I Am This Girl


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I Am This Girl

Tales Of Youth

By Samantha Benjamin

To my Nana, Minnie Moo & Mars

You may be gone but you are never forgotten

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Chapter One - The Beginning

Whenever you move onto a new place you call it an adventure. Whatever happens, happens. It’s all part of the journey of self-discovery. We learn new things about ourselves, embrace the culture and surroundings. Question aspects of yourself you weren’t even aware existed, and in years to come wonder if any of it would’ve happened if you hadn’t moved.

“Are you ready?” “As I’ll ever be”.

When Natalie first approached Tammy about moving from London to Morpington, she laughed in her mother’s face. It wasn’t as if she didn’t like the idea of moving. They’d done it when Tammy moved up from Nursery to Primary School. Tammy loved travelling. She was always the first to sign up for school trips, and somewhat enjoyed the trips out with her dad. She liked the train and bus journey’s, looking out the window at the farms, rivers, horses and sheep eating grass, hillsides and mountains. It was all fun.

The part she enjoyed most though was knowing she’d eventually go back home to her room. She could look out her bedroom window at the Mew’s mixed cobbled road. The houses with white garages were on her left gleaming in the moonlight. On her right were the wooden garden doors of different shapes and sizes, which belonged to the residents of Queens Road.

There was an open white paved walkway on Queens road. If you walked straight the way down on the left was a dingy, smelly subway. It connected to the far left side of Mulls road, which was home to the local underground station, shopping centre and various bus stops connecting to different parts of London. There was always a man standing in the subway, with his guitar, singing joyfully away for a few bits of change.

Facing Queens Road was the Traynark Estate. With its black towering blocks that stretched over 20 floors, small green area known for extra curriculum activities next to the park and across from the community centre, and uninviting roads cutting off everywhere you looked to places unknown, it was not a very welcoming place.

Tammy on the occasion attempted to hang out with the kids from the Estate in the playground. They’d go for a spin on the round wheel, close their eyes and the wheel turned as fast as the children could run around it, and whoever was able to get up non dizzy and nauseous was crowned the winner. But the children didn’t much like her.

She’d moved into the Mews off the Estate at the age of 5, coming with Natalie from a previous Estate an hour away. Natalie was very cautious over letting Tammy hang with the kids due to the Estate’s bad influences. Tammy spent most of her time in her room, riding up and down the Mews on her bike or playing tennis against the back of the houses wall.

She only really ventured onto the Estate to go to the Newsagents or Convenience store on the main road. The Estate kids took this as Tammy believing she was better than them and took great joy in airing their feelings.

At the bottom of the Mews were overgrown trees and a small area of mud that was cut off from view. Tammy enjoyed sitting there with her bike, watching the vehicles speed round the roundabout, with the water tower illuminating the area after dark.

There was nothing better for Tammy on a sleepless night than staring out her window at the water tower, looking at the Mews lit up by the bright orange street lamp. Hearing people arrive home from nights out. Watching cats dart across the Mews as fast as they could, and the Foxes riffle through the bins for food.

It was homely.

Morpington on the other hand was not.

The sun disappeared, replaced by grey clouds, drizzle rain and gloom as the train sped past the Countryside. Though there was no way she was going through with it, Tammy agreed to view the house to give mum her thoughts. Natalie claimed she wanted a change of scenery and Phil had been offered a job, making the move perfect.

The reality they believed Tammy ignorant to was Phil, having grown up in the North, wanted to move back as he was homesick. Natalie initially refused being a London girl, and not wanting to disrupt Tammy’s life. As time wore on, the arguments between her and Phil grew more intense and Natalie caved for the sake of their sanity.

Leading up to the visit, things weren’t good for Tammy at School. Once again, she was arguing with her best friends Sonia Brown and Kristie Lee. That wasn’t exactly breaking news since it was rare for them to ever go a week without arguing.

Kristie had piercing blue puppy dog eyes, silky long straight blonde hair, slim build and was always so caring with a bubbly personality to match. All she had to do was look at you and any anger you felt evaporated. Sonia always had judgement in her sturdy brown eyes, black hair usually tied back either in mini plaits courtesy of her Aunts or a round knot, she was slim build and taller than Kristie and Tammy, which was a surprise given how much Tammy towered over mum.

Tammy and Natalie got off the train, greeted by a soaking wet grey platform, fresh smell of urine in the air, Tammy knew Morpington was not for her.

There was vomit from a pint too many the previous night on the staircase to the main entrance. White tiled flooring made up the station floor, with red and orange bricks making up the walls and lamp lights matching the transparent glass ceiling. Grey clouds passed them by as Tammy stared at the ceiling.

On the far-right side of the station through double brown doors was the narrow rectangular closed ticket office. Two self-service machines and various timetables were by one set of black transparent automatic doors. In the far-left corner on the other side of the station was a coffee shop and newsagents.

Busy station floors, having to hold onto mum, or extremely reluctantly dad, as they frantically dashed to get to the train on time had become Tammy’s forte. With only 5 people keeping them company, Morpington did not have that problem.

A small queue of people stood on the pavement outside the main entrance for a taxi. The outside of the station had the same ceiling, roof and orange-red brick interface as inside. Only difference was drops of rain leaking through the roof and hitting Tammy’s forehead, as rain and high winds battered them.

The people battled to keep their umbrella’s and stay dry, they chatted away in a thick Northern accent Tammy could barely understand. Yet they peculiarly eyed Tammy and Natalie, aware of the fact they had outsiders in their presence.

After what felt like an eternity, a driver finally turned his engine on and they rushed inside.

The driver looked like a tramp you’d see down Oxford Circus on an early Sunday morning; his overgrown black hair stretched through his brown baseball cap. He had a beard longer than Father Christmas.

Had he not been wearing a card that stated he was a licensed driver, Tammy would’ve called the Police. His clothes were badly worn in and his car smelt the way they Station looked. Tammy had thought Morpington was bad, but she hadn’t expected this. The journey to the house wasn’t much better.

“Aint seen ya before luv” The driver grunted in his thick Northern accent as he turned the taxi onto the main road and drove down toward the shopping centre “Visitin or lookin fa long term prospect?” the driver enquired, eying Tammy and Natalie in the back seat through the overhead mirror.

Tammy thought his attention would’ve been better served on the road.

“My partner and I came here a few months ago, to look at a house” Natalie politely replied with her London accent shining through, looking out the window at the traffic amongst them as the rain simmered “We’ve found a nice one but my daughter gets the final vote” Natalie explained.

“See” the taxi driver disappointedly noted the word ‘partner’ and turned his attention back to the road.

Men hitting on mum wasn’t anything new to Tammy.

It constantly happened when they were together, Natalie often annoyingly mistaken for Tammy’s older sister. With her strawberry red hair, hazel eyes and regular workouts, Natalie was in good shape.

The taxi grinded to a halt by an alleyway by the top of Clersham Road. Natalie paid the driver, Tammy carefully stepped back out into the pouring rain and took in her surroundings.

Had the road sign not read ‘Clersham Road’ and beside her a bus stop, with a small set of shops occupying what looked to be former Tudor houses on the main road, Tammy would’ve believed the driver had taken them on a round trip of Arnay Rise.

There was absolutely no difference between where she was standing and what they’d driven past, giving the feeling of being trapped in a labyrinth.

The alleyway was quiet, overgrown hedges making up the top of it.

