I frowned, staring at her blankly. “But this is a girl’s school.”
“Not anymore! There’s news that the headmaster’s been sacked. The new headmaster has a son and there’s no public schools around here, so he has to stay. Though he wears a blue uniform.” Miley beamed, proud of her speech.
“Oh. He’s lucky.” I moaned. The sun blinked blindingly in my eyes.
“Not really. There’s also a rumour that they're changing all the uniforms blue!” Miley jumped up and down excitedly, “We get new ones for tomorrow!” I clapped to no one in particular.
Phoebe ran over, clutching the boy’s hand and smiling wildly from ear to ear.
“Hey guys! Guess what! I’ve been instructed to be Caleb’s guide!”
“His name is Caleb.” Miley whispered in my ear.
I rolled my eyes, “Figured.”
“The headmaster said both of you could help too - if you wanted.” Phoebe explained.
Caleb had curly brown hair which was longer than most boys’, and he looked very fit and well exercised. He had pink cheeks and freckled skin; ocean blue shorts that went down to his knees, and shiny, black leather trainers. His shirt seemed simple white from a distance, but if you looked closely (like I was now) you could see the tiny tint of sky blue that ran through it. He had turquoise-blue socks and a navy blue blazer. His eyes were a deep, overwhelming azure, and his lips were pale and fragile. It felt strange having another boy around. Even my dad was barely ever at home; he was a traveller, and was always abroad. Boys had such a different vibe around them before they turn into real men. This one seemed like he was quirky and funny, like a male version of Phoebe, who had her own ridiculously curious way of doing things. This wasn’t the only thing that was catching my attention, though.
I could see many of the girls staring at this new boy, as if they all had a magnetic attraction to him. Feeling weird about thinking about it, I realised that he was actually quite a good looking boy. All the other girls were blushing madly, and sending dreamy, cocked-head glances Caleb’s way. He looked a bit shy and flustered at all of the attention he was getting - he was used to being around only boys in his old all boys school, instead of being surrounded by a litter of curious long-haired stalkers.
It wasn’t this that I was interested in. No.
It was Angelica.
She looked really irritated that it was us he was hanging out with. She probably had a big crush on Caleb too, and was mad with jealousy, her face red and flushing uncontrollably, her fists clenched and teeth bared and grinding. Something was off about her today too, like she forgot to brush her hair or something, as it was static and had loose threads flying out in all directions, unlike the perfectly brushed hair of the normal, overpowering Angelica. Maybe she’d just slept on the wrong side of bed that morning. She looked so angry I was for an instance worried she was going to explode! Maybe soon our little circle of friends would supersede Angelica and her reign of power, just because all of her followers were so entranced by the new character in the scene.
When the janitor finally arrived and opened the gates, there wasn’t a great big flood of students. No barrier of children, no hassle to find yourself inside. There was quiet. Miley looked just as baffled as me.
“W-we better go then.” she muttered, looking around. Still clutching Phoebe’s hand, Caleb took a step forward towards the huge iron gates. A whole wave of girls stepped forward, forming a crown behind us. He took another. The whole school moved in sync with him once again. He turned to the left. The whole crowd changed to his direction. He started walking. Everyone else strode behind him. He turned around, addressing the audience. He saw their eager little pink faces peeking up from behind each other. He turned back to face the school, and signalled the rest of us to run. We all did, the strangeness of it all flustering us. Sprinting down the corridor, we heard an element of shoving and elbowing and kicking to get even just a glimpse of this new, unexpected being. Those who were at the front who got to stand near enough to him to experience the scent of his minty-sweet aroma saw the worst of it, with other girls crashing down on them to see the strange intriguing creature (who really was only an average boy) in person. It was as though he was a new species of animal found only that day, and putting it on the front line in a zoo. As we ran on I heard a voice.
Everyone jumped, then turned to the girl at the back of the corridor. It was Angelica. Blonde hair flying madly behind her as he ran down the corridor to catch up with everyone. The girls cleared a path for her, remembering again the fear they had of her, and cowering against the side walls, desperately trying to hide at the back behind all the other terrified little faces. The shorter ones managed it, but the tall ones were not so lucky. They had to face the cold, sharp glare as she sneered on her way past.
