She was singing. She was drunk, I think, the way she sang. Maybe she had drunk a big glass of vodka. But her singing was good. She sounded sad, but the music was good. We were all so surprised to see her there.
‘Here you go,’ I said, giving her the book. ‘Los Gatos Luchadores. You like cats, right?’
Willow looked up at the word ‘cat’, and then her eyes grew wide.
She grabbed the book out of my hands and immediately started reading it. It was a Spanish translation of a Fighting Cats book, apparently.
So Saturday came, and I woke up nice and early to go to the football match. Normally, I’d be excited, but today my stomach clenched and I felt tired before the game even began.
‘I just have to make it through this,’ I told myself. ‘It’s half term afterwards and then I can have a proper rest.’
A scream came from the school, interrupting her. I jumped off the wall.
‘That was Max!’
We ran inside and up the stairs to the library. I threw my bag off my shoulder, pulling out my golf club. I saw Larry taking out his boxing gloves and Bethany getting her boots on as well. We all knew what was coming.
The door to the classroom opened, and we all turned around. Mr Burne stood there. Then he saw Bethany, who was still holding his notebook in the air like, well, like a weapon. She gasped, but it was like she couldn’t move. None of us could move. For a moment, I wondered if Mr Burne’s hair was going to fall out, or if he would shout at us. But he just walked over, took the notebook out of Bethany’s hands, and threw it in the bin.
‘Get out,’ he said. ‘Now.’
Later on, in history class, Mr Pearson announced we were going to do a group project, to prepare for our coursework. These teachers just wouldn’t give us a break, would they? I knew that we were in year 10, but it wasn’t like our exams were tomorrow!
‘You’ll be working in groups of four. Each group will choose a period of British history, and you’ll have to give a presentation describing the lives of ordinary people in that period. And no, Mr Marshall, you can’t write about cavemen.’
I flew several feet into the air, still unable to scream, and I landed precisely on my right leg.
Pain exploded through me, and now the screaming came. It felt like my leg had been torn apart, and when I looked down, I saw the white flash of bone. I immediately rolled over and threw up, which was worse, because it put more pressure on my leg.
I did my best. If I didn’t know the answer to something, I just thought of my own name. I made some wonderful new elements: Rickium, Larrium and Maxium. I wasn’t going to get any marks for them, but at least I had some fun.
As soon as we came out of the exam hall, Max said, ‘So how did it go?’
‘Hey, what are you three losers up to?’
I turned around. Bethany was standing right next to us. She was the only girl in our team, and none of the other boys liked her very much. Sure, when we were on the field, we were a team, but it was strange when you were hanging out with other boys, and then suddenly there was a girl there. And she wasn’t like the other girls in our year, either.