The morning went by like a bad dream for Alexia. Their host brothers and sister had been excused and gone off to their classes, and they were all subdued. The Head Master insisted on showing them around the school himself, making them stand out even more than they did already. She was sure it was for their father’s benefit and wasn’t the norm.
They started their tour in the large reception area. Kids of all ages, colours and nationalities streamed through in two lines through two metal arches. “Oh look, airport thingy’s!” she said laughing. “Why do they need those?”
“Concealed weapons,” Xavier said in her ear.
Shocked, she looked at JJ for confirmation. He just raised his eyebrows without answering. She took that as a yes. “Shit!” She said a little too loudly.
A boy was pulled to the side, patted down and something was confiscated. “We have to ensure pupil safety,” the Head Master said in way of explanation.
Suddenly, their old school seemed a much better place, even though they’d been in a rush to leave it.
Xavier was grinning at her. He always took great enjoyment in annoying her. JJ was bored as usual.
Then followed endless departments – English, Maths, Art, etc. Everywhere looked dilapidated and needed fixing and a coat of paint.
Eventually, their depressing tour came to an end. The Head needn’t have bothered, one shabby classroom looked pretty much like another. He explained that science was their next class before lunch and gave them instructions on where they needed to go.
A bell rang signifying the end of the period and the corridor suddenly swarmed with so many kids they found it difficult to move. As obvious newbies, they were pushed all over the place. Xavier grabbed her arm so they weren’t separated. JJ shoved a couple of people back and got into some minor scuffles. Thankfully they were herded along until they reached a staircase. They grappled their way up to the second floor, along the corridor, to the classroom marked ‘Science 3’. Another bell sounded, the door opened and the kids behind them pushed them into the room.
Inside, the desks were arranged in two’s in three rows. Xavier pulled her along with him and they sat in a pair by the window. He was always protective of her. It felt more like possessiveness – especially around other boys. She was actually closer to JJ growing up, but they had grown apart lately. He sat behind them.
A balding man in glasses briskly entered the classroom and slapped his satchel onto the desk. Then he issued orders to open the windows.
Alexia sunk down in her chair when she saw his eyes rest on her and check in his folder. He closed it and perched on the edge of the desk. “Don’t get too comfortable you lot, I want you to stand up.”
Everyone groaned, chairs scraped as the whole class stood.
“Hello, for those who don’t know me, my name is Mr Foster. I’m going to take the register and where I point to, is where i want you to sit. That is where you will sit every time you come to my class. You’re going to have to humour me, It helps me learn your names.”
He was about to start when the door opened and one of the boys they were staying with came in. “Dwayne Johnson, you’re late! You’re here,” he said, pointing at a desk just in front of Alexia. Then he pointed at her. “You are?”
“Alexia,” she said, blasting red with the spotlight on her.
He rolled his eyes. “Alexia who?”
“Dubonnetti,” she said, looking at Xavier to save her.
“You’re next to him.” He pointed to the vacant chair next to Dwayne.
“Excuse me,” Xavier said. “I am also a Dubonnetti, shouldn’t i be next to her?”
“No you will sit behind her.” His eyes were already back on his register and someone sniggered.
Alexia moved slowly into the seat next to Dwayne and looked at him warily as she sat. He smiled back at her but she averted her eyes. He seemed okay but she’d never been around ordinary Humans before. She swivelled in her chair to look for Jay and saw he was now near the back of the room. He chose to use his father’s name of Gardiner and not the royal name of Dubonnetti. He was stubborn like that.
“Right, open your exercise books at page thirty nine.”
Alexia looked around her; they hadn’t been given exercise books yet.
“Here … you can share mine,” Dwayne said, scratching his head awkwardly. His chair scraped as he moved in closer. Her eyes caught his and held them for a long moment. They were black and fathomless, but honest. He gave a small smile, which she returned shyly.
The door to the classroom opened and closed breaking the spell.
Dwayne looked over her shoulder at who’d come in and tutted. It was his sister Latitia.
“Sit!” the teacher said and pointed to the chair next to JJ. She moaned and he smirked.
Alexia didn’t miss that look, she knew it well. She glanced at Dwayne who’d clocked the same thing. “How come you and your sister are in the same class?” she said, to get his attention.
“I could ask you the same thing?”
He was right. All three of them were exactly the same age. It happened a lot with the royal children of Sirens. But he wasn’t to know that. For a moment she was lost for words.
“Twins,” he said answering her question with a smile.
She smiled awkwardly back. “Same.” This was going to be harder than she thought. He seemed quite nice, but she had no idea what he knew and she was sure she knew even less about him.
Xavier sat behind his sister and watched what was fast becoming flirting between her and her new foster brother, and he didn’t like it one bit. He wasn’t sure what was bothering him exactly – probably that she had never been interested in anyone before. This new school was unnerving. He’d never felt so far out of his comfort zone.
A boy was sat next to him and he’d forgotten his name already. He needed to get out of here and fast. His father already had the Head Master in his pocket. If they left it much longer it would be impossible to get expelled.
