Weeping Willow

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Chapter Two - Guillotine

My tutoring student emailed me a little after 4pm. He gave me his IM details and said chatting through there would be easier. I won’t lie. I was kind of hesitant to go outside of using the very anonymous email Mr Bartlett had set up for me. But I needed to do this, so I went along with it.

I signed into IM and typed his chat name Guillotine into the search bar. He popped up right away so I sent a friend request. Within a few seconds the request disappeared and a small icon and his name popped up on my once empty friends list. I hovered over his name for a moment before clicking.

Solitaire – Guillotine? What kind of chat name is that.

Guillotine – At least mine sounds fierce…

Solitaire – I’m rolling my eyes right now.

Guillotine – I’ve got 58 minutes to study and then I have a date… can we speed this up? My English and Math teachers have said if I don’t pull my grades up I can’t…. I can’t go to prom.

Solitaire – Prom? You’re worried about prom?

Guillotine - We’re seniors. It’s a big deal.

Solitaire - Speak for yourself.

I sighed, This guy… was a Douche, with a capital D. Regret began to wash over me until another message popped up on screen.

Guillotine - Whatever. Can you help or not?

Solitaire - Have you got last week’s English or Math homework?

Guillotine – No. I throw that shit out the minute it’s graded.

Solitaire – Do me a favour and don’t do that anymore okay. How the hell can I tutor you when I don’t know what you’re having trouble with?

Guillotine – your*

Solitaire – No, It’s you’re.

Guillotine – I know, I was just testing you.

Solitaire – Sure…

Guillotine – Look I’ll keep my homework from tomorrow and we can start again tomorrow after school. Okay Miss Solitaire.

Solitaire – Fine.

Guillotine – I really appreciate your help keeping this quiet. The guys would laugh if they knew I needed a tutor.

Solitaire – Real friends wouldn’t laugh at someone being proactive about their education.

Guillotine – Do you have any friends born this century? Friends these days laugh about anything.

Solitaire – I have to go. See you tomorrow.

I closed the chat box and let out a succession of shallow breaths. I felt like I’d been stuck inside a vortex, We’d worked on nothing, yet I felt like I’d been drained of everything I had ever learned. This was going to be harder than I had ever anticipated. Do you have any friends born this century? I sighed and looked down at my hands. I didn’t have any friends. Period.

Like clockwork Dad came home from work at 5:30pm. Almost instantly the already hostile environment floating around the place I was meant to call home, felt even more so. He wasn’t in a good mood, I could tell by the slamming of the door as he walked inside. Not that he was ever in a good mood. I don’t think I’d seen him smile in the almost 18 years I’d been alive. Maybe he had been happy once, maybe Mom had too, but I’d never been a witness to it… ever.

I tensed up as his voice boomed throughout the house, I couldn’t hear the words he was saying, just the anger behind them. After years of protecting myself from the sparks of rage I knew better than to make my presence known. It was safer up here, out of sight.

I ate a granola bar for dinner and hid in my room, working on the stupid assignment I still had no idea how to write. It was almost ten o’clock before I stopped trying, four and a bit hours of staring at the screen, waiting for words that never came. I was about to close the screen and go to bed when the almost unfamiliar beep from IM caught my attention. I Clicked on the blue flashing bar and a chat box popped open.

Guillotine - You awake?

His words stared out at me, begging me to answer. I contemplated ignoring the message. But curiosity got the better of me. I let my fingers drift over the keyboard.

Solitaire - Yeah...

Guillotine - Plans ended early. I looked in my bag, turns out I have my homework. I scanned it through to you.

At that moment an email alert popped up.

Solitaire - Yeah I see it in my inbox.

An email from Guillotine sat in my inbox, in the subject line he’d simply written Idiot. I frowned and clicked on it.

To – Solitaire12

From – TheGuillotine

Subject – Idiot.

I got an F on maths today and a d from English. The thing is, I know I’m not dumb. I think I’m distracted.

He’d added an attachment with his homework. I opened it and right away I could tell he was right, he wasn’t dumb. It was substandard and lazy, but behind the lack of adequate work... I could tell he had the smarts. Something was holding him back. Maybe he was distracted. I shook my head and looked back at the homework.

Worrying about his life and his troubles wasn’t my problem, getting his grades back on track was.

Solitaire – You wrote “When will I need to ever use long division” beside a question

Guillotine – and?

Solitaire – It was algebraic.

Guillotine – It all looks the same me S.

Solitaire – And in your essay you wrote about the boobs of senior year.

Guillotine – and?

Solitaire – Are you really this big a douche or do you just act like one in front of your friends. Because I don’t think I can help you if you’re just a jerk naturally.

It was true. I couldn’t, I needed… for my own sanity for him not to be a jerk. For a long while there was nothing, and I began to wonder if he’d gone offline in a pissed off rage. Finally though, he started to type back.

Guillotine – Wow.

Guillotine – S…

Guillotine – I do it to impress my friends.

Solitaire – At least there is hope for you. In short, upon looking at your homework you just need to rein in the douchebag. Your maths is fine, you just don’t show enough working out and your English is actually kind of good if you bypass the poor grammar and inappropriate subject matter.

Guillotine – Will you help me?

Solitaire – with the subjects or the douchebag riddance?

Guillotine – Both.

Solitaire - Let me think about it. Night G.

Guillotine - Night S.

I closed the chat box and shook my head. This was meant to be straight tutoring. Bypassing that, crossing the line into some kind of online friendship where I tell my client he’s being an asshole… wasn’t what I signed up for and after everything I’d been through with Stefanie… wasn’t something I was sure I could do ever again.

Dear Stef

Guillotine? What kind of chat name is that? Is he one of the gang boys that hang on the field in leather jackets puffing on vapes to look cool? Either way he wants me to tutor him and show him how not to be a douche. Why aren’t you here. You’d be better at this than me...

Also, I won’t lie the jibe about friends hurt, but I guess I deserved it for getting in first. He wasn’t to know that I lost you.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year.

We were supposed to go to college together. I’m so angry… and I’m so sorry. I should have known…

Also, I suppose it is worth mentioning, Our old friend turn traitor Kalen Adams spoke to me today and then we ended up in music class together. If this is you in the afterlife trying to make us be friends again…. Please stop. There are literally hundreds of reasons why it’s not going to happen.

Home life is home life. I can’t wait until summer. Until I can escape this place.

Anyway. Another school day tomorrow. Yay (note sarcasm). I know it is the lowest form of wit according to some, but it might just be the only thing getting me through the day.

I miss you.

Talk soon, Willow.

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