I spotted Angela walking into school on Monday, her head down as she shouldered her way though the thong of people making their way to their first classes, her books clutched to her chest. I guess I felt a little disappointed that she had pulled her hair back into its usual tight plait instead of leaving it loose. It had looked good on Friday, after practice. I quickened my pace, catching up with her in the hall. I tapped her on the shoulder. Spinning on her heel, she threw a punch, only just managing to stop it a split second before it collided with my jaw, her books clattering to the ground. Her eyes widened in realisation and shock. Her fist dropped back to her side. she bowed her head to hide the adorable blush that started to creep over her cheeks, highlighting the thin scar, murmuring an apology. She dropped down, starting to pick up her textbooks. with a jolt of alarm, I realised that she was favouring her right arm. I dropped to my knees, scoopnig up the rest of the heavy manuals. She tried to take them back, but I held them away from her with ease, plucking the rest from her arms. She glared at me, the same expression I had seen her use on the hockey field.
"Give me my books back," she growled.
I shook my head at her, "I've seen enough injuries to know that your arm's sore." I touched it lightly, feeling her flinch away a little. "We've got the same classes today. I'll carry your books. You rest your arm."
For a moment, I thought she was really going to punch me, but then seemed to deflate slightly, quietly admitting that it was a little sore.
Angela was certainly turning into something of an enigma. From what I already knew of her, she had been homeschooled before coming here and was a little reserved about her past and her family. Now, as I walked a little behind her to ease the congestion in the corridor, she angled her shoulders away from me, crab-walking slightly, as if she was afaid of exposing her back to me. Someone brushed against her arm. She gasped quietly. The long sleeve of her t-shirt was pulled up slightly, revealing a dark, angry looking bruise. I couldn't think of what could have caused a mark like that. The only time I had ever seen anything like it was after one of my teammates had taken someone's head to their ribs in a dirty tackle. he had fractures several ribs in that encounter.
"Angela?" I asked warily. "Are you sure you don't want to go to the nurse for that?"
"No! It's fine, really. I just bruise easily, that's all."
If I said I believed what she had said, I would have been lying, and I'm sure my disbelief showed on my face. But I said nothing else, promising myself that I would keep an eye on her.
Months passed by slowly as October made its way through november and eventually into December. Angela gradually began to trust me more, to relax around me. She had turned from shy new girl into something resembling a bit more of a tomboy. She was the scourge of the girls' hockey team, a fearsome player. She proved to be intelligent, but often dared not speak up in class. Outside of me and occasionally Polo, she was still quiet and reserved. She was still uncommbortable about people standing behind her. Even me. She would often angle her back away or stand against a wall. That didn't worry me though. Every person has their little habits and manias. What worried me more were the bruises she often came to school with. No matter how many times I asked, she still evaded the question of how she got them. Eventually, I stopped asking, contenting myself with looking after her as much as I could.