“So, how many people are in this art class?” I asked.
Rowan shrugged, “not many. Around fifteen? They like to split up the year into small classes, so each student can get equal amounts of attention, you know?”
“Public schools know how to run things.” I sighed, flipping my fringe back so I could fully engage my newfound friend.
“Public school…” Rowan chuckled, “I never understood why we don’t just call it private school? It’s like we’re all in denial that our parents don’t pay ridiculous sums of money for our education.”
I laughed again in agreement.
I could hear the chatter of other students down the corridor and glanced up at just the right moment to see Rowan shift uncomfortably on the bench before sitting up straight and plastering on a perfectly formed poker-face. What’s up with that?
A few of my classmates looked from me, then to Rowan and frowned. One girl of the group came over and sat next to me, she flashed me a kind smile.
“I’m Audrey, and you must be Karin?” She said smoothly and then after she took in my mildly surprised expression said, “I’m school rep, I was told you were in my art class.”
“Oh, okay. Hi.” I said lamely, glancing at Rowan who had looked away, feigning disinterest.
Audrey sighed, and then leaned in to whisper, “don’t mind her. She doesn’t really talk to anyone, don’t take it to heart.”
“Oh… right.” I mumbled, knowing that despite the fact Audrey was whispering, she was definitely loud enough for Rowan to hear.
So she’s a girl.
“Do you want to head into the classroom? You should know that because you’re a sixth former, you can just go straight in. The teachers trust the older students.”
“Oh, all right. I’ll keep that in mind.” I replied, standing up to follow the tall brunette. I turned back to look at Rowan, who didn’t move despite the fact the rest of her class was filing in. Frowning I hung back, waiting for her.
“Are you not going in?” Rowan look up from the whirl in the wood she’d been staring hard at for the past two minutes.
“Well, aren’t you?”
“I prefer to wait for the teacher.” Her voice had lost all of its playful lilt and now she just seemed bored. Rowan continued to sulk while I just stood there, not sure what to do.
Things had seemed tense between Rowan and the rest of the class. It was impossible to not notice how they all just pretended she didn’t exist. Was she being bullied? I frowned, coming to a decision.
I sat back down, taking up the spot where Audrey had just been sitting and hooked my ankles around each other. Rowan looked up in confusion, her brows knitting together.
“You don’t have to wait with me, you know.”
“I’m not. I’m waiting for the teacher.” I replied, lifting my hand to peer at my cuticles, pretending to be oblivious to how my actions could be considered weird. I heard Audrey open the door and glanced up to see her sticking her head around the side of it, obviously confused.
“You coming in?” She laughed, beckoning me.
“No, I think I should wait for the teacher. You know, meet him before I go into the classroom.” I smiled sweetly, trying to radiate innocence. Audrey started at me, her jaw a little slack as her eyes flicked from me to Rowan. She then returned my smile with even more radiance before slipping back into the classroom.
I settled back into my chair, smiling conspiratorially at Rowan.