"Iris? Iris? Iris!"

Iris woke up with a jolt at the sound of her name being called. She looked up, bleary-eyed. Jade was standing at the foot of her bed, hands on her hips. Her older sister sighed.

"Finally, you woke up. I was thinking about dumping you with ice cold water as a last resort."

"What do you want, sis?" Iris asked, still half asleep.

"Don't you know what's today's date?"

"September 7th?"

"Yup." Jade looked at her expectantly. She frowned when Iris just stared at her blankly.

"So…?"

"So…"

"So…?" Jade continued to look at her like it was so obvious, even God was facepalming at that moment. Iris was still confused. "I don't get it."

"Do I have to spell it out for you? It's your first day of school!"

"Uh-huh… wait, what?!" As if a switch somewhere had been turned on, Iris leaped right out of her bed, almost falling over. She stumbled around her wardrobe, while Jade looked on with amusement.

"Why didn't you tell me?!" Iris quickly threw on a white T-shirt and a purple skirt.

"I just did." Jade chuckled as Iris ran to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

"Well, why didn't you tell me sooner?!" Iris squeezed a handful of toothpaste onto her toothbrush and started swiping it around her mouth. She rinsed her mouth and looked down at herself, mortified by what she saw. "Oh crap, there's toothpaste on my shirt!"

"That's why you should brush your teeth before you change. I thought you knew that."

"I do, but thanks to your poor timing I'm panicking and I forgot my morning routine! Where's my book bag?!" Iris tried to run downstairs, but Jade grabbed her arm and stopped her.

"First of all, don't. Panic. Second, don't worry. You won't be late. I woke you up ten minutes early."

"Jade, I need to-wait, you what?"

"That's right. I woke you up early because I know how important punctuality is to you. I also know that you can be a heavy sleeper sometimes." Jade smirked. "You're welcome, little sis. Now go change your shirt."

"Jade, you little—"

Jade laughed. "If there's anyone who's little, it's you."

Iris rolled her eyes. "Whatever. I'll just go change now."

"See you in a bit, sis. Breakfast will be waiting for you downstairs."

"Okay." Jade turned to go, but Iris stopped her. "Hold on." Iris narrowed her eyes. "What kind of breakfast?"

"Oh, your favorite." Jade smiled mischievously. "Oatmeal." Iris sighed with relief. "With eggs mixed in." Iris wrinkled her nose.

"Ew, Jade, that's gross! Who eats that?"

"Just kidding! I put eggs on the side instead."

"Oh, good."

"And FYI, I eat them. In fact, I actually made egg-infused oatmeal just for me. Don't yuck my yum, Iris." Jade turned and went downstairs. "See ya."

"Yeah, see ya." Iris changed into a different shirt, this time a pink one with a white logo on it. She looked in the mirror. "Looks good," she said to herself. Something caught her eye, and she looked over at her shelf. Safely tucked away in the shelf was a small box. Iris tiptoed to get to the box and held it in her hands for a moment. She gingerly opened the box, revealing a beautiful ruby ring.

"Hey, mom," Iris whispered to the ring. "This is it. I'm going to my new school. Wish me luck." She fought back tears. "I love you." As if the ring was a fragile baby, she rocked it back and forth, then put the ring back in the box and on its shelf.

Iris went downstairs and found Jade at the breakfast table, munching away at her egg oatmeal. Iris sat across from Jade and started eating her oatmeal.

"'Bout time you came down to eat, Sleeping Beauty."

"Shut up Jade," Iris said, but she giggled.

"What took you so long?"

"Oh, nothing."

"You sure?"

"Yes."

"I can tell when something's bothering you, Iris. Don't hide it." Jade crossed her arms. Iris continued to eat her oatmeal and pretended to stare at it nonchalantly.

"Like I said, it's nothing."

"It's Mom, isn't it?" Iris froze like a deer in headlights.

"Can we please not talk about Mom?"

"I understand. It's still a sore subject for you." The two girls quietly finished their breakfast. Eventually, Jade got up.

"I'm gonna go start the car. Get your backpack." Jade went outside. Iris grabbed her backpack and looked inside. Notebooks, check. Pencil case, check. Calculator, check. Wallet, check. Phone, check. Everything, check. Before she closed the backpack (which was purple, by the way), she left a text message on her phone: Off to school now, Ella. Wish me luck!-Iris

Iris went outside, locked the door behind her, and climbed into Jade's car. Jade looked at her with an excited look in her eyes. Then she started driving. "Blue Flower High, here we come."