Walking past overflown, and kicked over bins, Tammy and Natalie were greeted by more houses, grouped together. The only difference here was the houses were lined together in a square shape.

Directly ahead of them lay a row of 4 houses grouped together, with more alleyways separating them from neighbouring houses.

Tammy wasn’t impressed.

That opinion didn’t change when they came to a standstill by a small brown wooden gate, overgrown tree once again looming over them on the front lawn. The grass had obviously not been cut in months, trying to expand onto the pathway which led to the brown front door. The brown window paint on the window was cracked and faded in, parts of the window works on the ground underneath it, electric cupboard broke and the bricks of the house were a depressing brown.

Inside wasn’t any better.

Whilst Tammy was making sure to take in every detail of the kitchen, Natalie was busy negotiating with the man for the table. She was willing to pay him money, but the guy refused to take it. He claimed that it’d never fit into their kitchen which Tammy agreed with, and it’d been there since he’d moved into the house. That Tammy didn’t buy.

Whilst the upstairs was disappointing, the downstairs was certainly bigger than what they had in London.

Plus, it had a front and back garden which Tammy had always wanted for herself, as most of the properties Simon had lived in had them though they’d been shared and the neighbours weren’t friendly.

When he lived at Middlesone Road and Tammy was playing tennis in the garden, to quell a few hours of boredom during a rather sunny day that Simon had dedicated to horse racing, she hit it too high.

The ball ended up stuck in the black round pipe of the garage that was on the other side of the garden. Simon ignored her calls and desperately wanting her ball back, Tammy decided to climb onto the pipe.

She used the glass greenhouse that was home to plants, amongst other things, to support her weight.

She successfully managed to retrieve her ball and threw it onto the ground below her. Unfortunately, on her way back down, Tammy fell off the pipe and into the greenhouse.

The neighbour saw from his kitchen window and marched downstairs. Whilst Tammy lay bruised and bleeding in agony, the neighbour berated her for ruining his plants.

When Tammy told Simon of her fall, he didn’t pay any attention, merely telling Tammy not to block the TV. Tammy trudged off to the bedroom in search of a first aid kit to clear her cuts up, not sure why she’d expected anything else.

If it came to confrontation, or accepting any form of responsibility, Simon hid behind someone else to win the fight.

He’d done it since he was a child, where Uncle Billy would fight his battles. Sometimes Tammy even stepped in, ordering the person to back off and leave her dad alone. Yet when it came to old boys threatening to take Tammy’s sweet money? Simon walked away.

His only interest was in horse racing, gambling money he didn’t have and working all the shifts he could get to pay his mountain of debts.

In Primary School, Tammy joined the girl’s football team, partially because of how much she loved football, and to please him.

In that sense, it worked. When she visited his flat at the weekend, instead of being glued to the horse racing channel, he took her for a kick-about atop the local hill. It was peaceful with the sun shining through the blue skies. River was flowing beside them as they made their way up. Lying on the moist, freshly cut grass and staring at the sky took Tammy to a new place of tranquillity. Tammy stood in between their coats making up goal posts, Simon taught her different techniques and reflexes.

As soon as something more interesting came along however, Tammy didn’t exist.

Tammy was always perplexed over what about her dad women found attractive.

He was in his 40’s but looked to be 60. His short black hair had ceased to exist over the years, with no amount of hair products able to stave off the baldness forever. He refused to regularly shave, leaving a grey tussle on his face. His mouth was made up of false teeth, he took great delight with keeping by Tammy’s bedside and frightening the crap out of her on awaking. He didn’t keep himself in shape at all, growing quite the beer belly over the years, which his love of red meat and out of date food didn’t help with. He was extremely unhygienic, often making Tammy gag.

Simon made the move to Morpington 6 months before them. Tammy and Natalie stayed at his flat in Hykers Green for the weekend, so Tammy could attend a School Interview. It was just up the road from the Fields, tram stop on the street below and bus links to the School 20 minutes away.

On the Monday, Tammy and Natalie made their way down the windy Beacon’s-Mill-Road to Hayton’s Road where they caught the 77 bus.

Tammy could see why the school was so eager for new students. Even from a distance, it had the look and feel of a prison.

Suddenly Tammy was feeling as if her current school wasn’t so bad.

The first thing that caught Tammy’s eye about Morpington School for Girls was the lights. Tall green street lights that loomed over the school.

Then there were the large overgrown trees. They covered the near right of the school, next to the steel green gate that separated the school from the field. It hid part of the corner from plain sight and had a murky feeling to it.

The rear part of the school that accompanied that area didn’t help. The window panelling was white, but you couldn’t see in or out of the windows. Only small clusters of chatter let you know the people inside were alive and well. The bricks were a horrible brown colour, which matched the school’s dated feel.

The forest at the back of the school, under the grey clouds, made Tammy feel rather fearful.

That wasn’t improved when they reached the school’s main entrance, a green steel gate.

There were no security guards checking personnel. No adviser waiting to greet you and escort you to reception.

Just a small open green space with a set of wooden benches, overgrown trees, and steel green gates running along the front side of the school. Definitely like a prison.

On Natalie and Tammy’s arrival, the receptionist was quick on her windows 95 computer, with the brick screen sitting atop the wall beside her. She looked to be in her 50’s and was dressed in a plain uniform made up of a white shirt, black skirts, boots to match, and as if she’d been in the job 20yrs too long. Like the main corridor, the walls were covered in notices about the school, various trophies, school uniform and safety information.

Students continued to pour into the front of the school’s ground, some passing the reception on their way to class, Tammy looked out a them petrified.

“Tammy!” Natalie hissed breaking Tammy out of her daydream “Over here!” Natalie barked.

The Principal stood in the doorway that connected the reception with the School’s main corridor. He looked to be a pleasant enough man. Tammy guessed him to be in his 40’s, most of his hair gone leaving behind the old grey one, round spec glasses, and the standard Principal dress code of a grey suit with black shoes.

“I hope you didn’t have any trouble getting here” The Principal politely enough said to Natalie as Tammy made her way over to him “Not at all” Natalie politely replied and sat down on the chair.

“Right then” the Principal charmingly rubbed his hands together to relax the scared expression on Tammy’s face as she stood beside him, hands in her pocket and eyes glued to the floor “Let’s get going!” the Principal excitedly finished. It wasn’t reciprocated by Tammy.

The corridor was empty with everyone thankfully at registration. The left of the corridor had 2 workshop classes next to each other, cooking and wood-shop, and a Chemistry class. Opposite them on the right were large windows, looking out onto wooden benches, the rear courtyard and the field. There were a few trees and grass hill running down beside the left side of the school building. Looking closely at the field, Tammy noticed the green steel gates were broken up by a railing that had a small keyhole. Tammy guessed the school used the field as part of sports day, considering how small the gym appeared.

At the end of the corridor lay the library, a small set of stone stairs which led to the rear door, corridor and through a set of wooden brown doors, the stone staircase that took you upstairs.

With no windows down this side of the corridor, the only light that broke off from the marble walls were led tube lights.

Judging by the security detectors in the doorway, Tammy guessed the library had a problem with books being stolen.

Tammy sat at one of the tables at the back of the library. The Principal took Maths and English papers from the reception and handed them to Tammy, along with a pen and pencil. He explained she had two hours to take the tests and then he’d be back for her.

Occasionally girls walked into the library, but Tammy tried to ignore their presence. She breezed through the English paper and did her usual guess the answer when it came to Maths.

