Violet and Missy are BFFs starting high school. Wealthy cheerleader types make life difficult but vampire feeder scholarships could help. However, they need parental approval. A novel by Nalini Haynes.
“No. You’re going to embarrass me! No-one else’s parents are going to walk them to assembly! ”
“Violet, sweetie, I’m worried. It’s been weeks since you had orientation and it’s a big school. At least let me take you to the front office and one of the staff can walk you to assembly.”
“I already had orientation. Three times. It’s bad enough starting a new school without being embarrassed by my parents. You’re not making things easier.”
Dayna hunches over the wheel. The lines in her face deepen. I take a deep breath. Focus. My best friend Missy taught me Managing Parents 101. She is brilliant at managing her mom.
“Dayna. Da-da. I know you love me.” I lean across the stick shift to press my cheek against her shoulder. “I know you worry.” Wheedle, don’t whine. Imagine Missy talking to her dad. “But I’ll be fine. Missy and I’ll walk in together. She’s less likely to get lost than you!” I sit upright, look at Dayna and grin.
Dayna glances at me for a second before turning to watch the road, her sloppy up-do nearly falling out as it scrapes against the headrest. She sighs. “Where are you meeting Missy? Text her. I’m not leaving until I see her.”
I am a champion texter. My phone trills, signalling Missy’s reply.
“She’s already waiting on the corner, in her mom’s car.”
Dayna chuckles; she’s already pulling in behind Missy’s mom’s car.
I lunge for freedom, jumping down from the monster, Dayna’s car: big enough for the family and her enormous canvases in the back. I slam the car door, hoist my bag onto my back then shake my folded cane out. Tap, tap, it’s slotted together and I’m good to go. “Hi, Missy. Parents are so embarrassing.”
Missy practically leaps out of her mom’s car onto the footpath. We can both see light at the end of the tunnel. Escape from parents almost achieved. We’d planned to wear similar dresses, with Missy in blue. Missy’s almond-shaped eyes and olive skin make me look even more ghostly with my translucent skin and wispy white-blonde hair, so I focus on colour: pink cane, pink dress, topped with a cute pink sunhat.
Synchronising our steps, I tuck my hand into Missy’s elbow. At a yell from behind, we turn to wave to our parents, just in case they change their minds and decide to follow us in. I inhale, the briny breeze a sharp reminder of change. Huntingdale High is much larger than our middle school but we’d been through the school on orientation three times, the last two when the Foundation for the Blind gave me extra orientation lessons. We already know we’re in home class together.
“So many people…” I say, as apprehension threatens to conquer excitement. Crowds are difficult to navigate at the best of times.
“Where is everybody?” Missy wonders, looking around while we walk towards the gymnasium for the opening assembly.
“I think they’re all here.” I sound stressed so I clear my throat.
“I mean everyone we know.”
Whack! My cane flies out of my hand.
Laughter. “Watch where you’re going,” says Rayne Reynolds, a cheerleader-type from middle school. Long hair that she insists is blonde (really?) and probably wearing her usual designer clothes. I see pastels and lots of leg.
Missy shoves my cane into my hand. “Just leave us alone.”
“Don’t you have something to do? Like burn in hell?” I ask.
Rayne’s “twin”, Rachel Robinson, nudges Rayne. They turn and walk into the hall.
“Hurry up girls, assembly is about to start,” says a man with what Dayna would call a “porn-star moustache” dominating his face.
“Be careful what you wish for,” I say to Missy in low tones. “Why did it have to be the Terrible Twins? School hasn’t even started yet.”