It was all over the pavement, on my shoes, and the hem of my jeans. It was red and burnt umber and grey and dandelion, scattered like broken crayons. I looked down and wanted to vomit again, and I smelled it and wanted to vomit again, but the heat of a hundred faces staring and recoiling burnt it back into my throat, and I held the fire down.
“Here,” said a voice behind me. A white towel came up to my face. I took it. I covered my eyes. “Let’s get you to the washroom. Come on, now.”
I was pulled along by my elbow, with the towel still shielding my eyes, but I could feel them, all around the paneled hallway, staring, whispering, hating me. “Such a drama whore,” said a girl. And that was Emma. By the end of the day she would fill every ear with those words, and they would hate me again and again, and I would die of it.
I heard the metallic echo off the bathroom walls, and the sink taps squeaked. Water ran. The towel was pulled from my hands. Mrs. Batey wet it in the cold water and wrung it out, and handed it back. I stared at a crack in the porcelain, holding the towel. I wished I could vomit again.
But she took the towel from my hands once more, and bent down, and wiped my feet. So I just cried, instead.