She figured numbers was a game of probability; why stress when you could write the first number that popped up in your head? It’d worked on previous tests, though her Teachers were never impressed.

The Principal gave Tammy a tour of the School and grounds. He reasoned that knowing where everything was before she properly joined, would make the experience less intimidating.

It had the opposite effect.

Every time the Principal opened the classroom doors, everyone fell silent, all eyes on Tammy as the Principal explained she would be joining the school in September. Tammy weakly smiled politely, feeling their eyes burning into her soul.

Tammy was glad when the time came to re-join Natalie in the reception and leave. That was soon replaced by crippling pain, as Natalie informed her it was now time to tell Sonia and Kristie her news.

Tammy had known this was coming. It wasn’t like she could just disappear into thin air, and casually call to say she’d gone, though the thought had occurred.

Over the next month, Natalie and Phil made arrangements with the removal company, using the same one as Simon, collected boxes from local shops and packed the house up.

On the second to last day of term, Tammy walked out of Spanish class to be greeted by the extremely unexpected sight of Lorraine, leant up against the wall. Tammy looked sideways at the other students passing her, assuming that Lorraine would call one of them out the crowd to join her.

She didn’t.

The corridor quietened, Lorraine saw Tammy, rooted to the spot by the Spanish class opposite her and approached her.

Tammy desperately wanted to run out of one of the side doors, or down one of the corridors to freedom. People who could act as eyewitnesses, not that it’d ever stopped Lorraine before.

No matter how happy she was in her friendship with Kristie and Sonia, and the confidence that’d given her to no longer fear the school gates, every time she came across Lorraine she wanted to bolt.

“Can we talk?” Lorraine asked in a friendly tone that completely took Tammy by surprise “Fine, I guess” Tammy mumbled unsure hands rooted to her pocket “But this better be quick. Kristie and Son know I’m always first out of class, they’ll be wondering where I am soon” Tammy warned.

She wanted Lorraine to know she had people at school now who cared about her and her wellbeing. That she couldn’t take Tammy round the back of the Library, and beat her until her mood subsided, because no-one noticed if Tammy was running late.

Tammy and Lorraine walked to the end of the corridor and onto the North Wing of the school.

Lorraine opened the door to the nearest stairwell and held her hand out for Tammy to lead the way. Not in the mood to walk up more stairs, Tammy walked down the stairs to the basement. There she turned back to a following Lorraine, several thoughts going through her head.

“So” Tammy commented with beading eyes “What do you want?” Tammy asked with an air of irritation.

“To apologise” Lorraine answered eyes squared to the floor. Tammy couldn’t do anything except chuckle with disbelief.

“Are we seriously doing this again?” Tammy angrily queried at a loss “I told you last time; I’m not interested and there’s nothing you can do or say that’ll make me be your friend again” Tammy reiterated looking Lorraine square in the face “You didn’t just make me feel like my life wasn’t worth living, you encouraged me to kill myself and attempted to kill me” Tammy reminded Lorraine and she shot up in anger at the accusation.

“How many times do I have to tell you what happened in the pool was a mistake?” Lorraine snapped and Tammy stepped back away from her cautiously “I thought you’d be able to grab hold of the panel” Lorraine insisted.

“You know I can’t swim well!” Tammy raged “I was screaming for help and what did you guys do?” Tammy put her hands in the air tearful as the memory swept over her “Stood back, laughing, enjoying the party. If Miss hadn’t come along when she did, I would’ve died” Tammy grudgingly spat.

“I wouldn’t have let that happen” Lorraine vehemently claimed.

Tammy didn’t believe a word of it.

“I’m really trying to change this time” Lorraine said with all the sincerity she could muster “Get better. Deal with things, instead of taking them out on everyone” Lorraine continued, inching ever closer to Tammy.

Rejecting Lorraine’s efforts, Tammy brushed past her and walked to the top of the stairwell, stopping by the door.

Tammy looked back, Lorraine stood on the spot, watching Tammy’s every move tinged with regret.

“Yeah” Tammy took great joy in rubbing in “This is what you’ve done to me” Tammy finished with a quiver and Lorraine walked back up the stairs to her.

“I am sorry Tam” Lorraine replied desperate for Tammy to believe her “An I know it’s a lot to ask” Lorraine acknowledged “But do you ever think you can forgive me?” Lorraine asked with hopeful eyes which Tammy greeted with stone cold eyes “You’re right, it is” Tammy spitefully answered.

Downhearted by Tammy’s reply and general cold attitude towards her, Lorraine shook her head in acceptance and opened the door to the corridor.

Tammy immediately put her hand on Lorraine’s to stop her walking away.

“Why do you want my forgiveness so badly?” Tammy was dying to know and Lorraine looked at her deep in thought.

“I’ve hurt a lot of people” Lorraine admitted “I don’t mean it” Lorraine added and looked to the floor ashamed “But the things I’ve done to you?” Lorraine shook her head sickened by her actions “I can’t” Lorraine defiantly looked up refusing to allow her head to go back there.

Tammy was pleased to see Lorraine had found her conscience again, even if it was too late for her

“My Counsellor says if I want to get better, I have to start by acknowledging the worst in myself” Lorraine explained straightening herself back up.

“I’m gonna try not to take that offensively, and concentrate on the fact you’re seeing a Counsellor again” Tammy replied opting to take the high road “After last time, I thought you’d given up completely” Tammy murmured.

“Realized I couldn’t go on the way I was, so I started again a few weeks ago” Lorraine revealed “I’m pleased for you” Tammy genuinely replied impressed by Lorraine’s determination.

“Just one step” Lorraine dismissed, refusing to give herself credit, “I’m not expecting us to be friends again. I don’t want you to forget everything that’s happened” Lorraine stated matter of fact “I just needed you to know I’m sorry and trying to change” Lorraine finished, back to her normal chill self.

Tammy cut through the back streets on her way home. She stopped at the park by her old Primary School, and sat on a bench until sunset. Walked along David’s Road passing the Estate’s that’d been so familiar to her such a short time ago, and made her way up William Street onto St David’s Road. Passed the convenience store which had been a regular haunt of hers since she was 5 years old, and the newsagent she used to get the early morning paper, or milk, for mum from.

Tammy came to a stop at the top of the Mews exhausted. Putting her key in the black front door, Tammy turned it and the door opened, boxes greeting everywhere Tammy’s eyes laid.

From the living room, Phil asked Tammy if she was alright, and said that Natalie was in the bedroom.

Tammy didn’t issue a response, instead dragging her legs up the stairs to pass out in her half packed room.

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Chapter Two - First Days

“Let’s take it from the top”

The move to Morpington had been a very, interesting one.

Tammy had woken on the day of leaving to Natalie in her room, sitting at the computer desk across from Tammy’s bed.

Tammy had groggily bemoaned mum for once again creeping up on her. Natalie had once again swooned over how cute Tammy always looked sleeping. Tammy got herself up from bed to throw on whatever clean clothes she could find, and Natalie quizzed her over school.

Tammy had felt dread wash over her as glimpses of her nightmare came back to her. Still she attempted to play dumb and dismiss her mother’s concerns. Natalie didn’t buy it.

“None of that makes you toss and turn all night, and say Lorraine’s name in your sleep” Natalie had sharply commented, arms crossed at her chest staring into the back of Tammy’s head.

Natalie had informed Tammy that Kristie had told her what happened with Lorraine, and Tammy was forced into admittance.

