OK, As Promised…

Hey Guys:

I know I promised to post some more of the story that I was having a go at. Before I show you it though, I need you guys to promise to give me really honest feedback. I want to know if names don’t work, if situations are too rushed, if it’s boring, if it’s stupid, if there’s one word in one sentence in one paragraph that you really don’t like in that sentence in that paragraph. I want to know what you really think of it: if there’s things you want to know, or things that you want to know that probably should have been discussed before. Please, let me know, because I’m so desperate to make this thing good, and real. I’ve always wanted to write a book…

Chapter 1

Even after the line goes dead, I keep the phone pressed tightly to my head, as if I expect the three beeps that signify the end of a call to be deceiving me. In my mind, I almost expect his voice to sound once more, his broad northern accent pushing the flow of words around and around my head. Somewhere inside, I suspect that he is still there, listening, waiting for a reaction. Reality tells me that I am clinging on to a hope which is both impossible and not in my best interests. Ahead of me, my laptop screen flashes up with a message: “Niall Compton is online”. It’s as if it is trying to taunt me, doing everything it can to push Niall’s face back in to the forefront of my mind, when all I really want to do is to bury the image deep down, where no one, including myself, will ever find it.

I slowly bring myself to remove the phone from the side of my head. It has stuck slightly, because of the pressure I’ve been applying. I only realise how tightly I’ve been gripping the phone when it is directly in front of me, at which point I loosen my grip. Apparently, I loosen it a little too much, because the phone flipps from my hand, and lands, unbroken, on my bedroom floor with a thump.

“Shit, I mumble, although to what effect I’m not entirely sure. What I plan to get out of saying it, again, I’m not sure, but it feels oddly satisfying, as if the anger inside me is releasing itself in one, violently uttered sylabol. Experimentally, I try it again:
“Shit. Shit. Shit.”
It feels a little like I’m spitting the anger out, throwing it from my body with as much force as I can muster. Hell, that’s what I want to do: throw the hurt, frustration and confusion from my body, and just feel – nothing. I want to feel nothing. After all these months, an emptiness is what I need, what I crav.

Unbelievably, it has been just two weeks since The Argument. I’m sure it has been longer, but my own need for self-punishment caused me to save the screenshots of the texts to my phone, which are clearly dated 27/05/2015. Today, 09/06/2015, brings me to just under a fortnight since that day. Clearly the events of the last two weeks hadn’t sped time up, as I’d hoped they would; I must have missed him more than I want to admit, although that in itself is no surprise. Niall has been there for me for close to two years. Upon reflection, that seems an awfully short amount of time, but friendship isn’t always a bond that needs the power of time. Some people are just meant to be friends – or so it seems at the time -, and that, for some reason, is enough to form a bond of trust.

With a sigh, I lean down to retrieve my phone, and placed it towards the back of my desk. It is almost as if, by placing it there, I am also placing the memory of him to the back of my desk, as far away from me as I can get it; not far enough, in my opinion. Almost subconsciously, I place my hands on the keyboard of my laptop, and bring up the desktop. Unlike most teenagers, I prefer to use my computer via the keyboard only; it’s faster, and it allows me to improve my typing speed, which for some reason unknown to me is very important. I furiously type the web address of my blog, and allow the web browser time to load up, inpatiently drumming my fingers on the desk in front of me whilst I wait.

I navigate to and select the link to compose a new post, and then allow my fingertips to gently rest on the keyboard for a moment. Focussing on my breathing is something I do before each and every blog post; it clears my mind, and allows me to ensure that what I’m about to write isn’t going to come out as complete and utter crap. And then, I start to write:

Tuesday 9 June 2015
Is This Hurt, Or Is this Just Life?

Hey guys:

How are you? It’s coming up to 11pm here, and I’m sat by my laptop, just typing this post, and thinking. I need to let this all out, and I need someone to help me, and I just need you guys, more than I ever have done before. I hope that this doesn’t sound like I’m moaning or being really depressing: I just want to tell someone the truth – the WHOLE truth -, and I know that if I tell someone who knows me, I’ll be judged, or reported, or told to shut up.

My best friend – well, my ex-best friend – is called N. Of course, he’s not called N, but for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him N. Why I’m protecting his identity after all that’s happened I don’t know, but I guess I’m not that cruel. Regardless, N has been my best friend now for about a year, and I’ve known him for about 18 months, possibly two years. I trusted him with pretty much everything, including what I write here; he’s one of only two people who know about this blog, and who the person behind the words really is. N knows about the depression, the self-harm, the anxiety, and from all of the things that he said, he was totally supportive. Although he’d never personally experienced any of it, he seemed to somehow get what I was talking about: he understood why I get anxious like I do; he understood what stresses me out, and why I can’t cope with it; he managed to calm me down when I was so far gone that a knife in one hand, fresh blood dripping from the other seemed to me like the only answer to my problems. Before N, I’d neve met anyone like this, whether because I’d never told anyone that stuff, or no one genuinely understood I don’t know, but that’s far from the point really.

