I wrote another short story recently. So recent, in fact, that I only submitted it to uni yesterday. I think it's alright; obviously, I haven't got any marks back for it yet, but I'm confident it will do well. I hope you enjoy it!
My room is empty. Everything in boxes on a truck full of our stuff. I feel like we barely moved in here. I’d only just started unpacking before we were moving again. I guess that’s what it’s like when your dad’s in the army. I should be used to moving by now, but I’m not. My school friends lose touch every time we move. Every. Single. Time. And every single time I go through the same ordeal of having to find new ones, even though I know I’ll say goodbye before I properly get to know them. I wish it wasn’t like this. Why can’t Dad just have a normal office job? We’d live in the same place for longer than 2 years. I really hate moving.
“Come on, Mel, we’re leaving soon,” Ashton murmurs as he walks past me, carrying a box labelled ‘Footy Stuff’ in black Sharpie, “You can’t stand in that doorway forever.”
“Watch me,” I say, desperately trying to hold on to the last bit of ‘home’ I have left. They can’t drive away without me.
“Okay, I will,” he says, placing the box on the floor and leaning against the wall on the other side of the hallway. He was staring at me, I could tell.
I can’t leave Raina, Sadie or Lily. I have their numbers in my phone, but as with every big move, I’ll lose contact with them and never see them again.
“Melina,” Mum calls from downstairs, “We’ll leave without you if you don’t come down in the next ten seconds!”
I must’ve wasted three precious seconds getting a final look at my old room, soaking up as many memories as I could before racing down the stairs and into our old station wagon.
This is it. I’ll never see this place again, I think as Dad manoeuvres the car out of the place we briefly called home and onto the Pacific Highway, up to Queensland.
“Hey, Mel, d’ya wanna play I spy?” Ash asks innocently, poking me in the ribs.
“Sure,” I say with a wry smile after Mum gives him a stern look. She hates when we play loud games in the car. I don’t really know why.
“You go first,” Ash says gleefully. I stare out the window, trying to find something that isn’t a tree.
“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with F.”
After many guesses of random things starting with F, my favourite being fleas (“How could I ever spy a flea, Ash?”), he finally yells, much to Mum’s dismay:
I nod and applaud his efforts. He laps up the attention, even earning a little smile from Mum.
“Well, I knew that F couldn’t have been for friends. You’re rubbish at finding those,” Ash teases, laughing.
It’s true. I’ve never been very good at making friends after moving. The friend groups already have no vacancies by the time I get there, no matter how early I book in. I can’t just go barging into a tight-knit group of girls and expect them to be friends with me. I can see their stunned and disgusted looks already at my nervous, trembling hands and my words that fall out on top of each other, resulting in a mess I can’t clean up. I can see that empty corner near the toilets, waiting for me to eat my lunch there.
I laugh it off and stare out the window for a minute or so, collecting my thoughts and taking a deep breath.
“Ash, it’s your turn.”
By the time we get to Brisbane, it’s late afternoon and we’re all starving. Dad insisted we keep driving until we get there, saying traffic could get worse later in the day. We pull into a Macca’s near to where our new house is, clamber out of the car and into Macca’s before you could say “Are we there yet?”.
“Mel, can you order for us while we find a table?” Dad asks, “You know what we’ll have.”
“Yep,” I say, letting out a shaky breath. You can do this, Melina.
I amble up to the counter and stare at the menu, my heart beating too fast, avoiding eye contact with the cashier. She clears her throat and asks what I’d like to order.
“C-could I-I please g-get the-”
“Two medium Big Mac meals, one small McChicken meal, and a Hamburger Happy Meal. All with fries and a Coke, please,” Ash recites to the olive-skinned teenage girl behind the counter. I whisper a thank you to my brother on the way to our table.
“No problem, Mel. I know how hard it is for you to talk to strangers,” he says, giving me a pat on the back, “Besides, the chick was hot.”
“She’s way out of your league, Ash. And you’re only nine, anyway,” I say as we wait for our order to be ready. Maybe she’ll be one of my friends. I doubt it.
