From Opposite Sides

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Chapter 4

I’m forced to go to college as normal, even though I can’t think straight and won’t be able to learn anything due to my brain being so active.

I’m early for a change, which hasn’t worked in my favour because I happened to bump into Josie downstairs and she’s been firing questions ever since.

“Do you always ride a bike to college Skye?” she asks, as we walk into class together.

“Yes, I do.”

“That must be exhausting for you! No wonder you’re always running late.”

“Actually Josie, the reason I’m late is because of low functioning technology. My alarm has a mind of its own and doesn’t wake me up when it’s supposed to.”

“Oh right, fair enough.” I quicken my step, but she’s a lot faster. “Have you thought about driving lessons?” Here we go. I saw this coming.

Josie might have enough money to pay for lessons but other people don’t have that same luxury. I’m one of those few college girls that can’t afford to pay for a bike upgrade, let alone have driving lessons.

“I like my bike, we’re kind of a package deal,” I tell her, finding my seat quickly, before she decides to question me any further.

Ricky stands at the front of the class and I can tell that he’s definitely made more of an effort this morning. He’s wearing a shirt and tie, which can only mean one thing. We have company.

Voices travel from outside the classroom and then there’s a loud knock on the door. Ricky opens it to reveal five students huddled together on the other side. You can tell they are not from around here judging by the choice of their clothing. I have never seen so many brand names all at once.

There are two girls and four boys. They keep exchanging glances and grinning amongst each other. It’s slightly irritating. But I won’t be made to feel inferior. They are the ones trespassing.

“Welcome to Barnett college!” Ricky greets, showing a display of enthusiasm for the sake of keeping up appearances.

In all fairness to the newbies, they have travelled a long way to be here and can’t help it that their own college had to be shut down. I’ll try and give them the benefit of the doubt at least.

One of the girls sticks a hand in the air. She’s standing next to the tall blond boy. He’s looking about the place under close surveillance, as if we’ve been living in a dumpster this whole time and just didn’t know it.

Ricky clasps his hands together. “Do you have a question? Sorry, I don’t know names. You’ll have to enlighten me.”

“I’m Shelly Matthews,” the girl says, speaking in a posh accent. I already know that I’m going to hate her. “How do you expect us all to fit in this room? It’s so small.”

Ricky shrugs. “Well, this is all the space we’ve got, so I suggest you find a seat and make yourselves comfortable.” Shelly mutters something under her breath that nobody can decode.

Ricky chuckles, as the intruders continue to remain in the doorway. “Are you going to sit down then folks? We don’t bite, I swear.”

Slowly, each of them takes a free seat as close to each other as possible. There’s an empty chair next to mine and unfortunately, the tall blond boy decides to sit there.

“Now that we’re settled, let’s go around the class and get to know each other. I’ll give each of you a name tag and I’d like you to wear them today, so we can get familiar with names.”

Ricky hands me a tag and I go to write my first and last name on it. As I’m writing, the blond boy and one of his friends strike up a conversation next to me.

“Ugh, this place literally stinks,” Blondie says, leaning back in his chair as if he owns the place already.

“It’s going to be an interesting year,” his friend says. “I’m not looking forward to it.”

“Me either, but it could be worse Ed.”

“What could be worse than this?”

Blondie shrugs. “I’ve got nothing. Never mind,” he says, causing them both to snigger. “I can barely move my arm without hitting into the girl next to me.”

He’s rude and acting as if I didn’t just hear him say that. This is exactly what I feared – people invading our turf and taking over, thinking that they have the upper hand because they’re from a more advantaged background.

“Mate, I feel sorry for you. At least I’m sitting on my own,” Ed responds.

We each take it in turns to introduce who we are and what interests us. I zone out for most of it. But when it’s Blondie’s turn, he doesn’t seem to be taking this seriously either.

“Uh, what was the question again?” he asks, acting dumb.

A few laughs travel around the room.

“Pay more attention,” I snap at him, watching as his eyes dart to mine.

“Woah, I think somebody’s taking this a bit too personally.”

“Well, you clearly have an issue with the way we run things here. Stop complaining. You’re stuck with us, deal with it.”

“Thanks for that unfortunate reminder.”

Now I’m angry. “Excuse me?”

“There I was thinking you didn’t have manners!” he cries. “Hallelujah! We’ve been saved. There is hope for us yet.” More laughter from his Lakeside friends. This is degrading.

“Don’t worry...” He glances down at my name tag, “Skye. We won’t step on your toes too much.”

“Who are you to judge us? We are just as capable of succeeding as you are.”

He snorts. “I don’t think that’s possible.”

“Why? Because you’re from a richer part of town? Does that automatically make you more knowledgeable than the rest of us? It doesn’t matter where you come from.”

Ricky steps forward. “Right, and on that note... I think we’d better get to work.”

Nobody listens to his instructions and he becomes a blur in the background.

“You should be happy we are here. You might actually learn something,” Blondie says, truly beside himself.

“Trust me, we don’t want you here as much as you don’t want to be here!”

“Skye!” I look to the front of the class where Ricky is standing. He does not look happy. “I’d like you to stay behind after class please.”

He can’t be serious. “Why? What did I do?” I motion towards Blondie and spot the name appearing on his tag. “Grayson is the one that started it.”

“It’s the first day. Please don’t make this any harder,” Ricky says, eyes pleading with me. “We talked about setting a good example.”

Grayson’s the kind of boy that knows he’s good looking – one of those popular boys that half of the female population obsess over. His hair is golden and while he may resemble an angel and has the power to lure you in with that perfect smile and defined jawline, his personality sucks.

I slump down in my chair, arms folded. As Ricky starts the lesson, Grayson leans in and whispers, “No need to introduce yourself, I know quite enough Skye Clemons.”

I remain seated after class and wait for Ricky to give me one of his famous lectures. He leans against his desk and I know I’m about to experience one first hand.

“Skye, what is going on with you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I know we had that chat before... about your mother.”

I look away, uncomfortably. I hadn’t meant to tell him about her but I felt so lonely at the time and I had nobody else to talk to.

“Are things improving at home?”

Getting worse. “This has nothing to do with my mother,” I lie, not wanting to talk about my home life and how that has got a part to play in stirring my anger. “I’m just frustrated that these Lakesiders think they can walk all over us and get away with it.”

“You’re a talented writer Skye. You deserve to be here as much as the next person,” he says, not making me feel any better. “In this life, there are going to be people you like and dislike, but don’t let that stop you. In the workplace, you’ve got to get on with your other colleagues, even though you might not like the way they do things. You have to be professional at all times.”

“But they are so big headed. And that Grayson Swain, is...” I mind my language, forgetting that Ricky is still my teacher. “He gets under my skin,” I finish.

“A reaction is exactly what he’s looking for Skye and that’s what you gave him today. Try to ignore it.”

It’s hard not to be angry at someone who is deliberately singling you out. I can’t help it that I’ve got a temper. Grayson Swain probably has it easy compared to me. I bet he doesn’t have to worry about money or his future. He could easily get into any university he wants because he can afford it. I can’t compete with that.

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