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Going Home

Florence couldn’t believe that she could no longer consider Oakwood as her home, her Father had picked her up that day and hugged her for so long and so tight that she thought he would never let go.

“We had a meeting with the principal of Phillipson yesterday” he said, wiping away a stray tear from his eye

“I promise you Florence after what you said to all the students that day and what everyone has learned about the damage words can inflict, there won’t ever be a List haunting those corridors again”

Florence hugged him back.

“They’d like you to speak again in a special assembly for anti-bullying week, thats if you feel up to it of course” he finished hurriedly

“Right now your Mum and I just want us to spend time as a family, we want to hire you a tutor and are considering you retaking Year 11, you’ve spent so much time in that clinic, we want you to have a sense of normality, your an incredibly intelligent girl Florence, whatever you set your mind to, jut know we’re so, so proud of you”

“Thanks Dad” she smiled tearily at him

Florence stared at the black walls of her room, she didn’t want to be trapped in this place anymore, she was a different girl now, she carefully prised the gothic band posters off her wall balling up the blu-tack in her fist, she wasn’t going to surround herself with things she didn’t love, things she never had loved.

That day was a mad rush of activity, she and her Mother went to the department store and bought three tubs of sky-blue paint, then they all crowded into her room in their t-shirts and jogging bottoms, rollers in their hands and painted each of her four walls light blue, she wanted to be surrounded by lightness, when they all collapsed onto the floor covered in white sheets Florence looked at her Mother with blue paint in her hair and her Father with smears of blue on her glasses and felt a sense of contentment.

She mourned Chase in her heart, always but she had to carry on living.

That night she took out the glass frame they had also bought and took out his letter smoothing down the edges, she opened the frame and carefully tucked the letter in before placing the glass on top, she propped the frame up behind her alarm clock so she could see it always.

It was three weeks until Cole Roberts was due for his release from Wandsworth Prison and for the first time since reading Chase’s letter Florence began to wonder what he would be like,

Why had he been in prison in the first place?

Would he look anything like Chase?

She couldn’t decide what would be worse, if he looked nothing like Chase or if her greatly resembled him, no one could replace Chase but it was nice to know a part of him lived on in someone else.

There was a knock on the door interrupting her musing, her parents stood at the door in their dressing gowns.

“Night sweetie” her Mother said kissing her cheek and tucking her covers over her head, her Father kissed her forehead.

“We love you Florence”

And she knew they did, the kind of love they held for her was unshakeable and constant, the kind go love that made you pick up a phone and call a clinic because your daughter was broken, the kind of love that let strangers take your daughter away because it gave your daughter her best chance at getting better and the kind of love that made you want to become better people, to strengthen your family so they could never be as broken as they once had been.

“I love you too”

Florence straightened her pillows as they left the room, she looked around at the wet walls sniffing slightly at the fresh smell of paint that meant new beginnings, new hopes, who knew what would be waiting for her the next day, the most important thing was that she couldn’t wait to find out.

What this year had taught her was that she was strong, stronger than she could have ever imagined. She had been torn into shreds and then glued back together again.

She wouldn’t be Florence Clarke if she hadn’t been put on the List, she would have been a girl who bended to her friend’s will and preferred to hide behind other people rather than take centre stage, far too afraid to confront her problems so she put them all away in a box in her mind hoping she wouldn’t ever have to think about them.

There had been much debate about whether she should be given a phone, after all the trouble social media had caused in her life, but Florence had begged for her phone back , she wanted something that would help her connect with the world, she didn’t have Facebook or Instagram anymore, they were toxic, she had taken to using her phone for writing now that she had filled up three notebooks.

Writing was something she had grown to love, it had become a part of her just sitting down and pouring your thoughts out was possibly more calming than any therapy, she was working on a story, though she was using fictional names it was a story of her life, her struggles and of Chase.

She was just about to go onto her Notes App when her phone buzzed, it was a message, from Cooper.

‘Hi Flo, I heard you where home, I know you probably want to settle in at first and may not even want to talk to me but I really want to see you x Cooper’

Indecisiveness stalled her for a while, an ache in her chest, the last time she had seen Cooper was the back of her head as she ran to the bathroom, Chase had raised his eyebrows at her.

Chase could no longer be spoken about in present tense anymore.

Don’t cry, Don’t cry, Don’t cry.

She hastily typed back

‘Hey Coops, I’d love to see you, just not right now, there are some things I need to do first, you are forgiven for everything don’t worry’

Often it was harder to hold on to hatred than to forgive, Cooper had made her mistakes and she had paid for them, but she had been Florence’s friend that day in the bathroom when nobody else had, and for that loyalty she deserved a second chance

Smiling, Florence opened up her Notes App and began to rapidly type:

’Its strange, usually traditions have a back story, some kind of history as to why they were created.

But at Clarkson High there wasn’t really a story behind the mysterious ‘List’, every year on the first day of term there is would be, plastered all over the school.

On lockers, on walls, on classroom doors and bathroom stalls’

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