Allie's journey home did nothing to improve her mood. Sadly she followed her whooping classmates out of the school building, navigating the corridoors as if they were some sort of battlefield to avoid getting trampled in the mass of girls' bodies all pressing for the door.
Once she was out of the building, Allie pushed her way across the concrete courtyard and squeezed her chair out of the narrow entrance of the massive wrought-iron gates at the entrance of the school. The words "Brampton Ladies' College" were painted in bright gold letters above the gate, contrasting vividly with the glossy black that covered the rest of the gate. Sky-blue eyes narrowed with distaste, Allie adjusted her bag on her shoulder and continued on her way. It was only a short distance from the school to her home, but to Allie the street seemed to stretch on forever. What made it worse was that the school was situated on one of Brampton's busiest roads, meaning that the amount of people Allie had to encounter on her journey was much higher than if the school were in the suburbs.
Face burning, Allie kept her head down and tried to ignore the looks people gave her as she wheeled her way down the cobbled streets, wheelchair bouncing alarmingly on the rougher patches. Everywhere she went it was the same, she couldn't even go down the street without people looking at her. Some people were curious, others seemed alarmed and one or two even called out rude jokes from across the street. However, it was the people who gave her sympathy that got on her nerves the most. Questions, oaths and rude jokes she could deal with, but the one thing that set Allie off was when people looked at her with teary eyes and told her how sorry they were. Why should they be sorry, she asked herself angrily, it's not their life that's been ruined. They don't have to deal with needing help to get dressed in the morning. They don't have to ask people help to get up stairs. They don't have to sit out on Field Trips, knowing that they can never join in and knowing they will always be different to everyone else.
They don't know what it's like to be an outcast.
Biting her lip to stop herself crying, Allie pushed her arms harder, trying to get home as fast as she could. When she finally reached the door, which was left open as usual, she hauled herself over the threshold and looked around. Her brother was lying on the couch watching TV, her mother was cleaning the kitchen sink and she could hear the sound of her father's drill through the thin walls of the tiny council house where the family lived. No-one looked up when she came in and Allie didn't bother to make her presence known.
Eyes brimming with tears and face turning redder by the moment beneath her ash-blonde curls, Allie left the kitchen and turned down the long corridoor that lead to her small bedroom. Before the accident she'd had a room upstairs with the rest of the family, but since then her mother had decided it would be wiser to move her downstairs in order to insure she didn't always need to be carried up and down stairs whenever she needed to. As much as Allie appreciated the gesture, she couldn't help but feel a tiny amount of sadness. It was as if by moving her off the landing her family had somehow distanced themselves from her. As if they didn't want her in their life any more.
Upon reaching her bedroom, Allie pushed the door closed behind her, hauled herself onto her bed and, burying her face in the pillow, began to cry the tears that she had been holding in ever since Miss Phyllis had mentioned the Field Trip. She cried silently, as she always did, not even sniffing as the tears poured down her freckled face and red blotched began to rise on her cheeks. She had practiced this method of silent crying ever since the accident, not wanting to draw attention to herself. Allie had decided that if she was going to be such a burden to everyone, she need not make a fuss about it. Since that day, Allie had never cried aloud again.
Silent tears for a silent pain.