Chapter 5:

A Class Dynamic

A Common Journey

The bell rang to indicate it was the end of the lesson. I had just sat through 2 hours of maths and English so I was ready for what was scheduled next in my timetable-Lunchtime.Bookmark here

“Shall we just follow the crowd again Daniel?” Lucas asked, with a sheepish grin on his face. Bookmark here

We had just been following the rest of our class to lessons so far, instead of following the map on our phone. Our tutor did say that we were all on the same timetable right now though so it shouldn’t be a problem.Bookmark here

“It’s worked so far I guess.”Bookmark here

I imagine everyone is headed to the cafeteria now so I also headed in the direction. Having already been there, I knew the way.Bookmark here

I slung my bag over my shoulder and left the classroom with Lucas.Bookmark here

As I hadn’t had to walk much for classes so far I hadn’t seen much of the school but looking at it now, it really was a nice place.Bookmark here

The central courtyard we had just entered was especially good to look at. I remember seeing it on the school website but it’s beauty didn’t translate unless you were there in person with all your five senses under utilisation.Bookmark here

In the middle of the courtyard was a water fountain where a lot of students had started to gather, sitting near it on the grass. It looked to be one of the hangout places. Bookmark here

Beyond the fountain you could see and smell the freshly cut grass that led to the psychic training centre.Bookmark here

I checked my map and we were still heading the right direction. Unlike before no one in my class was in front of me right now so I couldn’t just follow them.Bookmark here

I glanced behind, which made me realise that a lot of the class were actually following me by the looks of it. I didn’t like the pressure of leading everyone to the cafeteria so I would hope they were more responsible than me by using their own maps as well rather than just following whoever was in front.Bookmark here

Taking a closer look at the class there were already a lot of different social groups forming.Bookmark here

I was more or less familiar with different types from what I read online and I could just about pick them out. There were the popular girls with Olivia among them. Bookmark here

Then there were the popular guys or in other words ‘the lads’ talking very loudly amongst themselves.Bookmark here

Right at the back there was another distinctive group whose appearances didn’t match up with the norm, whether it be dyed hair, piercings or something else. They gave the impression that they were comfortable being who they are though which I found admirable as I’d be too conscious of people viewing me negatively.Bookmark here

Apart from those groups there were no other obvious ones. A few people were by themselves but otherwise it looked like a range of groups had formed. Bookmark here

I found it incredible that people could form them so quickly, I was just lucky to be sitting next to someone outgoing like Lucas.Bookmark here

I wonder what group I’d be perceived as? I’ve only sat next to and talked to Lucas so far so I guess I just blend in with the rest of class.Bookmark here

“Hmmmmm?”Bookmark here

I realised I was staring at Lucas now not saying anything so it was probably off putting.Bookmark here

“Could it be that you were entranced by my good looks?”Bookmark here

“Sorry” I apologized for staringBookmark here

“Haha I’m joking I’m joking, you’re so stiff sometimes it cracks me up. If anything it’d be the other way around anyway.”Bookmark here

The lesson so far had been a light introduction so we’d been able to talk a lot. I like to think we’ve gotten a little closer as a result.Bookmark here

I decided to explain what I was thinking about, as I was a bit curious about how Lucas thought.Bookmark here

“I was just thinking about how different groups have formed already, and wondering what group we'd be classed as”Bookmark here

I realised after I said it that I used “we” suggesting that me and Lucas were a group as well and it might have come across as presumptuous but he was the one the said we should be friends after all, so I didn’t stress too much about it. He didn’t seem to mind anyway.Bookmark here

“I guess we’d just be one of the normal groups that don’t stand out? To be honest I haven’t really thought about it.”Bookmark here

Like I thought, he was the type not to care about that sort of thing. With his personality I imagine he was friends with a lot of people.Bookmark here

“You were pretty popular before though, weren’t you?”Bookmark here

“Eh? Not at all. I was too busy hitting the books and practicing my psychic skills”Bookmark here

I’m sure he’s being modest but it was the same story for me as well. Besides, he may just enjoy his own company in his spare time. I suppose I’ll find out more as I get to know him.Bookmark here

We made it to the cafe with our class not far behind.Bookmark here

We ordered, retrieved our food then sat down. Bookmark here

I wasn’t that hungry so I ordered a light lunch. Lucas and I seemed to be of one mind on that as he also ordered a small lunch.Bookmark here

