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New York – Maplebrook Academy

Avis’s chauffeur drove through the growing swarm of downtown New York traffic with relative ease, taking roads that were able to avoid the pile up or gridlock that pelage the streets during the morning rush hour. Within twenty minutes, the luxury BMW left the downtown core of businesses and industries and into greener properties with large houses, manicured lawns and clean streets. It was hard to believe they were still in New York, known for the sky rises and time square. A few more turns later Avis saw a large red brick and stone building in the distance. The BMW drove up the driveway, pass a set of iron gates that had a plaque along the gate’s entrance with the words ‘Maplebrook Academy’ written across it.

There were several other similar cars lined up in front of the large, historical looking building. BMWs, Porches, limos and others that Avis did not recognize. Students lingered along the front lawn, walking up the stone steps or were grouped together chatting with close friends. All wore the same uniform as Avis, the boys had black pants with the red blazer and white shirt, the girls all wore the same red-pattern skirt. At least she knew she was at the right school, Avis thought, trying to not let the butterflies in her stomach to gain the upper hand. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t done this before, she reminded herself, however no matter how many times Avis had moved and changed schools, it didn’t change the nervous feeling of entering a new place all by herself. This school though was more intimidating than any Avis had been to.

“They’ll be waiting for you in the Administration Office.” Her driver said from the front seat. “It should be right inside the main doors. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” Avis said with a sigh as she stepped out.

“I’ll be waiting for you at 3:15.”

“Right, thanks.” Avis said with a soft smile just before she slammed the door and the BMW drove out of sight. It must have been less than a second, but already when the dark-haired teenager turned around, she felt every pair of eyes on her. Yeah… I’ll do fine… she sighed to herself pushed aside the paranoia and climbed the steps towards the pair of large heavy wooden doors of the school.

The main foyer was wide and had an airy look with the insignia of the school plastered in tile along the floor. Display cases lined the walls, displaying trophies, photos of sports groups and clubs with their achievements. Only five steps in, and Avis already knew the school took itself seriously, the awards were large, TV screens nearby showed the latest sports game or club activity that featured a win, another feather in their cap. Even the students she passed seemed to walk with a different air to them. The nervous feeling she felt before had doubled by the time she found the administration office. What was her father thinking sending her to such a prissy school? Couldn’t she had gone to some normal public school?

“Hi, I’m Avis Ris- I mean Locklear.” Avis said, still getting used to using her biological father’s last name. The school’s receptionist looked to be in her late fifties, bleached blond hair and wearing a formal skirt-suit ensemble.

“Ah, yes, the Vice Principle would like a word with you first.” She said, allowing Avis to pass the desk towards one of the three doors located behind her, amiss filing cabinets and photocopiers. The receptionist knocked on the door then opened when a muffled voice came from within. “Miss Locklear is here.” She said leaving Avis in the doorway. Inside sat another woman, a bit younger, but her face was much sterner and scarier than the receptionist. She had dark brownish-red hair, tied back into a neat bun, making her features harder from the strain.

“Have a seat Locklear. I am Mrs. Moore, your Vice Principle here at Maplebrook Academy. From your record, I see that you’ve moved around a lot.” She said, not looking up at Avis at all, but kept her eyes focused on a computer screen in front of her. “Your grades are in good shape, though there have been several notations from past teachers and educators with issues of teamwork and cooperation.”

It was at that moment Mrs. Moore looked up over the screen at Avis who frowned. “So much for trying to start over with a clean slate.”

Mrs. Moore didn’t smile or flinch at Avis’s attempt at a joke. “Miss Locklear, Maplebrook Academy is a school for the brightest minds of our future. We take aggressive behaviour against other students seriously. You have been in a number of fights at your other schools, this may be a clean slate for you, but this is also a one strike school. If any of those ugly behaviours show up here, no matter how influential or how much money your father has, you will be removed.”

Never had Avis had such a shake down like this before, even after she left Moore’s office her heartbeat was racing off the charts. It was made abundantly clear that only students who act a certain way, get a certain G.P.A. average, and give the academy a certain shine were allowed to stay here. The threat didn’t help Avis warm up to her new school either. If this was the attitude of the vice-principal, she didn’t want to meet the head honcho.

