Chapter 42 – Taylor
A great sigh escapes me as that particular though bounces around in my skull endlessly.
Not that I need that extra pressure now Lo and Syl are getting up to all sorts of trouble. Usually thanks to Sean O’Malley.
Squeezing my eyes shut and pinching the bridge of my nose as the unusually loud voices of Syl and Meredith carry up the stairs.
“We didn’t raise you like that Sylvester. I thought we raised you better than that.” Meredith’s angry voice screeches and I can just imagine Syl’s head hanging as he looks at the point of his feet, doing his best not to cry.
“Please don’t do it again.” Her voice softens and I hear a low murmur and the tapping of Syl’s shoes on the tiles and then it is muffled as he walks on the carpet in the hall. The tapping continues as he walks on the wooden stairs and stops near my half-open door.
“You okay there una piccola?” I ask after a couple of minutes wherein Syl doesn’t enter my room like he usually does after having a row. “Syl?” Opening my door further, I frown in confusion as there is no one near my door at all. I could swear he was there. Looking up and down the hall to double check that he really isn’t there, I sigh and head back to my desk where a mountainous pile of homework is waiting for me.
Later that night it is with great difficulty that I leave my laughing family in the living room, watching the family gameshow we religiously watch every week. “Where are you going, Fratello? Are you not going to watch the show?” Syl asks as I reluctantly stand up from my cosy spot on the couch and sigh.
“Sadly mio fratellino, I have an obligation to the institution that is called high school to complete before the end of the week and I realised that it was more than I anticipated.” The admission gets me a deep from Gordo and a shocked look from Meredith.
“I thought that you had everything under control.” The low grumble from Gordo tells me that he is clearly not impressed and had expected better of me.
“I do. I just need to triple check that everything is still going smoothly as there were some classes cancelled and that homework hasn’t been graded or returned yet.”
Not to mention that those particular subjects will, in the end, determine if I get to go to the college of my choice next year. And the teachers are such assholes who love to abuse their power.
“I was worried about nothing...” Groaning in relief I beam at the higher mark signed on my papers than I expected. Not only that but the teacher actually praised me. Everyone was nearly on the floor in terror, waiting for meteors to start raining down on us.
I guess that he is not a crazy old bat after all. I just might be able to pull this off.
“You look quite happy. Should I be concerned?” Rafa looks at me with a hitched brow as he leans against my locker. Rolling my eyes, I give him a decent push and put my combo in. He grunts a little before pushing me further into my locker.
“Really?” I ask, “You are really doing this?” The bastard just grins as he shrugs. My eyes narrow in a heated glare that usually sends lesser beings into hiding, and it does make Rafa pause before he continues to piss me off. Sadly not this time as he just keeps smiling like a lunatic.
“Do I want to know?” Greg appears at my side with the papers in his hands that had fluttered down after Rafa pushed me into my locker. “Here.” He hands me the papers without a glance at the marvellous marks on them, keeping a wary eye on Rafa.
“No, I don’t think so.” I sigh as I carefully put the papers away and switch my books for my next classes. “It no doubt involves your sister and I don’t think either of us wants to know the intimate details of that kind of conversation.”
“Agreed.” He mutters as he gives Rafa the evil eye, which surprises us all as Greg is never really the one to do such a thing. In turn, he rolls his eyes at my face and pushes away from the locker. “It looks like you just might be able to pull it off.”
There is my favourite smile!
Sucking in a deep breath I curse my libido for responding so readily and causing me to make a weird wiggle as I walk, trying to hide my tented jeans from view.
Greg has the audacity to chuckle, grabbing my hand making me walk even more awkward as he keeps tugging on me and increasing the pace. In the end, I just give up as I can’t seem to win with having only one hand to keep the bag in place in front of me.
Several eyes follow our progression through the hallways and into the cafeteria. Ignoring all the disgusted looks and murmurs is harder than usual because I know that deep down inside, they all chip away the self-worth that Greg has managed to scrounge up during his life.
Lacing our fingers together and giving him what I hope is a reassuring squeeze, I feel Greg’s tension drain a bit. Only for it to rise again when Johnston Warren, bastard extraordinaire slips in behind us in the queue. Greg gives me a quick, terrified glance as Johnston remains eerily quiet, only to shift his weight from foot to foot as we wait.
