The sun was setting again. The end of a day. Tomorrow I go back to school. I wince at the thought of it. The stares, the looks I will get, it's just...ugh.
My parents died three months ago. There's no easy way to say it. There was a storm, there was a road accident. They both got killed. And I haven't been back to school since. And tomorrow, I return.
"Allie? Are you awake?" I roll over and bury my face in the soft linen.
"Allie! You need to go to school, and I need to go to work!" Auntie Liz never had any time for family. Even at the funeral, she wasn't very touchy-feely. She's more attached to her job than her family.
I mumble some words of encouragement into my pillow, and then hear the front door slam. I'm alone. And not just in the house.
Once I'm dressed in my hideous tartan skirt and blazer, I walk out of the house and begin the journey to school. My stomach is doing flips and knots and has about sixty butterflies battering around inside. I hate school at the best of times, but being the weird girl? That's a totally new concept. Before I just slipped by, the invisible drifter.
Deep breath, Al. This is it. I'm just about to step into the doors when a familiar voice greets me from behind.
"So she returns." I turn around, and there stands Lucy.
My best friend.
She envelopes me in a huge Lucy-hug and I breathe in her perfumed smell. It smells safe. It smells like family. A tear rolls down my cheek and I wipe it away quickly before pulling away. Nobody can see me cry.
"Hey beautiful. You ready?" She smiles, grabbing my hand, and I nod in response.
We walk through the doors and it's exactly like my worst nightmare. Everybody is looking. I mean, everybody. I can feel my cheeks flush red, but with the protection of my thick foundation, I'm satisfied that nobody can tell.
We walk through all the crowds, ignore the harsh whispers and oh my gods, and go straight to our lockers. Right beside each other. That's how we met. Got on like sisters right from day one.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Lucy grins, as we grab our books and check our timetables.
"Yeah, well, we haven't had first lesson yet," I sigh, and we start to walk down to English.