Friends?

  It's not like it was the first time I've ever seen him I suppose. I'd seen him around before, in his jeans and Metallica t-shirt. But the day I first spoke to him was pretty much a normal one, until the end of school.

  The morning was pretty average. I got tripped over on my way to first period maths by Jack Simons. They laughed at my as I picked up my bag and smoothed my hair back down. I'm in the top set for maths, and I find it impossible. I settled down to some equasions while thinking about weather the tripping-over would be the only incident that day. As soon as it finished I rushed to art without anyone hassling me.

  Lucy smiled warmly at me as I sat down next to her. I felt a flash of anger, because she had been one of the people that had laughed at me when Jack tripped me, but I tried to suppress it. I smiled back as best I could, and concentrated on my art book.

  "Hi Lyn," Lucy said to me. I hate being called Lyn. It's Lynette. I didn't say anything though.

  "Hi," I said through another false smile. Lucy beamed at me again, then turned to face Mrs Neil, running her hands through her long, blonde hair. I wish I had her hair. Instead, I'm stuck with thick, wavy, jet black hair, which is always full of knots. The only good thing is that it's quite long. More than half way down my back. If only I had some straighteners, then it would almost look okay.

  Lucy's phone went off. When Mrs Neil was out of the room, luckily. She had poker face as the ring tone.

  "Ugh, it's Tom," she said, pressing reject. She glanced at my puzzled expression. "My ex."

  She hastily tried to change the subject. "Do you like that song?" I tried to be polite. "Uh, well it's okay I suppose..." for mass-produced, mainstream pop.

  "I didn't think you looked like much of a Lady Gaga fan." She confessed light heartedly, glancing at my bag covered in badges of metal bands. "What sort of music do you like then?"

  "Oh, you know. Stuff like Slipknot, Cradle of Filth, Marilyn Manson-" She cut me off.

  "Woah, they sound pretty, er, heavy?" Her smile dropped a little bit.

  "I suppose. But not if you compare them to bands like Cannibal Corpse or Dimmu Borgir" I probably shouldn't have said that. People think I'm strange enough as it is. Goodbye, last shreads of social life.

  "Do you actually listen to bands like that?" Lucy asked, clearly worried about my mental health.

  I felt my face go red. "Well, a bit..." I mumbled.

  We sat in silence for the rest of the hour. After that, the lessons dragged by, until the end of the day. We had PE last. If the popular girls laughing at me whilst getting changed wasn't bad enough, they hid all of my clothes too. I'm useless at PE, and I get embarrassingly sweaty, and whatnot, so I didn't want to have to walk home in my disgusting PE kit. It took me about half an hour to find my school clothes (they had put them behind the lockers. My white shirt had gone dusty and grey because it's probably never been cleaned). Everyone else had gone home by then, so at least I could change without people laughing at my lack of chest.

  I unsuccessfully tried to get the grey patches off my filthy shirt, so I gave up. I slung my bag over my shoulder and left the changing room.

  That was when it happened. There were five boys waiting near the changing room. Jack, Harry, Cameron, and two others I didn't know, but I knew they were pretty tough. They were all standing around looking menacing with their trousers too low down. I froze when I saw them. I felt like a rabbit in the headlights. Cameron turned around.

  "There she is!" He said loudly, like the others were deaf or something.

  One of the boys I didn't know stepped forward. "Finally!" He exclaimed. "You're out! We can't go in there you see, it's the girls changin' room." They all laughed like hyenas. They all approached me and formed a circle around me. I'm quite tall but they were all bigger than me. It felt like they were the bars of my prison cell. And I was on death row.

  "What's wrong, little freak?" The other one I didn't know said. He was huge, with sandy blonde hair, muscly and had perfect, white teeth, which he flashed at me in a predatorial smile. I just stood still, too scared to think of a comeback.

  "Don't you know it's rude to ignore people?" Harry said angrily. "And did you know, that rudeness needs punishing?" And that was when he hit me.

  First of all, he punched me in the stomach. I doubled over in pain, with a sharp intake of breath. He hit me pretty hard, and it really hurt.

  While I was still trying to get my breath back, they pushed me over. I couldn't see which one it was, but I heard all of them laugh. I scrambled back to my feet, and ran to the door, but before I could get there, one of them grabbed me, and threw me against the wall. My head hit it with a sickening bash. I yelled in pain. I opened my eyes to see the blonde one pinning me against the wall by my arms. He was holding on tight, that was going to leave a bruise.

  "Learned your lesson yet?" Harry's voice came from behind the blonde one. I couldn't speak. I was using up all my energy just trying to breathe.

  "Not answering," He said, evily. "You can't have learned aything." Jack took a few steps towards me, punching the palm of his hand. "Maybe smashing your face in will make you smarter"

  Oh god. Chance of survival: 0%. I had to think fast. So I did the first thing that came into my head. I aimed a kick in between the blonde one's legs.

  I have to admit, I got a sense of satisfaction from seeing him in pain like that. But I couldn't enjoy the moment for very long. I seized the moment, and ran out of the door, tears streaming down my face. I ran across the field, in the opposite direction to my house. What was I doing? I didn't know... I felt so pathetic. I got to the end of the field, ran around the corner, and-

  "Oof!" I ran into someone. I looked up in terror, petrified it would beone of the bullies. It wasn't. None of the bullies wear Slayer band t-shirts.

  Jared.

  He saw my tear-streaked face, which was probably covered in eye liner too. "Are you okay?" Genuine concern filled his warm brown eyes. "What's happened?"

  I couldn't take it. I burst into tears. "By the changing room... I- I- They beat me up" I said in between sobs. Luckily, he seemed to understand my babbling. He put his arm around my shoulders.

  "It's okay. Don't worry." His voice alone was a comfort. I don't know what. There was just something about it, it was kind, and compassionate, and something else. I couldn't put my finger on it.

  "But I live on the other side of school!" I cried. "I'm going to have to go past them, and they'll be really angry. I- I kicked one of them..."

  Jared laughed. His laugh was like his voice, kind, understanding, and that other thing, that I couldn't work out.

  "Kicked him? Well done! Look, don't worry, we can wait here for a while, then you can go back."

  I felt pathetic, grabbing onto his t-shirt, and sobbing. "I can't go alone!! Please, please come with me!" There was more concern in his eyes, concern and passion.

  "Don't worry," he said kindly. "Of course I will." I was so relieved. It did occur to me that he gets bullied too, he could hardly protect me, he was very slight next to the boys in the changing room, and could never match them in a fight. There was no way just being with a person, who couldn't do anything for me if we got into trouble could be a source of comfort.

  But it was.

The End

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