Swerving, Brittany rounded the nose of the old yellow truck at the intersection, missing it by inches. Horns blasted and brakes screeched. She screamed and pulled her car back into the correct lane shakily. With wide eyes she looked back through the rear window of her little car then at Sam who was grasping the dashboard on the passenger side next to her.
"Did you see that old farmer almost hit me?" She asked, her voice shaking.
Sam closed his eyes and tried to calm his breathing then replied, "Um, Brit, That was a two way stop. We were supposed to yield to the mainway. You kinda didn't stop at all."
Her forehead creased in confusion, "Oh. I decided to give the break peddle the morning off..."
Sam was scared.
Mckenna threw the old Chevy truck into neutral, turned the key and let the engine die out. Sitting back she watched out the window anxiously as hordes of kids filtered through the parking lot towards William McKinley High School.
"Think you parked far enough away?" Teased the boy next to her. "We could park back at the gas station just off the freeway if you want."
Mckenna made a face and unbuckled her seat belt. "Don't tempt me Torri. Besides, you've seen how these Lima people drive. Can't have them dinging up my baby." She pronounced the 'i' in Lima with a long 'e'. The truck had to be the oldest car in the lot and it showed.
Grinning the boy opened the door and jumped out energetically.
McKenna sighed and pushed her door open, sliding to the ground. She was not nervous she decided, just not in the mood for first-school-day
drama. She adjusted the hem of her long, tight t-shirt she wore with her favorite trucker hat, the brim 'hick-housed' into a point. Her baggy jeans had so many holes in them that if she hadn't stitched the weird little random patches onto it they would probably fall into a pile on the ground. This would leave only the belt and an unnecessarily large Decepticon themed belt buckle.
Torri reached in the open bed of the truck, pulling out two back packs. McKenna noted he wore the same as he always did, standard guy outfit: jeans and a t-shirt over his broad shoulders.
He handed one of the packs to her as she met him around the side and he started towards the building. When he noticed she didn't move he went back and began to drag her by the arm. He was all of six feet 2 inches tall, dwarfing her 5 foot 3 inches, he had obviously stolen all the height genes in the family.
"Come on Mckee, don't start acting your age on me now. It's just another new school Sis." Allowing herself to be dragged Mckenna frowned her rebuttal. "Not only that, but they're two weeks into it already. Pecking orders are already set by now and there's only room at the bottom."
"Hey it's my senior year how do you think I feel? At least the football coach said I can try out for the team still." Torri led the way through the cars.
"Technically it's my last year too." Mckenna murmured.
"That's your own fault for graduating early. Besides, you still need a ton of elective credits and Dad said you had to do something else too besides eat pitch all day playing soccer or hermit up in the art department. I don't see why you don't join the choir or band."
Rolling her eyes Mckenna snorted. "Ok, so I know you've never been in a school choir in your life. It's always one person trying to out-sing the other and who can play teacher's pet the best. It's like all out war of the prima donas."
"Well you could do guitar. You should really do music McKee, you love it." Torri suggested as they neared the front of the high school.
"Maybe." she considered and left it at that.
It was a long walk and they earned more than just one scrutinizing glare as people passed by them. When you were new at a school you might as well be on fire and don't count on anyone throwing a bucket of water on you, they just want to watch the flames.
A group of red, white, and black uniformed cheerleaders made no attempt to hide their giggling and pointing at her as she passed their car. "Grunge is dead." McKenna heard one of them jeer.
Grinning she looked at Torri who smiled back, "It's vagrant redneck style I thought." she said snootily.
He shook his head and reached over to slap the brim of her hat down into her face, "At least you subdued that mane of yours." he teased.
Mckenna pushed back a stray strand of hair that had escaped what could barely be called a bun at the nape of her neck. It had always been a honey blonde with darker undertones that were sheltered from the sun. It went down to her waist if it was permitted to hang in it's loose waves and natural tight curls at the ends. It was totally impractical but she shrugged.
"Hey I'm going to make you a sweater for Christmas out of it someday." she returned.
As they joined the rest of the river of students flowing into the front doors, some turned to look at them with unabashed curiosity. Torri didn't seem to care and he scanned the crowd with satisfaction. "Yeah, there's some decent looking girls here. I think we're good."
"Oh brilliant well everything is fine then." Mckenna chimed facetiously and pulled her class schedule out of her side bag to study it.
"K well, I've got to go this way but I'll meet ya for lunch ok?" Torri rubbed the back of his closely shaven head subconsciously.
