School was as normal as could be - coupled with mocking, shoving and the occasional 'mistake' of tripping Rilah with a foot.
It was Tuesday and Sylvia's schedule was about to be busy, as she had been chosen to be the Head Girl and on Friday she would be starting tennis practice.
Rilah was not taking part in any sports or such activities. It would only be a chance for people to bully her more. The only thing she took part in, and enjoyed, was art class. It was her last class for the day and she had it three times a week. She loved using charcoal for her drawings, and the stroke of a brush on a canvas made her feel calm. They weren't limited to just drawing or painting; they also sculpted. Mr Pierce occasionally gave them work to do - collecting things considered rubbish and creating a remarkable piece of art. Thus the art room was colourful and full of weird but beautiful decorations.
It was as Rilah left the art room that she felt the slightest change of atmosphere in the school. No one pushed her or insulted her. There was something going on, whether good or bad she was about to find out.
"Sylvie, what's going on?" She put her arm around Sylvia's waist.
Sylvia turned with a small smile, "Charlie's here. Everyone is trying their luck since he's now single, and a varsity student."
Despite the rush that went through her, Rilah managed to keep a straight face. "Well, go to him, and ruin their chances. Maybe they'll lose some of their rotten attitudes."
Sylvia laughed. "Unfortunately, my friend, he is not here for me. Maybe you stand a chance to ruin it."
"What? How?" Rilah asked, confused. Sylvia didn't get a chance to answer as she was called by Miranda, the vice head girl.
"Sorry, gotta go duty-ing"
"That's not a word", Rilah remarked.
"I know. Bye babe." With a kiss to Rilah's cheek, she ran off, her curly black hair bouncing after her.
Rilah went through the doors and into the school courtyard. With the mean girls focusing on Charlie, she could escape successfully. Victory was just metres away, and she was staring at its black bars. Her legs carried her faster and just as she stepped out of the gate, she heard the honk of a car.
No, no, no. She could not look; Charlie would draw attention to her. However, she heard footsteps behind her and Charlie caught up to her.
"Hey", he flashed her a smile that almost melted her heart. "You know, I was actually honking at you."
"Oh! I thought you were honking at another girl, beckoning her to join your party. And it's rude to honk at a girl."
"Firstly, that's not my party. They just won't leave no matter what I try. Secondly, I'm sorry. I thought I could get your attention that way. Thirdly, I was waiting for you."
"Me? Why?" Rilah was taken back. Why would he wait for her after school?
Charlie scratched his neck uncomfortably. "Well, as you know, next week I'm going to London, since school is opening. There's this restaurant I want to try out, and I'm going with you."
"So you are asking me to go with you?" she asked incredulously.
"Charlie, I have a lot to do at home, and I can't just pick up and go with you!"
"Okay, now I'm not asking. We're going." He grabbed Rilah's hand and tugged at it.
"Come on Lulu. I'm going next week, and I don't know when I'll see you again. Do this for me." He looked at her with pleading eyes. Rilah felt her will give out slowly. "It's only an hour."
"Okay", she whispered and walked along with Charlie, who took her school bag from her. As they approached his car, the girls were staring daggers at Rilah, and she felt like a bolt of lightning would strike her at any moment. She heard whispers and harsh insults and she kept her head down.
"What the fuck Charlie?!" Cynthia was rearing her ugly head. "You come here, wait for so long, for this filth?" She slid her gaze to Rilah, who kept her silence.
"Shut up Cynthia. Get over yourself", Charlie said in a level voice but the threat in it was not concealed. He put his arm around Rilah's waist, protecting her from the vipers that were surrounding her.
"It's the truth", she said confidently. "Look at her! She's nothing. Or maybe you want her because she looks like an ugly version of Cinderella. You think you can scrub her up and wipe her clean", she sneered. The other girls laughed with her.
Charlie took a step towards her, letting go of Rilah and standing a few centimeters from Cynthia. Cynthia stepped back in fear; even she could see that Charlie was fed up.
"Cynthia, I don't care how shitty you feel about yourself, or how beautiful you think you are. Fact is, you are not even worthy enough to lick her shoes. So back off, if you know what's good for you, before I intervene." Rilah cringed. Charlie's voice had been low but menacing. He actually meant it. She wished she could just disappear now. Things would be much worse for her from now on, way worse.
Charlie turned and opened the passenger door for Rilah and nudged her inside. He went around to the driver's side, giving a shocked and scared Cynthia one last glare before opening the door and driving off, leaving them all in the dust.