Girls' Of St. Adeline
warning: mentions of bullying and body-shaming
D I A N A
It was the first day of spring.
Melted patches of snow in the fields made it muddy and impossible to play on without the stark white PE uniform getting dirty. It was the start of a new session and the first days were always more lax and lazy for the students.
However, there was a lone figure dressed in black shirt and black short shorts who was kicking goals after goals into the goalpost of the fields. She was barefoot as she practiced various dribbles and went past the cones that she had set as defense players from one end of the field to the other. Her hair was cropped short at the sides but was longer at the top which was in a mess of dark curls.
She was the only girl on the field and she knew that nobody would dare to approach the field except her. This was an important practice session and she wasn't going to miss her individual free hours sitting in a boring class with boring people going over things she had already read.
The long screech of the bell caused her to halt her actions. It was the lunch bell which meant that she had been out there for two hours and fifteen minutes (give or take).
The girl set about gathering the cones to take them back to the sports equipment room; she made a mental note to stop by the garden so that she could wash off the dirt with the watering pipe. After collecting all the balls, she put them in the bright orange net bag which was designated for this purpose.
She huffed out a breath as she stared off into the distance at the children filling the open halls facing the field. They were entering the dining halls for the break. She was sure that a few of them stared at her as she set about her work.
It wasn't unusual. After all, who wouldn't stare at St. Adeline's Girls' Convent School's top athlete? She had been the best player back-to-back in district and state competitions for three years and had ranked third in national level athletics. When it came to group sports, she had managed to get her team to the national finals where they won the second place. That was last year, this year she was determined to claim as many sports scholarships as she could and get her school the first position that they hadn't got in over three decades.
As she walked past the garden towards the pipe in the glory of her muddy self, she noticed a car standing at the huge stone-path driveway at the front of the school. A middle aged woman with fair hair was unloading bags with another fair-haired teenage girl.
'New admission,' she thought as she bent down to wash off the mud from the equipment and her calves.
"Diana!" a voice exclaimed from her left. "Why are you not at the mess hall?"
The girl, Diana, looked up to see the Principal, Sister Angelica standing next to her giving her a disapproving look.
"I'm sorry, Sister," Diana apologized. "I was practicing. I'll go over soon."
She stood up as she spoke, slinging the equipment bags over her shoulders. The Principal gave her a once over before slightly smiling and reaching up a hand to ruffle her hair.
"Well, I hope you wouldn't mind being a bit more late because I need your help," the older woman said.
"Yes, Sister. I don't mind."
"Go and keep the equipment back then meet me in front of my office. And dear, if you can squeeze in the time, please change."
Diana smiled dully in response and nodded dutifully before quickly taking off towards the dorm building. She looked back once to see the Sister greeting the woman and her kid.
'Guess that's what she needs help for,' she thought before she looked forward again, still running.
After a quick shower and change of clothes, Diana waited outside the Principal's office with the rhythm of her tapping foot to keep her company. The foyer was quiet. It was the farthest from the dorms and the dining hall but closer to the classrooms and since there were no classes happening at the moment, all was calm and quiet. Almost eerie. The gothic architecture didn't help much.
There were a few voices that could be heard behind the closed doors. Diana didn't worry too much about the processes going on in there; after all Diana had gone through those processes herself when she was younger.
She was broken out of her reverie with the rattle of the door opening. Diana leaned off the wall and stood up straight, dusting off the invisible specks of dirt off of her uniform.
"I hope that you get adjusted here smoothly," Sister's soft and kind voice. "Miss Hunter here would guide you. And if anyone gives you trouble, you could come to me or tell Miss Hunter. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't mind handling a few people for you."
Diana restrained herself from rolling her eyes at seeing the slight smirk that her Principal was giving her. It wasn't a secret that she was intimidating and didn't like bullies. When her seniors had tried to show their 'initiation' to her, she had beaten them up (and got detention on the very first day along with them; but it was so worth it).
The new girl stood next to her mother who was standing right next to Sister. She was shorter than Diana herself, but taller than the two older women. She like her mother had white blonde hair, but if you stared hard enough you would notice the dark red roots. Her eyebrows and lashes didn't match her hair for her to be deemed as a pure blonde. She had hazel eyes and a petite body with thicker thighs which were proportionate with the rest of her body.
The girl met Diana's gaze and gave her a wide smile. She had a good set of teeth.
"Diana, I hope you wouldn't mind showing Miss Roth around," said Sister Angelica, bringing her out of her thoughts.
Diana blinked before answering, "Sure."
With that the girl stiffly accepted a hug from her mother and then turned to follow Diana out of the office foyer and towards the main school grounds i.e., the classrooms.
"My name's Apolline Grey Roth," the girl said as soon as they were out of earshot of the foyer. "And you are?"
