Nicole had no idea what to expect as Hero brought her into the school's main office the next day. The meeting with the principle went by smooth. Nicole found out that the school year in the city is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of March and ends in mid-July; the second begins in late August and ends in mid-February. Students have summer vacation from mid-July to late August, and winter vacation from late-December to early February, and also take a short vacation from mid-February to March 1.
The school was currently in winter vacation, which would be over in 4 days. She would attend school from December 22 to February 9, then she would graduate and head into the new world. Nicole knew that was her plan, but she had no idea what to do with herself after that. She pushed the thought away. She would focus on the here and now and worry about the then and later, well, later.
For the next 3 days, Hero brought Nicole out around town and showed her every place he enjoyed going to. They ate at restaurants Hero said held many memories of his life since he moved out to the city. They went to museums and shopping centers. Nicole had thought Hero didn't like shopping, but quickly realized that living by himself changed him. She especially saw that Hero was just as intelligible about buying clothing as her friend Tiffany back home.
No, not back home. Here was home now. Nicole had to remember that. Her home is with Hero now. Nicole had to adjust to that, which she figured, wouldn't be automatic. But she had to, for Hero.
Hero bought Nicole the materials for school. He bought her a notebook, pencils, pens, just the basics. She had insisted on buying them herself, but Hero was persistent and declared that caring about school was apart of his Big Brother rule book.
"I wanna see this book of yours." Nicole had said.
"As soon as we get home." Hero had grinned.
She never saw the book, but didn't quite care. After years of being separated, Nicole knew Hero just wanted to resume his big brother position. Actually, as Nicole thought about it, Hero never had experience as a big brother. He had moved in with their grandparents after kindergarten so that he could attend a proper school, something the small town they lived in didn't have. So she realized Hero was just trying to fill in the empty space in Nicole's heart. The empty space that was screaming for a big brother. And, Nicole came to realize, Hero figured that buying her things was apart of it. She figured that was also why he had pushed the job talk aside. She planned on bringing it up again soon. Maybe after school tomorrow.
"Get to sleep early" Hero said later that night after dinner. Hero had brought Nicole to his favorite Kimchi restaurant and the two ate away on Spicy Red Kimchi.
"Yup. School! Exciting!" Nicole said enthusiastically as she headed towards the bathroom. "School. Oh joy." she mumbled as she closed the door. "Oh Nicole, what are you gonna do. You're gonna be the new kid that has no friends." Nicole said to her reflection is the mirror.
That night, Nicole dreamed peacefully. For once, it wasn't memories of her mother. No. This dream, was a memory of her friends. Her four friends from 11 years back.
She was sitting on her favorite bench out by the playground near the kindergarten, waiting for her parents to come pick her up. She was peacefully reading her favorite book, one her father had given to her. Her hair was flowing gently with the breeze. She was just about to get to the good part, the climax as her father had taught her, when she heard the whispers.
At first, she ignored them, thinking it was just some classmates walking by. But the whispers began to get closer. Curious, Nicole put down her book and looked to see four yellow daisies held out in front of her. Her eyes traveled up to see that four boys her age were holding them out to her with big smiles on their small, round faces. Faces that still had baby fat on the cheeks and chin.
"Will you be our friend?" said a boy who had his hair gathered up in a ponytail on top of his head. The other three nodded furiously, as if they wanted to ask the same question.
Nicole knew better then to talk to strangers, but also knew that making friends was essential. She grinned wide when she remembered what her father taught her the first day of kindergarten. She nodded her head at the four boys and they handed their flowers to her.
Nicole's parents arrived to pick her up then. The four boys greeted my parents, then ran off, saying they'd see her in class the next day.
The five of them, Nicole and the four boys, played with each other all the time from that day on. They ran around pointlessly in her yard, laughing and having fun. Her father built a tree house that the five declared as theirs. They played make-believe where Nicole was always the princess and the four boys were always the nights in shining armor, fighting the bushes, which were dragons, with tree branches and rescuing the princess. If they did well, Nicole's mother, the queen, would reward all five with cookies.
Then, Nicole's birthday began to near. A party was being planned, but something was amiss at her house. Nicole could sense something wrong. But, the child she was, she put it aside and ran outside to play, anticipating the day her big brother would come home with her grandparents and celebrate her birthday with Nicole and her four best friends. She would never tell the boys what she had planned, of course. Nicole kept the boys guessing. She never told them of her brother, or the cake, or the party decorations, nothing. They just had to come if they wanted to know.
But, the day of her birthday, she woke up to find her mother crying and her father gone.
Beep! Beep! Beep! The sound of the alarm pulled Nicole out of her dreamland, which was becoming a nightmare, and into the real world.
Beep! Beep! Beep! The alarm continued to sound. "I'm up!" Nicole told the clock. She turned off the clock and went to her closet. "Talking to inanimate objects, never a good sign." she talked to herself as she got dressed.
"Hey! Ready for school?" Hero greeted Nicole cheerfully in the kitchen as Nicole sat down at the table.
"Oh yeah. I'm feeling lucky today!" Nicole said, and she meant it. For some reason, even though her dream had ended on a bad note, remembering her four friends had Nicole up and happy-go-lucky. The dream gave Nicole strength, it allowed Nicole to believe she would make new friends and be able to move on from her mother's death. The dream assured Nicole that she could go on with a happy life. She smiled at the thought. She turned around in her chair to watch Hero work on breakfast, which, within the past week, she found out he was excellent at.
"What's for breakfast?" Nicole asked.
"I figured, for your first day of school in the big city, we should give you something to enjoy." Hero said.
"Oh, stop stalling and tell the hungry girl what's for breakfast." Nicole said. Stern, but in a joking manner.
Hero obviously heard the joking in Nicole's voice, because he began to babble about how important breakfast was for a growing girl.
"Hero, I will find something to smack you with if you don't clue me in on what I have to eat." Nicole said.
"Well, maybe if you just look at it yourself," Hero trailed off as he put the plate in front of Nicole. Nicole inhaled the scent of her favorite.
"Figured you'd be tired of traditional food, so I cooked up some western style breakfast for ya." Hero said as he sat down across from Nicole, with a plate of his own. "Pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs." he said, more to himself than to Nicole. The two siblings digged in and ate. The two silently enjoyed the meal, the only sound being the scrapping of the forks against the plates.
After breakfast, Hero drove Nicole to school. The campus was packed with students who were catching up with each other.
"Good luck." Hero said as he dropped Nicole off at the front door. "Go to the main office to let them know you're here." Hero instructed before letting Nicole get out of the car. "I'll pick you up," Hero paused to scan the campus for a good place to pick Nicole up. "There. Over at that bench." Hero pointed to a white bench off to the side of the school, near the garden. Nicole nodded and got off the car. She stood there like a dork, watching Hero's car drive off and away to work.
Suddenly, Nicole's excitement from during breakfast wore off and Nicole found herself walking towards the main office with a stomach filled with fluttering butterflies. This was now the beginning of moving on.