I stared at the clock to the left of me, watching the seconds hand prudently, merrily, torturing me with its slow concepts of time. Every small tick or tock had been programmed in my mind to echo like an atomic explosion, constantly ticking and tocking. Finally, I let out a discreet sigh of disapproval to indicate my frustration; the sheer existence of the thing irritated me.
According to its conniving, varying hand movements the head teacher had been drabbling for about twenty minutes and onwards. His pathetic nonsensical ramblings were seemingly his attempts at seeming sophisticated and intelligent – failed attempts. Not that I was doubting his intellect or sophistication but his domineering hold over scholars dictionary clad vocabulary, and wandering onto subjects that bear no relevance to the moment at hand made him seem foolish.
He really was trying to drag it out too much and to his despair his speech had started off rather honourably, but twenty odd paragraphs later the regurgitation of old thoughts, reworded slightly differently was starting to get old. And I think by the slightly panicked look in his eye, the way he constantly readjusted his concrete tie – he was starting to realise this too. Due to my irritability I couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of epicaricacy towards the situation.
Our old high school had just moved into their new building, due to this they were having a grand reopening. Inviting: Ex-teachers, retired teachers, the Lord Mayor, local business owners and Ex pupils. I was one of these ex-pupils and now I’m sat here listening to someone whom I have not met before (as they had employed a new head teacher since I had left), drone on about things I was no longer listening too.
Eventually, as if by some miracle he dismissed himself receiving a spirited applause from the crowd, whether that was commending his speech or celebrating his finish I didn’t know.
I glanced over to my friend Anne who was sat next to me, mute green eyes harrowing in concentration; it seemed she was rather intrigued. Perhaps I just had a short attention span. After the applause, Anne corrected herself, pushing strands of her caramel blonde hair back into its effortlessly, sculpted, messy plaited style. I couldn’t help but envy her; she was a vision of perfection with her soft feminine features. From her heart shaped face, down to her petite lips and skinny sliding frame, she was a perfect size ten.
Everyone began to leave the hall into a contemporarily decorated café which looked like it had been preserved specially for the occasion, just before the students could begin to wreck it.
“I thought he’d never stop talking.” I sighed to Anne, who giggled in response. Apparently, the way I ranted and complained was deemed funny; I didn’t think it was, I became dreadfully offensive and vile when I was angry. “How is this meeting supposed to last another two hours?” I exclaimed realising the time was ten o’clock and this session was supposed to run till twelve.
“You though his speech was bad, I couldn’t bear Fallon’s speech. It’s been all this time and she’s still full of herself, yes we get it you got accepted an internship at NASA!” Anne snapped.
“So I’m guessing you and Fallon are pretty good friends then?” I sniggered, Anne simply rolled her eyes; that was a habit of hers eye rolling.
She was very expressive with her eyes, eye rolling, heavy blinking, both eyebrows raised and the famous one eyebrow rose. If Anne was solely a pair of eyes she’d be the scariest pair ever or perhaps the most fascinating. Frighteningly mesmerising. “I understand why Fallon is here; after all as the head teacher said she was one of the most successful students to grace the hall of this school. Always on the honours roll, head of the debate team, Prefect, Head of house, Head girl and valedictorian. But why an earth are we…well more likely I…Why the hell am I here?” I sighed.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard River.” She said to me, which wasn’t accurate. I barely passed all my classes except Science which was the only thing I could ever do and not even at an exceptional level.
“Well you’re here because you started that online EBay store in Year Ten which is now national, and what am I? I’m a science student.”
“A science student who holds like every sports record for the school might I add.”
“Every sports record? That’s an overstatement.” I scoffed.
“Let’s see: Javelin, 200 meters, 300 metres, 400 metres, long jump, tennis, softball, Martial Arts, Triathlon…need I go on?” She pointed out, I shrugged; I was good at sport. Yes that was true but that’s because it’s the only thing I could do, my body was the machine that had stolen parts from my brain.
“That’s not a talent in my opinion if you have something drummed into you by your mum since you were three or four… You’d be good at it too.” I sighed.
“Your mum gave you something not a lot of people have River, you should be grateful.”
“Yeah that’s exactly what she did when I started college, where is she now Anne? Still resenting me for not wanting to be at Wimbledon, an FEI champion or an Olympian.”
“You say that like being an Olympian is a bad thing.”
“I never wanted to be an Olympian Anne or anything like that.”
“Well what do you want?”
“I honestly don’t have a clue.” I replied, I’d never had chance to think about what I want. I ate, I trained, ate some more and slept. I’d never had time to brood over what I wanted. Maybe that’s why my life had been such a dead-end so far, call me ungrateful but the Olympics and all its counterparts were too generic. You’re good at sports lets attach you to this team! I just wanted something more exciting, call me ungrateful. “Don’t look at me like that?” I sighed to Anne.
“Like you’re ready to shoot me.” I laughed.
“Well hi guys!” Another voiced beamed into the conversation.
“Speaking of people I’m ready to shoot.” Anne whispered in my ear before turning to Fallon and smiling. I don’t understand why she resented Fallon so much; she was a nice enough girl. However she was ridiculously intelligent and not because she had been two years above us, when we were in Year Nine she was in Year Eleven. Her father was Asian, Chinese I think and that aided her in being so smart; education is tight over there.
“Hi Fallon.” I greeted her; she pushed some of her silky black hair behind her ears before shaking my hand. She screwed up her nose slightly when she smiled, freckles dancing across her butterscotch skin. Her eyes were thin, chocolate brown and warming. She had a signature red streak in her hair that always fell in front of her face. In all the time of us not seeing each other she hadn’t grown she was still small barely past five foot. Well that might not be small I was just really tall, which I found irritating.
