The Teaching Assistant, Part Ten

Author’s Note: Similar to “The Road Trip,” this is a story that’s gradually being released for free. However, there are 25 parts available on my Patreon for those impatient readers. :slight_smile:


It all started with a bored teenage girl.

Eighteen year old Ashley Roberts was one of the most popular girls at Westridge Academy. Normally, a hot, rich girl would be content with not working a day in her life, but Ashley wasn’t your average spoiled brat. There was a method to everything she did, including the hours spent working in the main office as an assistant.

It wasn’t about the money; the pennies she made for sitting at the front desk for a few hours every week were nothing compared to the allowance her parents wired to the private high school every month for her to treat herself and to pay the poorer scholarship girls to do her homework. Not that her parents knew the latter.

But money isn’t everything. The assistant position gave Ashley access. All kinds of access. Being in the main office let her suck up to teachers and administrators with none of her peers around to catch her in the act. When no one was looking over her shoulder, she could peruse the files of any student she wanted to check out. And, on those rare instances when she felt bold enough and knew she could get away with it, Ashley could go into the system and change students’ grades. Never a lot; nothing noticeable. But if a girl was irritating her, Ashley could change an A to an A- or a B+ to a B. Worst case scenario, one of those girls would notice an error or two and appeal their grade to get it fixed. If they kept copies of their previous semesters’ grades, of course. Without proof, they’d just look like girls trying to boost their GPA. For the most part, Ashley assumed that her little edits would go unnoticed. It was more for personal satisfaction and petty revenge, as flaunting her exploits would get her into some serious trouble.

There were protocols that were supposed to prevent such abuse, of course, but administrators were busy. Ashley wasn’t supposed to be at the desk without supervision, and technically the rule was to log a student worker out of the computer’s main account whenever there wasn’t an adult present in the office. No one had time for that. Ashley worked there all the time, and always with a polite smile and a helpful attitude. Micromanaging her was too much of a hassle, especially since it would mean constantly pulling her away from the computer whenever anyone had to deliver a copy, grab a signature, or take a quick meeting. Ashley was good at her job. She kept everyone’s schedules up to date, she filed paperwork like a pro, and, after a few weeks of working there, no one batted an eye when she was the only one manning the office.

Ashley was quite happy with the arrangement. Her friends bought the excuse that she worked over lunch every few days as a punishment for whatever trouble she was causing that week. The administrators trusted her enough to leave her alone, and knew nothing about her antics outside of classroom hours. It was perfect; the lies to her girlfriends gave her a rebellious reputation and the lies to the adults kept her in good standing at the school.

Most importantly, her admin-like powers just added onto what being rich and popular already granted her.

It was ideal.

Like most things, however, the job eventually grew monotonous. Her grades got a small upward boost, her enemies’ grades took a minor hit, and there was nothing else she could really get away with while still avoiding any suspicion.

Until the inspiration that struck her in the form of a little blonde haired target.


Amelia Martin nervously sat in her car, counting down the minutes.

She had aimed to be early, but not this early. Her interview was at 12:45 PM, and she pulled into the parking lot just before 12:20. After triple checking her hair and outfit in the mirror, all she could do was draft verbal answers in her mind. Strengths and weaknesses, why she wanted the job, etc. Fresh out of college, the still twenty-two year old really, really wanted this. Westridge Academy was the most prestigious school in the state; an all girls’ academy that groomed teenagers for Ivy League colleges and for later success in life as well. Amelia figured it was worth a shot. Worst case scenario, she could say that she tried, before looking at other private schools. Failing those, she’d get into tutoring or something, as public schools did not appeal to her at all in this day and age.

This wasn’t a full teaching job, but it was a good stepping stone. It was somewhere between a TA position and an internship. Grading papers, leading review sessions, and observing classes would all be part of the teaching side of things, but she would also be responsible for a bit of clerical work around the office. Other young women might have scoffed at the idea of starting their adult life without being a ‘real teacher’ right away, but Amelia knew better. This position offered nearly twice the salary of what she could get as a teacher anywhere else, and that number would only go up once she put in her time and proved herself as someone who could lead a classroom by herself.

After killing almost ten minutes in the car, she finally stepped out just before 12:30. Fifteen minutes early, give or take. Anything more would seem too much, and anything less seemed unprofessional for a school that had such a strong reputation.

She gave herself one last look in the car window, then walked towards the private school’s main office. Everything about her image was carefully crafted. Amelia was short and petite, and her mentors had warned her about the challenges that came with being small in the career path she had chosen. Gaining respect from teenagers was difficult enough for any young adult, and more so when it came to students who were taller than her.

Amelia’s first and last growth spurt was in middle school. She was one of the first in her class to get curves, but that excitement didn’t last for very long. Year after year, her peers developed more and more in both the height and chest department, and she found herself stuck with pretty much just enough curves to identify her as a girl. As a woman, now. She had accepted it, but it didn’t prevent that self conscious feeling from creeping in every now and then when someone assumed she was younger than she was. Liquor stores would excessively check her ID, people would often assume she was still in high school whenever she wore anything too casual, etc. Amelia figured she might appreciate her youthful features when she was older, but it was a huge pain at her current age.

For that reason, she went through plenty of lengths to subvert her immature features. Three inch heels, for height. She was always tempted to do more, but it was important to find a balance between comfort and image. Push-up bras with a bit of padding most days, save for when she was at the gym. Her long, blonde hair was always straightened and then gently curled at the ends for a mature, attractive look. Finally, tactical make-up to hide the few freckles that came with her fair skin, and whatever subtle tricks with eyeshadow and other additions here and there that completed the day’s image.

Normally that was it, but her interview called for a classy outfit as well. Hopefully the modest black skirt and white blouse combo would paint her in a mature and professional light. Amelia wanted this job so badly. She kept telling herself it was only to say that she tried, as the open position aligned so well with graduation and subsequent job hunt, and she could only imagine what kind of competition she might be dealing with. But still. Any other school in the state would be a step down from the impressive campus she had taken in during her drive.

It was easy enough to find where she had to go. The signage in the administration building was intuitive; no surprise there. However, Amelia hadn’t expected the main office to be so empty. As she let the heavy wooden door close behind her, the only face to be found was that of a dark haired student sitting behind the front desk. “Can I help you?” the girl asked, already looking her way after the door opening caught her attention.

