As Jenna stood in front of the mirror, she took her silky blonde hair up in her hand and quickly tied it into a sleek ponytail. She looked herself up and down in the mirror for much longer than normal. Starting at a new school in the middle of the semester is always difficult, but she didn’t expect it to be so hard. Every decision she made from here on out would greatly impact her experience at the new school. For example, she had to choose an outfit that reflected who she felt she was as a person, impressed her peers, but at the same time would leave a good impression on her teachers. She eventually had decided on dark blue skinny jeans and a black hoodie with a small white rose on the top right corner of the front. As for shoes, she went with her grey suede Adidas sneakers.
“Jenna? Honey?” She heard her mom calling her from downstairs. “Your going to be late!”
“Coming mom!” Jenna reached to her necklace, a small gold locket on a delicate chain, and brought it to her lips and kissed it quickly before grabbing her light grey Jansport backpack and rushing down the stairs.
“I packed you lunch. Oh and grab a muffin for breakfast.” Her mom gestured to the paper bag on and the plate packed full of freshly baked lemon poppyseed muffins on the counter.
“I’m not hungry. Thanks though.” Jenna stared at the muffins. She desperately wanted one but her brain told her no. She shouldn’t.
“Jen. Sweetheart.” Her mom said gently. “I used a quarter of the sugar called for and a instead of using butter I substituted it for coconut oil. Please.”
“Okay.” Jenna blinked a few times and willed herself not to tear up. “It’s just hard, you know?”
“I know sweetheart.” Her mom stood up to take her hands in her own and gave her a reassuring squeeze. For the past year Jenna had been suffering with anorexia. Two years ago she had begun to show symptoms of depression and anxiety, and she turned to food as a coping method. Whenever she felt sad, lonely, stressed, anxious, she would eat. Shockingly, she did not actually gain that much weight, but her brain convinced her she had, and she decided the solution was to stop eating all together. When her mom noticed her skipping meals and losing weight, she became very concerned. They brought her to psychiatrist who decided that Jenna’s best bet would be at an inpatient mental health care facility, and that’s where she spent the last three months of her sophomore year of High School. The psychiatrist had not only been concerned with Jenna’s anorexia but really focused on the roots of the problem-- her self loathing. Her depression and anxiety had managed to convince her that she was worthless, and disgusting, and not deserving of anything. The doctor explained how if she had been diagnosed with the other mental illnesses earlier, that the anorexia never would have been an issue. This, of course, made her parents feel very guilty- especially her mother who had noticed Jenna’s change in mood and behavior but thought she was just going through some phase. Her mom was a chef, and when Jenna was released she was able to find away to prepare nutritious low-calorie food that Jenna could cope with eating but still pushed her a little bit out of her comfort zone.
“I should probably get going.” Jenna whispered. Her mom let go of her hands and passed her the car keys.
“Have fun sweetheart.” Her mom smiled at her. Jenna walked out of the house, got into the car, then took out her phone and set google maps to the address of her new school. Then she opened apple music and hit shuffle on her playlist, and smiled a little when Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie came on. She started the engine and then reversed out into the street. She followed the directions until she made it to the school.
As she walked through the the big double doors into the halls she felt her breath quicken. The contrast from the quiet still outdoors to the bustling people inside the building took her aback a little bit. She noticed the small details that differentiated the Ohio public high school from her old one back in California. Arguably the biggest difference was that in this school their were actual buildings. Because it would never rain in California, the classrooms usually just exited right outside rather than into an indoor hallway. She also noticed the the big glass cases filled with trophies from sporting events. Just as she was about to reach her locker, the bell rung and she felt another rush of anxiety. She fumbled for her class schedule. First period: AP Psychology with Dr. Andrews. Room 106. She was luckily in the right building so finding the classroom wasn’t too difficult. When she got there, she was happy to see the door was already open. Closed doors were something she always struggled with. She didn’t like to open doors when she did not know what was on the other side. As soon as she stepped in, the teacher noticer her and gave her a big smile, waving her over.
“Jenna, right?” He asked her whilst looking at a list on his clipboard.
“Yeah that’s me.” She said trying to stay as calm as possible. He seemed nice. What a relief.
