I studied my classmates the whole lesson, trying to get my bearings, trying to identify particular characters: the cool kids, the nerds, the shy girls, the loud girls, the arrogant guys and the nervous guys. I seemed to have been put on one of the 'cool' tables. They were talking about various drunken parties and bands. In a way, they seemed cool but not popular. They kept themselves to themselves. I only recognised one person, India, the girl from the shop. She seemed to be the quiet one, allowing her friend, Alice to do most of the talking. When she did speak however, she always had something funny or clever to say.
I noticed another familliar face too. The tough looking boy from earlier, only he didn't look so tough now. However, he did seem hugely popular. I heard him making loud jokes and impressions. Mark, he was called. People seemed to be constantly looking for his approval, and looked pleased with themselves if he laughed at their jokes. I noticed India roll her eyes a few times when he got too full of himself, while the rest of the girls giggled around him. There seemed a confusing kind of tension between Alice, India and Mark, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I looked to the other on my table for an explanation but they seemed oblivious.
Josh, who sat next to me nudged me.
"Mate, do you want to come to the common room with us for break?" he asked.
"Yeah, thanks," I replied. I was glad someone spoke to me first, I always hated feeling like I was pushing myself onto people.
The bell went soon after that, and I followed Josh and the others along a maze of corridors. We started descending the stairs. We passed a sign saying 'Basement', and kept going down.
"You're common room is in the basement?" I asked, amused.
"Yeah," said Josh, "It's great, sort of insulates the sound, you know?"
He was right, it was silent until we reached the basement corridor. I could hear faint music coming from the end of the corridor, and when we got there and opened the door, the music swelled out. We entered the room. It was...surprising.
Light punk rock played loudly across the whole room. A group of disgruntled looking people sat in the corner, clearly unhappy with the music choice. Most people were standing around, drinking cokes and hot chocolate, or sitting on tables. We walked to one corner of the room. A group of people were already sat down around a TV, on chairs, beanbags, or cushions. As we got closer I saw they were playing video games, or watching others play. Josh sat down and introduced me to a few of the people around us. I sat down too.
In my last school there had been 140 people in 6th year, but by the looks of things there were only about 50 in this year. Everyone seemed to know each other, which made it harder to pick out the 'popular' groups; everyone seemed more equal than in most schools. Just as I was starting to feel comfortable there was a sudden crashing and shouting. Everyone, including me, turned to see what the commotion was. A fight had broken out between two boys, chairs had been knocked over, even a table had crashed to the ground. The ipod dock was flung to the floor and the music stopped, causing more people to jump up indignantly and join in the shouting. One of the boys in the fight crashed into the lockers on one side of the room. He tried to stand up, staggered, and fell to his knees. The other boy was being dragged out of the room by someone, while the injured one was being helped to his feet. Then he too was guided out. The music had started again, and the noise died down, as if nothing had even happened.
A word instantly sprung to my mind to describe my impression of the school so far: volatile.