“Umm,” Amelia hesitated. She had expected someone on staff, not some girl that was clearly a student here. The plaid green tie over the white button-down was the same as what Amelia had seen on the website during her prep research, as was the dark blazer sitting on the back of the girl’s desk chair. Though Amelia couldn’t confirm it from where she was standing, she assumed the girl also had the plaid skirt that matched the tie underneath. “I’m here for an interview with Mrs. Thompson.”

“Student teacher, I’m assuming?” the girl asked. She looked Amelia up and down without being particularly subtle about it, “You don’t look like the IT type. What’s your name?”

Rude. Or maybe ‘blunt’ would be the better word. But Amelia knew better than to let it get to her. One of the challenges of working at an expensive private school would be dealing with judgmental rich girls. “Amelia. Amelia Martin,” she said.

“Ashley. Ashley Roberts. Nice to meet you,” the girl said, her lips pursed in a small smile as she turned her attention to the computer at her desk. After a few moments of typing and clicking, Ashley glanced back up, “Sorry, Ms. Martin. Did nobody call you? Or email you?”

“Umm, no. I don’t think so,” Amelia said. Her heart dropped at the notion that somebody else might have already swiped the job up. And, insult to injury, she already dressed up, made the drive, and psyched herself up for an interview. So much for Westridge Academy being the best, at least in the communication department. “What is it?” Best to rip the bandaid off.

“Mrs. Thompson had a family emergency come up,” Ashley said, “All of her appointments today were cancelled. You should have gotten a call.”

She was lying.

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–Lady Lucia


Amelia frowned a bit as she processed what she was being told. It was better than the job no longer being available, but also an enormous waste of her time. Though that was being selfish. An emergency is an emergency, and maybe there was a voicemail waiting on her phone or something. “So, what now?” Amelia asked, “How long will Mrs. Thompson be out? Should I call to reschedule?”

“I can take care of that for you.” Ashley clicked a few times and pulled up a screen as Amelia stood awkwardly in the middle of the office. In limbo, as she had originally expected to either be greeted here, or to be sent to the administrator’s office. “How does Friday afternoon work for you? Mrs. Thompson should be back by then.”

“That works.” Amelia knew that for sure, as she wasn’t currently working. She dedicated the few weeks following graduation to looking for jobs, for the express purpose of not having conflicts with interviews. “What time?”

“Hmm, never mind. She only has a 5:30 PM slot that day. Traffic will be horrible. How about Monday morning instead?”

“No, 5:30 is fine.” Amelia quickly said. What if the other slots were other interviewees? It would be better to be seen on Friday, just in case someone else stood out and she didn’t have a fair chance to compete before her interview turned into more of a formality. “Let’s stick with Friday.”

“Yes, Ms. Martin.” Ashley nodded. She finished with the computer, then picked up a small packet of papers from nearby, “If you want to speed things along, you can fill this out and fax it back to the office. Someone will get everything processed before you arrive.”

Amelia finally crossed the second half of the room and took the stapled sheets from Ashley. Just a quick skim caused a bit of confusion, though the girl seated at the desk didn’t look like she was amused or trying to pull some kind of prank. It was a Student Registration form. Like any form, it started out asking for her name and other basic information, but then it went on with sections about high school, middle school, GPA, and more.

“Wrong form, Ashley.” Amelia turned it so the seated girl could see the bold words at the top of the page.

Without missing a beat, Ashley responded. “No, that’s the one we use. Westridge doesn’t hire frequently enough to have a separate form for that. Just cross off ‘Student’ and put ‘Applicant’ at the top or something. And ignore everything asking about your current grade and GPA. Just fill in whatever you can. We obviously don’t need you to attach report cards or transcripts either.”

The immature giggle at the end of Ashley’s explanation put Amelia back at ease, as well as the constant ‘Ms. Martin’ references. Initially, she had expected the blunt girl to be the type to call a prospective teacher by her first name, but apparently that wasn’t the case. And, as she glanced through the packet, it made sense. General information was always important, and letting them know about allergies and such wasn’t a bad idea even as a new hire.

“What about the schools?” Amelia asked, seeing the two big grids with boxes for classes and grades for high school and middle school. She could alway substitute university in one of them, but figured it couldn’t hurt to confirm with the girl who worked at the desk.

“Stick with the form as best as you’re able. Just put the name of your old schools in those boxes, and don’t worry about the classes. College and anything else can go on the back or wherever you can find space. And obviously don’t worry about parent or guardian. Either way, I wouldn’t overthink it. The office can clarify whatever they need to on Friday, but they do prefer having as much history as possible on the form.”

Ashley’s words made sense. Having multiple forms asking for the same information did seem a bit wasteful and unnecessary, and the point she made at the end drove it home. It was Westridge Academy. The kind of school that cared about details; if not between forms, then what was written on those forms. The names of her previous schools would give some insight into where she was raised, which may or may not come up in Friday’s interview. Amelia’s initial doubt was easily washed away.

“Got it,” Amelia said, “Friday, at 5:30 PM?”

“Mm hmm,” Ashley nodded, “I don’t think I’m working then, but someone will be here to greet you.”

“Sounds good.” Amelia didn’t particularly care which student was working the front desk at the time. She was more concerned with the interview itself, and Mrs. Thompson was the one she needed to impress. Not some student handling things in the main office. “Well, have a good week, Ashley. I’m sure I’ll see you around if I get the job.”

“Maybe. Oh, you should fax the form at noon tomorrow,” Ashley said, with a wink, “That’ll put you at the top of the pile.”

Amelia couldn’t help but give a small smile in response. She had definitely misjudged the girl at the desk. The cancelled appointment was still a nuisance and a waste of her time, but perhaps this would all work out for the better. Now she was familiar with the school’s layout, and had a few more days to prepare for potential interview answers, she would hopefully be more at ease when she returned in a few days.

“Thank you, Ashley,” Amelia said, “Anything else I should know?”

“Nope! Good luck on Friday.”

With another ‘thank you,’ Amelia turned and left the office, registration form in hand. Just a few more days, and she’d have her shot at being a student teacher at Westridge. Though this development meant she’d have to miss another day at work, it would all be worth it when she could drop the minimum wage job that was only a placeholder anyway. The money at the prestigious academy was much more alluring, as were the possibilities that came with it.

Lost in thoughts on the way out the office door, Amelia failed to notice the devious smirk on Ashley’s face.


“Hey, Amelia!”

Once again, Ashley was working the front desk. Amelia was surprised, for a number of reasons. Wasn’t the girl a student? And didn’t she say she wasn’t working today? Then again, Amelia had only been here at lunchtime and now 5:30 on a Friday. Neither of those times would conflict with classes, and perhaps Ashley was able to get her studying done during whatever down time she had in the office. As for the latter question, there was no sense dwelling on it. The girl could have easily just mixed up her schedule.

