I get on the bus and head to the town center. The journey is a little jolty, and it's busier than usual, but I have no one to blame by myself. While my car's being fixed, the bus will have to do. Anyway, it brings back memories from childhood travelling with my family.
The sentences that Mitchell Whires said repeated in my head like a stuck record, as if my brain were reminding me of my destination and reason.
Meet you at the town center! By the coffee shop. You know, the one where the barista tries to hit on me? Yeah, that one. See you soon.
I nodded my head as I got off the bus, gaining some strange looks from the fellow people also exiting the vehicle. Strolling up the street with a bounce in my step made me that bit more excited. It was so exciting because I was going on a school trip to the seaside with my classroom for a week, to do sporting activities and learning. I knew I was going to join in with everything, even the terrifying zipline and the singular rollercoaster. Mitchell, the main teaching assistant from my classroom, was going to pick me up from the coffee shop (after grabbing some nice drinks, of course) and drive me to the school where we'd wait for the children to arrive, then the coach. It was such an adrenaline rush I thought that, perhaps, I was more excited than the children, despite them being 11-12 and me being 28.
After some time walking, I eventually reached the coffee shop. It was a quaint little place: outdoor tables decorated with pots of tulips and daisies, swift nest boxes under the eaves of the roof, an adorable bell above the door which dinged in a welcoming manner every time you entered for a hot chocolate or slice of cake. I saw the nest boxes as I got closer, and because it was Summer I noticed swifts going in and out of them, cheering me up even more and reminding me of hardworking parents and gorgeous fluffy chicks. I could relate. Well, obviously not with the fluffy bird babies, but the hardworking parents. I knew many of them and most of them were kind and considerate.
I expected Mitchell to take about fifteen minutes to half an hour. I couldn't blame him: he obviously wanted to prepare well.
Fifteen minutes passed, and I kept my eyes open for Mitchell. He had told me what he would be wearing so I could spot him in the crowds: a black hoodie with a white tshirt, alongside some denim jeans and red-and-blue trainers. I looked out for his combination of clothes, but I couldn't see them. Once it had been twenty minutes I texted Mitchell.
You here? Where are you?
I instantaneously felt rude. He might be stuck in traffic, maybe? But at the same time I was nervous. He had to be here in the next ten minutes otherwise the children might get to school and be there alone.
I expected a text back like 'sorry. In the car' but I got...nothing. Not even an emoji or 'OMW'. I started to get worried. I called his number. It ringed for a while, and my anxiety was rising so high that I couldn't bear to get a coffee.
I left a message, my voice panicked. "Hello, Mitchell? Hello? Please text me to let me know if you are okay. We've got, literally only five minutes before it's time to leave. Please hurry, I'm getting scared. See you soon...please," I spluttered, before reluctantly hanging up.
Four minutes. Three minutes. One minute.
I couldn't wait any longer. I'd have to wait until the end of the week to find out if Mitchell was okay, because I couldn't leave those kids. I ran down the road and, luckily, saw a taxi heading my way. I hailed it and got in.
"Can you take me to Axe Wood Primary School, please?" I said in a hurry to the driver.
"Sure, sweetheart. What's got you so worked up, hm?" the taxi driver crooned, which irritated me fit to burst.
"Can you step on it, mate? It's urgent," I urged him, sweat beads dripping down my face.
"Alright!" the man shouted back at me, before turning on the car and zooming down the road.
When we got there, I payed as soon as my hands would let me and I jumped out, pulling my suitcase with me. I ran down the path to the school, where all the children had grouped up as I had instructed them yesterday. Well, mostly. The coach had only just turned the corner.
"Hi, Miss Jaines! You were late!" one of the schoolgirls, Jo Latimer, giggled.
"Hi, Jo. I know, I'm a bad teacher, aren't I?" I replied, still sweltering as the coach parked up and asked us to get on. "Alright, Year Six! Hurry on, now, but don't bash anyone with your suitcases. One at a time, please. First in line goes to the back."
The children moved onto the coach one by one, but I heard them all whispering. I couldn't make out what they were saying. The last child in line was a girl with anxiety called Clara Whitlock. She looked up at me, obviously stressed.
"M-Miss Jaines...where's Mr Whires?" she stuttered.
I had to be honest. "I...don't know, darling. He didn't show up. That's why I was so late. We'll worry about it at the end of the week, hm?" I spluttered, before helping Clara onto the coach and hauling my suitcase onto it too, taking a seat next to her.
I told her not to worry, but inside I was melting with fear, my excitement now gone.