History is going to be the death of me. My chin tilts down as my mind wanders off in an attempt to stay awake. Mr. Giles has been wittering on for the past half hour and I can't remember anything he's said. My eyes droop as weariness washes over me. I'm so tired. Tired of this class. Tired of this school. This entire life.
It used to be easier for me, but I don't like to dwell on the past – hence my disdain for history.
England sucks. It has sucked for a long time. That is our history. But don't say it or they'll come for you. A sigh escaped my lips and the boy in the row next to me gives me a curious look. I shake my head and look down at my desk.
“The Colonies,” Mr. Giles says. “Represent the worst that can happen to a modern society.”
My slowly closing eyes snap open. Year ten is the first chance we get to learn about the mythical colonies. Suddenly wide awake, I lean forward and rest my elbows on my desk. We've all heard the stories since we were kids. The truth is hidden in those tales somewhere. But now we get the whole picture.
Mr. Giles continues. “They are proof that in the midst of disaster, the strong countries will survive and the weak will perish. An entire nation was destroyed. Let us never forget the mistakes that led to their demise.”
I am listening so intently that the bell signaling the end of the day makes me jump out of my chair. “Your homework for tonight is to choose one of the many reasons the colonies were destroyed and write a one-page paper. Use your textbooks. You're dismissed. We'll pick this up on Monday.”
I look around in a daze and barely notice my classmates packing their books. Everyone is chatting and smiling as they leave the room, no doubt excited for the weekend. I slowly move around my desk, grab my rucksack, and head for the door. Everything I pass is a blur as I make my way to the exit. Excited chatter fills the hall as students hurry by.
In the distance, I hear my name. This snaps me out of my stupor and I almost trip on my own two feet as someone taps me on the shoulder.
“Dawn.” My older sister Gabby is annoyed as usual. “I've been calling you from the other end of the hall.”
“Sorry, I'm just really tired.” I scrub a hand across my face.
Gabby plants her hands on her hips, looking me over in that scrutinizing way of hers. If they didn't already know, no one would ever guess we're sisters. Gabby is tall and fit, with long strawberry blonde hair that falls over her shoulders in waves. Her eyes are emerald green and stand out against her tanned skin. Gabby has the kind of smile that gets what she wants and she knows how to use it. I, on the other hand, am built differently, short and thin. My hair is dishwater brown and cropped short, because why bother? My appearance suits me. It lets me go unnoticed and I'm okay with that, really. I swear. Okay, sometimes I'm okay with it.
“Dawn. Dawn.” Gabby is snapping her fingers in front of my face. I hate when she does that. “What is wrong with you today? You're acting like a proper nutter. It's like you're here, but you're not.”
“Yeah, cuz that makes a lot of sense, sis.”
She scowls at me and I look away.
“Sorry, s'been a long day,” I finally say. “Let's just go home, OK?”
“That's what I came to tell you. Drew is taking me for a ride in his new car. I'll find a way home later.”
“Can't he just drive you home?” Before I even finish that sentence, I know the answer.
“No way, do you want me to blow it? I need to go find him.” I can see Gabby's mood turning sour so I just say goodbye and continue on my way. I think about turning back to remind her not to miss curfew, but she knows when that is so I keep moving. Since I was a kid there has been a strict curfew enforced by the government. No one is supposed to leave their houses after nine at night. Gabby doesn't always make it back in time, but she hasn't been caught - yet.
As I'm walking towards the end of the hall, I hear something coming from a classroom on my left and freeze. Turning towards the sound, I suddenly wish I'd minded my own business.
A girl I recognize from my sister's track team is pressed up against the chalkboard by a boy I don't remember ever seeing before. She giggles but it's cut off as he attaches himself to her lips. I'm such a creeper, but I can't look away. He must be a senior. His shirt is stretched tight across his back across well-defined muscles.
She pushes her hands into his dark hair and a blush creeps up my neck. I have to get out of here. I break away from the scene unfolding before me and hoof it down the hall. Pushing through the double doors to the outside, I groan as I watch my bus pulling away from the curb.
I run towards it, but I'm too late. Perfect. “Shite.” I look around considering my options. Most people have already left the school grounds. We're not allowed to hang around once school lets out. As soon as the bell rings, rankers start showing up. The military uses the area for training. Actually, they use pretty much all of London for training. I need to get out of here so I guess I'll have to take the tube. Sighing, I set off towards the station.
I walk slowly, in no hurry to get home. People go around me as they rush on their seemingly important tasks.
The streets are teeming with squaddies carrying large guns as if they would ever have to use them here. This part of London is where the rich people live. Their streets are lined with department stores that most people could never hope to shop in. I don't belong here and I'm not the only one who seems to notice. Men and women in suits cast suspicious glances my way as they push past me.
I've only had to take the tube home from school a few times before and I wouldn't even have to come into the city for school if they hadn't shut down the East End Academy. They called it a breeding ground for the rebel movement. I can't say they were wrong. Rebels are dangerous. A society works better when all citizens follow the law. That's how England still prospers in a world that saw many fall. At least, that's what we've always been taught.
Sometimes I question it. I question them, our government. I'm not blind. I see what they do to us. But no good can come of rebellion so I shut it down when it enters my mind. It isn't in me to fight.
It takes me the better part of an hour to reach the tube station. I take the escalator down to the platform and swipe my card. I don't know how Gabs managed to nick these tube cards for us, but I learned to stop asking questions of her a long time ago.
I'm always amazed at how beautiful this platform is. There is a large mural painted in bright colors on one wall and adverts everywhere. I don't think there is a cleaner platform in all of London.