“I’m cursed!” Wails Nickie as Ezme and I wipe the yoghurt from her chequered skirt.
“No, you're not,” sighs Ezme.
“Then explain to me why this always happens.”
“Welcome to…The Others,” says Emma, imitating her favourite Simpson episode, but also being deadly serious and keeping her dessert high out of the reach of potential bullies.
“When you’re new, it’s hard,” I explain, “But when you’ve lived through two or three years of exile (like we have), you start to become ‘respected outcasts’.”
Nickie gives us a sceptical look, “Yeah right. You three and Shona were never bullied like am.”
“Not as a group, no. But alone we were so vulnerable. There.” Ezme finishes wiping the skirt and takes her sister’s hand, “Come with us, and you can have my dessert.”
“Welcome to room 208. Also known as the ‘outcasts’ room’. Shona, hit the lights.”
Shona, who is sitting cross-legged on a table in the centre of the room, looks up surprised at her name, then frowns at the request.
“It’s broad daylight, m’dear. Turning the lights on and off won’t do a single thing for atmosphere.”
Ezme sighs at the two of us. “Guys, this is why we’re outcasted. Come, Nickie, let me tell you about my life so far-”
“I know your life, you’re my sister.”
“Shut up! This is important, okay?”
Like a referee in a boxing match, I step in front of the warring siblings.
“Ezme-Francis, tell Nickie what it was like for you when you first joined the school.”
“Same as when you first joined…”
I glare at her. Really not helping here, Ezme.
“It’s your story, ‘Ze. You tell it.” Shona says, grabbing a workbook from the shelf above us and sitting on her table to read it.
“Okay…” Ezme says again, this time slowly, as though she is trying to think of the words to say.
Though we all know that she has a whole story to tell.