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09/01 Direct Link

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.

09/02 Direct Link

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 rush it.

09/03 Direct Link

You're 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 of silence.

Ah.

Ahhh.

Good.

09/04 Direct Link

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.

09/05 Direct Link

When you're at school your every emotion
is timetabled, and it's marvellous.
You get happiness at a set time every week
for an hour, games for two,
double-boredom one afternoon, monotony
for mornings, of course.
The people sat next to you are chosen for you
and stay, for a year.
And you crave freedom, and you never knew it.

And when you get lost, you start learning
that you never knew your way.
And you make little plans, little
timetables. Sunday we have a roast. And it gets
worse. Seven thirty, Coronation Street.
And then somebody makes you
a fresh one, or you wait for the bell.

09/06 Direct Link
-If you could just... y'know, give this a try?
-I don't understand anything you've said so far.
-We're only three pages in!
-What is it ABOUT? Where the hell is it SET?
-Middle-Earth.
-What's that?
-It... I dont know.
-The middle-east, do you mean?
-No, no.
-Because it seems like Somerset, so far.
-It's along those lines.
-Indian Somerset.
-No! No, not middle-eastern, middle EARTH.
-The middle of the Earth? I think that's nickel.
-Like the middle-ages.
-Back when we were all midgets.
-Are you deliberately doing this?
-I wasn't at first. This is really frustrating.
09/07 Direct Link
Erik wiped the blood off his leather jacket, pulled his hat down a touch and grinned like a maniac. He twisted the door handle without leaving fingerprints and breathed cool, sun-warmed air.

The sense of freedom was incredible. There was guilt, too, a rising heat at his neck, but so what? He was free now. None of it mattered: his money trouble, the divorce, his concerto. All moot points. Now that he would have to go into hiding, none of it mattered a scratch. Someone else would fix those.

His one problem was that he was a murderer.

One!
09/08 Direct Link

My 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.

09/09 Direct Link
Jimmy handed his son, handed Sean, the packed lunch and knealt down. Sean's smooth, unfinished face shot him a look that was trusting yet urgent. 'I know you're sure about this,' he seemed to be saying, 'but what IS this?'

'This is first year,' he would have said back. 'Those are your classmates. From now until... 2020 or thereabouts, that's your social circle. I picked them. They were closest... God. That big one might beat you up. He'll think about it. You'll end up dating one of them. Say, the one with the braces...'

He barely noticed the door closing.
09/10 Direct Link
Mister Atkinson steps into the Assembly Hall through the side entrance, which the pupils are not allowed to use. Mister Babcock, Mister Bland, Mister Carthorse and Miss Ainsley are seated already, either side of his centre-spot, which might as well be a throne.

Sir's red tie is like a broadsword hanging down away from his neck, while your uniform blue one looks like a noose. His perfect black shoes seem as profound as the cosmos, offering something grand but only if you'll sit down in reverence and look at them. Yours are scuffed.

Put your finger on your lips.
09/11 Direct Link

'I 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'?

09/12 Direct Link
- Excuse me.
- For joining a guy drinking alone? You're excused.
- I'm looking for two men.
- What kind d'you like?
- No, no. Two very specific American men. One of them is you.
- Oh, well then I can't help you.
- Get off the chair.
- You're doing this all wrong, pal. You're supposed to show me the knife before you switch to that tone o' v- oh, there it is.
- It's a pistol, sirrah.
- Yeah, well it's a shiny one. So you brought a gun to a public abduction? Excuse me for being facetious. It's all I got.
- Not even that. Five seconds.
09/13 Direct Link

Sarah 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 they?

09/14 Direct Link

-They 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.

09/15 Direct Link

The 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.

09/16 Direct Link

At 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.

09/17 Direct Link
The mighty warrior Kowll strode into the throne room, swinging his greatsword over his head with an inhuman battle cry. People looked.

'So, cowl-head, you have finally reached me!' sneered the evil wizard Sorcorox.

'Stop calling me towel-head,' said the indomitable Kowll. 'This is a cloak. I don't even...'

'No, no. I said "cowl-head".'

'Like my name, or a...?'

'Both. Either. What's the difference?'

'...because my name is "Kowll" with a K. And two L's.'

'Is there? Oh, then, I'm not sure. That is interesting, though. I'll remember that... for your TOMBSTONE!'

And then Kowll stabbed him.
09/18 Direct Link
Pashing is still a little embarrassing. One day I'll be comfortable enough to just get stuck in. Just easy intimacy and physical pleasure.

But not today. I angle my neck and make the face, and finally we start.

And it's good. He's great. Without meaning to, I make a -- a 'moan', a book would call it? A mewl really. A high-pitched, chauvinist, female whine, like surrender. Indulgence. A hateful, little-girl thing, as if saying, "Oooh, go ON then!" But we share the rush from it. One fucking day.

I climb on top and he laughs, as if assenting.
09/19 Direct Link
I'm a teenager. I hate being a teenager. I hate wanting posters on the wall. I hate that every few months my tastes change radically and I suddenly hate all my posters. I hate all the girls in my class and I hate all the lads except Gary and kind of Ryan and maybe Nick. I hate not knowing anything and I hate being forced to learn. And not being taken seriously. Teenagers have swollen, heavy, pink hands and feet and heads, like cartoon characters. Ever heard of a teenage musician? Justin Bieber, yeah, hate him. We're born laughing stocks.
09/20 Direct Link
-Let's av no more o' this, lad. Come on, get to work. We're over't top within the ower.

