The wheel turns to another Wednesday. In precisely one week I will no longer be employed and I will start the next adventure of my life. I have decided, for a lot of reasons, that I won't look for another job straight away. It should mean freedom, but I wonder. I intend to put some energy into writing so watch this space
“How are you feeling?” Robin asked as they walked into school. “Nervous?”
“Yes.” Cyan’s voice shook, and Robin noticed his hand was shaking on the strap of his bag. He also noticed how long and slender Cyan’s fingers were. An artist’s hand his mother would have said.
“What subjects are you taking?” he asked, to take his mind off them.
“English, History, Art History and Art.”
“I knew it.”
“Knew what?” Cyan asked nervously.
“That you’re an artist. You have the hands for it.”
Unthinking, Robin took Cyan’s hand and ran his fingers over the palm and digits. For the briefest moment, Cyan stared, and Robin felt him shiver, then he pulled away.
“Don’t touch me,” he said, but it sounded like an automatic response laced with confusion.
“I’m sorry.” Robin said. “I forgot you don’t like being touched.”
“Good luck with that in this place,” Gilly said, glaring at a group of giggling girls who’d just jostled her.
Robin was surprised when they carried on staring at them even as they walked away – some of them backward. “What are they looking at?” he asked.
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Gillian called after them and they hurried away, giggling, after flashing flirtatious glances their way.
At first, Robin was puzzled but it finally clicked. Of course. They were looking at Cyan, and why not? The school uniform suited him and added to his glorious good looks. If Robin hadn’t seen anything like it, then they sure hadn’t.
“God,” Gillian snapped, “they’re all at it.”
Robin looked around . The stares were coming from all directions. A glance at Cyan showed he was aware and acutely embarrassed.
“Let me show you the common room,” Robin said, stopping himself just in time from grabbing Cyan’s arm.
In the common room, Gillian flopped down in a chair next to Aivah.
“What’s wrong?” Aivah asked.
“God save us from kids,” Gillian groaned. “Stupid idiots were staring at us the whole way. You’d think they’d never seen a new boy before.”
“Bet they’ve never seen one like Cyan,” Alex said, smirking.
“Do you like our school?” Aivah asked.
“It’s big,” Cyan said. He perched on the edge of a chair, hugging his bag like a lifesaver.
“Is it bigger than your last school?”
“Much. I’ve never seen so many people. It’s very loud.”
“I expect your last school was a special school,” Gillian said. “It must be strange to come to a normal one.”
“It wasn’t that special,” Cyan said, frowning in thought. “I don’t think it was special at all.”
“Did you really just say that?” Robin glared at Gillian, who smiled innocently.
“Does the noise bother you?” Aivah asked, diverting attention. Robin glared at Gillian, letting her know the matter was far from closed.
“Yes. Loud noises hurt, and…so many people.” He glanced around as if even the number of people in the
common room was too much.
“We’re not that bad when you get to know us,” Aivah said, and Cyan smiled.
“What was your last school like?” Gillian asked. “Not…special.”
“Not really, no, but smaller. A lot smaller.” Robin frowned. Had no one noticed him wince?
“Why did you leave?”
“We…moved.” There was definitely more to it than Cyan was saying.
The only lesson Robin shared with Cyan, was History, which was after lunch. By then, the school was rife with rumour. Some of them weren’t nice, and Robin had a sinking feeling they originated with Gillian.
“He got kicked out of his last school,” he overheard a year nine girl say to her friends. “Coz he flipped and smashed up a classroom. He battered the teachers when they tried to stop him.”
“And the police,” another chipped in.
“Did he go to prison?”
“He’s mint though, isn’t he?”
The girls stopped surmising what crimes Cyan may have committed and adopted moony expressions.
“Do you think he’s got a girlfriend?”
“Who cares? Not into him are you, Becca? Didn’t think you went for retards.”
Robin could have let the rumours go, even the pointless mooning, but that was too much to walk away from.
“Hey,” he called. The girls turned to him in surprise. Seeing his sixth form uniform and prefect’s badge, they looked uncomfortable.
“Stop with the rumours. Cyan is not retarded.”
“Oh yeah, he is, I’ve seen him. He talks weird, and he doesn’t look at people.”
“He may be weird, but he’s definitely not retarded.”
“Did he really beat up a teacher?” one of the girls asked.
“Of course he didn’t,” Robin said hoping he was right. “Cyan isn’t like that.”
“Then what is he like?”
Robin was saved from having to work out how the hell to describe Cyan, by Gillian.
“What the hell did you do?” he demanded as they walked away.
“What do you mean?”
“At least half the school think Cyan is some kind of violent maniac who was thrown out of school for either burning it down or beating up a teacher.”
Gillian shrugged. “He might have.”
“Cyan would never have done anything like that.”
“Don’t be so sure. One of my mum’s friends has an autistic son and he has terrible temper tantrums. They’re called meltdowns and autistic people have them all the time. They can’t help it. He probably did do something like that.”
Robin just couldn’t see Cyan being violent. “You can’t spread rumours unless you know for sure.”
“Since when has that stopped me?” Gillian asked with a grin, Robin wanted to slap off her face.
“Well, at least don’t tell people he’s retarded.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, I haven’t told anyone he’s retarded, but I have told them he has mental health issues.”
“But he hasn’t.”
“Are you blind and stupid?”
“He’s autistic. That doesn’t mean he has mental health issues.”
“Whatever. Just stop spreading rumours.”
Gillian shrugged again, and walked away. Robin followed, only because he had no choice as they were going to the same place.
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