The next four nights were disturbed by nothing but my own thoughts. I never touched the scare on my wrist. No one asked me about it. You’d think I’d relax after four nights, but I didn’t. I still saw Jackson around school, but I’d got used to that. I’d just look the wall or talk to my friends. None of them knew about Jackson. I was getting good at pretending nothing was wrong, but that made me scared stiff on the quiet. So for the fifth night, Saturday night, I waited for something to happen.
Two hands held my arm and hauled me from my bed. It made me jump but I knew better than to make a noise. He ran out the door, gripping my hand so tight it ached instantly. We dashed to the nearest shower block and he calmly sat on the floor. I mirrored him but didn’t meet his eyes. I was shivering so much I felt ill. In his hand was a roll of bandages. He lifted my damaged wrist and carefully covered it with bandages. His sudden precision after violently pulling me here had me in a stunned silence. His skin was soft. As he wrapped my wrist several times, to make it perfect, he asked ‘How was your day?’
‘What?’ I replied.
His eyes glistened. ‘I’m just being friendly. We are encouraged to be polite and considerate.’ He finished the bandages, patted my wrist and smiled his snake smile. I was almost used to this look and felt a surge of courage.
My eyes blazed. ‘So dragging a boy from his bed in the middle of the night is considerate, is it? Slitting his wrist is polite? What do want from me?’ My tears splashed onto the floor. He said nothing but his smile dropped. I wished I’d kept my mouth shut. I ran.
The next day, I found a green, weedy pond behind the school building. I crouched against the wall next to it and read my book, which was pointless because I had no chance of concentrating. After a while I heard that familiar voice. ‘Hello, Thomas’. Would I never escape this boy? I wanted to run but my legs were frozen. He sat down without a word. I looked ahead and we sat in silence. When he moved at last, I watched. His hand slowly headed to the inside pocket of his blazer and brought his knife out. I felt sick and the tension had got so much, I had to yell to break it.
‘I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have shouted at you. I was tired and confused. You can cane me as much as you like, I don’t mind. But please don’t –‘. I looked at the knife and so did he. My chest was getting tighter by the second. A bell sounded. He leaped to his feet and pulled me with him. Then he grabbed my neck and slammed me against the wall. The knife was at my stomach. This was it, my death. The idea of my life ending gave me strength, so I kicked him between the legs hard enough that he doubled over. The knife fell and I took it before making a brisk exit.
Jackson wasn’t in the Grand Hall at dinner. At first I felt relieved, but I realised that meant I didn’t know where he was. I could hear the Upper Fourth Formers trying to find information of his absence. No one knew.
I breathed heavily as I lay under my blankets in the darkness. I still had the knife. The pale wooden handle had his initials and a distinguishable brown stain. I placed it at the very bottom of my trunk. No one could look inside another boy’s trunk, not even the Head Master or Matron. I kept opening and closing my eyes. I wanted to know there was nothing there, but was scared to see it.
The hand covered my lips but I turned to look at him. The boy I would never understand was kneeling next to me. His right arm was raised, bearing a bandage identical to mine. The knife he held had ‘J.O’ engraved on the handle, and a brown stain. I gasped as it prodded my throat softly. He smiled and whispered the same thing he had just a few nights ago. ‘Sleep well’. The pain of cold steel made me scream.