Lock and Chain

(Explicit content- 16+) What do you long for? A beautiful house? An expensive car? Eternal happiness? Acceptance? All through her life, Kadence Emery has been bullied, rejected and chained up by her father. Other girls long for a beautiful body, a hot boyfriend, all the riches in the world. Kadence only longs for acceptance and a life that she is happy to live.

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5. Chapter Four

 

The thing about school is that between the ages of five and eighteen, you are sent off to this collection of buildings, taught a load of vaguely useful information by some fairly clever adults, then sent home again. This cycle happens five days a week, between the hours of eight and four and stops for about fourteen weeks a year. When you are aged eleven, you leave primary school and go onto secondary school. You leave secondary school with a collection of GCSE grades and A Level results before you do whatever you want to do with that for the rest of your life.

Most adults celebrate the moment that their child goes to school because it is one of the biggest stages in your child's 'growing up' period. However, my parents celebrated my fifth birthday for a completely different reason. My birthday is on the 14th July, so it is very near to the end of the school year, making me one of the youngest in the year group. My parents celebrated this because it meant that, come September, I would leave them for seven hours in the day and they could get on with their lives without me being in the way. I suppose that when I was five, my parents didn't really mind me that much and we behaved like a normal family. I guess it all changed when we went on holiday when I was seven, which was already a couple of years into my school life anyway.

I loved school when I first went there. I still do love the aspect of school, like the whole learning part of school, but I just dislike the people and the people dislike me. Primary school went on fairly smoothly. I had a few friends named Maddy, Emma, Chloe and Hannah.

Maddy was the outgoing one who always liked to encourage the others to go places. She always arranged when we met up and liked to see herself as the adult of the group because she loved to protect us. Emma was a little diva. She loved to sing and dance, and longed to be part of a band. She always knew the words of every song in the charts and was constantly humming all day. Chloe was the rebellious one. She was the one who handed her homework in late and stayed up all night watching TV instead of going to bed. Hannah, Chloe's complete opposite, was a goody-two-shoes. She was the quiet, nerdy one who was perfect at everything. If you needed help with homework, she was always there to help.

Our group stuck together and helped each other. Even though at primary school it was only some light teasing from the other children, and there was nothing serious. When I left Mary Mountbank Primary School and went onto Highbridge Secondary School, however, everything got drastically worse.

The thing is, when the most popular person in school decides that they don't like you, everyone else follows on. This happened with me and Shelby Woodridge. Shelby is the school bully to put it in simple terms. Whatever she says has to happen, otherwise the person who disagrees will stay away from school for at least a week. She decided from our first day as a year group at Highbridge that she disliked me.

Maddy, Emma, Chloe and Hannah stuck by me for a year or so while Shelby began to torment our group, but by the time we had got to year eight, the others feared for their safety and our group split off separate ways. Maddy joined a group that could be described as the vaguely immature, but still incredibly awesome group. Emma went towards the gamers and swapped her karaoke set for a new games console. Chloe stayed as the rebellious one and joined the group that could only be described as 'chavs'. By the time we had entered year ten, Chloe had taken drugs, began smoking and slept with half the boys in the year group. Hannah stayed as the quiet nerdy one and joined the other quiet nerdy people in the library, preferring to study over going to the cinema.

I, however, stayed alone. Nobody seemed to want me and I didn't particularly want anyone either. I liked my old group, even though that had long been destroyed. We still kept our group chat on Facebook and talked occasionally, but something was missing. It just wasn't the same as it was before and even our group chats petered out eventually.

***

I glanced at my watch as I hurried down the streets towards school. I was late again. It was my father's fault, like it always was. He had forgotten to unlock the basement and didn't let me out until 8:45. 8:45 was supposed to be the time that my form group officially started and first lesson began at 9:00. It was now 9:05 and I still hadn't made it to the street that held my school. I glanced around before picking up the pace and jogging the last little bit. I turned onto the street and saw Highbridge Secondary School in the distance.

 

I crossed the threshold of my Biology classroom at 9:17.

"Look sir, the skeleton's arrived!" One of Shelby's friends, Georgia, cried as she spotted me in the doorway. A chorus of laughs responded to her comment. I awkwardly pulled my jeans up as they had begun to slip past my thin hips that couldn't hold up my jeans anymore. I adjusted my jumper a little so it didn't look so much like I was being starved. I never fooled anyone.

"Eat any breakfast today skelly?" Josephine laughed. Shelby had once remarked that I looked like an ugly, rotting skeleton, and, of course, the whole school took this on and began to tease me for the lack of food that my father was feeding me at home. Although, nobody at school knew that my appearance was down to being abused. But they didn't care, they just used it to tease me even more than they already did.

"Alright, class, settle down please," Mr Gale, the Biology teacher said sternly. "Now, Kadence, lessons started twenty minutes ago. You must stay behind at the end to explain the reason for your lateness. Now please sit down."

I nodded and walked to my seat at the back of the classroom. It was a two-seater desk, but nobody wanted to share it with me so I sat alone. It was the same situation in all my lessons except English Literature, English Language and Maths.

