When we got back to the house we were all immediately collared by Kay. "And where have you lot been?" he demanded, tapping his foot on the floor.
"We went to the lake." Jake told him.
"You know fully well you have lessons today. Now get to them, before you really annoy me. The lot of you." he snapped. At the mention of lessons I made to sneak upstairs. He probably didn't mean me anyway, but I didn't want to risk it.
Unfortunately, he apparently did mean me, too, because he pulled me back by the collar of my shirt the moment he saw me trying to escape. "And where do you think you're going?" he asked.
"I've already passed most of my GCSEs, so I really don't think I need to go to classes." I told him. "And I would have just been sent on study leave at the end of this month, anyway, so it'snot like a few lessons will make that much of a difference."
"Funny, because the school reports your father sent down say that you're failing English. And history. And ICT, too."
I can forgive my father a lot of things, but sending them my school reports? That was just evil. Kay pushed me along the hallway, into the dining room, where theothers were all sat at the table. Julius had sat himself at the other end of the table from Jake and the elven twins. He was sat with a set of headphones in, working on something or other clearly different from the rest. I was surprise to find that the twins, Charlie and Claire, were both in there, too. They were sat a little way away from Jake and the elven twins, whose names I didn't think I'd ever learn, but were quite obviously in the same lesson.
By the looks of it they were doing maths work, which made my presence there completely pointless. The teacher ignored me completely, which would usually have bothered me a lot more than it did. I set myself down next to Jake, and didn't even pretend to pay any attention. The teacher just droned on across the room, about something I would normally be a lot more interested in. It was hard to sit in a maths class when there were demons and mutants in the house and I'd just come back from a picnic beside a lake with a kelpie in it. It almost didn't seem right, seeing magick and normal, mundane things so close together.
The teacher smacked a ruler against the table, and I almost jumped out of my seat. "Pay attention." he snapped, though l was only half paying attention to him telling me to pay attention. I couldn't quite stop myself from yawning, which may not have been a good idea, all things given. "Boring you, am I?" the teacher asked. "Well, why don't you try answering the question on the board for us, then?" The teacher looked like every other maths teacher seemed to: middle-aged, going grey and bald, glasses and a gut. I'd never got along with a maths teacher before, and I didn't see this one being any different.
There was a small blackboard set up across the table, with a symaltanious eqation written on it. Not even a difficult one, either. "X equals 32, and Y equals 19." I said, and went back to staring at the ceiling. The teacher smacked the ruler off the table, again. "Pay attention." he snapped, again. I looked at the board for about five minutes, while the teacher droned on. Then I got bored and stared out of the window instead. There were five magpies outside the window, three on a tree brance and two on the window ledge. Five for silver.
The teacher smacked the ruler against the table a third time. "Either pay attention or leave." he told me. I knew I wasn't going to pay any attention, so I did what seemed to be the sensible thing and left. I didn't quite get upstairs, though, before Kay collared me again and dragged me back down. "I thought I told you to go to class." he said. "The teacher told me to leave." I told him.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because I wasn't paying attention." I replied.
"And why weren't you paying attention?"
"Because it was boring and I've already done all of this anyway."
He didn't look too happy with me after I said that. He even started tapping his foot on the floor again. "Seth, you can't just not pay attention because something bores you. How do you expect to get anywhere in life if you don't bother with things just because they bore you?" he said.
"I've already passed maths," I told him, "so I don't see the point in doing it any more."
"Then improve your grade. You should always be trying to improve, to do better and go farther."
"I already have an A*. How can I improve on that?"
The look on Kay's face when I said that was hilarious, but I knew right off that I'd regret it. "Seth, go back to class, and pay attention. Before I get really angry." Kay snarled. I scampered back along the hallway to the door of the dining room. I quickly glanced behind me before I went back in, but Kay was still stood there, tapping his foot on the floor and watching me. I slipped back into the dining room, hoping the teacher wouldn't notice me. If he did he didn't pay any attention, at least. Everybody else did, though. They all watched me as I sat back in my seat.
When the teacher realised they'd all stopped paying attention to him and were watching me he turned back to us and hit the ruler of the table. Had I not been so terrified of Kay I might have threatened to stick it somewhere that would have gotten me thrown out of the class, permenantly. "All of you, pay attention." he snapped. I didn't have much of a choice about pretending to pay attention, since Kay might actually have still been outside, but the teacher was still going over symaltanious eqations and it was boring me senseless.
