It's a sound everyone in this estate hears at least three times every week. It's a sound that symbolizes fear, and pain, and loss. For some, it symbolizes truth, justice, and all things good. To me, it's the worst sound in the world. It's the sound of a siren.
In the old, run down estate where I am trapped, the emergancy services make regular visits. Someone is killed or seriously injured here at least once a fortnight. That may sound extreme and highly unlikely, but it's true. This place has a serious gang problem - not that anyone cares, or is going to do anything about it. Most of the killings are revenge killings, or warning killings. And the serious injuries come from the gangs meeting in the street and having a huge brawl for everyone to see. But I've never been involved with the gangs. And I haven't (that I know of) pissed off anyone important. So as long as I keep my head down, I'll be alright. I hope, anyway. But around here, my future will always be uncertain. One minute, I'll be breathing. The next, I'll never breathe again.
"Hey, Chanelle? Seriously, Nelly, is there anyone in there?" The voice of my boyfriend, Arran, snaps me out of my thoughts. I physically shake myself, and turn my head to look at him. We're sitting in the kids park in the middle of the estate. Everything's falling apart and has graffiti sprayed over it, but it's still the safest place in the estate. You'd have to be seriously sad (and sick) to start a fight when there are kids around.
"Sorry, I spaced there." I say, still not really focused on him. He tilts his head to one side as he studies my expression.
"What's up, Nells?" He asks, tilting his head to his left. I sigh deeply. What is there really to tell? It's nothing different, just the usual. Instead, I look at Arran's face. His eyes are a clear grey, and they are focused on mine. His hair is long and shaggy, and the deepest shade of midnight black. His pale face is classically handsome - large expressive eyes, straight nose, full lips. Not that I'm ever going to tell him that. He'd never believe me. What was he saying again? Oh, yeah!
"One of the gang leaders slept with Miranda Lockhart. So did their rival gang leader, and now they're fighting over her." I sigh. Arran snorts, and his eyes roll like marbles.
"Again?" He says, groaning. I nod. "What the hell is her problem? She's gonna get herself and a few others killed." He says, clearly irritated.
"Are you implying something about her, Arran?" I say, smiling. He smiles back.
"I'm not calling her a whore. I'm just saying that if her lady parts had a password it would be 'password'." He says, and I laugh.
"I really hope she doesn't die." I say, all traces of laughter gone and replaced by fear and anger. I can't remember a time when I wasn't angry, and full of hatred. Even Arran can't take it away, as much as I wish he could. "Otherwise they'll go for other girls on the estate, even if they haven't done anything wrong." Arran understands my meaning, and takes my hand.
"Chanelle, honey, I love you. I know we're only eighteen, but I do love you. And while I'm still breathing, no one will hurt you." He says, his grey eyes shining. I smile at him. He doesn't realise it, but he's all I have. My mother is an alcholic, and she couldn't care less about me. I left school with no qualifications. Everyone expects me to drink until I'm plastered out of my mind, get pregnant, and spend the rest of my life on benefits. That's no what I want. I can't do that. There has to be something more. And with Arran, I have hope for something better. Without him, I have no hope for anything better.
"Thanks, Arran. I love you too." I say. He opens his arms, and I hold him like I'll never let him go.