Rowan pursed his lips for a moment, thinking of a good way to phrase it. “It’s like… I kind of slip into this mental state where I can get into other people’s heads. Something to do with delta waves or alpha waves… I can emit weird brain waves, basically. It sounds majorly weird. I should be a character in a sci/fi movie, I swear.”
I laughed. His carefree attitude to his power made me feel more at ease with my own. “It’s kind of useless, though, right? Unless you wanted to be an evil mastermind.” After I said the words, I saw an almost imperceptible shadow flit across Rowan’s face, before he grinned along with me. It was not so different from the one I saw on the very first day we met.
“Hmm, I guess. I used to play pranks on my friends, when I had some.” His laugh was short and bitter after he told me that, before his voice regained its playful lilt. “Besides, it injures me when I do it, I don’t know why.” He pushed up the sleeve of his T-Shirt and pointed to the pale scars I’d asked about when we first started talking. “These. I get cuts, they just open up whenever I use my extra.”
“Oh,” I murmured, reaching out to touch one of the larger scars. Rowan’s face twisted up before I could and he tugged his sleeve back down, I drew back my hand, making an apologetic noise.
“It’s fine. I don’t really like them, that’s all,” he smiled a sad smile.
“Right. Noted.” I returned his smile with a small one of my own.
I opened my mouth to ask how it felt, when he went into other people’s minds, but a couple of students burst into the room. It was a girl I recognised to be Audrey’s friend, Nina and a tall redhead whose name escaped me. Nina smiled at me, but the gesture held no warmth. The redhead whispered something to Nina and they giggled, slapping each other’s arms as they collapsed into a fit of snide laughter.
I made an irritated noise in the back of my throat and rolled my eyes. “You’d never believe they were seventeen.” I muttered.
“Lilly is actually sixteen,” Rowan replied dryly.
“She’s really tall,” I observed.
“Leggy Lilly, what we used to call her. Before boys realised that being leggy was actually an attractive trait so they started calling her Lovely Lilly to make up for it.”
“Oh, God, really? That’s the cringiest nickname I’ve ever heard.” I snorted, and Rowan nodded in agreement. I shifted in my seat slightly, turning my own legs away from Rowan. I mean, I wasn’t exactly the shortest person in the world but I certainly wasn’t a slim and athletic as Leggy Lilly. I chastised myself for acting so petty, but I couldn’t hide the zing of embarrassment over my own body that I felt. Which was stupid really, because there wasn’t generally anything to be self-conscious about. I mean, I wasn’t up to Audrey standards on the beauty scale, but I wasn’t exactly ugly, either. And I wasn’t overweight, but nor was I very slim. It was an odd feeling. I’d never been bothered about my appearance before.
“Karin?” Rowan’s voice yanked me back into reality and I looked at him expectantly.
“You were gone for a moment there.”
“Oh, yeah, sorry.”
“It’s nothing to be sorry for. I’m used to it now.” The words weren’t at all stated in a malicious way. He was just saying it like it was. I did have a particular proficiency for daydreaming, even I had to admit this.
The rest of the class began to file into the room, closely followed by Miss Loach, the English professor. Miss Loach was a young woman and I had a sneaking suspicion that she was one of the teachers Mr Mac had mentioned to have been subject to GE. She had a calming presence and a sweet appearance. She was of Jamaican decent and her parents were rich enough to have her study at Parker Bell when she was a teenager. She let her hair grow out naturally, and it was cut quite short so it framed her pretty face. She was very small in both height and weight and I was suspect to believe she was a ballet dancer from the way she held herself. Miss Loach was the sort of women you couldn’t help but love instantly.
“Right, class!” She raised her voice, and the rest of my classmates fell silent. Just as she was about to, no doubt, inform us of our lesson objectives, a younger student knocked on the door.
He wore the key stage three uniform, and he looked absolutely terrified to be walking into a year twelve class. A strange tremor ran up my spine, much alike to the one I experienced in Mr Hall’s office. Except this time, anxiety spiralled up out of the depths of my stomach and the nerves ate away at it.
“Excuse me,” he squeaked, earning several “awws” from some of the girls in the class. “The Head wants to see, uhm, Karin K- Keller, Kneller, Neller?” He stumbled over my last name a couple of times and I winced in sympathy. I stood up, desperate to save him from his obvious discomfort.
“That’s me,” I told him. “Will I need my stuff?” I asked Miss Loach, she shook her head.
“I doubt you will. But I’ll get someone to bring it down to you if you’re not back by the end of the lesson.” She smiled, and held the door open for me as I stumbled through. The little boy had already scampered off down the corridor and I silently cursed him for it.
I had no idea where the Head’s office was.