Mckenna smiled and nodded, then she reached up for a hug. He bent down and lifted her off the ground, swinging her dangling legs from side to side.
"Oh I'm going to check out the team right after school so don't ditch me." he put her down and added, "Take care of yourself."
She nodded and watched him go, his head bobbing above most of the others so she could see him until he turned a few hallways down. She knew she didn't have to worry about him. He was naturally likable and probably pretty good looking and that's what counts in high school anyway. Sighing she began to walk to where she hoped her first class was. She had found them all when they had visited the Principal, the Friday prior.
Now, maybe it was nerves, she was unsure. Pulling out a map and looking lost was just asking for trouble so she just walked casually in the direction she hoped was correct.
Turning a corner she bumped shoulders roughly with a dark haired girl with large brown eyes. "Sorry." they said in unison, but the girl's expression went from customary civility to, for lack of a better description, 'what the heck is that?' as she assessed McKenna.
Then suddenly the girl gasped as two passing boys sloshed a red colored slushie onto her front. Some of it splashed onto Mckenna's shoulder who had began to walk again.
'Great', McKenna thought, 'I already bear the community mark of the geek.' She stopped and turned to the other girl who had borne the brunt of the attack and was now wiping at the front of her strangely patterned sweater and short skirt.
'Scotty dogs, she has scotty dogs on her shirt.'
Before Mckenna could ask if she was ok the girl scurried off with a look of horror on her face.
Brushing off the slushie residue from her own shoulder, Mckenna continued back down the hallway.
So first she had computers; second math; third period physiology then a free period which she hoped to fill with soccer. After that was lunch then two free periods she had to use for art credits. *At last she found the room number for her first period, took a deep breath and walked in confidently.
There seemed to be no teacher up front but the long tables of computers were almost filled by the average tech nerd.
With a casual smile on her face Mckenna headed for the closest empty seat. It was second to the end of a row. On the inner side sat a weird looking kid with frizzy red hair and glasses who frowned at her approach. On the outside seat, an Asian girl, probably Korean. There were blue streaks in her dark hair and she looked like she was swinging a little goth style with her creepy black doll dress. The girl tried to avoid eye contact with her as McKenna stepped up to her. Yes she was used to this, and the shunning was almost comforting in its consistency in every public school she had been to.
Pulling out the chair she said formally, "Hi, mind if I sit?" she stuffed her bag under the desk and did so without consent.
The boy spoke up. "It's taken actually. Besides, shouldn't you come back when no one's here to case and rob the room?"
There was a ripple of giggles from the rest of the kids.
Mckenna shrugged. "Well I forgot my ski mask today so I guess I'll just sit in on the class. You may want to put your phone out of reach though, sometimes I can't help myself."
The response was sporadic but there were a few giggles at her remark as well. He just glared at her but the girl spoke up, barely. "You can sit here. No one is sitting here."
Mckenna nodded her thanks, even though she had already sat down.
A pasty looking man entered with a laptop under his arm and a scowl on his face. He went to the front and began to plug cords onto the laptop and switch on an overhead as the bell rang.
"Ok you all did decently on the last coding assignment but there's going to be a huge difference between chapter two and chapter three so please pay attention..."
He turned around and caught sight of McKenna. "I'm sorry who are you?"
"McKenna Bringhurst, I just transferred in?"
"From a bad 90's music video." came a disconnected voice from somewhere in the room. Everyone laughed and the teacher raised his hand and shushed at them. "Quiet or I'll do the weekend quiz right now."
He raised an eyebrow and picked up an attendance sheet.
"Yes I see. Well you do know this is advanced computer systems right? It's not how to use word or excel and what to do if angry birds won't work."
The giggles were more controlled this time.
"Yes that's alright, we're supposed to be covering HTML, Java Script, CSS, and angular library stuff. Web development right? I'm more of a plants vs. zombies person anyway." McKenna assured him.
Clearly surprised he looked at her for a moment then nodded, "Ok then. Let's get started. Hats off please and I'll bring you the assignments you've missed during the lab section."
The girl next to her was still looking at her in surprise and McKenna gave her an awkward smile. When the bell rung again, the class lurched for the door.
The girl McKenna had sat next to jogged to catch up with her as they spilled out into the crowded hall. "Hey thanks for helping me with that algorithm analysis." she said with a shy smile.
McKenna nodded, putting her hat on slightly crooked. "No problem, you almost had it anyway." "Tina." the girl introduced herself.
"McKenna. People call me McKee though if three syllables is too inconvenient."