Natalie then reluctantly explained that Lorraine had bullied Tammy because she was envious of her, and the fact she had people in her life who have a damn and loved Tammy, which Lorraine craved. She’d known how much Tammy cared about her, and not knowing how to handle that, lashed out. When she saw how happy Kristie and Sonia made Tammy, she was jealous and wanted to ruin that.

When Tammy queried how Natalie came across this information, she explained Lorraine sought her out after Natalie had a friend visit her.

The last of their belongings were placed in the removal truck, the Mew’s residents had come out to bid them goodbye.

On arriving at the new house, the moving men had finished unpacking and the boxes were in their designated rooms, with the cats in the garden. Natalie had been polite enough to the removal men in handing them payment. Phil on the other hand was completely blanked.

Deciding to keep out the way, Tammy had joined their black cat Rebecca and old ginger cat Oscar in the garden.

Oscar cried in his box, Tammy had taken sympathy on him, and opened the box to stroke him. Unfortunately, Oscar had taken that as his cue to dash, flying out the box, down the garden, through the hedge and out of sight.

A short time later there had been a knock on the door, and Tammy rushed to answer to find Phil stood with Oscar in his arms, and their new next door neighbour Maureen besides him.

She’d looked to be in her 40’s, long black bushy hair brushed to the sides, medium in build and quite tall, with fierce brown eyes and face caked in around 5 layers of make-up. A young girl who looked to be Tammy’s age, the same black hair, albeit slim build and slightly shorter than Tammy with brown eyes and minimal make-up, had hurried to join them, eager to meet Maureen’s new neighbours. Phil had introduced the woman as being Maureen and the girl accompanying her, Alexis her granddaughter.

Alexis had eagerly introduced herself to Tammy and Maureen in her thick cockney accent that was music to Tammy’s ears, had asked if Alexis could stay at their house for a bit. Phil had agreed and put Alexis and Tammy on garden cat watch duty.

Alexis revealed that, as per Tammy’s suspicions, Maureen and the rest of the family were from London.

Alexis and her mother lived on the other side of Morpington, but regularly visited Maureen and Alexis had friends on the Estate. Quelling Tammy’s excitement was the fact Alexis was attending a different school to her. Still though, she’d tried to reassure herself with the fact she’d met someone so friendly and so quickly.

Natalie on the other hand had spent the weekend in the bedroom.

At the end of his tether, fearing the effect a toxic atmosphere would have on her, Phil had packed Tammy off to Simon’s for a few days. He had very much enjoyed being the point of rescue. Tammy had just tried to make the best of a bad situation.

Rubbing it in Simon pointed out Tammy was moving up a year, in a new school and should have been unpacking her room, getting organised, buying the things she needed from town so she’d be prepared for school, instead of being with him.

Tammy had retorted Simon only cared because she was ruining his fun. Simon had rejected this claiming he liked having her visit and was just concerned.

When Tammy had queried why he couldn’t be this concerned when his door was being bashed in, and she had to hide whilst he was beaten, he had no answer.

Instead Simon picked up their belongings and walked towards the tram stop to the right of the hill, with Tammy following. They reached the tram stop. Simon spotted a pretty blonde woman, and Tammy’s existence was forgotten.

Furious Tammy made her own way back to Simon’s flat, which had seen a dramatic makeover since she’d first stayed there with Natalie.

His flat was on the top staircase of a converted house, and far better than the various properties he’d previously lived at.

When Simon had returned, he demanded Tammy open the front door with the threat of the police.

Undeterred, Tammy only agreed on the condition he took her shopping. Simon had given in, fearful of an argument and having to keep Tammy occupied himself too much. He’d wanted to take Tammy to the discount shops in the small shopping centre. Tammy had refused and dragged him to the main shopping centre.

There she’d gone through 10 of their most expensive shops, and taken great delight in killing his credit cards. Tammy figured if he could spend money on racing and prostitutes, he could spend money on her.

Back at the flat she’d tried on a dress and asked Simon for his opinion.

Attention solely focussed on the racing, Simon had ordered Tammy out of the living room. Annoyed Tammy had snatched the button from the table and turned the TV off, begging her father to show her an inch of attention. Refusing he instead threatened Tammy, and fearful, she ran to the bedroom in tears.

After the racing finished, Simon had ordered Phil to pick Tammy up the next day and take her back home.

Phil had been reluctant; Simon had made it clear it wasn’t a negotiation.

On Tammy’s arrival home, Natalie had been extremely unimpressed with her bags full of shopping. Natalie had furiously lambasted Phil for packing Tammy off in the first place. He’d stuck to his guns and insisted he did what was best for Tammy, given how strained things had been between them. Natalie had pointed out sending Tammy to a person who cared more about his horses, and used his cards to silence her was hardly better. Phil had countered since the cats hid under the bed to escape them, he didn’t want Tammy feelings fearful to.

Tammy spent the last Saturday of summer in the garden with Alexis, throwing Tammy’s green tennis ball back and forth over the garden.

Apparently Morpington had decided that since they’d spent the summer covered in grey clouds, now was going to be the one day they had sunshine. With no cloud coverage and the sun shining over her house, Tammy had very much not appreciated baking. It made her irritable, somewhat light-headed and she couldn’t stop sweating.

Oh, how Tammy hated the sweat.

“How’s your mum doing?” Alexis had queried as she caught the tennis ball and threw it back to Tammy “She’s getting there” Tammy had guessed was as good an answer as any, triumphantly catching the ball and throwing it back which Alexis missed.

On the last Sunday of summer, Tammy and Natalie had taken the 45-minute bus ride to the town centre, adapting to every shop opening 9-5pm.

In London, every led to a difference place. Morpington however, everything revolving around the town centre, cutting into different parts at the top of Frederick Road.

To no surprise whatsoever, Simon had remained at a distance with not a single email, phone call, message or visit in sight.

Tammy had tossed and turned throughout the night, paranoid self-going into over drive, picking up on every single noise around her.

Extremely groggily and unsure whether he was awake, Phil had got up from the bed dressed in only his pants and tiptoed down the stairs, whilst Tammy had stood at the top with baited breath.

Phil hadn’t expected to find anyone in the house, or sign of a break in.

In the reports they’d looked up before they’d moved, the Estate was near the bottom of Morpington’s most burgled areas. Nonetheless, he’d combed over every inch of the house to reassure Tammy, disturbing the sleeping cats in the process.

“I know you’re nervous about tomorrow Tam, but you’re gonna be fine” Phil had yawned as he’d made his way back up the stairs to meet Tammy.

“Easy for you to say, you aint the one who’s gonna be facing the swirly” Tammy had argued “Better than being hit with a cane” Phil had retorted and rubbed the top of Tammy’s head with his hand “Just remember Tam” Phil had continued “Whatever happens, you’ve been through worse” Phil had finished and sauntered into the bathroom as if that was supposed to make her feel better.

It didn’t.

It all felt so surreal to Kristie.

When she met Sonia in the canteen for breakfast, that’d be it. Tammy wouldn’t be meeting them. She wouldn’t be there with a joke during a boring History lesson, or help when they got stuck with computer work. They wouldn’t wait the extra half an hour with her for a pasta box in the sixth form canteen, due to the school’s lack of vegetarian options.

They’d only known Tammy for a year and a half, but she still left a big hole.

Yet still, Tammy left a big hole.

Kristie got dressed, deciding on a simple blue cardigan to go with her black jeans, white shirt and black trainers, and picked her black rucksack up from the bottom of her wooden bunk bed. She beamed as she remembered the sleepover they’d had with Sonia and Eloise from their class.

