Tracie shouldered her backpack and hugged her mom.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to take you today?”
“No, thanks.” Tracie didn’t want to start the first day at her new school, clinging to her mother’s apron strings. She grabbed her trumpet case and walked out the door. Mom waved from the front window as Tracie walked down the street to the bus stop. A group was already gathered down by the corner. Here goes nothing. In the four days since moving to the neighborhood, Tracie hadn’t had a chance to meet anyone her age.
The middle schoolers were all staring at her as she approached. Tracie waved sheepishly.
A short girl with dark hair stepped forward. “What do you play?” She asked pointing to the case in Tracie’s hand.
“Awesome! I’m Dong.” The girl held out her hand and Tracie shook it. Dong turned to the group and motioned them closer. “Come meet Toots.”
“Toots? No, my name is Tracie.”
Dong ignored her. “Toots, this is Rattatat, Oompa, Squawk, Tweets, and my sister, Ding.” She pointed to each members of the group.
“What strange names.” Tracie commented.
“Well, those aren’t our real names,” Ding said, stepping up beside her sister. The looked exactly alike except Ding was wearing a red shirt while Dong wore yellow. “Those are just our band names, and since band is the most import thing in life, we use them all the time.” The sun glinted off her silver braces as she smiled.
“Does everyone play an instrument?” Tracie asked as the bus pulled up.
“Everyone who is anyone,” Dong said. “You’re in good company.”
Ding and Dong flanked Tracie as she sat on the bus. The twins were full of stories of band class and their teacher Mr. Strict. Unlike his name, the man sounded like he was the most lenient teacher in the whole school.
As the miles between home and school passed, Tracie’s anxiety began to ease. Maybe starting a new school in the middle of the year wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
The school building was twice the size of Tracie’s previous one. As she got off the bus, Tracie just stared at the outside of the structure. How would she ever figure out how to navigate the halls? Maybe she should have come with her mom after all.
Ding grabbed Tracie’s hand and pulled her to the front door. “We’ll check you in at the office, and then go to visit Mr. Strict.”
The school office was full of activity, but the woman behind the desk smiled as Ding, Dong, and Tracie entered.
“Mrs. Morse, this is Toots, she’s new today.” Dong said.
“Welcome to JP Sousa Middle School, Miss Appleton.” Mrs. Morse handed Tracie a packet of papers. “You’ll find a map to the school, your locker combination, and your class schedule in there. I trust that the twins will be willing to help you out, till you learn where everything is.”
“Of course, Mrs. Morse.” Ding and Dong said in unison.
The girls pulled Tracie down the hall, through a side passage and down some steps. Tracie was lost by the time they came to the band room. Ding took her packet of information, while Dong pulled Tracie into the band office. After meeting the lenient Mr. Strict, Ding and Dong hustled Tracie to her locker and then to her first period class.
“Good news is, at least one of us is in every single one of your classes.” Ding smiled as she showed Tracie where she could sit.
The rest of the day followed the same pattern. Either Ding or Dong would lead her to her class, show her where to sit, and then tell her all about the teacher and what they were studying. Before Tracie knew what was happening, she was back on the bus, headed home at the end of her first day in the new school.
As she got off the bus, she waved to the twins as they walked in the other direction. She was still smiling when she entered the house.
“It looks like your day went well.” Her mom hugged her.
Tracie told her mom all about the school and the warm welcome the twins had given her.
“So what are your new friends’ names?” Her mom asked.
“I have no idea.” Tracie laughed. “Ding and Dong, I guess.”
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