A gentle wind rustled the leaves of the maple tree that stood in a field of sunflowers. A single brown leaf broke off and floated down into the yellow sea. It landed softly on the forehead of a young sleeping girl.
Her green eyes fluttered open. She stared for a moment at the fluffy white clouds visible in the deep blue sky through the sunflowers' petals. She brushed the leaf off and she caught sight of the scar on her arm. She held her arm above her face and stared at the scar.
The scar would always be there, taunting her. It was a reminder that she had survived the car wreck, and her parents hadn't. It was reminder of why she had to live with her aunt whom she had never met before now.
Another leaf fell near where the girl was lying. Autumn was beginning and school would start soon. A new school where she wouldn't know anyone, and numerous people would ask about her scar. She set her arm down and sighed.
"This is going to be a horrible year," she said quietly to herself.
"Haley!" A woman's voice called from across the field. "Are you out here?"
Haley sighed and stood up slowly and brushed some dirt off her dark blue jeans. She ran a hand through her short, strawberry-blonde hair. She flicked a bug off her red tank top and stood on tiptoe to look for her aunt over the sunflowers.
"Over here, Aunt Tiffany!" Haley called out.
"Come inside!" Aunt Tiffany called back. "It's going to rain!"
Haley looked up and saw that storm clouds were indeed rolling in on the horizon. She disappeared from her aunt's view as she began pushing through the sunflowers. Her aunt watched as the sunflowers seemed to dance in a line until Haley emerged from the field of green and gold.
"Come on now," Aunt Tiffany said to Haley who had nearly tripped over a small rock. Aunt Tiffany sighed heavily and began the walk up to the old white house on the cliff. Haley followed slowly behind.
"Do you have everything ready for school?" Aunt Tiffany asked.
"Yeah," Haley answered while picking up petals the wind had blown from the dying sunflower field, "but I don't see what the rush is. School doesn't start for three days."
"Those three days will go by quicker than you think."
"I doubt that. I'm gonna make them last as long as possible."
"By sleeping in the sunflower field all day?"
"Hey, it's almost autumn. They're dying. It'll be another year before I can see them again!"
"Okay, all right, calm down. There's no reason to get so worked up."
Haley crossed her arms and pretended to pout. Aunt Tiffany smiled and pretended to ignore her. She picked up her pace to where Haley had to jog to keep up.
"Wait for me!" Haley cried. Aunt Tiffany chuckled and slowed down. Thunder rolled in the distance as the last of the white clouds drifted slowly away.
The aging wooden steps creaked under the weight of Aunt Tiffany as she stepped onto the wrap-around porch of the three-story house.
A chilly wind blew signaling the changing season. Haley shivered in her sleeveless shirt. She quickly stepped inside to the warmth of the kitchen. The inviting smell of a homemade pie drew her in farther.
"Mmm…pie," Haley said, her mouth watering. "Can I have a slice?" She turned hopeful eyes to Aunt Tiffany.
"After dinner," Aunt Tiffany said as she carefully wrapped the pie and safely stored it away until dinner.
"That's not fair," Haley pouted and began up the stairs to her room. She flopped down on the bed and stared out the window as the first few raindrops began to fall. She looked at her scar. "Mom would've let me have pie."
"Where's my folder?!" Haley asked frantically.
"I thought you had everything together already! You're going to miss your bus!"
"I lied! Now, where's my folder?!"
"You won't need it on the first day. Now go! Your bus is waiting!"
Haley pulled a red hoodie over head, grabbed her things, and ran out to catch the bus that was honking impatiently. The bus driver glared at her as she stepped on the bus. He slammed the doors closed, barely waiting for her to get completely through them.
Haley looked around the noisy bus for a place to sit. Everyone looked like they knew exactly where they should be.
She spotted a girl sitting by herself and staring out the window and decided that might be a good place to start. She walked over to the seat. The brunette didn't even glance at her.
"Can I sit here?" Haley asked. The girl pushed her bookbag to the floor and Haley sat down. They sat in silence while the bus started moving. Haley quickly grew bored. "I'm Haley Paxton," Haley said.
"Alex Garner," the girl said with a bored tone. All of the sudden, a blonde boy from the seat behind them leaned over and rested his arms on the back of the girls' seat.
"Don't you mean Alexandra?" The boy laughed, playfully punching Alex's shoulder. The girl finally turned away from the window.
"Shut up, Derek!" Alex punched him back slightly harder than he punched her. "My name is Alex!"
Derek looked at Haley who had been silently watching the strange conversation. "Don't let her lie to you," Derek said. "Her name is Alexandra."
"I hate that name," Alex pouted. She slumped down in her seat and stared out the window.
'This is going to be a very strange year,' Haley thought with a nervous smile. 'Very, very strange.'