Usually when starting a new school, you feel nervous and have butterflies in your stomach, but Sarah and Lori Norman were so excited to go to this new school because they loved school; everything about it from the teachers to being able to hang out with friends. They were starting 9th grade at Newman High School, which was only 10 minutes away from their lovely home. They had just moved into a smallish house in upstate NewYork because their dad had received a new job. Sarah and Lori were a bit sad they were moving away from their home and friends, but they would do anything to support their dad, so they tried to find the best of what was happening. It was September 8th, and Sarah was about to put on her new sneakers when Lori rushed into the kitchen blabbering how great her first day of school outfit was. Even though Sarah and Lori were twins, former conjoined twins to be exact, they didn’t have too much in common. Sarah liked being involved in school organizations and helping the environment and Lori probably spends more time picking out her outfit for the day than she does studying for tests. Sarah and Lori left together, with waffles in their hands as a good luck charm from their dad. As they walked to school, they discussed all the great things about school. Sarah tried to talk Lori into joining the student council and Lori ignored her and talked about how she was going to manage making friends with every popular student in one day.
“I looked at almost everyone’s Insta before we came and I know I’m going to be loved here!” declared Lori.
They got to the school and didn’t hesitate to walk through the doors. As soon as they walked in, loud noises of teens talking to one another filled their ears. Sarah felt right at home when she saw posters to join student government. Lori walked up to a random person and started a conversation.
“Hi, I’m Lori!” Lori exclaimed, “I’m new at this school.”
“I’m Crystal, do you need help getting to your class?” she replied.
“ Yes actually, that would be really helpful!” Lori stated, “also I love your clothes, where did you get them?” Lori and Crystal walked towards a hallway with Crystal pointing and talking about the cool stuff here. Sarah was in disbelief. How did she already make a friend the minute she stepped into the school? Sarah looked at her schedule. First period was Science, followed by Art, Global, Algebra, Lunch, Gym, and finally Band. Sarah headed towards a room covered in rainbow streamers. What kind of teacher hangs streamers on their door? Sarah thought as she walked into the classroom. The rest of the day felt the same to Sarah. The teacher only talked about what they would do this year and hand out papers for the parents to sign. Her favorite class was Global. Social studies was just so fascinating to Sarah: all the cool events and all the amazing artifacts and ruins. The lunch was pretty decent for a school lunch. But the only thing that was not there was Lori. They had no classes together. Sarah felt she always had to be with her. They were practically inseparable, like literally. They were born conjoined at the hip and were separated at the age of 2. The only evidence was the scar Sarah had on her left hip and the scar Lori had on her right hip. Sarah and Lori were totally different people on the inside. Sarah was calm and shy, while Lori was outgoing and energetic. Sarah always worried about Lori’s wellbeing. She was very overprotected. Lori had a respiratory illness that made her weaker than other people. Even though it was not something that would kill Lori, Sarah still always made sure she was alright and not doing too much. Once the ending bell rang, Sarah set out to find Lori in the crowd of students. After a couple of minutes, Sarah spots Lori talking with someone she didn’t know. They say bye then Lori looked around hoping for a sign of Sarah.
“ Hey!” yells Sarah, running towards Lori.
“ Hey Sarah! You won’t believe what happened today! I made like 10 friends who love the same things I do and we’re going to get smoothies tomorrow!” Lori grinned. Sarah wonders how long it will take for her to find people with the same interests as her. Maybe the first student council meeting tomorrow will introduce her to new friends. They arrive at home to their dad waiting for them at the house.
“ Hey guys! How was the first day of school?” their dad congratulating them.
“Dad, it was great!” Lori beamed, then jumping into telling a story about her amazing day.
“ Sarah what about you?” he interjected, focusing his attention on Sarah now rather than Lori.
“It was pretty good. Tomorrow is the first student council meeting and I’m really excited for that!” she proclaimed. Sarah loved student council. In the Student Council, Sarah could just release all her ideas, and it was a great way to get closer with peers. At her old school, Sarah was the President and was in charge of coming up with ideas for events and carrying them out. That next day, she was more excited than the day before. This was her chance to become known at the new school. The meeting would be first thing after school ends so all she had to do was make it through the day. Sarah and Lori walked to school like yesterday. Once they got there, Saarah rushed through the crowd of students right to her first period classroom. Each period went by really slow. Sarah would watch the clock while trying to finish her work as fast as she can. Finally after so long, the ending bell rang and Sarah was dismissed from her class. She walked to the classroom a couple hallways down to where the meeting would be held. She walked in and a wonderful aroma filled her nose. It is this lavender or wildflower. I don’t know but I love it! Sarah thinks looking around. A girl with glasses and long blond hair greets her once she walks in.
“ Hi I’m Marissa. Are you here for the student council?” she asks politely.
