We trudged through the heavy wooden doors which led to the labs, both yawning and grumbling irritably.
“Not looking your best there, babe,” Ryan sidled up to us, slinging a lazy arm around both of our shoulders as he shunted us apart to stand between us. He winked at me, and gave Rowan a heavy pat on the back.
“Gee, thanks.” I muttered, wriggling free of his freakishly dexterous hands which had been latched onto my upper arm. Ryan just laughed, slipping out from the human sandwich he’d created.
“Audrey!” He called, catching up to his brunette friend. Audrey turned around at the sound of her name; a lopsided, silly grin split her cheeks when she realised it was Ryan who was looking for her. She caught my eye and shot me her usual tooth-heavy, but warm smile. Rowan, as usual, was left ignored.
“I mean, I like Audrey,” I began, looking up at Rowan, “but why does she always pretend you don’t exist?”
“Yeah, hmm,” said Rowan noncommittally; obviously avoiding the topic. I’d often wondered of the bad blood between the two of them but, like many things, I was sure of the fact Rowan would tell me when he was comfortable.
The bell screeched from its place on the wall, and I struggled against the urge to slam my hands over my ears. It really was stupidly loud.
I waved goodbye to Rowan as he slumped off to biology, looking distinctly ruffled. Making my way to the physics lab, I wondered absent-mindedly why Parker Bell deemed the sciences mandatory even for those studying their A-Levels.
“Hey, Karin, wait, wait!”
Ryan’s voice made me jump, and I knew that walking away from the boy would make my life a Hell of a lot worse so I stopped and gave him time to catch up.
“Is Audrey not in lesson today?” I asked, striking up a conversation when the silence got too much for me. Ryan sniffed, nodding.
“Some shit to do with the school council,” he offered.
“So, are you two dating?” I asked straightforwardly, my curiosity getting the better of me.
“Why? Feeling the first buds of love?” Ryan smirked, an infuriating simultaneous twitch of the nose, eyebrow and mouth which set my teeth on edge.
“Whatever. Rowan said something about you two being year eight sweethearts… oh, what was it? You’d run back to Rowan, asking for romantic advice, like, ‘ooh, Ann, what are you even supposed to say to girls, they’re so complicated!’” I shot him a mischievous look and by the way his wicked grin faltered, I knew there was some truth to what Rowan had told me.
“Hey, what can I say? Ladies’ man right from when puberty hit,” he recovered.
“Ouch, year eight? Late bloomer, methinks.”
“Wouldn’t you like to know!”
“No, actually, I wouldn’t. At all.”
“You keep telling yourself that, sweetheart,” Ryan waggled his eyebrows at me before leaving me stranded in a sea of milling students as he swaggered off to go and find a free peg in the lab’s cloakroom.
Once I’d finally managed to push through the masses of bustling teenagers, I burst into the cloakroom and made for the last free peg to hang my rucksack on. I heaved the bag up onto the hook, and then yanked my pencil case and physics book from its depths.
The classroom was teacherless, and groups of students stood twittering; huddled around iPhones, looking at photos from last weekend’s party. I bumbled over to my spot on the end of the front row awkwardly, placing my belongings down on the corner of the desk. Several kids yelled in surprise as Ryan jumped up onto the table to tug the vandergraph generator before promptly standing in a plastic tray, laughing like the twat he was as his hair began to peel itself from his head and stand on end.
Ryan’s little show ended when he decided he wanted to let go of the buzzing dome and shock everyone and anyone who dared stand close to him. The hum of static rested in the air for a few more moments before dissipating as he grounded himself. His hair fell flat with a strange crackling sound and the class laughed at his display.
“While I fully appreciate your interest in the wonder that is static electricity, Ryan, I really would prefer it if you didn’t piss about with it in my room while I’m MIA,” Mr Hall the physics teacher commented dryly as he walked into the room. He calmly unplugged the vandergraph and placed it back up on the top of the cupboards where it belonged.
Mr Hall’s eyes settled on me, and I shifted under his icy blue gaze. His stare drifted down to where my hands were laid on the table top, and I saw a small shift in his expression before he looked away. I glanced down at my hands nervously, and my breath caught in my throat. The pencil, ruler and rubber I had placed in-between the pages of my book were standing upright with no support. As soon as I noticed the abnormal behaviour of the stationary pieces, they clattered onto the table at once then rolled onto the floor in unison.
He had seen me.