Why I Smile

Amelia Lane hasn't got a perfect life but goes day-to-day with a smile on her face all because she has a gift no one knows about - she can see Shards: sad emotions in the form of coloured glass which she can remove to take the emotion away at that moment. But there's one person she can't take a Shard from so she makes it her mission to make Nathan Kirkland smile.


1. The Starting Post

 My bus was late.


It just had to be late on my very first day of college. I mean, it’s not like I was nervous enough as it was but then the stupid bus had to be late. Admittedly, it was only ten minutes late and I was getting the early bus but still! I was getting the early bus for a reason! I wanted to actually get to college before I needed to be there so that I could find the room I had to be in and maybe find a couple of my friends for moral support.


But it was late. This meant that I had the joy of sitting around by myself at the bus stop, my headphones in my ears trying to block out the noise of the moronic children making their way to school. Honestly, Year Sevens have always and will always be the worst group of children to ever walk across the Earth. I watched subtly, glancing over the top of my iPod as a group of Year Seven boys rode and walked along the street across from where I was sat.


One of the boys was on a bright yellow bike, standing up on the peddles and looking behind him as the other three boys play-fought.


            “You’re a dick!” shouted one of the boys. And thus began some eye-rolling from me. The kid was eleven years old and he was swearing. I know that swearing is just a part of life and, hell, I’ve muttered the C-word every now and then when I thought no one was listening but there are just things you don’t do when you’re eleven years old. And that is one of them. But it was Year Seven World and saying words like ‘dick’ and ‘arse’ made you look cool amongst the other children in your peer group. Just wait for Year Eight! They’ve learnt how to say ‘wanker’… and started to figure out what a wanker actually is.


I could see why they were so hyped up as they headed for a junction, the boy on the bike speeding across the road as the others followed him and narrowly missed getting hit by a car. They all had energy drinks in their hands – all colours of magical energy giving chemicals bobbing around in their stupid hands and giving them more energy than boys there age should need. Like I said, they were eleven! You should have a natural high at eleven years old; fuck, I know that I definitely did. So what was it with these kids and buying shit like that – surely they must realise just how bad it was for them…


That was where I stopped that train of thought because of course they knew how bad it was for them – everyone knew how bad it was for them – but did anyone do anything about it? No. Would they ever? No.


I also had to realise that they had been back at school longer than I had even been in college so they were probably tired from all the induction work that they had to do. I remembered my first day of secondary school we had a science themed day and got to build rockets. It was fucking amazing.


It was the sixteenth of September, a warm day with the sun beating down on the tarmac of the road and giving it a more enhanced smell of burnt rubber. I stuffed my iPod back into my pocket and folded my arms under my chest, heaving out a sigh and closing my eyes behind my sunglasses. I liked the warm weather but knowing that it was going to be gone by the time I got out of classes was very depressing. Whatever sick fuck decided that it was a good idea to give a group of sixteen year olds fourteen weeks of summer holidays needed to be locked in a dark room for a year. It was just pure cruelty to give someone of my age that much freedom and then take it away so suddenly and thrust us back into the routine of having to get up early in the morning…


And I mean early…


I was waiting for the half-past-seven bus to take me out of the village centre to the industrial estate on the furthest side west of where I was now. I’d been awake since half-past-five getting ready and eating my breakfast before my mother actually let me out of the house – she fussed a lot so I had to run to the bus stop to save myself from being late.


Ironically, the bus was still late.


I didn’t need to be on campus until nine o’clock but like I said before, I wanted to be early so I could actually find my way around…


Checking the clock on my iPod, I exhaled heavily as I realised that I had been sat around waiting for fifteen minutes when in the distance I saw the blue, white and orange vehicle chugging its way along the road towards me. With a sigh of relief, I got to my feet and made my way to the curb, holding my arm out and waving to the bus driver to stop. When he did, I showed him my bus pass and made my way to a seat near the back.


For a bus that was late it was very quiet. There were only two other passengers – some weirdo guy with hipster glasses and a Costa coffee reading the Independent newspaper and an old woman who I prayed to God was actually asleep and not dead…


With the song on my iPod changing to Fuck You by Cee Lo Green, I flopped down in the rightmost seat at the very back of the bus, put my feet up on the seat beside me and hid my head in my phone. The bus driver was the elderly guy with a red face and thick glasses so it was no wonder he was going so slow – the old lady had probably been my age when she had first got on the bus.


