I arrive in school far later than usual - the sleepover meant we overslept big time in the morning. Nevertheless, it is with pride that I waltz into school beside Keira, Ashlin and Arianna, my heart singing along with joy to the dance. I have friends and not just any friends. I have pretty, perfect, popular friends.
Who cares that I'm the odd one out?
I must look strange though, beside them. All three of them are tall, and their heels don't make our height difference any smaller. Their hair is silky, smooth, kink free - mine could quite easily be compared to the final resting place of some small mammal.
And yet, here we are, together, all of us talking as if we've been friends for years, which I suppose they have. The group of us gets larger as the day wears on, one girl, and then another whom I vaguely recognise will trot over and say 'hi', then wander away to be replaced by thirty over eager boys from the year above. It's kind of overwhelming, but I suppose that's how my life will be from now on.
A constant entourage of students I hardly know.
I stop in my tracks and turn, suddenly startled. I've just left Ashlin and co. to navigate my way to the Maths corridor, but now I've left them behind I didn't expect anyone to spare me a second glance.
"What?" I reply quickly, glancing him up and down. He's the boy who knocked my tray, sent my lunch spilling down my top and I want to make sure that he won't push havoc on my life for a second time. "What do you want?"
He slouches against the wall nonchalantly, lazily holding up a hand to bar me from breezing past him. "Wait." I huff, pouring slightly as I gesture for him to continue. "You're the chick I bashed in the lunch queue?"
"Do you remember what I said to you?"
I shuffle my feet anxiously. I do remember, but I don't particularly want to. I need to get to Maths, and swiftly before I get a black mark for tardiness.
"Do you? Do you?"
He nods, a slow smile spreading from ear to ear. "That's right."
"You did apologise though," I pipe up. "And er... Now I have to go to maths, so..." I manoeuvre myself to slip past him, when he glides in front, putting me to a halt.
"Listen, I have to go now. I'm really sorry but -"
"I meant it."
"Meant your apology? That's sweet but honestly, let me -"
"No. I meant swot." His lip curls nastily, his white blonde hair glinting in the sun from the large glass windows behind us. "I meant swot and a lot of other things besides."
I stop trying to push past and look up at him, bemused. "Pardon?"
"I meant...Geek. Nerd. Bitch, loser, freak. Liar. Slut." He shoves me, hard, with every word, forcing me to stumble, stagger backwards, my arms flailing in circles above my head. He laughs, harsh and cold. "You deserved that."
I gasp for breath, panting raggedly. In through my nose, out through my mouth, in - Another forceful push sends me reeling once more. "I - what? I - You - You don't understand! You've got the wrong person! Why are you doing this?"
"Oh, I've got the right person alright..."
"I don't understand what I've done! You must hate me for a reason!"
His hand delves into his pocket and yanks out a knife which he presses into me cheek, cold metal and warmth. It stings only a little as he draws the initial 'L' on my cheek. "'L' stands for liar," he explains calmly, as my eyes blink open and shut like they're broken, praying, pleading desperately for somebody else to be late for lessons, to come to my rescue and save me.
No one comes.
"It also stands for Lysander. My name." He spits into my scrunched up face, his breath warm, a generic mint. He loathes me, despises me for some reason I don't know, and is making me suffer great costs for it. He smiles nastily.
"See that you don't forget it."