I wrestle with the magnets on the opening of my satchel, trying to find the timetable I was given only hours ago. I stumble along the busy corridor, stepping in between clusters of younger kids, and ducking between older limbs swinging around in joy at seeing their friends.
I glance at the doors, dividing my attention between my bag and my surroundings. “104…105…106…107…” I turn the corner and blink in confusion “141?” I mumble. I back up against the wall, out of the way of everyone passing, and rustle through my bag. “Aha!” I whisper as I begin to smoothen the piece of paper and stare at the grids. “look for yellow…” “Wednesday.. period three” I run my finger down the column, and tap. “104. Back that way.” I shove the timetable into the inside pocket of my navy blazer, pull my satchel strap closer to me, and head back through the crowd.
I stumble up to the classroom and prepare to apologise for my lateness and my appearance, as I feel the heat settle on my cheeks, but the classroom is empty. I pull my timetable out again and look down.
“Hello Dear! Come in!” A woman with short red hair pops up from behind a desk. her legs are covered in a pair of red and black tartan jeans, I notice a tattoo on her elbow, and another on her wrist as she ushers me towards her desk. She has an accent, but it’s faded, Scottish, maybe? “You’re early, we appreciate that in this classroom. Now. Name?” She pulls open a folder, and lays it down on her desk, revealing a seating plan. “Jess.” I mumble, folding my timetable back into my inside pocket.
She closes the folder and looks at me. “Of course you are! Of course.” I let go of my blazer collar, look up at her, my eyebrows fold together as I stand there, they do all the speaking for me, as she looks back at me. “Jess. Your work is in every example folder possible, some of Your work was even published last year, and You have the highest A* streak of any student in the English department yet. I look forward to working with and teaching you.” She smiles at me, and I smile back. “Uh, where is my seat?” I laugh, pointing to the seating plan. She lets out a breath that sounds like a laugh, and points to a small table at the front of the class. Great view of the boards, not that many seats near me, not that many on my table, only seats four, which means group work isn’t really a thing… I look around the room. Right next to the garden door too.. oh, but the blinds are right next to me, which means I’m in charge of them. I pull the back of the grey chair out and take a seat. “Great.” I smile at her. She nods at me, and takes a seat back at her desk. I open my work book which is laid out in front of me ready, and examine the room.
The walls are covered in movie posters, The one next to the door is of the Joker, leaning forward and laughing. Cool. “What do they make you feel?” Her voice penetrates my thoughts. “Oh. well, they’re all quite Dystopic. There is minimal colour contrast to add to that, and by the looks of it, they all use pathetic Fallacy to create a sense of Foreboding. That Joker one, uses the main villain to show fear, and entice people into watching, it almost challenges them to be more superior and crazier than the Joker. The twilight one over there, suggests that life is messy and unplanned and can go on forever just like the books.” She laughs. “I was told you were fiery, and witty, but I think we’re going to get along great this year.” On the wall by Her desk, there are family photos, fraying at the edges, they have clearly been shown some love. I don’t want to bring them up, so I focus on the workbook in front of me.
A few moments later, a brown haired girl leans into the doorway, out of breath, her cheeks pink. “Am I late?” She breathes. I look up, and realise She is looking at me and I shake my head. “If anything, you’re eager.”
She laughs and enters the classroom fully. She is carrying her blazer, her black jumper sleeves rolled up to the elbows, displaying an array of wristbands and bracelets. She is tanned compared to my pale complexion. She is wearing the school socks, over the knee and a deep blue colour, with the yellow band. “I’m Lucy, and I need to work on my cardio, because that warm up Netball match just kicked my arse.” she says to us both. “Hi Lucy, You might also want to tie up your shoe lace in case you die.” I point to her shoe.
She looks down, dropping her blazer and bag, and ties her shoe. “Nice to know, Lucy” The teacher says as she skims her folder and points at the table by the door, like me, she pulls out the grey seat and focuses on the book in front of her. She turns around in her seat and faces me “Hey..didn’t you hear it’s rude to look at another girls ugly school shoes without her permission?” She laughs and shakes her head. Her two braids swaying. “Didn’t catch the memo, but my ugly school shoes are here if you ever want to pass comment. I guess I owe you that.” She grins at me before turning around.
I don’t know why, but it upset me a little that she was sat so far away.
Eventually, I’m sat next to a mouth breather, that peers at my work too often and has no idea how to chew with his mouth closed. Thankfully lessons are only 60 minutes long. I try and focus on what Ms. McNamara was saying (She did eventually get to introducing herself to everyone, before throwing a copy of To Kill A Mocking Bird at us all) I decided then, that I liked her, and her Gothic, carefree attitude.
The bell pulls me from my reading. “Okay guys. Great first lesson. Lovely to meet you all. Finish reading the second chapter tonight! I’ll see you all tomorrow before lunch, so be on time or no sandwich break for you!” She calls out as everyone evacuates. I pull my bag out from under my seat, and wrestle my books into my bag. Ms McNamara begins wiping down the board. “Just chapter two tonight Jess.” She picks up a pen, and begins writing. I smile in acknowledgement and as I leave, reply “What makes you think I haven’t already read it before?”
I find myself in the busy corridor again, and reach into my blazer pocket. “Where are you heading to?” I hear someone whisper in my ear. I turn to see Lucy pressing into me, her chin now resting on my left shoulder. “Oh, German. Cool.” She says, before I can answer. She walks ahead of me and winks as she turns the corner. I push through the series of double doors on the right at the end of the corridor, and find myself outside. It’s raining. Great. I skip along the ground, avoiding the puddles. I cross the grounds, and down the little steps, pushing the doors into the IT building. I’m not late, or those doors would have locked now, and I would have had to walk around. I sigh in relief, and descend up the two flights of stairs.