Tammy was forced to take an early night after the take-away pizza, due to having rehearsals for the school play on Saturday morning. She’d settled in the bottom bunk and attempted to get shut eye, they’d continued to party with music and dress up. Sonia uncovered Kristie’s old make-up kit in one of her white dresser draws, and Eloisa cheekily put lipstick and eyeliner all over Tammy. Halfway through she awoke, not having a clue what was going on. They struggled to hold back muffled laughter as she fell back to sleep. In the morning Kristie escorted Tammy to the bus stop, and promised another sleepover where Tammy could join in all the fun.

Now that might never happen.

Tammy looked at the girls sitting at the desks in front of her. There must’ve been at least 15 of them.

At her previous school, only Sonia and Kristie looked up when Tammy walked into class. Here she had all 15 sets of eyes fixed, staring at her.

The Teacher’s, Miss Hill and Miss Clement, politely approached Tammy.

Miss Clement reminded Tammy somewhat of a hippy; she had dark red hair, gold circular nose ring in her left nostril, purple cardigan covering her black sweater, long black shirt and brown cowboy boots.

Miss Hill on the other hand looked far more formal and Tammy feared, strict. She had medium black hair cut to the bottom of her neck, looked to be in her 40’s, round black glasses, black shirt and cardigan to match her black trousers and black shoes.

“There’s a few minutes till the bell rings, why don’t ya take a seat” Miss Clement suggested.

Obliging Tammy walked up the wooden floor past four desks to the back of the class. A blonde-haired girl with square glasses was the only occupier of the table.

“Mind if I sit?” Tammy nervously asked wary of her reaction, London accent clear as days. She needn’t have been.

“Course not!” The girl happily replied, in a thick Northern accent Tammy was still adjusting to, and pulled a seat out “I’m Claire” she chirpily continued.

“I’m Tammy, though most people call me Tam” Tammy politely replied, sitting back in the hard plastic chair.

“Where bouts ya from?” Claire asked wanting all the details on the newbie.


“What’s that?” Claire asked perplexed.

Realizing she was serious, Tammy didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw in the towel.

What’s London?! The capital of the Country?! I know mum said this place is small, but seriously?! How can you not know that?

“It’s a City” Tammy politely replied managing to keep her composure “About two hours on the train from here, pending what you get” Tammy explained and Claire laughed.

“Only time I’ve been ta station when I’m goin Seaside” Claire replied.

Thankfully Tammy was spared further awkward conversation by Claire rummaging through her huge brown rucksack.

As for the other students?

Oh, they knew Tammy was there. She caught two blondes on the front desk stealing looks her way. The rest were far subtler, exchanging glances under the pretence of conversation.

All the students got up for the bell signalling first period. Miss Hill joined Miss Clement as she opened the classroom door, and noise from students in the corridor filled their ears.

“Have a good morning girls, remember no running in the corridor or stairs” Miss Hill bellowed.

Miss Clement informed Tammy that her timetable wasn’t quite ready yet, so she’d have to follow Claire for a few days. The Principal had informed Natalie after Tammy’s assessment, that her learning rate was far too advanced for Morpington’s standards. Tammy was the first student in Morpington’s history to get 100% in the English, Spelling and ICT assessment. Tammy figured they probably needed extra time to figure how to dumb her down some more.

They made their way down the packed staircase, along the main corridor and up the stairs Tammy had passed coming out of the reception. From there they went to the second floor where Claire had History.

Awkwardness of finding a spare seat in a cramped classroom aside, it wasn’t bad. History was one of Tammy’s favourite subjects along with English. She’d finished the year at her previous school studying the Medieval Times, so she was up to date. Despite knowing all the answers, Tammy kept her eyes squarely on her work book and hand buried under the desk when the Teacher turned to the class for input.

After History, Claire unfortunately had Social Studies.

That involved sitting in a huge circle with the Teacher so they could all see each other, and share some facts about them.

In a misguided attempt to make Tammy feel at ease, the Teacher made her go first.

“My name’s Tammy” she extremely reluctantly started “I moved here from London at the beginning of the summer” Tammy continued, girls staring into her thoroughly enjoying the circus.

“Is that where ya from?” the Teacher asked, encouraging Tammy to continue.

She really wished the Teacher hadn’t.

“Yes” Tammy nervously replied, eyes firmly planted to the floor

“What are some of the things ya like to do?” the Teacher asked completely oblivious

“I like sports” Tammy answered with a hint of enthusiasm “Swimming, tennis, football-”

“You like football?” One of the girls mockingly laughed “Why would a girl like football?” the girl asked and the others joined in the laughter.

Oh hello no!

Yeah, I do” Tammy defiantly replied, anger helping to build some confidence, “Have done since I was 5 as it’s the first thing my dad taught me. In Primary I was part of the girl’s team that made it all the way to the final’s, whilst the boys couldn’t even get past the semi’s” Tammy proudly revealed.

“Who do ya support?” the Teacher asked, pleased to have found something Tammy was passionate about “United” Tammy replied and the girl’s all looked at each other murmuring in disapproval

“I wouldn’t go sayin that too loud round ere” the Teacher sarcastically whispered

“Don’t worry, I grew up in an area that was full of supporters from 2 different teams, so I’m used to it” Tammy replied, basking in the girl’s horror “That’s wonderful” the Teacher matched Tammy’s enthusiasm “Is there anything else ya like to do? Favourite colour, or food? Maybe even star sign?”

“Blue’s always been my favourite colour, pizza and Chinese are my favourite, I love reading, riding my bike, playing computer games, listening to pop music, drawing and I’m a Gemini” Tammy finished.

Satisfied the Teacher signalled for the girl next to Tammy to speak, and Tammy was glad to have the spotlight taken away from her.

English took place in one of the trailer classrooms.

Unlike the main school, the doors were double glazed which Tammy found strange. The chairs were black like the main school, desks wooden with a grey table top. There weren’t four long desks broken up to make way for people to sit. Instead there were 4 small tables lined together in groups of 8 on 3 rows. The chairs were directly by the table with no clear pathway. As they walked in, girls had to take their places at the end first so the rest could get in.

This time Tammy sat at the front desk next to the Teacher’s desk with a blonde girl, who had gold hoop earrings in her pierced ears, for company.

Tammy sat next to the girl, she looked Tammy up and down with disgust. Tammy took her blue ink pen out of her school bag along with a white pad of paper. Unfortunately, in the process Tammy accidentally made eye contact with the girl.

“What ya lookin at?” the girl snapped, piercing green eyes digging into Tammy

“Nothing” Tammy defensively replied assured, putting her bag on the floor underneath her “Just checking my stuff” Tammy finished blasé

Did I say ya could talk ta me?” the girl barked and two brunette girls eyed Tammy devilishly.

A Scottish woman walked into the class. She wore a pink and white plaid shirt, gold earrings, blue jeans, brown shoes, mixed brown-blonde hair in a ponytail.

Class began with the Teacher, Miss Hyde, explaining what they’d be doing this term, and proceeding to put a video on for them to watch.

“I know you guys have lots of work coming this week, so I figured we’d taken it easy today” Miss Hyde explained to cheers “But if any of ya say a word, you’ll be translating Shakespeare till ya grey” Miss Hyde warned.

They turned their seats to face the far-left side of the class, where a black TV and video player sat, and the film began. Tammy saw the girl look her way on a couple occasions. Each time she continued to look at the film, pretending not to notice.

