The New Me

After a bad experience at her old school, Hayden Flack moves to Bradley Stoke determined to change everything about herself.
She knows how act, what to wear and from past experience, what to expect.
But on her very first day, seeing a long-lost childhood friend was something she definitely didn't see coming. Hayden quickly recognises Ellis but he can't even remember her... or does he? Why is Ellis acting so strangely, and why is he so different from what he used to be?
After a few months at her new school, Hayden seems to have settled in quite well and is living what appears to be a stereotypical popular girl's life. But not everything is going as 'well' as she thinks it is. Her 'friends' are acting weirdly suspicious, and when her long-lost brother suddenly comes in contact with her, she can't help but feel like there is something going on that she doesn't know about. How long will it take before she realizes what is going on beneath the surface? (PG-13)


16. Instant Coffee and Email Etiquette

There’s something really satisfying about being alone to your thoughts on long journeys; just looking out of the window and watching everything rush past is really hypnotising. Neither Sophie nor I were in a particularly sociable mood that morning. Having less than four hours sleep had started to take its toll; my only way to keep myself awake was having another cup of “delicious”, cheap, instant coffee that I had already accepted would give me horrible coffee breath for the rest of the day, possibly the week.
     Sophie had dozed off within minutes of entering the train, whilst I was forced to stay awake in case we accidently missed our station (and ended up in the other side of the country or something).
  Declan had managed to mutter a few “goodbyes” and mentioned something along the lines of meeting up again in the future, before collapsing back on the sofa in exhaustion; bearing in mind I must have been like six o’clock in the morning at the time. Of course that was a pretty outrageous time to leave Declan’s seeing as we got back so late the night before, but I was determined to get home without Mum being suspicious – this time I wasn’t going to let myself get into trouble.
   Of course I should have probably told Mum in the first place about meeting Declan, but I hadn’t actually told her anything about him yet, so it would be a little bit awkward, do you get what I mean? Like, I’m sure in the future I’ll probably tell her about Declan at some point or another, just now wasn’t the right time. (Besides, Declan was my secret, and she’s just ruin things by sticking her nose in and asking loads of questions, and she’ll probably tell Dad…) Even so I still subconsciously picked up my phone, then considered texting Mum that I may be a little bit late home for Sophie’s seeing as it was taking slightly longer to get home than I predicted. I shuddered as I caught my reflection in my phone screen; my skin looked particularly dreadful that morning.
   I scrolled past my contacts on my contact book and paused when I passed Declan. “Thanks for the great weekend :) x” I texted him.
   But when we arrived at home a few hours later, before mumbling that I was “completely shattered” to Mum so that she wouldn’t ask questions, Declan still hadn’t replied.
   I convinced myself that Declan was either too tired or busy to reply and grudgingly opened my laptop and checked my inbox, which was of course, half full of Ellis’s emails, most of which didn’t follow even the simple rules of email etiquette, and instead consisted of excessive exclamation marks and swearing.
   Either way, I was pretty reluctant to deal with Ellis and very quickly drifted off to sleep in my exhaustion.
To say that Ellis was irritated with me next Music lesson was an understatement. I mean, Ellis was irritated with me as it was, and that was for no particular reason at all other than him being a massive self-absorbed jerk who REALLY needed to be taken down a peg or two; seriously, his head just gets bigger and bigger by the minute.
    And this time his head probably reached the size of a balloon, whilst he boasted how he did 99% of the work by himself that half term and if it weren’t for him we’d be, in his words, “completely screwed”.
   I’ve never been the most controversial person. Only a year back, I was basically a living doormat, and if anyone accused me of anything I basically let myself get trampled all over, whilst I said “sorry” at least a billion times. Even now I’d rather just apologise than have some massive heated debate over something really trivial. But Ellis just bugs me, like, SERIOUSLY bugs me. And I wasn’t exactly sure what it was about him that lesson that seriously drove me crazy and put me on the verge of strangling him – which of course I wouldn’t ever do (although honestly, I’ve seriously considered it several times before) – as it wasn’t long before we were bickering like an old married couple. Except we weren’t a couple, or married… and “bickering” was a massive understatement (it’s a pretty lousy comparison, thinking about it now…)
    “Don’t flatter yourself.” I snapped. “You were the first one to even speak in the first few lessons!”
   “Yeah well I’ve done more in the last week than you’ve done in the last term!” Ellis snorted, “you had no idea what you were doing.”
   “Shut up!” I slammed my fist against the desk.
   Ellis sniggered.
   “Seriously what’s so freaking funny?”
    “You’re hilarious when you’re mad. I should wind you up more.”
   “Oh my God Ellis!” I shrieked, “what have you got against me?”
   “Everything. I’m against all of you.”
   “You make no sense.”
   “I make perfect sense, and you know it.”
   “I’d rather you did, you’re the one that would know. There’s obviously something you weren’t happy about before, so you decided to hide that and act all fake instead.”
“What are you talking about?”
 “You’re so fake. That’s what everyone thinks.” Ellis rolled his eyes. “You’re more fake than Sophie. Except your worse, because you’re hissy and moody and mopey as well-”
Moments later Ellis was thrown off his chair whilst I clawed at him manically, shrieking.
 “BREAK UP! The pair of you!” Mr Williams roared.
I froze, realising that I had managed to have the entire class’s attention, and stood up blushing furiously.
 “Jesus Christ…” Ellis muttered.
“Detention. Both of you!” Mr Williams ordered. “And for this lesson I’m splitting up the two of you.”
 My eyes widened: we were behind on our project as it was and wasting yet more time wasn’t going to get our work done any faster. “But sir-” I started.
“Enough.” Mr Williams snapped.
Ellis gave me a furious look before storming off to the other side of the room to give his friend company; I was pretty certain he did that so he could rant about how everything was my fault or whatever. Well that’s exactly what I was doing to Sophie, who, by the way was actually trying to get work done for once and didn’t seem to have much time for my gossip.
   “Why can’t you just, like work together?” Sophie frowned, before scrunching up a sheet of paper she was writing on and chucking it towards the bin, missing. “Almost.”
   “You’re one to speak,” I exclaimed, “it took you like a month before you actually agreed to work with Hanna, who by the way, has done a hell of an amount of work.” I glanced towards Hanna who was busy scribbling away on about a dozen sheets of paper.
Despite my argument, I couldn’t help but considering Sophie’s point: why couldn’t we just work together? Was it that difficult? I sighed, resting my head in my hands in my defeat.