I open the door, wheezing slightly. I need to work on my cardio too and am greeted by my friend throwing her limbs around me, her afro sticking to my mouth as I try to breathe and stay upright, the force of being jumped on nearly taking me to the ground. “How was your summer!? Ugh, You’re wet. I missed you! Did You do the homework? How difficult was the essay though?” I laugh, and pry her limbs from around my neck. “Ugh, I know, it’s raining. Afternoon. My summer was good, yes it’s all done, in German right? not English? and I missed you too, but you’re the one that decided to jump on a plane and see Beyoncé in three states.” We begin walking up the corridor towards our class, where our teacher has poked her head out, probably due to the screaming and limb throwing.
“When Queen B performs you sit and listen okay, even if it breaks the bank. But honestly it was so so goo- Did You say in German? I wrote mine in English” Her face falls, and she stands face to face with our teacher. “Okay listen miss, I messed up and wrote in English, but because Jess is your favourite, and I consider myself her best friend, you’ll forgive me right?” “Guten Tag girls. Go sit down” “Guten Tag” we reply. She laughs and moves inside the classroom. I look around. Everything is the same. The bright posters of key words are hung along the back walls, the bookshelves stocked with textbooks, the chaotic mess on Ms. Cat’s desk, and the desks in the middle of the classroom, in four rows of two.
I maneuver between the desks and take a seat at my regular choice, third back from the middle, and Darcey throws herself down next to me, dropping her bag to the ground. “Why would the German homework be to write a German essay about your summer in English?” I laugh, shaking my head in judgement. “Shut up Jess.” She rolls her eyes.
“Not feeling like a change this year girls?” We hear Ms. Cat laugh from the doorway, waiting for the rest of the class, signalling to the other available desks. “Miss. We have sat here together for three years, Are you trying to divorce us?” I see Darcey throw a hand dramatically over her heart, and I laugh.”Never, girls.”
I throw myself down on my bed and soak in the day, pulling my sweater sleeves over my hands and resting them on my forehead. History last period was an adjustment, Our old teacher left us at the end of last year and now we have a new one that takes twenty minutes to start, and thirty minutes writing names on the bad side of the board, even though we are all sixteen years old. I roll over onto my side and open my bag, sliding out To Kill A Mocking Bird, I open the cover and find my page. My Laptop springs to life on my desk, and I place the book down to find out why. I lift the lid, and see a new friend request. ‘Lucy M. Wants to be friends’ I confirm, close the lid and return to my bed.
I must have fallen asleep, because when I open my eyes, my clock reads 6:25am. I roll out of bed, grabbing my uniform from the wardrobe as I walk towards the bathroom. Presentable and hungry, I traipse into the kitchen. I pull a Disney bowl from the pile by the sink and fill it with cereal. My brother behind me in the kitchen, cursing over his lost left shoe. “By the door! I nearly died on the way down” I call. “Thanks, Jay!” I hear him call back.
I hop off the bus, and walk my younger brother through the Shopping center and down the main path towards the school gate. “Just an hour at a time” we both mumble together and laugh as we push through the gate. “That’s a good way to take the day” I hear someone say behind me.
I turn and see Lucy. Her brown hair wavy and chin length today. My brother breaks off the path, and throws a hand out to wave as he crosses through the other gate and onto the lower side of the school. “Morning” I smile at her. As we fall into pace. “How did you sleep?” she stares at me. “Uh, pretty well, thanks. You?” “yeah, good. You just looked tired.” She observes. “I always look like this, I would feel naked if I didn’t have these bags under my eyes.” I grin, and she lets out a giggle. Cute.
“So, what do you think of To Kill A Mocking Bird?” she asks as we approach the front doors. “I loved it the first time I read it. A little controversial, but I think it’s a wonderful book to teach and learn from” she nods. We stop by the flower beds, decorating the entrance to the front doors, and outlined by a low wooden fence. “This is kind of embarrassing, and I don’t know why I’m telling you this, because we met yesterday, but I actually named my horse after Scout, and my dog after Atticus.” She picks at a small yellow flower that has crossed through the gate by her waist.
“That’s fucking adorable” I laugh, before covering my mouth and gasping slightly, shocked by my own cursing “I apologize for that, I normally never swear.” She doesn’t reply, just takes my hand from my mouth and holds it for a moment. She glances at the dainty watch on her right wrist. “Time to get to Tutor. I’ll See You in English.” She winks at me, drops my hand and rushes into the main building. I stand outside and watch her disappear down the hallway. I open my hand, and see the small yellow flower sitting in my palm. I smile down at it, and make my way to tutor, tucking it into my blazer pocket as I climb to the third floor.
After an uneventful morning, I find myself looking forward to English. I can’t will the time to go faster as I’m sat in math, cracking down through my equations. Eventually, the bell sounds and I walk the short distance down the corridor and turn into my English class doorway. “Someone beat you to it today Jess.” Ms. McNamara laughs. Not only is Lucy sitting in the classroom before anyone else, but she’s sitting in the seat next to me. “Hey. Girl needs a sandwich break” she laughs shrugging at the comment.
I pull the back of my grey plastic chair out and set up my desk. “I hope you don’t mind me moving Lucy next to you, I feel she could learn a lot form you Jess. You seem to get along too” Ms. McNamara says as she writes on the board, her back facing me, but I could hear a smirk in her voice. She’s wearing a pair of dark green tartan jeans today, with a velvet waistcoat. Her shoes Platform and leather. “Anything is better than a mouth breather, wouldn’t want to know what sandwiches he has been eating” I laugh, and feel Lucy staring at me. “We’re going to have a lot of fun” she grins, and the warmth in my heart radiates to my cheeks as I smile in agreement.