Walking away, I felt something tugging at my heart for Rhea. I had never felt sympathetic for her; I'd just always thought she was psychotic and brought all the isolation on herself. But hearing her story, about how much Aaliyah's death affected her...it made me want to be there for her.
The bell rang, signalling the end of the day and I heaved a sigh as I made my way to the car park, waiting for Chrissy.
I watched the flow of students come out the school, getting into cars, walking in groups of twos and threes and I sighed once more. It was something Aaliyah could never do again...
Stop thinking about it Isobel. Remember the good times.
I smiled as I remembered the first time I had met Aaliyah...
'Right everyone, we have a new student joining us today,' Mrs Tempson told us, clasping her heads together. Everybody's heads jerked up in interest, a new student was always fascinating, just like a shiny new toy.
Whatever we had been expecting it was certainly not Aaliyah. A small, shy girl entered the room. She couldn't have been taller than five foot four with dark brown hair and modest hazel eyes. Her head was partially ducked as she shuffled to stand in front of us.
'Tell us about yourself,' the teacher smiled.
I felt sorry for the newcomer, having to stand in front of us lot and talk about herself. This was the make or break part, we'd either love her or hate her.
'Urm, well, I just moved here from down South with my mother and three siblings.'
'Oh yes, that's right. Tom's in the same year as you is he not?'
'Year above,' she corrected.
'Oh well, you can sit down now. There's a spare seat next to Isobel at the back.'
Oh how young and innocent we had been in year seven. It felt nice to think about her though, I would remember the good times. I won't dwell on the negative.
With a start, I realized the car park was virtually empty and all of the students had gone home.
Where was Chrissy?
It was then that I noticed her little white fiat was also no where to be seen.
Pulling out my phone, I rang her.
It dialed three times before she picked up.
'Urm Chrissy. I'm still at school.'
'Ohmigod!' she cried. 'I'm so sorry! I was meant to be meeting Tom tonight, I completely forgot to tell you!'
'Who's that?' I heard Tom's voice in the background. It sounded sad.
'That's okay,' I hurried. 'How is he?'
'You know, he's coping,' she murmured. 'Once again I'm really sorry. Are you gonna be able to get home alright?'
'Yeah I'll be fine,' I told her. 'You still on for tomorrow night?'
'Sure, who's coming?'
'Urm, there's me...there's Elijah...there's you...and urm,' I deliberated whether or not I should tell her about Rhea.
'Rhea,' I sighed in defeat.
'Rhea?! What's she doing with us?'
'It's a long story, it'll be fine,' I assured her. 'I'll see you tomorrow.'
'Okay, bye Iz,' she hung up.
The sky rumbled overhead and I groaned in exasperation. It was going to piss it down any second and I still had a long way to walk. The clouds rolled overhead, looking a sickening shade of gray. All traces of sunshine had just about disappeared.
'Oh well,' I murmured to myself, pulling my hood over. 'Best get a move on...'
I had gotten no further than down the road before the Heavens opened on me. It was absolutely tipping it down. The rain stuck my hair to my forehead and soaked through my clothes. I was shivering in no time.
I whirled round to find Elijah yelling out the window of his car.
'Need a ride?'
This guy sure had impeccable timing.
Despite the rain, he stepped out of the car and held the door open for me. Oh what a gentleman.
'Thanks,' I blushed furiously, climbing into the passenger seat. As I waited for him to get in, I quickly checked my appearance in the mirror. I genuinely looked like a drowned rat. The rain, which made my hair look black, was still splattered across my face in tiny droplets, my mascara had smudged making me look like a panda and worst of all, I was wearing a white t shirt.
'Hey,' he got in the driver's seat. I turned to face him and I felt my heart splutter. He did not look like a rat in the rain, he looked the exact opposite. He looked...devastatingly handsome.
'Thanks Elijah, I appreciate this.'
'No worries,' he smiled, revving the engine. 'Urm, where do you live?'
'Winchester Way, number 27.'
'Okay. So why aren't you getting a lift home with Chrissy tonight?'
'She's with Tom, comforting him.'
I realized how this sounded and my cheeks reddened.
'He's still upset obviously,' I rushed on before Elijah could notice. 'She's still coming out tomorrow though. I should think Tom'll come too.'
'Oh yeah, about that. Thanks for inviting me.' His gaze shifted to meet mine for a second.
'You're welcome,' I mumbled. 'It's the least I can do after what you did for me. Getting me to talk about Aaliyah like that really helped.'
We drove in silence, but it wasn't awkward at all. It felt completely natural, like breathing.
All too soon we were outside my house, Elijah had stalled the engine and I was just about to thank him and leave when he turned to face me.
'Isobel,' he began. 'I don't mean to sound, too forward or anything but...'
'Go on,' I murmured.
'Did you like, maybe wanna hang out some time, you know outside of college. Just you and me?'
'I'd love that,' I smiled.
'Great,' he looked relieved. Bless him. 'I'll give you my number?'
He wrote it down on a spare piece of paper and placed it my hand, letting his fingers linger on my skin.
I exhaled slowly, trying to get my bearings. My mind had tumbled into one blurry mess and I had no idea what was going on.
'Well, thanks for the ride.'
I didn't mess the emphasis he put on this word.
I reluctantly slid out the car and moments later he was driving away, me stood on the front step of my house clutching that scrap bit of paper like my life depended on it.