“It’s been forever…Anne I heard you went national! That’s really great; I remember you sat in the textiles room at school till they kicked you out. I never thought that would come so far!” Fallon reminisced.
“Of course you wouldn’t.” Anne snipped, in which I gave her a look of disapproval. “After all I was only young back then, people thought it was a fad.” She added a little more brightly, to which I gave her a gentle nod.
“What are you doing with yourself? I would expect to have seen you at the Olympics by now.” Fallon asked me, which stabbed me slightly. I hated how everyone saw me just as the kid who was good at sport.
“I have no love for it.” I replied through gritted teeth.
“Really? You were really good, seems a shame really.” Now I know why Anne doesn’t like her. “I’ve had an internship at NASA and they might be considering me for a position, I’m only back in England for a few weeks.”
“So I guess you take the saying it’s not rocket science really seriously then.” I laughed, Anne giggled slightly and Fallon just stared at me with a blank expression. “Never mind, so did you come with anyone?” I asked her.
“I came with my friend Abigail… come to think of it where has she wandered off too? Abigail! Abigail!” She called, underneath a mess off Ginger hair a girl appeared. Staring up at us with a blank expression, her eyes were grey and full of trepidation. She was slightly round in shape; everything about her was round from her frizzy hair, to her nose, down to her body. “She was in Year Ten when I was in Year Eleven….and you were in Year Seven?”
“Nine!” Anne and I snapped simultaneously.
“How terrible of me! Abigail and I met again one day in a restaurant; she was waitressing and I was eating. How did you and Anne re-meet?” She asked.
“We didn’t we just kind of stayed friends.” I replied, there was a moment of silence after that. Anne had subjected to glaring at Fallon again, Fallon seemed to be turning her nose up at me and her friend Abigail had remained mute. Needless to say this conversation wasn’t going too well, for whatever reason the four of us combined wasn’t a good idea.
I hoped we weren’t having anymore reunions anytime soon.
Before our riveting conversation could continue, we were drawn together and an “exclusive” tour of the new school was announced. We were split into groups; we were group D along with Fallon and Abigail. There were a few other people although I couldn’t say I recognised any of them; the alien expression I received when I smiled at one of them confirmed they didn’t know me.
Our tour guide was a small woman who spoke through her nose and babbled constantly. I chose to ignore her and took in the school for myself, it was extremely impressive. Every inch of it was smart, modern and economical, from the recycled plastic roof up to the automatic lights and windows. Walking past one of the science classrooms I saw a familiar face wave at me from one of the classrooms; I waved back as we stopped to admire a display board. The face gave a hand motion indicating me to come in, so I tugged gently on Anne’s sleeve and she followed.
“Mr Porter! You still work here?” I exclaimed, smiling at my old science teacher who had aged barely since we’d left.
“Its not been that long, how are your Olympic attempts going?”
“Why does everyone always say that!” I finally snapped.
“River Anne you can’t just… oh hi Mr Porter!” Fallon butted in, smiling at him Abigail following closely and silently behind. Mr Porter went to retrieve something from his desk, and simply waved while I ranted about the Olympics. “Shut up River it’s not our fault you were a flop, now come back to the tour.” Fallon yelled at me, so I went silent. That was a little uncalled for, I wasn’t exactly Lady of the manor but even I wasn’t that snappy or rude. I didn’t bother to retaliate; Anne narrowed her eyes at me. Clearly she thought I should, I shook my head at her so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
“Listen here you pretentious little bitch you can’t talk to my friend like that, now leave and go enjoy your pathetic tour.” Anne snapped at her, and then they began arguing, Mr Porter peering over his desk with trepidation.
“Stop arguing you two.” I repeated trying to get into the middle of it and stop them.
“I’m simply saying your friend should have done something useful with her life instead of aspiring to be a bulk-headed jock. In an attempt to get male attention.” Fallon sniped at me, I turned from the calm resolver into a pit of rage how dare she!
“Listen here, who do you think you are? Never in my life have I ever-“
“Shut up!” Abigail screamed, and with that everyone stopped and simply gawked at Abigail. That was probably the first time she had spoken all day, even Fallon who was supposed to be her friend seemed shocked. I took this as an opportunity to get my point across because no one seemed to get it.
“I wasn’t a flop; I had a trainer who promised to take me places, introduced me to people. It was my choice not to become something more than the high school track star. I just wanted a little bit more adventure in my life than training for four years straight all for a few weeks of horseplay.” I cried, Fallon gave me and apologetic glance which she attempted to disguise with a hard expression. Anne glanced from Fallon to me, panting heavily and Abigail returned to her closed-in disposition.
“Did you say adventure?” Mr Porter asked, literally jumping up from behind his desk. His smile widened into something I couldn’t explain, a menacing glint in his eye. “If its adventure you’re looking for River, I can offer it to you?”
“What an earth are you talking about?” Anne asked him, who seemed as curious as I did. He walked closer to us pulling a notepad out of his desk.
“Tell me Fallon since you worked at NASA do you recognise this?” He handed her a notebook with a rather complex looking algebraic formula on it. He shivered with excitement as she took it.
“There’s nothing too familiar about it… but… it seems like a load of rubbish. Surely this can’t work, the formula doesn’t make sense. I don’t recognise it at all.” Fallon sighed handing him back the notebook, Anne smiled at the fact that Fallon didn’t know something for once; I couldn’t help but grimace.
“Of course you wouldn’t.” He laughed slamming the notepad onto the desk and letting out a deep breath through his teeth. Was he okay? He then began laughing manically, and I couldn’t decipher why. He closed in on the semi-circle we’d formed. “Can you girls keep a secret?”