We were led to the main hall instead of first lesson, and told to find and sit near our friends. This was odd for many reasons: normally we had assembly in form time and we were never allowed to choose where we sat. We slowly walked into the hall. I saw a picture of Shannon being projected for everyone to see. I didn't want to look at it, so I turned my head. Then, I scurried away from the rest of my form - I had no friends in my form which wasn't the most convenient - and found my friendship group.
I perched my self on the end on the row our group had taken up on the school seating. I was next to Sam, my best friend, who's normally cheerful face was red and tear-stained. I looked down the line at everyone else.
Monica was crying on Natasha's shoulder, while Natasha was staring deep into space. Charlie had her head in her knees, so I couldn't see her face, but her dyed red hair looked like she had pulled some chunks out of it in despair. Charlie knew Shannon quite well so I wasn't surprised at her reaction. The twins, Ellie and Ella, still looked identical as they had tears on the same part of their face. Jodie, Lauren and Sandra were all holding hands with their eyes closed. This was not the group of friends I was used to seeing. A single tear slid out of my eye.
Mr Carter, our head of year, started to talk; he didn't need to ask for silence today.
"As you all know, our own Shannon Layton was murdered on Saturday night."
"I don't need to say much, but today until break, we will have performances from students and teachers in her memory." He walked towards the laptop at the back and changed the slide on the presentation. I was definitely thankful that Shannon's joyful face was taken away from the board, but then my face dropped again as the slide changed to my name.
I had been called by the school on Sunday and had been asked to play the piano in her assembly. I had forgotten about this. I was about grade 5 level though, so I knew a few good pieces off by heart. I stood up and walked towards the piano set out for me. 260 faces stared at me blankly. I paused and thought, but then let my fingers tell me what to play. I set them down and they played one of my grade 5 pieces.
I looked at the audience rather than the piano while I played; I'm not sure why but I felt I needed to keep watch of them just in case. Just in case of what? I still don't know. I continued playing. And playing. And playing...
And then I saw the ghost of Shannon Layton standing at the back.
My fingers slipped and played a few duff notes. Nobody seemed to notice. Then I realised that my fingers had started to play a different piece all together: one that I had played for the Rotary festival the previous year. Was I really in control of my hands? The music teacher, Miss Cole, smiled. I didn't.
I had never seen the ghost of anyone I knew before, not even my own relatives! My dead relatives had died of illness however, and my theory about ghosts is that you only become one when you die if you weren't meant to die then; like if you die in an accident, die in war or get murdered.
I knew that seeing Shannon's ghost would trouble me. I had already suffered great depression because I often feel sorry for the ghosts and I'd get to the point where I'd want to kill myself to join them. I was deeply dreading any more sightings of Shannon because that would be very bad for my mental health.
My song finished. I closed the lid of the piano, stood and bowed. None of the faces changed expression, apart from Naomi Williams who had started crying. I went back to my seat.
Not another word was said for a while: they would just change the slide, not give anyone an introduction. The last performance was opera singing from a history teacher (didn't see that coming!). Her voice was - literally - music for my ears, I needed the awkward silence to be broken or else I would have broken it with an insane scream!
The bell rang for us to go to break and we all filed out without a sound. I walked blankly with the rest of them, nobody had anything to say. I suddenly heard a voice behind me.
"Well done." I whirled around, but nobody was behind me. Nobody else had acted like anyone had spoken, so I shrugged, assumed it was my imagination and ran to catch up with my friends.