Stars

Stars.
They’re always there. Sometimes I pretend they’re members of my family, all looking down at me, and loving me, staying there for my whole life. Then, they twinkle, which I say is smiling, laughing with joy about me.
Of course, it’s not true. They’ll never love me. They’ll never want me. They’ll never laugh with joy about me. They’ll never stay there my whole life.
And, they’ll probably never remember me.

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1. Chapter One

Stars.

            They’re always there. Sometimes I pretend they’re members of my family, all looking down at me, and loving me, staying there for my whole life. Then, they twinkle, which I say is smiling, laughing with joy about me.

            Of course, it’s not true. They’ll never love me. They’ll never want me. They’ll never laugh with joy about me. They’ll never stay there my whole life.

            And, they’ll probably never remember me.

 

I press my hands against my ears. I can’t sleep, I never can. I say it’s the noise outside of the traffic in London, but that’s not true. I’ve long gone used to the loud noises that go through the thin windows. At least my room isn’t as bad as the bathroom’s. The window’s been smashed. Amelia says that it was from the people before, but I don’t know if that’s true.

            I don’t know if anything’s true anymore.

            Come on, Reo, sleep! I order myself. I’ve got to go to school tomorrow.  But the noises are drilling, the voices. They’re not talking, though.

            They’re screaming.

            “Stop it,” I whisper to myself, “Stop it, stop it, stop it.” I put my pressure onto my ears, not allowing any noise in. I pull my flimsy pillow over my head. I roll over several times. Nothing stops it.

            Apart from one thing, but it’s illegal.

            “Oh, come on!” I whine, throwing myself out of bed. “Come on, I need sleep!” I start kicking my chest of drawers, which has many damaging marks, including long scores from a pen knife. I kick it hard, not caring about the pain from my foot.

            The screams die down a bit. I take my hands off my ears. I continue kicking the chest of drawers, punching it with my hard fists. As I throw a punch at the top of the drawers, I misjudge, and punch hard right on the corner. I curse under my breath.

            “Happy now?” I say, as I pull my hand away and see the fresh blood dripping from my knuckle.

            The screams are a lot quieter now I’ve cut my knuckle. Blood is dribbling down my arm, but I don’t bother looking at it closely. I don’t care about my knuckle. I can’t feel any pain any more.

            I go back into bed, and close my eyes, glad my head isn’t screaming so much anymore. Now I’ll be able to sleep.

            It takes a lot of wriggling about to be able to get into a comfortable position. I faintly feel my knuckle starting to hurt, but I ignore it. I can go through the pain. It’s not that bad. At least it makes the screams quieter.

            I manage to fall asleep. I don’t sleep well: I keep waking up, breathing heavily, thinking I’m still in my nightmare. The nightmares are the only time I manage to think of my family for long periods of time. I try to ignore it when I wake up.

            I open my eyes, and see my knuckle covered in dried blood. At least I stopped bleeding. I lift my head up. It must be morning, right? I look through the window. I don’t have any curtains. Well, I do, but they were moth-eaten ages ago, before we even moved into here. Not to mention that they’re so thin, there’s no difference without.

            The street lamps are producing a glow on the pavement. I can never tell whether it’s morning or not when the street lamps are always on. I get out of bed, and walk over to the window. At some places it’s fairly dark, but that’s because the street lamps have been smashed by the gangs around here. They always like to be in dark places, wanting to look scary, in the dark. And when they’re in the light, their black hoods are always up, making sure it shadows their face, so no one knows who they are. And that’s what scares people.

            I was once in a gang; yes, that's right. When Amelia found out, she nearly sent me back to the children’s home. I told her that that would make me even worse. She listened. She was probably more scared than caring, though.

            I liked being in a gang. I felt dangerous and had enough power to make people do whatever I wanted. It felt good to be hidden in the hood, and occasionally get the rusted pen knife out of my pocket, teasing the knife out, and folding it back in. I wouldn’t ever hurt anyone with it, but the threat made them do anything. The knife wasn’t even that sharp: it was blunt. I’d found it in a dustbin once.

            When Amelia found out, though, she was scared. I didn’t want to be sent back to the children’s home. I didn’t want to go through being fostered and adopted again. Amelia was a good enough ‘parent’ for me. I don’t think anyone else would’ve wanted me, especially the way the children’s home would advertise me. I’d have been stuck in the children’s home, stuck under the rules and the very little freedom.

            That’s what made me stop. I didn’t want to leave. I knew the gang would call me weak, a coward, but I didn’t have anything else to do. Sometimes I’m so tempted to go out and find the gang. It made the screams a little quieter, at least.

            It’s not morning yet. I don’t have to get up, but it’s too late now. Once I’m up, and out of my bed, I can’t fall back to sleep. Normally, I just lie in my bed and wait for Amelia to come in, announcing it’s time to get up. Amelia thinks she wakes me up, but I’m always awake. I’m probably always awake before Amelia is herself.

            I look at my knuckle. It’s crusted with dry blood, and with no doubt Amelia would make a fuss about it, not to mention the punishment. I nearly explained to her that it quietens the screams, but I stopped myself. If she found out about that, she’d probably make me go to the doctor’s…or worse, make me see a physician.

