Six months have past since I arrived at PhoenixTail High and I start to fit in, forming with one girl, Emma-a misfit like myself-a small group of outcasts. I feel their stares; we are still the class-clowns. Ezme is taking some interest in me, but, as a general rule, she tends to stick to herself. I do hear her mutter sometimes that ‘it is for the best’. I realise now that she knows what the other girls are trying to do, and will certainly let them. God knows why. Their torrents of laughter have not yet ceased, nor has this determination to call her ‘Ezme’ still. Such a pretty name stuck to my head, therefore I can’t just dismiss it mere months after learning it. I often wish I could apologize for this, but it’s hard to when we barely see to each other.
Fortunately this unwanted attention brought with it one precious reward: Daniel Swift. A boy two years above us, lanky and a little podgy still, with glasses perched precariously above his hazel eyes-the black frames clashing horribly with his gorgeous chestnut hair. He is the sword in the stone for Ezme, a beam of light surprisingly breaking through her tough darkness.
The other girls call him ‘La Musique Extraordinaire’ but they never really respect him because he is not perfectly good-looking. The thing he is perfect in, though, is his kindness and his unusual talent for spotting great musicians like himself.
That is how he finds Ezme. She has eaten lunch alone, as per normal, and now is pacing outside in the cold, still, weather-the only way to get away from the taunts. Singing to herself isn’t a regular habit of Ezme’s but more recently I have seen it is becoming a necessity-a way to escape from the madness of the school dramas and the falseness of the other girls. To Ezme, singing is another reality, bright with dazzling spherical lights in an arc that change colour to suit her moods perfectly. A little piece of private heaven, for once.
Daniel has just finished his piano lessons, and is walking from the little add-on building of PhoenixTail High-the Music Department area. Lately the number of students choosing music as a subject to take has fallen, so fast that it could actually be compared to a bullet train. Nobody knows why, but music has suddenly become the least popular subject in school, bringing the few students in those classes down with it.
I see Daniel watching Ezme from the secrecy of the teacher’s car park, ducking behind cars at first, then, as he slowly moves forward, behind trees, a tin-soldier-like statue.
“You Francis Winters, right?” He drawls in his American country accent. His voice takes Ezme completely off her guard and she jumps half a metre backwards.
“You’re as jumpy as a flea, I would say. Just like that Little Rich Girl would too; I’ve heard her talk about you to that Emma girl, you see. In her slinky sing-song city accent.”
Damn! I had seen Daniel snooping around but I never imagined that he was there to spy on me; I always thought he didn’t see me, just like the others never do.
“You got a fine voice there, missy,” Daniel continues, brushing away the strand of light hair that has flopped down into his round face. I can see Ezme staring, and her cheeks go as rouge as a Red Delicious apple.
“Thanks, it wasn’t anything good though…just some rough stuff I was composing…”
“A bit. I like to sing the songs I write.”
“Well that’s just a bit awesome, ain’t it? As it turns out, I was lookin’ for someone to write lyrics for a new composition. I wanna write a Pop song for the numbskulls here who think that music is nothing but Classical crap. Here, let me give you my number.”
Ezme looks speechless but delighted.