She wants to take control again, I thought.
And of course, I was completely right. With me, Miley, Phoebe and Caleb all staring at her from a step halfway to the second floor, she barged past all of us (apart from Caleb, who she left suspiciously untouched), pushing on our shoulders two go up two steps at a time, until she reached the platform, and started shouting orders and pointing as if she were deranged at no one in particular. She was as aggressive as a polar bear would be if its prey had been taken, then the polar bear was captured, then torn apart for its coat, cursing from animal heaven. Wherever that was. Soon all the girls were lining up and bowing down at her very feet.
I had zoned out by then though. I was there, but otherwise engaged in a different matter. I could hear a voice. A small, almost inaudible whisper, pulling me away from Angelica and the great big hullabaloo commencing around her. That was out of my hands.
I took a step down the stairs, edging closer to the hall leading behind the stair, just beyond a dusty, old bookcase. I had no idea why I was going there, as the tiny voice didn’t seem to be saying anything. I just had an urge, almost. Like I didn’t have a choice. It was a dead end, though. The musty yellow walls stopped there, but the whisper continued. I then felt the hand on my shoulder.
I jumped, startled. Looking behind me, I saw Miley looking at me with an odd expression on her face. Her eyes looked worried, almost.
“Are you alright, Lila?” she asked. I actually felt a tad dizzy and sick, but I didn’t want to worry her, and I especially didn’t want her to know about the voice in my head. It was fairly loud by the time I reached the books on the wooden, oak shelves, but she mustn't have heard it otherwise she’d feel as strange as I.
“Yeh.” I managed a cheap smile, “I’m fine.”
“You sure? You were - I’m not trying to offend you - but you were acting a little strangely just then.” Miley grimaced.
“I’m sure. Just -” I tried to think of a reasonable explanation, “Just trying to get away from all Angelica’s commotion.” I turned, and surely enough Angelica was babbling on about the ‘big mistake’ all her minions had made. Phoebe hopped down the steps and walked over. Caleb was still cowering behind Angelica at the top of the stairs. Not because he liked her, but because he needed something to hide behind. His eyes were bright and twinkling, but his face was terrified.
“So what’s happening?” Phoebe exclaimed, running on the spot.
Miley smiled, “Not much. Lila just had a weird moment.” I nodded, not wanting to give too much away to Phoebe. She smiled.
“Well, better get back to Caleb. Come with us to chemistry this morning with Miss Grater. I know you’ve both got maths this morning but the teachers are all in a meeting over the course of the day, and the substitutes have no clue who belongs where. And you know they don’t do the register anymore. Heaven knows why but it’s great!” Phoebe grinned. Miley looked uncomfortable for a moment. She wasn’t good with disobeying the rules.
“I don’t know…” she trailed off.
I came to Phoebe’s rescue. “Come on! It’d be fun!” I assured Miley, “We’d finally get a lesson all together. And we get maths twice a week anyway. We wouldn’t miss anything.” Miley’s face lifted again.
“OK. But just this once.”
Phoebe beckoned to Caleb who came running over. He had been relieved of talking to Angelica in an awkward conversation about whether or not he had a girlfriend (which he hadn’t), and Angelica had started flirting with him, making him feel very embarrassed and their weird conversation couldn’t have been postponed early enough. We walked off up the steps to the third floor past slowly filling classrooms, where the substitutes stood clueless by the whiteboard, scribbling sentences on the board which had no relation whatsoever to the previous lesson. The corridor wasn’t wide enough for all the four of us to stand side by side, so Phoebe and Caleb walked in front whilst Miley and I trailed behind, following them to the Science block on the far end of the hallway.
“Are you absolutely sure you are okay?” Miley pushed.
I tilted my head, “Yes, I’m fine. Now let it go, okay? I don’t want you worrying about me over nothing.” I winked, lovingly. She nodded, with a serious expression on her face that clearly stated: I have not let it go, we will bring it up later.
