I stagger forwards, reacting to the sudden harsh shove to my back. "What do you want?" I mutter, picking myself up, thrusting my shoulders back, chin up high.
"Look, what is it?"
Another shove. I'm ready for it this time, and brace myself for the impact, but it's not enough. I tumble to the ground, tears stinging my eyes. I blink them back, stubborn.
"I said, hey."
"Clarissa: What the hell?" I say angrily, getting up and wiping my jeans down.
She smiles waspishly. "Hell's a rude word Aria!" She grins. "But not for you, is it? It's were your mum went after all!" She peers at my hands, and I curl them up, hiding them behind my back automatically but it's too late. "Oh my gosh! Is that BLACK nail polish? Jesus, do you worship the DEVIL or something?"
Clarissa holds up one slender cream finger at me. "Hold on. One second... Girls!" she shouts over her shoulder. "Come tell little miss Mort what we came to tell her!"
They file in behind her, her defence barrier, her safety net. Long blonde hair, pastel pink lips, high, needy voices. The popular crowd of course. Rather cliche, I know, but that's exactly who they are. One of them , I think she's Alicia, stares at me from under thick dark lashes. "Doesn't Mort mean death in French?"
Wow. They have at least one brain cell between them.
"Is THAT what you came to tell me? Are you serious?"
Another one, also called Alicia, cries out, "But does it mean death? That's so like, totally morbid!"
In case you're wondering, Mort means death, or at least that's what my Grandmother always told me as a child.
"What does it mean then? Angst? Loser?"
"It means, no, I'm not answering your question. What did you come to ask me about?"
I'm intrigued, honestly and truly. Usually, the most these girls will say to me is some insult about my mum, then dump the contents of my bag down the toilet. No biggie. Only now they obviously have something to say, and now they do, they're dangling it on a string in front of me.
Clarissa runs her fuchsia nails lazily through her hair. "My daddy's the head teacher. He's not going to care if I'm late for lessons. YOU, on the other hand..." she tails off.
"Look Andaria. Aria, hon. You tell what your surname means. We tell what we came for. Got it?" she says, like a teacher explaining to a kid still in nursery.
I look down. One up on me again. Clarissa 70, me 0. "Mort means death."
"Good," she smirks triumphantly. "Now... You see Tristan Forsith over there? Uh huh. Well his friends have got him to ask you out on a dare at some point today. Just a little heads up. I mean, honestly Andy, you're the freaky loser psychopath that no one talks to. Either because they're scared, or just think how far they'd plummet on the social hierarchy."
"Except for you."
"You guys are talking to me."
She sighs, rolling her eyes. "Because we're nice people! And because Lucy got in juvenile detention and we need to do charity work." One of them, I assume it's Lucy, blushes. "Come on girls!" And then she sashays off, eight pink heeled girls close behind her.
No one else talks to me all day.