“Order one sixty-eight!” the same girl calls from behind the counter. Being closest to the counter, I get up to retrieve the meals. I do my best to disguise my utter terror.
“Th-thank y-you,” I manage to blurt out, but she’s already moved onto the next customer. Great. Awesome. The one time I am able to finish a sentence and she ignores me. Why do I even try?
I eat my dinner in relative silence. Ash and Dad discuss the weekend’s footy results. Dad and Ash’s team, the Bulldogs, didn’t go too well this week. Mum and I grin and nod as they discuss everything that went wrong and how the better team lost and blah blah blah. Why do they even try?
It took about two weeks to unpack all my things and put them around my room. After repainting the walls light blue, I tried to arrange the furniture exactly as it was in our old house. My bed in one corner, with blue sheets and pillows galore; a plain bedside table next to my bed, displaying a digital clock and lamp; my desk sat in the other corner, decorated with trinket boxes and scented candles; a tall, wooden cupboard stood up against the wall, full to the brim with clothes and topped with random junk. In the middle of the wooden floor lay a circular rug with a pink flower pattern on it.
“Wake up, Mel, it’s a school day!” Mum calls from somewhere near. I sit up, bleary-eyed, rubbing the sleep from my face. Oh no. The first day of school after the holidays. Always the worst, without fail.
I eat cereal in front of the TV, trying to distract myself from the day to come. It wasn’t working, of course. My stomach had already started churning. Anxious thoughts were already rocketing around my head, bouncing off one another and obscuring the rational thoughts from view.
Eight o’clock rolls around, and I’m a nervous wreck. I get into the car, already trembling, and focus on the horizon the whole drive to school. No matter what I do, my stomach still churns with no signs of slowing down.
“Alright, Mel, we’re here,” Mum announces from the front seat, parking the car on the side of the road, “I still have to drop off Ash, so we can’t take too long.”
I clamber out and haul my bag onto my back. Mum begins walking me to the office.
“Wait,” I whimper, causing Mum to stop and turn to me. My stomach still had not calmed down. I run over to the freshly manicured school gardens and re-introduce myself to my breakfast. The cornflakes intermingle with the Milo into a puddle of shame as I wipe my mouth, hoping no one else saw.
“Shit,” Mum mutters, “Sweetie, have some water. It’ll help.”
I follow her instructions and make a silent prayer that I won’t throw up again. Finally making it to the school gates, we head for the office. The office lady tells us that my homeroom was room A14. Waving goodbye to Mum, I trudge across the school grounds in the direction that the office lady had pointed, and soon find the door with A14 emblazoned on it in sharp white lettering. I take a seat at the front and push my bag under the desk. A stout, balding man is sifting through files at the front of the class.
“Good morning, class, and welcome to the start of a new year at school. My name is Mr Brady, and I’m homeroom teacher for this year,” he announces once the bell rings.
There is all the usual starting-at-a-new-school malarkey of timetables and lockers, but before too long, we are off to classes. I walk off to grade ten maths alone, not making eye contact with anyone while waiting for the teacher to show up.
“Hi, are you that shaky girl from the other day?” says a girl I recognised as the one from Macca’s, who was standing across from me.
Oh no. She’s gonna judge me. I can already feel those disdainful looks burning into my retinas. To my surprise, she extends her hand out to me and I tentatively reach my trembling hand out to shake hers.
“I’m Serena,” she says, beaming at me, her eyes twinkling. I noticed a student council badge gleaming on her uniform.
“I- I’m Mel-Melina,” I stutter.
“How are you adjusting to the new school? I know I was nervous when I started here.”
“I-I’m not coping too well, a-actually,” I answer, my hands still shaking.
“Wanna sit with me at lunch then? I can show you round, ease your nerves.”
“Th-that sounds great, th-thanks,” I say with a jittery smile. Maybe this new school won’t be as bad as I thought.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you liked it!
Love, Nicky x