"McKee, ok. See you tomorrow." And she melted into the crowd abruptly.
The next two classes, math and physiology, went almost about the same. Still comforting as it followed the same pattern and rules every transfer had. Almost relieved, she had no partner in physiology and could work as fast as she wanted. Before lunch she had a free period and she was to visit the counselor to decide what to do with the remaining periods she had to fill.
The soft spoken lady with obvious OCD kept glancing at her with a nervous smile, as if mentally taking note of every surface McKee was touching.
"So you have four required classes and three open right McKenna?"
"Yes Ms. Pillsbury." McKenna confirmed.
"And you've gotten most of your graduation requirements from online and night college courses. That is ambitious."
"Benefits of being a army brat, spare time and cheap online classes."
Ms. Pillsbury only smiled graciously, fingering at her red hair repetitively.
"So you'll be with us for the remainder of the year?" she moved on.
"Yes. Unless we get invaded or something then the army kinda takes liberties." McKenna tried to joke.
"Oh." Ms. Pillsbury said with an unsure smile. "Well it looks like you're all set but William McKinley requires you to be involved in so many hours of extra curricular activities along with your electives. What are some things you like to do? Sports? Art?"
McKenna sighed, "Um I like soccer, I play some guitar and sing a little."
Ms. Pillsbury's face lit up. "Sing? On you'll have to talk to Mr. Scheuster he's our glee club director and he's always looking for new members. They just went to regionals last year actually and if they do well this year they could go to nationals in New York."
McKenna tried not to cringe and put on a half smile. "Oh yay."
Writing furiously, Ms. Pillsbury wrote down a list of classrooms and names then handed it to her. "You're welcome to go sit in on some of these classes and speak to the teachers. Oh and those pants, I think they're borderlining our dress code so please go over that. Welcome to McKinley High." she offered McKenna a hand which she took, then Ms. Pillsbury lathered her hands in sanitizer as the girl left.
On the list, McKee scanned it until she got to Coach Beaste's name for coaching girl's soccer and followed her nose to the physical education area of the school. The concentration of sports uniforms and letterman jackets began to increase and she knew she was heading in the right direction. Passing the pool and weight rooms, McKenna looked around for the obscure office door. A large row of windows showcased a plethora of trophies shining on their shelves. That must be it. She stuck her head in the open door.
"Hello? I'm looking for Coach Beaste…" she began as she saw a stern woman with short blonde hair leaning back in her swivel chair talking on the phone.
The woman's eyes narrowed on her and she put her hand up for silence.
"Yes? What do you mean no refunds on your 3500 deluxe cannon? Forget it, I'm going to leave a very nasty review on your website you degenerate."
She slammed down the phone with gusto, not looking back up at McKenna she snapped.
"Try the the top of the beanstalk getting sock extensions now get out."
McKenna was shocked but took the hint and spun around to flee only to collide with someone behind her. One of the most perfect faces in the world was looking down the front of her Cheerio's uniform that was covered in whipped cream from a frappuccino sandwiched between them. When her mesmerizing almond eyes looked back up they were smoldering like krakatoa.
"Wow. I am so sorry…" McKee began, scrambling to back up but the spilt drink had sloshed onto the smooth floor and her feet flew out from under her. Instinctively she grabbed at the nearest object which happened to be the cheerleader's shoulder, pulling her down as well. Now the coffee had spilt completely all over.
"What sort of idiot are you?" The girl demanded in a surprisingly soft but scary voice.
McKenna finally managed to get up and tried to help the girl up but the girl knocked her hand away.
"Really sorry, I didn't see you. At least it wasn't a slushie right?" McKee pushed a smile.
"A slushie? I'm the captain of the cheerios. I don't get slushied, I give execution orders and if you're not gone by the time I count to three…"
"No need to count. See ya." It was a pathetic retreat but one she was happy to be alive to make.
Behind her she heard the stern woman calling from her office. "Is that you Fabray?"
McKenna continued to search until a basketball player pointed to a towering, burly woman entering the girl's locker room. The talk was short and Coach Beaste only glanced up from her football play book at McKenna a couple of times.
"You'll have to earn your place on the team ok? I've talked to your brother already so I understand why you're late trying out."
Soccer had been McKee's life since 5th grade and she had always had coaches that had encouraged and inspired her. She was apprehensive about Coach Beaste in her comparisons to her predecessors. Still, if she could indulge her ancient instinct to run around and kick a ball she was willing to give her a try.
So far she was giving the first day a solid C+, and that was still passing...