Class finished, Tammy waited for Claire by the door. The girls poured out in a clamber, Tammy saw the blonde in conversation with the brunettes at the table.

Call her paranoid, but Tammy had the distinct impression they were talking about her. Maybe it was the fact they looked her way every two seconds.

Tammy just wanted Claire to hurry so she could leave.

As if hearing Tammy’s cry, Claire sauntered over to her.

“I am such a klutz” Claire apologetically said as she put the bag on her back.

The girl and the brunettes made their way to the door, brunette’s first, looking Tammy up and down with disgust. The blonde came last and swung her left foot into Tammy’s leg “Oops” the girl feigned innocence reaching the door.

The brunette’s sniggered in the corridor, Tammy resisted the temptation to hit them. Instead she grimaced slightly and the girls left.

“Don’t worry bout them, what Bianca’s like” Claire explained as they passed the car park and walk towards the rear of the school next to the field.

“Which one was she?”

“Blonde” Claire answered “Other two were Cher and Divanna, surprising really since Bianca usually can’t stand her” Claire noted “That’s Divanna by the way” Claire quickly added trying not to confuse the newbie on the first day “Bianca’s circle’s higher than hers” Claire explained but she needn’t “I know how that works” Tammy replied much to Claire’s relief.

“I try an stay out way. Them and Anna’s lot, aint people I’m dealing with” Claire mused to herself aloud. Tammy took this information in, Claire’s eyes quickly lit with panic at fear she’d said too much “Not that ya ‘ave anythin worry ta bout” Claire hastily added “We are generally friendly bunch ere” Claire reiterated the party line “Just few have ta look out for” Claire weakly finished trying to make up for her error.

Kristie and Sonia walked across the courtyard to Spanish class. Kristie opened the door, Lorraine and Diane stood in front of them. Kristie and Sonia took a step back away from the surprised which greatly amused Lorraine.

“Mind moving out the way?” Diane bemusedly asked Sonia, who was rooted to the middle of the doorway.

Realizing, Sonia quickly stepped aside embarrassed with Kristie following.

Diane stepped out onto the pathway. Lorraine however remained stood in the doorway, eyes firmly on Kristie and Sonia knowing that someone was missing from their little threesome.

“Where’s Tam?” Lorraine queried hand on her hip, and Diane picked up on her absence, drawing closer to Kristie and Sonia in the process.

“She’s not here” Kristie calmly answered, refusing to show Lorraine the fear she craved.

Lorraine tauntingly laughed which Diane joined in on, Sonia and Kristie couldn’t help feeling slightly nervous and claustrophobic. It was hard not to when you were being pinned into a railing by two people standing over you, and no-one was walking by.

“That much I had worked out” Lorraine cattily replied in her element “Where is she?” Lorraine decided to be more precise as she leant into Kristie’s face “Natalie never lets her miss the first day of school” Lorraine commented.

Wow, you actually remember things like that” Kristie noted “Here was me thinking all your time was taken up, beating the crap out of her!” Kristie snapped and wiped the smugness off Lorraine’s face.

“I’m gonna ask one more time” Lorraine coldly sneered “An I strongly suggest you give me a straight answer, cause I’m fast losing patience” Lorraine warned and Diane gulped knowing exactly what was coming.

“Like Kristie said, Tam’s not here” Sonia determinedly replied, voice and legs shaking.

Lorraine looked between them, fast building a wonderful picture in her head.

“Ah” Lorraine said, finger on her mouth, “Do I detect trouble in paradise?” Lorraine joyfully sung attempting to push their buttons.

“No” Kristie angrily rose to the bait by shoving Lorraine back away from her “If you really must know Tam’s gone” Kristie said and Lorraine’s smug expression evaporated, replaced with devastation whilst Diane wanted to make sure she’d heard right.

“Gone? What do you mean gone?” Diane queried “As in left” Kristie took great delight in their fall “Moved home and school”

“Where to?” Lorraine asked, eyes firmly to the ground as she processed the revelation “Somewhere she’ll never have to face either of you again” Kristie smugly hissed, enjoying every bit of Lorraine and Diane standing in stunned silence.

After Science had finished, Tammy and Claire took their seats at the front of Geography this time, Bianca and the girls were again company.

Geography had never been Tammy’s favourite subject. In fact, it was only just beaten by Maths as being her worst. The fact she was subjected to it on the first day? Didn’t improve Tammy’s opinion. Thankfully for her though it passed by moderately fast.

Tammy joined the girls chattering away in the queue beside the kitchen, stench of chips and ketchup well alive in the air and parts of the corridor, much to Tammy’s distaste.

The day’s special was sausage and chips. Followed by Tuesdays special of burger and chips. On Wednesday, would be fish and chips. Thursday was pie and chips and Friday, another health dose of sausage and chips.

Tammy was beginning to see a theme here.

Given she was a vegetarian, had hated school dinners since she was served a blood-stained burger in Primary School, questioned the school’s hygiene certificate which hug proudly on a wall that had a kitchen floor which looked like it’d never been washed, and lunch ladies that didn’t fair much better with a hairnet covering their hair along with a dirty apron and no gloves on whilst serving or cooking?

Tammy decided to play it safe and settled for a chilled lunch comprising of a caramel bar and bottle of orange juice.

As much as she might’ve already been craving a few days away from this hellhole in the sanctuary of her bedroom, she didn’t hate herself enough to be glued to the toilet to achieve it.

Claire sat with the girls enthralled in conversation over packed lunches, from Parent’s who apparently valued their daughter’s lives. It was the sweetest thing Tammy had come across in Morpington so far.

Tammy barely ate her caramel bar and for the first time ever, was grateful for the bell to ring which signalled the end of lunch break. She’d made it to the last part of the school day.

That was comprised of Maths and ICT. Both passed with only mild snickering, every time Tammy answered a question or spoke.

At long last though, the end of the day arrived. Tammy was overjoyed to finally get out and go back home, to a place where she was joined in the feeling of an outsider by mum.

Tammy made her way towards the main entrance, her phone rang with Sonia calling and she immediately picked up.

“You have no idea how glad I am to hear your voice” Tammy said into the phone.

How’s it going?” Sonia asked into the phone.

“I’ll just be glad to get home” Tammy replied into the phone.

“What’s the weather like?” Sonia asked.

We had one day of sun. Now we’ve had a day of wind and grey clouds hovering like a bad smell, but I suppose it’s a refreshing break from the rain” Tammy answered “It’s not surprising everyone here’s so glum, I’ve only been here like 2 months, and I’m feeling down” Tammy confided.

“It’ll get easier Tam” Sonia attempted to reassure her.

“You talking about the weather or the people, cause in all honesty, I think I got a better chance with the weather” Tammy sarcastically replied, turning onto the long corridor which led to the staff room, cafeteria, Principal’s office, gym, toilets, hall and most importantly the outside world “

How’s everything going with you guys?” Tammy asked not wanting to ramble on about herself.

That’s why I rang” Sonia replied in an unsure tone that had the butterflies well and truly flying in Tammy’s stomach “There’s something you need to know, but I don’t want you to freak out” Sonia stressed.

Standing between Tammy and the last set of doors to freedom at the top of the corridor was Divanna. Tammy knew exactly what was coming. She smirked slyly, enjoying the prospect of letting off some much-needed steam.

