Wander

Rose Farren is a runaway. A refugee, if you like. She's a handful of painful memories tied together with a rucksack and a worn-out hoodie. She's been travelling for a year all around England, and planning to move onto Ireland to find the best chance of escape and maybe finding her father again. Does she have time to think of love during all this? Pssh, no. That is, until Jamie turns up...

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2. Jamie

 

 

Jamie

The girl with the blonde hair and the strange eyes left about half an hour later. I put food into her hands, and she took it. Maybe without thanks this time, but she doesn’t seem to be very into the social circle. Actually, that’s an understatement. She hardly knew who One Direction were when I mentioned them.

“One Direction? What, are they all gay?”

It made me laugh, and to be honest, she makes me laugh. The way she’s brutally honest about everything. The way she completely ignores me when I ask any personal questions. The sarcasm. Even the way she glares at me when I make a jibe about how she’s been living under a rock for three years.

She fills my thoughts tonight, and when I go to sleep, she fills my dreams, too. Just her. Talking. Using her hands to gesture how big a dog she came across on one of her travels were. Then the dog was real and attacking her and she was holding it off as best as she could but it was biting into her leg and tearing the skin and oh God I couldn’t help her and I can’t let her go up against dangers like that, not alone. I wake sweating, twisted up in the covers. The pouting face of Hayley Williams glares down at me. Man, I have got to take that poster down.

I run my hands through my hair, shaking, and kick the blankets off me, walking quickly to the bathroom. My hands clench the sides of the sink as I stare at myself in the mirror. “Man up.” I tell myself. “It was just a dream. Just a stupid dream. And what do I care about the girl, anyway? She’s just a runaway. Just a stupid runaway with a stupid made up name.”

Nodding at the mirror, I splash cold water over my face, using a towel to wipe off the residue from my hair. I feel sticky, as if I can almost feel the remnants of the nightmare clinging to my chest, my face, my brain.

You’re being an idiot, Jamie. Forget about the stupid girl. She’s gone now, anyway.

Why does that thought hurt a lot more than it should?

When I stumble back to my bed, it’s half six in the morning, about time to start getting ready for school anyway. Oh, yeah, my school starts at eight o’clock, and the teachers act like security guards. Probably because half the people in the school sell drugs during lunchtime, but, you know. Mum hasn’t always been the richest of people and, well, it was the nearest school and there’s a homework club that I can stay in if she’s forced to work until six, like most nights. Not that I’d be totally okay walking home by myself, but I don’t really want to give Mum the worry. She’s stressed out enough about work and my dad already.

The word twists a sharp knife in my gut. Dad. He’s been let out of prison, and we know it’s only a matter of time before he finds us. He’ll grovel, pretend he’s sorry, stroke Mum’s hair and buy her flowers, and like idiots, we’ll fall for it. We’ll think he’s really changed. Then it’ll start. The coming home late. The smell of beer on his breath. The shouts. And then the slaps. When it first started, I was seven, and Mum told me that it was just accidents. “Me and Daddy have our little tiffs sometimes, it’s nothing to worry about, Jammy. How about some biscuits, eh?”

Then she’d ruffle my hair, give me some Jammy Dodgers and I’d run off, happy as anything. I hate being called Jammy. Dad made up the nickname. On Christmas we’d play board games, and I’d win every one.

“Bloody jammy, isn’t he, that son of ours?” He’d say, pulling me into a bear hug. “Hey, that’s funny. Jammy Jamie! Ha ha!”

When I turned twelve, I sort of started guessing that things weren’t as innocent as Mum made them out to be. I’d be tossing and turning in bed and hear them shouting at each other, the smash of plates, of glasses. Then Mum would come upstairs, sobbing, and I’d go and comfort her, just to have Dad shout at me. “Get away from her, you bloody little bastard!” He’d roar, and I would scuttle off, in tears myself.

It got worse and worse, until that one night when everything blew up. It was like the other fights had been showers of rain, and this was... this was like a tropical storm.

But I’m probably depressing you, yeah? Sorry.

I pull on my school’s awful school uniform- yellow blazer (yes, it’s actually yellow), white shirt, green jumper and grey trousers. It was literally like wearing sick. People felt sick, looking at us. You could see them cover their mouths, even the adults, and whisper to the person next to them.

“Yes, yes, that’s the school where they sent that boy... you know the one, the one that was found passed out dead high and drunk, outside his old school?”

“Group of druggies, the lot of them. It should be torn down, that school!”

“Well, Vernon, be nice, they are doing a lot of good for the community...”

“Community, my arse!”

“Vernon! They can hear you! Shhh!”

Then the girls would toss their hair, the boys would say rude words, and I’d try to melt into the crowd, mortified.

I poke my head into Mum’s room before leaving, chewing an apple. “Mum?” I say softly.

“Ungh.”

“I’m going to school, okay? What time do y’think you’ll pick me up?”

“Oh, Jamie...” She ran her hand through her blonde hair, sitting up. “I don’t know, honey. If I don’t pick you up by half five you just come on home, okay?”

I nodded, a bit shell-shocked. “Sure. Love you.”

“Love you too, honey.”

---

“Hey! Hey, James!”

“Heh?” I turn around, and freeze. The head of the netball teams swishes over to me, skirt practically only covering the top of her thigh and her uniform appealingly messy. Her name is Cara, and she’s the queen bee. The lovely, gorgeous girl who females would kill to be best friends with and boys would kill to be with. What was she doing talking to me, a brooding loner?

“We were thinking,” she points to the girls around her, that measure from vacant-looking to complete airheads. “You are sooo sporty, and we thought you would be so great, as, like, a male cheerleader or something for the netball team.”

I stare at her, shell-shocked. “You can’t be serious.”

She feigns innocence, before bursting out laughing. “Wow, Jamie, you are so easy to mess with!” She said, giggling with her hand over her mouth. “Of course I’m not serious, silly!” She hits my arm gently, her polished nails trailing down to my elbow.

I clear my throat and remove her hand gently. “Oh, yeah.” I fake laughter. “You really got me.”

One of the particularly stupid looking ones looks proudly on, and I can’t shake the feeling she was the one who came up with the stupid ‘joke’ in the first place.

“Anyway.” Her expression becomes serious. “You’re coming to the bonfire, tonight, right? In the park? It’s going to be ah-mazing.” She flashes a smile, and I swear you can see her teeth from Mars.

“Um, I’m not really sure it’s my sort of thing...”

“Oh, don’t be silly, James.” Cara pushes a strand of blonde hair from her eye. “Of course you’re coming. Everyone else is, right?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess...”

“So you’re coming!” She claps her hands together. “Fantastic! See you tonight! Wear something nice!”

She gives me one last grin before sashaying off with her clique, who are all giggling and whispering.

I frown, before shrugging and walking off to Registration. One party won’t hurt. I’ll just have to find my way around Mum.

And... Wander. I guess. I was going to go see if she was still under her bridge.

Forget the stupid girl, Jamie.

She’s nothing.

No-thing.

Then why can’t I shake the feeling that I miss her?

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