Copyright © 2016 Janice Alonso
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Lilly squeezed her daddy’s hand and looked around the school’s waiting area. The lobby seemed to reach forever in every direction. Brightly colored bulletin boards decorated the hallways and welcomed students back from their summer vacations. The sound of shuffling feet snatched Lilly’s attention. A class on its way to the playground doors made its way toward her. She gazed into the faces of children in a long orderly line as they filed past her. Even after living in her new neighborhood for a month, she didn’t see one familiar face. Lilly suddenly felt very small. She wiggled her hand free from her daddy’s firm grasp and inched closer to his side, placing her arms around his waist and craning her neck upward. He smiled and drew her tighter.
A door sounded: CRE-E-E-E-AK!
A woman wearing big glasses and a black suit came from one of the offices, holding a file folder in her hand. She walked up and extended the other hand. “I’m Mrs. Smith, the New Student Counselor here at Saint Timothy Elementary School.” Then she smiled. “This must be Lilly Holland.”
Lilly’s daddy nodded. She stiffened and forced a smile. The Hollands had moved to Atlanta over the summer, and today was registration day for new students.
Mrs. Smith looked at Lilly’s mom and asked, “Would you and Mr. Holland please come into my office and fill out some forms.” Then she looked down at Lilly and said, “You can come with me and wait in a special room while your mom and dad get you settled into your new surroundings.”
Lilly didn’t want to leave her parents. She was afraid. She didn’t know anyone in her new school: children or adults. She trailed behind Mrs. Smith into a room filled with toys, books, and more brightly decorated bulletin boards. An aquarium with orange and neon green fish stood in a corner, and in the middle of the room was a table with four chairs. In one of the chairs sat a small girl with long, straight black hair, and she wore a pink shirt and denim skirt. She looked to be the about same age as Lilly.
“This is Chun Wong,” said Mrs. Smith. “Her parents are also filling out paperwork. Chun is new to Saint Timothy, too.”
Lilly smiled and lowered her head. Her stomach was tied into knots and she suddenly felt queasy. It wasn’t easy for her to meet new people. Well, I’d better get over that, thought Lilly sadly. That’s all I’m going to be doing for the next few weeks.
When Lilly looked up, Chun smiled. Her fudgy, dark brown eyes sparkled and crinkled into folds of skin. Her smile grew wider, revealing bright white teeth with a large gap where her top two front teeth used to be.
“And this is Lilly Holland,” said Mrs. Smith. She pulled out a chair, the legs scraping across the wooden floor. She motioned for Lilly to sit. “I’ll leave you two alone so you can get to know each another.” Mrs. Smith paused as she got to the doorway and peered back over her shoulder. “You might find you are a lot alike.”
Chun studied the other new girl. She had short, curly blond hair and blue eyes and wore a blue shirt and a pink skirt. Chun was afraid to be in a new school, but she loved making new friends.
She pointed to Lilly. “Look, we’re kind of opposites today. I’ve got on a blue skirt and a pink top and you’ve got on a blue top and a pink skirt.”
Lilly just nodded.
They sat quietly for a few seconds: neither said a word. The humming from the aquarium and the ticking of a nearby clock were the only sounds.
I’ll try again, thought Chun. “Where are you from?” she asked.
“Illinois,” whispered Lilly. She returned the smile and then cast her eyes downward to look at her hands folded on the table. She picked at a loose fingernail.
“Me, too,” said Chun.
“Really?” asked Lilly.
“Where in Illinois?” asked Lilly focusing her attention on the ticking of the clock.
“Chicago,” said Chun.
In a flash Lilly’s head bolted upward and her eyes widened. “Oh, my gosh!” exclaimed Lilly. “Me, too!”
Both girls giggled.
“Where did you go to church?” asked Lilly, feeling a little more relaxed. Even her stomachache was gone.
“The Chapel on the Hill,” said Chun. “The one in Lincoln Park.”
Lilly threw a hand to her forehead. “Me, too,” Now she laughed so hard her tummy hurt all over again, but this time it was a good feeling.
“I never saw you,” said Chun. “I went to Sunday school every week at the 9:30 service.”
“That’s because my family went at 11:00 o’clock,” said Lilly. “I guess that’s why we never met.”
“Imagine being that close and never actually bumping into each other.” Chun pursed her lips. “Or maybe we did and just don’t remember.”
Lilly shrugged, but now that she’d met Chun, she wanted to get to know more about her.
The girls chatted about their families and hobbies. They were both going into first grade. Both had new babies: Lilly had a little brother named Jack, and Chun had a little sister named Lei. Both took music lessons: Lilly played the piano, and Chun played the violin.
“Do you play sports?” asked Chun.
“Soccer,” replied Lilly.
“I play tee ball.”
Then both girls laughed so loudly that Mrs. Smith came into the room.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
“We’re alike and not alike at the same time,” answered Lilly.
“We’re both from Chicago, and we went to the same church – ” said Chun.
“But we went to different Sunday school classes,” interrupted Lilly. “We both have new babies.”
“But I have a sister and Lilly has a brother!” Chun laughed. “We both take music lessons. I take violin and she takes piano.”
“And we both play sports. Only I play soccer – ” Lilly said.
“And I play tee ball,” said Chun finishing Lilly’s sentence. “I have long, straight black hair and brown eyes.”
“I have short, curly blond hair and blue eyes,” said Lilly, stretching out a ringlet and letting it spring back into place.
The girls got out of their chairs and stood side-by-side. They pointed to their outfits.
“Look,” said Chun. “Lilly’s wearing a blue shirt and a pink skirt.”
“I get it!” Mrs. Smith laughed and pointed at Chun. “And you’re wearing a pink shirt and a blue skirt,” Then she added. “So, I guess I was wrong, you’re not alike after all.”
“No, you were right.” The girls shook their heads and exclaimed. “We’re both going into first grade at the same new school!” they said together.
“So you see, Mrs. Smith,” they said as they put their arms around each other. “We’re just the same, but in different ways.”
Lilly Holland is frightened because it is her first day at a new school. She wouldn’t describe herself as shy, but neither is Lilly comfortable with making new friends. While her parents are in the New Student Counselor’s office filling out the necessary paperwork, Lilly goes into another room where she meets Chun Wong, who is also new. From outward appearances, the girls couldn’t be more different. However, they soon discover some very interesting things about each other! First in the “Love God. Love Others.” Series. Geared for ages K-2 and to be read to the child. Great teaching aid.