Alive? Or Just Breathing?

For a while, Scarlett has been depressed. It started in Year 7 when Claire, her ever-changing boyfriends and her followers started bullying her. Scarlett has know for a while it is bullying, but doesn't know what to do about it. Can Drama and the new teacher, Miss Talbott help?

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5. Chapter Five

The rest of the day passed without much humiliation or drama. Ha drama. Amazing; my favourite subject, yet the one I was worst at, even when there was so much happening day-to-day in my life. I remembered my detention with a sigh. Maybe if I finished my lines early I could go home. Or go over to drama to... I don't know. See Miss Talbott, I suppose. Don't know what I'd say to her. No, I'd better just go home. Save myself the embarrassment.

 

The teacher overseeing detention wouldn't have seen a beach ball if it whacked her in the face. She buried her head in a book when we arrived, and only looked up once, when Claire and her boys were being particularly noisy, to squint at the scene, before returning to her book. Claire probably could have had full on sex before the old bat realised what was happening.

 

Speaking of Claire and her boys; she was sat on the knee of her current boyfriend, whoever he was now, and was switching between kissing this boyfriend and one of the boys surrounding her. I was sat in the shadows, in the corner, writing out my lines. I was finding it hard not to listen to the squelching coming from the other side, where Claire's kissing shop was based, but tried to block it out as best I could. When I had finished my lines - 100 exactly, triple checked - I sat dithering for a moment, wondering what to do. If I stayed sat there, Claire would probably remember that she was meant to be in detention, and make me do her lines, but then if I got up to ask the teacher if I could go and hand the lines to my maths teacher, Claire would not only ridicule me as I went past, but also take the chance to look through my bag, or slip something nasty into it. I couldn't just take my bag with me, or the teacher, however deaf and dumb she may have seemed, would probably notice something was up. I could ask to go to the toilet, and pretend I was on my period, but if Claire and her cronies heard, I'd be a laughing stock between them. Finally deciding this was my best option, hoping that the woman would remember what happened when a girl had a period, since she seemed about 90, I packed my stuff away, trying to draw as little attention to myself as possible.

 

I had almost made it across the room, to the teacher, and I was sure I was going to get there without being seen by the bullies, but as I reached within 5 metres of the desk at the front, Claire finally spotted me.

"Oi, Scarlett!" I froze. "Yeah, you, the idiot with the dirty hair!" I automatically reached up to touch my hair, and cursed myself inwardly for doing so. "Hey, whatcha just standing there for? Come over here!" I only then realised that the old bat was trying to speak to me too.

"You, what's your name?" Her beetle-like eyes bored up at me.

"Umm, Scarlett McLaren, Miss."

"Well your friends are calling for you. Aren't you going to go over?" I didn't move. "Hey, are you listening, I said are you going to go and talk to your friends?"

"Um..."

"Well?"

"Yes Scarlett, aren't you going to come over and talk to us, we are your friends." Claire's oh-so-innocent voice called over.

"Well, Miss, I was actually going to come over to ask you if I could go and give my lines to my maths teacher, you see she said to come and give them to her as soon as I'd done them." I crossed my fingers, hoping she wouldn't notice my bag, not wanting to use the on-my-period excuse when Claire was listening in.

"Well, alright, yes, you can go and give your lines to your maths teacher, who is it?" She peered at my detention slip.

"Mrs Dasse, Miss," I interjected.

"Yes, Mrs Dasse, that's right, you can go." As I turned to go, she suddenly caught sight of my bag. "Why, may I ask, do you need your bag to hand lines in?" Her sharp voice cut through me like ice.

"Um, well, I, you know, am sort of, on my..." I trailed off.

"On what dear? Speak up."

"On my period." I whispered the last word.

"I still can't hear you," she tutted, as my face turned progressively redder.

"On my, on my, um, period, Miss," I said, beet red, listening to the sniggers behind me. Surely it wasn't worth this. I should have just left my bag. The room was very quiet. Finally this time, the hag had heard me, and, slightly flustered, said,

"Right then, yes, off you go. In fact, leave your planner here, in case you decide to run off." I slid my planner onto the desk quickly, and rushed off, muttering my thanks.

