Classes go on as normal, but the rain never ceased. I catch myself staring at the landscape outside the windows of dreary classrooms, distorted with raindrops. It magnifies certain things to make the landscape seem disproportionate, like a completely new world.
Only when I feel something thrown at my head, do I realise what I was missing. The object thrown at my head was a paper ball, from one of the dozens of ‘classmates’ I have, and I look up to the board in pure horror- the teacher is assigning each person a pair for the upcoming final trip, and I had no one. Usually, I didn’t need to. The teachers liked me enough, but not this time. I could feel dozens of eyes burning into my face, as Mr Donnelly says, sternly,
“I won’t ask you again, Pemma. Who do you want to be paired up with on this school trip?”
Truthfully, I would have said no one. But I couldn’t, so I merely shrug my shoulders because I don’t trust my mouth to come out with a polite answer.
“Fine. You’ll be assigned with whoever chooses you.”
Ha, fat chance I’ll get chosen. Spitefully, I instantly turn back to looking out the window. I need to be calmed after being embarrassed like that. It didn’t even feel like the teacher was on my side, that time. Then again, I had kicked a girl in the face yesterday. I was going to get my karma sooner or later. I simply wait out the class, my fingers occasionally brushing the cold glass of the window to wake me up, until my name snaps me out of my daydream. The first thing I notice is that I’m all alone in the classroom now- everyone must have left me, no one had told me the bell had rung for lunch.
The second thing I notice is that I’m not alone at all- there’s a boy in here too, beaming at me. How naïve.
“Hey, we’re partnered up for the trip on Monday, I’d ask if you were cool with that but the teacher said you have no choice, so you’re actually stuck with me, umbrella girl. Or should I say, no umbrella girl.”
Why him? Why not a girl? I’d rather be stuck with the bottle blonde that I kicked than this guy. I can’t even remember is name. Gabe, Gary..?
“Don’t give me a nickname, I barely know you.”
I shrug off his attempts to talk to me again and collect up my stuff to leave. The boy helps me collect my things, much to my displeasure. Boys are never kind, boys are never helpful. My face remains passive as I look up at him, his face framed by the dull light from the window outside, all of his shadows exaggerated. The grey light makes his hair look a mousy brown; his black eyes connect with mine. I thank him in the flattest tone I can muster, with emotionless eyes, and turn to leave. It’s only polite.
All boys are the same, I repeat to myself, all boys are the same.
Once again, my efforts to reach out to her only failed. I have to spend a week with her- I hope she’s not this cold throughout it.
I was seriously shocked by how emotionless one person can be. If eyes are the window to the soul, I doubt she even has one.
She looked straight into my eyes, and I tried to search her hazel orbs for anything, any feelings behind them- be it positive or negative. There was nothing. This girl certainly doesn’t give anything away.
Pemma is now my newest mystery, and I’m determined to solve her.
The day of the trip and I couldn’t care less. It’s a hiking trip, in a posh hotel somewhere in the mountainous forests, and I have to spend it with the one person I’m coming to hate more than most others- Glenn.
He reminded me of his name just before I left the classroom yesterday as if he’d read my mind, as if he knew I’d forgotten his name already. I hate people who can read me so easily.
I say goodbye to my mother and sister as I leave the house- I have a small bag, as I pack lightly. I only bring the essentials, which is only sensible.
My mother tried to convince me to at least bring a book, but I simply said I’ll be having too much fun hiking to do that, my voice dripping with sarcasm. I don’t usually disrespect her, but simply address her with little emotion, as I do everyone else. The polar opposite of my bubbly sister, everyone points out.
The coach ride to the hotel was uneventful, as I sat alone and watched the driving rain outside. The countryside faded from open, flat fields, to hilly pine forests with sheer cliffs. The change of scenery made me smile the smallest bit, I like to appreciate changes in nature like that- as much as I enjoy watching the seasons shift into one another.
“Hey, I saw that smile!” remarked a familiar voice from across the coach to me, Glenn.
I immediately returned to my cold, isolated state as I growled, “Shut up. You saw nothing.”
Our real activities don’t start until tomorrow, so today is just settling in and learning our way around. It’ a large wooden lodge hotel, which blends perfectly with the tall pine surroundings. I can’t wait to just unpack and sleep. However, my friends have other plans.
