When They Whisper

Suddenly a hundred, a thousand voices were about me, whispering his name. They sounded urgent, rushed, longing. I was afraid, I’m not going to deny, as Matt and I were the only people on the entire street.

It was clear by this stage that I was hearing the voices. They were high, low, loud and quiet, but all saying Matt’s name and all with that hungry whisper. I started hitting the side of my head with my fist, breathing heavily. I didn’t know what else to do and my insides were clenching.

They didn’t go, and if anything, grew. Next thing I knew, I had my head in my hands and was yelling, doubled over.

Suddenly, one voice broke over the crazy noise: mine.

“Matt!” I yelled, my voice cracking, “Matt!”

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3. Lion King

Of course it was only a week before disaster struck again, and when I say it was a week, seven days exactly since Matt’s car decided it had experienced enough torture, something worse happened.

I had been shunting Maxwell’s curious and concerned looks for a while, trying to ignore his piercing stares and uncharacteristic behaviour, which included sticking his head in the kitchen window as I left the house each morning for school. As if he thought I didn’t notice.

Therefore I was in a pretty stinking mood during those days. Because of Matt’s loss of transport, no one could be bothered to walk to the supermarket anymore and Matt was having to work extra shifts at the pub to get enough money to buy a replacement. Well, I think his insurance company offered him about 50 quid for his loss. He should have bought a damned bicycle!

Harry was ill that Friday night and Matt managed to scratch his Star Wars DVD beyond repair. We had ordered a replacement but it was still to be delivered. The Friday gang were not reunited that week, which was probably a good thing, seeing as the news came through the following day that Ginny had broken up with the long term Jock boyfriend and was ready to kill any boy that came into her sight.

Thoroughly dejected were the Friday gang that week in school. We were all behind on coursework and no longer spent our lunchtimes messing about in the common room. We all chained ourselves to library desks until we had chundered through a bit more work. What a life!

It was during one of these sessions that a quiet conversation was struck up on the table opposite ours. I could clearly make out Anna’s crazy hair and a few of her friends, accompanied by a couple of younger pupils they appeared to be helping out with their maths homework. Laughing at the thought of finding X and remembering days of GCSE’s, I caught Anna’s hushed voice over the top of the whispers.

“I can’t believe Labour are proposing all that crap. Has it occurred to them this is all their fault in the first place?”

“Thank you, Tony Blair,” someone else laughed under their breath.

“Honestly,” Anna continued to scold, “I want to punch them all. We’d be better off running the country, just like,”

A few more voices interrupted her. I could make out exclamations.

“National average!”

“Think of all those awful state schools!”

“Rebecca!”

“Yeah, but the coalition,”

“Stop being so right wing!”

“Right wing?”

“Rebecca!”

I snapped my ears back to reality. Firstly, I had no idea Anna was so riveted by politics of all things, and something else had come gnawing through my subconscious.  Something was telling me in every inch of my body, that Anna and her friends had not just been the only thing I was listening to.

“Rebecca!”

I straightened my head to directly stare across the room at their table, ignoring the fact that I looked so unsubtle and ridiculous, my ears cocked back like a Terrier, nose sniffing out my prey.

That voice. That one voice which was so familiar and was making my blood boil. But I did not recognise it. The voices I had heard just a week before had been numerous, malicious and deafening in my ears. This was just an echo.

The library had fallen silent, I was aware of it, and also of another stifled sound. I flicked back my senses and made out a few giggles and curious stares. Anna had turned her matted head to look at me directly, a frown plastering her expression. She too was staring as if in another world. Staring at me.

A small voice burst out laughing as the year ten pupil sat beside her fiddled madly and goggled her eyes at me.

“Can you feel the love tonight?” sang Anna’s irritating friend with the squeaky voice next to her, breaking into another fit of laughter as our shared stare remained intact.

It wasn’t the fact that she was staring at me. She was unmoving, not even flinching, not even breathing. Anna’s eyes were alive, widening and narrowing simultaneously and that bright and crazy hair of hers did not even make the scene look comic. The moment was now frozen, frozen in my mind, frozen in hers. She wasn’t staring at me. She was staring because of me, she was staring at me because I was staring at her. But the way she was scrutinising me was as if she could see inside me.

As if she knew.

And suddenly I remembered what Maxwell had said to me. Maxwell had been speaking to Anna. Anna had been watching me before. Maxwell hadn’t even explained how he knew Anna. I didn’t even know her that well. I didn’t know her second name. I didn’t know where she lived or what she was like. I knew her hair and her brains. Yet she carried on staring.

