“765 Blakewall Road, please.
The cab driver turned to her. “Is that all, lil’ miss?” he asked. He was an old, shaggy man with too many classic jokes he tried too hard to make his own. Austyn stepped into the cab. His
tobacco-stained teeth were totally exposed to Austyn, making her want to gag.
“Yes,” she managed to say.
The drive was long, but didn’t seem that bad. The roads curved along the side of the mountain, lurching the car to the right and left consistently. As the cab drove into the city, Austyn could
judge whether the town was going to suit her. Elmira was a small, historic town that seemed to survive on the fact that Mark Twain had lived there. It took the cab another fifteen minutes to
reach 765 Blakewall road.
Ms. Jones was waiting outside her small and comfortable ranch house with her arms folded and a large grin on her face. Austyn stepped out of the car with her luggage and expected the worst.
“Austyn!” her aunt rushed towards her with her arms wide open. “Austyn, my little sweetheart, I’m so happy you came!” She kissed her soft, flowing hair lovingly while Austyn hated every moment.
“Go on inside and unpack your things; I set up your room for you.” Austyn only managed a small “thanks”.
The room wasn’t that small, but its tackiness filled it up completely. Austyn scrunched her mouth and nose to the side, taking in the fact that she’d be sleeping there for almost a year.
“It’s…nice.” Austyn said. Her aunt watched her with a large grin on her face.
“Does Grandpa still live downtown?”
“No. In fact, he died two months ago.”
It hit Austyn like a semi-truck. Died? A month ago?
“Seriously? No one ever told us.” The expression on her aunt’s face didn’t change from its sorrowful look. “That’s a shame you didn’t know before.” Her mood changed in an instant. “Why don’t you
unpack your things and get used to this place? Go around the park, for example.”
“Alright,” Austyn said. Her aunt left the room and shut the door behind her. Austyn groaned and threw herself on the bd. She looked to her left to the nightstand and saw a photograph of her
grandpa Harold. It was a posed picture, taken around the 1960s or 1970s. He lay on the grass with his elbows holding him up and smirking at the camera.
Austyn knew Grandpa Harold better than all her other relatives, even though she hadn’t seen him that much. She wondered what had happened. Car accident? Medical problems? Slowly, she got back up
and went outside to her aunt.
“Do you have any bikes?” she asked her.
“Bikes? Yes, I have on right here.” She pulled a bike out of the tiny garage. “It’s a little rusty and old, but you’ll get used to it.”
It wasn’t that bad. It squeaked ever now and then, but other than that, it was just fine. She rode around the path in the park several times until her legs actually started to hurt.
At about 5:30 PM, she’d stopped by a nearby drinking fountain and took a long, refreshing drink. It tasted metallic, but it didn’t matter to Austyn. As she got up and wiped her mouth clear of the
water, she noticed someone out of the corner of her eye. Darren and his little friend from the airport. Again. Now she was scared for real. He was only a couple of feet away from her, standing
stiffly in the sun with aviator sunglasses and his arms folded. The other man next to him on the plane was standing near by, looking around. Austyn picked up her bike and biked as far away as she
could from them, her legs feeling cold and numb. She finally went into her Aunt’s garage, jumped off the bike, and dashed into the house.
“Austyn? You’re home already?” She walked up to her and looked at her red face.
“You must’ve biked long and hard. Want some ice cream?” Her aunt asked. Austyn nodded. She went over to the refrigerator, which was almost old and rustic, and pulled out the carton of vanilla ice
cream. Austyn headed over to her room with a bowl of three scoops, of ice cream and sat on her bed and ate. Slowly, she peeked out the window to see if they had followed her. They didn’t.
Relieved, she sat back on the bed and continued to eat.
Her aunt suddenly stepped in, making Austyn jump, dropping her bowl in her lap. There was no trace of the ice cream in her lap and she picked it back up.
“Austyn, before I forget, pack your backpack. You’re going to school tomorrow.”
“School?” Austyn said with a hint of disbelief.
“Yes, school. Do you need any supplies?” She shook her head. She didn’t think she’d be going so soon.
“What time should I get up?” Austyn asked.
“The bus arrives at 7:35 AM, so you might want to get up around 6:40 AM, or 6:00 AM if you want to take a shower. If you don’t, do it the night before. School starts at 8:20 AM; it takes the bus
a while to get there when you include the other stops it has to make.”
Austyn only listened to the getup times, not the other ones.
“Would it be alright if I just walked there?”
Her aunt stopped. “Um…yes. It would. It’d be actually quicker than taking the bus.”
“I’ll walk then”.
Austyn had already packed her bag for the next day and jumped in the shower. Her mind suddenly clicked into conscious-discussion-mode.
You know what a cold shower is, lil’ miss?
A shower with cold water, sir?
Yes, but in the navy, we used it as a term to get things over with quickly.
Because when you take a cold shower, you want to be in there for the least amount of time possible. You get in, you get out.
Ah. I see sir.
And what sir?
Aren’t you going to take one?
Austyn thought for a moment. She never wanted to really join the navy or some sort of armed forces. She just needed a stern and strict voice inside her head to motivate her for anything.
She turned the temperature dial all the way to the right, making it freezing cold. Within moments, she was already out.
Austyn turned to check on the time. It took her less than five minutes. Satisfied, but upset it had to be so cold, she grabbed two towels and headed to her room.
Caroline J. Leighton High School had been under-construction over the summer and looked modern and new. Austyn failed to see past its new exquisite look and walked inside soundlessly. The
fluorescent lights in the school gave her pale skin a dull, yet bright look, making her appear unhealthier. Her locker was almost at the end of the school, where lights seemed a little bit broken
and the wall paint was faded.
Once she had moved her items from her backpack into her locker, Austyn went to room 521. Austyn glanced at the large clock hanging from the ceiling. It was 8: 19. She was going to be late.
The school had a complicated structure. People try to make things “modern” so that they would look impressive and professional. When they say “modern” they mean architecture with hallways and
rooms in the shape that mostly don’t fit under the polygon section.
Why don’t you go ask for help, soldier?
I don’t know where help is, sir.
You don’t know, or you don’t try.
I don’t know, sir!
Schools have offices-
That are impossible to find, sir.
Then find it!
That also means you won’t soldier!
Austyn was on the verge of cracking. She saw the poster hanging next to her twice already. There has to be someone or something to get her on the move in the right direction. She looked at the
clock once again. 8: 26. Someone should be looking for me, she joked with herself. There are people in this school, aren’t there? It seemed completely empty. Only the custodian was out when she
finished unpacking her backpack.