“I’m gonna have to call you back Son” Tammy casually replied focussed on Divanna and calmly put her phone safely in her pocket.

“Where’d ya think ya goin exactly?” Divanna sauntered toward Tammy, who easily kept her cool.

“Up the corridor, out the door, down the road, up the lane, crossing at the traffic lights to Andlesdee Road, turning left onto Rivers Avenue, going up Creaton Crescent, the finally turning left up the road where the only things between my bed and I is an alleyway, gate, front door and staircase” Tammy quipped.

Think ya so clever” Divanna spat, coming to a standstill in front of Tammy.

Well I don’t know if you can judge what a person thinks in your first conversation together” Tammy mused aloud “But I wouldn’t say I’m clever” Tammy continued unable to resist “People tell me I’m bright, and according to my school reports I’m doing well” Tammy conceded “Honestly though I think my intelligence is around average. I’m great with Computers and our darling English language, but everything else? Well I’m not ashamed to say I’m a bit rusty, as my attempt at directions should tell you” Tammy continued grave well and truly dug “Regardless though, whatever I am, I’m still 10x smarter than all of you” Tammy spat in Divanna’s face.

“I’m really gonna enjoy testin that theory” Divanna beamed putting her hand on Tammy’s shoulder.

Tammy looked at the hand disgusted.

No hesitation, she removed it from her shoulder and pushed Divanna back away from her.

It was an extremely dumb move.

Tammy was outnumbered three to one. She didn’t care though. One thing Natalie and Lorraine had always been united in, was never running from a fight. Didn’t matter if you ended up black and blue, broken bones in hospital; at least you could stand proud knowing you’d given your all to defend yourself.

Divanna gestured to Cher and her friend, and like the good little sheep they were, they advanced.

Tammy looked to the walls but there was nothing except a notice board hanging.

Not exactly helpful material against a pack of angry wolves baying for first blood.

Tammy daren’t attempt to throw them against the glass window looking out onto the main entrance. More times than not, she managed to surprise both herself and others with her strength. As much as it was severely tempting, she didn’t fancy accidentally throwing the girls through the window.

Not on the first day at least.

The girls flanked Tammy’s side, she kept her concentration waiting for it.

Sure enough, Cher made the first move.

She swung her arm at Tammy’s face, to do what exactly Tammy had no idea, and she easily ducked. Springing on her left foot, Tammy sweep it round and caught the bottom of Cher’s leg, arms wailing as she tumbled to the floor.

Tammy rose, she felt brute force around her neck.

Extremely unsatisfied with her minion’s work, Divanna cut out the middle man and used Cher as a distraction to capture Tammy in a chokehold.

Cher, extremely flushed, got back on her feet and joined the other girl waiting at the side for the next instruction.

The pressure of Divanna’s hands wrapped around her throat starting to wade on Tammy, she groaned trying to take in as much air as she possibly could.

Cher and the girl made their way up the corridor and stopped outside a horribly painted grey door which read ‘TOILET’.

Divanna kept a firm grip around Tammy’s neck, whilst kneeing her in the leg as they made their way. Tammy wasn’t sure if this was Divanna’s first time having someone in a chokehold, or it was deliberate.

Either way? Extremely annoying.

They reached the toilet Tammy’s eyes filled with dread at what was coming.

She didn’t bother trying to escape though. Not in this small space. Instead, she allowed Divanna to drag her in.

Two cubicles laid open, same horribly painted grey doors. The flooring was tiled Tammy guessed originally white, but had faded to brown with the school apparently lacking a cleaner to maintain it. Circular white sinks standard for school and public toilets, glass mirror above, hand dryers to the side.

Tammy took in the interior, she completely failed to notice they weren’t the only ones there.

Nope, Divanna had invited all her friends to the party. The cubicle next to Tammy was open and empty, the one on the left had two girls sitting, and another stood by the hand dryers.

“Aright ladies” Divanna happily shouted over the noise of conversation, whilst Cher slammed the entrance door shut, “This ere” Divanna pushed Tammy’s face down to the floor “Is new girl. Thought it only right give ‘er proper welcome” Divanna beamed.

The girl by the hand dryer stepped toward Tammy to get a better view of the show, the other girls left the cubicle to crowd Tammy.

Don’t do it. Be smart here. You’re outnumbered six to one. It’s impossible in such a small space. Even if you managed to take them out, Cher’s behind.

She’d never have enough time to take every girl out, step over them, and walk out the toilet to freedom. There wasn’t anything in the toilet to help her cause without slowing her down, or worse, injure her in the process.

Divanna was gonna swirly Tammy.

She knew there was no escaping that.

Despite the odds and knowing she’d lose, that it’d only be prolonging the inevitable, Tammy had to try.

Divanna shoved Tammy toward the open cubicle, Tammy seized the moment. With all her might, she elbowed Divanna square in the ribs. She knew it’d hurt, but hearing Divanna gasp, struggling to breathe as she was temporarily winded, girls rushing to ask if she was ok as she fell back from Tammy?

That made it sweeter.

Cher was the first to decide to launch a revenge attack on Tammy.

She didn’t care, simply punching and kicking her way through whatever it was Cher was still attempting to do. If at first you don’t succeed, try and fail again had never been more apt.

Cher joined Divanna on the floor. Divanna insisted to the girls she was fine, and set them on Tammy once more.

Down to the floor and into the cubicles they all fell, swearing obscenities as they went. Tammy betted some of them were probably regretting the double helping of chips at lunch. But she didn’t have time to dwell.

The toilet door was so close, yet so agonisingly far away. Tammy ran for it, Divanna soon reached out to grip her. Prepared this time Tammy swung her right arm, her most powerful, around and smacked Divanna straight in the jaw.

With all the girls and Divanna now firmly disengaged, Tammy made a break. She stepped over Cher, accidentally kicking her leg in the process.

In any other circumstance Tammy would feel apologetic.

But she couldn’t right now.

Not when she was reaching out and her hand grabbed the door handle. It slowly bent down under the force of Tammy’s hand.

The door ever so slightly creaked open. Tammy could see the outside world. Feel the air swoosh against her face. Smell the remaining leftovers of lunch time’s chips, though she wasn’t sure that was a good thing.

The suddenly, a sharp pain in the back of her head. Start of a very bad headache incoming. Tammy was dazing. Surroundings becoming blurred. She could hear distant mumbling. Someone speaking, as Tammy fell to the floor face first.

Aww, this is gonna leave a flaming bruise.

Just before she hit the floor, someone yanked her head up with all their might, making her banging head hurt even more. Tammy couldn’t see the perpetrator. In someone’s hand though she saw the route of her pain; a black hand-bag.

One of the girls had swung it at Tammy’s head. The ultimate sucker punch.

“This one’s feisty”

Regardless of the circumstances, I’m taking that as a compliment.

They were all back to their feet.

Standing in a circle surrounding the cubicle. Shouting away. Tammy was forced into the cubicle, firm grip on both her arms, fearful of another escape attempt.

They needn’t bothered. Tammy was down and out, head far too dazed to do anything.

Tammy’s head was pushed into the toilet bowl and her legs gave way. Were it not for the girl on her, Tammy would’ve been heading for another blow accompanied by a broken nose.

So, she supposed she had that to be thankful for.

The dizziness wore off, hearing less distorted, Tammy’s eyesight though was still blurred.

All she could see was, well nothing.

She wondered if she’d indeed been knocked out and was unconscious. The tight grip on her head brought Tammy out the haze, and the nothing she was seeing, was in fact water.