“Hey, Ashley.” Amelia gave her a nod. Realizing a second too late that she probably shouldn’t be so casual with a student that could potentially be in one of her future classes, Amelia corrected herself with a belated, “Perhaps Ms. Martin, next time?” Hopefully it would be as easy as the other day, where Ashley simply adjusted to a more respectful approach. Amelia was fresh out of college, and guessed her first few years as a teacher would be spent demanding respect thanks to both her age and her youthful appearance.

“Ms. Martin,” Ashley said, without hesitation, “If you’re ready, Mrs. Thompson can see you now. All the way down the hall, hang a right, and she’s the last door on the left. Sorry again for the mix-up a few days ago.”

“It’s no problem,” Amelia said, “Did the office get all my information?”

“Probably? I don’t work here every day, so I wasn’t the one who got it. If you want, I can pull up your file?”

“No, it’s fine. I should get to my interview.”

“Good luck! I think you’ll be a great fit here.”

“Thanks, Ashley,” Amelia smiled, “Have a good weekend.”

Amelia had done everything she was told. In the name of being thorough, she filled out every single line on the registration form, complete with the extra information added on the back. If the interview went well, then everything else could be expedited. And, while the cancelled appointment had been a nuisance as she begrudgingly drove back home the other day, maybe it was a blessing in disguise. The extra time allowed her to fine tune her canned interview answers, as walking the confident/arrogant line could be quite difficult when talking about yourself. At this point, Amelia was more sure that she could put a more genuine spin on the ways she was prepared to talk herself up for the position.

The directions were easy enough to follow. The first hall ended in a fork, and the second led to a dead end. Impossible to get lost, and the office on the end was one of the only rooms with a light on. It was late afternoon on a Friday, which made sense that most teachers and administrators were already gone. Maybe this time slot was a mistake after all? Her interviewer might be burnt out after a long day; a long week depending on what the family emergency was. But it was too late to change things now.

Amelia’s knock was met with a muffled “Come in!” through the door.


That was the first description that crossed Amelia’s mind when she laid her eyes on Mrs. Thompson. The brunette woman looked to be around the same age as Amelia herself. She wore a pencil skirt and blouse, and looked more like a teacher than an administrator. Like most women, she was taller and more endowed than the petite interviewee lingering in the doorway. “Amelia Martin?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Amelia nodded. Inwardly cursing at her southern roots coming out, she took a step into the room. For whatever reason, she had assumed an older woman would be the one interviewing her. It had thrown her enough to steal away whatever greeting she’d normally use.

Gesturing to the chair across the desk, Mrs. Thompson sat back down. “Please, come in. And close the door behind you.”

Amelia did as instructed. She quietly collected herself, once again having the thought that this could be another blessing. A younger woman might be more inclined to hire her, as gaining the trust of someone twice her age would be more difficult in comparison. “How are you doing?” Amelia asked. Small talk first, right? Breaking the ice.

“Doing well, thanks. Please, have a seat.”

The interview was smooth, for the most part.

Amelia had prepared well. After the brief awkwardness that tends to come with not only meeting someone new, but being in an unfamiliar environment, the conversation felt more natural. She touched on her strengths and weaknesses, the easiest question to have prepared answers for. The tricky part was what came next, when she had to explain how her lack of experience might impact her performance at such a prestigious school. Amelia answered as best as she was able, with the logic of how teachers who had been at the job for a while might already be stuck in their ways. She, however, was fresh out of college, and ready to be molded by the academy teachers themselves. The questions bounced back and forth between personal history and different iterations of why she might be a good fit for Westridge. All in all, the interview was a blur, despite how focused Amelia remained.

Mrs. Thompson was impossible to read. The young woman’s face was just friendly enough to not be cold, but otherwise remained neutral as she jotted down a thing or two along the way. By the end, Amelia had absolutely no idea how she stood. While the conversation itself felt natural, there was the self doubt that came with such challenging questions, as well as the knowledge that she was surely up against other candidates. The anticipation was going to be the longest weekend of her life.

“There is one more thing, Amelia,” Mrs. Thompson said.

“Yes, what is it?” Amelia asked.

“What is your availability like next week? Would you be able to audit classes for a full school day? Ideally, we like candidates to do so for a full week, but I know that’s not realistic for everyone.”

This time, Amelia managed to avoid an ‘umm’ that would normally follow a question she wasn’t prepared for. She audited one or two classes in college, but that was with peers. But it was a reasonable enough request. If she was going to work here, it would be good to have a sense of how classes were run before she started. “Of course,” Amelia nodded, “I’d be happy to observe for a day. I think that’s a really good idea.”

“Great. Does Monday work for you? You included your measurements on the form, yes?”

“My measurements?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Thompson said. Setting Amelia’s file aside, she continued with something the blonde interviewee was not at all expecting. “We’ll have a student uniform ready for you on Monday.”

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A student uniform?

Why on earth couldn’t she just wear her normal clothes to observe a few classes?
That’s exactly what Amelia asked, of course, but Mrs. Thompson was quick to explain. For starters, it would be less disruptive and less distracting if there was simply another uniformed girl in the room. Having a guest in the classroom impacted the dynamic of the room enough, so it would be better for the students if Amelia could blend into the background more easily.

Additionally, it would be a good opportunity for her to experience what it’s like being one of the students; to empathize, as Mrs. Thompson put it. Since Amelia’s entire educational background was public schools and then a larger university, this was a good way for her to feel what it’s like to attend a smaller boarding school in comparison. On Monday morning, she’d change into the Westridge uniform, be given the official tour and take a standard aptitude test in the morning, and then sit in on a few different classes in the afternoon.

The process seemed a bit excessive, but who was Amelia to judge? The way Mrs. Thompson presented everything was straightforward and logical, and Amelia’s lack of experience in private schools made it difficult for her to argue against any of it. While she’d rather just be offered the job and avoid all the extra hassle, it sounded like this was an important part of the hiring process. The small blonde took some solace in the fact that she was being asked to come right back on Monday. That was a good sign, right? The school wouldn’t go through all that unless she was a serious contender for the position.

Amelia had indeed put her measurements on the registration form. Though she was told to treat it more like an application than anything else, it hadn’t stopped the young woman from overachieving in an attempt to suck up to the school. It would send the message that she was thorough, even when she didn’t necessarily have to be. In truth, Amelia was only here for the money and the résumé boost. Everything else was a lower priority, as she would much rather be teaching at the undergrad level or higher. Teaching spoiled rich girls didn’t particularly appeal to her.

