The first day of school.
Always a bore. A reminder that the holidays were over and it was time to get down to some work, which no one really wanted to do. But today was intriguing...
I walked to the house meeting area feeling strangely apprehensive. Why should I be anxious? It wasn't like I was starting a new school, it wasn't like any teacher had ever hated me or treated me unfairly before, it wasn't even as if there wasn't at least one person I got on with, and yet... something like a sixth sense told me today was going to be different from any other school day I'd experienced before.
The whole school assembly took up the first two periods. The headmaster droned on about everything that one gains from education and I allowed my mind to wander meaning that I didn't really pay attention to what he was saying.
It was a relief to get out of that stuffy hall and I wasn't at all surprised that my legs really needed stretching.
We were given timetables and homework diaries in the third period, that lesson being missed out on too so we could get a chance to ‘make friends with' the rest of our tutor group.
Pretty pointlessly, break was afterwards. During it, the day unexpectedly increased in interest...
I was walking along to my next lesson (ICT), when I spotted a tall, handsome boy I didn't think I'd seen before. He looked slightly older than me, and had black hair which was straight and flat upon his head (rather than spiked up the way some guys liked it) and a slight tan. He was quite lean but there was a sinister air about him that made you want to think twice about even getting on the wrong side of him experimentally.
Before I had a chance to investigate who this alien character was, the bell rang. I trudged resignedly off to the computer block, hoping I would see him an hour and a half later at lunch time.
My strange wish came true. It was oddly good to see him again. Especially after the most boring German lesson you could imagine. Especially when I got set prep on the first day.
I saw him as I was walking out of the lunch hall. I quietly excused myself from the company of my two best friends: Sara and Beth; and drew closer.
He was talking to a teacher, so I had to walk past him, but something almost made me stand there beside him and listen attentively to what he had to say. I felt curiously drawn to him, as if he were a magnet and I were iron filings...
I had to shake him out of my thoughts as I realised I was meant to be in a particular place in roughly two point six minutes because I wanted to do Voluntary Work on a Wednesday afternoon - the choice was between that and Sailing or Canoeing Club, the last two of which I didn't really fancy. I ran over to the meeting place, decided that I would help out at a school for disabled children for the year and then helped out with the recycling, forming a trio with Sara and Beth.
When I was in the library, I spotted the boy sitting in a corner, appearing not to be doing any of the three options. He seemed to be absorbed in a book. I didn't want to disturb him but strangely I couldn't take my eyes off him. He looked up, obviously feeling my stare, and he smiled at me before returning to his novel. I wanted to go over and sit with him, and just be immersed in the tranquillity of the scene he had put together like a great director, but Sara and Beth tugged at my arm, reminding me there was more recycling to be collected. Resignedly I left the library to continue this task.
An hour later, the bell rang for the end of school and I caught my bus without seeing the boy again.
The following day, I was surprised by how early I'd arrived in school. The bus wasn't renowned for getting here half an hour before registration. Consequently, I wasn't surprised to find the corridors bare of students. It was slightly scary though. No one else on the bus had the same tutor as me so I was alone. I felt slightly comforted by the fact that there were about fifty other people around the school in the same situation but it was still unnerving. Almost like being in a haunted house or a disused building from some popular horror film. At least it was the morning and not dark (who would be in school at the dead of night anyway?) I stopped in front of the room I would be registering in for the next year, put my bag on the floor and sat down quietly to wait for someone who I could talk to.
To my surprise, the boy I had seen and been inexplicably drawn to yesterday walked in. To my further surprise, and slight anxiety, he came up towards me.
I stood up as he approached.
"Hi," I said amiably, hoping he didn't think I was crazy after the incident with the staring. "Are you new this year?"
The boy nodded, stopping inches away from me. Luckily, he didn't seem to know who I was. Up close, I could see his eyes were dark green, a shade I'd never seen in anyone before. I was filled with sudden, irrational fascination.
"My name's Harriet. What's yours?"
"Henry," he replied, in quite a pleasant voice: medium-low pitched with a slight undercurrent of musicality to it.
"So, where did you go to school before?"
"I didn't." His tone was inflectionless as he said this; in fact, he sounded quite emotionless although not cold. It was like he was representing an unfathomable expression with his voice.
"So, you were home-schooled?"
"What was that like? I'd imagine you were quite lonely."
"I have seven brothers."
"Wow, perhaps not then. So are you the youngest, in the middle or what?"
"Three brothers are younger and the rest are older."
"What's that like? D'you feel like you're all treated the same?"
Henry nodded again.
"I have a younger brother and he definitely gets more attention than me," I told him.
"Our parents care about none of us."
"Oh, I'm sure that's not true. Why have kids if you don't want them?"
"To continue the line."
"Oh." I frowned. "That wouldn't be a great reason to start a family. And why does it require eight sons?"
Henry shrugged. "Who knows?"
This boy was quite mysterious, I thought to myself. He comes from a large family but he's very quiet and hasn't really told me much about himself at all. But then again, I hadn't really told him much about me. I decided to try and encourage him to talk more about himself by being really conversational.
"I had a great summer. I read loads of books - I'm a really avid reader, you know - and I went on loads of outings, mostly to the large meadow near our park where all these wildflowers grow - I'm the sort of person who really appreciates nature - and I saw lots of bunny rabbits and squirrels - they have to be the cutest animals I've seen up close (I say up close, it was probably from about ten feet away) - and yeah, I just had a great time. We bought a black Labrador puppy named Plum (the owners were a bit eccentric) and he's really amusing ..." I trailed off as Henry gazed into my eyes. I have no idea why that made me stop talking and I didn't even know why I thought this was the reason but I just shut up. My mouth closed and I looked back, not really knowing what to do.
"I don't want to talk about reading, nature or pets," Henry said.
I would have asked what he did want to talk about but I was still unable to talk.
He stood there for some time just staring into my eyes. His gaze seemed to be oddly intense and I found myself transfixed by those eyes, which really were a gorgeous colour now I came to think of it.
Finally, he relaxed his stare and smiled, a warm smile that I had a feeling was rarely seen.
I smiled back.
"You seem like a very interesting person," he said, his tone quite warm now.
I frowned slightly. Was he psychic or something? Had he been reading my mind? I pushed these ridiculous thoughts out of my head and said, "Um, thanks."
"You're welcome," he said, smiling to himself as he walked off towards another section of the corridor.
People were starting to arrive and I soon forgot about this strange encounter as my Sara and Beth appeared. We chatted about the summer holidays until our tutor arrived and then we talked after the register had been taken, this time about boys we had our eye on. I confessed that I didn't really have any feelings for any guy but was happy for Sara and Beth to tell me all about this hot guy they had met in Portugal.
I conversed with a girl this morning. She was extremely talkative and I might have enjoyed hearing her tell me all about her puppy and the things she did over summer if I hadn't been so keen on getting to know her a bit better, finding out about the kind of person she was etc. I was sorry for the explanation I gave her as to why I didn't want her to talk about her summer anymore.
It was worth asking her to stop talking a minute. She certainly talked a lot afterwards.