Day 23

Skye has been falling for a long time, but she's fed up of it. She knows it's going to be hard, but she's determined to pull her life back from the brink.
But when Chris gets involved, well, things start going differently to how she planned.
"Why aren't you fighting back goddammit?"
"Because you, Skye Monroe, know nothing about me, about why."

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5. Day Four

Day four:

Yet again, for the second day in a row, I was not allowed to be woken up by the alarm. Instead, Rhys poked me gently on the forehead until I woke up, pulling my duvet up to my chin in alarm.

“Rhys! You’re in my room again!”

His little face fell. “Sorry… I was just… I… I made you some tea, and I brought it up for you to drink in bed.” He held it out between us like a peace offering. I sincerely hoped he hadn’t made the tea, because he was far too young to be handling boiling water. He couldn’t even reach the counter. Who knows what could have happened? I really would prefer for our parents to not make an even bigger fuss of him than normal because he’s spilled boiling water all over himself.

“Um… thanks… Just put it on my bedside table please.” This was not normal Rhys behaviour. He normally loved annoying me as much as possible, but today he was being nice… well, if he could hold off on his annoyingness for one day, I supposed I could try to be civil.

Rhys carefully lowered the mug onto the bedside table, trying not to spill any, then instead of leaving, he just stood there, looking at me guardedly.

“What?” I said, glaring at him.

He took a deep breath. “Just… thanks for my birthday present. I didn’t get to tell you yesterday.”

I rolled my eyes. “It’s okay.”

Rhys jumped on my bed, bouncing up and down in happiness, suddenly changed from the quiet boy he was just seconds ago. “I love it! How did you know Ronaldo was my favourite player?” he squealed excitedly.

I clicked my tongue impatiently in my mouth. “Maybe because you never stop talking about him and about how you hope you’re going to be a good as him someday? Or maybe it’s all the Ronaldo posters you have up in your room? Or maybe it’s even the fact that you’ve been begging Mum and Dad to take you to see him play for like ever?”

He missed the sarcasm in my voice. “I love him! He’s like the best player ever in everness! And now I’ve got his signature!” His voice rose to a squeak.

“And I would like my privacy!” I said, matching his tone.

“Huh?” Rhys asked, still bouncing on my bad, narrowly missing my legs.

“Get out,” I clarified.

“Meanie,” he muttered as he got up from my bed and started towards the door.

“Wait!” I called before he left. He turned to face me sulkily.

“What?”

“Did you make the tea all on your own?” I asked, concerned about the boiling water issue.

“What do you care?” he asked sullenly.

“Just answer me, Rhys.”

He shrugged. “Dad helped me a little bit. But it was mostly me telling him what to do,” he assured me.

“Well, thanks,” I said, reassured that he wasn’t unsupervised when handling dangerous things. Not that I thought our parents would be neglectful, but I was worried he might have gotten up early on his own and snuck downstairs without Mum and Dad knowing.

When Rhys was gone, and the door was closed behind him, I reached out to pick up the mug and cradled it in my hand, leeching the warmth out of it. I brought it up to my lips and immediately spat it back into the mug, putting it back on the table beside me. It tasted like dirty dishwater with mud and dog mess mixed in. It was disgusting. Really, really horrible. I shuddered. But bless him, he’d tried.

I hauled myself out of bed and grabbed some clothes from my drawer before heading into the bathroom to take a shower. Needless to say, after waking once again to find my brother peering over me, and having to force myself to make conversation long before I was ready, I was in a foul mood. And a bad mood for me, who is in a perpetual state of depressingness, is significantly worse than the average person’s bad mood. The one thing I wanted to do most in the world was the one thing I couldn’t do. Well, there were quite a lot of things I couldn’t do, but this was the most important, and the most forbidden. I clenched my fists in the shower, crunching my knuckles like I do every time I’m stressed, and curled up my toes, trying to swallow that feeling. I dried myself and got dressed, still tense.