“Thank you, Ms. Martin,” Mrs. Thompson said, once they got through the details of what Amelia’s audit would look like, “And again, apologies for the mix-up earlier this week. I’ll personally make sure the office communicates the necessary details before Monday morning.”

Good. The last thing Amelia wanted was for even more of her time to be wasted. The sooner she could knock out this hiring process, the sooner she could take the job and stop worrying about overselling herself and stressing about the competition. “Thank you, Mrs. Thompson,” Amelia said, “I’ll see you on Monday.”


For the third time in under a week, Amelia was stepping out of her car and onto one of the Westridge Academy parking lots. Her weekend had been far less stressful than her previous week, complete with a shopping spree and two late nights of drinking with her girlfriends. Once her nerves had settled after the interview, she realized something on the way home–Monday didn’t really matter.

All she had to do was show up, put on a stupid outfit, and audit a few classes. Compared to an interview, that was nothing. It’s not like she had to take notes or constantly be the best version of herself. In her mind, Amelia pretty much just had to smile and shake a few hands throughout the day, get a sense of how things operated at the school, and perhaps give some feedback during a follow-up interview. Easy. With her interview prep out of the way, she could let loose a little bit now that the difficult part was done.

She was smart enough to not drink on Sunday evening, but not even a full night’s rest was enough for her to recover from Friday and Saturday. Amelia was the definition of a lightweight. The petite girl never developed much of a tolerance, which usually led to irresponsible decisions over the weekend. Cutting herself off after one drink and only having water would always be the smart choice, but the recent college grad still found herself succumbing to peer pressure when she was out with the girls.

The crisp morning air helped wake her up, though Amelia hardly appreciated that benefit as she frowned and shivered at the outside temperature. The last two campus visits had spoiled her, as the sun had been up both times. Now it was early, and overcast, and she just wanted to crawl back into bed and get a few more hours of sleep. Putting together her usual mature appearance meant waking up way earlier than she normally had to for her waitress job. Mrs. Thompson could have warned her that it was going to be a 7 AM call time, though it made sense in retrospect. This was a school, after all; middle school and high school classes would obviously start in the morning.

Just as Amelia reached the edge of the parking lot, heading once again towards the administration building, she heard her name.

“Ms. Martin. Amelia!”

She looked towards the source of the voice, and saw the same dark haired office girl standing by one of the building’s side doors. Ashley? That sounded right, though she couldn’t remember for sure. The girl had the full schoolgirl uniform this time around, unlike the last few instances where her blazer hung over the back of her chair. The familiar skirt/tie combo in green plaid that Amelia had seen on the website, and that she was bracing herself to sport as well.

“Umm, yes?” Amelia replied. She paused for a moment, not sure if Ashley was just saying ‘hello’ or if she actually needed something.

“This way,” Ashley said. She beckoned towards the side door, “The front door isn’t unlocked yet.”

Amelia believed the girl, of course, because she had no reason not to. Her lack of teaching experience, lack of familiarity with private schools, and desperation for the lucrative assistant position kept her nice and blind to all the irregularities that had been thrown at her. A canceled meeting with no warning, a ‘general’ registration form, a schoolgirl outfit just for her, and now a student leading the way instead of an administrator being the one to greet her.

She had no idea she was falling right into a trap set up by Ashley herself.

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The schoolgirl fantasy might be alluring to some, but Amelia felt the complete opposite as she looked herself over in the mirror. She hadn’t expected to change into the Westridge uniform right away, but that’s the first thing Ashley had taken her to do. The handicap bathroom gave her privacy, which she was grateful for; changing in a bathroom always felt a little dirty, but having a private room was a lot better than wrestling with clothes in a tight stall.

It had been simple enough to remove her classy outfit, but putting on the uniform wasn’t quite as simple. The green plaid skirt had a stubborn zipper in the back, the white blouse was a bit too snug in the chest, and Amelia hadn’t ever tied a tie before. She wanted to leave the bathroom with the whole outfit intact, as asking for help from a student didn’t particularly appeal to her. Instead, she watched a tutorial online and mostly figured it out after a few tries.

The girl staring back at her in the mirror did NOT look like an adult. Even with perfectly done hair and make-up, she looked more like a high school senior than a recent college graduate. Her padded bra was offset by the blouse and blazer flattening things back out, as the petite girl usually paired her enhanced bras with the perfect tops to give herself a more mature image. Chest or no chest, it was more that she was dressed like all the other teenagers who had been sent off to boarding school here.

How was this a good idea? Surely some high schoolers could handle a few classes with a differently dressed woman in the room. And, while empathizing with them by going through the same process sounded logical when Mrs. Thompson explained it, Amelia was only now thinking of a major flaw in the administrator’s plan–earning respect was going to be a lot more difficult after all the students saw her dressed like this.

Unfortunately, Amelia didn’t make the rules. And she was desperate for the job. Maybe she was overthinking things. If every applicant did this, then it should simply be part of the students’ culture at this point. She was just being self conscious about her size, and had to put her ego and her usually maturity-focused attire aside for a day.

She fiddled with the tie and blazer one more time, then stepped out of the private bathroom. Hopefully Ashley wouldn’t judge her for taking so long. Or, more importantly, she hoped that her dawdling wouldn’t make her late for the first thing on the morning’s schedule.

“Millie! You look so cute!” Ashley exclaimed, the moment Amelia stepped back into the hallway.

Millie . . .?

Amelia had never, EVER been called that. Not once in her entire life. She had gotten her fair share of ‘Amy’ over the years, which she was fine with, but ‘Amelia’ was definitely her preference. It was more mature, sophisticated; especially ever since she started college. Her full name was yet another way to counteract the way that puberty had absolutely screwed her over.

But ‘Millie?’ It wasn’t just immature. The awful name sounded like what you’d name some freckled farm girl. Not that there was anything wrong with growing up out in the country, but that just wasn’t at all an image Amelia had of herself. And to be called that by a high school girl, of all people? Ugh.

“It’s Amelia.” She responded in as flat a tone as she could manage without sounding bitchy at the same time. After all, Ashley had been nothing but helpful so far. Still, the young, dark haired girl was a student. Authority was important, especially when Amelia was still fairly young herself. And at an all girls’ school, showing you disliked something was a surefire way for that thing to be used against you, even as an adult. With that in mind, she added, “Or Amy, I guess.”

A preferred nickname was better than a cringeworthy one. And a casual response was a better approach than an offended reaction.

