The first thing that happened when we entered the main corridor was Amber. She saw us instantly and latched onto Derek arm. I saw her whisper something into his ear which made his face turn ever so slightly redder.
“Nice to see you Michael,” she said with an overly sweet smile. Yeah, she totally meant that. I had to suppress the urge to roll my eyes at her. How on earth Derek could possibly buy her act dumbfounded me. Then again, guys are generally supposed to be dense right? At least the ones you want most tend to be. Not that he'd have any reason to think of me as a choice...
“Yeah. Bye,” I replied, walking down the corridor. Derek might drag me aside later to ask me to be nicer. He knows how I feel about Amber but doesn't really get it. I guess if I were straight maybe I'd be blinded by her looks as well. I walked into my first class, aware I was here way too early as I sat in the empty room taking my assigned seat. Least this was one of my teachers who didn't really care weather you listened or not. He was of the opinion that if you wanted to learn, learn. If not just try not be noisy so those who wanted to, could. Pretty good approach. He came from a German school and apparently that's the common idea with schooling there. England should adopt it. The door opened and Kim followed closely by Peter walked in. Both smiling and laughing from inside joke I guessed. Kim took the seat next to me and the Peter the one directly in front.
“What are you doing in so early, slacker?” Kim asked, her ginger hair looking brown from the rain outside.
“Had nowhere else to be,” I said with a shrug. They both seemed to accept the explanation because they continued their conversation. Something about a new book series. At least it sounded better than that vampire one. Not that I read much. I didn't do a lot of anything really. Like Kim had said, slacker. I spend most of my weekends just sleeping because my body was so heavy by the end of the week. I used to have a few hobbies, most were ones I shared with Derek. But then we started secondary school and we became a bit more distant. I know it could've been worse. When he became instant Mr popular he could've chosen to blank me completely. Instead he insisted on dragging me into his circle of friends, even when a few didn't think much of me. I doodled on the margins of my notebook as the others filed in bit by bit. The big rush happening a split second after the bell went. But no teacher, which was curious. Mr Seinfeld was always on time for his classes. I checked the watch that was above the whiteboard and saw that we were five minutes into the lesson. Then someone rushed in, seemingly to struggle with the pile of books and papers. She had short, groomed hair and glasses that looked close to tipping off as she dumped all her stuff on the desk. She turned to the class, clearly very flustered and righted her glasses.
“Hi everyone, Mr Seinfeld is ill for an unknown period of time. I'm Miss Dale and will be covering for him.” She turned back to her pile of stuff and pulled out a register.
“Can you wave you hand or something when I call your name so I know who you are? I won't remember all your names straight away but I'll try my best,” she said with a sincere smile. She called out names, a few jocks had fun, putting their arm up for each others name. When she got to mine I said “here.” and raised my arm as she asked. She nodded each time she took someone else's raised arm in. Then when she was done she put the register back on the desk and leaned against it, surveying the class.
“Now how about we take it in turns to say something about ourselves?” she suggested. Oh, she was one of those subs. Great. Something interesting about me? I had to admit as my turn neared I was half tempted to just come out already. But as always I was too chicken.
“I'm Michael, I suck at German.” Laughter rattled through the class. Normally teachers look exasperated at that kind of line. She just studied me for a few seconds before signalling the next person to start.
After that it was pretty much textbook. She'd chosen to restart the area we were on. Something I was secretly happy for, less effort for me. She handed out a pop quiz to get an idea of where we stood on the subject. I whizzed through it easily and handed it back. She raised an eyebrow at me. But began marking it there and then. She didn't give it back and told me to go back to my seat. So I had to wait while the others finished there's one by one. When the bell went I stood up quickly but the teacher called my name.
“You only got one question wrong,” she stated handing me back my quiz. I shrugged, not sure what it was she wanted me to say.
“I don't like liars, now head to your next class.” I held back the urge to shake my head at her and left. The other teachers never cared, so why did she? I glanced at the piece of paper and shoved it in the bin. Telling myself not to be annoyed by the one wrong question. I didn't give a damn about school or any of the people here. Except Derek. I quickly headed to my locker and glanced at my schedule and seriously considered skipping. I used to like art, then I got sat next to Amber and her friends – art quickly became something more akin to a torture session.
Giving in with a small sign I grabbed my sketchpad from my locker and headed upstairs. At least my teacher was good. He was one of those wacky kind of teachers. Very down to earth in his paint-stained jeans and straggly, grey beard. The room smelled of dust and acrylic paint and I hoped that Mr Reed would have one of his random philosophical rants today. Those were always fun. I learnt more about the subject from him than my actual philosophy teacher. Not the subject is hard to really get, he just always had better points.
“Hi Michael,” Amber purred, patting the wooden stool next to her with a perfectly manicured hand. I glared at her openly but had no choice but to take the seat. Did I mention I hated that I had to get a public school that enforced seating plans? I knew if I made a big enough fuss then Mr Reed would move me. But I also knew Amber would see that as a win, then she'd become even more unbearable. That smug grin would be there even more. Her hair was jet black and every curl was perfect and precise. Her make-up was delicately done, not horribly plastered on like some of the other girls at the table.
“This is Lily, she's the friend your dating on Friday” she put a little too much emphasis on dating and I had to stop myself from shifting uncomfortably. Lily must've been new to the group. She only had a line of simple lip gloss on her lips and her hair was a natural shade of dirty blond. She gave me a friendly smile which confirmed my suspicion of her being new. They hadn't turned her into another robot just yet. Maybe the plus of Friday is I could save one girl from their clutches.
“Hi,” she said shyly, her uncovered cheeks showing a hint of red. She was cute and it felt wrong to mislead her but I'd already agreed to this.
“Hey,” I replied, lamely raising my hand in a sort of wave. Then I grabbed my pencil and began sketching. It wasn't anything in particular, just random patterns. That tended to be my thing. I tried not to feel self-conscious as I felt Amber watch my pencil skim over the paper of my sketchbook.
“That's really pretty.” I heard Lily whispered to herself.
“Yes, Michael likes pretty things. Bet he'd love it if we both wore dresses to the date.” Sometimes I really hated Amber and that soprano voice that knew just the right way to say a sentence – And for the record, I have zero interest in women's fashion.