I sighed and stretched out, pulling out a black biro from my bag. My fingers were cold – it was ridiculously chilly outside and I hadn’t thought to bring gloves because it was only September.
It wasn’t supposed to be cold!
“Katie!” I turned at the sound of Mr. Carter’s voice, looking over and smiling at his familiar bopping walk. It really had been too long. I loved summer, but my friends had been on holiday – so had I, but they’d been gone for six weeks, I’d been gone for two. It was boring as hell without them, but I’d made do with books and downloading music like a lunatic.
“Sir! How was your summer?” I knew I was far too lively for eight-in-the-morning, but I didn’t really care. I’d been in the library early too, trying to find a copy of Crystal’s “the English Language”. I’d found it, but I couldn’t lift it up, so I retreated and came back here, pulled a table out and sat down on a chair, turning up my iPod and shutting my eyes.
“Fair, fair to middling, but I did get that canoeing trip in Canada out of the way, I’d been planning it since December.”
“Oh, yeah, I remember you mentioning that!” I grinned, “So, what do you need me to do this morning?”
As he proceeded to explain, I half-zoned out. It wasn’t complicated, there were guides coming in at half-eightish to show everyone around and get everyone into their forms, then we’d have to wait around to get our timetables for tomorrow. I was a little afraid of the New Year – I mean, I would be eighteen in December, University was around the corner, everything was riding on the next eight months.
I took the register from him and picked up the pen, spinning it awkwardly between my fingers and yawning as I sat back down. Within about ten minutes, I was bombarded with people almost running at me, and I did exactly what I was told, welcomed them politely, until he walked in.
The fucker looked straight through me, ignoring the obvious fact that he was supposed to sign in, and I wasn’t having it.
“Sorry! Excuse me?” My voice was death – I’d had laryngitis over the summer and it really hadn’t fixed itself yet, “You need to sign in...” I tried to be polite, to make him smile, “So we know you exist!”
He grunted his name, but I couldn’t find it on the sheets, and when he pulled the “have a look at the top,” like I was fucking stupid, I did know the alphabet, you know!
“Don’t get sarcastic with me, Nathan Bailey. You’re not on these lists.” But he’d zoned out.
“Sorry?” His eyebrow quirked like he’d just watched me slap his mother. I repeated my earlier sentiments and sent him off, really done with his arrogant demeanour and his scowl. He looked away, and then walked off, and I put the fact that I’d have to be in the common room with him for the next year to the back of my mind. Mr. Carter called me over ten minutes later, and I rose, handing him the filled-in registers. There was a long pause as the kid, Nathan, from earlier, came striding furiously quickly towards us – for a half-second I thought he was going to Rugby-Tackle me to the floor or something drastic like that, but then he stopped in front of us and looked at me.
“Where’re the loos?” He asked, his voice a little softer than before. I opened my mouth to speak, but Mr. Carter got there before I had to speak, telling him exactly where he was going. Nathan’s eyes lingered on my face for a long second; he smirked lightly and disappeared through the doors as Mr. Carter thanked me for coming in three hours earlier than I needed to.
A few minutes later, I was standing on the table, telling people that the guides were here and we’d be showing them around in the next few minutes. What Mr. Carter didn’t tell me was that I’d be stuck with the left-behinds, those our school had forgotten to give a form, to give a place to. I sighed and sank back into my chair, looking up at the ceiling and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I decided to make the best of it and maybe meet a couple of people while I was sitting there.
“Okay guys!” I put on the cheery-yet-abysmally-cracking-and-hoarse voice again, “Who are you again?” I felt the blush rising in my face, I stood quickly and felt a headrush associated with a lack of sugar from skipping breakfast this morning – I was usually quite good with it, but damnit, I’d woken up late, and my mum had told me I’d need to drive myself to get to school on time. I threw a hand out to steady myself and ended up sitting on the table I’d had my feet up on only a few seconds ago.
As soon as I was on my feet, I could feel his gaze on me. Nathan Bailey with his shaggy brown hair and wide grey eyes, arrogant demeanour and stupid smirk. I was so glad we weren’t in the same year, but I’d ignore it for now, be professional, polite, myself.
“I’m Robyn, and this is Elle.” The blonde South African and her little friend said, clearly they would end up friends from this – they were sharing headphones and everything. She smiled as I nodded at her and turned to the boys.
“Right. And guys?” They were alert and staring at me as I spoke.
“Adam,” Who was rather cute. He smiled at me and swung his bag over his shoulder as he simultaneously ran a hand through his hair. Resisting the sudden urge to bite my lip, blush and giggle, I rose with him, ready to get everyone going again. His voice, somewhat irritated, echoed in my ears as my feet hit the floor.
“Nathan.” Everyone turned to look at him, I think one of the guys behind me managed a glare, as he rose and looked down his nose at all of us, “Shall we get going?” Git. A million other words, each cruder and more furious than the last flooded my brain and I scowled as I turned to the door.
Twenty-five minutes later, and a lot of animated talk about the various sections of the school -though I avoided going up the forty-five steps to the Art Block because it was eight in the morning – we were sitting back in the Common Room, making awkward conversation. A couple of the guys were asking me about the Sixth Form Sports teams, and though I really didn’t know much beyond the fact that trials were in three weeks – thank you updated notice board – I found myself chatting easily without my voice taking weird tones as I spoke.
“And, what about you?” My head whipped around at the voice, “What subjects are you taking?”
“English, English and Drama.” I smiled, without glancing at the speaker, “I’m a creative person, and I suck at maths. I did Chem last year, but dropped it when I found out my teachers were leaving...”
“Chickening out at the last minute?” Nathan Bailey was really starting to piss me off. “You seem so brave.” I didn’t appreciate his tone, and would really have liked to slap him, but I bit my tongue and ignored it.
“You try it, and tell me what it’s like with crap teaching.”
“I don’t doubt I will. Chemistry’s been my favourite subject since forever.” He paused, “What did you get in it?”
“Two-Eighty-Seven from Three Hundred. Aced it, thank you very much.” I brushed him off and turned back to the others, looking them over as they pulled faces of pure and genuine discomfort. Obviously our instant and mutual dislike was rather... blatant.
I sighed, shut my eyes and hoped he’d go away, and quickly too.
Sadly, I didn’t think that would happen. It never did for me.