Finally, finally, FINALLY, the bell rang for the end of school. Gwen stood up quickly and shoved her books into her schoolbag, double-checking her desk for anything she missed. She was anxious to get home, away from the new girl. She hated to admit it, but she’d felt like she was under inspection all day. For the two and a half hours Clarabelle had been there, Gwen had felt like a bug under a microscope. Even now, as she slung her bag over her shoulder, she felt Clarabelle’s hard eyes following her.
Gwen walked quickly in through her door, the familiar kitchen wallpaper calming her pulse a little. She sucked in a deep breath, unsure why she was so tense. Maybe it was the crawling hairs on the back of her neck, the whole way home, feeling like their were many pairs of eyes on her.
She took her books out of her backpack and set them on her desk, then switched on her sluggish computer. She decided to get a snack while it loaded up. She was rummaging around in her fridge when she sensed someone behind her. She froze, then whirled around and cracked the back of her head on the freezer handle.
“Ow!” She complained, gingerly touching the blooming bruise. She then noticed the “suspicious figure” was only her mother, Charmaine. “Oh, hi, Mom!” She added brightly, in a very different tone.
“Hi, honey,” Charmaine said slowly, her hair in a supercurly disarray around her amused face. “How was your day?” She asked, taking in Gwen’s jumpy behavior with raised eyebrows.
“Okay,” Gwen lied. Charmaine didn’t buy it.
“How ‘bout you? You okay?”
“Er, yeah!” Gwen chirped, lying through her teeth. “I’m fine! Great! I’m-“ Gwen’s sentence trailed off. Charmaine knew by her face she was not fine.
“What’s wrong, Gwen?” She asked, worried. Gwen bit her lip, wondering how to phrase it.
“We-my class-got an new girl this afternoon,” She offered half-heartedly.
Charmaines’ expression brightened.
“Well, that’s great, honey!” She exclaimed. Then, surveying Gwen’s expression, she paused. “Is it?”
Gwen shrugged. “I-I guess,” She said softly. “Clarabelle, her name is…” She trailed off.
Charmaine’s eyebrows drew together.
“Gwen, did she do something to you?” Charmaine asked, truly concerned now.
“Well, no, not really,” Gwen admitted. Charmaine’s expression cleared.
“Well, then, what’s bothering you, then?” Gwen fidgeted, uncomfortable.
“Well, I dunno, it’s just…she’s just…a bit…different.” Gwen decided. Charmaine’s kind face grew puzzled.
“What’s so bad about this Clarabelle, Gwen? What?” Gwen looked her mother in the eye.
“She’s not like most thirteen-year-olds. She’s different than us. Intimidating, somehow. Clarabelle is not your average girl.”