“Five minutes remaining, everyone. Fi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ive…minutes.”
Half of the students in the sports hall frantically flicked through their physics paper while the other half, those who had already given up within the first thirty minutes of the exam, mentally groaned with the great effort of staying awake even longer. Bella was among the second half. She rested her head on her desk, staring at the mostly-blank booklet that was mere millimetres from her eyeballs. No matter how hard she glared at it, the answers still refused to form on the page. Desperately hoping it would all soon be over, she peered up at the huge clock, only to be disappointed by the lack of movement from the minute hand.
Bella could hear a quiet sniffling two seats to her right, and discreetly glanced over to check on her best friend. With all the late nights from revising and constant exam preparation, Cherry had worn herself down to be weak enough to invite a cold in, even though it was June. Luckily, it seemed worth it, as she was positively ecstatic after a final tweak to a few answers. She beamed at her closed booklet before sliding the lid back onto her pen and pulling another tissue out from her sleeve like a magic trick. Smiling back briefly to Bella, she ungracefully blew her nose and watched the clock as well.
Ceri, being a level below Bella and Cherry, was filling out a different paper at the other end of the school hall. She had just scribbled down a couple of guesses for the empty answer boxes when she heard a loud sneeze. Biting her lip, she held back a giggle as Cherry’s frizzy hair jounced about among the smarter students.
Finally, the moment everyone was either waiting for or dreading came. Their exam papers were collected in a robotic and orderly fashion, and a noisy, clattering sound echoed around the school hall every time a new row of students was dismissed and permitted to gather their bags. Outside, teachers and exam invigilators relentlessly tried to hush those leaving, but with no success. Everyone was far too thrilled that their final exam was over to care if their triumphant wooping and cheering bothered anyone else.
Jillian rushed to the doorway, greeting the sunlight as it coated her in its heavenly glow.
“How did you do?” Bella called out, spying the shorter girl from up on a bench.
“I didn’t really get the last one. Why was there a picture of an egg?”
“Ugh, I thought it was a potato!” Bella exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air in mock frustration. “Oi! Ceri!”
Hearing that familiar, boisterous yell, Ceri approached the bench with a grin, shielding her eyes from the sun with the back of her hand. “That went absolutely…just…bad.”
“Someone’s got a fried brain,” Jillian teased, nudging Ceri with her elbow.
“I’m so glad it’s over,” she sighed.
A fourth girl suddenly bounded over to the trio, springing up excitedly between Ceri and Jillian.
“Guess what?!” she asked, watching with a giggle as her friends all comically rolled their eyes. “We’re meeting Yuni in thirteen days and four hours! Woo!”
Collectively, the girls had all agreed to celebrate the completion of their GCSEs with a group trip out to one of Yuni’s concerts. She was performing all across Europe throughout the summer months, and this group of her biggest fans were not going to miss out. Even Tasmin was due to join them. After a few months of ignoring everyone after the issue of Ceri’s sexuality, she started to find herself and rethought her morals, which pushed her to apologize sincerely for her previous views.
Ceri’s dreams were finally coming true! She was going to see Yuni perform live, had also been lucky enough to grab the early-bird deal with front row tickets, was friends with all of the girls again and she was much happier in general. The shadowed part of the year before had faded away into nothingness, leaving a clear path for joy and hope to work its way into her life. Every night for the following twelve nights she had hardly slept a wink, barely able to contain her excitement for the upcoming event.
“Has anyone seen my earrings?” Tasmin called, wandering in from her bathroom. “You know, the sparkly, dangly ones?”
Five girls and two boys all fell silent as they rummaged through the contents of their bags and Tasmin’s drawers.
“Ooh, what’s this?” Jillian asked, pulling some rainbow fabric out of a drawer like flags out of a top hat.
“PUT THAT DOWN!” Tasmin and Thatcher thundered in unison.
He snatched the rectangle of colour and stuffed it back into the tiny, discreet space where it belonged. Jillian glanced around at the others briefly, her eyes wide with bewilderment, and gestured secretively at the oddly-acting pair. Bella and Connor simply shrugged their shoulders, Cherry furrowed her eyebrows in deep thought and Ceri awkwardly raised her hand in false surrender.
After a few more minutes of a more tense silence, Conner piped up.
“Are these the ones?” He asked, holding up a beautiful set of mismatched earrings – on one dangled a large, golden heart, like one found as a decorative locket, and on the other was a key to match. They were each embellished with tiny rhinestones that glittered like rippling water in the summer Sun.
“Ah, thank you,” Tasmin breathed, rushing over to fix them to her earlobes.
The earrings complimented her outfit perfectly; she had a heart theme across all of her accessories and she layered them on generously to match Yuni’s expressive style.
By the time they were all ready to walk to the train station, everyone was looking like various versions of Yuni, apart from Connor. He carried Bella’s hand-made poster most of the way, which became the only way that on-lookers could tell he was a part of their group. Even Thatcher, despite being more of a supportive best friend to Tasmin rather than an equally huge Yuni-fanatic, still wore colourful, frumpy shorts, alternative shoes and a t-shirt with Yuni’s face plastered all over it. The five giggling girls, bouncing around in childish excitement, wore pastel skirts and long socks, covered their hair in as many clips and pins as possible, and had carefully drawn extravagant make-up on their faces.
Jillian, being the most artistic of them all, had the best winged eyeliner and the most seamlessly blended eyeshadow. In an attempt to hide anything she wasn’t happy with, she layered on sequins and sparkles, thus becoming an icon for the others. They had all taken turns in splashing their faces with glitter and now they all stood on the edge of the platform, brightly waiting on their train.
“Ooh, is this the one?” Cherry squealed excitedly, fidgeting on the tips of her toes and craning her neck as a long trained slowed to a stop.
Ceri checked her ticket.
They quickly boarded, finding the best window seats and immediately started discussing their favourite Yuni tracks for the umpteenth time that day. Ceri and Cherry agreed that the very best song was definitely her first – ‘Good Morning, World’. It was a jolly, energetic song that was just right for setting the mood before the show.
“We’re here! We’re here! We’re here!” Bella screeched, holding Cherry’s and Tasmin’s hands, who were clutching onto Ceri and Jillian respectively.
Connor rolled his eyes and went to joke about the girls with Thatcher, only to find he had already been captured by Tasmin.
There was no holding them back; five huge Yuni fans that had originally bonded over the artist, one semi-fan and one slightly reluctant supporter marched through the doors and into a reception area crowded with other fans, all dressed in similar colourful and loud fashion. The mega fans screamed in delight and rushed forward into their wonderland, brandishing their tickets and waiting impatiently for further entry.
This is the fifth part of a short story by Heather. Follow Heather on Instagram and Wattpad @centaur_h. Stay tuned for the next part!