“Hey guys! This is the classroom!” We heard a call from further down the corridor. We hadn’t realised how far ahead the other two had gotten, and were now running to catch up with them. Phoebe’s eyes twinkled in the light from the hallway ceiling. “This is the one.”
We must’ve been late, as almost all of the seats were taken, apart from the five seats lining the back wall. We walked over to them, trying to stay anonymous to the eyes of the teacher we were late from and sat down. Well, me, Phoebe and Miley sat down. Miley sat in the corner with me on her right, and on my right, sat long-haired, high ponytailed Phoebe, who waited for Caleb to sit next to her. Though he didn’t. Or rather couldn’t.
Angelica prowled in like a snake amongst mice. She slowly waltzed across the room and towards the back seats. She moved towards Caleb and smiled, who backed away, so she sat in the seat next to Phoebe.
“Sit down, boy.” howled the bulky woman at the front of the class.
Caleb looked both baffled and frustrated, “But-” he began.
“No buts, boy. Sit!” she interrupted.
“Where?” he frowned.
“Next to Angelica, obviously. The only seat left in the room? Lucky really. Get all the tips from our star pupil.” she said blankly. Caleb reluctantly sat in the opposite corner next to Angelica.
The lesson began, but like most days, none of us paid attention. Apart from Miley, who sat intrigued by Miss Grater’s explanation of carbon dioxide; she loved learning, and wanted stupendously high marks on her GCSEs. I could see Angelica passionately talking to Caleb, and Phoebe continuously peering over her shoulder at him with a pained expression in her eyes. Obviously, she was hurt by Caleb’s change of sides, and I could see him desperately trying to catch Phoebe’s eye to tell her that it wasn’t what it looked like. I tried to listen in on their conversation.
“So,” Angelica began, “Wouldn’t you prefer to have the most amazing girl as your guide? I mean, I’m already pretty famous among my classmates. You could be my partner. You’d get all of the glory I do and you wouldn’t have to worry about that loser Phoebe anymore…”
“She’s not a loser. She’s my best friend.” stated Caleb. Phoebe’s face lit up for a second; she had obviously been listening too. “And no, thank you. My guide is already the most amazing person in this school.” Angelica looked angry, but pushed it down into her chest.
“Well. If you change your mind you know who to come to.” she smiled too sweetly to be true and walked off, out of the classroom. As it was Angelica, the teacher just looked at her, then looked away, shrugging. If it had been me who had just strolled out in the middle of a lesson without asking permission, I would have found myself in the principal's office.
Caleb moved seats next to Phoebe in the split second that Miss Grater was looking the other way.
“Sorry about that, Phoebe.” he whispered, “You know I’d never say yes to her, don’t you?”
Phoebe smiled, “Of course I know that! No one likes Angelica!” she gave him a little playful punch on the shoulder, and winked, falling down laughing.
“What is so funny at the back there, Hunters?” boomed Miss Grater.
“Nothing, miss,” Phoebe giggled, trying to hold back another laugh.
The lesson soon came to an end, and our team of friends walked out proudly.
“So how are you liking the school so far, Caleb?” asked Miley.
“I was going to ask that!” Phoebe stated, boldly.
“Lessons? Awful. New friends? The best I could ever ask for.” Caleb smiled, and we all laughed together. It was a glorious laugh. Angelica stood at the end of the corridor, and she sneered at us when we passed her. Ignoring her, we skipped down the stairs. We had so much fun being together in that lesson, that we made a habit of skipping our own classes, to be in each other’s. The day passed, and we smiled all the while. At the end of the day, we were all beaming with pleasure, sun splashing onto our faces as we left the building, and dispersed singing to ourselves. We had been given our new uniforms at the end of our last lesson, and I loved the design.
Once I had reached my house, I turned the key in the door and slammed it against the wall. I had an amazing picture in my mind to sketch into my history exercise book (which we never use). I pictured me, Miley, Phoebe and Caleb all arm in arm in front of a bright and colourful landscape, complete with meadows and hills. I saw a lake pouring down glorious snow-capped mountains that led down to wonderous glittering springs. The sun was bright, and everyone was smiling. I got to work right away, and worked until nightfall. Probably later.