Hannah Newmark, Writer

My gray eyes stared back at me in the mirror, lifeless, and dark as obsidian as I gritted my teeth. They slowly looked downward, toward the small sheet of paper I held in my hand: the new dress code. Being a perfectionist, I couldn’t risk one detention. I had to be perfect, blend in, straight A’s, not draw attention. With one final glance at my outfit, one final sigh, I headed out the door.  

As I approached the school doors, I couldn’t help but glance at the students milling around on every side. Out of nowhere I heard a shriek of frustration. A girl wearing a crop top that barely shows her stomach being handed a dirty jacket, obviously from the lost and found. On my right, another teacher, with a glint of disapproval in her eyes. Her cold stare never left the teacher dress coding the girl. It seems like most teachers didn’t care about the dress code, but there were a few that did. Nonetheless, I bit my lip until it bled from anxiety and walked into class.

My teacher barely glanced in my direction as I walked into class and quickly sat down in my seat. I swiftly pulled out the worksheet from my folder and a pencil. Ready for the class to start, I stared out the window meaninglessly. 


“Here,” I called out.

Days passed by, and after that first morning, no one else got dress coded. People were starting to…relax. It made me uneasy, like a thousand butterflies were fluttering around in my stomach. My older sister Izzy snickered at me when I confessed my worries last night over dinner. You’re paranoid, she had said. It’s not that big of a deal; middle school barely enforces it. I wish I had that same confidence she possessed. My friends say the reason for my anxiety is because I worry about others along with myself. They tell me it’s a good thing, that it means I’m selfless. I feel as though it causes me too large an amount of stress to be considered positive. A voice pulls me out of my thoughts, calling me back to reality.

“Nicole. Hallway. Now.” 

My teacher’s expressionless face, and almost bored tone is enough to send a chill down my spine. The butterflies are back, fluttering maniacally in my stomach. My knee, bumping up and down at lightning speed under my desk slowly comes to a stop as I rise from my seat. I numbly walk out into the hallway, losing all feeling except in my hands, which were fidgeting nervously.

“Your shirt is extremely short and not appropriate for school. It could be distracting.” 

I looked up to see my teacher’s accusing glare, staring at the reflection of my gray eyes in hers. Recognition washed through me like a crashing wave against the shore, and I had to put a hand on the wall to steady myself. This morning I was extremely distracted and just grabbed the first thing I saw in my closet. Unfortunately, it was one of the only two crop tops I own. Great, I groaned internally, just my luck. Too stunned by my foolishness to clearly speak, I mumbled a soft “Sorry it won’t happen again” and staggered absentmindedly into class. 

When the school day ended, I rushed home and explained everything to Izzy. Her eyes narrowed at my retelling, and when I was done, she got up silently and left the room. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but my sister has always been the dramatic one, and she is more of a feminist. After sitting at my kitchen table for a few minutes, I shook my head and headed upstairs. When I lay down on my bed, I heard a crunch from under my pillow. I sat up quickly, my hand searching under my pillow. I pulled out a small piece of paper folded in half, and opened it quickly. I scanned through the note that was in my sister’s font. 

I have an idea……

I read through the rest of the note, and smiled to myself. Tomorrow was going to be interesting, if I only had the nerve to do it.


The next day, I hurriedly shoved cereal in my mouth, and dashed out the door. I walked to school in record time, and when I finally arrived I walked into the office with my head held high. I nodded to the secretary in greeting, and then knocked on the door in front of me. 

“Come in,” a voice called.

Sighing with relief, I continued putting on a determined facade, even though deep down I was petrified for what I was about to attempt. But I could do this; I knew I could. With that final thought, I walked into the room.

The principal’s office was ice cold, a million goosebumps rose on my arm as soon as I entered. It was dark and plain, with burgundy walls and few picture frames hanging up. A singular desk sat in the corner of the room, filled with papers that contained god knows what. I sauntered up to the desk and sat down in the stiff chair. The principal clasped his hands together and brought them up to his chin. I handed him the petition. He looked it over and raised his eyebrows in confusion.

“What is this supposed to be, Miss Nicole?” he questioned.

I took a deep breath, “It’s a petition. last night I got 150 students from this school to sign it. It is to change the dress code back to the old one.”

He hesitated, reading the petition more thoroughly now. After lots of back and forth, we came to an agreement. The dress code wouldn’t go back to the old one, but it would be a lot less strict. I walked out the door with a triumphant smile. Izzy will be proud when she hears.