“Not hungry?”Bookmark here

“Ah well, my family’s a bit strapped for cash right now, so I try not to eat so much.”Bookmark here

“The school helps with money don’t they?” Bookmark here

I got a fairly generous loan that covered living expenses, food and the odd luxury.Bookmark here

“They did a little, but both my parents work so I wasn’t eligible for much.”Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

At this point classmates had started sitting down in our general area so my attention diverted to them. Bookmark here

The nerdy group was nowhere in sight but the popular girls had sat a few seats to our left.Bookmark here

As they were classmates that I’d be spending a lot of time with, I felt obligated to say something but I only ended up giving them a polite smile but they didn't look my way anyway.Bookmark here

On a closer look, I recognised the girl sitting closest. She was queuing at the test centre when I arrived, causing quite the scene. Bookmark here

Her name was Hannah right? This would actually be a good conversation opener as we have something in common to talk about.Bookmark here

I ran through some scenarios in my head on how I would start the conversation and where I would go from there and felt happy with the results.Bookmark here

I was about to start moving my mouth but had second thoughts. Not to say I was nervous or anything but I guess I was just aware of all the people around and didn’t feel like it. Besides, there's no rush.Bookmark here

Instead I opted to just listen to the conversation the girls were having with some boys in my class that had also sat down shortly after.Bookmark here

“Hello ladies!”Bookmark here

The trio of boys slumped into their seats, trays clunking on the table.Bookmark here

The conversation between the girls stopped and they looked at the boys, most of them not changing their facial expression.Bookmark here

“Hi”Bookmark here

One of the girls furthest away from me greeted them bluntly.Bookmark here

Apart from Hannah and Olivia sitting closest, I didn’t know anyone else’s name among the 3 boys and 3 other girls. I really should’ve paid more attention in the introductions. Bookmark here

“Ooof, you girls should smile more.”Bookmark here

Despite my lack of experience with social situations, even I knew that was a terrible thing to say. Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

Olivia was first to react, clearly not happy with what she heard.Bookmark here

“I could be a bit more cheerful! Sorry it’s been a long morning.Bookmark here

Hannah on the other hand had decided to let them off the hook. Whether she agreed with them or not I don’t know.Bookmark here

While the other girls were still silent, the boy in the middle went on to introduce himself.Bookmark here

“I’m Jack by the way, and this is Steve and Richard.Bookmark here

He points to his left, and then his right. They dressed themselves smartly with their uniform and had clean haircuts.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I remember.” Another girl who hasn’t said anything yet, responded with a straight face.Bookmark here

“Ah that’s right, we’re by any chance impressed with me scoring in the top 0.1% for my GCSEs?”Bookmark here

Despite his unrefined attitude, Jack was apparently smarter than 99.9% of the country if it’s a good measure of whose smart and who isn’t.Bookmark here

“Oh Uh, yeah I guess.”Bookmark here

“Hahaha I thought so”Bookmark here

The girls still didn’t seem impressed so far.Bookmark here

After a moment of silence, Steve decided to pick up the conversation.Bookmark here

“You girls all have boyfriends or something. You're being awfully rigid.”Bookmark here

“N-no, I don’t have one”Bookmark here

I remember what Hannah said at the test centre so unless she's got one during summer she’d be single right nowBookmark here

“Yeah, there’s a different reason for my attitude”Bookmark here

Olivia didn’t say whether she had a boyfriend, but stated that it wasn’t the reason for their behaviour. I think I could guess what the reason was as well.Bookmark here

Stevepondered for a second, and then clicked his fingers as if he’d come up with the answer.Bookmark here

“Oh I get it! Is it that time for you?.Bookmark here

“…What?”Bookmark here

“That time of the month I mean.”Bookmark here

Oh no..Bookmark here

Jack found it funny but everyone else’s jaws dropped.Bookmark here

“Alright, listen you-“Bookmark here

“Hey guys, do you mind if I sit down”Bookmark here

I’m not sure what Olivia was about to say as she was pulling up a sleeve but Adam came in at just the right time.Bookmark here

The 3 other girls’ mood changed in an instant and answered in unison.Bookmark here