The girls and boys have separate rooms, of course, but after dark, Colin shakes me awake. I was really comfy too. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes as he gestures in the dim light towards the door. Curiously, I follow him. Of course, he leads us to the girls’ dorms. If I forgot to mention, my dear friend Colin is a massive pervert. If I remember correctly, it was he who complimented Pemma in her shorts on the fateful day of the locker incident. Unfortunately, he never did learn his lesson. But recently, he’s been more interested in a specific girl, Eden, more than any others. It’s certainly unlike him to settle for any one person, never mind one as strong minded as her. She’s one of my closest friends, and one of the most influential. She takes great interest in the newest politics, and especially has a soft spot for women’s, LGBT+ rights, and black rights. As far as I know, she’s only two of those things. I think, regarding gay rights, she’s what’s called an ‘ally’, which means she’s straight but strongly supports the community, but she seems almost overly-passionate about it, to me. Also, she’s very passionate about being a vegetarian. Not vegan, I’ve been specifically told on several occasions, because she can eat more products and the animal hasn’t died in the process, or something. It’s not that I don’t care about these kinds of issues, it’s just that Eden is so much more passionate about them- it might be why Colin’s drawn to her.
The door to one of the dorms creaks open and we both hold in a breath, waiting for any teachers that may have heard. Luckily, no footsteps come. As we look in, one of the desk lamps is on, and every girl is awake. It seems Colin had planned this escapade beforehand. As I’m greeted with a roomful of smiles, they all slide over on their beds to make room for us, each hoping we’ll sit with them. Colin rushes over to Eden’s side, and I calmly sit cross legged on the floor to avoid arguments, suddenly feeling naked in pyjama shorts and a tank top with a nerdy joke on it that says, ”What did Zelda say when Link couldn’t open the door? Triforce!” Luckily, nobody got the joke, and nobody noticed it. If I knew anyone other than Colin was going to see me like this, I would’ve changed.
It’s not long until one of them pulls out a packet of tablets, disrupting the quiet chatter between us.
“You guys wanna try some?”
Everyone but me eagerly nods. I wasn’t raised particularly well, but I know when to say no to an offer. As the packet of mystery pills gets passed around, I politely decline, and excuse myself from the room. I don’t want to be in there when they begin to go off their heads and alert the teachers.
Of course, nobody objects, and I’m even praised, with some mentions of, ‘he’s so polite’ and, ‘I like sensible guys like Glenn’. Of course- no matter how hard I try to stand out from them, they’ll always look up to me, like a weird kind of trendsetter.
I leave the room, and suddenly I realise how hot it was inside that room, with all those people. I quietly slink past the teachers’ rooms, and down the stairs, out the back entrance. I won’t stay out for long, and I realise it’s gotten really dark. I make my way to the back porch and grab a heavy duty torch, promising to return it later.
As my feet meet the dewy grass outside, I suddenly feel awake. My bare feet are instantly numbed but my nerves feel alive, as I look around, making sure nobody else is outside. However, I’m not alone.
I hear muffled chatter from above, as if one of the windows is open, and I follow the noise. It leads me to Pemma, wildly collecting her broken and muddy belongings from the floor, and the jeering girls above her, looking down from the window. I run, without making too much noise, and angrily whisper to the girls above,
“Shh! I hear the teachers are coming to check on you, if you don’t shut up and sleep!”
This instantly led to complete silence, as the girls retreated from their window and shut it. As I shine my torch to Pemma, she turns away and flinches when I come near.
“Go away. This is my mess.” She mutters, her voice wavering.
“I’ll talk to the girls for you, they’ll listen.”
She looks shocked. “No! No, don’t do that. It’ll only cause more problems.”
Her pyjamas are soaked through from the dew, clinging to ever part of her. I look away as I notice most of the clothes she’s holding are wet too. There’s not much here, but it looks like she won’t have any spare clothes. I don’t know why, but my chest starts to ache for her. She looks up at me, but I see no tears. Any other girl in her situation would’ve broken down, but her emotions are absent.
“Do you need any help with this?” I question, daring to edge closer to her. The lack of feeling behind her face is unnerving.
“No, but I have no other choice. I’d carry this stuff back to my room, but now they won’t let me back in our dorm.”
I’m startled at how forward and sure of herself she is now. Only this morning, was she glaring at me for noticing her smile, now she wants me to help her?
“You could stay in mine and Colin’s room. Colin will spend all night with the girls anyway, and I’ll join them to leave our room empty.”
As Pemma stares at me, I can’t help but feel naked. It’s like she’s picking apart my every move- her guard has increased dramatically after this incident. She doesn’t reply, but picks up as much as she can with her thin, freckled arms and storms towards the building, to my dorm I assume. I scoop up the last of her belongings, trying not to look too close about what clothes she could have in there, and follow her.
I leave her things at the doorway to my room, and say goodnight. I don’t get thanks, or a goodnight either. This girl really is confusing me. Emotionally exhausted, I creep to the girls’ dorm, mindful to avoid any more mystery pills.