"If you don't remember what Sister Angelica referred to me as, then I believe that there's something wrong with your memory," came the darker-haired girl's sardonic reply.
"Oh, come on!" Apolline pouted. "I was just trying to be friendly. And this is what you do when you meet a new person. It's in the rules of socializing!"
"And who wrote it? You?"
The girl laughed and punched Diana in the shoulder, who gave her a dry look in response to her attempted chance of humor. After the girl had calmed down, Diana spoke up.
"Diana Hunter," she said. "And not a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"In that case, the displeasure is all mine," Apolline smirked which irked Diana.
When the tour of the school building was done, Diana led her to the mess hall and told her to stay in front of her as they both stood in line at the buffet table. Most of the people were there for second fills but Diana recognized a few girls who had after class club meetings, who were taking their firsts along with her (and the new girl).
"The food sure smells amazing!" Apolline leaned back to tell the athlete.
Diana didn't respond and took generous portions of veggies and smoked fish for herself. When she moved forward, she bumped into Apolline who was standing still and staring at Rebecca Harper, the school's 'pretty girl', and her squad – Gasha Jenkins and Florence Kappa.
"So we got new meat today," Rebecca said as she gave her signature thin-lipped, crooked smile. The 'smirk of the witch' as everybody called it.
"Fatty, but pretty. Definitely, got the looks. And nothing colored contacts can't fix."
"What are you even talking about?" Apolline asked, confusion laced on her face. "I don't even know you."
"Oh, Fresh Meat! Didn't they tell you the rules?" Rebecca asked. "You don't talk that way to me unless you want a tough initiation."
"Buzz off, Housefly," Diana finally spoke up. "I don't want you poisoning my food with your toxicity."
As if noticing Diana for the first time, she looked up and smirked feigning a casual look. But her widened eyes showed her fear openly to anyone who could see.
"Ah, Bigfoot. Sorry, if I just want to befriend the new girl," she said innocently, her snotty tone audible to anyone but herself.
"Well, you're disrupting the line and annoying everyone else. So if it isn't too much trouble, find someone who gives a shit."
"Whatever, I'm leaving," she said and then grabbed a hold of Apolline's wrist. "Come on, Fatty let's go."
Apolline pulled away from her grip and stumbled back into Diana's chest, who steadied her stance by gently grabbing her shoulder.
"Don't touch her," Diana said. "She's with me."
Rebecca stared at Diana incredulously as did the people in the hearing range. The athlete just gently nudged Apolline forward who obliged and moved forward, allowing the line to finally move.
"That was so cool!" Apolline said excitedly as she settled in the seat opposite to Diana.
"The way you blew her off was so epic. I've never been more entertained in my life."
The darker-haired girl just continued to eat her food without sparing a glance at her. Apolline ranted on about the types of people in her old school, filling the silence between them. It was better than awkward silence anyways.
"I mean, she was a nice person but very detached from school gossip. So she didn't know that she was popular and had power over each of us," Apolline said. "We used to call her Queen because of that. She didn't realize it until her senior year. Man, was that year lit!"
"Sounds nice," said a new girl that had joined Diana and Apolline at their table. Her dirty blonde hair was up in a messy bun and she wore thin wire-framed glasses over her blue eyes. She had a kind smile and a bright, optimistic demeanor with an air of serenity.
"I heard that you took in the new girl, Mama Bear," she said before shoving her own spoonful of rice into her mouth.
"Apolline meet Persephone, our senior and a friend," Diana introduced. "Persephone, Apolline."
"Nice to meet you, amigo," Persephone said, extending her hand over the table.
Apolline shook her hand with a wide smile and said, "Now this is what I call befriending someone. That other girl was creepy as fuck. And unlike your friend over here, I'm glad to make your acquaintance."
Diana rolled her eyes when both the girls started laughing.
"Whatever, you're leaving in a few months anyways," she mumbled under her breath.
"Aw, but we both know that you'll miss me the most!" Persephone said, a big, goofy grin on her face.
Diana just rolled her eyes once more.
"This is the dorm building where all of us boarders live," Persephone said as she had now taken over the tour. "The support staff must have already put your stuff in the room you were assigned. What's your room number? We could show you till there before we head back to our own rooms."
"Oh, that's so nice of you!" Apolline said as she gave Persephone a grateful smile. "My room's 304."
Diana groaned out loud once she heard that. Not only did she already have crack heads for roommates, she was given another one.
Persephone giggled at Diana's misfortune and told Apolline what the reason was because she looked lost.
"You both are roommates," Persephone said between giggles. "And Diana's roommates are 'crack heads'. Her words not mine. This year just got a whole lot better!"
Diana could almost sense the impending doom.