Two kids I don't know
pull my legs, Gary Fry of all people has my wrists in his sweaty,
year-five-sized grip and Scott is getting ready to... I don't even
know. This traditionalism is new to me. My bullies have always been
the modern, rumour-spreading kind.
My legs are running an
automatic flight response; I can't even feel them. My best bet is
with Gary. I convulse three times and realise that it absolutely will
not help. So I stop. Gary laughs, my wrists get really hot, like a
Chinese burn, and I'm crying. It's all over.
Catharine stared and
wept for hours before she finally made a shaking V-sign with her
fingers and dropped it onto the skin just above Jane's eyes. She
dragged the eyelids down with far too much force, jamming them shut
and pressing slightly into the pupils, like holes in a pair of
bowling balls meant for someone more slender. She had expected less
give, some kind of stretching sensation.'Are you still
a--wake?' Catharine was going to say 'alive' but caught it just in
time. She already knew the answer, but she didn't see any need to
finally here, doing the thing you've been wanting to do for years.
The thing that has wrenched your ambitions in its direction, twisting
the squealing steel they were made of, changing the way you appear to
everyone who knows you. You're there. This is it.Don't you
dare. Don't you feel underwhelmed now! Don't feel like you need a new
target because this one was no good. I know your tricks. Fucking
enjoy this.Actually the view is kind of something. Looks very
different to the photos. Hell, looks better. Maybe just two minutes
People who are cleverer
than you get carried away with it. I don't mean they rub your nose in
it, just that they forget how far, or how short, the reach of their
intelligence extends. See, they make little jokes - even the nicest,
best-meaning ones - make little jokes that they know you won't get,
and they chuckle about how they get it and you don't. And they're
aware that you don't get the joke, but what they forget is that
you're aware of that too.They get carried away. And we roll
our eyes. And they never even know.
you're at school your every emotionis timetabled, and it's
marvellous.You get happiness at a set time every weekfor an
hour, games for two,double-boredom one afternoon, monotonyfor
mornings, of course.The people sat next to you are chosen for
youand stay, for a year.And you crave freedom, and you never
knew it.And when you get lost, you start learningthat you
never knew your way.And you make little plans, littletimetables.
Sunday we have a roast. And it getsworse. Seven thirty,
Coronation Street.And then somebody makes youa fresh one, or
you wait for the bell.
first boyfriend was from the United States of So On and So Forth. Not
all of them, of course: he did travel, but he was only from one
of the States. He was extremely handsome, quiet and coloured. You
know, coloured. Very dark.I asked him right away, where he
was from, when we were dancing. He said, 'Nyorlans, Mayum' and your
great aunt and I spent the wee hours looking through the atlas for it
in Africa. When we worked out it was 'Ma'am' I think I fell in love.
Love as I understood it then.Very handsome.
wish I were a stronger person,' she says, going quiet at the end, and
not intentionally.'Almost all of us do,' I say back, quick as
I can. The faster the rebuttle, the more reassuring, right? 'The very
strong ones wish they were a little weaker.' That's not bad.She
cries and I grip her elbow and neck. I want to move my hand a little
higher and go for the scalp, but you can't, can you? Can't suddenly
change your hand positioning. Never show them your weakness. Should I
think of a clever way of saying 'there, there'?
loses her hand in my hair and breathes my perfume, then sighs
sedately and turns around to face me. I say funny cute things with my
hands on my hips while she sighs and pretends to find it tiresome.
We're both blushing, so I choose this moment to close the centimetres
between our lips. I almost hear her eyes close after a few
seconds.Twenty minutes later we take off the wigs. No point
keeping them on; there's no romance now. But they served their
purpose. God... two women are just so much sweeter than two men, aren't
have that saying, 'an eye for an eye'?-Yes. I have never
liked it.-Neither have I. It doesn't make sense! It sounds
like a business transaction, as if eyes were gold or... fish or
something like that. But you see, nobody ever wanted to sell his eye.
And it's not returnable. It's broken, and they don't grow back! So
no. Not an eye for an eye. You can destroy an eye in revenge, and
then what? Heh? He still ruined yours! Break his other one. Then see.
That's why we have to do this, oyagi. That's why.-No.
kids gave me an easy night, actually. No homework.Caleb came
over immediately after tea and I listened to their videogame while I
washed up. Our Daniel won. He's worked out ways to
jumpkick over and teleport around those endless 'ha-DOOOO-ken!'s, and
beat him with skill. Caleb... isn't trying. He likes letting his
friend win, maybe, or he just likes making that funny noise? No
idea.Summer blew-up her day into a full-length Disney
Princess cartoon, complete with half-baked moral, and told me the
condensed picturebook version at bedtime.
They both seemed happy.
the crematorium, they're all depressed. That probably sounds very
obvious, but. To me it's something special. I didn't realise. They're
ALL depressed. They're all fidgeting, all thinking about death. Even
the priest. I feel, well, honestly? Great. I know, but. You
know?Everyone in this room feels like me. We're on the same
wavelength. Not only that, I have the most experience with this. This
is my world they've stepped into. I should comfort them.And
so I glide over to Laura, clicking my fingers and humming like Gomez
Addams, and that begins the best night of my life.
Lowenstein had run out of patience with the fat, spiky-painful swelling on her
nose. Finally she found a brooch pin
in her pack and gently pricked the red, stretched-out skin. The lump squirted
a hyperdermic runoff of stickyish water, then lolloped blood like fondue chocolate across her lips and down her chin and neck.
As she stood shivering, her face seemed to sink and clinch at her
muscle and bones. Her jaw ached with the pain of her teeth clamping together, her canine points chipping and rattling in her narrow throat.
And she never cheated Headhunter Charley again.