“Amy is nice,” Ashley said, “Anyway, come on. We’ll have to find you some shoes at the Lost and Found, and then it’s time for your aptitude test.”

Wait, what? “Ashley, my shoes are fine.” Amelia said. She had checked on the school’s site the other day. Black heels adhered to the dress code as much as flats did, and she obviously preferred the former for the extra few inches of height.

“No, they’re not. You’re auditing middle school classes, Amy. Westridge only allows girls in 9th grade and up to wear heels.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m just here for the day.” It didn’t occur to Amelia that she might be sitting in on the younger grades’ classes, but her schoolgirl get-up was enough of a price to pay for the job. Wearing some girl’s used shoes and demoting herself to a more immature appearance was yet another sacrifice she hadn’t prepared for.

Ashley just shrugged. “I was told to treat you like any other student on her first day here. That means flats, Amy; not heels. But if it’s really a problem, I guess we can go check with the office.”

A trip upstairs would delay them further, and possibly make Amelia look bad if she complained about something that was objectively pretty trivial. It also only dawned on her after three uses of ‘Amy’ that Ashley was exclusively using her first name. “It’s Ms. Martin,” she said, correcting the girl. Better late than never.

“What did I just say?” Ashley gave her a curious look, “I’m not supposed to give you any special treatment. This is your first day at Westridge, you’re more or less a student, and your name is Amy.” With a smile and a friendly wink, Amy conceded at the end. “Don’t worry. If you end up teaching here, I’ll call you Ms. Martin as much as you want.”

Had Mrs. Thompson told her about this? Now that it had been a few days, the interview was more of a blur. Amelia knew that she was auditing classes, complete with a student uniform, but what about the rest? Being treated like a student was a lot different than dressing like one, though it did line up with empathy the administrator had mentioned. Maybe she had misheard, or misremembered; maybe Mrs. Thompson had left out a detail or two, considering it was the end of the day on Friday and her mind could have been elsewhere.

“I know. I’m not asking for special treatment,” Amelia said. Deciding to save face in front of her guide for the morning, not wanting to look bad in front of a future student, she just went along with it, “If it’s policy, then I can change shoes.”

Ashley just nodded, with a faint smile. “Good girl.”

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While accepting the full dress code seemed like the mature thing to do in the moment, Amelia regretted her decision a few minutes later.

It didn’t fully dawn on her until Ashley was handing her a pair of slightly worn black flats she had fished out from the Lost and Found. It wasn’t the fact that they were another girl’s shoes, though that certainly didn’t help. Instead, it was the matter of losing one of her most valued enhancements. Wearing heels and padded bras were the two biggest ways Amelia made up for the way she was totally screwed in the height and curves department. Changing into flats would drop her three full inches, all the way down to her natural height of five feet. Technically, she was a quarter of an inch taller than being five exactly, but that hardly made a difference.

Unfortunately, it was too late to back out. As a future teacher, Amelia knew it was better to stick to her word. There was also that casual use of ‘good girl’ that Ashley used on her, but the dark haired girl had already mentioned that she wasn’t supposed to give Amelia any special treatment. Was that a phrase they used around here? Hopefully it was an Ashley quirk, as Amelia didn’t like the idea of having to say it to anyone. It was awkward enough being called that.

Reluctantly, Amelia sat herself down on a nearby bench and undid the straps of her heels while keeping her legs and skirt positioned properly the whole time. Setting aside her expensive shoes, Amelia began putting on one of the flats that Ashley had found for her. It was tighter than she expected, even though Amelia’s feet were as small as the rest of her. She still put in the effort; she shoved her foot into the black shoe, only barely able to pull the heel over her ankle.

“Are there any others in there?” Amelia asked, wincing a little bit as she moved her foot around. The faded leather was beyond snug, and the back of the single flat was digging into the back of her foot too. “This is definitely too small.”

“Sorry, Amy. Not too many girls lose their shoes,” Ashley said, “Here, put the other one on. You’re going to be late for your aptitude test if you get hung up on every little thing this morning.”


“No buts. Come on, they’ll feel better after you walk around in them for a bit.”

“Okay . . .” Amelia muttered. She had already come so far for this job. It would suck if Ashley’s point came to pass, as being late for one thing would potentially cause her to be late to everything throughout the day.

Knowing what to expect this time, Amelia worked her other foot into the tight flat. Surprise, surprise, it was just as tight and uncomfortable as the first one. Listening to Ashley’s advice, Amelia stood up to take a few steps in the too-small shoes. The first thing she noticed, however, was not how bad the shoes felt. Instead, Amelia had to deal with the reality of how SHORT she was.

She couldn’t remember the last time she actually displayed her true height in public. Working out was the one time Amelia had to wear regular shoes, and her self consciousness about her size had led her to exercise alone for years now. Because of her social footwear, Amelia gradually built up a fantasy of how tall she was in comparison to friends and strangers alike. At least, that’s how it felt when standing next to Ashley and having that fantasy crumble. She had already been a few inches shorter than the academy student to begin with, but now the girl had at least half a foot on her!

Thankfully, Ashley didn’t seem like the teasing type. Ever the cordial front desk worker and now first day guide, Ashley was nothing but polite and friendly. “Perfect, Amy. You’ll fit in so much better with those on,” she said. Not batting an eye at their size difference, Ashley bent over and picked up the abandoned heels by the straps, “I can hold onto these for you. Oh, and I’ll also have to confiscate your phone and your purse.”

Wait, what?

Amelia was still coming to grips with how small she suddenly was, as well as how the flats actually made her feel more off balance than slim heels did thanks to the way they tightly hugged and dug into her feet. And now Ashley was going to take her stuff.

The taller girl must have sensed her trepidation, or maybe just saw it written all over her face. “Relax, Amy,” Ashley said, with a light giggle, “You can have them back right after your test. I doubt you’d try to cheat, but it’s pretty standard procedure to restrict outside resources.”

“Oh,” Amelia said. She let out a breath she had been unintentionally holding for a few seconds after hearing the explanation. It made sense, though she still didn’t like the idea of handing a high school girl so many personal possessions. Her phone would be locked, of course, but her wallet was less protected. “I don’t really have anything in my purse. You can check, if you want.”

“Sorry, Ames,” Ashley said, “Rules are rules. But your things are in good hands, I promise. They’ll be locked away in the office. Oh, it’s almost time! Come on, this way.”

