‘Locke,’ calls a tired looking man from a door across the office lounge area.
Dad raises his eyes at me, motioning for me to get up and follow the man.
‘Eurrg,’ I moan. I drag my feet off the table and swing my bag onto my shoulder. I slouch over to the awaiting man.
‘This way please,’ the man says, looking disapprovingly at my bag and my attitude.
My father and I follow the man down a white linoleum corridor. The walls are painted a sickly yellow colour. The lights cast a clinical glow.
The man stops at an orange door. It clashes nicely with the walls. He knocks lightly on the door and steps back. The man looks at me. I noticed his hair is flecked with grey and he has scars on his face; prematurely lined. He looks old and tired.
The door opens to reveal an impressive looking office. An elderly man is sitting on a black leather chair behind a huge mahogany desk, piled high with papers and folders.
He motions to me to come over and sit down. I sigh and go over to a straight backed chair. I sit down with a thump. My father sits down in the chair next to me. The other man walks out of the door, softly closing it behind him. He has a slight limp to him. I feel my eyebrows crease slightly as I wonder what has happened to him to lead him here.
I mentally shake off the thought and turn my attention to the man behind the desk. He is looking at me with intent, eyeing my stretched ears, and my purple-red hair. He sighs inaudibly as he spots the tattoo of a bird behind my ear.
‘Hello,’ he says.
‘Sup,’ I mumble, without looking at him.
‘My name is Mr. Marley. I am the headmaster at Queens Park Secondary College.’
I try to tune him out.
‘I would appreciate it if you would look at me, Locke.’ He says softly, but with force.
I drag my eyes from the floor like it is a massive effort, stare at him coolly. He looks tired. Why is everyone here tired?
‘Look, I understand that you would rather not be here,’ he says, ‘but I need you to understand that education is something you can’t throw away like this. There are millions of kids in this world that would do anything for an education.’
‘Well they can take my place because I don’t want this shit anymore,’ I spit at the headmaster.
He looks sad. Then something flashes behind his eyes. Anger?
‘I don’t care what you think you want,’ Marley says. ‘You are here for an education and I will do everything in my power to give you one. You are lost, Locke. You need guidance.’
‘Who the hell are you?’ I yell at him. ‘Some kind of counsellor? People try to understand me but they just piss me off.’
'Locke,' Marley says. 'I don't appreciate swearing in my school, okay? Queens Park has an integration program to help you adjust to a proper learning environment.' His brown eyes are wide and there's a twinkle that flashes across them.
'I will say what I want to say and no old bastard is going to stop me.' I spit in his face, leaning back against the hard wood of the chair.
Mr. Marley looks past me to my father.
‘Is he always this difficult?’
‘Yes,’ my father replies.
I glare at my father but he seems determined to not look at me. That just infuriates me more. I stand up, throwing my chair back.
‘I’m not dealing with this bullshit!’ I scream. Picking up my bag, I storm out of the office.
‘Locke!’ My dad yells. ‘You’d better get back here!’
I don’t even look back as I almost run back down the vomit corridor. I shove open the door with my shoulder, my bag swinging around on my other shoulder and renter the office, shaking the door frame. The admin stare at me as I barge past. I push open the front doors and walk outside, the cool air enveloping my burning face. My vision swims and my breaths become more and more rapid as I realise there are people everywhere. It must be break. Anxiety presses my chest and fills my head with a throbbing heartbeat. They are all laughing and joking around with their friends. I feel a stab of jealousy run through my veins and a shiver down my spine.
I start walking out across the courtyard, towards the front gates. ‘Nice hair!’ I hear someone yell from behind me. I put my head down and continue walking, watching my feet and counting each step, resisting the urge to turn around and punch his face in.
I reach the front gates of the school; 173 steps. I lift my head and glance from the left to the right. We drove into the school from the right; the road it closed off on the left. I don't want to go back the way we came, towards the town centre. I’m sure as hell not going back inside. I decide to duck under a barrier that's barring off the closed road, and see where I end up.