Despite the fact that my brother had forgiven me for yesterday, my parents still seemed to be annoyed with me. They barely spoke to me all breakfast time, and when Dad left for work, Mum opened her mouth, as if to say something, then changed her mind and stormed out of the room to hurry along Rhys. When they left, only Rhys called out a ‘goodbye’ to me over his shoulder. I grabbed my stuff and set the alarm, locking the door behind me. I sauntered to the bus stop, a little early, and perched myself of the edge of the metal bench in the shelter, waiting for the bus, and my fellow passengers to turn up.

We arrived at school with twenty minutes to spare before registration, and I really didn’t want to go and sit in my classroom. I knew that if I was there when jade turned up, she’d make some mean comment, and in the mood I was in, I knew that I’d fight back, which was a truly bad idea. It would only cement the idea in everyone’s head’s that I was bullying Jade. I also didn’t want to go and sit in my friend’s form room. I wasn’t much company and I didn’t want to annoy them by just sitting there really miserably, so I just wandered around for a bit, until the library opened, then I browsed the fiction section, looking to see if they’d got the new book by Cat Clarke in yet. They hadn’t, but it was still too early for registration, so I opened a random book from the shelf and began to read it, sitting down on one of the sofas. I knew I was safe in the library, because Jade would never in a million years go in there. She wasn’t much of a reader, and she wouldn’t be getting an educational book, because I mean, who actually does that? Besides which, she didn’t like the quiet tranquillity of the library. She liked being loud and energetic, and showing off to her friends.

I got a bit carried away reading the book and suddenly jerked out of the trance created by being immersed in a fantasy world to see that I had about thirty seconds to hotfoot it back to my class room. I almost fell into the room in my hurry not to get a late mark and had to right myself before taking my seat.

“Been for an impromptu run, Skye? Goodness knows you need the exercise,” Jade said snottily.

I rolled my eyes. “At least I can fill a sports bra,” I said, giving her a fake pitying look.

 I couldn’t give a damn what size bra she wore, but as was previously mentioned, I was in an argumentative mood. As was also previously mentioned, the class let out a series of gasps and mutters of ‘that’s so mean!’ and ‘why would she victimise Jade like that?’ I laid my head down on my desk, making a pillow of my arms, and barely made a noise to answer the register. I didn’t know why most of the year had believed Jade so easily when she told everyone I was bullying her. Was I really that mean a person that they would all believe it so easily, despite never having seen any evidence to tell them it was true, and despite the fact that the teachers didn’t take any action, meaning that they thought there was nothing happening? Maybe they just thought the teachers were mistaken. Maybe I really was mean enough that they would believe it. Maybe the fact that I was so antisocial had something to do with it. I don’t know, and I had no desire to understand what went on in their heads, although it must be so blissful, to be so ignorant. They must be so happy, because they never questioned anything particularly deeply. In a way, I envied them, in a pitying way. Things must have been so simple for them.

The bell rang at the end of registration, waking me from my thoughtful reverie. I blinked rapidly, my eyes adjusting to the light, and stumbled out of the room, clutching my shoulder bag. The whole year had one of the sciences next, depending on which set you were in, so I joined the crowd of Year Elevens battling their way through the corridors to the science block. Our school didn’t look very much like a school, from the outside or the inside, and the corridors were not conducive to mass movement. Most of the classrooms were off a single corridor, which meant almost the entire school was in the same corridor at the same time, which meant a lot of traffic jams of people. My tactic was either leave it until I was late, and the corridors were clear, that way, there was no one to talk to me or get in my way, or keep my head down and charge towards where I wanted to go, knocking people out of my way. Maybe this violence in the corridors led people to believe that I could bully Jade.

