The Lives we Live

Entry for the Young Movellist of the Year competition.
Who are we? What comes after us, the human race? And how do you put a value on a single, human life?
And so begin the wonderings of childish, fourteen-year-old Cassie Clarke, who, when she learns that her best friend Mika is dying, attempts to help him achieve 'eternal happiness.'
In pursuit of happiness, she discovers things that shouldn't be possible, the identity of her father, how to let go, and that joy isn't obtained through bucket lists and grand plans.
In fact, happiness is found in the simpler, more unexpected places in life.

[Does contain some adult language.]

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3. 58 Days - Waking Up

I blink, once, twice, before letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. Groaning, I check that nothing is broken, and sit up. Immediately, pain shoots up my arms, and my head feels dizzy. The smell of blood is overpowering and I lie down again. Minutes later, I sit up, again, and feel my face and head. My lip is split, and a thin layer of dried blood coats my chin. My right eye feels slightly swollen, and I find a large, throbbing bump on the side of my head. It hurts to touch, and just trying to manoeuvre my body causes me to choke back tears.

 

I bite my lip, briefly forgetting my injury. Recoiling, I gain the attention of someone I hadn’t noticed before.

 

“So, you’re up then, lazy bitch.”

 

I turn my head to a girl leaning on the doorframe.

 

“Where am I, Courtney?”

 

She smiles at me slowly.

 

“This is the caretaker’s cupboard.”

 

“Okay, how long have I been out?”

 

She rolls her eyes. “Don’t be so dramatic, only like, fifteen minutes. You’ll be fine. We hit you a little too hard, but you’ll be fine by morning. That reminds me, I hope you like sleeping rough, because I’m going to lock you in here overnight.”

 

What. The. Hell. My mouth hangs open. I mean, what the hell? Why? Why would you even do this?

 

“What?”

 

She smiles at me, before getting out some keys from inside her idiotic ‘OBEY’ jumper.

 

“Like I said, hope you enjoy sleeping rough.”

 

“Courtney, why are you even doing this?”

 

She stares at me for a moment.

 

“I mean, I get you’re trying to maintain the whole ‘cool girl in a clique’ thing but I don’t get it. You don’t strike me as the bullying type.”

 

“And you didn’t strike me as a bitch.”

 

I look at her for a moment.

 

“Yeah, okay, fair enough.” I say, hoping she’ll lock me in, get me to scream and cry a bit, let me out, laugh at me, and let me go.

 

But knowing my luck, things are bound NOT to go to plan.

 

She rolls her eyes at me, and mumbles something about me being weird.

 

She closes the door, and I begin to panic. It’s way too hot in here. And dark. I’m telling myself to calm down; it’s probably not even four yet. Calm down, calm down, and calm down. It’s fine. Say like a mantra. Believe it. It’s going to be fine.

 

It’s probably only been minutes but I feel like the walls are closing in. Squishing me. Like the darkness is actually a physical thing, and its there, and it’s swallowing me up.

 

I’m screaming now. I can’t help it. The fear is uncontrollable. It’s just made it worst though, because now I’m hysterical. Flinging myself against the door, bruising the whole of my right side, and crying. My throat is hoarse and my eyes hurt from crying and the dust all around me.

 

But then I’m briefly roused from my screaming by a voice.

 

The voice of a girl. She sounds younger than me, though.

 

“Is anyone in there?”

 

“Yes!” I’m crying out.

 

I hear footsteps and someone trying the door handle. It rotates uselessly.

 

“I’m sorry,” the voice says faintly, “It’s stuck.”

 

“So try harder!” I’m aware I sound incredibly rude, but the walls of this cupboard seem smaller by the second. “Please!”

 

“I’m sorry,” I can hear her footsteps drifting away, down the corridor. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”

 

“No! No, please!” I’m crying out. “You can’t leave me!”

 

“I’m sorry . . . I have to go and find Kris.” I barely heard her, and my mind struggled to make sense out of the last part of her sentence. All I can think about is being stuck here. Forever. In the darkness.

 

“Please!” I’m screaming, hammering. “Please-”

 

The handle’s turning, opening. As if in slow motion, the door opens. A crack of light, becomes a spotlight.

 

Mika is standing in the doorway.

 

And then I let it go. The argument. The cancer. I let it all go. I don’t care. He’s my friend, and nothing and no one can, or will, change that.

 

I stumble out into the corridor, and hug him. We almost topple over, but thanks to his trusty legs we manage to regain balance. I’m laughing, and he’s laughing, and we’re laughing together.

 

“So,” I manage breathlessly. “How did you know?”

 

“Know what?”

 

“Don’t play stupid. Where I was?”

 

“Oh, that,” He smiles, “Well, the good thing is, Courtney isn’t a complete bully, and she gave me the keys. She came and found me because she couldn’t go through with it but she didn’t want she didn’t want to go back and let you out, because, knowing you, you would probably murder her.” He smirks playfully, before realising I’m not joining in.

 

 “She did just try to lock me in a frigging cupboard overnight!”

 

“Y-Yeah, but . . .” He trails off, and frowns. “Yeah, you’re right, she’s a nutter, and we should probably keep clear.”

 

We laugh again, before setting off home. It’s weird; how we can go straight back to normal after something horrible has happened.

 

But I know I won’t be able to do that when he leaves me.

 

As we walk up the street towards my house, I know I have to ask him something or I’ll regret it.

 

“So . . . are we friends again?”
 

“Um . . . yeah, idiot. I wouldn’t give you up even if the whole world wanted me to.”

 

I give him a hug. I inhale his scent, partly because I’ve never done it before and may never again get the chance, and partly because I want to, even though it’s creepy. He smells like toast and fabric softener. Weird.

 

“Ok, that’s weird. You can let go now.”

 

I pull away and smile at him, flashing my (obviously dazzling) crooked teeth. He ruffles my hair, sticks his hands in his pockets, and walks off. He doesn’t live very far away, so I watch him stroll down the street until he’s gone.

 

I have my best friend back. I feel like screaming ‘Level up!’ but sadly, my life is not a video game, so instead, I head inside, dump my schoolbag in the corridor, and try to rouse the still asleep, still not-quite-recovered-from-his-hangover, still snoring, Bailey.

 

 

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