Welcome to Andrew High, a school for mages…
That is, until its doors are opened to the non-magical, or “normie,” population. That means no more magic allowed on school property. For Tabetha Long, whose powers are directly related to emotions, hiding her magic is difficult. When her mother is hired as the new gym teacher, and her father comes back to town with his reality television show, difficult becomes impossible.
Now her every move is being caught on video and everyone else at school wants in too. All Tabetha wants is to become invisible.
But then the mysterious and cute new guy, Eric wouldn’t be able to see her either…
Shuffle. Shuffle shuffle. Nudge. Resist urge to shove. No, no Tabetha. You can’t put a hex on them because they cut in front of you. Not even if they do keep looking at you like you’re the jerk.
Assemblies suck. Trying to get through the overcrowded halls to get to the stupid assembly sucks more.
My friend shoved her way through the crowd toward me, knocking kids against the wall so she could have a better path. Her brown braids swished behind her, smartly smacking people in the face if they tried to fight back. I watched Eleanor with a smile. No one would dare mess with her when she was wearing braids. And in a few minutes she would be walking beside me, helping me move through the crowd faster too. What else were friends for?
“Elle!” I called to her over the noise.
“Tab!” Eleanor waved. “Hey! Can you believe this crowd? You’d think someone would have thought of a better way to herd us.”
Of course everyone glared at her when she spoke since she was being super loud. The couple next to us popped on matching earmuffs to block the sound, but I was used to it. I felt particularly pleased to be Eleanor’s best friend on braid days. It meant we would always get the best table at lunch. And it meant there was less chance of people paying attention to me, which was how I liked it.
“Where do you want to sit?” she asked.
We paused at the doorway to glance around the already crowded auditorium. The way Eleanor dressed and wore her hair each day determined who she was willing to hang out with. This meant today there were only five people other than Sylvia and me who suited her personality.
After only a second’s consideration, she led me towards a group of five hacky-sac playing, longhaired, hippy wannabes. They’d gotten rid of a few of the seats so they could better play their game, but when one of the teachers came over and glared, they quickly zapped everything back into place.
Eleanor’s friend Lucas waved hello as he sat in one of the returned chairs. He was one of those people who always had a huge grin on his face. Either he was ridiculously happy all the time, or he was in fact the Joker, and there was no way he could get rid of the smile. I secretly thought it was the second one. He nodded to me to acknowledge my existence before turning back to Eleanor. That’s how most of Eleanor’s friends reacted, if they saw I was there at all.
Eleanor plopped down next to him and I sat on her other side.
“There you are,” Sylvia pushed her way through the crowd, trying to get to us. Eleanor didn’t seem to notice her. “Guys! Hey, I found out…“
She must have seen Eleanor was busy chatting with Lucas and not listening to her, because she stopped talking and attempted to get closer. “Listen. This is big news. Guys, I found out…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Principal Latner said, though the students mostly drowned his words out.
After some quick shushing from teachers, everyone went quiet. Sylvia sat back and made a face like she couldn’t decide which was more important, staying out of trouble or telling us what she’d heard.
“If you’ll please settle down, we can get started. I have a couple of announcements. I would like to welcome you all back to class after what I hope was a fun and adventure-filled summer holiday.”
The room burst into cheers with someone shouting “More summer!” followed by giggling and more shushing.
“This year is going to be a very special one for Andrew High School for many reasons, not the least of which will be the introduction of many new students and faculty members.”
People started talking again, but this time at a lower murmur to friends. No one seemed to know what he was talking about. New teachers?
Sylvia leaned toward us and opened her mouth, but was once again cut off by Latner.
“While most of the new teachers will be joining us on Monday, I’m pleased to introduce one of them today. Would everyone please welcome Vivian Long!”
It didn’t register at first. I watched a woman in a pair of skin-tight pink pants and a matching shirt stand from her chair among the faculty. It wasn’t until the polite clapping began my brain caught on to what was happening on stage.
Oh no. No no no. That couldn’t be who I thought it was.
My ears filled with a sudden ringing and my stomach did a little flip. Why did she have the same name and look exactly like my mother? My mother, who was supposed to be substituting at some school today. Some school that wasn’t mine.
My jaw dropped when she waved to the crowd, wiggling her fingers a little extra when she saw me. And when I say dropped, I mean it. It fell right to the floor. Eleanor had to lean over and scoop it up for me since I couldn’t take my eyes away from my mother long enough to get it myself.
Usually, I’d be mortified at having lost control of my emotions so much to lose a body part, but I was too busy staring at the stage to care.
“Your mom is working here now?” Eleanor said. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“That’s not even the biggest news,” Sylvia tried again. “I just heard…”
“Ms. Long will be teaching a new class called… physical education?” Principal Latner looked at a slip of paper in his hand and squinted at the words, clearly unfamiliar with the term, as any proper mage would be.
“Thank you, Liam,” my mom said.
At my school!
As a teacher!
“As some of you may have already heard,” Principal Latner continued, “Sterling High School was recently closed due to some unfortunate mould problems. As such there have been some unavoidable changes in our district.”
Eleanor glanced at me in horror. She must have finally clued in about my mother and was checking to see if I was appropriately appalled. I couldn’t take my eyes off the hideous pink pants to assure her I was.
“Starting Monday, we will be welcoming many new students. From now on, we will be accepting all local youth eligible to attend grades nine through twelve. For the first time in nearly twenty years, Andrew High’s doors will no longer be closed to the non-magical public.”
“Like I was trying to say,” Sylvia whispered.
No one else made a sound for an entire breath, and then there was a loud thud as every jaw in the room dropped to the floor.