It only took her a few seconds to decide whether or not she would be joining them. What was the worst that could happen?
Honestly, looking back, she never knew what had possessed her, in those few seconds, to ever agree to anything planned by April Martin. April was notorious; and at Finchley Secondary School, she ruled supreme. If you weren't blonde or sporty or covered in make-up, you were beneath her.
So why did she agree to such a stupid thing in the first place? The need to fit in? The need to feel wanted? Or just blind stupidity? It could have been all or one of these things. All Bethany knew was that she never wanted to see April Martin again.
It was middle of the autumn, and the leaves were fluttering down from the trees in rust-coloured blizzards as Bethany wrenched open the waterlogged front door and stepped outside. More leaves lay on the gravel drive in front of 134 Starling Avenue, and more yet covered the pavement at the bottom of the drive, creating a mile of gold shimmering in the weak autumn sun. Bethany was already late, and so it was with a firm, brisk step that she began treading the familiar path to school.
The sun kept fading in and out, and as she walked, Bethany was thrown in and out of the shade as a biting wind blew in from the north of town. She pulled her coat more tightly around her shoulders as she soldiered on, leaves crunching under her boots as she walked. Though she was late, she was in no hurry to go to school, and that, today of all days, was a bad thing.
As she came within sight of the school gates, Bethany's thoughts drifted back towards the previous night, and she shuddered as she relived it - though not from cold. Last night, Bethany's older brother Declan and their father had had their worst argument to date. Declan was seventeen, and last night he had expressed no interest in returning to school. On hearing this, their father had flared up; why was he not going back to school? Why was he not finishing his education? As Declan tried to explain (again) that he had no interested in sitting another two years' worth of exams and wanted to be 'out there', their father had hit the rooftops and the night had ended, after about two hours of ear-splitting screaming from both sides, with Declan packing his bags and marching out of the old house and down the drive, perfectly alone and not in any position to come running back to Dad with open arms any time soon.
Bethany huffed under her breath. Was there no way she could be in reach of a single slice of freedom anymore? She kicked angrily at a litter bin near the school's front wall and it wobbled precariously. She hoped it wouldn't fall. The last thing she wanted was to end up in detention with Miss Harter for attacking school property. Not that a litter bin really counts as school property, Bethany muttered under her breath; but luckily for her, the bin stayed quite still.