“Sure, we don’t mind!”Bookmark here

“Is it alright with you guys as well?”Bookmark here

He asked the three lads for their permission as well. They didn’t look overly pleased.Bookmark here

“Be my guest” Bookmark here

Jack replied, gesturing to the empty chair.Bookmark here

“Thank you very much”Bookmark here

“Hey hey, Adam! Is it true that you got under 50 seconds at the test centre?”Bookmark here

Adam sat down and was immediately bombarded with a question.Bookmark here

“Where did you hear that Sasha? But yes, that is true I got pretty lucky.”Bookmark here

“Wow, that’s amazing!”Bookmark here

It was definitely a good time. I was a bit jealous of the attention he got to be honest.Bookmark here

“I got under 50 seconds as well. It’s not that impressive”Bookmark here

Jack made sure to not be one-upped by Adam. But instead of competing with him, Adam went for a different approach.Bookmark here

“Damn, that’s impressive man. Looks like I’ve got to watch out for you!”Bookmark here

Jack looked confused as Adam playfully hit him on the back. Bookmark here

Either way there was no trace of what was left of the atmosphere before. It made me wonder if Adam knew of the situation beforehand but in any case, his social skills were impressive.Bookmark here

As more than one conversation happens in that group now, I stopped listening and came to the realisation that I hadn’t eaten any of my food yet.Bookmark here

I started taking bites but found myself listening to another conversation between a boy and girl to the right of me. I’m pretty sure they were in my class.Bookmark here

“Oh wow, I’d never thought I meet anyone else who liked that sort thing”Bookmark here

“Shhh. Yeah, but keep it a secret between us ok?”Bookmark here

The girl asked to keep something a secret. But what on earth were they talking about? It must be something embarrassing if she didn’twant anyone else to know so that narrows it down a bit.Bookmark here

I decided to keep listening.Bookmark here

“Yeah I get you. Even though it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, I hide it from my friends”Bookmark here

“I know right! It doesn’t make sense, more people will be doing it soon as well”Bookmark here

Is this something lewd? It’s something lewd right?Bookmark here

“Oh that one thing is this weekend isn’t it? Want to go?”Bookmark here

“Oh yeah, let’s do it, sounds good!”Bookmark here

Alright, I'm stumped. Lucas was also to the right of me so he could probably hear them as well and he may have been listening before me so I decided to use his wisdom.Bookmark here

“Hey Lucas, do you know what they’re talking about?”Bookmark here

“Anime”Bookmark here

“Anime?”Bookmark here

“You know, like animation, but in Japan.”Bookmark here

“Oh, I see”Bookmark here

So I had misunderstood. It sounds like they had a date on the weekend though so I wished them luck.Bookmark here

I thought I’d listen back to the group on my left again but when I went to peek at them, I saw Hannah and Olivia looking in our direction talking in hushed voices. I pulled my eyes towards my food and started eating.Bookmark here

All of sudden, I had forgotten how I eat as if I had become too aware of my own actions.Bookmark here

I pick up my fork with my right hand, stab it into food, and then place it into my mouth to chew on. That was how I normally do it, but for some reason it felt unnatural.Bookmark here

I kept hearing their whispers and I felt the way I was eating looked weird but I didn’t dare look up.Bookmark here

After about 10 seconds someone spoke.Bookmark here

“Aren’t you guys still going to be hungry after that?”Bookmark here

The voice came from Olivia, but in a different tone than what I was hearing before so I felt that it was directed at us before looking up. I lifted my head and saw the two girls closest looking at us. Hannah and Olivia.Bookmark here

“We just weren’t that hungry I guess” I said, shrugging. I had decided to take initiative and answered before Lucas as I wasn’t sure if he was comfortable talking about his situation with money.Bookmark here

“Are you sure you can finish yours?” I said, nodding at her plate.Bookmark here

If I wanted to continue the conversation, it was my turn to say something so I naturally brought up the amount she was eating, as it was related to what they just said after all.Bookmark here

However, in the next moment, Lucas looked at me and glared as if to say I had said something I shouldn’t have.Bookmark here

Even though I didn’t know why, I felt a sense of dread and there was no immediate reply from her which wasn’t the common structure of a conversation. Was mentioning the amount of food she had somehow a bad thing to say?Bookmark here