Once again rendered speechless by the student’s logic, Amelia found herself following her down another hallway. No, walking around in the flats didn’t help. Plus the shoes were already visibly broken in, so it’s not like time would help the fit. Not that she was planning on wearing them for any longer than necessary. As usual, she was in unfamiliar territory, and could hardly keep up with all the rules and regulations that Mrs. Thompson hadn’t taken the time to thoroughly explain.

“Okay, Amy!” Ashley exclaimed. She stopped just outside a closed door halfway down a hall that Amelia didn’t recognize in the slightest. At this point, she was so turned around from being led here and there. For once, she was grateful to be treated like a new student, as it meant no one was expecting her to know where to go.

With her lips pursed in the same small smile as when they first met, Ashley extended her hand to gesture that Amelia needed to hand over her things. “Ready for your test?

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Amelia didn’t like it, but it’s like Ashley said: Rules are rules.

She retrieved her phone from where she had stashed it in her blazer pocket earlier, and added it to the collection of things in her purse. Zipping it up for a sense of security, despite how easy it would be for someone to just open it back up if they wanted to, Amelia reluctantly held out her purse for Ashley to take. “I can have it back right afterwards?”

“Umm, maybe?” Ashley replied. She took the small leather bag and placed it over her own shoulder. “Depends on how quickly you finish your test.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you’ll have a meeting about your results, and then you’ll be sent to class. I don’t know if you’ll have time to collect your things, but you’re welcome to ask the counselor afterwards.”

The morning had barely begun, and Amelia already had so many surprises to deal with. She had braced herself for the student uniform, though the schoolgirl looking back at her in the bathroom mirror had been embarrassing nonetheless. But it was only just dawning on her that she had no idea what the day’s schedule was supposed to look like. Mrs. Thompson hadn’t mentioned any of these steps during Friday’s meeting, but she very well could have assumed that Amelia already knew the routine. Maybe it was on the website somewhere, as Amelia had mentioned that she had perused the school’s site.

Still, it would be nice to know what else was in store for her. Apparently there was a counselor meeting after the aptitude test. Was that it, or was there more than simply observing a few classes? Amelia was pretty detail oriented; the only reason she hadn’t asked for a schedule yet is because she had assumed one was going to be provided for her. After all, Westridge Academy had such a stunning reputation.

“Ashley, can I get a physical copy of my itinerary?” Amelia asked.

Ashley just patted the top of her head. “Relax, Millie. You’re in good hands. Now, it’s time for your aptitude test.”

Before Amelia could find the words for either the patronizing gesture or the awful nickname she already rejected once, the dark haired teenager opened the door beside them. “Mrs. Lewis? Our newest student is here!”

The room beyond was a spacious lecture hall; definitely too big for a single girl to be taking a test, though Amelia was technically ‘transferring’ in this little fantasy. The room probably had plenty of testing uses for full grades of girls, as she knew the school had more periodic testing than simply once at the beginning of the semester. For now, however, it would just be her.

“Come in, come in!” A middle aged woman greeted them at the door. “Thank you, Ashley. I can take it from here.” She beckoned for Amelia to enter.

“Good luck, Millie!” Ashley said, with a smile, “I’ll see you around.”

“It’s-” At two consecutive uses of ‘Millie,’ Amelia was about to get on the girl’s case. However, Ashley closed the door before Amelia could complete the thought. “. . . Amelia,” she muttered.

“Alright, Millie,” Mrs. Lewis said, “You can sit anywhere you like. I’d love to chat, but we’re already a little behind schedule. The sooner we can get you started, the better.”

That was the exact problem with nicknames. It doesn’t take much for them to stick. Thanks to Ashley’s farewell, which was probably intentional teasing, a potential colleague had taken to the gross name as well.

“I actually prefer Amelia,” she said, trying to be cordial. This time, she didn’t even offer ‘Amy’ as an option. The private school uniform and her lack of heels already obliterated a good amount of visual maturity; the least she could do was hold onto a more proper name.

“Oh, really? I thought I saw otherwise earlier,” Mrs. Lewis replied, “Amelia, then. Please take a seat.”

Saw it where?

Amelia didn’t give it too much thought. At a boarding school for teenagers, plenty of girls probably had nicknames and alternative versions of their names. It would be easy enough for someone in education to lean towards shorter names, especially after Ashley literally just called her by one.

She wasn’t too picky about where to sit. With the whole lecture hall to herself, Amelia simply found a chair near the end that was notably far away from one of the above vents. Even with a blazer on, she tended to get cold easily and didn’t know how long the aptitude test was supposed to last. An itinerary would have been nice.

A few seconds later, Mrs. Lewis placed a packet and a scan sheet for her answers. “See?” she said, tapping the sticker that was sitting at the top-right of the packet. Right there, in bold letters, read MILLIE ROBERTS. “But if you prefer ‘Amelia,’ just let the office know.”

Wait, what?

Despite her distaste for ‘Millie,’ that’s not the main problem that Amelia noticed. “Umm, my last name is ‘Martin,’” she said, “Not ‘Roberts.’”

Maybe it was just some general last name used for non-student aptitude tests, like the form she filled out for the office. After all, she also wasn’t in 7th Grade, which was listed underneath her name on the sticker.

“Separated parents?” Mrs. Lewis mused. She didn’t linger on the idea for very long. “It’s fine, Amelia. We know who you are; you’re the only new student here today. If there are any issues with your paperwork, we’ll get it sorted out. Now, are you ready to begin?”

Amelia didn’t particularly like the way she was being spoken to, but what could she do? If the point was to treat her like a student on her first day, then everyone had hit the nail on the head so far. Both Ashley and Mrs. Lewis dismissed all of her problems so casually. Still, the last few minutes created a faint nagging at the back of her head. She just couldn’t place it.

For now, the aptitude test was now and clerical questions would have to be later.

“I’m ready,” Amelia said.

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The test itself sounded fairly standard, save for one surprise.

Mrs. Lewis briefly explained how there were five sections to complete. Mathematics, Reading, Science, History, and Religion. Amelia must have been more transparent than she normally considered herself, as the woman immediately assured her to not stress about the non-academic one. Not every new arrival had a Christian upbringing, and the religion section of the test shouldn’t be any more stressful than the rest. There’s no passing or failing, after all, as the aptitude test is merely designed to highlight each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Even when she was given the explanation, Amelia was taken aback at how a fifth of the test was on something like that. She knew from her research that Westridge had daily chapel and a handful of basic religion classes. It was an old fashioned school, and a private one at that; public schools would never get away with that. But to make it part of the placement process? Odd. Hopefully her poor results would dissuade the administration from putting her in charge of any of those classes. Amelia went to church here and there growing up, but that was about it. Save for Christmas and Easter, religion hadn’t been part of her life at all since she left for undergrad.