“Yeah, I’m Sarah.” Sarah and Marissa shake hands and she gestures to her to sit down in a chair facing a desk. There’s around 4 girls already here. One is really tall and has short blue hair. Two girls are sitting next to each other and looking at their phones. They both have light brown hair with blond tips. The final girl is short and is talking to Marissa. She has long hair. Like long Long hair. It almost goes to her butt! Sarah could never. She likes having short hair because it doesn’t require too much work to do in the morning when she gets ready for school. A couple more girls and two boys later came in and the meeting started. Marissa stood up and started talking.
“Hey guys, I’m Marissa! You probably know me from being Class President 3 years in a row and I work as the hall monitor so I should see you around school.” Marissa talks about herself for about 3 more minutes about her achievements in this school. Then she finally started to talk about choosing roles.
“ So, everyone picks out a piece of paper and what is written on it will be your job for this year!” We all stood up and walked towards Marissa who was holding a red hat filled with tiny pieces of paper. Each person picked a slip of paper and read their job out loud.
“Environment Specialist, What does that mean?” A boy asked Marissa.
“ Your job is to organize the stuff we do in the environment like clean ups and raising money for endangered animals.” Marissa explained. “ I had a bit of trouble trying to find a good name for that job.” It was Sarah’s turn next. She put her hand into the hat and pulled out a slip of paper that she knew would give her a good job. Sarah opened it up and it read,
“ Vice President, Yes!” She squealed with excitement. Being a boss was Sarah’s strong suit. She imagined how much fun she would have this year. After everyone picked their jobs, Sarah and all the other students talked with each other and got to know everyone. Sarah made friends with the tall girl named Robin. She was really cool. Robin plays volleyball and also does track. Her legs are so long, she probably wins every single match. Sarah befriended everyone in the meeting but Robin and Sarah got along really well. They talked about school and how it’s hard as they walked out of the school.
“ Bye Sarah!” Robin said heading in the opposite direction as Sarah as she walked home. Sarah felt happy as she walked down her street. She was finally getting used to the new school. She got to her house and walked into her room to start on homework. Then she smelled something weird. It was coming from Lori’s room. Sarah peeked in and saw Lori on her bed. She looked normal but smelled awful. She barged into her bedroom and Lori jumped up.
“What is that smell?” Sarah asked with a loud voice.
“ It’s nothing,” Lori denied “ please don’t tell dad.”
“Were you smoking cigarettes?” Sarah realized.
“Look, I didn’t mean to, these girls made me” Lori said trying to convince Sarah.
“What girls?” Sarah asks Lori.
“When we went for smoothies, these girls went to the back of the shop and brought me with them and they asked if I wanted to try it,” Lori explains “ I said yes because I knew they would not like me anymore if I said no.” Sarah couldn’t believe how stupid Lori was.
“You have to promise me to never smoke again” Sarah demanded “Or else I will tell dad.”
“I promise Sarah,” Lori promises. Sarah walks out of her room and goes to start her Geometry homework. A couple months pass and Sarah doesn’t know Lori actually never stopped smoking and now is secretly addicted. Sarah thought Lori went back to her normal self but Lori’s life changed after Sarah and Lori talked that day. Lori would smoke cigarettes throughout the day especially after school when she would hang out with her friends. She was really good and covering up the smell and other signs she was still smoking. But one day, the day school started after winter break ended, Sarah found out. They were walking down their street after school ended, talking about how amazing winter break was.
“I wish it was still Christmas!” Lori bubbled walking through the snow.
“I like school but I agree it would be awesome if Christmas was everyday!” answers Sarah. Just then, Lori starts coughing really badly and can’t stop.
“Lori, what’s wrong!” worried Sarah. Lori couldn’t answer her because she was coughing so much. Sarah led Lori inside their house and sat her down on the couch.
“I’ll get your water bottle,” Sarah persuaded as she reached for Lori’s backpack. Lori tried to stop her but it was too late. Sarah opened her backpack and saw 4 packs of empty cigarette boxes and one box unopened.
“Are you kidding me Lori!” Sarah yells “ You’ve been smoking this whole time?” Sarah starts to get angry because Lori has been lying to her for a couple of months.
“You promised you would never smoke again!” Sarah snapped, “This is seriously going to affect your health, you know how dangerous smoking is especially for you!” Lori stopped coughing for a second to drink water then started talking to Sarah.
“I can’t help it!” she croaked. Sarah got her bag and went to her room and waited for her dad to come home from work. An hour later, she heard the door open and heard her dad say hi to Lori. Sarah loved Lori and knew what she had to do. She felt her room and confronted her dad.
“Dad, this is going to be very upsetting and surprising to you but Lori has been smoking for a couple months now and I’m really worried for her,” Sarah claimed. Her dad was in shock and looked at Lori.