Even though we have acquaintances in the same social circles, we never really speak to one another. Most people give him a wide berth or cower in a corner or against the wall or their locker when he passes. The fact that he says nothing at all about us, has me high strung for the few minutes it takes to get our food. Even though I know in my head that it is just a few minutes, the awkward situation makes it feel like we are standing in line for hours.
"That was a bit weird." Greg murmurs once we are a safe distance from Johnston, although Greg peers over his shoulder quickly in case Johnston was standing behind him.
"It was," I admit with a sigh as I look at the dismal lunch on my tray. Poking the unknown substance with a fork, I wished I had taken the hamburger like Greg. Not the muck that is supposed to be lasagna.
He might share his fries with me if I ask nicely.
Rolling his eyes as he notices my hungry stare at the content on his tray, Greg nudges his fries towards me. Smiling gratefully, I pick one up, surprised to find it hot instead of cold, I plop it into my mouth and munch on it with satisfaction.
The fact that Greg left half of his hamburger for me, gives me a warm feeling in my gut. Not that the miserable lunch does anything to quench my hunger, it does keep my stomach from growling too loudly throughout the rest of my afternoon classes.
Which is a small blessing?
My stomach is quite notorious for roaring loudly during class if I didn't eat a proper lunch. So the fact that not the whole school can hear its objection is a miracle in itself.
Turing towards the loud voice, I am surprised to see Johnston wave at me from down the hall.
What the hell does he want?
"The guidance counsellor is looking for you. Something about an appointment?"
Looking at my phone, I curse colourfully as I see a notification on the device display about the appointment I should have been to five minutes ago with the counsellor.
"Right, thanks, John!" Stuffing the device back in my pocket, I make a beeline down the hallway, up the stairs, down another hallway, make a left turn and come to a dead stop in front of an open door at the end of the hallway.
Knocking on the door frame, I try and get my breathing under control. "Come in Mr Thompson."Shifting my shoulder strap of my bag I step into the small room. "Please close the door behind you."
Doing as I am instructed, I take a seat in front of the desk full of papers about all sorts of subjects that might interest teenagers in High school for when they want to pursue a selective course in college. One, in particular, catches my eye as I lean down in my bag to grab a notebook an pen, in case I need to jot down a few things.
Taking the paper from the pile, Mr Felton proceeds to tell me what I need to do in the time I have left to get accepted in college for that particular course to get my degree in literature. By the time our hour is over, I have two and a half pages full of notes and a clearer idea of how to reach my goal.
"Thanks, Mr Felton." I shake his hand as I step out into the hallway. To my utter astonishment, he smiles as he pumps my hand a few more times and leans against his door.
"No problem Mr Thompson. Feel free to come back anytime you need some more advice or direction to get your grades up to scratch okay?" He waves at me from his post as I walk away I see the next student enter his room, "And don't be a stranger!"
Grinning, I wave back, shaking my head slightly as I do so. Wondering how come none of the other teachers are as clearcut about things like Mr Felton.
I really need to start to get my ass in gear and my things together if I really want to make it to the college I want. Starting today.
Although I said those words, it is hard to put them into practice, especially with my gym training and finding time to hang out with Greg and Rafa and the gang and Syl as well. After a few days, I feel like I am running around like a headless chicken and envy Greg's calm.
His volleyball practice is holding a winter stop right now so he doesn't have to go training.
I think sourly as I drag my ass into the gym for another of the lets-work-Tayler-so-hard-he-can't-move session. Sure enough, the General is smiling brightly and all the others are looking at their feet, waiting for someone to bite the bullet and ask what is going on.
It sure as hell is not going to be me. I have had my fair share of my ass being kicked by the General. Let someone else do it for a change.
"So..." The General claps his hands together, slightly annoyed that no one volunteered to be his punching bag for the lesson. He has been in a foul mood ever since Trent nearly lost a fight that he should have won with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back. "Let's get to work ladies."
Dear God in heaven, please have mercy upon our souls and bodies. As we might end up dead by the end of this session.
My prayer is quick and to the point, as I start the usual stretches to warm up my muscles.
Because today is going to be gruellingly bad and I will wonder if I ever will be able to move again by myself.
My heart is thumping wildly and sweat is pouring off me within the first twenty minutes of the session.
This is going to be a looonnngg session. Thankfully I am not the only one who will be feeling miserable by the end of it.
As I spy around me, I see several others sweating buckets, thankful that I will not be alone to try and hide painfilled groans during the session.
I really do need to stay on his good side. Note to self, never ever, piss of the General. You might not survive.