He turned in his seat to communicate with JJ, only to see him getting all gooey eyed over the girl Latitia. He’d seen it a hundred times at their old school, and turned back to face front in disgust. Was everyone taking leave of their senses? It was the look that got them into fights time and time again. Then he narrowed his eyes on his sister looking coyly at the boy again. Perhaps that was their ticket out of there.
JJ sat back in his chair and openly appraised Latitia. She was something he’d never come across in his life before. All he’d ever mixed with were other Atlanteans growing up, and they were invariably rich, royal or both. Even at the last school they were their Human counterparts. Spoiled little rich girls whose Daddy brought them everything and would save their pretty little arse should they balls-up their expensive education. All they did was parade around in designer clothes and bitch about their friends. The minute they opened their mouths he was bored.
This one reminded him of a dancer out of one of the rap videos he and Xavier loved to watch – all attitude and swagger, hot!
She turned and looked sideways at him when she sensed him watching her. She kissed her teeth loudly. “What’s the matter … not seen a black girl before?”
He grinned. “You’re not black, I’d say you were a milky coffee colour.”
She frowned as if he’d offended her, which made him laugh loudly.
“Care to share the joke with the class Jay Gardiner?” The teacher said loudly.
“My name’s JJ,” he said, turning back to Latitia as if he’d been rudely interrupted.
She didn’t turn around, but a scarlet red blush entered her cheeks and he knew he had an affect on her.
“Share your books with JJ, please Latitia,” Mr Foster said.
She huffed and slammed them down on the table between them.
He edged closer.
“We don’t want you here,” she whispered.
“Maybe not yet,” he said back. It was just a matter of time. The place had got whole lot more interesting.
“Hurry up mum, I’ve already missed maths and science. It’ll be lunch time by the time I get there.” Paige slammed down the phone.
Both her brothers were off sick today and her mum had to work. That meant the job of free babysitter fell to her. She tried to understand that her mum had to work two cleaning jobs, but it was really hard when she missed school. On days like today, she had to wait for her to come home to relieve her, and then rush back after school.
Her hopes rose with the door bell. She peered through the peephole just in case, and was met with an eyeball making her jump. “Jade!” she shouted throwing the door open. “Bloody hell, Jade, why ain’t you at school.
“I got up Late. Ew!” Jade said pointing at her five year old brother’s nose running with yellowy green snot.
“Hang on, mate,” Paige said, grabbing a fistful of toilet paper for him to blow on.
“I thought I’d come here first. When’s your mum home?”
“She reckoned by twelve.” A rattle and crunch of keys made both their heads turn. “That’s her.”
Her mum bustled in weighed down with a couple of shopping bags she’d humped all the way on the bus. “Hello, Jade.”
“Get off then, you two.”
Paige didn’t need telling twice. She grabbed her coat and a dry slice of bread and they went out the door of the maisonette. At least it was only the first day so she wouldn’t have missed much.
They didn’t walk too fast to make sure they arrived after the dinner bell went. It was less agro that way. Paige had written her own excuse note saying she’d been at the dentist. Jade hadn’t bothered. The school would ring home, but her mum didn’t care.
“Thank god it’s the last year,” Jade said, as they walked in through the gates.
Paige just smiled at her friend. In some ways she envied her. All she wanted to do was leave school and get a job. Life was so simple and uncomplicated for her. Paige wanted more. She wanted out of this shit-hole. She’d decided years ago that she’d work hard, get her exams and some day be a doctor. It felt like an uphill battle at times, with all the missed days and having to catch up all the time.
A feeling of hopelessness descended on her when they walked into the school canteen. Jade shot off to chat to someone she’d seen. Paige sat down alone at one of the trestle tables and fumbled in her bag for change. Maybe she could scrape up enough for some chips. With her hand in the crumbs and crap at the bottom, she absently looked ahead of her. That was when she caught sight of him. He was sitting with another boy and a girl. They were all silently apart from the madness around them. Alone and beautiful, all three of them. But he stood out completely.
Jade came back with several friends chatting animatedly. She slammed down a plate of chips between them and followed her line of vision. “You owe me 70p. Who are they?”
“Not sure,” one of the other’s said.
“They turned up this morning.”
“They don’t look like they come from around here.”
No they didn’t. They all could be models. Her boy (As she referred to him from then on) looked latin and completely exotic. The girl was obviously his sister, thankfully. The other boy was blond, good looking and totally different to the other two.
He must have felt them watching as he turned to look and their eyes met. Completely captured, she wanted to look away, but she couldn’t. His eyes were the most unusual shade of green she’d ever seen. He neither smiled nor looked away. They just openly stared at each other until they were joined by one of the Johnson brothers who was in the year above them. He brought back a tray of drinks for them all, and the boy finally looked away.
Bloody hell, her heart was beating like a train. Who the hell were they? No one had had an impact on her like that in her life before. She’d never been interested. She tried to shake herself out of it, because she was now, and that just wasn’t in her five year plan.
Her eyes strayed to their table again. The Johnsons obviously knew them, and somehow she just had to get to know them too.
Copyright T Stedman 2016