“What do we have last?” I manage around a yawn.
We both look to Roan, Leo being an unreliable source of educational information of any kind.
“PE.” He sighs.
PE at St. Bart’s is, like everything else, different.
We don’t play lacrosse, hockey or football. Oh no. We get an ex-army general who runs us through some of her favourite drills.
“Used to make grown men cry,” she brags sitting in her plastic chair with the bow legs from holding all her muscled weight. “Couldn’t move for days after a good, solid session!” This is her idea of a pep talk.
She wasn’t lying though, we frequently had people throwing up with how hard they were working themselves.
I’m pretty certain P.E here stands for Physical Exhaustion.
Nevertheless, we make our way to the vast field and the changing rooms where we split ways as they head to the rowdy boys changing room where raucous laughter and singing emit like heat, and I make my way to the girls where a cacophony of aerosols and giggling don’t welcome me like they should.
Its times like these I wish I weren’t the only female Outsider.
As expected, the noise quietens as I enter and I make my way to my spot in the corner where a wide birth of space surrounds me. Despite the occasional glance, they leave me alone. Even the bitchier girls don’t try it on.
After all, writhing in pain isn’t very attractive.
Changing into my shorts and black t-shirt, I trap my hair in a ponytail and leave the changing room where the noise picks up again.
I sigh to myself and jog over to Roan and Leo.
Roan is dressed much like me, Leo however wears shirt with Blink If You Want Me emblazoned across the chest.
“I can’t wait to see how that goes down.” I laugh, pointing at his shirt.
“He reckons she’ll see the funny side.” Roan sighs.
“She will!” Leo cries. “As long as she doesn’t start blinking manically at me, I don’t see how this could go wrong.”
Five minutes later we all stand and jeer as Leo is forced to run around the track carrying a weight bag which is about the same as running with a small child.
Even as sweat pours of him in rivers and his face is the same colour as my hair, he still gives Roan and I a wink and a grin as he passes us.
“So Leon, have I managed to take anything off your ego?” Ma’am asks, one foot on her plastic chair, arms crossed, biceps bulging.
Leo throws down the weight bag, panting like a dog.
“Oh definitely Ma’am. It’s a wonder there’s anything of it left.” He says earnestly between gasps.
Her lip twitches but she can’t hold back the smile. “Oh I doubt that. You’d need serious surgery to cut your ego down. Back in line.” She barks but it doesn’t have the same harshness.
She’s got a soft spot for Leo.
Despite the exhausting drills and insults, she’s the only teacher here who doesn’t treat us Outsiders any different.
Part of me wonders if it’s because she’s normal. Quirk less
The rest of me wonders if it’s because she doesn’t know what we’re capable of.
Leo gets no rest, no time to catch his breath because straight away, we go into our warm up. A sprint across the field followed by jog and drops which consist of jogging on the spot and falling to ground at her command before jumping up and jogging again.
We line up on the imaginary line and wait for Ma’am’s whistle to scream.
My leg muscles tremble in anticipation, Roan focuses solely on the bushes covering the wall on the other side of the field. They’re not quite tall enough though to cover the barbed wire poking out of the top along with the swivelling camera and Ariel dishes.
Leo nudges me.
“Bet I beat you.” He goads.
I smile. “How much?”
“What am I supposed to do with money here? Let’s talk about your chocolate stash.”
I see him appraise me out of the corner of his eye.
“How do you know about…never mind. Fine, a Crunchie and a Dairy Milk. If I win, I get a dare.”
“On your marks!” Ma’am cries.
I lean further forwards, adrenalin starting to buzz in my veins.
“Oh and Leo.”
“Your shoes untied.”
The whistle blows and I launch myself into the race, laughing as Leo automatically looks down at his Velcro trainers, swears and races after me.
Roan is but a spot in the distance.
He’s used to running from things.
As my laughter dies, a memory surfaces from the foggy depths of my mind.
Breath hitching, rasping, gasping for air. Painful against my sore throat after hours of screaming and crying.
“I’m still me!”
“You are not my daughter.” Mum spits. “No one I gave birth to could do whatever you did to that boy!”
“He was going to hurt me!” I cry, pleading with them to understand. I wait for them to fall back into the parents I know, I want mum to ask me if I’m alright and comfort me, wrap me in a hug while dad threatens “that bastards” life. I want it so badly I cry even harder.
“He passed out with pain Rose! You didn’t even touch him and he lost consciousness he was in so much pain!” Dad shouts, both their faces scrunched in disgust.
I collapse onto the sofa, wiping at my tear soaked cheeks.
“I know. I know what I did!”
“Just…go to your room. I can’t even stand to look at you right now.”
I obey, desperate to please them.
I step onto the first step and look up. Kyle, my six year old brother sits at the top of the stairs. I open my mouth to usher him to bed and assure him I’m fine, but he lets out a whimper, cowers away and darts into his room.
I choke on a sob as I hold it in, waiting until I’ve closed my bedroom door and am buried beneath my covers before letting myself fall apart.
I slow to a stop, my hands on my knees as I gasp for breath. Leo collapses to the floor in front of me, completely exhausted.
“I guess I owe you some chocolate.”
I smile. “I guess you do.”