A sharp sound of water hurtling toward her, Tammy zipped her eyes shut and took in a huge gulp of air, her hair was drenched.

Freezing cold, stinking water, made its way down her face. Past her nostrils. Dribbled into her mouth. It tasted so plain.

Tammy was underwater.

Frantically trying to see, the chlorine burned her eyes. Her arms desperately flapped as she tried to make her way back to the surface. Kicked away in panic, like a bird caught in a net.

“Help me!” Tammy splattered “Someone, please help” Tammy gurgled as the water entered her mouth, making its way down her throat choking her.

Tammy was powerless as she fell back under.

No matter how much she frantically flapped. The burning override her eyes which stayed closed, no matter how much Tammy willed them open. Every few seconds, Tammy felt the water leave her ears as she surfaced. Distorted laughter from dozens stood watching reached her. Tammy continued to flap, she could just make out distant yelling followed by the water moving as someone entered.

Tammy’s body shut down sinking to its fate, something moved toward her. A sharp tug of a hand on her waist.

Something pulling her away from darkness. Tammy didn’t know what on earth was happening, but slowly and surely, the water left her ears, replaced by freezing cold. This time there was nothing but silence broken by noise from outside to greet her. Tammy’s hand was wrapped around something at the surface.

Then, something gently pushed her towards something; the swimming pool steps.

“Keep your arms around her in case she falls” a female voice urgently instructed as Tammy left hell.

Tammy shivered, body shaking as the cold swept over her like a bad smell. She coughed up water violently.

Oh, how her throat was aching. Her eyes still wouldn’t open, leaving Tammy stuck in an extremely cold darkness, wondering when it was ever going to end.

At least whilst she’d been drowning she’d been warm.

“It’s ok Tammy. Just relax, try not to move and we’ll get you some towels. Helps on the way” the female voice said calmly to reassure.

Tammy didn’t give a damn about help. She just wanted warmth and her eyesight back.

Most of the students had been ushered away into the changing rooms, but some remained by the door, eyes glued on the spectacle. Some were atop on the bridge intrigued to see what all the fuss was about.

Two PE Teacher’s knelt either side of Tammy by the pool. Another rushed in, being careful not to slip on the wet floor, and handed 4 king size towels over to the Teachers. They promptly wrapped the towels ever so carefully around Tammy.

Aware to the remaining student’s presence, the PE Teacher ordered them to leave. They argued with the Teacher for as long as they possibly could, just so they could continue standing and gawping. Security guards entering the building soon took care of that.

The Principal was soon on site and questioned the Teacher’s over whether Tammy had regained consciousness at any stage. They replied that she hadn’t, but they’d called an Ambulance and Tammy’s mother who would soon be at the school.

Knowing how furious she’d be over yet another incident, the Principal considered throwing himself into the pool.

Amongst the students who’d escaped the Teacher’s eyes was Lorraine. She stood at the far end of the pool. Motionless. Eyes fixed on Tammy as if nothing else existed. Ghost white, possibly because she was petrified, or stood in her wet swimming costume.

Tammy was wrapped in more towels, Lorraine continued to stand. Even when Diane came and wrapped a towel around her, insisting that they had to go, Lorraine refused.

Bianca opened the toilet door and walked into the toilet. Seeing the group of girls crowded around a toilet, on the first day of term, when there were no after school activities, and the fact they usually couldn’t wait to escape the school’s compounds?

She was immediately suspicious.

Cher walking back to the sink, eyes glued to the floor, hands in her pocket and looking rather sheepish in an attempt to look inconspicuous?

Well that just confirmed Bianca had walked in on something.

The rest of the girls followed Cher’s lead and stepped back as Bianca approached the toilet, to see what on earth was going on.

She was greeted by the sight of Tammy seemingly lifeless over the toilet bowl, with Divanna standing over her, trying to figure out whether she should go for round 2 or not.

“Let her go!” Bianca barked starling Divanna, who’d been so focussed on Tammy she was completely unaware of Bianca’s presence.

Not one to be easily deterred though, Divanna stepped over Tammy to face Bianca out “Going soft on me B?” Divanna mocked and threateningly placed her hand on the cubicle wall next to Bianca’s head.

Bianca responded by flicking Divanna’s hand away from her like it was dust, and greeted Divanna with bemusement.

“I don’t know what ya tryna achieve ere” Bianca coldly started, making Divanna feel an inch tall and struggled to hide the humiliation from her crew “But ya lettin newbie go” Bianca instructed.

I don’t think so” Cher stepped forward chiming in “Can’t get away with lookin an talkin without permission! Takin liberties” Cher protested and Bianca rolled her eyes at the intervention.

“Funny, cause last I checked” Bianca put her finger on her mouth and then pointed it at Cher “You don’t speak for me” Bianca snapped and Cher was thankful to be wearing black trousers, given the water that was running down her leg, and Bianca turned back to Divanna

“I tell newbie not ta speak ta me, she don speak. I kick er leaving class, she knows ta stay way” Bianca declared “She does anythin after at, I’ll take great pleasure sortin out” Bianca promised and turned to address the other girls “Now ‘less you lot wanna be done for murderin newbie on first day, I strongly suggest ya get the heck out, cause I aint tellin again” Bianca barked.

Divanna looked on infuriated as her defeated mob trudged out of the toilet with Cher leading. Refusing to bow down however Divanna remained stood in the cubicle with her eyes glued to Bianca, who followed lead, Tammy a mere afterthought to them now.

That’s why I don’t do sheep. Abandoning ya soon as igher master come calling” Bianca took great joy in rubbing in Divanna’s humiliation.

“One o these days B, I swear, ya gonna get it” Divanna vehemently swore but Bianca her aside

“You’ve been sayin since last year o Primary, an guess what Div?” Bianca spat in her face “Ya still right down ere” Bianca pointed to the floor “At bottom. So why don’t ya follow ya sheep, an get out me face” Bianca ordered “Cause we both know I can do so much more to ya, than crap ol swirly” Bianca hissed into Divanna’s ear.

Tail between her legs Divanna hurried out the toilet. Bianca looked down at Tammy unconscious and tutted.

Taking pity on her Bianca took her head out of the toilet bowl, and leant her against the cubicle wall, deep in thought.

“Soz, but ya gots to learn rules” Bianca said and walked out of the cubicle “I’m sure she’ll fine” Bianca reassured herself as she reached the toilet door.

Bianca placed her shaking hand on the door handle and opened it.

Bianca stepped her left foot out into the corridor, she put her right hand on the switch to turn the toilet light off.

Attack of conscience, Bianca left the toilet door slightly open for someone to notice and hurried away.

Pitch black darkness reigned over the toilet, Tammy still slumped in the cubicle.

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Chapter Three - The New Crew

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Chapter Four - Stranger Danger

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Chapter Five - Truth Hurts

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Chapter Six - Upside Down

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Chapter Seven - The Kiss

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Chapter Eight - Changes

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Chapter Nine - Liar, Liar

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Chapter Ten - Rose

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Chapter Eleven - The Longest Day

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Chapter Twelve - Bad Girls

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Chapter Thirteen - The Blame Game

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Chapter Fourteen - Back Again

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Chapter Fifteen - Three's A Crowd

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Chapter Sixteen - The Trap

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Chapter Seventeen - Crazy

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Chapter Eighteen - Study Buddies

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Chapter Nineteen - End Of Term

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Chapter Twenty - New Beginnings

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