            I examine my knuckle closely. How could I make it not look so bad? I could just cover it up, maybe. I can’t really clean it up. The water makes such a loud noise when you turn on the taps; it’s bound to wake her up.

            I sigh, and go back to bed. I notice that the pillow is drenched in blood. I’ve been sleeping my blood. I guess that’s what the screams like.

            It can’t be the blood from my knuckle. I didn’t cut it that bad, did I? It’s probably from other times I’ve cut my hand, other times when I’ve done it much worse. It’ll dry soon. Amelia just thinks I have a red pillow, so it won’t make any difference to her.

            Nevertheless, I turn over the pillow, just in case. I’m going to have to sort out my knuckle. Amelia will almost certainly see it. It’s happened before, and she made me go to the doctor’s. I managed to get out of it. She didn’t take me herself because she had a job interview, so I had to take myself, as it was only a five-minute walk towards the centre of London. I lied and told her that I’d gone, and it’ll heal itself. Amelia didn’t get the job.

            I decide, that if Amelia wakes up from the water, I’ll just tell her that I was using the toilet, or something like that. She can be quite gullible sometimes, which is useful.

            I go into the bathroom, and lock the door. To make the scene more realistic, I flush the toilet, even though I didn’t use it. I wait until the toilet’s finished flushing, before I can use the tap. If I turn on the tap whilst the toilet’s flushing, the tap just gurgles.

            I turn on the tap, cringing to the loud whirr from the water tank. I wash my knuckle, trying to do it ask quick as possible. I put the plug into the sink, and wait for it to fill up. I turn off the tap, and scrub and my knuckle, getting the blood off.

            Once I’m satisfied, I pull the plug out, and look closely at my cut. It’s an ‘L’ shape, and quite deep, too. It’s not bleeding anymore, though. That’s okay. But it’s really noticeable.

            I open up Amelia’s make up bag, and get out her foundation. I don’t know how she managed to afford so much make up when we can only get cheap baked beans for meals.

            I pull out three foundations, all a different shade of skin colour. I guess which one looks closest to my skin tone, and smear it over my cut.

            Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a professional at putting on foundation. I’ve never done it before, but I know that you need to rub it in. I’ve seen plenty of girls at school that have flawless skin, and then their neck a completely different colour: so much so, you can see their foundation line.

            I put Amelia’s make up back into the bag, and put the bag where I found it. My knuckle looks okay now. Believable, at least.

            I go back to bed and wait for Amelia’s alarm clock to ring. I have nothing interesting in my room, so I just have to wait. Unlike other kids at my school, I don’t have the iPad-whatever-number-it’s-at-now, or a mobile phone. Well, I did have a ‘rubbish’ (what do I know if a phone’s rubbish? It’s what other people told me), ‘old’ Nokia phone, but my anger management got out of control, and I threw it at the estate’s window. I didn’t mean to break the window, but it’s their own fault for making weaker windows than my phone. My phone was fine, but Amelia confiscated it as a punishment. I think she’s lost it now, which is why she hasn’t given it back.

            I don’t have an alarm clock, either. I had one for my eighth birthday from one of my foster parents, but as soon as I left their smelly house, I chucked it away. I didn’t want any reminders of them. Their rules were too strict, which made me worse, which made their rules even more strict…and so on. They ended up sending me back to the children’s home.

            At least now Amelia doesn’t follow every single step behind me. I mean, sure, she does have a few rules, but that’s to keep me safe. She lets me walk to school on my own, so little does she know I could skive. Not that I do – well, not very often, anyway. I have friends at school, but they’d never skive. I don’t know how I became friends with them, really. They’ve never skived, they’ve never cheated, they’ve never even had a detention (well, except for that one time, but it was my fault). But I guess they don’t live in the estate, they live in those posh, rich houses a bit further away. Well, they’re posh and rich compared to this flat. I’ve only been in one of their house. I’ve never invited them here. It would just be an embarrassment.

            Bring-bring….brring-brrring, I hear Amelia’s alarm clock ring through the thin wall. Bring-bring…..brrrring-brrrring.

            Wake up, Amelia. I plead, as her alarm clock starts ringing again. I then hear groaning as Amelia slams her hand on the alarm clock. I hope she’s not going back to sleep. I’m bored and hot in my bed. I want to get out, even if it means going to school.

            Of course, I hate school. There’re rules, and that’s the thing I hate the most. And they teach us like primary school children, like saying that we have to ‘respect each other’, and ‘listen to each other’, and ‘put our pens or pencils down when we’ve finished an activity’. Come on, we’re teenagers. We don’t need this crap. I hate how we have to do work, despite how we feel.

            Amelia’s feet slips across the floor, and I let out a sigh of relief. She opens my squeaky door, and I pretend to be asleep, like every single morning.

            “Reo, get up now, it’s school time,” Amelia says, shaking my shoulder. “You have five minutes to get out of bed.” I open a dreary eye, and see her in her old, grey dressing gown. It’s supposed to be white, but it’s collected so much dust, it’s now an off-white, or a grey.

            “Come on, Reo,” she says, and leaves my room. As soon as she closes the door, I’m out of my bed.

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