I was awake before my eyes opened, the whirr of the alarm clock bringing me from the depths of sleep to the paler surface.
"Six thirty. Ugh."
I dragged myself out of bed and to the shower. I didn't have to worry about waking my mother, she had to get ready for work. The water washed away all the tiredness, and the embrace which Jacoby and I had shared. My hair seemed to grow suddenly, by a couple of inches, and my eyes lost that temporary red tint. I managed to walk with some normality back to my bedroom. I pulled on a black pencil skirt, white blouse and a jumper the colour of saturated seaweed, of which my uniform was composed. I dried and brushed my hair, and galloped downstairs to eat my breakfast. I gave my mother a kiss on the cheek, which was returned with the words,
"Good morning. Sleep well?"
I only mumbled in reply.
"Well, I must dash," she announced, and planted a kiss on my cheek, before grabbing her handbag and hurrying to the door. I sighed as it clicked closed, and ate my breakfast in silence. I put the bowl and spoon in the dishwasher, and downed a glass of water, then ran upstairs to brush my teeth.
I stood at the bus stop, my blue shoulder bag knocking my knee as I shivered.
I knew I should have brought my coat, I thought, as I clutched my shoulders in vain. After what seemed like an eternity, the bus arrived. I clambered aboard, and waited for the abuse to come. It would never get easier; salt was always rubbed into the open wound.
"How's your Dad this morning?" the girl behind me asked, a twang of maliciousness detectable in her voice.
"My father is dead, Tamara, and you know that. Just leave me alone."
One of Tamara's friends snapped back,
"There's no need to be rude, Ayla,"
and then a second joined the chorus,
"Just because she's more popular than you."
That wasn't hard. I had no one whom I could 'friend' in school.
The silent cry of the socialites went like a Mexican wave around the bus; in seconds, all merciless eyes were on me.
I pleaded in my head for it to stop. I curled up in my seat and tried to read my homework - Maths always needed to be checked twice. Suddenly, the book was snatched from my hand. I looked up and met the gaze of Tamara once again. I reached out to grab it, but failed, lost my balance, and fell out of my seat. The peals of girlish laughter echoed in my ears, followed by the mockery hurled at me by the boys. By the time I had stood up, Tamara had gone, with my Maths book still in tow.
"Next stop, Jubilee Secondary School."
Oh great, I thought, first lesson, Mathematics.