-I'm sorry, sir, it's just...

-Out wi' it.

-Absol... terrified, sir. I'm... I'm fucking terrified. Sir.

-Yeh.

-Sir?

-I know. So am I. So's everyone 'ere, and all the jerries oo'l be carvin' us up out therr. 'Cept the ones on the machine guns, I reckon, and them's firin' whizz-bangs. You ever fired a whizz-bang, praavit?

-Oh, yes.

-Ow'd it feel?

-Exhilerating.

-Raht. I just 'ope that I get killed face-to-face, so I know he's scerred too.

-Sir.
09/21 Direct Link
Josephine leaned over and gave Eli a gulping grin, her lips cracking the dirt on her cheeks a little.

"Tell you somethin' 'bout bein' hanged," she breathed. She still smelled like perfume and for a moment Eli remembered this was a young lady right up against his mouth. "Makes you prisoner here forever.

"Folks what get hanged is folks with unfinished bizniss, right?" She recieved no answer but nodded impatiently anyhow. "And ghosts wear what they died in. You and I wear nooses 'round our necks tonight. Shackles on our hands.

"Get used to me, sugah. I'll wear a smile."
09/22 Direct Link
I must say, I loved that film, 'Music and Lyrics'. Well... not exactly 'must'... not at all, actually.

I must say 'Sorry!' and 'Sorry?' and 'Sorry, I'm married.' I must say 'I love you', 'I promise' and 'About half-past' and 'Tea's ready!' and 'If you need someone to talk to...' and 'Yes, fine!' and 'You'll be fine.' That's what I must say.

I must laugh when people I've never met make a joke and I must nod if they seem to be making a point but I can't hear them. I must make certain noises in bed. Mustn't grumble.
09/23 Direct Link
Michelle stands in the sports hall, pulling her blazer tighter and looking over the boys who are left. Obviously Vince and Ash were picked by their respective girlfriends: no-one else would dare. Then their best friends picked, and then Michelle hesitated too long. Now this.

First semester dance class. So much hinges on this moment.

Andrew is fat and cries a lot for obvious reasons. Nial is creepy and has asked Michelle out three times. Peter is wierd, in that nobody knows anything about him.

Fat, creepy or wierd. 'This is just what girls have to do,' she wonders.
09/24 Direct Link

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.

09/25 Direct Link
Natalie kissed James on the cheek after P.E. James didn't know what to do at the time, except become very aware of his tongue and the cold, rusty taste of his own spit.

Now James feels an insatiable sense of expectation. Natalie is beautiful now, and like a woman, and his saviour. And he kind of wants to give her something, but everything he owns is now a bit shit and immature and unsuitable and shameful.

For fifteen minutes he squirms between terror and pride, then he makes himself choose. He kisses her strangely-pointy, perfect lips. She screams.
09/26 Direct Link
You just watched Father Cooper drag a steel dagger's edge into the leg of a werewolf (and it is, quite clearly, a werewolf) only for the flesh to heal behind it. The priest loses the momentum of his cut, as if trying to kick through quicksand, and he just leaves the blade stuck securely in. The hair is disturbed and a little blood-wet, but otherwise the animal looks fine.

"You need silver, y'see," he says happily. "You look shocked?"

You are, yes.

"Better adjust to this one quickly, my mate. Sun's coming up. Get ready to watch him change."
09/27 Direct Link
When the Professors' airship finally left the air and reached the sky, they found themselves speechless.

From so high up, the world looked like a flat wash of green paint, with hazy splodges of grey for countires. Above them rested a world which they had seen every day but never known.

Blue leaves. Rich, thick blue leaves hanging from indigo oak branches, swaying in an incredible wind but swaying so very slowly. A small white-blossomed snow tree plodded towards them, shedding slightly when the other foliage disturbed it.

The massive knotted trunks, reaching even higher, looked black from here.
09/28 Direct Link
Sunnee knows there's nothing to be scared about. She knows exactly how this will go. Kelly will wave and make a place for her in line, then they'll all file in silently and sit down.

And she'll get the shakes and panic and WILL NOT CRY and then the exam will begin and she'll look at the questions and relax and get, say, 57%. And mum will be disappointed but that's fine because dad secretly doesn't think nice Indian girls should be clever.

But none of this helps. She hates this.

Let it get cancelled or something. A fire.

Please.
09/29 Direct Link
You know the sort of feeling like the end of the movie
when it all comes together and it ends like it should
and you stroll out together and you smile 'til the bathroom,
or the car park if you're lucky, but it never goes so good?

Like you've sorted out your problems 'fore the next ones start.

When you've earned sitting back, just like your man from the movie,
when blonde hair spins gold and your scars become tattoos,
when couples of people act like Romeo and Juliet?
That's the kind of feeling I get from sitting down with you.
09/30 Direct Link
I remember our parents and teachers used to say, 'Your school days are the best days of your life!' and I remember thinking it was rubbish and kind of frightening, like everything else adults said to me. I still do.

I had a few days at school which justified a hundred words.

But good stories, good characters don't start off with the writers' best stuff and just go downhill from there. Start strong, but don't overdo it! Let the character develop, and then she'll write those best days for herself.

You enjoy them.

You watch her build up to something.