Grey pulled herself out of bed. She hated today and she was not happy that it had arrived. The days of summer and hiding out with her notebook in the tree house were over. It was the first day of school. Because this was the 5th place that Grey had lived, it meant that this was the 3rd new school. Grey hated being new. When you are new, it takes time to be old. When you are new, everyone looks at you. When you are new, you can’t blend in. You can’t disappear. You don’t know where to sit, and you hate standing alone. Grey wondered if she could just sneak out the back door and make it to her treehouse before her mother noticed she was missing. If she couldn’t be found, then she couldn’t go to school.

“Grey, are you getting ready? Get out of bed! You don’t have much time and you still need to eat breakfast!” called Joan.

Joan was Grey’s mom. As far as moms go, she was a good one. Everyone always told Grey how pretty her mom was, and how young she looked. Grey was proud of that, like she had something to do with it. When really, she didn’t. But she was glad to be associated with a pleasant mother instead of some of the other ones she saw dragging their children around.

“I’m coming” called Grey.

She went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Eighth grade meant that she needed to care a little more, so she tried. Grey never went too close to the mirror. It scared her a little bit. It seemed that her hair never looked right, and that her face was weird if she got too close-up. She preferred to look at herself from far away with her eyes squinted, that gave just the right about of blur to make her happy. She took a deep breath, and did a hard squint.

“This will have to do,” she muttered as she went back to her room and grabbed her backpack.

As she headed down the stairs she was nearly trampled by the two pests.

“Watch out!” Gray yelled.

“It’s the first day of school!” hollered Ben, clearly not troubled about the fact that they were soon going to a building they had never been in before. Ben loved school. In fact; he thrived on it. He was the older of the two creatures and he was a little bit of a brain. Her parents were always talking about how smart he was. As she was thinking about how annoying that was, the other one grabbed her by the shoulders.

“We are SO excited, are you Grey?” asked Kale, getting right into her face.  Kale loved new. He was up for anything as long as it meant action and adventure. A school full of strange kids was the most exciting thing he could have planned for this dreaded morning.  

Grey was annoyed by the enthusiasm expressed by both of them, oblivious to the joy that comes with NOT being new.

“No, I am not excited. I’ll never be excited,” she said as she pushed by them on the stairs and went into the kitchen. Grey sat at her spot at the table and ate her usual breakfast of toast and peanut butter. She put her dishes in the sink and noticed her stomach was doing some flips, as she sat by the front door waiting to leave. Her mom was doing the final crazy run around the house to make sure everyone had everything they needed for the day. Ben and Kale weren’t listening as usual and Grey could hear her mom getting frustrated as she tried to get them to put everything in their backpacks. Dad luckily left early each morning for his job at the hardware store, so Joan had to perform this amazing feat on her own.

“Ok everyone,” said Joan, a little covered with sweat, “I think we are ready to go.”

Getting into the car, Grey took one last lingering look back at her treehouse. She was already counting down the hours until she could come back. As they drove down her street she saw the ice truck pull up, she glanced at the flickering electric house sign, and counted 3 diapers already on the lawn at the diaper house. Grey gave a big sigh as they drove away. 

“Time to be new.” she said

Her name was Grey and she didn’t want to go to school.