~~I stand in the training hall a few minutes early staring at the floor; I’d rather be early than late after what happened this morning. “You’re eager” Orave says as he carries a bucket in with him. I frown at the object; it’s a bit of a strange object to bring with you to a training session. I shrug at him but don’t say anything.
People slowly start trickling in and I notice Ethan walk in with a girl in our team with gorgeous brown hair and captivatingly green eyes, I turn away not wanting to watch him or the girl. “Quickly! We don’t have all day!” Orave barks at the people who walk in as the hand on the clock strikes 2. He scans the crowd for a few seconds then shouts “Team 2 with me, and Team 1 stay here with Felix” He then starts to stride out the room and I follow him along with the rest of the team. He leads us to a room with a collection of obstacles that are both high off the ground and on the floor. I gulp down my fear as I stare at the high wall that will undoubtedly have to climb. “Right, this afternoon this bucket of water and these planks are going to be your best friends” Orave starts to say lifting the bucket I saw him carrying earlier, which is now full of water, and 3 planks of wood. “I’m going to blind fold one of you and give another of you this bucket. None of you or the bucket can touch the floor and you all have to reach the finish” He explains “Who wants to be blindfolded?” We all look at each other and no one steps forward so Orave looks around and shoves the blind fold at the girl I saw earlier with Ethan “Jilly I think you’re up for it” She raises her eyes brows but lifts the blindfold over her head and secures it tightly. “Make sure one of you is with her at all times, remember you are a team and no member should get left behind” He reminds us.
We all walk over to a dusty white line that marks the start line and Ethan steps forward “I think one of us should go at the front with Jilly because we can’t leave her at the back because she won’t be able to pass the planks of wood. Every one nods “Will you go at the front Ethan?” She asks in a sweet voice that I can tell gets its own way every time. Unsurprisingly he nods “Sure” And with that he walks over to her and takes her hand pulling her to the front.
For some reason watching this happen makes me want to slap her and tear their hands apart, is it jealousy? I try to shake the feeling off and concentrate on the task. I walk into the middle of the group, not wanting to be relied upon to move the planks. The first task is just reaching the first obstacle, there’s a huge gap between the start line and the wall and we make steady but slow process. Cody is at the back lifting the planks off the floor we then pass it along the team to Ethan who places it on the floor in front him. Marcus is standing near the front being extra careful with the bucket of water and I smile at the concentration on his face. I careful put one foot in front of the other determined not embarrass myself and let the team down. Ethan and Jilly reach the wall and I watch with unwanted jealousy as he lifts her over hit, her giggles make my blood start to boil and I feel glad that I’m not close enough to slap her. I shuffle along the plank and reach the wall. Cody, who’s standing behind me, offers me a hand but I shake my head and place my hands onto the wall and pull myself up. It’s not the high one so it’s not that scary and I quickly swing one leg after the other over it and jump down onto the plank next to Kestra, the girl in front of me, who smiles as I land. We continue over the obstacle course with Jilly constantly giggling and no one hits the floor once.
It’s about 5:30 when we reach the tower which is the last obstacle and I start to shake as I follow the people in front of me to the top. I can hear Ethan at the top already strapping someone onto the abseiling rope. I let the people behind me over take me putting off the unavoidable task ahead until I stand at the back with Marcus and the bucket of water. “Don’t know how we’re going to get this thing down there” He says lifting it up a bit. I shake my head because my mouths gone dry and I’ve lost my voice. “One by one the team members abseil down until it’s just me Marcus Rona and Ethan left. Ethan see’s me stand behind Marcus at the top of the stairs and at this point my fear is beginning to show because I’m quivering a little and my hands feel sticky with sweat. I shake my head at him and he turns towards Rona “Your next Jilly” He says to her and she lets out yet another giggle.
“Ok” She says in her overly sweet voice and I don’t even have the space in my mind to feel annoyed. Ethan leads her to the edge and attaches the rope to her.