I stood up, abruptly, breaking up the giggling girls beside Anna.

The magic was gone, the spell that held our gazes. Anna looked away. She didn’t even blush like girls do. She didn’t hide her face or smile, embarrassed. She simply glared at her friend and fixed another stare on a small point beyond her, still stuck in her own head with that frown still covering her features.

She didn’t seem to notice as I almost ran past her table and to the door of the library.

“Ollie?” called Greg after me.

“Toilet!” I aimed back in his general direction.

I crashed into the boys’ toilets, blood pounding through my veins and a thousand thoughts cascading through my head at once, like bloody Niagara Falls.

Forcing my hands onto the ice cold metal of the sinks to steady myself, I let my head raise itself to the bright skylights, attempting to reclaim some sanity and at least a little dignity as the black dots which had been obscuring my vision in panic gradually cleared.

The boy in the cubicle directly behind me sounded like he was the flipping Niagara Falls. I’d forgotten how much I hate toilets. Especially school ones with year sevens banging the doors and spraying water from the taps everywhere. They probably thought I was mad, standing awkwardly like this. Or high. But to tell the truth, I didn’t care. I resumed my staring, this time into the mirror at myself.

Brown hair, brown eyes, not particularly attractive or built, not too skinny, no freckles and no crazy hair. Boring smile, boring teeth, boring nose, no sticky out ears. So I wasn’t some mental retard or deformed weirdo, apart from, briefly pushing back the short mop of hair on the very top of my head. I could still make out the mangled scar which wove its way down most of my scalp. Of course: the bloody miracle boy.

It would be a miracle now if I found a solution to my craziness.

The answer was in the form of my phone suddenly clanging to life. It was on full volume, not that I was the goody goody to turn off my phone in class, and in the echoing polished surfaces of the toilets, the brash and obtrusive tones of ‘staying alive’ made everything jangle and swear back at me. That had been a joke Greg had played on me one time, taking the miracle boy joke a little far. Apparently I just kept going. Apparently I should be dead.

Swishing my finger across the screen, I shot the phone to the side of my head, glaring at a year nine boy who had just skulked through the door, trying to look immensely cool and vacant.

“Max?”

“Ollie, I’m driving over to the school to pick you up right now. Just go and wait outside the gates.”

“Woah, what the hell’s happened?” Max had never sounded so rushed and distraught, not even when questioning me last week about the voices.

“Becky’s just been taken to hospital. In an ambulance. We’re going there now, just don’t panic and wait by the gates. Could you just make sure someone from school knows where you are? I don’t have time to contact the office.”

“Shit...” I moaned as Maxwell cut the call dead, just as the flushing of a toilet caused me to turn around in anger and kick the door of a vacant cubicle. “Shit!”

I had no bloody choice but to keep my head on my shoulders, bang back out of the toilets as violently as I could and run into the library, nearly sending the year ten girls’ books who Anna was helping off the desk as I whooshed past. Not bothering to apologise, I leapt up to Greg, bent down to scoop up my things which I had previously abandoned there and bent over the table to hiss in his ear.

“I gotta go. Max just phoned: Becky’s in hospital, no bloody clue why and he’s taking me there now. Could you just make up some crap for whatever lesson we’ve got next?”

“History,” murmured Ben, looking up from his books, reading glasses nearly falling from his wide ridged nose.

“Shit,” breathed Greg. “Is she OK?”

“No bloody idea!” I almost hollered back as I had already turned my back on my mates and was running back out of the library, all thoughts of the strange encounter with Anna gone from my mind. Becky, good old Becks was in hospital, taken off in an ambulance! I didn’t know how to react or what to think, so I just let the panic and anger take over.

Luckily, it was lunch time, so no one noticed me storming past, and no one batted an eyelid as I forced my way out of the school gates and slumped down on the wall just outside, waiting for Max to pick me up. I wondered whether Dad had gone with her. Actually, he was probably still at work. Crap, how the hell would they get through to him? Dad worked a boring job as a boring solicitor, it was impossible to get hold of him during the day.

I really was losing my mind. It would be fine, Max would have just called through to his reception and urgent message would have been passed on. Dad was probably in A and E right now with Becky, seeing as Max had to stop off and pick me up first. Max had just been too rushed to tell me anything else. Anyway, driving and talking on the phone was illegal, not that Maxwell would care.

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