“Being New” by Nanya Manoleehagul

Nanya Manoleehagul


It was a brand new day in Los Angeles, and River woke up with a big yawn, soon to hear a knock on her door.

She has a younger brother named Roose. A younger sister named Rossana, another younger sister named Riley, a baby sister named Rosie, and her eldest sister named Roselle. 4, 9,7,3, and 11 were their ages the way she said them. 

“Come in,” she said tiredly.

Roose’s head popped in. “Good morning,” he said in his usual, cute voice. “Mom wants to twalk to you.”

River stretched in her new bed. Not only was her bed new, everything in the room was new. They had just landed a week ago in L.A, and had just moved in the house yesterday. 

“Ok. Thanks for warning me, lil bro,” she said casually. She stepped out of her bed and put her feet on her fluffy carpet. She walked out the door and down the steps, gradually meeting mom in the kitchen. “Hi mom,” she said with a morning smile. 

“Good morning,” her mom responded, pouring some cereal into a bowl. “Can we chat in your bedroom for a moment?” 

River looked back up the steps. It was all dirty because of the dust from the packages her dad brought up and down each day. “I guess,” she said shrugging.

With River leading the way, they walked back up the stairs again. She opened her door and flopped onto her bed. She sat back up again, finding her mom looking at her desk. “Um… mom?” she said with a confused face.

“Oh yes. Right. Sorry,” her mom said a bit fast. “Shall we begin?”

River nodded.

“Okay River. We know we have just moved in, but we would like to enroll you in school, let’s say, tomorrow?” her mom asked.

River’s face dropped. “Tomorrow? Already?” she said with a bunch of questions in her head. “But I’ve hardly even gotten used to this home, and the neighborhood. I can’t go to school!”

Mom patted River’s head as if she was a dog. “Don’t worry. You’re friendly. I’m sure you’ll make loads of friends by the end of the day,” Mom ushered. “Now, I’ll leave you alone to think about it.” Mom went out the door and closed it shut. 

River sat in silence for a long time, questions running through her like rollercoasters. Am I that friendly? She asked herself. She thought she was an introvert, unlike her sisters. She tried to get the thought out of her head. “I can do this,” she whispered to herself.


The next day came quicker than River expected. Mom was downstairs preparing breakfast while her sisters were chatting away on how excited they were to be going to a brand new school. River heard all the ruckus from her room. She stayed in there with the blanket over her whole body and face.

“We’re going to be late, River,” Roselle said loudly as she came to open River’s door. “Get out of bed sleepy head.” She laughed a bit. “Don’t worry. You’ll be great,” Roselle said with a smile.

River smiled, although inside her stomach clenched. She dragged herself out of bed and to the kitchen where her brother Roose, was chewing down his food like a caveman. 

Rossana followed River’s gaze. “He’s just excited to start kindergarten,” she said. 

River looked at Roose and then went to sit down. She looked down at her bowl of cereal. She normally loved cereal with chocolate milk, but today the milk just looked like any ordinary milk. She picked up her spoon and chewed helplessly until she was finished.

“Oh. Guys you’re going to be late to school if you don’t leave now,” Mom said taking River’s empty bowl away.

“I really don’t want to go to school,” River protested. “Can I just skip today and go tomorrow?”

“No way you’re going to miss your first day of school,” Mom said, putting River’s backpack on. “Everyone is excited to go to school.”

“But that’s because they’ll know everyone, but not me,” River said. 

“The day will go by faster than you’ll know it,” Mom said, bringing River to the door and opening it for her. “Have a good day!”

River walked out the door and into the moist air. It felt pretty nice today. Mom had said to walk to school and to follow Roselle. 

As they walked, River’s legs began to feel weaker with every step. They walked and walked until River could see a few tall buildings up ahead that all said, “L.A International School.” “Is that the school we’re going to?” River asked in a casual voice. 

“Yup,” Roselle said smiling. “Doesn’t it look great? I can’t wait to meet my new classmates.”

River thought that Roselle was acting like a kid.

As they approached, Roselle waved bye and told River to meet her right here after school.

River said bye. Her insides felt clenched together. “Here it goes,” she whispered to herself. She wasn’t exactly sure where she was really going. She didn’t know where her fourth grade class was. She checked her watch and saw that she only had five minutes left before school was going to start. 


The hallways were full of buzzing children, each eyeing River. They probably knew she was new. River hung her head low, trying to not attract much attention. She looked at all the classes. Her heart pounded as she tried to find her class, until she realised that she was in the middle school building. She saw the closest exit and dashed out the door. With every step she felt her face get hotter.

“I’m going to be late,” she said to herself as she dashed down the now almost empty hallway. She flung the door open and saw the building meant for fourth grade students, but it was only in the distance. She flung off her bag and pulled it up to her chest. Then she raced down the grassy path to the building.