With Hannah stifling her laughter while looking at the slightly red Olivia, she repliedBookmark here

“W-well you know I’m an athlete so I have to eat a lot. And I was hungry…” Bookmark here

She said that sheepishly but there didn’t seem to be any anger in my direction. Whenever I imagined accidentally making a comment in poor taste like I just did, I always pictured my reputation plummeting and being shunned by the student but in reality, everyone I had interacted with so far was nice.Bookmark here

“Ah that’s right, you said you compete in psychic combat at the national level don’t you Olivia? That’s amazing.”Bookmark here

Lucas chimed in to help me out. Moving on to the next topic casually. I was grateful to have Lucas by my side.Bookmark here

“Mmhm, I’ve only been able to qualify though. So It’s not like I’m a pro or anything”Bookmark here

“That’s still amazing though, that makes you one of the best in the country”Bookmark here

“Hmm, I never thought of it like that. I am pretty good, aren't I?”Bookmark here

Olivia proudly boasted, and rightfully so as it certainly sounded like quite the accomplishment.Bookmark here

It felt like my turn again to keep the conversation going so I asked a question.Bookmark here

“Did you go to a school that focuses on psychic combat then?”Bookmark here

As I wasn’t well versed with the sport I thought I’d ask about it. Although I’m not especially interested, it's good to show interest in what other people are invested in.Bookmark here

“No, I just trained a lot after school like anyone else. There’s no school that would teach that sort of thing you know? Oh you might not have known actually, as you were homeschooled. Anyway, now that students our age will be going to psychic schools it will be a lot more competitive now.”Bookmark here

“Ah that’s right! You said you were homeschooled! What was that like? Must be cool to stay at home!”Bookmark here

The other girl piped up very suddenly which took me aback slightlyBookmark here

Anyway I’m starting to think I should prepare some premade answers for these sorts of questions as I foolishly told everyone Bookmark here

“It was nothing special really, I just learnt what you guys did, but at home.”Bookmark here

“Oh…Still, must be nice to have a lie in though”Bookmark here

She tried really hard to be interested in my indifferent answer and I appreciated it.Bookmark here

“Nah, he still had to be up by 7:30 didn’t ya”Bookmark here

Lucas nudged me with his elbowBookmark here

I noddedBookmark here

“Awwww bless ya”Bookmark here

Now that Hannah had entered the conversation I thought it was a good time to mention that I’d seen her before.Bookmark here

“Oh by the way, did you go to the test centre just south of here? I think I might have seen you.”Bookmark here

I did my best acting and pretended that I had just come to the realisation.Bookmark here

“Huh? Oh, Yeah I did! What, were you there too? What day? I don’t remember seeing you!”Bookmark here

“Yeah I think she’d remember you” Olivia , who had been looking the other way, chimed in to say that with a wide grin.Bookmark here

“Oh my goddd, stop ittt” Hannah turned to Olivia and talked in a hushed voice.Bookmark here

Were they meaning to how I looked a bit scruffy at the time I took the test? Although I had tried smartening myself up, I may not have done a good job and may still look a bit rough as I hadn’t done it before. Either way I answered her question.Bookmark here

“It was July 25th, at about 2pm” Bookmark here

“Oh yeah! I think I was there a bit before that so you might have seen me. How’d you find it?”Bookmark here

“The test was alright. I didn't have any problems with that. Though I thought the test centre itself was a bit weird though, awful lot of hallways”Bookmark here

“That’s what I said!”Bookmark here

Hannah announced that she had the same thought as me rather loudly, putting both hands on the table and lifting out her seat slightly. It attracted the attention of the boys to the left and they gave a slight scowl in our direction.Bookmark here

She collected herself and continued Bookmark here

“But ermm yeah, I said the exact same thing to a friend of mine.”Bookmark here

After that, I spent the rest of lunch time like that, talking with Lucas and Hannah with the occasional contribution from Olivia. I felt like I was mostly listening in on Lucas and Hannah talk but I enjoyed it anyway.Bookmark here

Not to sound like a broken record but everyone I’d interacted with so far really was nice and easy to talk to.Bookmark here

The bell went and it was time for the next lesson- The psychic power lessonBookmark here

A Common Journey

A Common Journey

You can resume reading from this paragraph.