I wish I could say that I hadn't noticed. After weeks of deliberately not noticing Taylor, it was odd to find that they truly weren't here.

Not that I'd said anything about the matter. The constant chatter from the girls nearly distracted me, yet I always found my gaze had drifted to where Taylor was supposed to be sat.

On the third day, I knew to expect an empty chair on the next table. Still my heart sank a little further than the previous day, leaving me feeling emptier than before. Even if I had cut them out of my life, Taylor's presence had still been there.  Without that, everything was mundane. The motions of my life had been choreographed and rehearsed so many times that I convincingly coasted through each day, everyone else unaware that I was incomplete.

I blinked as a blazer clad figure came into vision, blocking where I'd been staring off into the middle distance. At Taylor's chair. Of course.

Amy sat down, though she was on mute until I unhooked an earphone.

"-Can I borrow yours? That witch of a biology teacher hates me enough already," Amy whined, throwing her head into her hands with too much melodrama for before nine am.

"This the biology homework? I think my answers are right, but don't even ask about the calculations," I said, rummaging inside my bag for the feel of my notebook, before adding uselessly, "You know, you really should pay a bit more attention in class. That way you'd stay out of trouble." I didn't mention the fact that Amy only avoided more lines by copying my homework most weeks. 

Amy made her usual hum that indicated she hadn't actually taken in what had been said, which was also the noise she made when confronted by science teachers. Her head ducked down as she began to copy out the answers.

A bunch of boys entering the room added to the low clamour of conversation, though there was no sign of Dan yet. I turned up the volume to hear Birdy's soft voice, and as the song was ending, Maisie and Liv joined us.

Following our early morning catch-up, Liv leant across the desk slightly. Fiery copper strands tickled along my shirt sleeve, causing my own hairs to stand on edge. My breathing seemed to have tensed, and I tried to focus upon what she was murmuring.

"Hey, I thought maybe you'd wanna know that I saw Taylor today, in school."

"Taylor? Why should I care?" The words came out of my mouth in that rigid way I'd learnt to adopt when mentioning Taylor, though Liv was too busy firing out words to answer me.

"Yeah, like with a whole bunch of people, their parents maybe? There was an Asian girl too."

'Taylor's parents? And Ramona?'

I tried to feign boredom, but with my heart rate rapidly increasing, I could only hope that my face wasn't betraying the confusion and interest that circulated within my mind.

"Well, I think it was Taylor," Liv was saying, "I'm not fully sure, but I thought you'd like to know. You seem to be looking over at where Taylor should be sat a lot."

"I thought nobody had noticed that!"

Liv gave a conspiring grin, "I guess I notice these things. Like the fact that you're so into Taylor."

"No, I'm not!" I hissed.

Before Liv could respond, a low guffaw caused me to whip my head around towards the door. It was the klaxon that announced Dan's presence.  He sauntered into the form room with Alexa by his side, the pair sniggering over something on her  phone.

Once they arrived at the table, Alexa parted Amy and Liv so that she was sat directly opposite me, still glued to her phone.

That heady scent of over-powerful cologne enveloped me seconds before Dan did.

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