Two weeks ago, on 27th December, we had an argument. Lots was said – lots was said which I never wished to hear, but somehow, I knew was true. He called me needy, attention seeking, and told me that I needed mental help. I’m not sure if he intended to hurt me; I’d like to think he didn’t, but common sense tells me to wake up and smell the coffee. Of course he meant to hurt me, or else he’d have said nothing in the first place. Oh, I wish he’d said nothing in the first place. Why couldn’t things have stayed as they were?

Of course, as any teenage argument should conclude, I “blocked” him, which really means that I found the block button on his contact, but I didn’t have the courage to neither press it, nor tell him that I hadn’t pressed it, effectively blocking him. Things were quiet; no texts, or phone calls, or emails. The new year rolled around, and God I was tempted to send him a Happy New Year text message – anything to break the silence. I was just one tap away from sending it too, but I thought better of it. If he really feels that way about me, sending a text out of the blue is surely only going to inflame an already bloody wound.

I deleted the text, and closed the messages app, almost without intending to. Almost.

Tonight, the silence between us was broken, and it wasn’t me who broke it. My phone buzzed, and I immediately froze. I hadn’t yet removed the unique vibration associated with his contact, and even after two weeks, that pattern still made his face flash before my eyes. I was, for just a moment, torn between head and heart. To ignore the text would never do; I’d not have the text off of my mind until I read it, and analysed every last word choice. However, I knew deep down that the text would be nothing but bitter , with words designed to hurt me, to cut me and leave me open and vulnerable. With a sigh of resignation, I looked at the text, and instantly regretted it:

“If you thought blocking me would shut me up, then let me tell you this: those who tell you the truth are actually speaking the truth, and ignoring them doesn’t make the truth any less real. I know that you know that, and you know that it’s true. By “blocking” me, you’ve just proved a point to me: you know that every last word I said was pure truth, and you don’t want to admit that. I have nothing more to say.”

I pressed my finger slowly and deliberately onto the text notification, and then snatched it back again, as if the screen was red hot. The damage, however, had already been done; my phone had sent him a lovely read receipt, to eliminate the probably nonexistant doubt in his head that I’d read the text message within 30 seconds of its delivery to my phone.

I started going over the text, however much it hurt me. His use of quotation marks demonstrated far too clearly that he knew I’d never bring myself to actually blocking him; he knew me too well, and even that hurt. Clearly he knows his words hurt me; the truth hurts me.

Look, my mum is are coming towards my room; I can’t write any more now. There’s not much more to say anyway, and nothing that I really want to put here anyway.

Thank you for reading, and letting me vent to you guys. You’re the only people I know who really care enough to listen.

L XX

I just have enough time to publish the post, close the web page and slam down the lid of my laptop before my door inches open, and my mum’s face pops in. She’s looking tired – I can see the bags hanging from beneath her eyes. I take a moment to compose myself, and then look right into her eye. It’s always difficult, I’ve found, to establish a natural expression and level of eye contact when you’re preoccupied with other matters, but desperately hiding it.
“Everything alright?” she asks me.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine,” I attempt a vague smile, but then decide that maybe that is too cheerful.

“I’m just off to bed love. I’ll see you in the morning, OK? Usual time?”

I nod, as I do every night before school. It is always the “usual time” when I get up the next morning, and she knows it. It fills time though, and is a safe conversation for us to have together.

“Night then,” she says, as she retracts her head from the doorway, and pulls the door closed behind her.

“G’night,” I whisper, but she cannot hear me any more.

Chapter 2

The grass is beautiful, each blade the exact same shade of unnaturally natural green, each tip precisely in line with the blades surrounding it. I stand at the edge, looking on, over the meadow, into the woods beyond. I’m looking for someone – who, I’m not sure -, but they’re not here. Where are they? I glance at my watch; five-to-two. They’re almost an hour late now. Maybe they’re lost. Should I go and look for them?

I take a step foreard, onto the beautifully even grass. It’s soft beneath my bare feet, so I begin to run. And once I start, I can’t stop. I run into the woods, faster and faster, my feet hardly skimming the ground, screaming a name. Screaming and screaming, running and running, screaming and running. I don’t know who’s name it is; it sounds like a noise to me, a unrecognisable word coming from my very own lips.

