Tawny did not see Elaine for the remainder of the day, or evening for that matter.
That was all well and good; Tawny had orientation early the next morning. At least she wouldn't have to worry about staying up all night gabbing with a new BFF.
Strangely, Tawny felt disappointed, but didn't let it disturb her slumber.
The next day, Tawny adorned the Ivoree Gates school uniform for the very first time. Maybe it was because the outfit was new, but the clothing felt stiff on her frame. Unforgiving. Like it resisted her lower-class contents in such upper-class packaging.
Tawny looked at herself in the mirror, fussing with a skirt that she felt was too short, tugging on the jacket that was constricting in more ways than one.
She smoothed her hair and sighed, dejectedly. "Well...it ain't getting any better..."
She grabbed her backpack and exited the room.
Mackenzie Commons was the building where the orientation was to take place. The austere, ivy-covered building was a brisk, five-minute walk from Mackenzie Hall.
As she made her way there, Tawny smiled and nodded sheepishly to those who would be her fellow classmates. At best, the response she got back was a look of suspicion; at worst they just ignored her.
"Oh, this is going well..." Tawny said to herself through gritted teeth.
She almost had a group of girls slam the main door in her face as she entered the building. But she quickly brushed off the slight once she was inside. The old building was a labyrinthine maze with several stairwells branching out from the main lobby hall.
Tawny pulled a sheet of paper from her backpack containing a map of Mackenzie Commons. "Okay...so I'm supposed to be in room 823A," she surmised, taking one of the stairwells to an upper level.
She found herself in a hallway by herself, a corridor with shut doors lining both sides. She was preoccupied with following the path outlined on her map, so when she turned the corner, she bumped into something solid.
Tawny fell to the ground, dropping her map on the way down. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry!" she cried, embarrassed. She braced herself for a dressing-down by one of Ivoree Gates' elite.
"It's quite alright," said a gentle voice with a Scottish lilt.
Tawny looked up and found herself staring up at a man with hair cropped close to the scalp in a sweater and dress shirt combo. He had arresting, piercing green eyes, which were adorned by a simple black pair of spectacles.
He extended his hand. "Are you hurt?"
Tawny shook her head slowly and she took his hand. As she came to her feet, she swore she felt an electric jolt from the physical contact.
The man's face broke into a disarming smile. "Good. Are you new here? I don't believe I've seen you gracing these halls."
"I'm...new student...Tawny Matthews," Tawny gasped.
"Ah....lovely to see a new face. I'm Professor McCurdy. Cheers," he gently shook Tawny's hand, which he still had in his grasp. He then bent down and picked up the map, and handed it back to her. "I'm assuming you're heading to orientation, yes?"
Tawny nodded. Professor McCurdy placed one hand gently on Tawny's shoulder and used his other hand to point down the hall. "You'll want to make a right down this hall, then a left, then another left. Second door on your right."
"Right....I mean, yes. Thank you very much, Professor," she said, flustered.
"The pleasure's all mine, Miss Matthews. Be seeing you," he winked, then continued onwards in the opposite direction.
Tawny robotically walked down the hall, but when she turned the corner, she immediately leaned against the wall and exhaled the breath she hadn't realize she was holding.