Amelia knew she shouldn’t say it, especially since she was supposed to have authority over these girls in terms of both seniority and the job that she was here for. She could only ignore a question so many times in a row, however, even though Ashley was definitely doing the same thing.
“Sure,” Amelia said.
She could do that, right? It had already been established that the schoolgirl outfit did wonders in terms of making her look younger. If anything, the biggest hurdle was the emotional one; everyone was going to view her as a thirteen year old, which was a pretty solid blow to her dignity. But the damage was already done, and she’d rather play Ashley’s insulting game if it meant that Amelia would have an easier time setting this all straight at the end of the day.
“And what’s your name?” Ashley crossed one leg over the other and gave her a pointed look, “Make sure you smile. We don’t want you all pouty on your first day of school.”
For a moment, Amelia did the opposite. Her lips tightened in frustration. Not only was it annoying when someone else told her to smile, but she could already see how Ashley was trying to push her luck. The only reason Amelia complied was due to the thought that it wouldn’t be long before she’d be rid of these senior girls. As mortifying as it was going to be to attend an intermediate class and have everyone there assume that she belonged, it would at least be easy to sit quietly in the back and run out the clock. That sounded better than spending another minute with Ashley and Claire.
Forcing a smile on her face that ended up looking a little dorky and awkward from reluctant effort, she said, “My name is Millie.”
“Oh, this is going to be SO much fun!” Ashley giggled.
Claire ran her hand over Amelia’s completed braid. “Agreed. Now, are you ready for your first ever Westridge class, Millie?”
Assuming the girls would get on her case if she didn’t play the part, Amelia kept the unnatural smile as she said, “Of course I am. Do I have a schedule?” It would be nice if she knew what was in store for her for the rest of the afternoon.
Ashley informed her that her first teacher of the day would have all the necessary materials. Without any further delays, the two ‘older’ girls got up from the sofa and beckoned for Amelia to do the same. Just like before, the dark haired office girl who started this whole thing took Amelia’s hand and laced their fingers together. In the name of progressing things without any more delays, Amelia didn’t protest in the slightest. Besides, she hadn’t argued about it earlier, so she could already imagine her alleged cousin feigning confusion at the sudden distaste.
The hallways were far less crowded than they had been when Amelia had been taken into the study room. Good news, fewer people were around to notice the ‘new girl’ that would soon be a teaching assistant. Bad news, it meant she’d probably be the last one to class. Like a scene from a movie, there was a good chance everyone else would already be seated upon her arrival, which would draw unnecessary attention to her arrival. Doubly so since she was being escorted by two girls.
Thankfully, class hadn’t started yet. While Amelia’s fears about being the center of attention were true in terms of her being the last one in the room, most of the uniformed girls were busy chatting amongst themselves or getting some work done for either the impending lecture or perhaps for some other class to avoid their free time being wasted later. That didn’t mean she was invisible; several of the students noticed her right away, though there wasn’t much time to dwell on it.
“You must be the new girl.” The teacher in the room was easily recognizable by her unique outfit compared to all the otherwise matching girls. Not to mention she was pretty clearly an adult. The woman extended her hand with a warm smile, “Welcome to Westridge Academy, young lady. I’m Mrs. Webb.”
Normally, Amelia would greet someone properly right away, but her right hand was currently held captive by Ashley’s. “Don’t be shy, Millie. Introduce yourself!” Only letting go after reinforcing the nickname, Ashley gave her an encouraging nudge.
Lightly blushing at how she was instantly set up as the ‘nervous for her first day’ type, Amelia stepped forward and tried to do a little damage control. If she wanted to be seen as a serious teacher when all of this was said and done, then being confident as a ‘student’ was an important first step. “I’m Millie,” she said. Right away, she hit a snag in her plan. It was the first time she had ever called herself that unprompted by Ashley, resulting in the hint of a cringe before she collected herself and forced a meek smile onto her face. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Webb.”
“It’s very nice to meet you as well, Millie. And thank you for showing her the way, girls. Will you need a note for your teachers?”
“That won’t be necessary, but thank you for offering,” Ashley said, “I already got permission. Little Millie here is my cousin, so I was picked to give her the tour. And Claire is handling the prefect side of things, of course. She’ll make sure someone’s here to help Millie out after class, too.”
“Well, you two can run along, then. I need to get Millie here sorted before class starts.”
Ashley nodded. “Of course. See you soon, cuz.” She stepped forward to give Amelia an affectionate peck on the cheek. Pausing for just a moment, she whispered, “You better be smiling next time I see you. I’d hate for your phone to ‘accidentally’ fall in the toilet.”
“Bye, Millie!” Claire winked.
Just like that, both of the eighteen year olds turned and left the classroom.
Amelia was left with a knot in her stomach. Was all of this a huge mistake? The only reason she had agreed to keep up the charade was because she believed it was the path of least resistance that would lead towards getting her stuff back. Sitting through a few classes was something she had already signed herself up for before Ashley admitted what was really going on, so it was easier to justify following that through in her mind. But smiling? Amelia didn’t even know when she’d still see her fake cousin again. Was she supposed to plaster on some equally fake smile every time there was a chance they’d run into each other again?
“Mrs. Webb-” she began. Maybe it was better to cut her losses. Now that Ashley wasn’t there to intercept her, there was a better chance of getting to the office and coming clean. And, while she had originally promised to not get the girls in trouble, Amelia was a lot more keen to go back on her word now that Ashley had passed on the offer to end everything a few minutes ago.
The teacher before her had meant what she had said about getting things done before class, however, which was about to make Amelia falter in her efforts to speak up.
“I have some things for you at my desk, Millie. Please follow me.” Mrs. Webb walked away in the opposite direction of the two girls who had just gone on their way, leaving Millie no choice but to follow. It was either that, or be left standing in the middle of the room and risk being stared at by all the students in the room.
As she met the woman at her desk in the corner of the room, Millie realized that this was actually better. A private conversation would be a lot easier when she wasn’t dead center to potentially draw more attention to herself. “Umm, there’s something-”
“Ms. Roberts,” the woman said, “I was informed that your personal possessions have not arrived yet. So, in the meantime, you’ve been issued a standard academy binder for your studies. Unlike our uniforms, it’s not required, but it does have an efficient organizational system for your classes. We highly recommend that new students try it for at least two weeks before deciding to make a switch.”
“Millie, please don’t interrupt. We’re already behind schedule as is. I do expect my students to be punctual every day, which brings us to this-” she picked up a small book from her desk with the school’s insignia on the front cover, “-The school’s Code of Conduct. I do hope you looked at the online version before today, but I would carve out some time to read the book cover to cover. In my experience, girls who skim it or don’t read it at all are the ones that end up with a mountain of infractions over their first few weeks. Trust me, it will be better in the long run if you take the time at the beginning and save yourself some trouble . . .”
What came next was a total surprise. “. . . Especially a girl with your record.”
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