“So where did you go to school before?” I enquired, trying to make conversation.
James didn’t reply. He didn’t even look as though he'd heard me but his aura bristled like a hedgehog preparing to curl up into a ball of spikes so I knew he was just pretending. I was a little annoyed at him, though the emotional coldness he was radiating that almost froze me reminded me to be patient and to keep trying because this boy had almost certainly suffered in his life up until this moment.
The bell rang and I had to look at his timetable to be able to escort him to his next class because he still wouldn’t talk to me. It looked like all his subjects were the same as mine and his lunch period was the same as mine so I made myself a promise that however much he frustrated me I would not abandon him.
“Come on,” I said to him, starting to walk in the direction of the classroom. I didn’t need to be able to sense moods to know that he heavily resented me: his expression said it clearly enough. He followed sulkily, and I had to keep looking behind me to check he was there because he was so quiet. We ended up being two minutes late for class and the teacher, Mrs Pine, shouted at us. I introduced James - since he clearly wasn’t going to do that himself - and she told him that he should be wanting to make good first impressions. He didn’t look like he cared.
Mrs Pine taught Math and she didn’t allow students to sit next to each other. She pointed to a free desk in the opposite corner of the room to where I sat and I tried not to feel offended as James looked visibly relieved.
Maybe I shouldn’t try so hard with him... but I was determined to befriend another psychic. I wouldn’t let his mood or his quickly-developed hatred of me put me off. So, at the end of the lesson, I faithfully went to his desk and told him I’d take him to his next class.
He didn’t meet my gaze and acted exactly as before as we travelled to the next classroom. By some miracle we weren’t late again. He chose to sit on his own this time, ignoring the fact that Mr Lyvel (a much nicer teacher than Mrs Pine) was totally happy for students to sit next to each other and believed it actually helped their learning. I felt sorry for Mr Lyvel when James didn’t respond to his friendliness but nothing could be done about it and I could only hope James would slowly come to appreciate the people around him who cared about what happened to him.
Two more lessons and then it was our lunch period. James hadn’t managed to make any friends.
“Do you really like pushing everyone away?” I asked him as we walked toward the lunch hall.
“James, I’m not going to stop trying,” I told him. “I’m sorry it annoys you but everyone deserves friends. Now, d’you have enough money for lunch?”
A curt nod.
“Cool. Let’s grab some pizza.”
I took him to the pizza area and we bought a slice each of pepperoni pizza and a bottle of drink. I led him to a table where there weren’t any other students and started eating, wondering if he’d start talking to me of his own accord. No such luck.
I repeated in my mind what I’d said to James: ‘I’m not going to stop trying.’ He could try as hard as he liked to get me to hate him but I wouldn’t let it happen. When someone was in pain you didn’t leave them. And James was a bit like that, I sensed. Too hurt- beneath the cold exterior - to want to interact with others.
‘Well, I’m not leaving you, buddy.’