Slowly but surely we made our way past one of the four pubs in the village, through the shopping centre and the flats, past another shopping and housing estate until we got to the stop outside my best friend’s house. I only registered that we were there when I felt a slap on my calf and jumped, my head shooting up to look at whoever it was that had invaded my personal space. But I calmed down when I saw the smirking face of my friend Lisa.


Long brown hair tied into a braid that hung over her left shoulder and sadistic olive green eyes glittering with happiness at scaring me, Lisa grinned innocently as she sat down opposite me on the other end of the back row. I rolled my eyes and sat up a bit more, pulling out one of my headphones and shaking my head at her.


            “You’re a bitch sometimes,” I said, letting her get over her laughing fit as she lost control. Sometimes I wondered why I was even friends with her, but then again I could ask the same of her for me. We were perfectly messed up in the most beautiful ways.


            “You should read the signs,” Lisa smirked, still laughing sardonically. My music changed to Who’s Laughing Now by Jessie J. Fucking shuffle mode… “You see that one up there? Don’t put your feet on the seats? No?”


            “I do what I want,” I replied, smirking back at her. She laughed again. I had known Lisa since the beginning of Year Seven, right the way back when saying ‘dick’ was an amazing achievement to the rebel cause. She’d always been sarcastic and erratic – hell, she knew worse swear words than me back then but I never never told my mother about that. She’d have kept me away from her for sure. Five years had passed and there we were slumped at the back of a bus heading to college and I felt nostalgic.


            “Amelia, did you finish that book I challenged you to read?”


We did that a lot – book challenges were our thing; we’d pick a different book for the month and set it for the other to read. For August, I’d set her on the task of reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor whilst she’d set me the task of reading Ready Player One by Earnest Cline. My book was about a video game world so naturally I finished it pretty quickly.


            “Hell yeah, I did!” I grinned. “Pretty epic story. What did you think of DoSaB?”


            “I have to admit, I was pretty impressed,” Lisa said, nodding her head. She had a look of surprised approval on her face – I’d not given her a bad book yet so I don’t know what she was expecting. “So, onto this month’s books! Have you picked yet? I mean, we’re late as it is…”


            “Yeah, I was gonna text you it the other day but I got tied up with… um…”


            “I get it,” Lisa replied, nodding her head understandingly. “Aaron comes first.”


I nodded, rubbing my hands awkwardly against my calves. “Anyway, this month I challenge you to read… Divergent by Veronica Roth.”


            “The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.”


            “Ooh, a classic~!”


We laughed and I looked past her through the window and watched as the strawberry fields went past as we picked up some speed finally. I could see the ocean too and longed to go back to the beach and sit on the stones and watch the waves again…


Needing a change of subject, I looked back at Lisa and smiled. “So, where’s Faith then?”


            “She’s taking cooking, history and art classes,” Lisa yawned. “Boring right? I mean, it’s not like she’s already insanely good at all of that stuff anyways…”


Lisa had always been touchy about her younger-twin sister, Faith; I was on good terms with both of them, but Faith was definitely the happier of the two. She could be a little dense sometimes and very cowardly but she had a heart of gold and was very talented in practically everything she did. Unlike Lisa who had to try very hard to even get out of bed in the morning… The one thing that Lisa excelled in more than Faith was reading – you give Faith a book and she wouldn’t be able to get through it without falling asleep, Lisa on the other hand could be handed a book and read it like nothing else was going on in the world around her.


She and I had decided to take up A-Level English Literature and BTEC Creative Media at college, that first day being our induction. Because we had taken an A-Level alongside a BTEC course we had to spend the majority of the day with the BTEC group before heading over to the English block to get introduced to our lecturer over there. The only problem was the campus for Benson College was fucking ginormous so we needed enough time to figure out where everything was…




We got off the bus with plenty of time to spare so walked through the main gates of the campus and looked at the other students who were making their ways to classes. Benson College was an impressive set of buildings spanning across two sides of the road. Each specialised within each subject, some subjects in the same building but on different floors. Not to mention the four cafés that dotted the campus grounds, 2 on each side of the road, and the large canteen and Student Union area.


There were two colleges in Krawley Village and Benson was the best by far – I had said from day one that I would go to this place and I felt a small sense of pride shoot through me as I walked through the reception area and looked at all the artwork on the wall and the photos of past students labelling their success as examples of what we could achieve one day.


