Change is a fickle thing. While it might make things a lot better, it still only actually promises to bring one thing: uncertainty. Uncertainty makes people anxious, makes them worried and stressed out, irregardless of how things are likely to turn out in the end. It isn't surprising then that in a lot of folklore, any time that brings forth change is associated with a time for demons and all sorts of other evil-bringing creatures that cause humans grief and suffering. While this story is indeed about a time of great change, it is however fortunately enough not about demons, even if looking around the room could have very well led us to believe that some sort of demon must have done his deeds here. While for some people children are indeed embodiments of the devil himself, we shall abstain from such metaphors for now.
Instead we will try a more logical explanation for the mess at hand. Indeed it turns out that our lovely subject isn't a very orderly person when it comes to self-organisation. This aspect of her personality shows itself especially dominantly when she –for one reason or another– can't be her calm self and is instead excited and worried about something. And it just so happens that the day of this story does mark a rather big change in her life. It marks the beginning of high school, or to be more truthful, the Gymnasium¹. School takes up a lot of time in a young person's life, and it pretty much defines the majority of social interaction they will have outside of their family. Some people really like those aspects, they love to meet new people, hold interesting conversations, build relationships. Monika isn't exactly one of those people.
She had a rather scarring time in primary school and her upbringing mostly led her to develop a quiet and shy personality. While she isn't hostile towards others, she has learned that it is best to tend to herself and not to get involved too much. Keeping out of head's way and instead sticking her own between the covers of a book or two developed as her go-to strategy to avoid conflict with others. Irregardless of how hard you try to ignore people though, things still get through and can hit you hard. And so here she lies, wide awake in the early morning of this hot summer night. Eyes wide open, bedsheet merely strewn about, her mind racing with a million thoughts a second. A million fears and worries materialising. What kind of students will they be? Are they going to mock her? Are the teachers going to be stern and unforgiving? What happens if the same story from before goes on? Ah, so many possibilities! Of course, the sane thing to do would be to simply forget all of it. After all, it won't be of any use. But, the human mind does not lend itself too well towards this kind of consideration. It just thinks on and on, all the way through the night and into the morning.
In a situation like that, it's always good to have something to divert ones attention. For our case, it happens to be the alarm clock set for 6:30. The shrill ringing pierced through the silence and tore it to pieces. Monika shook herself and silenced the clock. She slowly rose to her feet and stretched thoroughly. She wasn't very happy about not having been able to sleep all night, but with these hot summer nights, the chance of her being able to sleep soundly was very slim anyway. She stared over to her school backpack and sighed. It was time to get going. She quickly readied her bed, fluffed the pillow, and threw her nightgown over her chair. Describing her room as small would be a vast understatement. All that fit into it was a single shelf, a small bed, a desk, and about one and a half square metres to move around in. This circumstance perhaps amplified the effect of the mess that was contained within. Books were scattered about, pens and notebooks lying all over the place, mixed with some clothes here and there. Still, Monika seemed to appreciate this mess and navigated it with a form of unique elegance. One by one she grabbed the appropriate clothes for the day from here and there without a second thought, as if she had perfectly planned out where to put them in advance.
Freshly clothed with a light, white summer dress, she headed on over across the hallway into the bathroom. She splashed some water onto her face and blinked into the mirror with a somewhat puzzled look. She didn't really know what to think of what she saw in there. A rather pale, round face with bright blue eyes and blonde hair stared back at her. A few faint freckles crossed her otherwise smooth cheeks. Her hair style was perhaps best described as a wavy mess. It flowed here and there, with a few curls sticking out of it at some points. As with most things concerning looks, she didn't quite know how to handle it, so she just went with what looked the most fun to her. With a shrug she averted her gaze from the mirror and dried her face off.
Heading downstairs she smelt freshly brewed coffee. As she entered the kitchen she was greeted by her brother. Florian merely squinted at her as he slowly chewed on a piece of toast that was barely covered in butter. His shirt was scruffy and beard stubbles covered his face, only amplifying the mess that was his hair. Monika was rather certain that if she were to look up ‘Morning Grump’ in a dictionary it would have a picture of Florian in it. Lying on the table were a couple of toasts of varying quality, some completely scorched, some barely toasted at all. Monika looked at them with suspicion, but convinced herself to sit down regardless. She picked the one that looked the least burnt out of the pile and looked at the wall clock. It was 6:42. School would start at 7:45 and it would take them half an hour tops to get there. As she buttered her toast, Florian slowly slurped his cup of coffee. Having noticed her gaze, he tried to tell her that she didn't have to worry about the time whatsoever, but the only thing he managed to get out of his mouth were a few grumbles reminiscent of grizzly bears, or perhaps some prehistorical sea creature. Monika just nodded in response. She didn't understand what he was saying, but she knew from experience that it was close to impossible to get anything resembling human speech out of Florian this early in the morning.
While Florian was still working on the same toast as ten minutes ago, Monika had long since finished and was impatiently drumming her fingers on the table. She kept looking back up at the clock, which only moved ever so slowly. Unsure how to bide her time she started to build little houses out of the remaining pieces of toast, but this too proved boring rather quickly. As the clock hit 7:00, Monika just about reached the end of her patience. “Can't we leave already?” she moaned as she threw a glance at Florian. He replied with a grunt and lightly shook his head. Annoyed, she crossed her arms on the table and rested her head on them, all the while scowling at Florian. She considered several drastic options on how to convince him to leave but she didn't want to anger him either, so she resorted to just staring him down angrily for as long as she could.
After five minutes of intense staring, Florian finally convinced himself to do something about the little gremlin that his sister had become. He slowly got up, cleared the dishes off the table and into the sink, and then –finally– made for the wardrobe. As soon as he had left the kitchen, Monika eagerly jumped off her seat and dashed to fetch her shoes. Within seconds she was all ready and out the front door, gazing into the rising morning sun. The weather wasn't too great, it had remained cloudy throughout the night, which kept the heat in. Still, it wasn't raining either, so Monika was quite fine with this. She loathed riding the bike through the rain. She impatiently bounced up and down, waiting for Florian to finally leave the house as well.
At this point you might wonder where their parents have been all morning. I suppose it can't hurt to give a short explanation on this. Their mother often slept in as she only had to do house work, and their father always left very early for his workshop. Monika didn't mind this much, Florian always took care of her after all, and Florian himself had long since stopped trying to get his parents' attention. As such, it hardly crossed their minds that it is indeed quite strange for their parents to not even show up for something as grand as the first high school day. Even if so, this titbit did set them apart from their classmates and had already earned Florian a few embarrassing questions in his time; something that Monika would come to encounter as well.
Florian slammed the door shut behind him, shoelaces barely tied and half of the shirt still sticking out of his ragged trousers. Monika grinned at him as she rode circles in front of the house. He unlocked his bike. “Alright, let's go.”
¹ A special form of high-school.
Written by shinmera