The Proposition

Anger can be easy to feel but for some it's easier than others to feel that raging spark ignite.

Alexandra Henderson has always fought a constant battle with her anger. Made worse by the cocky Evan Escott who won't leave her alone at her new school, her aggravation at her step dad Mark and the constant pressures she faces, can she still fight it? And can she, as several pieces of her past haunt her, let the past be a lesson and learn to move on? Can she help herself to find a place where she can be happy and free?

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9. Nine

~Chapter Nine~

"You stupid piece of shit!" 

I really wanted to ignore it, maybe I should have but my curiosity got the better of me. I turned my head. A little way away was an about 40-year-old man yelling and gesticulating wildly at the inside of his open car bonnet. 

He was red in the face and clearly very annoyed. I presumed he'd broken down. I felt a little sorry for him and knew I would be as angry as he was in the same situation. It wasn't just me who felt anger in the world. 

I could have left him to his own anger but something made my legs turn me around and cross the road towards him. 

"Can I help at all?" I asked, trying to sound as polite as I could. 

The man was still puffing out air in frustration but when I realised I had spoken to him, turned his head and tried to appear less flustered. I don't think he liked a teenager seeing his adult self being like this. 

"Just some car trouble," he replied and he forced a kind of smile on his face. I knew a forced smile when I saw one, I did it a lot. 

I reasoned with leaving him be again but something told me to stay. 

"Um, I could direct you to the nearest garage or um something?" I tried to sound helpful but didn't really know what to say. 

He shook his head. "That's alright." He sighed a deep sigh and closed the bonnet, leaning against it. He looked tired and stressed. 

"There must be something I can do to help," I persisted. I don't know why I was, I guess I just felt like doing something nice. I wanted to feel better, and maybe doing a good deed would help me. 

He looked back up at me and put a more genuine smile on his face. "You're being far too nice to an old guy like me." 

I wanted to protest that I wasn't nice but instead tried to smile a little. "Just being polite," I told him. 

He smiled a little brighter and stood up straighter. He looked slightly awkward before asking, "don't happen to have a phone I could borrow for a minute? Mines flat." 

"Of course," I said, hurriedly routing around in my bag to find it. I fished it out from under a textbook and handed it over to him. 

"Thanks a bunch," he thanked me and looked somewhat relieved. 

I watched as he dialled a number and soon seemed to be speaking to a break down recovery service. 

I sighed to myself, looking to my feet and knowing soon I'd have no 40-year-old man in distress to distract me from how bad I felt. Doing a good deed had improved my mood but I still felt awful inside. 

"Thanks again," the man's voice broke me from my thoughts again and I looked up. He was holding out my phone in his palm. I took it and put it into my pocket. 

"All sorted now? Or at least kind of?" I asked him, dragging out my polite tone again. 

He nodded his head. "Yeah, the breakdown recovery is coming. All thanks to you! I really was in a bit of a pickle before you came along." 

I smiled at him again. "It's no problem. I hope you get home alright." 

He sounded like he was going to laugh. "It's stupid really, my house is really not that far away, I could walk there. Just didn't want my car sitting round here on its own." 

I nodded my head at him trying to understand but really, I didn't see how bad it was leaving his car here and walking to get a phone. He could have locked it, no one would break in around here. People being so protective of their cars was odd to me but I guess each to their own. 

"My house is near the school," he told me and I felt strange that he was telling me but put aside the thought. He's just making conversation I guess. He then makes a curious expression at me. "Talking of school, shouldn't you be in it right now? You look that sort of age." 

I avoid looking at him, feeling embarrassed at what he said being true. 

"I guess that's a yes," he said and chuckled lightly. "Don't worry, I won't tell on you." 

I'm a little relieved that he won't report it to the school and smile a bit sheepishly at him. 

"After all," he continued, "you helped me, least I can do is not grass you out to the teachers." 

I tried struggle out a laugh but it comes out as just air from my nose. "Thanks." 

"Anyway, I shouldn't keep you. There's far better things to be doing than keep talking to me," he said, again sounding full of laughter. 

I don't say anything, feeling still grateful from the distraction that he'd created. 

He rummaged in his pockets and soon pulled out a five-pound note. He holds it out to me but I shake my head. "No, no, it's fine," I told him, feeling embarrassed that he wants to pay me for what I did. I just let him borrow my phone, it was nothing major. 

He continued to hold it out. "Please. You've been a great help. Take it." 

I shook my head again and stepped back a little. "Please, it was nothing. Just common politeness." 

He sighed largely. "Well if you're sure." 

"I'm sure," I confirmed. 

He smiled at me again. "Now, you should get going. I don't want to keep you any longer than I have." 

I just smiled at him again before heading towards my home. I felt good about being nice to him and it definitely helped with how bad I felt. 

I even had a slight smile still lingering but this was abruptly stopped when I saw mum standing in the doorway of my house. She looked angry and I immediately knew I was in trouble. 

* 

Turns out the school had called and told her I hadn't registered this morning, and asked whether I was home sick. Obviously, I wasn't so she knew I'd bunked off. Although I didn't call it bunking off, I just couldn't stand school or people today. I pretty much could say I was off sick, I felt awful enough. That's what I told myself anyway to avoid feeling too guilty. 

"I can't believe this, Alex," mum continued in a disappointed tone. I thought it was a bit rich coming from her since she didn't act like a mother most of the time, she was usually away, and it seemed all too convenient that she decided to be my mother when she was angry. Typical. 

"I'm sorry," I said again, it must have been the fifth time. "I felt sick." 

"Oh you're fine!" Mum snapped at me and I felt like yelling back at her. I wasn't fine. 

She continued in the same tone. "It's not up to you to decide whether you should not go to school. I am your mother, I decide whether you're too sick to attend." 

The mother act was getting more and more on my nerves. I felt my face grow hot. I really wanted to talk back to her and it took every ounce of my being not to. 

"Alex, you need A Levels for University, you need to take it more seriously," she still lectured me. Her tone made my skin crawl. "Alex, will you look at me for god sake." 

But I didn't want to look at her, it would make me angrier. 

"Mum, I said I'm sorry," I told her through gritted teeth. 

"Stop with that tone and you're clearly not sorry," she argued. 

"I am," I snapped but I knew I didn't feel sorry, she was right. I just didn't feel like school. I was too sad and I could hardly tolerate people right now, that included her very much. 

We could have argued all day but mum soon gave up, yelling that I needed to get in the car. She was taking me back for the rest of the school day. I deeply wanted to protest but my energy was gone. I just felt dread at having to encounter people again, one of those people being Evan Escott. 

The car journey back to school was angry and silent. I felt like crying and not because mum shouted at me, because I didn't want to be going back to school right now. That suffocating, horrible feeling of dread was starting to fill me up again, so quickly. 

When we pulled into the car park mum said something but I don't listen to her. I get out silently and slam the door against her words. I briskly walked away towards the building and I hearthe car engine still there. She's probably waiting to check that I'm going to stay inside this time. 

I really wished to be able to turn around and run but I knew I couldn't. I sign in at the reception and the lady gives me a pointed stare. I glared back at her because I know she was the one who phoned mumshe ruined my day. 

It's second period still and I groaned as I know I'm going to be late into Art again. Brilliant.

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