Lisa was picking at her bag strap as we walked along and I knew it was because she was nervous – she could be just as cowardly as her sister sometimes but she always managed to keep up a sarcastic sense of humour to counter it. However, at that moment she didn’t seem as though she was able to think of anything witty to say. I couldn’t blame her – I was getting overwhelmed too.

Thankfully there were maps of the building plastered the walls every so often marking where we were and where we could go. We were North Building and needed to be in the East Building for Media so hurried on our way, dodging around other students. I saw the hipster guy walking around with another cup of coffee and wondered just how much caffeine he was able to drink before running around in circles like a bugged video game character.


Finally, we got to the building and went to the classroom that had been listed on the induction letter we’d been sent. Room 976 on the first floor. I could see a small blonde haired woman with thick-rimmed glasses walking towards the room we needed so hurried after her, slowing down so that it didn’t seem like we were about to charge her into the classroom. She looked round and blinked at the sight of his, sipping from the mug of tea in her hands and smiling.


            “Are you girls here for the induction day?” she asked.


            “Yeah,” I replied, a little out of breath.


            “You’re very early,” she smiled. “Nervous?”


            “Very,” replied Lisa. I could see her hands shaking now.


            “It’s always terrifying starting something new,” the lady said, ushering us gently into the room. We sat down at two Macs on the right hand side of the room and watched as she turned on the very first Mac and loaded up a projector to show a PowerPoint. God, it was going to be one of those inductions…


            “Lisa gets scared of her own shadow so…” I smirked, laughing as she elbowed me. “Easy, Tiger.”


            “Fuck you,” Lisa said, poking her tongue out.


The woman chuckled and shook her head. “Well, I’m June and I’m going to be your Tutor for the next two years. At least, if you’re in my class that is.”




            “There are so many people taking Media this year that we’ve had to double the size of the groups when we split them in half,” June explained. “So, there will be two classes of eighteen. Let me see… You said Lisa, right?”


            “That’s right,” she said.


            “Lisa… Lisa George?”




            “You’re on my list,” June chuckled. “And your name?”


            “Amelia. Amelia Lane,” I smiled.


            “Let’s see… Hmm… You’re here too!”


            “Sweet!” I grinned.


June explained what would be going on that day and where we needed to go for all of five minutes at one o’clock to meet our English Lit teacher then moved over to the Mac to flick through the presentation one more time. Lisa and I sat in an awkward silence, glancing at the clock every so often to see if the time had moved on any further. As it got closer to nine o’clock, more people started to join us in the classroom – Maria Morgan, another Krawley Park Secondary School survivor; a boy with thick brown curls and tanned skin; a small girl with a big pink flower pinned in her black hair; Franky Bondon, a guy I’d met at a swimming competition a year or so ago; and Nathan Kirkland.


Nathan Kirkland had gone to the same school as me for as long as I could remember. He was sarcastic, solitary and smart. He had an answer for everything but not as many friends as he had comebacks… I sometimes felt sorry for him, but as much as I tried to be nice we had this kind of banter between us that mainly consisted of half-hearted insults. I counted him as a friend even though he didn’t really seem to return the feeling.


Still, there he was – messy blonde hair, green eyes and constant scowl – sitting down opposite me without looking away from the book he had been reading as he walked into the room. I sighed softly – he really hadn’t changed at all.




An hour and a half later we had been let out on break and my head was spinning already. There was so much to take in – all the rules, the fucking lime green lanyards, we had to get our ID cards after break, here were our timetables, etc. – and I wasn’t the only one overwhelmed.


I stood in the hallway with Lisa watching as the others left the room and wandered aimlessly out into the hallway – some people heading outside for a smoke whilst others took the chance to go get something to eat. I looked at Lisa who was sat on the floor beside me with her head on her knees; she was rocking slightly and breathing oddly. Then I realised she was having a panic attack.


Looking around us, I knelt down in front of her and tried to get her to look at me but she wouldn’t lift her head. She’d done this a couple of times before when she got too stressed out over something – I couldn’t get through to her, no one could, and I knew it was only a matter of time before she attracted unwanted attention…


Sighing quietly, I closed my eyes and clicked my fingers. When I opened my eyes, the world was black and white and everything and everyone was moving slower. Attached to the green-now-grey headband on Lisa’s head was a shard of teal blue glass.


I guess now would be a good place to explain what the hell is going on…

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