“Lori you are 15, you shouldn’t be smoking!” Sarah’s dad said then got really angry and Lori kept saying sorry. Sarah felt bad for Lori because her dad never yelled at Sarah and Lori except for emergencies like this one. The next couple weeks were all a blur of Sarah. Lori’s coughing got worse and she was admitted to the hospital for testing. Sarah was so nervous and what would happen to her. Test after test, Sarah would get more worried and more worried. SHe would spend time at the hospital all the time to make sure Lori was never sad, bored, and scared. She could probably give a detailed tour of the hospital floor Lori was staying at because in her free time, she would walk around the hospital to get her mind off of what’s going on.Then Sarah was hit was the worst news she thought she would never have to face in her lifetime. The doctors came into Lori’s hospital room and told us Lori has lung cancer because of all the cigarettes she had throughout the last 6 months or so. Sarah couldn’t help but start to cry and leaned into her dad’s arms. She looked up at Lori who was in shock and Sarah saw tears in her eyes. Sarah couldn’t imagine what Lori was thinking right now but knows her life will never be the same. The doctor tells her dad that she can start treatment soon and that made Sarah feel a tiny bit better. The sooner she can start treatment, the better. Sarah would go to school and people would ask her how Lori is and it made her a bit sad but happy people supported her and Lori. Week by week, Lori struggles in the hospital and it breaks Sarah’s heart to not be with Lori and have her not at Sarah’s side. Even though Lori has been spending time at the hospital, it seems like Lori is not showing signs of getting better. Everyday Lori gets weaker and weaker. Sarah was able to see Lori’s sadness in her eyes. But on May 14th, Lori passed away. Sarah was at school when she was called to the office to hear the worst news of her entire life. At first she couldn’t believe it. Then it all hit her and she just started crying like crazy and didn’t feel good. She waited for her dad to pick her up and when he did, Sarah just broke down while hugging her dad. The funeral, seeing her dead ,it just was too much for Sarah so she just kept her head down and thought of Lori and all the memories she had of her. She remembered their first day of kindergarten, every time they went to the park together. Every moment they spent time together. Sarh didn’t know what to do after Lori was gone. She locked herself in her room and stayed there all the time. She would think what she could have done to save Lori. Sarah could think of so many things. She could have told her dad when she first found out Lori was peer pressured into smoking. She could have checked on Lori a lot to make sure she wasn’t smoking. And many more reasons. All Sarah thinks about is Lori. She thinks it is her fault and regrets everything she didn’t do. Her dad checks on her often but doesn’t talk to him. One day, Sarah is greeted by someone she never expected. It was Robin. She looked different. Her hair was shorter and she was in a volleyball outfit. Sarah felt embarrassed that Robin had to see her in this state.
“Hi Sarah,” Robin said awkwardly.
“Hi,” Sarah mumbled.
“Sarah, I think you have been in your house for too long,” Robin stated “ Come back to school, it’s going to make you feel much better if you were around all of us.”
“I don’t know if I can,” Sarah hesitated. Sarah didn’t know how people would treat her, if they would treat her differently because of what happened. But Sarah does agree that staying in her room would not help anything. She has to get over Lori’s death. She is not coming back and Sarah has to acknowledge that. After a couple minutes of thinking, Sarah makes her decision.
“You know what, I think it’s time to head back to school.” Sarah began “I miss being at school.” Robin smiles and then catches Sarah up on what’s been going on and all the gossip. 2 weeks later, Sarah steps out the door reminding her of the first day of school but this time Lori was not with her. No one to tell Sarah about shopping, sports, and all the stuff Lori would always talk about. Sarah smiled thinking about Lori. She arrived at the school and all her classmates acted really surprised and happy that Sarah was back. It was kind of awkward for Sarah but everyone was really nice and respectful of what happened. The teachers were not as hard on Sarah and it felt weird. Normally, Sarah was used to the teachers being strict and pushing them to do their work. But now they are really easy on Sarah and not having her do any homework assignment which Sarah enjoyed. During Lunch that day, Robin and Sarah sat with each other and talked about student council. Robin gave Sarah the best idea for a club.
“What about a club that raises awareness about peer pressure and teen smoking!” Robin encouraged “Wouldn’t Lori really like that?”
“Actually Robin, That’s a great idea!” Sarah beamed. She was so excited to tell this idea to Mrissa and hopefully she says yes to Robin and Sarah. This would make Sarah really happy and proud. LAter that day, Robin and Sarah rushed to the Student Council classroom. Luckily, Marissa loved the idea and helped make it a reality. Robin and Sarah made a bunch of signs that said “Just Say No!” to hang on the walls all around the school. After many people started to join and Sarah felt so happy that people care about this subject and she knows that Lori is happy for her and even if Sarah wasn’t able to save Lori, she can help save others.