On The Outskirts Of The Gang

Rosa is a pretty, self-conscious girl who wants to be cool. She's a bit afraid of Jessica, the most popular person in the entire year. As she clings on at the edge of Jessica's gang, she notices things that slowly make her realise that there is something odd going on...

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32. Friday 23rd October

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Megan was so right about Jessica's gang. They are dangerous. I don't want to hang out with them at all any more, but if I don't it might go the same way as it did with Megan... or...with...

 

When I arrived at school, there was a massive group all collected around one corner. It looked like my entire year was there, along with half of the year above. The people at the back were on their tiptoes, swaying together like in a dance as they craned their heads to get a better view of something. There was a babble of chatter and everybody seemed keyed up - or on edge. Something big was definitely going on.

My curiosity guided my feet towards the crowd. As I got nearer, I could hear shouting coming from the other side of the mass of people. It seemed like a heated argument was going on. That explained the mob; nothing attracted school kids like a good row. I tried to make out who it was in there but it was hard to recognise the voices over the excited jabbering of the group. Then one shout projected above the drone.

"I knew since the day I met you that you were a complete attention seeker. I was just trying to help you by taking away your opportunity for it."

I knew that voice.

Shoving my way through the crush of bodies was awful. It took them an exasperatingly long time to realise who I was. They reluctantly let me through, the crowd parting just enough for me to squeeze past. I burst out.

On one side of the small space was the gang, their expressions icy and full of hatred. Opposite them was Penny, throwing rough, weak insults in an attempt to counter the perfectly chosen lines from the gang. She was shrieking madly, past caring about the mocking titters from the spectators. It was her that I'd heard.

"I expect that you're loving this," I said, calmly turning to face her, "because you can't resist any chance to cause a fight, can you?" Keeping my tone relaxed was the best way to shut Penny up.

"Bog off, Rosa." She scowled at me but went quiet. A hush fell upon the onlookers. Every eye was on me.

"I can already tell what this is about. And as ruining someone's career doesn't stand in your way, I certainly wouldn't let humiliating a spiteful gossip stand in mine. Do you remember what you told me last week? All those things you said about everybody. I could reveal them all now, you know. Would you like me to do that?"

That was fighting dirty, but it was the only way I could make her listen.

"I didn't think so. Well, you leave us" - I gestured to me and the gang - "alone. You're hurting yourself more than you're bugging us. Just back off."

"I hate you. And I'm not done yet." With that, she walked off - glaring over her shoulder the whole time.

Teachers rushed towards us. Mrs Olesson grabbed Penny's arm to stop her leaving. Others surrounded me and the gang.

"I want all of you to come to my office." The headteacher went inside and indicated that we should follow.

When we got there, we all drew up chairs and sat down. Mr Davole (the head) folded his arms and looked at us each in turn.

"Who's going to tell me what all that nonsense was about."

Penny was about to speak but Jessica got there first.

"I was - we were - just asking Penny about why Mr Julier is getting fired. He's a great teacher and we didn't understand what he could have done wrong. Annie was really important to us, so we were upset that he has to leave and we don't get to do it. Penny said to Rosa yesterday that she was involved in him losing his position and we were trying to question her about it. She took it the wrong way."

"You were just angry because you lost your chance to shine!" Penny exclaimed, sounding almost sarcastic.

"Now, now, Penny. Jessica is just giving me her take on what happened. So, were they asking you about Mr Julier?"

"Yeah." Penny mumbled, looking down.

"Ok. What started the shouting match?" Mr Davole looked towards Katya.

"Penny yelled something like what she said just now. I think she just lost control because she felt bad about putting down a good teacher." Katya said, trying to sound indifferent.

"Imogen? Is that what you think happened?"

"Yes, sir. That's about right."

"Ok. Penny, I think we need to have another talk about Mr Julier. The rest of you, go back to class."

The rest of the day flew by. The action of this morning shadowed every thought, so I didn't notice the time going until the bell rang.

As I was leaving, I noticed the gang with Penny again. I had to hurry home though because Mum was making tea early so that she could go out. I had no time to stop.

Just now, Mum arrived home with a worried expression on her face. She came into my room.

"Lorraine called. Penny's in hospital with a broken leg. Now, you should go to bed. It's late."

There is no doubt in my mind that the gang caused it. Is there no limit to what they will do?

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