 

I ran straight to the toilet and banged the cubicle door closed, resting my head against the cool wall. Tears dripped down my face as I beheld what would be my fate tomorrow. Not only would I be 'on my period', and taunted for that, I had escaped going to talk to Claire when she had called me over, which no one ever did without consequences.

 

I had been in there 5 minutes before I realised I should have been handing my lines in, and rushed out of the cubicle, splashing my face at the taps as I went, off to find my maths teacher. Luckily I found her in the workroom by herself, meaning I could hand her the paper without much trouble. She looked over them quickly, and, seeing my calculations down the side of the lines adding up to 100, she wrote me a note letting me out of detention early, and sent me off.

 

As I walked back into the detention room, my heart in the pit of my stomach, I kept my head down, walking to the teacher's desk to give her the note. I grabbed my planner as the woman dismissed me, and rushed off towards the door. I heard Claire and her gang calling me again as I sped off, but didn't stop. I was going to be in so much trouble tomorrow.

 

**************************

 

I hid in the toilet before school. I had wondered about going back to my old hideout, but decided I'd wait to find out a bit more about the new teacher before trying to hide in her classroom. Who knows, she might actually do things in her classroom when she doesn't have classes. Most of the other bags here sit in the workrooms to intimidate the students, since all the teachers go quiet and listen if a poor kid bothers to try to talk to their teacher.

 

I was terrified of what Claire was going to do today. I hadn't written her lines, and she had the extra reason to taunt me - my 'period'. I wished I never had to leave the toilet or go to lessons, but as I heard the bell ring, I knew I would never miss classes. To much of a goody-two-shoes.

 

First lesson passed without much trouble. Science - not my favourite, but at least it didn't include Claire. Next I had maths. Where all the recent trouble had started. I sat in the far corner at the front, hoping Claire either wouldn't spot me, or at least wouldn't want to sit near the front. When she swept in with her posse, I saw her gaze scanning the classroom out of the corner of my eye. I knew she had seen me, even though she took her usual seat at the back, right in the middle of her friends. I relaxed slightly, even though I knew I shouldn't. I couldn't concentrate on what the bat at the from was saying - but from the pictures, I knew I'd done it last year. I tried to write down notes, and listen to what Mrs Dasse was saying, but could feel Claire's eyes on the back of my neck, where my dark hair had parted to create a curtain each side of my face. I knew she was going to try something sooner or later, but didn't know what, and the tension was putting me on edge. I had been so engrossed in my worries, that I hadn't noticed that Mrs Dasse was asking a question until I heard Claire's voice.

"I'm sorry Miss," she simpered, "but I'm still a bit lost - I don't understand it very well." She paused for a moment, then rushed on as the teacher apparently had turned away. "But Miss, I know Scarlett would be able to answer it, because she's really good at maths - she's been helping me with all my homework..." I hoped the teacher wouldn't buy it. I had no idea what the question was! Surely she wouldn't believe Claire?! Yesterday she had heard Claire telling on me for passing notes - surely she wouldn't believe I'd been helping her? Sure, I'd been doing her homework for the past few years, but never helping her.

"I'm not sure I believe that Claire," Mrs Dasse commented, as a visible wave of relief flowed through me, "but I do agree that Miss McLaren is one of the best in our class at maths, judging by her book..." I didn't hear the rest of the sentence. The relief that had washed through me seemed to vanish, and soon I was as tense as I had been before. Claire and her cronies snickered at me as Mrs Dasse came striding towards me. "So, Scarlett, can I finally get a coherent answer out of somebody?"

"Um..." I flicked through my book, looking at the board, to try and figure out what the question could have been. "Miss, what was the question again? I've forgotten..." I trailed off as I looked into the teacher's face. Her piggy eyes were bulging. Uh oh.