After a while we did get to go for a break, and I was relieved to hear we were done with maths for the rest of the day. I followed Jake, Julius and the elven twins into the living room. Charlie and Claire both stayed in the dining room. "So, what did Kay say to you?" Julius asked me.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"When you walked out. Kay had obviously said something, you came in looking like a kicked puppy."
"He just said to go back into class before I really pissed him off."
"Go figure. I swear, one day I will find him a girlfriend. Or get him a cat, that would work."
We sat in the living room for half an hour, until Kay came in and told us all to get back to class. We had English when we went back, which didn't help my mood. English had never been my best subject, and I didn't actually understand a word the teacher said. I actually did try to pay attention, because I really was failing and I did need to pass, but after fifteen minutes I felt halfway dead. Julius had sat back in the corner with his headphones in, and Jake and the elven twins were scribbling away on pads of paper, like they actually got this. That just left me sitting there looking like an idiot.
After a bit the teacher wrote some questions up on the blackboard and told us to work in silence. I hadn't got a clue how to go about answering them, though. If anything, it was just another unwanted reminder that I would fail this subject. And no matter how good my maths and science grades were, I would never get into a decent university without passing my GCSE English.
I sat struggling to figure out what one Earth I was supposed to be writing for about fifteen minutes before the teacher came over. "You've only written two lines." he said, dryly. I could have given any sarcastic, snarky remark as a response, but that would have require effort that I wasn't willing to put in right about then. "I don't get it, okay." I snapped.
"What don't you get?" he asked.
"Any of it. I don't get any of it."
Teachers always expect you to understand every single subject, even though they only ever really know one or two. I don't really understand English, or subjects like that. But teachers have always gotten on my case over it, which means that I get annoyed and snap at them or I just walk out. And then I get expelled. The teacher didn't look too happy about me snapping at him, but he didn't say anything about it. "Well, start at the basics of the question. Curly's wife, she hasn't been given a name. What does that make you think about her?" he said.
"That she's a character without a name. It's hardly any big deal, is it?"
"Well, isn't that the point? Think about it; do you pay attention to people with no name?"
"I don't know, I only know people with names."
The teacher looked just a little annoyed about that. "She doesn't have a name because she isn't important to the other characters. They don't care and they don't pay attention to her." he said.
"So, if she doesn't matter, why are we writing essays about her?" I asked.
"Because she still matters to the story - just not to the other characters. Look, it's not that that difficult. It's really just common sense. She has no name because the other characters don't care about her. That makes her lonely, so she tries to speak to the men, and that's when Lenny kills her by accident. The lack of a name shows he unimportance on the ranch and her isolation, and isolation is one of the key themes of the novel."
That went completely over my head, if I'm honest. "I still don't get it." I told him.
"I teach this book to children half your age, you know. And they get it. I just spelled it out for you, and if you can't even manage to understand it still then I won't be able to teach you in time for your exam." Great, I'm going to fail. Even the teacher said so, and this was the first English lesson he'd taught me. "I just don't get it, alright? I don't get it, I don't understand it, it doesn't make sense, It. Does. Not. Compute." I snapped.
The teacher gave up not long after that, and I did manage to scribble out a couple of paragraphs, basically just repeating what the teacher had told me. Even I could tell it wasn't very good. But we did finally get to go. I followed Jake again, since there wasn't anything else to do. We went back into the living room, with the elven twins. I think Charlie and Claire went back upstairs, and Julius had said he needed to go out somewhere. "I bet he's got a girl somewhere and isn't telling us." Jake said after he'd left. "That's why he won't tell us where he keeps going. He knows that Kay would scare her off."
"This entire family would scare anyone off." both of the elves said at once.
I couldn't say I disagreed with them there, but I was already growing uncomfortably accustomed to the house and everyone - everything - that lived there. Perhaps I really was a part of this world after all. I wasn't sure how I felt about that, but it didn't make me unhappy. I wasn't given a chance to dwell on it, anyway, as the moment she'd stuck her head through the door to tell a servant to put the kettle on, Jake was rambling on about some dragons she'd seen once when she'd gone to wales for a few days with Jarrett, before our mother got ill and he stopped spending time with the rest of the family. I had never seen a dragon, of course, and the idea rather terrified me. But just as quickly I added it to my new mental list of things I would see one day. A real Welsh dragon. How bad could it be?