The girl sensed the moment when their intentions changed. It was the tone of their voices that made her increase her stride. But her need to not lose face made sure she wouldn’t let the half-hearted excuses spew out. Of course, she could turn back and head for the school building and see if anyone was still hanging about. Some teacher. One of the cleaning team who should be knee-deep in the toilets by now. Or, the single black eyes that filmed the corners where the accidental injuries were most likely to happen. It wasn’t that she needed protection. Just because, then someone would know who she’d been with after school. She wouldn’t let her show fear. Common sense was weakness when she had to do the daily walk to school with these boys. And, there was no way out of it. They'd asked. She'd said Yes. And, one way or another, everyone was going to know what happened.
She figured she could handle it. They were three, so it wasn’t like she could fight it.
The playing field behind the old building was edged with trees, the short thick ones with thorns that ripped liked filed acrylics or light tap from a styling comb. The contractors had laid an orange plastic path to save their vans from sinking into the mud but the rain and the heavy moving equipment had shown that right. It was cold, but not so cold the rain had eased off. The dark grey clouds weren’t troubled by white and the rain was persistent. It was the heavy rain that washed out any thoughts she’d had about maybe legging it. Being labelled spineless, and worse. If all they had was outdoors then whatever happened would be quick. She pulled up the collar of her blazer, pushed her hands deep into the pockets, and rolled her hips as she walked. Then she followed the orange brick road to the mobile office the building crew had dropped into the school field where they were digging foundations for the new building.