* * *

Unsurprisingly Ellis didn’t even turn up to his detention. It was just a typical Ellis thing to do: risk getting more detentions in the future just so he can play an extra game of football. Talk about logic (then again Ellis wasn’t the most logical of people…). And although Mr Williams was more than aware of this, it still didn’t stop him from keeping me in for the whole of lunch, with nothing but the fly flying frantically around the room to keep me entertained.

    Over the last few months, Mr Williams’ friendliness towards me had somewhat decreased; probably because of my lack of enthusiasm I had in lessons (Ellis clearly being the one to blame) and my class performances were admittedly becoming less and less impressive. If I was honest with myself, I barely ever played the piano as much as I used to; of course I still played when I had to for lessons and preparing my coursework, but I no longer played for myself anymore. I couldn’t help but feel I lost my enthusiasm for music as I no longer had the desire to play it in my spare time. But then wasn’t becoming a pianist what I had always set myself out for doing? Or had I now changed my mind… meaning I now had no idea what to do with my life? The idea scared me because each time this though entered my mind, my termly reviews with my pretty pathetic grades flashed in front of me, and I reminded myself to make the effort to grab my enveloped review as soon as I got home, before Mum and Dad could see.

    Mr Williams began my detention pretty much the same way my other teachers did, in the same usual sort of manner where they sit you down, let out an overly-exaggerated sigh before awkwardly sitting next to you.

     “So then Hayden, do you know why you are here?” He frowned.
I returned the frown. “…Well, because I wasn’t working well with Ellis. Who by the way, isn’t even here.”

He ignored me and continued, “what makes it so hard for you to work well with another class mate? It’s a simple task. To be frank, many primary school children are better at achieving this than you.”

I gritted my teeth at the word ‘classmate’.

“…You do realise that everyone else in the class gets along perfectly fine?”
My frown increased into more of an intense glare (years back, I’d rather die than do that in front of a teacher, let alone a teacher that I got along with. Well sort of).

“It’s not like I’m a really controversial person Sir,” I defended, “it’s just that by chance you managed to pair me up with the one person I don’t get along with.”

“Well I figured that out a while back, believe me, it’s not difficult. But that’s beside the point… you do realise that not all teachers get along either? We are human, you know. We’re just mature enough to let our differences aside and get on with things.”

By this point my eyes had wandered towards the window: the fly had started to repetitively bang against it as if the glass barrier would eventually disappear due to its efforts. From my eyes, the scene was pitiful - I felt like joining in along with it.

“I would do work if Ellis wasn’t so stubborn and difficult to work with,” I insisted. “It’s like he’s got it in for me. I mean, what did I even do to him? He’s hated me from day one-”
I paused, (okay, maybe not from day one).

“Do you not think that that is a little bit of an exaggeration?” He chuckled. “Many boys aren’t really the silly fools they make themselves out to be. It’s a defence mechanism I suppose. Something that I was very aware of when I was a young lad – crikey, what a while back that was…” He hesitated. “Whilst now, I am a polar opposite. I doubt any other person would dare to dress expressively or look even nearly as trendy as my groovy self.”

I couldn’t help but snigger a little. Oh if only I hadn’t a care in the world and dared dress as wildly as Mr Williams.

“Anyways, I suppose I should set you some work to occupy your time-” he began.
We were interrupted by a snort of laughter coming from outside. It was a very unmistakeable laugh. But when I looked up, somebody else walked in, practically swaggering as he walked. Usually I would snort at Ellis’ pathetic efforts to look cool, but my glance continued to linger at the door at the sight of who had accompanied him.

Moments after seeing me, Morgan flushed bright red and hurried off.

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