“Your sitting at that empty desk in the front. As for class materials as long as you have a laptop and a notebook you’ll be fine. It says here you were enrolled in an AP Psych course at your old school. All schools cover the units in a different order as they see fit so I hope that won’t be too big of a problem if you ever need any extra help don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Thank you sir, I really appreciate it.” Jenna smiled and then headed towards her desk. The girl to her right seemed shy so she didn’t try to start a conversation and make things potentially awkward.
“Who are you?” She heard a bold voice coming from a girl sat behind her. She stared for a minute, taken aback a bit by the question. “Sorry that was rude. I’m Rachel. Are you new?”
“Oh um yeah,” Jenna forced a small smile. “I’m Jenna. I transferred from California.”
“California?! Wow.” Rachel nodded looking genuinely intrigued. Most people in that situation would have enjoyed the attention. Jenna wasn’t most people. Luckily, before she had a chance to reply, they were interrupted by the kind voice of the teacher.
“Today we are going to continue with the more biologically focused unit of this course. More specifically, we are going to be talking about the endocrine system. Can somebody define the endocrine system for me please?” Jenna smiled to herself. This was the first unit they taught at her old school, so she felt very familiar with most of the content. She looked around and saw that they were all staring at the teacher blankly. Jenna shyly started to raise her hand and immediately regretted her decision when the teacher called on her. “Yes, Jenna?”
“Um, the endocrine system, well, it’s basically one way for the brain to send messages to the body. It uh, releases hormones.” Unlike the tone of her voice suggested, Jenna was actually pretty confident in her answer. “I think.” She always added an I think at the end of her responses for good measure.
“Yes, that's exactly right thank you.” She sighed deeply out of relief.
The rest of the class had gone smoothly and so had her second, third, and fourth periods. She avoided socialising with the other students by trying to be one of the last to enter the classroom and being the first to leave. During the short breaks between classes she stayed occupied looking at her phone and listening to music.
Now was lunch, and Jenna found herself outside, sitting under a big tree in the grassy area on the side of the main building. As she picked at her lunch, low calorie quinoa and her nearly forgotten muffin from breakfast, she heard a voice coming from in front of her.
“Hey. Um, sorry to bother you, um, it’s just that I usually sit here? Do you mind if we share?” In front of her was an anxious looking boy, who must of been in her grade, wearing charcoal skinny jeans and an oversized grey hoodie.
“Oh god, yeah, I’ll move, uh sorry.” She quickly started to pack up her untouched lunch before she was interrupted again.
“No no, please, you don’t have to go.” He smiled a little at her shyly. He looked genuine as he began to sit down on one of the massive protruding roots near her. Not quite next to her though, seemingly as to give her some space.
“Yo Ty!” Jenna looked up to see a boy with bright red hair walking up to where they were sitting.
“Hey Josh.” Suddenly the boy’s entire demeanor seemed to change. He smiled wide and his eyes lit up. The red haired boy sat down next to him and pulled out two granola bars, a healthy looking sandwich, and two cans of RedBull. He handed ty one of the granola bars, the sandwich, and a can of RedBull. “Thank youuuuu.” Tyler responded.
“Your welcomeeeeee.” Josh teased and proceeded to grab another sandwich from his backpack and started to eat it. “How’s your day going so far?”
“Good.” Tyler replied without making eye contact. Jenna hoped it wasn’t obvious to the two boys that she was eavesdropping.
“Tyler.” Josh put his sandwich down for a second.
“Josh.” Tyler looked up at Josh who was looking at him with a raised eyebrow, “Honestly, it was fine. I even asked the teacher a question when I got stuck in math. I should get a gold star.”
“Okay I believe you.” Josh seemed satisfied and continued eating his sandwich. “Hey, uh, your the new girl, right?” Jenna quickly looked up when she realised the question was directed at her.
“Oh, um, yeah.” Jenna tried to look calmer than she was. “Jenna.”
“Josh. Nice to meet you. And he’s Tyler.” Josh smiled at her warmly.
“You can refer to me as Tyler, or Josh’s friend. I respond to either.” Tyler said seriously. “He’s way cooler than me. He’s a drummer for this, like, super cool band.”
“And he’s the lead singer.” Josh joined in on the bit. They were both staring at Jenna with blank expressions on their faces. “But seriously, if your ever feeling lonely, we don’t bite.”
“Thanks. Nice to meet you guys.” Jenna smiled to herself a little. Maybe, just maybe, she could be happy at this school. Or maybe she could at the very least be okay.