As I got closer to the science block, the crowds thinned, and I was surrounded by only Year Elevens on their way to their lessons. I fixed my gaze on the floor and tried to blend into the crowds. I could head the whispers already circulating about what I said to Jade in registration, and everyone seemed to have forgotten that she started it. Each story I heard was wilder and painted me in an even worse light, but I was used to it. I slipped in through the door to the science block behind someone else and only looked up from the floor when I was safely in my classroom. Then I remembered that this classroom was not safe, as every single person in my Biology class was a sympathiser with Jade. The seating plan had changed again this term, and we were allowed to sit wherever we wanted. I glanced around to room, trying to find just one person who wouldn’t hate on me all lesson if I sat next to them on one of the double desks in the room, but there was no one. There was, however, a double desk that was totally empty. Relief flooded through me as I made my way over to it.

As I slung my bag on top of the desk, I could hear the whispers being carried in with people from my form, and I slouched over the desk, avoiding eye contact with everyone. I pleaded with whatever higher power was out there that there were too few people in this class for the seat next to me to be taken by some self-righteous idiot who had nothing better to do all lesson than berate me for what I was supposedly doing to poor innocent Jade, but just before the lesson began, someone threw themselves into the seat next to me. I glanced up, and saw Chris smiling down at me.

“Hey,” he said. “If you carry on sitting like that, you’ll ruin your back.” One corner of his mouth was lifted into a smirk.

“Hi,” I replied, weak with relief that I was sitting next to someone who wasn’t a jerk. At least, I didn’t think he was a jerk, from what I knew of him. He gave me his banana because I was hungry, even though he wanted it, and that didn’t seem like jerk-like behaviour to me. “You don’t really want to sit next to me,” I advised him. “It’s social s-suicide.” I cringed at the hesitation I made saying that word, desperately hoping that he hadn’t noticed.

He raised his eyebrow curiously. “And why would that be?” If he’d noticed, he hadn’t said anything.

“Erm…” I tried to think of what to tell him. “Just, me and this girl called Jade had a fight in January, and I came out of it looking like the bad guy.”

“How so?” Chris asked, grabbing his stuff from his bag.

“Well… she told everyone I was bullying her, which I am not, can I point out, and everyone believed her, so I’m a bit of a pariah at the moment.”

Chris’s hands froze over his books.

“It’s no big deal, really,” I assured him. “I’m just trying to ignore it all and hope they find some new bit of gossip to drool over. If I fight back, in their mind, that’s only proof that I’m a bully.”

“But it’s been four months and it’s still going on.” He raised his eyebrow comically and lifted the corner of his mouth. “Even the guys gossip?”

I giggled. “No, but they know about it, and they give me a hard time, you know?”

He nodded slowly. “Yeah… I know. It just doesn’t seem very fair. They’ve all judged and punished you, but you haven’t done anything wrong.”

“That’s not the way they see it,” I said, sighing. I’d already thought all this through on my own.

“But they should at least hear you out, hear your side of the story before they decide to play judge, jury and executioner,” Chris said, getting frustrated on my behalf.

“I can’t change their minds. They’re already convinced that they are right, and nothing I can say will change that. They probably think I’d be likely to try to lie my way out of a tough situation anyway, so there’s no point bringing this all back up again.” I struggled to explain the mechanics of this new school to him.

“This whole thing is so unfair.” Chris sighed. “Well, I believe you, if that means anything.”

I smiled at him. “It does thanks. Not many people are on my side any more. They don’t want to be implicated in this whole thing.”

Chris shook his head, and opened his mouth to say something, but the teacher called the class to order, so he didn’t say it.

When I thought about it, what he said made sense. It wasn’t fair that everyone had judged me and taken to punishing me in their own way without hearing my side of the story, but that was just how it was. Besides, since when had life ever been fair? There were some really kind and good people in the world, who were living lives of poverty and abuse, and there were the people in my year, who weren’t very nice people at all, and they were living lives of luxury, with parents who could and would buy them anything they wanted. So no, life isn’t fair, and I know that better than anyone. 

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