My phone buzzes, and I wake with a start. Rolling over groggily, I see it was a text, and I instantly freeze, the events of yesterday flooding back into my mind. No, it hadn’t been the unique text alert; it’s OK. Breathe. Calm down. It’s not him; why would it be him anyway? The damage was done now.

Glancing at the screen, I see that it is Meghan. Meghan is my girlfriend, who I’ve known ever since we were kids. I love my bond with Meghan; it’s a relationship, but so much more [and not in an inappropriate way]. She’s my girlfriend, and my best friend, and my counsellor all in one – I quite literally couldn’t ask for more. She’s pretty too, which is an added bonus, and goes to my school. She’s tall, with long dark-brown hair that she leaves down. Her eyes are big and blue, and she rarely wears make-up, because she sees it as a waste of time. I couldn’t agree more; she’s beautiful as she is.

Good morning honey XXX
I smile at the text, and quickly unlock my phone to reply. I notice that it’s not the first text she’s sent me today; she’d sent a series of texts between 1am and 3am. Why was she up that early, or that late as the case probably was? Maybe she couldn’t sleep or something. I dismiss it without a second thought, and get on with typing my reply:

Good morning honey – How are you this morning? Ready? XXX

This morning, we have our GCSE Maths non-calculator paper. It’s our last exam of the year, and I couldn’t be more ready for the freedom which I can practically taste now. Just one more exam, two more hours, and it will all be over, nothing more to be done. Although there’s the agonising two month wait before I receive my results, at least I can rest assured that there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that I can do to change those grades. I can enjoy my free time with Meghan, and that is exactly what I’ll be doing. Tonight, we’re going to a concert in London. To be honest, that’s slightly scary; I absolutely hate crowds, and I know I’m going to find myself in a crowd-situation tonight. I’ve been absolutely shitting myself for the last few days, but I’m doing it for Meghan, and I’m facing my fears for myself. It’ll be OK, I know. I know that. But my head has a tendancy to run wild, and produce non-realistic but realistic enough scenarios, which are just possible enough to have me worried about them.

As ready as I was for my own birth ;-] You? XXX

The vibration of my phone statles me, but when I read the message, I laugh aloud; Meghan was born three weeks premature, a fact that we both take the piss out of on a fairly regular basis. That’s always something nice in a person; when they can see the humour in anything and everything. Meghan is definitely one of those people, and that’s truly brilliant. Especially around school, I need someone who I can escape from the harsh world with, and have a nice laugh and a joke about everything.

Haha I’ll take it you, er, what was it again? Lost the ENTIRE revision textbook in the corner shop? 😛 XXX

Meghan always comes up with the weirdest of excuses when she’s in a sticky situation. The textbook-in-corner-shop excuse was one of her actual excuses to a teacher, when she forgot her history textbook. I sit behind her in history, and I was doing my very best not to snort with laughter. The teacher, unsurprisingly, didn’t buy it, but he did let her off for her inventiveness and on-the-spot thinking skills.

As I’m putting my phone down again, still smiling, the door opens, and my mum comes into my bedroom.
“Morning love,” she smiles warmly, and holds out the cup of coffee she has in her left hand. I take it from her, even though she offers me the side without the handle, so I immediately scould my hand.

“Morning, Mum,” I return the smile, and take a sip of my coffee. She’s remembered not to add milk today, which is always good; she often forgets, and although it’s not a disaster, it’s not the same with added milk or, worse still, sugar. I can feel the hot coffee inside me, warming up my body, waking me up. That feeling, in my opinion, cannot be beaten; it’s the best feeling fo the day, feeling the heat of coffee sloshing about inside you.

“Ready for your maths?” Mum asks me. She takes an interest, which is more than can be said for some of my friends’ parents. Harry’s parents haven’t even mentioned his GCSEs at all, and today’s his last one. I wonder how that must feel; wondering if your parents even care. It must be hard, especially when it comes to GCSEs, because they’re so important. You’d think your parents would remember them, right?

“Yeah, as ready as I’ll ever be,” I reply, smiling. “It’s only one more anyway, and then it’s all over.”

“Very true.” She stands, and looks ready to leave the room. “Oh, are you still going to that concert tonight?”

A shiver runs down my spine at the thought of it, the thought of the loud music, the busy tube, the crowd. I manage to get the shivering under control, and make myself think of the positives: a night with Meghan; watching one of our favourite artists perform live; a romantic [according to the films, anyway] setting. It’s perfect. I smile. “Yeah, in Shepherd’s Bush.”