“Ready?” He asks and she nods. I watch in frustration as she leans back and easily walks down it and I hear a thump as she hits the floor and Ethan pulls the rope up again. “Aren’t you going?” Marcus asks as he suddenly realises I haven’t gone yet. “After you” I squeak and he frowns at me but strolls over to Ethan “Are you going to be able to hold that thing?” Ethan says and Marcus nods in reply “Just lower me slowly” Ethan attaches the rope and slowly lowers Marcus who winks at me as his head disappears down the wall. I hear him land and every one cheers so I presume the water didn’t spill. What they don’t realise is that we haven’t succeeded because I haven’t made it down yet. Ethan walks over and I see softness in his brown eyes that I’ve never noticed before. “You can’t fall” He whispers to me and my eyes quickly dart from him then to the edge “Do you mean it?” I ask “You’re not just saying that like you were last time to comfort me?” He laughs quietly and holds out his hand “You’ve done it before” He says as I slip my small sweaty one in him. He slowly pulls me to the edge and I can see everyone at the bottom looking up at me, none of them are scowling they’re all smiling encouragingly at me. Ethan swiftly clips me to the rope “Don’t look down, look at me then it will be over before you know it” I look up at him and he smiles. “Do you remember how to do it?” He asks and I nod and stiffly lean back. I hear the wind rushing around me and Harpers screams and I start to shake but I look up at Ethan and see him smile at me as he starts to lower me down then it all goes away, just like that.
My feet hit the ground and I feel every one pat me on the back and they all congratulate me, my lips can’t help turning up into a big goofy grin as I realise I did it and didn’t let them down. Ethan hit’s the floor quickly after me and he stays at the back with me as we walk across the planks to the finish line “Well done Ash” he whispers and I feel I tingle of pleasure run through me at the little nick name. “Thanks” I whisper back and he grins.
“Anytime” he replies and I smile back at him, then we quickly catch up with the others.
“I’m glad I’m nod in that elite squad, look at you, you’re a mess!” Sina exclaims as I sit down with them in the canteen. “It’s not that bad” I say in between eating a sausage.
“Still, training in grade 2 is hard enough” Tamara adds
I shrug “In a way it was sort of fun”
Our convocation is interrupted when Clora and Co walk over. “Look what we have here isn’t she amazing guys for making it into the elite team” She says sarcastically making her gang giggle a little too enthusiastically. Sina rolls her eyes “Better than you, last time I checked you’re still in grade 2” She says and I can hear the annoyance in her voice. Clora scoffs “So are you, watch out she’ll soon start thinking she’s better than you” I shake my head and stand up to face her properly
“These people here are my friends and they’re way better people than any of you could ever be and that can never be determined by what class they are so why don’t you piss off and find someone else to bother” I spit at her then nod towards the entrance. She looks at me startled for a few moments then lets out a huff and turns and leaves a long with her group of followers who’re trying to hide their smiles. I sit down and see that Tina Tamara and Jaylyn are all looking at me smiling “Get you” Sina says.
“You told them” Jaylyn adds and we burst into laughter at the whole stupid thing.
I stay there for about half an hour but soon my tiredness starts creeping up on me and I say goodnight. I slowly stumble down the corridor to my room but when I reach it I can’t find my key. I start to panic when I can’t find it and try to think whether I left it behind anywhere but realise with horror that I left it in the apartment in my haste to get out this morning. I kick the door in frustration then slide down the wall, tears threatening to fall. I sit and stare at the door willing it to open, people walk past me shooting questioning looks but I ignore them and put my head in my hands. “Ashlyn?” I hear someone say and I look up to see Ethan. I instantly feel my cheeks turn red as embarrassment burns through me at the situation. “Hi” I say weakly and he frowns at me. “What are you doing?” He asks.
“I thought it would be more comfortable to sleep out here” I say sarcastically and he raises his eyebrows at me and I sigh “I locked myself out didn’t I” I say mentally slapping myself again for my stupidity. He shakes his head smiling at me. “Your hopeless, you know that don’t you?” He says as he offers me a hand to get up. I moan “Yeah” and take his hand, he pulls me up and I stand a few inches away from him then quickly take a step back. “I guess I’ll have to go and tell Julie” I say miserably but Ethan shakes his head “No, Frit ‘ell help you and he won’t bite your head off in the process.” I nod then follow him as he expertly navigates his way around the corridors to the reception. He opens the door and I follow him through, disappointment washes over me when I see that Frit isn’t there. There’s a sign on the desk saying ‘Back tomorrow’. I sigh “Typical” I say under my breath and Ethan runs a hand through his shaggy hair and I watch him as he contemplates what to do. “I guess you’ll have to stay at mine” He says and gives me a weak smile. “What?!” I say taking a step away from him.
“I don’t mean it like that, who do you take me for?” He says as he starts towards the door.