“Did I make it?” she asked herself, but that was already answered. She looked to the nearest clock and saw she was twenty minutes late. “Oh no,” she said. She looked around for her class, but wow, just by luck, she couldn’t find it. She walked down the hall scanning each class for her teacher as her heart raced. She finally spotted her teacher in a pretty big classroom. She knocked on the door and grabbed everyone’s attention. 

The teacher came to the door. “Who are you?” she asked once she managed to open the door.

“I’m River,” River said. “I’m one of your students. Sorry I am late. I got lost.” She lowered her head down so the other kids couldn’t see her face. 

“Oh no worries. It happens sometimes,” the teacher said. “My name is Ms. Livvy.”

River sat down at a desk in the far back row. She listened to the teacher for hours until it was finally time for first recess.

Everyone fled out of the classroom as the teacher dismissed everyone. But River stayed in her seat.

“Why don’t you go outside today, River?” Ms. Livvy suggested. “It’s beautiful today and the weather is just magnificent.”

River nodded politely, but as she walked out the door, she realized something. Who was she going to play with? She walked to the playground and sat on the bench in the baking sun. She watched as everyone was running around playing tag or was on the play structure. She thought this was boring and went to watch kids play basketball. Her eyes looked around at all the players, but one stood out. A girl. She was actually the only girl playing basketball. She slammed the ball in the net. River wished she could be like that girl. So fierce and didn’t mind she was the only girl there.

The girl wiped her sweat and came to where River was sitting. “Hi,” she said. “What are you doing here?” 

River blushed. “I was just looking at you. You’re amazing, really,” River said shyly. “My name is River.”

“Nice to meet you River,” the girl said. “My name is Cyla. Are you new to this school?”

“Yeah,” River said, building up confidence in her voice.

“Oh. Recess is going to end soon. You better get going to your class,” Cyla said, picking up her bottle from the bench.

River nodded as Cyla walked away. Could this be her first friend? No. Cyla was too cool for someone like River. She walked back to the classroom, remembering the way this time. As she approached the classroom, she saw Cyla walk in the classroom. She wanted to say something but knew she should keep quiet. She let some other children in first and then quickly scuttled to the back of the room to her desk. 

“Is everyone back from recess?” Ms. Livvy asked, scanning the room. “Wonderful. Now let’s do some writing.”


A few more hours past and finally it was time for lunch and recess. River got up from her seat, soon finding herself looking at Cyla.

“Oh. Hi River,” Cyla said with a friendly smile. “I didn’t know that you are in this class too.”

“Oh. Hi again Cyla,” River said. “Can I ask for a favor?”

“Yeah. What is it?” Cyla asked eagerly. 

“Sorry to bother you, but can you tell me where the cafeteria is?” River asked, a little embarrassed.

“It’s fine. Sure!” Cyla responded. “Just follow me and you’ll be in the cafeteria in no time.”

The girls walked to the cafeteria together. River felt more comfortable with Cyla now that she’s talked to her a few times. She started the conversation and they talked and talked.

“Here we are,” Cyla said. “C’mon. Let’s go get some food.”

As they ate, they talked so much that time flew by as fast as a speed jet. 

“Wanna come play with me?” Cyla asked River.

River wasn’t expecting anyone to ask her to play with them. “Me?” she asked nervously. “But I’m not good at basketball.”

“Don’t worry. If you don’t want to play basketball, that’s totally fine with me,” Cyla said kindly. 

“Ok. I guess,” River said with a smile back. 

They played on the monkey bars, and River admired her friend who was really like a monkey swinging through trees. 

“And that’s how we do it,” Cyla said, giving River a high five.

“Wow. I never thought I would make a friend like you on my first day at a new school,” River told Cyla.

“Don’t mention it. I like to make people feel comfortable with this school,” Cyla said grinning. “Let’s go back to class now. The bell is about to ring.” 

“Okay,” River responded. 


When school was over, she and Cyla walked to where River was supposed to meet Roselle. 

“Bye,” Cyla said as she walked down a speedbump. 

“Bye,” River said, feeling a twinge of sadness.

“Hey sis!” Roselle said, walking up to River. “How was your first day at school?”

“It was amazing!” River exclaimed. “I made friends with this cool girl named Cyla and she was my first friend!”

“Well that’s just amazing,” Roselle said. “You better tell mom how much you loved this school.”

They walked home together and once they got home, River told mom about her whole day.

“See. I told you you would like it!” she said, hugging River.

“Yeah,” River said. “So can we invite Cyla over?” 

“Of course,” mom replied.

That was clearly going to be a start of a great friendship ahead, and a great life in L.A.