With her schedule in her one hand, an Academy rule/guidebook in the other, Avis began to unravel the layout of her new school, including locker, combination and home room classroom. She was once more exposed to the stares of her new fellow students, thankfully the bell rang soon after she found her locker that distracted everyone away from her. Five minutes later she was rushing through her first period class, English literature.

If the outside of Maplebrook Academy was any sign of the wealth of the students who went there, the classrooms would seal the deal. Instead of cheap, desks with attached chairs, each student had a wooden desk, and chair. The front of the classroom displayed what looked like three computer screens displaying several images, text and what looked like the lesson plan for the period.

“You must be Miss Locklear.” The teacher said, approaching her. He wore thick rimmed glasses, had messy short brown hair and wore a reasonable shirt, pants and tie that did not fit his looks. Even the teachers had a dress code by the look of things. “Attention everyone, this is your new classmate, Miss Avis Locklear. Avis, want to say anything to the class?”

“Oh, please don’t.” Avis said in a small whisper.

“Wait, Locklear?” One student asked. “Malcolm Locklear from Locklear Enterprises?”

“Stupid, Locklear is a common name, don’t make assumptions Zeke.” Another student shouted near the back of the class.

“Actually… my father is Malcolm Locklear of Locklear Enterprises.” Avis heard herself say, then felt like shooting herself afterwards. The class began to buzz and questions began to hurl her way, everything from what Locklear Enterprises was currently working to whom he was currently sleeping with.

“K, everyone settle down and let’s get to work. Avis, there’s an empty seat in the third row, near the back.” The teacher said, pointing Avis int the right direction. She was glad to finally be out of the lime light though that didn’t stop the whispers, now it wasn’t just paranoia nagging at her, now she actually had a reason to think everyone was talking about her.

***

By noon just about everyone seemed to have heard about the illegitimate daughter of Malcolm Locklear attending Maplebrook Academy. She had to suffer another round of questions and whispers during her second period Biology class, and had never been so thankful when the bell rang for lunch. Stepping out of her Biology class, with the hopes of blending in with the rest of the school and lunch crowd, Avis made followed the wave of teenagers towards the cafeteria, looking forward to finding a seat where she could eat without having someone ask her a question about her father. Suddenly two blond hair girls came up from behind Avis, each clasped one of her arms, linking it with theirs and continued to guide Avis towards the cafeteria.

“You’re Avis Locklear?” The one to her right asked.

“So, you link arms with anyone before asking who they are?” Avis asked with some annoyance.

“Of course not, but students of distinct families are an exception. If you are to make your mark here at Maplebrook, you need to know the society.” The other said.

“Society?” Avis asked. “Are you two twins by the way?”

“Trisha Wallace.”

“Rose Evens.”

“Cousins.” The both said together.

“Our parents are part of the tech industry too, hardware and software, though Malcolm Locklear has outshine everyone. Still, it’s impressive, never knew the Locklear had a daughter.” Trisha said.

“You must tell us the juicy details.” Rose added. They reached the cafeteria, and a buffet of smells whiffed into Avis’s nose. This wasn’t any low-class, grease covered cafeteria food that she was used to. With the two blonds on either side, the handed her a tray and began to shuffle her down one of the lines. Fresh salads, breads, vegetables and fruits. There was hot roast beef, roast chicken, and just about every pasta dish ever invented.

Avis would have stopped a mile ago when she first entered the cafeteria if the two teenagers hadn’t pulled her though. They loaded her tray up with a salad, a muffin and an apple before proceeding to the checkout. Avis frowned at the meal they picked for her and reached her hand back to grab a brownie behind their backs. At the till, a lunch lady with a dark coloured hair net and iron pressed kitchen uniform took their student cards and scanned them one by one as the students were let out into the seating area.

“They send the bill to our parents once a month, it’s part of the tuition fee.” Trisha said, noticing Avis’s look on her face. She wasn’t used to others paying for her meals, nor was she used to such high-priced foods. “So don’t worry, your father is totally loaded.”

With their trays in hand, they left the food line up and entered into the sitting area of the cafeteria, that had a number of long wooden tables and high-backed, cushioned chairs. There were a row of glass doors along the far side that opened onto what looked like a patio and courtyard. The place was buzzing with noise, music, laughter and joking. The Tech Twins, as Avis referred to them as in her head, lead her past several tables that had a number of open spots.

