The girl sat on the edge of a small bench near the school gate. Hearing the gates closed made her feel as if the outside world had forsaken her, as if her parents had left her alone, to rot and wallow in discomfort. Her chest tightened at the thought of being alone in such an unfamiliar place, with no to talk to, no one to listen. Tears gathered in her eyes, unshed for fear of being a laughingstock in this new, alien environment. Her clothes felt too big on her, hanging on her slender frame as though she was a too-small hanger. She shifted on the bench, waiting for the bell to ring. She wanted to go back to her old school, to her old friends, but they too were gone. Off to different schools, greener pastures. She was one of the lucky ones, off to one of the best. Her throat tightened, asking herself for what must have been the millionth time if she was good enough. Her eye wandered to her peers. From the corner of her eye, she could pick out the ones in her grade, especially those like her, new. They too hung alone or with friends as new as they were. Was there some orientation she had forgotten to go to? Some event where she could have met people, made friends but somehow wasn’t able to attend? Her anxiety increased tenfold.
She forced herself to take a deep breath and then another. She took a glance at the paper in one hand, memorizing the room she was supposed to go to once the bell rings. Her ear strained to listen. She doesn’t even know what it sounded like but a bell is a bell, right? Distracted by her own thoughts and her fast-beating heart, she almost missed it. When she picked up upon the sound of dozens of students shuffling off to their classrooms, she found herself standing up, walking. She walked as though she was in a dream, in a haze. This memory would soon be forgotten. The thought comforted her. One day, perhaps days, weeks, months from now, she’ll learn to be comfortable, to love this strange new place. She would forget what plagued her mind, and when she sees first-years next year, she wouldn’t remember how it felt to be like them. Yes, it was a comfort. A small loosening of the tight knot in her chest. It would be alright, if she just took a deep breath.
She stopped in front of a door much like the others, if it wasn’t for a small sign on top bearing its number. She opened the door.