Ripley hated his new school before he even saw it. The Wilderness School was aptly named sitting out in the middle of nowhere. Even if a student hot wired a car to try and get away, they wouldn't get far. Unless you knew exactly where to go you would end up wandering the desert until you became a mummified husk. On the outside it looked like any other bordering school, if you ignored that it was in the desert. The people who made the place might call it school, but Ripley thought of it more as a juvenile detention center.
For most of the drive Ripley had sullenly stared out the window ignoring Gracie, music blared from the headphones that hardly left his head. They'd argued the first part of the trek, with Ripley stating that she'd never told him she wanted a baby and she had retorted it was none of his business and didn't have to report to him about everything in her life. That had caused him to cross his arms slouching against the seat with his face away from her to hide the hurt that had caused. He'd been happy with it just being the two of them even if he'd never wanted her to adopt him as she wanted to. That was what it all stemmed from in his mind. She didn't understand that he had a mom, even if he'd never met her and she'd left him and his father. Despite what people said and what Gracie believed, Ripley just knew that she wasn't a call girl like everyone said his mother was.
When they'd pulled up to the school, the boy had stared in disbelief. "You want me to stay here?!"
"It doesn't look too bad, Rip." Gracie said sounding optimistic. The expression on his face, said he thought the woman had completely lost her marbles. "Yeah, that's what they want you to think. How do you know they don't beat the kids and lock 'em up at night?"
"I think you've seen too much t.v. Grab your bag."
Struggling with his dufflebag, Ripley followed his 'aunt' and the faculty member that had drawn the short stick to give them a tour of the facility. They were shown the dorms where there were up to five kids in a room each having their own nightstand next to the bed and a locker to put their clothes. Ripley was informed that the rooms were to be made as soon as they got up and that the cleanliness of the room was judged as a whole. "So, be sure your side is picked up or you might cause your room to score lower," the man warned. After depositing his bag in one of the rooms, and Ripley complained that there were no lock on the doors, the guide explaining that locks weren't needed. "What, you mean you've had no thefts at all?" Riley didn't buy into honesty knowing everyone lied and hello, it was common sense not to leave anything just laying out. It was a good thing he had a padlock on his duffle to keep it closed.
The students were responsible for their own laundry, and once a week they were to take their bedding down to the school laundry where they'd drop their dirty bedding and receive a new set. Three meals were provided for in the canteen, classes were from eight a.m. to 4 p.m. Curfew was at ten when they'd be expected to return to their dorms and lights out was at eleven. It was customary for everyone to pitch in to keep their school the way it was so the students were responsible for chores as well, their floor R.A. would give out duties but that each student was rotated so only really had a week of chores and had at least a month off. The more the man showed them, the more impressed Gracie seemed to be while Ripley's horror grew. When it was time for Gracie to leave he begged her to not leave him here.
"I'm sorry about the hooker comment! I'll do whatever you want, just don't leave me here!" When that didn't work and all Gracie did was remove his desperate hands from her arm, he got angry. "Fine! Just dump here and forget about me. That's what you wanted anyway, wasn't it? Now that you have your own kid." It was what his father had done when it became too troublesome to have a kid around.
Angry and not wanting the woman who'd practically raised him to see the tears, he'd stubbornly turned away and stormed back towards the stupid school that he saw as a prison. Wiping his eyes with the back of his hands and blinking, Ripley was able to quit the crying before you could tell that he had been. Back in his room, he discovered that he was the youngest one. "This is gonna suck," he muttered.