“First order of business. Know where to sit.” Rose said. “Given your dad’s success and media attention, you’d be safe to sit almost anywhere inside. If you’re into politics, there’s a table over there for the debaters and kids that had politics in their family. You know… the govoner’s grandkids and the Senetor’s kids. She gestured over to a group of students who seemed to be in a debate with each other.

“The Techies, the Engineers…”

“We call them the Dirty Dozen.” Trisha pipped in.

“There’s also the Creative Tables, drama, music and art.” Rose added. “But today you’re going to sit with us, at our table. We’re the popular ones, we have a few athletes, some techies, a musician and a few kids who have famous actors as parents.” The table they lead Avis to was at the centre of the cafeteria, the group seemed to be the centre of life of the school.

The popular table? Avis had to resist the urge to laugh and make some joke that could be misunderstood as an insult. She had never been part of the popular crowd before, never liking the attention nor the type of people it included. She had a feeling that the Techie Twins were just trying to help, but the way they talked about the tables, how everyone had to part of a group, it wasn’t a place Avis wanted to eat in. Everyone began to grow quiet when she sat down with the two blonds on either side of her.

“Guys, you won’t believe it. This is Malcolm Locklear’s daughter.” Trisha said. Just roll with it… Avis thought, it beats eating in a washroom stall. She smiled and waved to the group who seem to stare at her as if she were some alien.

“We know already.” One of the guys said, returning to his phone. “The question is where did she come from?”

“Excuse me?” Avis asked, taken aback by the comment.

“I’ve checked every database in the country, and there’s not birth certificate of your existence. So, who are you for real Miss Locklear?” The kid had glasses and dark black hair with a bluish shine to it. The twins said there were some techies part of the inner circle and he must be one of them the way he kept his eyes on his cell screen instead of look at her in the face.

“Some Techie you are, I was born in Canada dumb-ass.” Avis said without thinking. “And my dad had my name changed to his when he gained custody of him, so yeah, you won’t find me under that name, in any of your searches.”

“So what’s your real last name?” The boy asked.

“Like I’m going to tell you.” Avis said. “Just stick to Locklear.” She eyed the boy carefully, already noting of doing a background check of her own on him, she’d have to gain the upper hand and check out him before the day was over.

“Easy Avis, Yin leave her alone. She’s knew.” Trisha said.

“Besides, that’s no way to get information out of her. Avis, we want to know who’s you mother? Why are you living with your father now?” Rose asked.

“Probably some whore.” Yin muttered under his breath. Avis’s ice blue eyes narrowed on him, yes, she would definitely get him back. Unfortunately, as much as she was starting to dislike Yin, she did not have a back story about her mother.

“Ah… she died.” Avis said slowly. Both of the blonds gasped and held her arms to try to comfort her, though all Avis wanted to do was eat the salad and scarf down the browning. “It’s alright really… she was a security consultant… for museums and such. We traveled a lot… she had contracted a virus on one of her last trips. It was hard, but we managed to say goodbye and she told me about my father. Child Services took it from there.”

“Travelled for a job like that?” Yin asked. “Guess that describes your accent. Born in Canada but it sounds like you’ve got some Scottish in you.”

“She was good at her job. People and firms requested her.” Avis said, quickly going back to her Canadian accent. Yin raised an eyebrow at the change, but said nothing more.

“Ah, question. What about outside? You’ve given me a list of all the tables here, what about out there?”

“You don’t want to be with that group.” Rose said.

“They’re the rebels.” Another kid said from further down the table.

“Kids who don’t really keep with the Maplebrook way, or kids who have had troubles in other schools and forced to come here, as well as those who do not like the societies in place indoors.” Yin informed. “They are what you may call the ‘nobodies’ of our school.”

“Thanks for the intel Yin.” Avis said in a low voice. Basically those who didn’t fit in with any of the groups were kicked outdoors. She wondered if it was the same during the winter months. To be honest she would prefer the outdoors to this group of students. She eyed the cafeteria with it’s hierarchy, and sighed to herself, high school was the same no matter where you went or how much you pay for it.

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