“Ok. Well, I might not be home when you get back; I’m going to see Stephen at his place, so I might be back late.”

Stephen is Mum’s new boyfriend. Her old boyfriend, Ian, dumped Mum because of me. He didn’t want the commitment of children, to which I internally screamed that I’m not a child, I’m sixteen – weventeen in September. I’ll be at university in two years, and then he wouldn’t have seen anything of me. Mum got really upset when he left, and shut herself in her room for three days. She came out four times in that period: for the loo, and for glasses of water. She didn’t eat, she didn’t speak, she didn’t even cry, as far as I could see or hear.

On the third day – a Monday -, I got back from school to find her casually dressed in the kitchen, pulling a tray from the oven. When she saw me, she smiled, and held the tray aloft for me to have a look at. On it stood an elaborately tiered cake – not unlike a wedding cake, in fact, although of course I didn’t say this. After allowing it time to cool, Mum went at it with several tubes of different coloured icing. When she brought the cake into the living room and placed it on the coffee table, I got a chance to read what she’d neatly written in icing:
“The past is the past
The present is the future.”
At first, this seemed like a rather cryptic motto; I didn’t really understand it. After some thought however, I think I comprehended what my mum was trying to say: the past stays in the past, and can’t be changed. But the future always starts with the present, so start now as you mean to go on.

“Is that OK?”

I snap back to reality; I didn’t realise I’d been thinking for quite so long, but the clock ahead of me informs me that close to five minutes have passed since Mum last spoke. “Yes, yeah, that’s fine. Will you be back tonight?”

“I’m not sure about that,” she says, a cheaky grin cracking her face’s serious-looking mask. “We’ll have to see how things are later on.”

“OK, Mum, that’s what we call TMI: too much information. Trust me, you can stop talking now; I really don’t need to know about your life in the bedroom, if you catch my drift.”

She giggles childishly, and scuttles out of the room, but looks over her shoulder to deliver one final remark:
“It depends how good his foreplay is, love.”

I stand up, my coffee cup now empty, and stride over to the door, which I firmly close behind her retreating back. The coffee cup finds its rightful place on my desk; there’s a gap just the right size between piles of school textbooks, where I always put my empty cup at this time in the morning. My school uniform is already out on my chair, where I left it last night. It’s weird to think that this could be the last time I put it on for school again. That fact, for some reason, brings tears to my eyes; this uniform has seen me through thick and thin at school, and has been such a part of my life for the last five years. As I always do in these situations, I text Meghan:

Tell me it’s not just me who’s getting emotional over the potential last wear of school uniform? XX

It takes just a few moments for a reply to ping back

OH MY GOD YOU’VE STARTED ME OFF AGAIN NOW! I’D JUST GOT THE TEARS UNDER CONTROL XXXX

Smiling, I tap back a response.

I hadn’t got that emotional yet; I hadn’t turned on the waterworks XXXX

I place my phone back on the desk, and hurriedly change into my school uniform. It feels heavier on me today, as if it too is reminding me that this could be it’s last chance to cling to my body. At this point, I know that I’ve clearly lost the plot; am I really imagining that my uniform is having thoughts of it’s own, and turning those thoughts into actions? The euphoric feeling I get whenever I remember that today’s is my last exam must have infected me more than I recognised. Oh well, if I’m truly going mad, at least it’s after my exams, and not before; every cloud has it’s silver lining!

Smiling, I pick up my bag, take my phone from the desk and leave my room, pulling the door closed behind me. I can smell the scent of cooking food coming from beneath the kitchen door, and I can’t help but investigate. Neither my family nor I eat breakfast in the morning, so I wonder what’s going on. Upon opening the kitchen door, all becomes clear: there is a plate of cooked breakfast placed on the table in front of my chair, and a banner stretching across the room, from wall to wall. It reads: ‘LAST DAY! WOOHOO!!!’ in big, bold letters. I smile gratefully towards Mum, who is sat with her own plate of cooked breakfast at the far end of the table. She smiles warmly at me as I take my place at the rectangular table.

It surprises me, each and every time she does something like this. I suppose it’s weird to have someone think about you, especially when they’re not strictly related to you. ‘Mum’ is actually my foster mum; she’s called Debra, but we both assessed that calling her Mum was more comfortable, more natural, and prompted less questions from curious minds such as those of my classmates. Of coruse, this decision was made when I moved in, aged 6, and so I suppose that if I’d had to make that decision now, I’d have called her Debra. But why change old habbits now, when there is absolutely no problem with them?

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