The canteen was big. Too big. I frowned at the large expanse of tables in frustration, no one needs this much space to eat in.
Several students were clustered around the salad bar which sat in the centre of the massive room, trying to snap up the last of the cherry tomatoes as lunch hour crept closer and closer to its end. One of the boys in the group lifted his head, and I saw his gaze fall onto me. It was unnerving and he wouldn’t look away even as I shifted awkwardly, clearly uncomfortable under his unwavering stare.
I saw him touch his friend’s arm and make a beeline for me. I took that as my queue to take my bowl of chips, turn on my heel and take a seat at the farthest table from the canteen’s entrance. I stabbed one of the potato slices with my fork, trying my very best to ignore the boy as he hovered near to where I sat. Eventually, he moved forward a few more steps looked at me.
“I haven’t seen you before, are you new?” He asked, perching on the edge of the bench opposite me. I didn’t like the way the corner of his mouth pulled up into a cocky smirk. When I didn’t reply straight away, his expression twisted into one of annoyance.
“Yep.” I replied shortly.
“What class are you in?” He pressed, leaning forward. His hands were palm down on the table as he stared intently at me.
“Twelve A.” I shoved another chip into my mouth, making an attempt to look as disinterested as possible.
“I’m in twelve B.” The boy informed me, and I nodded politely; looking away.
He waited for me to make a reply, to acknowledge what he had just told me. When I refused to pursue our “conversation”, he tried to tempt me back into it, “so, class A? You must be really clever to get into the top class. Not just a pretty face, huh?” He shot me a tooth-heavy grin, which I’m sure has sent many girls swooning in the past. I continued to ignore his advances, looking boredly out of the window.
“You’re not very talkative, are you, babe?” I shuddered at the pet name internally, my mouth pulled down at the sides in distaste.
“I might have been if you hadn’t just stood there like a creeper for five minutes before sitting yourself down.” I retorted.
The boy stared at me, one of his eyebrows quirked upwards as if he was daring me to carry on. “Wow. I was only trying to be nice.” He snapped in a tone which suggested anything but.
I glared at him, placing my fork down next to my bowl and looked back at him incredulously, “can I just eat in peace please? I don’t really want to talk to you,” I said in the kindest tone I could muster. My first day at a new school was not going exactly the way I had planned. But there was something about the boy who sat opposite me, leering, that set my teeth on edge and made me want to piss him off further just to see how he’d react. Of course, I’d never do such a thing because I preferred to lay low, especially since I had only just started out here.
“Right. Okay. Can’t blame a guy for trying, right?” He shrugged, holding his palms out as he stood up. But there was a glint in his stormy grey eyes that told me I wouldn’t be seeing the last of him. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he turned to leave, but he quickly spun around and shot me a terribly clichéd wink as he told me, “my name is Ryan, by the way. Ryan Fairwood. See you around.”
Ryan waved lazily as he sauntered back over to where he stood. I saw one of his friends nod towards me, obviously asking about the new girl. He grinned widely and shrugged again before leading them out of the canteen.
I returned to my bowl of chips only to find them at room-temperature with a side of claggy ketchup. I closed my eyes in resignation, gathering my belongings as I placed the half-eaten bowl of food on the waste trolley.
Hitching my rucksack up onto my shoulder, I checked my watch. Twelve forty-five. I would be a little early for fourth period, but it was better than being late. I slipped my phone out of my jeans pocket after I felt the familiar buzz of my text notification. It was from Hanna, my closest friend. We’d grown apart a little after I had moved halfway across the country to attend a public school on scholarship, but we often exchanged texts. She said things wouldn’t change that much, yet I could feel the distance between us grow with the amount of time we’d spent apart. The first day of term had started today, but I’d be holed up in my dorm room for the past week due to what I refer to as “parent problems”.
After sending a quick reply to her “how’s your first day” text of “great!”, I returned the device to its home in the back pocket of my jeans.
Outside of nearly every classroom in the school, there were refurbished park benches pushed against the wall for students to sit on while they waited to be allowed into their classrooms. It was an innovative idea, and one I was beginning to be entirely grateful for as I paraded around the huge school campus.
The Parker Bell College wasn’t your average rich-kid school. A huge Victorian Mansion had been redesigned, and parts rebuilt, to accommodate a brilliant fusion of traditional and modern design features which made for an exciting learning environment. While I was in awe of its vast amount of space and ridiculous amount of classrooms, the other kids who attended just because their parents were insanely rich seemed completely comfortable in this kind of establishment.
I was convinced it would be impossible to settle into such a place.