 

"Right. I think that will be detention for you, Miss McLaren, it appears your last one didn't teach you anything." I felt sick. What would my parents say now? More importantly, how would Claire twist this? "And you too, Miss Riley - for telling such outlandish tales of your friendship with Scarlett, and for admitting to not doing any of your homework, but to getting Miss McLaren to do it all." My stomach lurched and twisted itself into a knot. I felt sick. This was the worst teacher in the world. I couldn't believe she had done this. Claire in detention with me? For the second day in a row? Well, maybe if I finished my lines super-fast, I could be let off early again. Would I be able to get them finished before Claire gave me hers to do? Unlikely. I suddenly realised the bag was still speaking. "And also, Miss McLaren, there will be no getting out of detention early if you finish your lines - it clearly didn't impact you enough!" My stomach dropped lower. Okay, maybe there wouldn't be a chance to get away from Claire. Cows. Both of them.

 

Leaving maths, I rushed out of the door and down a secluded corridor, hoping to hide there until break was over; no one ever went down there. Unfortunately, Claire had seen me. She sauntered round the corner, laughing with all her friends. I had hidden behind a pillar. I thought she was going to pass, but as I edged round the back of it to the other side to avoid her seeing me as she walked past, I realised her boyfriend wasn't with her. A fist connected to my temple.

 

I could hear laughing above me. They had dragged me out from next to the pillar, and I was laid in the corridor. I knew break hadn't ended because I could still hear the yells and laughter coming from downstairs. I was brought back to my senses when someone picked me up roughly by my arm, dragging me to my feet.

"Aww, is ickle Scarlett hurt? Where's the pain? Is it there?" She prodded the side of my head, making stars blossom in front of my vision. "Or there?" She jabbed my lower stomach. I was on my 'period' after all. Is ickle Scarlett on her first period? Does it hurt? Do you want mummy to give you a hug and make it all better?" Tears swam in my vision, and I blinked to hold them back.

"Are you crying?" said a voice - belonging to Megan I think.

"Look, she is!" joined another voice - Sienna or Sallie. They all laughed, and I put my hand it to feel the tear that had betrayed me. It had been joined by some others. I heard running footsteps, and the hand loosened on my arm enough for me to turn sideways to look who it was. It was one of Claire's many ex-boyfriends, or her boyfriend's minions or something.

"Teacher, teacher! A teacher's coming!" shouted the boy. The current boyfriend thwacked the messenger round the head for being so loud, and shoved me into a small alcove, meaning that I couldn't be seen unless someone specifically came to look. Claire and her minions scattered, leaving me with my head swimming and tears dripping down my face.

 

I heard footsteps outside, and a person was muttering to themselves as they moved quickly forward. Apparently someone was late for something. I dared to peek out of the alcove to see that it was Miss Talbott, staring at her map, which was sat on top of a pile of books, with her teacher file under her arm. Suddenly, the file slipped out from under her arm, and hit the floor with a crash. I didn't realise that I could be seen until she had already turned round. Luckily she had the pile of books in her hands, so hopefully didn't see me as I whipped my head back into my hidey-hole. I heard her put the books down and swear, as my heart beat fast, hoping she hadn't seen me. The bell sounded for the end of break, and I heard Miss Talbot swear again, quickly gather up the papers as best she could, and rush off to her lesson. I suddenly realised that I had drama next. I got up quickly, making my head spin, and wiped my eyes, beginning to rush off in the same direction as Miss Talbott had. I hadn't got past the place where she had dropped her file, when I saw a phone on the floor. I picked it up, and clicked the top button to switch it on. A picture of Miss Talbott and a man flicked onto the screen. I had known deep down whose it wa when I had picked it up. I slid it into my pocket, not knowing what to do with it. This corridor led down some stairs and through a door to outside. From there the creative arts was just across the playground. Miss Talbott would know where I'd picked it up, since if it had been found in the playground or the arts building, someone would have taken it to the office. And she'd also know that I'd looked on her phone to see that it was hers. And seen the picture. With the man. I'd seen that man before. It couldn't hardly be a coincidence, because he had the scar at the bottom of his ear, from when he had fallen off a ride-on tractor. I hadn't seen the man for years. He was 19 when I last saw him, and that was 6 years ago. 11 years older than me.

 

He was my brother.

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