Tuesday 4 February 2014


Jennifer walked into the classroom as the bell rang. Most of her pupils were already at their desks. She sat down and turned on the shiny black computer, a result of the school’s recent spending spree. She’d preferred the old registration system; you could be more lenient on paper.

Jennifer sipped her coffee as the computer started up. She looked down at the keyboard. She’d expected this. The Sixth Form tutors had been complaining about it last week. It had only been a matter of time before the prank reached the fifth years. Jennifer smiled. Swapped round keys wouldn’t bother her; she could touch type. She looked up to smile at a desk in the middle row. Danny smirked at her.

Jennifer logged on and brought up the electronic register.

“Zoe Anderson?”

Zoe shoved her back up mobile into her bag. “Here,” she said, zipping up the front pocket. She’d never known her tutor to confiscate anything, but she wasn’t losing another phone to Sudgemoore Secondary School this term. Sara would have to wait till after registration to tell her how it went with Dave. Sara had fancied him for ages, but she’d always been shy - and around Dave she was even worse. Sara was afraid her parents would find out, but it had been getting ridiculous, so Zoe had organised the date on her behalf. She’d chosen Sara’s outfit, done her hair and briefed her on how to act. Zoe hoped Sara hadn’t screwed up all her careful planning and hard work - and she really hoped Sara hadn’t had an attack of guilt and told her parents. Zoe loved Sara’s mum’s homemade sweets.

“Amira Ashton?”

“Yes Miss.” Amira sat up straight and brushed her long black hair over her shoulders. She no longer bothered smiling or trying to make Miss Peters like her. Instead, she looked stoically towards the front, wishing she was in Mr Davis’s class. Miss Peters was too nice to everyone. Mr Davis was only nice to the good students. Amira was proud of the fact that he was especially nice to her.

“Nelson Aster?”

“Here,” Nelson said, looking up from the latest volume of his favourite manga. He wished he went to a cool ninja school, instead of Sudgemoore. He wished he had cool flowing hair, instead of the greasy wires his mum wouldn’t let him grow out. But, most of all, he wished he had charm and confidence, instead of awkwardness and acne. Nelson looked up at the clock on the classroom wall. It didn’t look like Lucy was coming in today. He hung his soggy umbrella over the back of her empty chair.

“Helen Bale?”

“Yes Miss,” Helen sighed, watching Josh through her fringe. Shenita was stroking his arm and leaning into his shoulder. He doesn’t like that, Helen thought.

“Carrie Black?” Jennifer said. “Just in time.”

“Sorry Miss.” Carrie wiped dripping hair away from her eyes, closed the classroom door and hurried to her seat beside Danny. As soon as she sat down, she picked up his pen and scribbled ‘How’d it go?’ in the corner of his notebook.

“Daniel Carter?”

“Yes miss.” Danny smiled and wiped away the puddle Carrie’s hair was creating on his notebook. He took the biro and scribbled. ‘Didn’t bother her. We were right – she’s too cool to prank.’

“Trent Donalds?”

“Huh?” Trent opened his eyes. “Um, yes miss,” he said, rubbing his ribs. “Did you have to elbow me so hard?” he glared at his best friend.
Ben grinned back and shrugged.

“Ben Forrest?”

“Here,” Ben said, sliding a marker pen into his bag and wondering how long it would take Trent to notice the giant penis on his forearm.

“Alicia Fletcher?”

“Shenita Hart?”

“Yes miss,” Shenita said, her head resting on Josh’s shoulder. She put her hand over his, showing off the bracelet he’d given her, just in case Helen was watching. That girl needed to move on.

“Sara Jamal?”

“Yes Miss,” Sara turned pink and fiddled with the collar of her shirt. She couldn't decide if doing her top button up would draw more attention to the hickeys or not. She unfastened it again; her hair did cover them… mostly. She glanced at her bag and the headscarf stuffed inside. She was tempted, but the others would know something was up if she suddenly started wearing it at school.

“Penelope Jones?”

“Muhammad Khan?”

“Yes Miss.” Muhammad was trying to concentrate on his physics homework, but it was difficult; Helen was tapping her foot against the leg of their desk. Besides, he couldn't stop thinking about the maths test Mr Davis was going to give them. The party had been a laugh, but he should have spent last night cramming – or skipped school with Antony and the others.

