I’m really tired out, but I wanted to get started on this series and have something that I would be proud of. This is what I came up with: something really mushy and stupid but I quite like. Which is just weird. Since I generally hate mushy and stupid.
The bell rang, signalling the end of class. Lawrence sighed as he shoved everything into his bag.
He was a skinny, pale boy sitting along the dark blue plastic chairs and coarse wood tables. His eyes had the look as though he had seen more than any other teenager should have, but his face was set in a pleased, tired expression.
Lawrence didn’t even need to look up to know who it was; to him, every single person’s voice was slightly different, and he could always identify its owner, no matter the circumstances, although he didn’t know why he possessed that skill.
Austin was a short boy with black, mushroom shaped hair. It wasn’t bad, in any way, but it was his identifying trait… it was what made him Austin. It was perhaps the flattened nose, or the extra wide, innocent brown eyes that made Lawrence especially comfortable chatting with him… although he would never admit it.
“Have you finished the History presentation?”
Lawrence groaned. He had forgotten all about their History presentation; this was going to be a nightmare. “No,” he said truthfully.
“Really?” Jerome butted into the conversation, his spotted black bag banging into Lawrence’s side. He was taller than Austin, and his overgrown black hair had a reflective shine to it. To Lawrence, it was Jerome’s dark eyes that were most interesting. It was impossible to determine the exact colour of that particular iris; it was some mixture of brown-black, and no matter how long Lawrence stared into them, they were always that mysterious.
“Yes, I haven’t, okay?” said Lawrence, irritated. He zipped up his night blue backpack and slung it easily over his shoulder. “I’ll work on it tonight. You guys have to turn up for chat, okay? Promise?”
Lawrence dashed out of the closing doors before any of them could reply, leaving the dim classroom behind.
The school was not prestigious by any account. Its exteriors hid the potential of those studying in it – the white-blue striped walls and low profile kept it rather inconspicuous. Most of the corridors were at the other side, facing the concrete slope that dominated the windows; the other side faced several residential buildings, a result of the bad city planning, and was filled with neatly arranged shiny windows.
Lawrence walked quickly, trying to avoid the end-of-day crowd that would fill up the reception area within a few minutes of the bell ringing. After that, it was impossible to move at all; you were either pushed around or squeezed to death.
The bell rang just as Lawrence managed to slide out of the bright emerald gates.
The buses had already arrived; the school ordered double-decked yellow buses always parked in the already jammed exterior parking lot, while the rest of the privately owned school buses, most painted white, remained out of the gates in the small roundabout area outside.
Lawrence spent half a second remembering the location of his own bus, aiming for the only dark blue bus with stars painted – looking for that was the only way Lawrence bothered to find it.
As usual, Lawrence was the first one on – he jumped out and onto the pavement and greeted the passers-by. People like Jennie.
“Hey, Jennie, smile… come on, smile, it can’t be that hard, you look better when you smile!”
Jennie complied, and Lawrence laughed. “See, I told you! You’re so much prettier when you’re smiling!”
“Do I?” replied Jennie, not knowing whether that was a compliment or not.
“Nothing, just saying hi!”
Lawrence spent the next five minutes saying variants of ‘Hello’ to every single person he knew that passed, creating a great deal of confusion and misunderstandings as some innocent bystander would misinterpret his statements. Abandoning this remote form of entertainment, he slouched onto the hard leather in the bus and closed his eyes.
“I hate you.”
“What now, Ethan?”
“I don’t know. I just do. It’s probably because of Evan.”
“What did your brother do now?”
“Don’t even ask.”
“I won’t bother then.”
Lawrence let his arms fall, his limbs crashing onto the hard, polished glass table. They protested at the sudden impact, but he ignored the throb of pain.
“Computer,” commanded Lawrence. A whine informed him that the all-powerful processing device had engaged.
“Yes, Lawrence?” questioned the computer, sending out a holographic picture of a young boy sitting down at the floor by his feet.
“Seriously? I regret the time I programmed you with a personality. Why on earth a seven year old?”
The picture flickered before changing into a girl, this time about thirteen – the same age as Lawrence was. And Ethan.
Ethan’s eyes were fixed onto the digital girl. Lawrence took note of that as he addressed the hologram. “Get me a cup of coffee.”
There was a muffled whirr as the motor spun, lifting a large, refreshing cup of brown murky liquid. “Done,” said the female voice that belonged to the computer. “Anything else?”
Lawrence was already fed up with the way that the projected girl batted her eyes every single time she spoke – for some reason, Ethan didn’t, and neither did his twin brother Evan when he was here.
“No, thank you, that will be all.”
Lawrence picked up the warm cup, running his eyes over his construction room. It was a dull black, lit by thousands of overhead fluorescent lights; the roof was lower than average, but still high enough for all of them to walk comfortably. A large workbench took up most of the room, with tools scattered all over the place. On the far wall, bright lights constantly illuminated the waiting screwdrivers, cutters, and rulers that hung neatly, just hoping to be used.
A billboard was placed at the side, pinned with designs of inventions that had come into Lawrence’s mind halfway through consciousness and sleep; some of them were of Ethan’s polishing, and one, that Lawrence prized, was the first invention that Evan ever designed.
“You know, ever since you moved in, the workplace has gotten a lot brighter,” mentioned Lawrence. They sat around a small block, implanted firmly into the ground and embedded with machines that the computer served them with.
“I suppose so,” agreed Ethan. “Evan never did like it. But it’s my style, you know… I like it here.”
“I’m glad you do,” said Lawrence, raising his cup. “Cheers.”
“So did you get around to doing history?”
A pulsing guilt built up in Lawrence’s heart. Of course he didn’t; he simply got the computer to come up with one overnight. It worked, and he liked it.
“Good, then. Have you written the speeches?”
“Write your own. You can have the slides on erm… war and television. That should do.”
Lawrence returned to his seat, spreading the newspaper in front of him. He liked to do that. For a few, blissful minutes, he could ignore everything else that was happening in the form room… he indulged himself with the international matters for a few seconds before the realised that the door had opened.
“Hey Lawrence. Good to see you. Have you seen Liam?”
“Liam?” repeated Lawrence. His brain stopped for a second. “Oh, no.”
“Oh, darn it. I was planning to get him to help me with Geography… right, see you then.”
Lawrence was about to read another article before being distracted.
Ms Tandy walked in, her laptop computer under one arm and a pile of paper under the other. She was talking to another teacher behind her – probably Mr Ortega – and smiling as she entered the room.
No one really changed much of their actions, but Lawrence knew that each and every one of them would be tensing, getting ready to return to their rather uncomfortable seats and dump their schoolbags onto the carpet. As Ms Tandy sat, the rest of the form immediately quietened, with the dull thumps and quick scurrying confirming what Lawrence had expected.
And what he had experienced for two months already.
“So, Ms Tandy, what are we doing for English today?”
Ms Tandy smiled encouragingly. “I thought we might finish off Romeo and Juliet today,” she said, turning on her computer. Her crisp voice was warm and comforting, kind, unforgettable… and everyone liked her. Nobody hated Ms Tandy; she was the perfect teacher, understanding, compassionate, friendly… she was the one which everyone could talk to, no matter the problems.
Because the form – and the class – knew she would always be there for them.
“Fair enough,” said Lawrence, shrugging.