My last school was made out of breeze blocks. They hadn’t even bothered to plaster over them on the inside; they’d just painted over the bare bricks with this bright yellow paint that seemed impossibly dull considering its relation to the sun. I think it was more the school in general, though. You could feel this sort of grayness wrapping itself around you when you walked up the front stairs, and you couldn’t escape it until you’d showered off the greasy smell that clung to you from the diner.
It was my school, though, and even though I couldn’t explain the reasons why, I loved it. I had friends there who I’d grown up with. I had a place among the extensive cliques, and although it wasn’t at the top of the social food chain, I was happy with it. I was getting pretty good grades, too. I’d been bumped up into all of the advanced classes, and if things had continued that way, I’d have probably graduated top in my class.
Things didn’t continue going that wa,y though. In fact, everything changed, so quickly and in such a short amount of time that it took me a while before I could see straight again. It all started when I turned seventeen and my mom told me that we were moving across the state. I’d grown up in a small town about fifty miles away from New York City. It was at the perfect distance to enjoy shopping trips on weekends, but to also have a quiet street.
It wasn’t as though my mom broke the news to me gently either, or like she’d given me enough time to come to terms with it or even say goodbye to my friends. I’d walked into the lounge that Friday and she’d hung up this school uniform that looked like something off of a television show. The skirt was pleated with a tame, dark green tartan pattern printed on it. The blouse was fitted and matched up with a tie, which matched the skirt in both color and design.
“What do you think?” my mom asked me with excited eyes.
“I think you’re a bit old to be dressing up like some private school attendee.”
My mom laughed. “It’s not for me,” she said as she shook her head and her blond curls bounced energetically along with her.
“Well, I’m not wearing it,” I said as I tried to work out why on earth my mom would have bought me a school uniform. It wasn’t even as though Halloween was close.
“Oh, but you are,” she said excitedly. “I’ve been keeping a little secret from you, sweetie, but I think it’s about time that I told you the truth.”
Just the introduction she had used was making my stomach start to turn anxiously. I could see excitement burning in her eyes and my gut was telling me that I was on the pinnacle of change, although even my gut couldn’t have known just how much was about to change.
“I’m getting married,” my mom said in her childish, high-pitched tone that went right through me like nails to a chalkboard. My mom looked at me with narrowed eyes, as she waited for some kind of reaction from me. “Anyway,” she said when she didn’t get one, “I met him a few months ago, and I think you’re going to love him. He knows all about you and he’s happy for you to move with me to his place. He’s even got you a place at the school that his son goes to and you start on Monday,” she finished with a grin.
“What do you mean, I start on Monday?” I asked her as I tried to wrap my head around everything that she had just said to me.
“We move on Monday, so I thought I’d drop you off at school and then you could swing by the new house when you finish.” My mom smiled at me, as though there was nothing that I could ask her that she wasn’t prepared for.
“Did you not think that this is something you should have told me about sooner?” I asked her, and I could feel my eyes glaring at her, but I didn’t even try to stop them. “I mean, you’re uprooting my entire life just because you want to marry some guy that your daughter hasn’t even met? You tell me two days before the move, so I don’t even have enough time to tell my friends. What the hell is wrong with you?” I asked her, and then I stood up and walked out without giving her a chance to answer.
I could hear a long sigh leave her as I walked out of the room, and then her footsteps quickly following mine. I picked up my pace and started to take the stairs two by two. I got to my room before she’d even finished the stairs, and I closed the door and locked it before I walked over and pulled out my headphones.
I turned my CD player up full and let the soothing voice of Tyrone Wells fill my head. I could sense my mom knocking on my door. It was almost as though I could feel the steady disturbance to the particles in the air, but I ignored it, until eventually it stopped and I knew that I was alone. I turned my music down, so that my thoughts could enter back into my head safely, and then I did the only thing I could do: I cried.
I cried for the life I was losing. I cried for the friends that I would surely drift away from. I cried for the life that I’d had planned in front of me but would now never happen. I’d miss my first kiss with my first crush, Toby from science class, and my prom night where I’d wow everyone with my amazing transformation from ugly duckling to beauty queen. It was all gone now, but it hadn’t been replaced. All I had in my future was an inky blackness that was shrouded in mystery.
I couldn’t believe that my mom was acting as though it was no big deal. I couldn’t believe that she thought uprooting me during my senior year was a smart thing to do, but what could I say? She was a stubborn woman and I could tell that her mind was made up.
I thought back to the school uniform that had been hanging in the living room. It looked uncomfortable. It looked like the kind of thing that you wore for a bad teen movie. I didn’t want to wear it. I didn’t want to have to go to a school that demanded a student had to wear a uniform. I’d never worn a uniform and it hadn’t affected my education even a little bit.
I sighed as I realized that all of my disapproval was pointless. I had two days before I would be forced to move and an entire lifetime to pack up into boxes. I pulled my cell phone out from my jeans pocket and turned on the screen, then I opened a group text and started to type out the bad news, so that my friends could have a chance to drop around and say goodbye before I set off.
A dull feeling fell over me as I realized that I would never go back to my high school again. I couldn’t believe that in the space of an hour, everything that had felt so secure had been ripped from underneath my feet. I closed my eyes and turned my music back up. My thoughts were not being kind and I couldn’t see any point in thinking about things that couldn’t be changed.