“James Lorne?”

“Yeah,” Jamie said. In most classes, answering like that provoked some sort of reaction. Jamie sighed. Glenn was building a pile of tiny paper balls on their desk, and Jamie was tired of it. He focused his attention on Nina’s school shirt, which was almost see-through, thanks to the rain. Jamie stared at the black line running across her back, below her shoulder blades, willing the clasp to pop open.

“Joshua O’Neil?”

“Yes Miss,” Josh said, glaring out of the window, across the school field, to where he and Helen had climbed over the fence together last term. Shenita’s shoulder was digging into his side and her hand was hot and unpleasant over his.

“Carl Parsons?”

“Here.” Carl wished he knew what Carrie was giggling about. She was sitting close to Danny, and their arms touched, but Carl had never worked out what the deal was with them. They went to all the dances together. Carl had stood in the corner of the sports hall each time and watched them arrive, arm in arm, but he had never seen them dance together.

“Nina Roberts?”

“Yes Miss,” Nina said. She could hear Glenn and Jamie, Dickheads One and Two, whispering at the table behind. Sure, it was always Glenn who started on them, but Jamie went along with it and that made him just as bad. Worse even. Or maybe she just hated him more because he was cute - and because she thought they’d connected in those P.E. detentions last year.

“Paul Rogers?”

“Here,” Paul said, staring towards the classroom door. Surely Deeanna would come in soon. How long did one cigarette take? They were supposed to see each other after school. Paul didn’t want her to get another detention. She’d cancelled on him the last three times. They’d been going out for nearly a month, but he hadn’t even had a chance to kiss her yet.

“Andrew Rich?”

“Glenn Stevens?”

“Yeh Miss.” Glenn picked up one of the paper balls he’d made. “Oi, Jamie, watch this.” He flicked the ball and it hit Kelly’s neck, just to left of her spine. Her shoulders tensed. “Teach her to cut her hair off,” Glenn laughed. “Dyke.” He picked up another of the paper balls, this time preparing to launch it at Nina. She didn’t look like a lesbian, but why else would she be friends with Kelly? Glenn nudged Jamie again. “Oi, watch.”
Jamie shook his head.

“Kiera Stewart?”

“Yes Miss,” Kiera said, turning to watch as the classroom door opened. Most of the smokers strolled in, arrogant as usual, but Lucy, who’d been alright till she started hanging out with Deeanna, did an embarrassed little shuffle instead. Kiera angled her body towards the broken window, which was always open a crack, and took a deep breath before Andrew reached his seat beside her.

“Deeanna Stevens?”

Deeanna was relieved she’d made it to class before her name was called. “Yes Miss,” she said, taking off her jacket. She ran her fingers through her hair and smiled at Paul, hoping her lipgloss wasn’t too smudged. She didn’t want him getting suspicious or anything.

“Antony Suel?”

“Kelly Thompson?”

“Yes Miss.” Kelly didn’t flinch when Glenn’s missiles hit her anymore. It stung a bit, but she could cope. She twirled the long side of her fringe around her finger and glanced to her right. Nina looked miserable. Kelly sighed. Nina’s life would be so much easier if they weren’t friends.

“Lucy Vance?”

“Here,” Lucy said, reading Nelson’s book over his shoulder. She was good at drawing and she’d always liked comics. But she liked Andrew too. She looked across the room. Andrew said comics were for losers.

“Simon Vandell?”

“Yes Miss,” Simon said, looking at the leaf sticking out of Deeanna’s hair. It was a shame really; Paul was a nice guy. Simon didn’t see why he should feel guilty though. He was single. Dee was the one dating him. It was her problem.

“Catherine Weston?”

“Yes Miss,” Catherine said, watching Glenn flick paper at Kelly’s neck. Glenn didn’t know it, but inches from that spot was the tip of a dragon’s tail. Catherine had seen it in P.E. She’d thought tattoos were ugly, but Kelly’s was beautiful. Kelly was beautiful. Catherine wished she had the confidence to talk to her, but what could she say – and what would her friends say?

Jennifer waited a few moments, just in case, but the classroom door stayed shut.

She pressed ‘Submit’ at the bottom of the register. 


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