She didn’t have much time to dwell on those thoughts, as it was time for her test to begin. Each section would be timed, as Mrs. Lewis explained, but this would be a little different than if it was a whole grade being tested. Since Amelia was on her own, she was permitted to finish a section early if she wished. However, that would not grant her additional time on other sections. And, in proper teacher fashion, Mrs. Lewis also told her to be sure that she was finished before asking for an early end. There’s no shame in using extra time to review answers. The best students often do just that.

“Got it,” Amelia said.

This was all so extra. She understood the concept of empathizing with the students that Mrs. Thompson had presented to her, but did she really have to go through all this? The schoolgirl uniform made her constantly fidget in discomfort, and occasionally blush when she caught a glimpse of the plaid skirt and remembered all over again that she was no longer wearing the classy outfit she arrived in. More than anything, she wished she could take off the tight flats for the duration of the test, but that wouldn’t look particularly professional.

And how much time was this test wasting? She would much prefer to be observing the first class of the day, or meeting (and sucking up to) other staff and administration. Instead, she was going step by step through a new student’s first day, save for perhaps the way she changed after arriving on campus instead of showing up in uniform like the average girl would. Rules were rules, as Ashley reminded her, and this was apparently the price to pay in order to earn a job at the prestigious school. She would suck it up, and forever be grateful that she didn’t attend a boarding school herself growing up. Wearing the same outfit every day? It would be awful.

“Alright,” Mrs. Lewis said, “Good luck, Amelia. You may turn to section one, and your time begins now.”

Amelia did as she was instructed. The first section was MATHEMATICS, as noted by the bold section header at the top of the page. Underneath, in smaller text, noted once again that this was for 7th grade, and had a duration of twenty minutes.

At first, she didn’t expect to take nearly that long to knock out what she assumed would be simple equations. Amelia had always been decent with numbers, at least at the pre-university levels. However, the difficulty of the aptitude test hit her fairly quickly. What seemed like easy questions ended up almost tricking her a few times with how deceptive the multiple choice options were. After noticing the tricky pattern, she made sure to pay careful attention before committing to each answer.

And those were the easy questions.

The further Amelia got into the math section, the more vividly she remembered her own middle school years. It wasn’t just triangles and equations. A good portion of her 7th grade classes involved graphs, and it had been nearly ten years since she had solved such problems. Even as an Education Major, it’s not like she was relearning stuff like that during her undergrad years.

She tried her best to work things out on the scratch paper provided, but ultimately ended up making a few educated guesses as Mrs. Lewis called out how much time remained every few minutes. And, while Amelia felt a bit self conscious about the fact that she wasn’t ace-ing the test like she thought she would, she reminded herself that this was supposed to be about strengths and weaknesses. Making the aptitude test too easy wouldn’t be conducive to placing students in the appropriate classes. Still, it would be nice to have an impressive score, as she assumed that taking the test in full wasn’t just a formality; the administration would probably see her score and take that into account in terms of the hiring process.

If Amelia didn’t do well on a test literally designed for middle schoolers, that would no doubt reflect poorly on her.

Only a minute or so after she finished filling in the answer bubble for the last question, Mrs. Lewis called, “time.” Amelia had been doing a quick scan of the problems she had been less sure about, and couldn’t believe how little extra time she ended up having. If this woman proctoring the test talked about her later, how would it look? Potentially good, if she was viewed as the kind of girl who spent all her time working instead of rushing through. Or potentially bad, if she took so long and still ended up with a good chunk of wrong answers.

Amelia wasn’t normally the anxious type, but she could already feel the self-doubt creeping in.

And there were still four sections to go.

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The aptitude test only got worse and worse for Amelia.

English seemed easy at first, as most of it was reading comprehension. The answers were painfully obvious, as all you had to do was pull them from the long excerpt on the previous page. However, it ended up being very much like the section of the ACT that ‘tricked’ her in the same way back in high school. While she didn’t doubt any of her answers for a few pages, reading and re-reading drained a lot more time than she expected. When Mrs. Lewis called out that there were only five minutes remaining, Amelia quietly panicked when she realized she had only made it about halfway. The last few pages of the test ended up being rushed; she skimmed and made a few educated guesses, ultimately having to blindly choose a handful of answers at the one minute mark.

Science and History were both difficult in a different way. Since the test was designed for thirteen year olds, a lot of the questions were based on information that would be more easily retained from someone who actually took middle classes more recently. For Amelia, it had been nearly ten years. A few science facts and historical names still stuck out to her, but the vast majority of the third and fourth sections of the aptitude test felt like total guesswork.

And, of course, Religion. The last portion of the test was by far Amelia’s worst. Even with the knowledge that this was all for the sake of the Westridge student experience, and the fact that Mrs. Lewis had also said to not worry too much about the final section, Amelia still felt herself tense up at just how frequently she was wildly guessing at the questions. With a ‘subject’ she barely spent any time in throughout her life, there wasn’t a lot of room for educated guesses; multiple choice or not.

Frowning at the completed scan sheet, Amelia flipped the test back to the first page as “time” was called. Maybe it was the self-doubt from the last few sections, but she seriously wasn’t sure if she would break a B average as a whole. Not ideal for a girl who was still in the interview process to be a teacher.

“Okay, Amelia. Right this way.” Mrs. Lewis came over to collect the testing materials, then led Amelia towards a door at the opposite end of the room.

The next room looked to be a simple waiting area. One door led to what looked like an office, and the other to one of the hallways. Amelia was told to stay there for a few minutes while her results were collected, and then she’d see where she was placed.

Left in solitude in the small room, Amelia sat down and fidgeted with her skirt. This was quite the process. She definitely felt like a new student, with all the awkward first steps that came with a first day. At the moment, nervously waiting to see how she did on the aptitude test designed for girls years her junior. Those scan sheets were designed to be graded quickly, so she knew it wouldn’t be too long.

It was only a few minutes, but it felt like hours in the cold and quiet room. If this was for a doctor’s appointment or something similar, Amelia would be idly scrolling on her phone in the interim. However, Ashley took everything before the testing began, which meant all of her personal things were in the main office somewhere.

Finally, Mrs. Lewis returned to summon her. “Amelia? This way, please.”

“Of course,” Amelia nodded. Standing up, she also realized her only real interaction of the day had been with Ashley so far. Part of Amelia’s plan for the day had been to build a rapport with the faculty and administration, which would actually be more difficult than she initially thought. Between the long testing period and her coming class observations, there wouldn’t be a lot of one-on-one time. “So, what brought you to Westridge?” she asked. Better to make a personal connection than worry about her test and how well she fared compared to other candidates.

