By the end of the day, Cassie was a fading flower.  No one had spoken a word to her, except to comment on her Texas twang, which she didn’t even know she had.  The homework didn’t seem like it was going to be more or harder than it was in Texas, just different.  There was one thing Cassie decided she could manage in Maine: the schoolwork.  Cassie had been an A student in Houston, and that was not going to change in Maine — regardless of how socially B-list she felt.

Cassie sighed as the bus carried her home through the snowy streets.  She was so relieved to have the day behind her.

The bus let her off just in front of her house.  She smiled at everyone as she walked past them and even said “Bye” to a boy and a girl she recognized from math class.  They sort of smiled back, but didn’t say anything.

What did I expect?

Before she hopped down the steps, Cassie turned her head and looked out at everyone, the dark green leather seats framing their heads.  Then she glanced at the bus driver.

“Thanks so much.” she said to him.

This was a major Life Rule.

Life Rule #46: You thank people for the work they do.  Always.

“See you in the A.M.!” she added.

Even though Sheila had offered to drive Cassie to and from school, Cassie knew she had to take the bus no matter how nervous it made her.

Surprised, the driver smiled.  “You, too!” he said.

Cassie walked down the steps, careful not to slip on the ice.  She stopped for a moment to take in her new house.  It was nothing like the old one.  This house was an old farmhouse, built, in like, 1800 or something, drafty and old, stained gray with black shutters.  There were blueberry bushes in the front yard, now covered with snow, but Paul said they would be really pretty in the summer.  He said they could even eat the berries right from the bush.  Cassie wasn’t sure how she felt about that.  What if there were bugs on them?  Gross.

On the way up the front stairs, Cassie fumbled with her keys in her purse.  It’s hard to use your hands when they’re wrapped up in gloves.  Cassie hardly ever had to wear gloves in Texas.

Inside, the heat immediately soothing her, she put her bags down, took off her hideous parka, scrunched at her hair in the mirror, and ran up to her room.  Well, it wasn’t totally her room yet.  All her stuff was there, but she hadn’t Cassie-fied it yet.  Design Rule #51: A room must reflect its owner’s sparkle.

Before Cassie could settle in, her mom stuck her head into the room to see how the first day went and to announce that it was time to hit the mall.