Twenty minutes early. She always did this to herself. In an effort to not walk in late, she would waste dozens of minutes just waiting. The upperclassman stares bore right into through her stomach lining, like they had some telepathic superpowers to churn up the nervousness.
Office Depot had had a 50% Blowout sale the day before. Kristina had come home to five brimming plastic bags on her bedroom floor. She had more pens and notebooks than neither her nor grandchildren would ever need. However, it was crisp crunch of the paper when the heavy cardboard cover flipped over that brought a chill.
A pair of boys walked in the room, in the middle of joke that needed to be told at full volume. They looked over at her for a split second and went back to the conversation.
The newspaper room was nestled in between the school library and the girl’s bathroom. In 1984, Hoover High had decided to renovate their media lab for the school’s 50 year anniversary. All of the media lab, a 1000 square foot section of the school, was ripped out and portable classrooms were sprinkled around the campus so the children wouldn’t have to sit on the ground.
Six months later, the CEO of the contracting company they hired got arrested for embezzlement and fraud. Hoover High was left with a $100,000 debt and half of a sprawling building left unfinished.
Dotted around the campus were same portable classroom, about the size of a trailer. The walls were flimsy and the windows needed a trio of football players to pry them open.
The newspaper room was in the oldest portable and stunk of cafeteria lunches and sweat. The air conditioner hadn’t worked since 1994 so a bead of sweat was already forming on her brow.
Four minutes until the meeting was going to start. She looked all around the room, trying to scope out the most out of the way seat she could get and still not look like an antisocial loser. Kristina moved back two rows, to a seat against the wall so she could lean her head against the cool plaster that hardly kept the classroom from collapsing upon itself.
Her heart jumped each time someone new came inside. Her mother had said to go out for clubs to meet new people with similar interests. The choice had come down to dance team or newspaper. Be that as the thought of auditioning for dance team sent her in panic mode, newspaper seemed the best option.
There were more boys in the club than she thought there would be. In the back of her mind she imagined working close with a cute junior on a story. They would joke around at inside jokes and fight over layouts. On late night, after the news had gone to print, they’d sit on the floor and share a large pizza.