All the way to school, I watched the speedometer. Seeing as though the needle rarely quivered above thirty, it was hardly a distraction. But I couldn't look out of the window and see the streets slip away with every second, bringing me closer to hell on earth. At least cycling made the journey more pleasant. Inside the car, four out of five seats filled, we were all too close. Matt's chair was pushed back until it almost reached my knees, which brushed against colouring book stuffed inside a pocket on the back of the seat.

Over the low drone of Arcade Fire, I could vaguely hear the sound of Amanda's voice. On the other backseat, with Toby's car seat in-between us, sat Ramona, her purple lips responding to whatever Amanda had said.

A flash of red and white passed us by. The tide of anticipation, a sludge-like sensation, rose up inside of me as the car lurched around a corner and through the school gates. Only half of the car park spaces were filled, probably by the sort of staff who actually wanted to come into work. Without its horde of captive students, the buildings seemed stark and lifeless.

"Right then," Matt sighed as the car engine spluttered to a halt, "You ready Taylor?"

I went to meet his gaze in the rear view mirror, and regretted it at being greeted by that purple mass that made me look like I had an oversized, squashed grape for an eye.

"I guess."

"Don't worry Taylor. I'm sure we'll be able to work something out. When I spoke to your head of year, she seemed very supportive and wanted to take immediate action."

'Yeah, that's what they all say,' I thought, giving Amanda a nod, before pushing against the car door.

As I waited for everyone else to get out of the car, I tried to quell that heavy feeling inside of my chest with the knowledge that I already knew what was going to happen. It'd be no different to the last two schools I'd been to.

'So why are you dreading this so much? You knew it was inevitable, let's just get this over with-'

A loud shriek burst into my thoughts, and my body turned in the direction of the sound. Across the car park, students poured out of a school bus like dutiful ants heading towards the nest. It was hard to tell from a distance, but the figures all seemed a lot younger than me. Nobody had seen me. Hopefully it would stay that way.

I lead my parents and Ramona up towards the main entrance. A mob of students rounded the corner, heading towards the gates whilst we came up the path.

'They probably don't know you, they probably don't know-'

That thought dissipated as I glanced a familiar redhead amongst the crowd, though she seemed to be chatting to some blonde girl in my business class. I quickened my pace, even with the jolt that rattled through my still tender ribs, and grabbed the main door, stepping inside to hold it open for the others.

Further down the hall I recognised the stout figure of Mr Jones, in conversation with one of the receptionists. He glanced up, then seemed to hastily dismiss the woman before hurrying to approach us, making a beeline for Matt and Amanda.

"Mr and Mrs Adams, I appreciate you both coming in to discuss this-I'm Mr Jones, headteacher," he said, and offered a hand to Matt, followed by Amanda. "And you are?"

His astute gaze surveyed Ramona, who tucked her purple tipped fringe behind an ear with a demure smile, having wisely chosen to take her nose piercing out.

"Ramona, sir. I'm a friend of Taylor's and we work at the same shop. I was there when the attack happened."
"Ah yes, the, er-" Mr Jones faltered, and sucked in a breath as he finally looked at my face, "Why don't you all come into my office?"

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