“That’s the point, I don’t take you for anything, I don’t know you” I say as I quicken my step to catch up with him. He shakes his head “I would never take advantage of you like that.” I frown and I feel uneasiness flutter in my stomach, what choice do I have though, it’s either this or sleeping on the corridor, I doubt I’ll be able to find Sina or anyone now it’s too late and I don’t want to wake them. I silently tell myself to shut up and be grateful to Ethan. It doesn’t stop me from hovering in the door way for a few seconds when we reach his apartment. “Come on Ash, I don’t bite” He says using the nickname he called me earlier. I take a quick glance behind me then step into the room while Ethan fumbles with the lights. When they turn on I look around in awe, it’s much nicer than mine, he has a sofa and a proper desk that doesn’t wobble. The walls are bare though and, like mine, the room lacks personality it doesn’t look like anybody actually lives here. On the desk there are some books and pencils. There’s a clock on a bedside table next to the neatly made bed and the door that leads to the bathroom is closed. I lean against the chest of draws by the door and stare at the floor, we both stay silent for a few moments until Ethan clears his throat “You can borrow some of my clothes to sleep in if you want to” He says.
I nod and say “Okay”
He strides over to the chest of draws and rummages around for a few moments then pulls out some trackies and a faded grey t-shirt. I take them from him then walk over to the bathroom to change. The clothes are too big but they smell of Ethan and it makes me smile before I walk back out again to face him. While I got changed Ethan’s changed his training clothes for a similar outfit that he’d given me to wear except his t-shirt is red not black. “I’ll take the sofa and you can have the bed if you want” He offers a but I shake my head, it’s bad enough that I’m staying here alone with him without adding the complications of sleeping in his bed as well. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll have the sofa” I say then wonder over to it. He hands me a blanket as I pass and I’m not going to bother wondering why he has one, I just want to get this over with. I sit on the sofa and stare at the floor for a moment “Why do you do that?” He asks and I look up at him.
“Do what?” I say tilting my head a little as I ask.
“Stare at the floor so much, you always do it”
I shrug “Habit I suppose” I answer. Ethan walks over to the bed and sits down, we both know that we’re not going to be able to sleep for some time “Well done for making the elite team” He says to break the silence and I nod “I knew it from the moment you answered that riddle in class that there was something different about you” I look up at him, my heart pounding. I’d almost forgotten how perceptive he was, has he figured it out, is my secret no longer a secret. “I don’t see what’s so special about me.” I mumble. Ethan smiles to himself and shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything so I change the subject. “You said you were from zone 3, which part?” He looks up, a little surprised and pauses before he answers “The South”
“I’ve never been there, apparently it’s not as bad as the west, that’s where I’m from” I say thinking about all the crimes reported in the daily transmission for our sector and shake my head.
“Did you run into any trouble?” he asked
“Nah I kept my head down and hung round with the right crowd, people tended to pick on the people who had a little more money, you know the ones who lived in the fancier houses, you must have had them” I say wondering why he was asking, if he was from zone 3 surly he would know how it went.
“Yeah” he says vaguely then looks me straight in the eye “Did you ever cause any trouble?”
I let out a little laugh “You could say that” I say
“Something tells me that you weren’t one to play by the rules” Ethan replies leaning forward and I smile.
“I wasn’t that bad, I broke curfew and drank a bit of alcohol nothing too bad, I did steal a few times but it’s not really a bug deal”
For some reason Ethan shakes his head “Small things lead to big things, look at you, your here training as a rebel I think that’s breaking a few more rules” He says and I laugh again feeling happier than I’d felt for a while.
“Yeah, I suppose it does” Then we fall into silence for a few moments until I blurt out “Did you break any rules?” thinking that he must have otherwise he wouldn’t be here.
“ I suppose I did, I ran away from home a lot and crashed at a mates house but I never got caught up in the anti- curfew parties or anything” He replies and his eyes glaze over for a moment as he thinks about the past
We sit in silence for a few minutes each of us deep in thought; I’ve met a new Ethan today. “Why are you so scared of heights Ashlyn?” Ethan asks breaking the quiet and suddenly all the warmth I’d been feeling rushes out of my body to be replaced by a cold chill that sends shivers up my spine. “Plenty of people are scared of them” I say innocently but Ethan isn’t fooled.
“No, there was something about the way you were looking around at the top of that tower and back in zone 3, you were remembering something. “No I wasn’t” I say trying to deny what is now obviously the truth. Ethan looks as if he is about to push the topic but then decides not to and walks over to the light “Good night Ash” He says and his room goes dark. “Good night Ethan” I whisper.