Chapter Two

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Welcome back.

That's what Maria, the receptionist at Ashridge High, had said to me as I collected my timetable that morning.

I didn't feel very welcome.

Not five minutes had passed since I had entered the building and already I had been almost knocked over by two overgrown teenage boys chasing after each other, and had received a shirty cough telling me I was in the way when I paused to check my timetable what locker number they had given me.

Though – excluding the receptionist – it appeared as though no one recognised me...yet. I didn't expect that to last long.

I didn't anticipate it being much of a wait before people would recognise my name.

Charlotte Grey: 'the odd girl with no voice', 'the girl who went crazy', 'the once preppy cheerleader turned hostile silent girl'.

Maybe in time passed they had come up with better, more inventive, names.

I didn't actually want an answer to that. I wanted to believe that as soon as I left the rumours left with me, that seven months was long enough for everyone to forget that 'Charlotte Grey' ever even existed.

With my head dipped low, to avoid being recognised I scurried through the corridors, towards locker 219.

I didn't know whether I was grateful or not that I no longer had the one I had before. They must have given my old one away. There was probably a new student who had made it entirely their own.

Instead of pictures of me and my friends that had once been stuck on, there would be other personalised items of their own.

Reaching my destination I hoisted my bag further up my shoulder as I came to a halt and spun in my appointed combination.

12, 6, 19

Nothing. No dull click to tell me I had gotten it right. No instant release of the padlock. Frowning in frustration I spun in the combination again, only to receive the same result.

Clenching my jaw I pulled out my timetable in annoyance to double check I hadn't read the numbers wrong. 12, 6, 19. Irritated, I tried the combination one last time, and surprise, surprise, it didn't work.

Annoyed, and uncaring that it would only gain me unwanted attention I hit the locker loudly, as if trying to smack sense into it.

As if today wasn't bad enough already. Hitting the locker a second time, half hoping that it would magically spring open (it didn't), I heard someone yelling behind me.

"HEY! What the hell are you doing to my locker!?" At first I didn't realise the question was directed at me, until I heard the loud slapping of feet on hardwood flooring, as they approached me at a run.

I was shoved brusquely aside by a large hand on my shoulder, and I stumbled catching myself unsteadily on the lockers beside me.

What the hell?

The boy, who had now turned to face me with an accusing scowl, had the same question stamped across his face.

I wrinkled up my face and went to point angrily at the locker to tell him that it was mine, and that he could basically piss off, when I noticed that the locker I had been trying to force my way into wasn't '219' but a roughed up looking '218'.

Oops.

That's embarrassing.

"Why the hell were you beating up my locker?" The boy demanded to know, catching my attention again.

I froze, unsure of what I could do in this situation, because the boy was still glaring down at me waiting to hear my explanation. One that I couldn't easily give.

Well shit.

"Well?" He pestered, and I realised I was now staring at him completely uselessly, with my mouth half open with the words of explanation stuck deep in my throat.

Nothing came out.

Closing my jaw I shrugged, unable to give him an apology.

His face screwed up at my silence. "Please don't tell me that I've literally left you speechless." He said with a mix of humour and disgust, like he wasn't sure if he was meant to be annoyed at me for being a bumbling idiot or impressed with himself for the awe-inducing charisma he clearly thought he possessed.

I felt my features morph into a scowl, and I wanted nothing more than to set him straight. To tell him I was mute not rendered dumbstruck by his very presence.

The words refused to leave my mouth, a part of me was still holding back, clinging onto the silence that hadn't left me for seven months. So instead I relied on my heavy glare to let him know that he had just spurted out the most obnoxious load of bull I had ever had the displeasure of hearing.

His eyebrows rose drastically at my glare. "Calm down kitten." He grinned playfully. "You're kind of cute...in a way...if you want to have a ride all you have to do is ask." His eyes rolled over me, leaving me feeling exposed and aggravated.

I was glad I hadn't listened to my mother when she had persisted at me with morning to wear something more flattering than a hoody and ripped jeans.

Have a ride? He was gesturing towards himself as he said it, and disgust churned my stomach.

He waited expectantly, his expression lifted into one of smug arrogance at my continued silence.

"Still wordless I see." There it was again. Arrogance and irritation rolled into one.

I no longer felt the need to apologise for the abuse I had forced upon his locker, but felt instead more apologetic to the fact that I hadn't punched him in its place, because right now he was practically begging me for the taste of my foot in his face, and I was only too willing.

He rolled his eyes at me, clearly knowing that talking to me was a wasted effort. Then again, the quiet one's are no fun." He said turning his nose up at me. "Don't touch my locker again." Those were he last warning words farewell before he stormed away.

If I were lucky, I wouldn't have to see him again.

Clenching my jaw I silently pled for his demise in my mind.

I desperately wanted for something, or someone to come along and knock him off his high horse; because it was clear that years of misplaced ego petting had led him to thinking he was the definition to 'the shit'.

Who the hell even was that guy? The question bothered me. Whoever he was I didn't recognise him from before I had left, and it was clear he hadn't recognised me from the way he waited for a reply. Anyone who knew me would have known not to.

Fuming mutely to myself I attempted to open the right locker this time, and found myself having no trouble with the combination.

After ditching everything unneeded haphazardly into my locker I slammed closed the door, leaning my forehead against it to cool myself down.

Get over yourself.

Piss off.

As if.

Never in a million years.

All the words I had wanted to scream at him came too late, and swirled uselessly around in my head. It wouldn't have helped if the words would have come any sooner anyway.

I wouldn't have said them.

Letting out a strangled groan to myself I lifted up my head to notice I was all alone, in the hallway. My eyes widened as I glanced down to my watch. Late.

Damn it.

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