“What’s xyn to the power of 0?”
Ironically named Clarity Jones leans in to sneak a look at my study book. I shift away with a slightly disapproving look, but it’s literally the only time she’d ever genuinely talk to me, before forgetting who I am, so I huff.
“Anything to the power of 0 is one, that’s just how it works.”
Clarity’s face contorts into an over-dramaticised expression. “Oh my god-that’s so weird, like, maths is soo stupid right?”
I vaguely nod my head despite not really hearing what she said, and soon we both return to silence. I bet she doesn’t even actually know my name.
Study period ends swiftly and I see everyone immediately get off their chairs and flow out the classroom to the locker rooms. The obligatory silence bursts into an outrage of chatter.
I follow not too far behind, and I smile upon seeing Kai.
Kai Freeman is the only person competent enough to talk to in this school. We went to The Academy Reném-Royale, but we barely acknowledged each other’s existence, until we were thrust into this hell hole, thus we made a unanimous decision to stick together. He’s standing near the vending machines wearing a red jacket with his school bag slung over one shoulder. His black, poofy hair barely brushes his forehead, and shifts when he lifts his head to face me. He returns a mirrored smile at me.
“Hey. What’s next period?”
“Bell,” he raises an eyebrow, “School has ended?”
I stare at him for a second to realize he’s telling the truth. “What? Seriously? I’m so stupid.” I say mostly to myself.
“It’s fine.” He replies simply, knowing there isn’t any reason to continue the dead conversation.
“Haha, yeah. Um, hey, do you want to come to mine to study for the test?”
Kai shrugs. “Sure.”
We aren’t close or anything, but Tarr has made us connected in many different ways. We don’t mention to anyone that we’re from Tarr, because it’s not something to bring up, especially if you’ve landed yourself in the massacre that is Northbridge Grammar School. It’s still a grammar school, but probably the worst of the best, considering people like Clarity attend here. Sometimes I wish I could just follow Chloe and the rest by staying at Tarr but it’s too expensive, and there’s always other factors, so lucky me. People consider going to Tarr for middle school is an absolute waste, because high school and onward is where Tarr’s education system comes into play. Being a Tarr student immediately classifies you as a celebrity or a future successful being. That’s why going from there to Northbridge is the biggest letdown in the entire universe, Me and Kai still learnt a few things there at least.
We board a bus to my house. Bus rides scare me entirely, because all the schools in the district are in clusters on the bus, including people from Northbridge, Quads, Kingston, but this time is different.
There is a Tarr student here.
Like I mentioned, being in the godly position of a Tarr student meant exclusive perks, and also indicated you were bloody rich. Tarr students are not ever seen on buses, so everyone was eyeing the student inconspicuously.
Me and Kai glance nervously at her, and we realise that it’s Elle from our year level last year. Crap.
We try not to reveal our faces to her, and when we arrive at our stop, we dash out of the bus.
We arrive at my house and I unlock the door. Once again, me and Kai swiftly make our way upstairs and into the safety of my bedroom this time to avoid my 11 years old twin sisters.
I shut the door behind me and sigh, before dumping my school bag onto the ground. Kai does the same.
“So, Geography test?” I ask.
We study in silence, only talking occasionally to confirm a few things, but Tarr has already taught us enough important techniques to ace Geography. Our former classmate that we saw is still on my mind.
“What do you think that Tarr girl was doing there?”
Kai remains silent before replying. “I....really don’t know.”
“It’s weird. Tarr students are rich as fuck and aren’t really in this district.” I say.
Kai is still quiet, trying to focus on his work, but his hand is motionless on his notebook. I raise an eyebrow.
“Maybe, maybe it was just, a rare occurrence, she could’ve just went to visit someone...” his voice falters, before he plasters a grin. “Elle’s always been social and just appears everywhere in general.”
I laugh softly, but there’s definitely something on his mind.
“Hey, um, I kind of have to head home.”
That’s clearly a lie, but I nod my head and send him out the door, leaving him to wave half-heartedly and turn away. I close the door and see my sisters staring at me quizzically.
“Is he your-”
“No,” I immediately interject when they ask me such a stupid question, “No, definitely not. I don’t like him. Plus, he’s probably gay.”
My sisters pause in confusion as I proceed to return to my room, ignoring their screams and questions.
It’s already around 8pm, and since Kai left I’ve been doing absolutely no study at all.
I don’t really need study, though, because I’m already packed with tons and information from Tarr to keep me alive for the next decade. My mind is still on Elle, so I give Kai a text.
You: Kai, are you home yet?
Kai: um, yeah, why?
You: Okay, I was just checking. I’ve been thinking about Elle being there earlier today on the bus. Do you really find it suspicious?
Kai: Jesus Christ bell, you have to let it go, you’re practically obsessed. I don’t want anything to do with tarr anymore, I really don’t. You and I both left for our own reasons. If your really want to pursue this investigation, count me the fuck out of it.
That message is enough for me to put my phone down. It’s unlike Kai to blow up like that.
Is it though?
I barely know Kai.
What does he know?
Am I really that obsessed?
Yes I am.
I jolt awake and the whole class shoots me a look. I exit my daze and sit up straight.
Bell Schuyler. It’s the kind of name that you look and and think, ’Oh, that seems easy to pronounce.” But under the circumstance that you actually have to say it, you end up tripping yourself up.
It’s pretty easy, actually. It’s just Bell Sky-Lar, and I appreciate it a lot when people pronounce it right.
Except when my teacher does, because that’s means he needs to call me out for whatever reason.
“Excuse me, Miss Schuyler?” He seems extra pissed this time round.
“I’m sorry, I’m just, tired....”
That’s partially true, but it’s also my fault, since I’ve been staying up researching Tarr.
For some reason, Mr Stein doesn’t know how to respond to this, and mutters incoherently before giving me a detention slip. Did I mention that the teachers here are just as incompetent as the students?
The bell rings and I snatch the damn slip from my table and walk off. I catch Kai from the corner of my eye. He glances me with a disapproving look, leaving us to walk our separate ways. It’s fine, really. Me and Kai were never really close anyway.
I try recall the information that I gathered yesterday. I don’t think it was much though. I vaguely remember trying to find Elle’s Instagram, but then sidetracking to go research the transport near Tarr. Then I remember proceeding to collapse onto my bed, or just on the floor with all my homework notes and falling asleep, arising from my slumber, eating a peanut butter sandwich, falling asleep again, only to be awoken by the sound of my teacher calling me out.
I think I missed some things there, but I was really tired, and still am. Thankfully, next period is a free period, so I get to smuggle my phone in the library to conduct a further research by looking for Elle’s Instagram.