The lesson passed in a bit of a blur. I already knew what he was talking about because I had already gone over this myself. When my father shut me in the basement, he normally gave me a textbook to read so that I could be doing something that could be considered as useful. Last week he had given me the Biology textbook so I already understood most things from the syllabus.

"Kadence, come here please." Mr Gale said to me as the bell announced the end of the lesson. Everyone else stumbled into the corridor and the pounding of hundreds of feet on linoleum almost drowned out his voice.

"Yes sir?" I said carefully, adjusting my satchel so it didn't dig into my shoulder bone so much.

"I must ask, why were you so late this morning?" Mr Gale asked, interest and a little bit of concern marking his face.

"I..." I stopped. I couldn't tell him the real reason. I would have to explain the situation at home and I most certainly didn't want to do that. "My mum is ill and I had to make sure she was okay. I didn't realise what the time was."

Mr Gale watched me like he wanted to question it further. He did look slightly suspicious. However, he merely nodded. "Okay, I hope your mother gets well soon. You are dismissed."

I nodded and exited the classroom, releasing a breath that I didn't know I was holding.

 

***

"Hello." A voice said from my side.

I looked around, puzzled for a moment.

"Hello me?" I said to Catherine, the girl who had sat herself next to me.

It was fifteen minutes into lunch break and someone had come to sit with me. No one ever sat with me at lunch time, and this was even more peculiar because Catherine sat next to me in three lessons as well.

"Yes you. Who else?" She smiled at me. What a rarity. Someone smiling at me? Something must have happened.

I shrugged. "Well, hi."

"How are you?" Catherine asked with kindness. Another rarity. Someone showing me kindness? Something's definitely has happened.

"Um..." I said, unsure of how to answer.

"Oh? Difficult question?" She said, concern showing in her baby blue eyes.

I shook my head. "It's just... No one ever asks me that."

Catherine blinked and suddenly looked like she was going to cry. "Why ever not? It's such a common courtesy question!"

"Nobody shows me courtesy. Why would they want to do that? I'm just an insignificant person who means nothing to nobody." I said, anger creeping into my veins.

"You must mean the world to your parents." Catherine said in an attempt to save the conversation.

I snorted. "My mother is dead and my father couldn't give a fuck about me."

"I'm sorry about your mother. And I'm sure your father does really care about you." Catherine tried slowly.

I shook my head and stared at a group of people from the year below. They were sat across the hall and were laughing over something on the table. "My father would be happier if I died. Oh, but then I wouldn't be able to bring in money for him." I shook my head again and lowered my eyes to the table. "My father has never told me that he's loved me. My mother cared about me for a bit, and then cared before she died. I have never felt like I have belonged on this earth. So maybe I don't. Maybe I should just go. I don't even know why I'm telling you this."

I lifted my head to look at Catherine. Shock overwhelmed me as I saw that tears were dripping freely down her face.

"Why are you crying?" I asked her in surprise.

Catherine wiped her hand across her tear-stained face. "Because that is the saddest thing that anyone has ever told me. Come back to mine later."

I frowned, momentarily stunned that someone had invited me to their house. "I can't. What would my father say?"

Catherine smiled weakly. "Oh, well, come tomorrow lunch. He wouldn't know then would he?"

"I guess I could." I said slowly. "Where do you live?"

"I only live, like, five minutes from school. I normally go home at lunch anyway because I don't want to stay here any longer than I have to." Catherine smiled with one side of her mouth. She looked strange and I couldn't help but smile in return.

"Okay." I replied.

"So, that's sorted that then. May I stay here for today and we can chat?" She asked in a friendly manner.

"Um... sure." I tried to suppress my shock.

Catherine and I sat there on my normal table for the rest of lunch, talking about what we liked and disliked, about our primary schools and about what we wanted to do as a career. I learnt a lot about Catherine because she was more of the talker than I am. I learnt that her favourite food was lasagne, her favourite colour was grey, her favourite book was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Her favourite film was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, her favourite band was Coldplay and she had seen them live three times, including having a photo with them.

"What about you anyway? I've been talking for ages, so I think it's your turn now." Catherine said suddenly, gazing at me in interest.

"I don't have a favourite food, my favourite colour is red, my favourite book is A Room With a View by E.M Forster because my mother gave it to me. My favourite film is The Fellowship of the Ring, which is part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm not allowed to listen to music so I don't have a favourite band and I've never been to a concert." I told her.

"Ah right. Why aren't you allowed to listen to music?" Catherine asked, looking like a holy rule was being broken.

"Because it's for enjoyment. If I'm enjoying myself, then my life isn't right." I replied sadly.

Catherine nodded before doing something that someone hadn't done to me in years: she hugged me. I rocked back in surprise before patting her awkwardly on her shoulder blade.

"Oh!" she cried, leaning back to look at my face, "are you not a huggy person?"

"Oh, no, it's just... I haven't been hugged in a while. My nan was the last person to give me a hug and that was at my mum's funeral." I explained, avoiding her sympathetic gaze.

At that moment, the bell rang to signal the end of the lunch hour.

"Come on then." Catherine said, standing up. "We have English Language."

I nodded and followed her out the lunch hall, still struggling to believe that someone had sat with me for the entirety of lunch and invited me to her house.

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