#4. Back…

”Its good to have you back, Miss. Harding. ” The principal, a woman in her 40s, pulls me into a hug.

Taken aback, I stand still unable to return her hug. Dad clears his throat reminding the principal, Mrs. Stone, he was still present.

”My apologies. Im just so happy to have her back, she was too much of a gem to let go. ” She grins excitedly at my dad.

I stare at her bewildered at her excited state. I never thought she liked me this much.

”Im sure youve already gotten your books. ” She informs me, leading me to the schools shop so I can get my uniforms.

”Well be right back, Mr. Harding. ” She says, leading me out of the room.

Dad hugs me and leaves as he was already late for work.

Im really trying to be strong right now but every step Im taking, makes it harder for me to breathe.

I wring my hands to the point where I feel like my skin is about to come off. I feel someones hands on mine.

I look up to see the principals face. Startled, I stare at her confused.

”Don be scared, okay? Im very happy to have you back. ” She reassures me

I give her a weak smile ”Thank you. ”

She flashes me a warm smile and lead me to the room, where I would get my uniform. She opens the door and gestures for me to enter.

Entering the office, I see two other students. My pulse quickens. Please God, it shouldn be any of them. I pull my hoodie over my face.

”Oh my, Reina. You
e back. ” I freeze, alarmed. Please God, Im not ready to face any of them yet.

The air in my lungs slowly get trapped and Im finding it difficult to breathe, every passing second.

Someone pulls me into a hug and without knowing I look up at the person and realize I worried for no reason.

”I missed you, Reina. ” The admin officer strokes my back.

Memories of the conversations and time we spent together come rushing back. She was the only adult I trusted here. I hug her back and tears threaten to fall from my eyes, as I am overwhelmed by the nostalgia.

”Me too, Adele. ” I say, my voice shaky.

She hugs me tighter ”Don cry, okay? ”

I manage to swallow the tears back and break the hug.

”Her classes start by 9am. Its 8:50, you just have 10 mins left, so make it quick, okay? ” The principal says, leaving the office.

On cue, Adele leaves to get the uniform, leaving me alone with the two other students.

”Hi. Im Jade. ” One of them says heartily.

Her long black hair falls to the side as she stretches out her hand to shake mine. Her brown eyes twinkle, as she flashes me a cheery smile.

Hesitating for a second, I slowly stretch out my hands to meet hers. Im not making the mistake of trusting anyone blindly. Id learnt it may cost you your life at the end.

She grabs my hand, shaking my hands enthusiastically.

”Shes Zoey. Nice to meet you, Reina. ” She introduces the second girl to me and I barely acknowledge her with a nod.

She points to the other girl – who is staring at her phone – about to introduce herself to me, when Adele comes back with our uniforms, which abruptly ends our conversation.

I silently thank God. She was too cheerful to be real. And the second girl, didn look like she cared.

Adele hands out our uniforms and badges which has our names on it and excuses us, promising to catch up with me later.

I walk out of the room and walk faster than usual, so as to avoid the girls from before, my hoodie and nose mask, concealing my face from anyone who passes by.

In less than a minute, I arrive at the female restroom, and I enter one the stalls, locking it behind me. I let out a sigh of relief and fall to the ground. Finally, I could breathe.

Taking out my uniform from the bag, nostalgia hits me once more as soon as I lay my eyes on the familiar white and sky-blue uniform. The skirt consisted of stripes of beige and sky blue, while the shirt was a long white sleeve paired with a tie which was the same color as the skirt.

Checking my phone for the time, I realize I only have three minutes left before my classes started. I reluctantly change out of my black hoodie and jeans, hurriedly putting on my uniform.

I put on my socks and pair my white sneakers to go with it. Unlocking the door, I leave the stall with my bag which had my clothes and books in it.

I look at myself in the mirror and I see a girl who has been destroyed brutally, only trying to get herself together. Im trembling, scared of what might happen today. Would I really be able to fight back? Im I digging my own grave by coming back?

I then realize that my skirt was really short. I really couldn blame Adele, after all I left school for quite a long time.

The bell rings interrupting my train of thoughts, reminding me that I have a class to get to. I feel my panic attack starting to resurface and then I remember his words.

”Breathe. In and out. Focus on just one thing. ”

Heeding his words, I take out my timetable from my bag. Glancing at myself one more time in the mirror, I let loose my hair from a ponytail and let it fall on my shoulders.

The first class I had was Math, which meant Mr. Clifford would be first teacher I had that day.

Walking out of the restroom, Im walking rather sluggishly, thinking maybe time would fly and school would end before I make it to class.

My heart keeps on beating faster by the minute and Im about to bolt back to the restroom when that annoying cheerful voice calls out my name. Jade.

”Reina! Ive being looking for you. We
e in the same class. ” She yells excitedly, running to me, whilst the other girl, Zoey entering a classroom, I guess she wasn in our class.

I gape at her perplexed at how optimistic she was. She links our arms together as soon as she catches up with me.

Dragging me with her, she says ”Come on, we
e already late. ”

Too stunned to react, she drags me along the hallway with her.

***

Striding down the pedestrian lane, I fall to the ground and seat on the bare floor.

Im dead. I know it. I was nothing better than a living corpse if I came to school without the drugs.

My debts keep piling up. For how long will I steal from my parents so I could purchase them. I am getting into it deeper, and I know it. But if I stopped giving them the drugs, that meant I would die.

I was in a dilemma. Confused, troubled and unsettled I was, but there was no one I could turn to. I couldn even tell my parents because it would only make matters worse.

I pick myself up from the ground and keep on walking to a destination I dreaded but I had no choice to be there.

”Watch out. ” I hear someone yell

I turn around but then its too late.

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