“Well, I didn’t exactly transfer here, like you,” she chuckled, after a beat of silence following the question, “If you’re really curious, I can tell you about it some time. Long story short, it was a change in my career path.”

“I didn’t-” Amelia began, but trailed off. This was the middle of a semester, so technically she would be a transfer student in this little roleplay. But surely they could talk freely when there weren’t other students around, right? Hell, Amelia also assumed she would be introduced as the observer she was when it was time for class. If everyone kept speaking to her like a new student, per Ashley’s words, then that would undermine her future authority even more than the current outfit would.

“Didn’t what, Amelia? Proper girls speak clearly, yes?”

“Umm, yes? I’m just not sure how this is all supposed to go. I never received an itinerary, and Mrs. Thompson didn’t say anything about being treated like a new student.”

Up until now, Amelia had been reluctantly going through the motions. Putting on the schoolgirl uniform Ashley gave her, turning over her possessions, taking the full aptitude test that a new student would take, and now being lightly criticized by an adult rather than the teasing remarks the dark haired guide had made earlier. Her tired mind hadn’t offered much resistance at this point, and her inexperience with private schools paved the way for her compliance so far.

At some point, however, enough was enough. She was an adult, and would much prefer to speak to the other adults at Westridge as herself. Especially if no one else was around. How was she ever going to be taken seriously if everyone kept pushing this empathy/experience thing of walking through the first day as a new student?

Mrs. Lewis’s next words brought back that nagging feeling that Amelia felt when she saw the front page of the test.

“Mrs. Thompson?” she asked, “Why would you have spoken with her?”

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Was that supposed to be a joke?

Westridge Academy might have a few more specialized positions than the average public school, including the kind of role Amelia was pursuing, but she still couldn’t fathom how the woman who just administered her test didn’t know who had been in charge of the interview process to begin with. Unless they rotated who spoke with potential candidates? Either way, she was taken aback by Mrs. Lewis’s tone.

“She was the one who interviewed me.” Amelia said.

Mrs. Lewis looked confused. “Interviewed you for what, dear? We don’t do interviews; just applications.”

“That’s ridiculous. I was literally called-” she began. Cutting herself off, as the patronizing ‘dear’ had a delayed registration in her mind, Amelia shifted gears. It was getting a bit frustrating having every conversation revolve around her ‘first day experience.’ How could she talk to anyone if they were going to keep pretending she wasn’t an adult? She had taken a day off of work for this, and had submitted herself to dressing up like a schoolgirl for the sake of authenticity. But if she couldn’t talk to the teachers or administration as herself, what was even the point? “Mrs. Lewis, no one else is here,” she said, “Can we please just speak normally for a second?”

“Have we not been speaking normally this whole time? Amelia, we really don’t have time for this. Ms. Song is a busy woman.”

“I understand that. It’s just, no one informed me about any of this. Is it really necessary for me to be treated like this all day? Do I at least get a break over lunch, or something?”

“All the girls get a break over lunch. And you’re not being treated any differently than the rest of the students, I promise.”

“That’s not-” It was the exact opposite of what Amelia meant, “I’m just asking when I’ll get a chance to be myself.”

“You shouldn’t ever be afraid to be yourself, Amelia. Don’t worry about fitting in, if that’s what you’re worried about. We’ve had plenty of transfer students before.”


“I know. You have a lot of questions. There will be time for that, but we really do need to stay on schedule. If you’ll follow me.”

This was all for the job. All for the job. All for the job. Amelia had to mentally repeat the motivation to herself a few times as she let Mrs. Lewis lead the way. No matter, grabbing a public school job would be a piece of cake if this didn’t work out. With teachers dropping like flies these days, there would be plenty of desperate schools out there that would pick her up in a heartbeat. And, since Amelia viewed teaching as a stepping stone anyway, she was going into this profession with her eyes wide open. But this was THE school for her. Hands down the best option in terms of future career opportunities, which meant that putting up with a little extra bullshit was still worth it.

Her tediously small size had often led to people accidentally talking down to her when they didn’t realize she was already in high school or, more recently, in college. But this stupid roleplay was intentional, which made it different. While Amelia didn’t plan on leaning into it, she could at least bite her tongue in terms of her distaste.

The next stop of the morning was the office of one Melinda Song. According to the title just underneath the sign by her door, she was a Student Advisor. One of several, if Amelia recalled from the academy’s website. From what she understood about the position, it was a cross between high school counselor and college advisor. Was this who had her test results? If so, Amelia was anxious to see how well she did. And, more importantly, how it affected her chances of being hired.

“Ms. Song? Are you ready for her?” Mrs. Lewis asked. She stuck her head into the room, but only long enough to get that confirmation.

Amelia couldn’t see around the corner, but could easily hear her response. “Yes, of course. You may send her in.”

Mrs. Lewis stepped aside and gestured for her to do just that. Determined to check off yet another item of the morning’s list that Amelia dearly wished she had a copy of, she didn’t hesitate in the slightest. Stepping through the threshold, she was surprised to see just how tidy the room was. It was a total contrast to Mrs. Thompson’s room, with stacks of papers and organized clutter here and there; a style that was reminiscent of most of Amelia’s college professors. Not here. Aside from the nameplate and a desktop monitor, the only thing sitting on Ms. Song’s desk was what looked to be Amelia’s placement test as well as her application packet.

Ms. Song appeared to be younger than Mrs. Lewis, but older than Mrs. Thompson. Late twenties, perhaps early thirties, though it was more difficult to tell for sure on a half Asian woman. Maybe she was a staff member that Amelia would hit it off with when she was hired. It wasn’t that big of an age gap; she would just have to show Ms. Song that she was more mature than her twenty-two year old self might be perceived as a recent graduate.

“Good morning, Millie,” Ms. Song said. She gestured to the two chairs sitting opposite her desk. Her tone was friendly, yet formal at the same time. “Please, have a seat. We have a lot to discuss.”

There it was again. ‘Millie.’ Awful, and cringeworthy, and absolutely not something she wanted to keep correcting all day. Maybe it worked on other girls, but not for her. “Morning,” Amelia said. She internally reprimanded herself for the flicker of attitude. It wasn’t Ms. Song’s fault; the test on her desk was labeled incorrectly. “I actually prefer Amelia.”

Ms. Song just nodded. “Amelia, then.”

Then she gestured once more to the empty seat.

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