I scuttled past the board once I re-entered the English room; a couple of kids grumbled in annoyance as I covered up the sections of text which they were copying down. Pulling out my chair, I took my place next to Rowan.
“You okay?” He asked, looking concerned.
“Peachy.” I bit out, but I instantly felt guilty as a look of hurt flashed across his face. “Sorry,” I apologised. “The Head is just really… really odd.” I licked my lips nervously and took my pen from my pencil case, opening my book.
Miss Loach came over and squatted next to our desk, “you didn’t miss much. Just take some brief notes on what I’ve put on the board, okay?”
“Yeah, okay.” I nodded. She moved to stand up, but I called out again before she could leave, “Miss?”
“What’s the Head’s name?” I asked, frowning when I realised I had absolutely no idea. I figured that if I was going to be spending a good chunk of my personal time with her, I should at least now what to call her.
Miss Loach hesitated, then edged away from me slightly. Her face was an impenetrable mask, and I instantly knew she didn’t want to talk about it, despite the fact it was such a simple question. Her reaction was extreme, and I felt the awkward atmosphere build between us; the question lingering on unanswered as I waited for her reply. Musn’t… innocent question… how to answer… Fragmented words echoed inside my head and I slammed the heel of my palm against my temple. They weren’t my thoughts.
Rowan grabbed my wrist in a tight grip as I moved to hit my head again, the words sat inside my mind, and they weren’t welcome there. They were invasive, and felt wrong as they hung inside my head. Shit… what’s going on? What do I do? These words captured my attention in an entirely different way, instead of echoing, lingering on as the silent noises in my mind, they were clear and loud. Very loud.
I whined, yanking my wrist from Rowan’s prying fingers. This time, instead of hitting my head, I placed my palms over my ears and my entire body lurched forwards. I was struck by how much it hurt. Once the words had finished disrupting my thoughts, all that was left was a searing pain at the front of my head.
“Karin, Karin! What’s wrong?” Rowan turned me to face him and I stared at him with teary eyes. I was vaguely aware that the class had started whispering and I heard a chair scoot back as Miss Loach instructed someone to find the school nurse.
What’s going on… what’s wrong with her? Is that Karin? Why is she crying…
The breathy whispers inside my head were louder than the class’ muttering and I bit on my bottom lip to stifle a scream as the sighs of words burned the inside of my head. I tasted blood on my tongue, hot and salty. I felt something sticky and warm run down the side of my neck but I paid it no mind; I was too focused on the pain.
“Oh, shit, Miss Loach! Miss Loach, Karin’s bleeding!” Rowan yelled out in a panic, “her ear’s bleeding, Miss!” I tried to move my hand and place it atop his, to show him he didn’t need to freak out. But the pain turned to agony when I removed my palms from their position where they gripped my head, so I snapped them back down, a high-pitched keening noise escaping my throat.