Back to School [I]
Word count: 1550
There were too many people everywhere.
It was a thought that came to me constantly as I journeyed to school each morning. I walked, just a one syllable word that felt to foreign to my vocabulary. By foot was an odd way to travel, it was a literal lower level to those who could afford to take the skyway.
Please help me.” The voice came from the distance, a small croak in the hectic, silent delights of a Tuesday morning.
I followed it, the length is was away, the angle of depression that led me straight to its source. An average build man, hair long and ungroomed, with arms raised and hands cupped like a dish.
“Anything you have,” he repeated, still silent and to each person that he came into contact with.
A boy, who didn’t look much older than I approached next, hood raised. Dark skin and brown, sullen eyes were the only thing in view. His doleful expression was supported by his hunched stance, and hand stuffed rigidly in his pockets.
Giving a quick side-ways glance to the beggar, he continued on this straight path. No fiddling of hands for change, no pitiful smile (in fact no change in emotions whatsoever). “Anything?” the mysterious teenage enquired. “Anything at all?”
The upturned face of the seated man was now drilling into the boy who was almost directly in front of him. “Yes, I knew there was hope for this generation.”
There was a small amount of glee that was attached to his statement, and his peered upward awaiting his alms like a child receiving pocket money. For the first time, the boy made a movement. His right hand left his pocket, he swiftly raised it, and flipped off the expectant man that lay in front of him.
I chuckled in my head then stopped myself. That was cruel. But social etiquette. was the least of my problems now. I was next.
I knew that I was. Whether or not I had money wasn’t my concern, but rather how to avoid him. The floor became my view as I sped past the man, his vision burning into my side.
“Sucks to be you,” I whispered softly as I passed the man, but thinking back to all those that I had passed this morning, none of them would agree. Whether it be the bus stops, a minimum of twenty people, or the rows of sleeping bags to can spot as the pass the small corners of the streets, everyone’s lives sucked.
Continuing along the road, I looked at the old shop signs that sat, half-there, on the front. ‘Family Grocer’s’ one read, following to the inside, it was impromptu housing. A line of 8 bunk beds, with belongings strung everywhere. It was reminiscent of the housing that children would keep if they received no reprimand from their parents.
They were dark and dismal quarters, suitable for the dismal street they lay on.
Now that I’d traverse the entire corridor, I stood slightly breathless outside of my classroom. A gaggle of students past me. Their height and travel patterns alone suggested to me that they with year sevens, three years younger.
Another person from my form emerged from the staircase. We expressed short pleasantries as I allowed her to enter before me.
“Noire!” I heard a shriek of excitement from Noire’s squad as soon as she entered.
I waited until the door turned green again, showing that it could indicate my presence, then stalked into the classroom. It was the first day back from a new year, but most people were conversing as if they hadn’t seen one another for years.
Approaching the back of the classroom, I put on my best mock disappointment face. I pursed my lips, closed my eyes and shook my head. Bad idea- I immediately the side of my thigh of the corner of the table.
“Idiot,” Leo said. He was poised on a table before he stood up to jeer at me. I gave my a sad face.
“Come here,” he said, stretching his arms out to their full length.
I wondered whether or not to run at full speed into his out-strecthed arms, or make him for for me to come to him in the first place. I stood in my place, as is my feet were stuck in their place- Leo rolled his eyes.
He created a fist with one of his hands, and pulled it back as if he were tugging a rope. I took a step in the matching direction, smiling slightly. He did the same with the other hand drawing me closer.
“That’s it,” he sighed, bringing his arms to his side with a slap.
“What?” I moaned, enjoying the theatrics.
“Nova Merka, do you think that I have done any cardio for the past two weeks?” Leo exclaimed, sliding back onto the table.
“Leo Heinsburg...” I started, trailing off at the end.
“Is that it?”
“No, no, no. Happy new year, idiot,” I brought myself to him, ad he sat in anticipation for the hug. I nestled my neck on his shoulder, but as I cosied in, I sprung back suddenly.
“What was that? Something touched my cheek,”
Leo chortled. With my arms still on his shoulder, I could feel shoulders, moving up and down with his now laboured breaths. There seemed to be something so funny so obvious I was missing that I had to wait a further ten seconds just for him to calm down.
“Would you like a paper bag?” I teased, and he nodded between his coughs.
I gave him a firm hit on the head instead. “C’mon, just tell me.”
He shook his head. “I missed you before. I’m putting my stuff away, but as soon as I come back then you have to tell me.”
I placed my thumb on the lock screen of the locker, and I swung open without and issue. The only things that really had to be stored in here was my PE kit, which I needed today. First bank and exercise; unlucky me.
I returned to Leo, who had taken to social media. He tapped his temple, and immersed himself in what I could only imagine to be a see-for-yourself story.
“Now,” I sandwiched his face with both my hands, in loud slap. “I got it! It’s stubble.”
“New year, new me baby!” he said, using both his index and middle finger to double tap his temple and come back into reality. His eyes stopped glowing.
“At least we have the first lesson of the year together!”
“And the decade.”
This time I initiated the table seating, and leaning onto it so that the corner was comfortably supporting my bottom. Leo placed his legs on either side of me, and I peered up to him and raised my eyebrow.
“Yes Merka?” he replied to my gaze, feigning innocence and resting his chin on my shoulder as he continued to scroll through his phone.
“Why don’t you too get married already?” The voice was one I hadn’t heard this year, but from the remark, I knew who it was.
“Hi Ant,” I said, shuffling forward, allowed her to hug me. I didn;t fully reciprocate it, until Leo guided my arm around her. His grasp on my upper arm was strong.
“By the way, I seriously ship it. I think this is the year.”
“Let’s just hope it’s the Titanic,” Leo suggested, and we chuckled. Ant was a floater; a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, but for socialisation. She had moved from us to a subject that had caught my eye earlier.
“Hi, happy new year!” When there was no response, she waved her hand in front of his face.
Still not removing his hood, he brought out his ear buds, small rounded ones that resembled the shape of a tic tac and then said evenly, “Were you talking to me?”
“MHM. Are you new?”
“My name’s Melanin,” he passed the information as if it was a chore.
“What’s your first lesson, Melanin?” Ant said playfully, a kind of energy that was not reciprocated.
“Maths with..” he touched his phone screen briefly, “Mr Atkins.”
“He is actually such a pain but…” Ant carried on, unaware of the one-sided nature of the conversation. After his second answer, Melanin had plugged his airbuds back into his ears.
He gave a small nod to her as she left him, but still his words still dwindles in my mind. His voice was smooth and even, though it was anything but expressionless.
If anything, it was familiar. I continued to watch him as Ant moved onto another side of the classroom. His attention has been stolen from his phone, and onto the people in front of him.
His head scoured the classroom as if he were a radar. One by one fifty pairs of eyes turned to take a peek at the new student. Though through as those, his head turned, until it was parallel with his shoulder, and his gaze locked on me.