"I'm going to the class now. Are you lot coming?"
They ignore me. I nod to myself as I get up. It's to be expected. They only can stand to let me hang around with them because I come up with some amazingly insightful and catty comments. And I only hang around with them because sometimes I can't stand to be with my own thoughts and prefer to lose myself in the inane chatter of regular teenagers. Because I am not a normal teenager. Not by a long shot.
My bag feels even heavier than it is as I swing it onto my back, narrowly missing the back of someone's head. They don't notice me leave.
I walk with my head down, staring at the floor as I make my way to our next classroom. Laughter follows me down the halls. I know it is not at me but I still flinch, the scars of spiteful children still vivid on my soul. A single, lonely tear slides down my face without my permission and falls to the scuffed carpet as I turn into the classroom and take my customary place in the corner by the window. I shake my head angrily. No tears will I shed anymore.
I slide it wide open so I can stare out and so the cool breeze can numb my face into indifference. As I lay out my books, the rest of the class filters in and takes to their noisy, social chattering. I bury my head in a book to block their unrealising painful comments.
I turn, startled, to stare at the boy who has stopped next to me. I don't recognise him so he must be new in our course. I glance around quickly. There are no other seats left in the room but the one next to me so I shove my books together to give him some space. He sits down with a grateful smile but I have already turned back to my book.
He pulls out his work books and turns back to me, perhaps to engage in conversation but a teacher walks in and calls for quiet.
"Your regular teacher is off sick today but I have some worksheets that I want you to do."
Oh God. Supply teacher and worksheets. And I already have a headache coming through. The boy next to me twists with a grin to meet my gaze. I fear I may have shocked him with the unbridled anger and pain behind my eyes. I feel a curious pang of regret as he turns away.
But I needn't worry because after a short while, he turns to me again and says quietly,
"Could you give me a hand with this worksheet? English was never my best subject."
His innocent tone draws a nod from me before I can even think about it. He smiles at me and puts the sheet between us so we can both see.
I lean forwards, trying to ignore his warm breath on my cheek and neck. I sit back up quickly and speak in a low voice.
"It's just simple yes and no answers. You don't need my help for this."
"I know but I needed to get you talking somehow."
I am shocked into speechlessness. He actually wants to speak to me? I manage to shake my head and watch as his face drops into a worried frown.
"Are you okay?"
"You wanted to speak to me?" my voice sqeaks embarrasingly.
"Of course. Who wouldn't?"
I still stare at him, wondering what on earth he is talking about. he carries on.
"People don't speak to you? No wonder you look so sad. I just wanted to come over and hug you, you looked like you were about to start weeping."
I am close to hysteria by this point. He wanted to hug me?!
He touches my arm.
"Are you alright? You look like you're about to faint."
I sway at his words and his hand is instantly in the air.
"Miss! I think she needs to see the nurse! Should I take her?"
Everyone turns to look at us as he springs upright and manages to wrap his arm around my waist, pulling me up and out of the classroom before the sub can say anything.