Chapter 9

The world moved in slow motion.  As the headmaster stood up, he was caught in the aversion. I heard the sheaf of paper being placed on the lectern, as it was amplified by the attached microphone. It would embellish every breath, every hesitation, every mistake. I coughed to clear my throat and sat up straighter, watching the headmaster as he opened his mouth. "This assembly will be slightly different," he began, "for neither I, or the rest of my colleagues, shall be speaking to you." There was a pause; long, and flowing with anxiety. "So, without further ado, I invite Ayla Bronnley to talk to you on a topic of her choosing." He nodded to me, and I drew myself above the sea of people of which I had been part. Down the central aisle I walked, fully aware of the empty space behind the lectern which had been reserved for me. Clutching my notes tightly, I ascended the steps to the stage and finally came to a stop behind the stand. I cleared my throat, lowered the microphone to my height, and lifted my eyes to the throng. 

"It seems," I began, surprised that I could even speak, "that every day all over the world, terrible things happen." Nine hundred and ninety-nine dull eyes rolled in unison. I forced myself to ignore them and move on, "Plastered across our television screens are images of destruction and utter sadness. We fling thousands of pounds across the world at every nation's cry for help. Yet, as we are helping others further afield, we forget the ones closer to home. " I looked around at my audience, many which their eyes closed or heads down, undoubtedly texting or catching up with their social life with the assistance of the internet. But I saw another face, earnest and smiling. Thanks, mum, I thought, and went on with my voice and spirits raised.

"We've all seen them," I almost shouted, stirring people from their self-importance with a start. "Whether they're huddled beneath blankets, hiding in darkened alleyways, or selling copies of a magazine no one really wants to read, they're there. We are used to turning a blind eye to them, continuing instead with our privileged lives." I felt a tear tumble down my cheek, and the strange sensation as it spilled over the plaster. "They need our help, I know it." I gazed into the collective eye of the audience. "I've met them. They've told me things you could never imagine. There are those who have run away from broken homes, ex-soldiers, orphans and," I forced myself to say it,"children." I held back the tears. " There are even people our age. They want to break out of their vicious circle, but they are shunned by society." I took a breath. "If we can make society realise this, they could be found work, and accommodation; made to feel they belong. By helping them, they would help us in turn. We could train builders, soldiers, police, firemen and more. They could give back to the society that ignored them." I examined the rows one final time, before concluding, "I hope that what I have said to you will not be forgotten the moment this room is empty. Thank you for listening." As I walked to my seat, a wonderful sound filled me.

Applause. It was euphoric. People are applauding me?, I thought. I could barely believe it. But, swathed in my happiness, I failed to notice the lithe leg as it stretched across my path. I hit the floor after a moment of bitter realisation. The laughter I remembered so well soon replaced the applause as it ripped through me. I began to stand up when a sharp blow rippled through my skull. I turned to see Tamara's beautiful face scrunched up in laughter, took in the jet black, six-inch heel that had struck the back of my head. My arm flew towards her, my hand grabbed her golden locks as I fell. I heard her scream, and the headmaster shout, "Tamara Blanche, my office now!" before my senses numbed, everything went blue, then faded to darkness.

The End

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