Iris was already amazed by the large building standing in front of her. Towering at least 20 feet above her head and looking like it had twice the width of a football field, the high school looked like a modernized medieval castle that was beige in color. It had a bunch of windows lined up in perfectly straight rows.

"Well, this is my stop," Iris saidand gulped nervously. She felt so small compared to the school.

"You'll be fine, sis." Jade put her hand on top of Iris'. "Remember: the only thing you have to fear is fear itself." She winked. "Make new friends, get good grades, and most importantly, be happy. Before you know it, you'll be out of school, getting a degree in medicine, and opening your own doctor's clinic! Just like you've always wanted."

"Er, yeah…" Iris said uncertainly. She quickly got out of the car. "Well, I'll see ya at the end of the day. You're picking me up, right?"

"Yup, if they let me off work on time." Jade looked at Iris with a serious expression. "Really sis, you have nothing to worry about. If something goes wrong, you can talk to me about it, and we'll work it out. Together." She grinned. "Now what are you waiting for? Get going! Love you!" Jade waved at Iris one last time, then drove away.

Iris, not knowing what else to do, started making her way to her new school. She stopped a few feet away from the entrance to admire the building's exterior one last time. She started to continue walking again when someone pushed her. She fell down on the ground.

"Hey, watch where you're standing!" Iris looked up. Staring at her with narrowed brown eyes was a girl around her age. She had reddish-brown hair that was flipped over one shoulder. She had on an off-the-shoulder top that Iris thought was cute.

"I-I'm sorry!" Iris stammered as she got up. The pretty girl squinted at her.

"Wait a minute, you're new here, aren't you?"

"Well, um…yes?"

"Hmph, then you should know your place!" The girl turned to walk off when a voice called out.

"Don't pick on newbies like that, Veronica!" A blonde girl with green eyes who was wearing a loose scarf stormed up to the first girl and stood protectively between her and Iris. They looked each other straight in the eyes and had a staring contest for a moment. A couple students stopped to look at them before moving on.

Veronica smiled. "I thought I wouldn't see you here again, after what happened last year. I thought you were planning to transfer."

"Well, you're wrong. I changed my mind. I'm back."

"I see…" Veronica looked back at Iris. "Good luck befriending the tough chick. Just know you won't get anywhere with her." She giggled and walked over to where two girls stood chatting. Iris stared after her.

What just happened? she thought.

"Hey…you okay?"

"Huh?" Iris snapped out of her thoughts. The blonde girl was looking at her worriedly. "Are you talking to me?"

"Yeah, duh!" The blonde smiled. "You really get lost in your thoughts, don't you?" Iris looked down at her feet, embarrassed. "Hey, cheer up. I'm just messing with ya! Geez, you don't need to be so serious!"

"I'm just processing what that girl said to me just now." The girl placed a hand on Iris' shoulder. Iris looked up.

"Don't let her get to you. She likes making people feel insecure about themselves. Just ignore everything she says to you, and you'll be alright. Trust me, I know from experience." She stepped back, that smile back on her face. "Oh, silly me! I forgot to introduce myself." She held out her hand. "I'm Laura. What's your name?"

Iris looked at her hand before shaking it stiffly. "Iris," she answered quietly.

"Laura!" A boy ran up to the two girls, out of breath from running. "You…need…to…stop…running off!" He looked over at Iris. "Ooh, who's the chick? She new?" He grinned. The boy, like Laura, was blonde, though his eyes were blue.

"Sorry, Sandy. I couldn't just stand there and let Veronica treat her like garbage," Laura responded.

"I see." The boy shook his head. "Overprotective of people you don't even know, like usual."

"I heard that!" Laura growled. She playfully punched Sandy on the shoulder.

Sandy winked at Iris. "She may look scary, but she's actually a big softie."

"Sandy!"

"What? I just wanted to let her know." He smiled at Iris. "What's your name, new girl?"

Iris shyly smiled back. "It's Iris."

"Cool name," Sandy replied. "Matches your purple…irises. Get it?"

"Don't even start," Laura growled warningly. She gave Iris an apologetic smile. "Puns and pranks are Sandy's thing." Iris giggled. Only her first day and she already liked her new friends. No way was anything going to ruin that, right?