First and second period passed without a hitch. Well, as much as double chemistry can pass without any problems. There was the usual trip to the infirmary after some bright spark decided shove his hand into a bunson flame, and that one group of kids at the back of the classroom whose experiment went terribly wrong, producing a strange rotten-egg smell and a pond-green sludge.
I left the room as quickly as possible, scooping up my belongings as I made a beeline for the door, desperate to escape the stench. On my way out of the science block, I fumbled with the zipper on my backpack, opening it so I could dump my books into it.
Earlier that morning, Rowan had told me to meet him in the library; not the canteen. I protested at first, adamant that we should eat before doing anything else. He managed to talk me ‘round when he pointed out that lunch at Parker Bell is two hours long.
I took to the steep, sloping stairs of the main building, the tap of my shoes echoing eerily in the empty corridors. Most kids would either be huddled together around study guides in teacherless classrooms or be indulging in whatever the school’s canteen had to offer.
I reached the huge wooden door which led to the library and pushed it open slowly, poking my head through the gap to see if I could spot Rowan. I caught sight of his head bobbing down in between book shelves and I smiled to myself.
Tiptoeing behind him, I tapped him lightly on the shoulder, whispering, “boo!”
He started, dropping the small pile of books he was clutching to his chest. Rowan swivelled around to shoot an irritated glare in my direction. “Well that was uncalled for.” He pouted and I rolled my eyes.
“I saw my chance, and I took it,” I shrugged, bending down so I could help him pick up the discarded books. “Why did you want to come to the library, anyway? We usually eat first.”
“I thought I’d give you a mini education,” he held up one of his books. It was thin, colourful, and looked as though it was made for an eleven year old. “Because you don’t seem to be very interested in The Head’s lessons.”
“I’m not.” I replied stonily, but forced myself to smile because the offer was something I would kindly accept. “Can we sit over there?” I pointed to the table which was located right at the back of the huge expanse of space. The rickety old table didn’t look like it had much use and it was half-shoved behind a precariously balanced stack of books.
“Seriously?” Rowan groaned, shifting his weight to his left leg. “Why not this one?” He gestured to the table which was right next to us.
“No.” I raised my eyebrows. “Or should I just leave you here and go sit by myself?”
Rowan shook his head, grumbling to himself as we sauntered over to the battered table, but his heart wasn’t really in the complaints.
We sat ourselves down on one of the equally tatty stools and Rowan dropped the pile of books onto the table, they scattered and I glanced down at all of the covers and winced. These were children’s books and I was seventeen. These were the sort of books parents gave their kids to explain difficult, complex things in simple terms.
Rowan caught my forlorn expression and placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. “I thought it might help, but we don’t have to, you know.”
“No, no, it’s fine.” I smiled up at him and he removed his hand, using it to pick up a chunky red book which read on the front of it: GENETIC ENGINEERING FOR KIDS!