“How do you fail art?”
Rose shrugged, and sighed, propping her chin on her hand. “Because the teacher hates me,” she muttered. “She said if I don’t work harder, I’ll definitely fail. But my stuff’s at least as good as everyone else in the class, else I wouldn’t have got into the subject, would I?”
Across the table, her friend John Smith sat frowning at her. They were in the college canteen, and while John- unsurprisingly- had had a great morning amazingly, Rose’s morning of art had been less than impressive. In fact, it had culminated in a huge row with her teacher.
“Have you spoken to your tutor?” John was asking, his brown hair sticking up wildly from his head as he tucked into his chips. “They’re supposed to be able to give you help.”
Rose shrugged again. “I just don’t think Suzanna likes me,” she sighed. “And if she has it in for me, telling my tutor won’t make a difference.”
John watched Rose carefully then, as she picked at her chips looking miserable.
“Mum’s gonna go mad when she finds out.”
John gave her a small smile at that. “Maybe we should send your mum to have a word,” he suggested cheekily. “She’d scare this art teacher of yours into admitting she’s bullying you.”
Rose gave him a funny look at that. “Or she’ll just make it a thousand times worse.”
John shrugged at that, and a hand went up to ruffle his already wild hair.
“I don’t know what else to suggest,” he admitted. “I mean, you won’t tell your mum, and you won’t tell your tutor...” He trailed off.
Rose shrugged, and looked close to tears as she picked up a plastic fork and began to stab at her chips.
“Ok,” John placated gently, “why don’t we go back to mine and watch a film, or something?” They were both finished for the day, and had only met at the canteen because Rose had texted insisting she needed chips. “What time’s your mum back?”
She huffed, and checked the time on her phone.
“Not for another few hours. She’s doing Bev’s hair this afternoon, an’ once those two get talking, they can go for hours.”
“Ok,” John nodded, “would you rather go back to mine, or go home to yours?”
Rose shrugged again, and John decided it would be up to him to make the decision.
“We’ll go back to yours, then,” he told her, getting to his feet. “We can chill out at yours until your mum gets home at least. Watch some Netflix, or something.”
Rose wrinkled her nose. “You know we don’t have Netflix, John,” she reminded him quietly as they gathered their bags and headed for the door. “Mum can’t afford it.”
John patted his rucksack then, and grinned. “Got my laptop,” he informed her. “We can find something on there to watch.”
Rose smiled in relief then. “As long as you don’t make me watch some science thing again,” she told him teasingly.
“Oi!” John protested. “What’s wrong with science things?!”
They had just reached the outside of college when they saw a bus turn the corner at the end of the road. They were still some way from the bus stop, and the two teenagers shared a look.
“That’s our bus, isn’t it?” John sighed.
“Yeah, it is,” Rose agreed, her momentary good mood evaporating.
But John just beamed and grabbed her hand. “Run!”
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