Chorus is my first class. I only signed up for it as my elective so I wouldn’t get homework. Since I arrived at school half an hour early, I’m not late, and I’m a little bored. A girl in a Sailor Moon backpack and wire-rimmed glasses sits to my left, while I’m cramped on the edge of the risers, almost falling off.

“I’m a soprano,” she says, giving a little nod and turning away without giving me time to respond.

“Welcome, class,” says our teacher, entering the room with a stage smile and huge hand gestures. She has feathered blond hair and is holding bedazzled stationery. She introduces herself, gives a little speech about what the class will be like. She sits at the piano in front of the risers. “I’d like to remind you all that there are no cellphones allowed in class.”

“My mom only lets me use mine when I go out, anyway,” chimes in the Sailor Moon girl, loudly. “It’s more of an emergency phone than anyth—”

“Yes, well, let’s warm up, shall we?”

Math is OK. I’m taking Algebra 2, and I’m late to my very first class of the semester. Honors Bio seems fine so far, and I heard from my sophomore friend that it’s easy. My English teacher was really nice.

It turns out that my friend Megan is in my lunch period, so I only stand in the doorway for a second with my dinosaur lunchbox, scanning the room, trying to seem nonchalant, like I’m waiting for my posse of friends to come find me. High school cafeterias seem huge. Megan warns me not to sit by the windows, because that is one of the several places owned by the upperclassmen.

My Mandarin class only has about 15 students in it. One of them is the Sailor Moon girl. There’s also a girl with a dark-brown bob, porcelain skin, large hazel eyes, and a structured dress. I feel messy and not-put-together-enough sitting next to her. I smooth my hair down. I realize soon how much of my Mandarin I’ve lost since I moved from China a year ago.

I rush down the hall. I can’t wait to get out of here and just go home. Everything was exhausting, and I just want to go to bed. A girl glares at me as I walk down the hall–she has spiky black hair and seems vaguely familiar. I give her a quizzical look, and she glances over to a group of preppy, giggly girls and then back to me. I stare back, and she nods as if I should understand before scurrying off. It was a weird five seconds, but I can’t think about that now. I forgot something in my new locker. ♦