Dartmouth arrived at the school to see Jollimore sporting a rainbow-hued lei, dark sunglasses and black shorts.
“Jollimore, why are you dressed like that? You’re supposed to be teaching.”
“Because we’re going out on a trip to the beach today!” cheered Jollimore, his lei swinging about his neck as he dashed off towards the playground.
“Oh, it’s that time of the school year again, eh?” scoffed Dartmouth, stomping after Jollimore.
A huge green coach on the very edge of the playground just a few metres away from the main car park greeted Dartmouth’s eyes. He noticed that all the students were mimicking Jollimore in their fashion choices – spectrum-hued leis, dark sunglasses and black shorts.
“Oh God, are all the students going to the beach, too?” Dartmouth moaned.
“Of course they are, Dartmouth! It’s what we do every summer!” Jollimore grinned.
“Ugh.” Dartmouth shook his head a little.
The driver opened up the luggage compartment, inviting all the students to store their beach gear inside. “Get everything inside, kids,” ordered Jollimore, beaming brightly as he folded one of the students’ towel up into a neat square, while Dartmouth glared crossly at him.
“Now all in line,” Jollimore ordered again, leading all the students to line up neatly towards the entrance of the bus, and they chatted amiably to each other as Jollimore stepped along the queue, checking up on each student.
“There’s a lot of students at this school, you know that, Jollimore?” Despite it being just morning, Dartmouth was beginning to tire out.
“Yes, but it’s for our own safety,” Jollimore replied.
At that moment, Dartmouth brushed ever-so-slightly past a hidden knife blade on one of the students, scoring a thin line of blood in the flesh of his hand.
“Ahh!” he inhaled sharply, the pain fresh and smarting. He glimpsed very briefly at the scarlet blood streaming down to the tip of his little finger.
“Well, this day trip’s gotten off to a great start, hasn’t it?” He pulled his cuff down to soak up the blood.
“All aboard!” Jollimore called, and the students each took a seat, still chatting to each other.
“It’s like they didn’t even do anything to me.” Dartmouth noticed the students’ casual manner.
“Did what, Dartmouth?” Jollimore asked him, still smiling, and Dartmouth quickly hid his bloodied cuff away from his sight.
“Gonna wash this thing when we get to the sea.” He quietly sighed to himself, peeking at the blood stain on his cuff.
Dartmouth and Jollimore meticulously checked over each pair of students. Some were tapping away on their cellphones, updating their statuses on social networks or playing games to keep themselves entertained.
“I bet they’re planning to kill me on those things…” Dartmouth glowered at the screens. Jollimore whipped around as if he’d heard something, but Dartmouth just shrugged it off, making sure to keep his bloody cuff hidden.
They strolled back down the aisle to double-check on all the students before they set off. Dartmouth folded his arms, glaring at the students, knowing that one of them had secretly cut him.
“So much for ‘safety’…” he shook his head a little.
Dartmouth and Jollimore sat down in the seats directly behind the driver, buckling their seatbelts. Dartmouth cleverly concealed his bloodied cuff by laying his other hand on top.
“Ooh, I can’t wait to make a splash in the sea!” Jollimore exclaimed excitedly, looking forward to arriving at the beach.
“I’m not excited.” Dartmouth sat up firm.
“Aw, come on, Dartmouth. You’ve gotta have something to be excited about at least once in your life,” Jollimore encouraged him..
“Ugh, no…” Dartmouth turned away from Jollimore.
The driver turned to face the students, carrying a clipboard and pen. “Okay, I’m checking if all you kids are here,” he announced so that everybody, including Dartmouth and Jollimore, could hear.
They all listened out as the driver called out each student’s name one at a time, replying with a loud “Here!” when their name was called.
“Where’s that no-gooder who cut me?” Dartmouth glanced crossly around at the students, listening out for the name of the culprit. Once he’d called out all the students’ names, the driver sat back down in his seat.
“So I guess we’re all ready to hit the beach, then!” he remarked, then he started the engine, causing the bus to rev into life. The students all cheered, waving their arms up and down in the air.
“Here we go! Off to the beach!” Jollimore beamed as the bus started driving away.
“I wish I was ill today so I wouldn’t have to go on this stupid day trip…” Dartmouth thought to himself miserably, his head hanging down.
“Oh, Dartmouth…” chuckled Jollimore, playfully nudging him in the chest, but Dartmouth only gave a jaded sigh. The bus negotiated the entrance gates, which shut on their own as it headed out into the city.