The first day back after summer was always, in Frank's opinion, the hardest. Yeah yeah, all his friends at the sixth form at his old school had been back for weeks already, and his friends who work full time never got off in the first place, so he supposed he was lucky. Still, he was tired as hell. He read the time on his grainy alarm and groaned. 6.30. He rolled over and tried to block the incessant beeping out with his pillow, before accepting that yep, he was awake.
Frank sat up and swung his legs over the side of his small single bed and set his bare feet on the grimy carpet. Stretching, he stood up and padded to the shower. He jumped in and winced at the cold sting of the water on his shoulders. Shit it was cold. He quickly shampooed his short hair and washed it out as soon as possible, just wanting to get out of the cold.
Twenty minutes later Frank was standing in front of his wardrobe, adjusting his tie in the mirror so it was just short enough to be considered rebellious but not short enough to get yelled at by every strict teacher in that place. Frank and his mum, especially his mum, had considered it a miracle when Frank had been accepted into St James' private school to do A levels in art and design, fine art and English literature. Frank had always been talented, and he did know it, but to see his talent recognised by a prestigious private school in Kensington... it had been incredible.
Only, when he had got there, he'd found it different to his dreams. The other students, instead of respecting him for his intelligence, looked down at him for coming from a poor background. His mum was a nurse and worked night shifts, so she wasn't around all that often and when she was she was usually asleep. Even though his mum was the hardest working person he'd ever met, the job didn't pay well and they lived in a small flat in a sprawling estate in Brixton. Even scraping together the money needed for the textbooks and uniform had been a struggle. Because of this, Frank had started taking shifts at the takeaway shop in the estate. He worked from seven until eleven every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, and because of this he was always tired and he could never get the stench of rancid kebab grease out of his skin.
Between his height- Frank had always been small- and his background he was the prime bullying target at St James' School. He had a couple of friends, also outcasts and losers, who he hung around with in a table in the corner of the canteen at lunchtimes, but they didn't actually get along that well. That's the thing, being a loser is the only thing they actually had in common, apart from that they were completely different, but sometimes hanging around with people you don't like is preferable to hanging out by yourself. Makes you harder to pick on.
Frank was startled out of his thinking by the noise of someone stirring in the next room. His mum was probably waking up. She had a shift until eleven the night before and had another one starting at midday. Frank checked the alarm clock again. Fuck; 8.10. He hastily chucked his stuff into his Sports Direct backpack, grabbed his art folder and put on his fake leather brogues before running out of the door, not stopping to grab anything to eat, probably nothing in the house anyway, yelling a quick goodbye to his mum who answered only in a confused grunt. Smiling, Frank ran down the twisting stairs; he hadn't used the lift since that old lady got stuck in there for like five hours when he was five and had to pee in her handbag. Rumours are the smell had never left the plastic flooring...
Only a few minutes later (their flat did have the benifit of dung very close to an underground station) and Frank was on the graffitied tube to South Kensington station, standing like a sardine in a can between an elderly Chinese lady and an American tourist with a frankly ridiculously large camera hanging around her neck. She was wearing Crocs and khaki shorts even though this was late September in England and even in London it rarely got above 16 degrees. He was so caught up thinking about this random woman's fashion choices he only just noticed it was his stop and had to push past the American in order to get out of the Automatic Doors Of Doom before they slammed shut.
He got out of the station and checked the time on his to be honest, crappy phone. 8.40, fifteen minutes until lessons. He swore under his breath. He'd been emailed his timetable a week before and he knew what he had first period- art and design with a new teacher he hadn't heard of before. His name was Mr Way, which conjured up an image of an old, old man who was more turtle than human. No matter how bad he was he couldn't possibly be as awful as last years teacher; Mrs Worth. She was the living embodiment of the word bland. An ancient, wizened old lady who shuffled around making comments nobody could decipher and generally was pretty useless.
As Frank hurried through the white streets of Kensington, buildings towering on every side, he hoped for something that would make this year at least a little interesting. He couldn't deal with another year like year twelve.